Religious Items

Cunningham Geikie, D.D., LL.D., in an article in the July number of The Homiletic Review, thus writes of the Christendom of the fourth century: "The Christendom of the fourth century was wonderfully changed from that of the apostolic age. Human nature, always the same, had already, while Paul and his fellow missionaries were still alive, shown the white buds of future thorns shooting up amid the tender spires of the good seed over the heathen world. At Antioch, in Jerusalem, Corinth, Galatia, and, indeed, over the whole missionary field, the furious pride and bigotry of the Jew and the insatiable disputatiousness of the Greek fostered controversy and induced confusion. In the later epistles, moreover, new divisions and fresh corruptions are foreshadowed, so that from the first Christ seemed, in his own words, to have sent, not peace, but a sword among men, inside the fold no less than without. The fourth century found its special battleground in the attempts to define the mysterious relations of God the Father and our Lord; Arius on the one hand and Athanasius on the other heading the opposing parties. In a.d. 325 the Council of Nice had formulated the creed which still survives, but that venerable document only gave a war-cry to one side; the other defining it to suit their own opinions. From the one great controversy many others sprang up, till heresies—that is, parties—became countless, each, as the Emperor Julian truly said, hating each other more than any savage tribe hated its bitterest enemy."

Under the head of "The Curse and Comfort of Creeds." The Congregationalist and Christian World says: "May a Christian examine the foundations of his belief? This question is being earnestly discussed in great church assemblies. On one side it is urged that these foundations were laid by godly men ages ago, and laid forever. On the other hand, it is asserted that Christian life cannot survive unless it expresses vital and satisfying belief. In the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a few weeks ago the subject of greatest interest was the Confession of Faith and the power of the Church to modify it. The question as stated by Principal Story was, 'Is the Church of Scotland fettered and tied hand and foot mentally to the very forms and expressions of the seventeenth century?' After three hours of able and sometimes heated discussion, the Assembly practically declared in the affirmative—that the Church has no power to modify, abridge, or extend any article of the Confession, though with an addendum expressing its confidence that office bearers in the Church 'will so exercise its jurisdiction as not to oppose the consciences of any who, while owning the sum and substance of the doctrine of the Reformed Churches, are not certain as to someless important determinations also contained in it.'"

The following from The Examiner will find a hearty response in the minds of thousands of people: "It is high time that some one in authority should come to the rescue of those unfortunates who are compelled to give testimony in courts of law. The treatment of them by lawyers is often cruel in the extreme. Questions are asked which are expressly designed to place them in a false position and thus discredit their evidence, and they are not suffered to make any explanation. The distress thus caused to a sensitive mind often amounts to actual torture—torture more poignant than rack or thumbscrew. In a recent case in one of our New York courts the judge said: 'A party, when he becomes a witness, is entitled, even on cross-examination to be protected. Witnesses have some rights which courts are bound to respect. Attacks of the kind set out in this record cannot be made upon one's private life under the guise of cross-examination.' It would be well if all judges would take this position and refuse to permit the continuance of the practice of putting witnesses to the torture."

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August 1, 1901

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