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We publish this month two brief notices of the Revision, one from “ The Presbyterian,” and the other from the “ Banner and Advocate." We heartily approve of the general commendation of “The Presbyterian," and at the same time think that the two exceptions, taken by the “Banner and Advocate," are of great weight, and entitled to serious consideration.
(From "The Presbyterian.") We publish entire, on our first page, the Revised Book of Discipline as it will be reported to the next General Assembly by the very able Committee to whose labours we alluded last week. The Committee desire that it should be laid before the Church at once, that it may be fully canvassed before its merits come up for discussion. It should undergo a careful examination, at least, by every minister and ruling elder. We feel quite sure that it will be regarded as a vast improvement on the present complicated and vexatious system. After all, however, there is an inherent difficulty in making an assembly of three hundred persons, met together necessarily but for a very short time, a judicial tribunal; and there are also serious questions as to the propriety of occupying one-fifth or more of the valuable time of such a body with cases which often resolve themselves into mere personal or neighbourhood janglings. We are assured that there must ultimately be something of a radical change in this part of our discipline, and that the question is only one of time. Sooner or later one of three things will probably have to be done; 1, either to divest the General Assembly of its judicial powers, and make the Synods the last resort; or, 2, to appoint a commission; or, 3, to reduce the size of the General Assembly by a change in the mode or ratio of representation.
As to the capabilities of our system, when properly administered, for securing, in the most thorough and satisfactory manner, the rights of all —both office-bearers and private members—there can be no doubt. Its fundamental provisions are as complete a safeguard against heresy, injury, and wrong, as can be conceived. The higher court, for instance, by virtue of its own inherent power of inquest, can revise and rectify the proceedings of the lower; the inferior courts, by virtue of the right of reference, may call in the wisdom and aid of the superior, whenever circumstances render this necessary or expedient; aggrieved parties are effectually protected against injury by the right of appeal; so that any member of the Church, however humble or obscure, may have access to the higher courts for full redress; whilst the Church at large, through any of its members, bas the means for a perfect hearing, through the right of complaint. These principles involve all that is necessary for the protection of the purity of the Church, and of the rights of all under its jurisdiction.
The Book of Discipline, as amended by the Committee, will probably be found as perfect as is practicable upon the present basis. We may recapitulate briefly some of its most important modifications. In the first place, it defines more clearly the cases in which an appeal can lie, and distinguishes more accurately and intelligibly between appeals and complaints. The right of appeal is given, 1. In judicial cases, to a party aggrieved by the decision of the inferior court. 2. In non-judicial cases, where the decision is injurious to any person or persons.
3. In cases where, though no personal injury is inflicted on any individual or party, yet where great mischief to the Church is apprehended ; any minority of the inferior judicatory, in such cases, having the right to appeal.
Complaints are applicable to every species of case, judicial or otherwise; but in judicial cases, an aggrieved party cannot complain ; and where there is an appeal a complaint cannot lie.
That fruitful bone of contention, as to who are “the original parties,” in cases of appeal, is effectually removed. In both appeals and complaints, the lower court is no longer considered a party; the accuser and accused in the lower court, being still the only parties when it is carried up. The process in appeals will be first to read all the records, second to hear the appellant and appellee, and finally, to call the roll for the opinions, and take the vote. Another important change consists in admitting the lower court to take part in the case and vote. They are not to be considered as so much under the influence of prejudice as to warrant their exclusion; they are not to be parties but judges. In cases of complaint the records are first to be read, next the complainant heard, and then the opportunity given for general discussion; after which the vote to be taken without calling the roll for opinions.
The entirely new chapter wbich is introduced, provides for passing judgment without a process. 1. In cases where the offence is manifest and conspicuous, having been committed in open court; and 2. Where the party makes confession. This chapter also provides for a difficulty which has probably embarrassed every session, by allowing a churchmember of good character, but who is convinced that he has never experienced a saving change, to withdraw from the communion.
Another important source of perplexity is obviated, by the declaration that non-communicating members, or, in other words, the baptized children of the Church, are not proper subjects for discipline.
We have merely glanced at a few of the more prominent points in the Committee's work. We presume that most, if not all of these modifications, will prove acceptable, and we are sure that the very able Committee deserve the thanks of the Church for so faithfully discharging the duties devolved upon them.
(From the "Banner and Advocate.") This
very able Committee have brought their labours to a close. The result, so far as they are concerned, is on our first page. It will now be for the churches to examine and to prepare, by their Commissioners to the Assembly next spring, to amend, if need be, and to adopt and send down to the Presbyteries for confirmation.
From a hasty glance we are disposed to say, that the emendations are, for the most part, very judicious. Two or three, however, may not meet with unanimous approval. Chap. I, Sec. III, seems inconsistent in its parts. If baptized persons are a members of the Church,” “under its government,” and bound to perform all the duties of members,” as they assuredly are, then they are certainly “ proper subjects” for discipline. They have a right to it, as an instituted means of grace, and the church Session is bound to extend it to them.
