PUBLISHED LECTURES & SERMONS OF
GEORGE D. ARMSTRONG, D. D.
Sermon & Lecture Index
A Centennial Discourse Delivered Before the Presbytery of Lexington
The Higher Criticism
* * * * * *
A Centennial Discourse,
THE PRESBYTERY OF LEXINGTON,
Synod of Virginia at Timber-Ridge Church,
September 25th, 1886.
The 100th Anniversary of its Organization.
By Geo. D. Armstrong, D. D., LL. D.,
formerly a member of Lexington Presbytery, and stated supply of Timber-Ridge Church.
Staunton, Va., The Valley Virginian Power Press, 1887.
One hundred years ago to-day, an Assembly of Ministers, Ruling Elders, and Christian people assembled in this house for the organization of Lexington Presbytery. That Assembly was, I doubt not, very much like that gathered here today—probably quite as large; for, though the country was not then as thickly settled as now, the people were accustomed to attend upon religious meetings from a much greater distance—certainly, as deeply interested in what was to be done as we are; for the Presbyterian Church was to them, as to us, not only their Church, but the Church of their fathers also.
From the organization of Hanover Presbytery, in 1755, for a period of thirty years, i. e. up to 1785, all the Presbyterian Churches in Virginia had been embraced in that one Presbytery. In 1785, Abingdon Presbytery was organized, embracing the churches in south-western Virginia, beyond New River, together with such churches as then existed in Kentucky and Tennessee. When, a few years later, the Southern Presbyteries were grouped into Synods, Abingdon Presbytery, together with the Presbyteries of Orange and South Carolina constituted the Synod of the Carolinas. In this connection Abingdon remained until 1803, when, by act of the General Assembly, it was transferred to the Synod of Virginia.
In 1786 Hanover Presbytery was again divided, and all its churches west of the Blue Ridge Mountains organized into a new Presbytery, under the name of Lexington. In the subsequent grouping into Synods which took place two years later, the Synod of Virginia was made up of the Presbyteries of Hanover, Lexington and Redstone, the territory covered by the last-mentioned lying principally in Pennsylvania. At its organization, Lexington Presbytery consisted of the following eleven ministers, viz: John Brown of New Providence, William Graham, James McConnell, Archibald Scott of Bethel, John Montgomery of Winchester, Benjamin Erwin of Mossy Creek, William Wilson of Augusta, Moses Hoge, John McCue of Good Hope, and Samuel Shannon.  Five of this number appear upon the minutes as without charge, not because they were not regularly engaged in preaching the gospel, but they were not at the time regularly settled as pastors, and the pastoral relation was the only one noticed in the minutes of that day. From other sources than the minutes, we know that Moses Hoge was then preaching regularly on the south branch of the Potomac, in Hardy county, and William Graham was employed in teaching, and preaching at Timber ridge and Hall's meetinghouse.
The John Brown mentioned in the minutes as pastor of New Providence Church, must not be confounded with the Samuel Brown, installed Pastor of New Providence in 1793, through whose descendants the name of Brown has been continued an honored name on the rolls of the Synod of Virginia to the present day. Of John Brown I have been able to learn but little, excepting that he became pastor of New Providence Church in 1753, and at the organization of Lexington Presbytery, he presided, by appointment, and was elected its first Moderator, from which facts I infer that he was, in ministerial standing, the oldest member of the Presbytery.
Of the eleven ministers embraced in Lexington Presbytery at the time of its formation, three subsequently served the Church with such success as to challenge particular mention.
1. William Graham. When Hanover Presbytery, before Lexington Presbytery had been set off from it, determined to establish a school for the education of young men for the ministry, they placed Wm. Graham, then recently licensed, at the head of it. This school was located at Mount Pleasant, near Fairfield, and here it was that Mr. Graham took charge of it. In the course of a few years, it was judged expedient to remove it to Timber Ridge, where a convenient house for the Rector was built, and also an Academy and other small buildings for the accommodation of the students. And I may remark, in passing, that the Rector's house and the log building in which the school was kept, were standing when I commenced my ministry here in 1838. This school, still under the care of Mr. Graham, was afterwards removed tn Lexington, and was the germ from which has sprung Washington and Lee University.
