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CONTENTS OF VOL. V., NO. I. THIRD SERIES.
THIRD SERIES, NO. XVII.-WHOLE NUMBER, LXXIII.
OLD AND NEW SCHOOL PRESBYTERIANISM.
By Rev. SAMUEL T. Spear, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Differences between Old and New School Presbyterians. By
In the following Article it is proposed to make some comments on the Book, designated by the above title. The book carries with it the name of John C. Lord, D.D., of Buffalo, for a voucher ; besides which, it has already received a favorable notice from the Biblical Repertory, as well as from several religious journals of the day.
It may perhaps be well to inform the reader in the outset, that, although the reviewer is conscious of no special love for the work of criticism, still he need not expect to find many commendations in this article. The book has many faults, and but few virtues ; and to review it with justice is to criticise it with pointed severity. In the above opinion we may not agree with Dr. Lord, and some others, who think the work a valuable performance, an important addendum to the religious literature of the age. If so, then this will be an illustration of subjective " differences," not objective, surely, since the printer has given us but one book to read, though the readers be many.
We should be quite willing at once to submit the "doctrinal” points
, and join the issue of orthodoxy and truth with the author in regard to them; and this would be our course, were there not some important preliminary matter, whose inspection is requisite to a just understanding of this strange assault upon “New School Presbyterians," and virtually also upon the entire body of orthodox Congregationalists in New England. Some attention to this branch of the subject will be no loss to the reader.
THIRD SERIES, VOL. V. NO. 1. 1
1. The first circumstance worthy of note, is the personal paternity of the book under review. It is sometimes interesting to know where a thing comes from. It is especially so in the present case, since the paternity of the book is not the least remarkable among its many remarkable qualities; since also when the former is well understood, common minds will be much aided in comprehending the latter. It is true, that this inquiry is somewhat exterior to the work itself; and needs light from some other source, very happily and timely supplied by a recent and able review from the pen
of the Rev. William C. Wisner. This review tells us who Dr. Lord, and the Rev. Mr. Cheeseman, the joint producers of this book, are, by a few fragments of important history; and inas. much as it may not fall under the reader's eye, we propose to introduce some facts, exegetical of these authors, upon the authority of Mr. Wisner. The main fact is, that both of them are neophytes in the ways, manners, customs, doctrines, &c., of " Old School Presbyterians," as they choose to style one of the divisions of the Presbyterian Church; in respect to one of whom the Presbyterian thinks this an advantage on the score of “a disinterested testimony.'
.” The singular, complicated, and withal strangely involved texture of this main fact, will best appear by a few items of history. In respect to Dr. Lord, then the Rev. John C. Lord, it
be observed that when the exscinding act was enacted in 1837, he was a member of the Synod of Genesee ; and of course in the infected district; and therefore among the number of those to whom that act applied. He was himself exscinded with the rest of his western brethren. In regard to his views and preferences, touching the well-known controversies and agitations in the Presbyterian Church, prior to the famous act of excision, it is not material to inquire. It is sufficient to observe the Rev. John C. Lord at, or about the time of this notable event. In his introductory chapter, he gives us his modern version of a class of Christians, passing under the cognomen, the proper name of "New School Presbyterians ;" applies to them the most opprobrious and offensive language; denies their orthodoxy ; questions their honesty; and most seriously implicates even their right to be called after the name of Christ. This is Dr. Lord's published opinion in 1848, as we shall show when examining the “ Introduction". Now we must confess, that such opinions strike us as not a little remarkable in view of their source. We wonder that he has so soon forgotten his former self; that the oblivious shade of total silence, without the remotest allusion to the past, should have veiled in forgetfulness the events of by-gone time. Any little note of explanation, anything in the shape of an apology, the faintest sign of penitence for former deeds, would have lessened this wonder, but, as it is, we must wonder on till the emotion shall exhaust itself.