But possibly there may be some special signification attached to the plirase * judicial prosecution,” as distinct from Church discipline. If so, then the section reads strangely. They are members under the government of the Church, and bound to perform all the duties of members, and yet may neglect and transgress, and not be brought before a judicature! This is anti-Scriptural and anti-Presbyterian in doctrine, or it is a justifs. ing of a great dereliction in duty, as to practice. We trust that the churches will never sanction it. Let the section be amended.
Chap. III, Sec. VI, and Chap. IV, Sec. XIII, provide for the employment of counsel, other than members of the Court. “Professional coun. sel,” as such, may not be employed, but any church member may be. This is an innovation. It provides for the introduction of lawyers, who may be professors in the church concerned, as advocates before the Session, and in one case, and possibly in all, as appellants and appellees, before all the Courts up to the Assembly. What may be the practical working of this scheme, we cannot predict. The churches will likely look at it before they sanction it.
Our columns will be open to discussion pro and con, to a reasonable extent.
The fltlantic Telegraph.
The Atlantic Cable was successfully laid, in the good Providence of God, by the “Agamemnon” and the “Niagara” on the 5th of August, both vessels reaching, on that day, their respective destinations. shall give, in our next issue, some account of this great work. In the mean time, we present to our readers the two odes, written, for the celebration in New York, by Mrs. Ann S. Stephens.
When banners were torn from the warriors that bore them;
Are freeast or prouder when war thunders o'er them,
wields its power, or thought feels its might.
Let the joy of the world in rich harmony rise ;
Let the sword keep its sheath and the cannon its thunder;
And science links nations that war shall not sunder.
When the sunset of yesterday flooded the West,
Our old mother country lay far in the distance;
But the lightning has struck! We are close to her breast !
That beautiful land that first gave us existence-
And the glow of our joy fills the depths of the ocean;
Till the globe to its poles feels the holy commotion.
Air“ God save the Queen."
All hail, across the main!
Hear! Nations, hear!
Hear! Nations, hear!
No storms the chain shall break,
Hear now our call!
Praise God for all !
[The following tribute to a lovely and distinguished Christian lady, the daughter of the Rev. Dr. George Potts of New York, is an extract from the funeral address delivered by the Rev. JAMES W. ALEXANDER, D.D., in the University Place Church, New York, on the afternoon of July 30th. May the Lord sanctify this sweet and touching tribute to the soul of the reader !-Ed.] (From “ The Presbyterian.")
TRIBUTE TO THE LATE MRS. MARY ENGLES. My mourning brethren, all seek for rest, as has been said ; but ah! some more than others ! To some the posture, all through life, is but a
waiting till their change come.” The sorrower cries " Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness”—but not till then. These are they who find here no continuing city, and whose eyes are ever unto the hills whence cometh their help. In consistency with resignation to God's will, they have an insatiable desire for rest in him.
that they are willing to die, were weak language; they restlessly long for the consummation. The heart exclaims, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better."
With Christ! this is heaven. Disciples of old knew what it was to be “with Christ,” while he tabernacled among men. Disciples now have an inkling of what it is to be “ with Christ,” in ordinances and communion. But the complete acquaintance with this glory is reserved for the time when we shall be caught up, and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Excellent as is our incomparable version, it may sometimes receive a reflected ray from others. In that passage where the prophet Daniel, under the greatness of the revelations, sinks to the earth, he is reassured and raised by the address, “O man greatly beloved.” The Vulgate has it, “O man of desires” — Vir desideriorum. And this is a fit title of many a wearied Christian sufferer. He is fraught with desires, yea, is all longing and irrepressible pining for the home of his soul. As a pious and eloquent German once expressed it to a friend of his and ours, “ I am a homesick man !"*
That world towards which the believer is aspiring is not dull or torpid, but a state of high, transcendent progress, of intellectual and moral flight towards an infinite standard which it delightedly pursues but never reaches. It is my persuasion that no virtuous attainment in knowledge is lost, or confined to the present world, but that each of God's children will find the acquisitions of life hallowed, perpetuated, and perfected. Our adorable Creator has set before us as objects of pursuit, TRUTH, BEAUTY, and HOLINESS, " these three.” Correspondent to these are the love of truth, refined taste, and the moral faculty. These are not to be forever disappointed. If the true, the beautiful, and the good, in our present shattered state, are sometimes disjoined, the day is coming when they shall be discerned not only harmonious, but coincident, like sides of the same pyramid convergiug towards its divine apex. And unto this consummation the redeemed soul is perpetually tending, amidst the seeming hinderances of sublunary evil.
It elevates our estimate of the divine discipline, to contemplate the manifold dealings of wisdom and love, in moulding a human subject for heavenly glory, by the stern band of afflictive dispensation. “He doth not afflict willingly;" yet he afflicteth much and oft. “What son is there, whom the Father chasteneth not?” In cases of special love, there is poignancy of suffering under the scourge. But all the severities of love fall into the brief period, the mere instant, of the present life, and all are terminated by death. They who are Christ's enter into peace, where “the weary be at rest.”
The transition is natural, if it can be called a transition, to her who lies before us, beautiful in sleep. This is the favourite scriptural term for the departed. They sleep in Jesus. This speaks of deep repose, while
* Ich bin ein Mann des Heimwehs!