Respecting Mr. Graham, Dr. A. Alexander, who knew him well, having studied under him, writes: "From the time of his ordination by the Presbytery of Hanover in 1775, he became a teacher of Theology, and most of those who entered the ministry in the Valley of Virginia in those days pursued their studies under his direction. The influence he gained over the minds of his pupils, whilst under his care, was unbounded. Yet he encouraged the utmost freedom of discussion, and seemed to aim, not so much to bring his pupils to think as he did, as to teach them to think on all subjects for themselves. A slavish subjection to any human authority he repudiated, and therefore, never attempted to add weight to his opinions by referring to a long list of authors of great name, but uniformly insisted that all opinions should be subjected to the test of scripture and reason."
"In his theological creed he was strictly orthodox, according to the standards of his Church, which he greatly venerated; but in his methods of explaining some of the knotty points in theology, he departed considerably from the common track, and was of the opinion that many things which have been involved in perplexity and obscurity by the manner in which they have been treated, are capable of being easily and satisfactorily explained by the application of sound principles of philosophy. As a preacher, he was always instructive and evangelical, though, in common, his delivery was rather feeble and embarrassed than forcible; but when his feelings were excited, his voice became penetrating, and his whole manner awakening and impressive. His profound study of the human heart enabled him to describe the various exercises of the Christian with a clearness and truth, which often greatly surprised his parishioners; for it seemed to them as if he could read the very inmost sentiments of their minds, which he described more perfectly than they could themselves. As a clear and cogent reasoner he had no superior among his contemporaries, and his pre-eminence in the exercise of this faculty was acknowledged by all unprejudiced persons."—Sprague's Annals, Vol. 3, pp. 368, 369.
2. Archibald Scott, who appears on the roll as pastor of Bethel Church, studied theology under William Graham, and was licensed to preach in 1777. Foote, in his Sketches, Vol. 2nd, relates the following incident, illustrative of the spirit of the times, and the character of the men who formed the original Presbytery of Lexington. "It was Mr. Scott's custom to assemble the children and youth of his charge, on week-days, for catechetical instruction. It was in this employment he was engaged on that memorable Saturday in June, when the approach of Col. Tarlton and his British dragoons spread consternation from Staunton throughout the surrounding Valley of Virginia. It is said that Mr. Scott, like his two neighboring brethren, William Graham and John Brown, ex-  horted the stripling youths of his congregation (their elders were already with Washington) to arm themselves and go with their neighbors, who were rising up simultaneously throughout the county of Augusta, to stand with their arms at Rockfish gap, on the Blue Ridge mountains, to dispute the pass with the invader and his legion. The next day, after prayers in the three congregations for the success of the American arms, the old men and striplings from the congregations of Graham, Brown and Scott, united with others, and met at Rockfish Gap, to resist the inroads of the marauding horsemen William Graham was the master spirit, but he was heartily supported by Brown and Scott, his co-presbyters, in the movement. It was the recollection of this scene, so recently enacted under the patriotic spirit of these three pastors and their people, that gave occasion for the memorable words of General Washington: If I should be beaten by the British forces I will retreat with my broken army to the Blue Ridge, and call the boys of West Augusta around me, and there will I plant the flag of my country. —Sprague's Annals, Vol. j, p. 388.
3. Moses Hoge, like Archibald Scott, received his theological training under William Graham, was licensed to preach the gospel in 1781, and ordained the year following. He labored for five years in Hardy county, and then removed to Shepherdstown. "In 1807 he was appointed President of Hampton Sydney College, as successor to Dr. A. Alexander, who had removed to Philadelphia. The Synod of Virginia in 1812, resolved to establish a Theological Seminary within their bounds, and unanimously appointed Dr. Hoge as their Professor. From this time till his death in 1820, he held the two offices, President of the College and Professor of Divinity under the appointment of the Synod. He had the pleasure of seeing about thirty of his pupils at Hampton Sydney licensed and ordained ministers.
"In 1799 Mr. Hoge published a work which attracted very considerable attention, entitled, ''The Christian Panoply." It was designed as an antidote to Paine's "Age of Reason." It consisted of two parts—the first containing the substance of Bishop Watson's masterly reply to the first part of Paine's work, and the second. Mr. Hoge's answer to the second part of it. It had a wide circulation, and exerted a very important influence."—Sprague's Annals. Vol. 3, p. 427.
Such were some of the men who took part in the organization of Lexington Presbytery one hundred years ago. It has been truly said, "there were giants in those days," and Lexington Presbytery certainly had its full share of them. Men of commanding intellect and varied learning; devoted to their calling as ministers of the everlasting gospel, yet meeting in full measure their obligations as citizens and patriots; men doing with their might what their hands found to do in the present, and at the same time digging deep and laying sure the foundations for the church of the future. This house in which we are assembled to-day, built in 1750, furnishes at once a symbol and an illustration of the kind of work they labored to do for God. Its massive stone walls have withstood the storms of a hundred and thirty years, and yet stand as firm as the day they were first built. As a precious heritage, it has descended from father to son through all these years, until in the memory of saints in heaven as well as saints on earth, it is known as a place in which God has shown himself ever willing to meet with his people, and bless them. And the old church promises fair to serve generations yet to come, as well as ii has the generations which have already passed onward and upward. They labored, and we have entered into the fruits of their labors.
During the century which closes to-day, how many and how great the changes which have occurred. When our fathers assembled here to organize this Presbytery, the country was just emerging from the sore trials of the war of the Revolution. Terribly crippled in her finances; with her new form of government settled but in part, men's confidence in the old order of things gone, and yet not establish ad in the new; and worst of all, a wave of infidelity sweeping over the land, causing the heart of the Christian man to tremble within him.
The French nation had stretched out to us a helping hand in our war for independence, and naturally, and properly too, our people felt grateful to them for the help they had given us in our time of sore trial. France was then trembling on the verge of that terrible revolution, the history of which forms the bloodiest page in modern history. Our revolution was one of a Christian people against the unconstitutional demands of a tyrannical government. The French revolution, in contrast with ours, was a revolt against Christianity in the only form in which they knew it, as well as against tyranny on the part of their civil rulers. Under the influence of the writings of such men as the witty Voltaire and the polished Volney, men who rejected all religions as alike superstitious, adapted to the childhood of the world, to be superseded by "the reign of reason," as they styled it; liberty, with them, meant unbridled license, and free government culminated in the public wor-  ship of a prostitute as the "Goddess of Reason," and the establishment of the "Reign of Terror."
Voltaire died in 1788; Volney somewhat later. The destruction of the Bastile, with which the French revolution may be said to have fairly begun, occurred in 1789. "The Reign of Terror," which marks the culmination of this godless revolution, when Danton and Robespierre condemned countless multitudes to the guillotine, and suffered, each in turn, a similar fate, began in the execution of Louis XVI on January 21st, 1793. I mention these dates thus particularly that you may notice the fact that the beginnings of this most godless of revolutions, in which the very foundations of society were upturned, and not the church alone, but civil government, also, lay for a season a frightful ruin, were cotemporary with the formation of Lexington Presbytery.
Grateful to France for her aid in our war for independence, our people were disposed to welcome to our shore not only French people and French commerce, but French literature also. Voltaire's writings were not generally accessible to American readers, as no extended translation of them into English was ever made. But many of the sarcastic cavils and ribald jests with which he assailed Christianity, as well as his red-republican ideas of liberty and civil government, were presented, in a popular form, to our people in Paine's "Age of Reason." Volney's "Ruins of Empires," one of the most polished infidel works of that age, was early translated into English, and widely circulated in our country. I have in my library at home, a copy of this work, purchased at a street book-stand in New York city more than fifty years ago, at a cost of 25 cents, and I may say here, that for the young and ardent I know of no more dangerous book. Free from the gross ribaldry of Paine's "Age of Reason," its specious arguments, its apparent deep sympathy with the woes of suffering humanity, and the bright visions of a happier future to be secured under the guidance of reason emancipated from the control of religion, give it a charm for the better class of young men, which the writings of Voltaire and Paine do not possess.
Insofar as I have been able to learn, the spirit of French infidelity which was rife at the North, and especially in the New England states, at the close of the last century, never prevailed to the same extent in the Valley of Virginia. But it was to meet and refute this that Moses Hoge wrote his "Christian Panoply," already mentioned. And it was the spirit of insubordination, on the part of young men especially, originating in its teachings, which dis- couraged William Graham in his labors as Principal of the Classical and Theological school which Presbytery had placed under his charge, and led him to resign his office, and remove with his family to a new settlement on the banks of the Ohio. It may be true, as Dr. A. Alexander remarks, that "in taking this step he was not guided by his usual wisdom," but yet the fact remains that he did take the step, under great discouragement as to the prospects of the church; and this fact may give us some idea of the difficulty our fathers encountered in meeting and rolling back the tide of French infidelity which threatened to overwhelm the church during the closing years of the last century and the opening years of the present.
Scarcely had this conflict with French infidelity closed, when dangers of an entirely different character, and coming apparently from an entirely different quarter, assailed the church. A great revival of religion, commencing in East Tennessee and extending over Virginia, especially the western portion of the state, as well as Kentucky, marked the earlier years of the present century. This, in itself, was a thing greatly to be desired, and, on the whole, there can be no reasonable doubt that this revival was a great blessing to the church. A new spirit was infused into her service of the Master, and a new life given to a faith which was ready to perish. But, it has ever been true that when "the householder sows good seed in his field, an enemy will come by night and sow tares," and so it was in this revival. Along with a true, work of grace wrought by God the Spirit, there was a work of the subtle enemy of Christ and His church, which marred the revival, and finally brought it to an end. In these remarks ( refer to the bodily agitations commonly spoken of as "the jerks," the wide prevalence of which characterized this revival.
The phenomenon of swooning, or suddenly falling down under religious excitement, has not been uncommon in great revivals, and under impassioned preaching. Such occurrences were very common under the ministry of Whitfield and Wesley, both in this country and Great Britain. The same was remarkably the fact at Camburlang and Kilsyth, in Scotland, during the extraordinary religious excitement which occurred in those towns early in the last century, but the bodily agitation called "the jerks" was, in many particulars, a very different affection from this.
The following account of this strange affection is copied from the Princeton Review for July, 1834, and was written by a Presbyterian minister, who had been an eye-witness of what he relates.  "The extraordinary bodily agitation called 'the jerks,' commenced in East Tennessee, at a sacramental meeting, and we have been informed that on that very day, several hundreds of persons, of all ages and sexes, were seized with this involuntary motion. It was at first almost uniformly confined to the arms, and the motion proceeded downwards from the elbow, causing the arms to move with a sudden jerk, or quick, convulsive motion, and these jerks succeeded each other, after short intervals. For some time, no religious meeting was held in which this novel, involuntary exercise was not exhibited by more or less of the audience, in that part of the country where they originated And, generally, all those who had once been the subjects of it, continued to be frequently affected, and not only at meeting but at home and sometimes when entirely alone. After the commencement of the jerks, they spread rapidly in all directions. Persons drawn by curiosity to visit the congregations where they existed, were often seized, and when they returned home they would communicate them to the people there. But in some instances they occurred in remote valleys of the mountains, where the people had no opportunity of communicating with the infected. In East Tennessee and the south western part of Virginia, their prevalence was the greatest, and in this region, persons of all descriptions were seized, from the aged gray headed preacher down to children of eight or ten years of age."
"Soon, however, the exercise began to assume a variety of appearances. While the jerks in the arms continued to be the most common form, in many cases the joint of the neck was the seat of the convulsive motion, and the head was thrown back and forward to an extent and with a celerity which no one could imitate, and which to the spectator was most alarming Another common exercise was dancing, which was performed by a gentle and not ungraceful motion, but with little variety in the steps. During the administration of the Lord's Supper, in the presence of the Synod of Virginia, we witnessed a young woman's performance of this exercise for the space of twenty minutes or half an hour. The pew in which she was sitting was cleared, and she danced from one end to the other; her eyes were shut and her countenance calm. When the dancing terminated she fell, and seemed to be agitated with more violent motions. We saw another who had what was called the jumping exercise. It was truly wonderful to observe the violence of the impetus with which she was borne upwards from the ground. It required the united strength of three or four of of her companions to confine her down. None of these varieties, however, were half so terrible to the spectators as that which affected the joint of the neck. In this it appeared as if the neck must be broken, and while the bosom heaved in an extraordinary manner, the countenance was distorted in a very remarkable way."
"Besides the exercises already mentioned, there were others of the most curious and even ludicrous kind. In one, the affected barked like a dog; in another, they boxed with fists clenched, striking every body and thing near them. The running exercise was also one of the varieties, in which the person was impelled to run with amazing swiftness. There were many other singular motions, in imitation of persons playing on the violin, or sewing with a needle."
"The most remarkable circumstance in relation to these various exercises was that persons affected with a peculiar species of jerks, coming into a congregation where that had not been experienced, would commonly communicate it to those who had been affected with exercises of a different kind. Thus, a lady from Tennessee, who brought into Virginia the barking exercise, was immediately imitated by certain of those affected with the jerks, who had never seen anything of this sort before. These nervous agitations were, at first, received as something supernatural, intended to arrest the attention of the careless multitudes, and were therefore encouraged and sustained by many of the pious; but after a while they be came troublesome. The noise made by these convulsive motions in the pews was such that the preacher could not be composedly heard, and in several of the exercises, the affected person needed the attention of more than one person to care for him. Besides, nervous agitation or falling was so easily brought on by the least mental excitement, even at home, that many who were the subjects of the jerks, became weary of it, and in some cases avoided serious and exciting thoughts, lest they should produce this effect. It is remarkable, however, that they all united in their testimony, that in the most violent and convulsive agitations, as when the head would rapidly strike the breast and back alternately, no pain was experienced, and some asserted that when one arm only was affected with the jerks, it felt more comfortable than the other throughout the whole day. Perhaps this was imagination. In some places the persons affected were not permitted to come to the church, on account of the noise and disturbance produced. The subjects were generally pious, or seriously affected with re- ligion, but there were cases in which careless persons and those who continued to be such were seized. The dread of the jerks was great in many, both religious and careless, and, upon the whole, the effect produced was very unfavorable to the advancement of religion."
When I began my ministry here, there were numbers yet living who had witnessed such scenes, as those described, in this very house, and from whom I had an account of what they had seen confirming in every particular the statements of the writer in the Princeton Review. These "exercises" as they were termed, were doubtless, in a large measure, cases of peculiar nervous excitement, but not altogether such. In the judgment of some of the most pious and judicious ministers who lived and labored in the midst of this revival, there was mingled with nervous disorder more or less of demoniacal influence, such as that put forth in the case of the youth brought by his father to Jesus, immediately after His descent from the mount of transfiguration, of whom it is written: "And when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed, foaming." Mark 9: 20. This opinion I have heard expressed by Dr. Geo. A. Baxter, Professor of Theology in Union Seminary, when I was a student there, and a member of this Presbytery at the time at which the jerks prevailed, or shortly thereafter.
To us, in our day, gathering instruction from the experience of our fathers, this whole subject of the jerks may seem a very trivial matter, and I suppose there would be no difference of opinion among us as to the duty of the church to disapprove of and suppress them. But, appearing as they did, in connection with the beginnings of a great revival of religion, and having in many in stances, as their subjects, persons of established character and undoubted piety, we cannot be surprised that our fathers were, for a time, greatly perplexed. As bringing vividly before the mind the grounds of this perplexity, take the case of Rev. Samuel Brown, then pastor of New Providence church, as related in Sprague's Annals. "When the strange phenomenon, the jerks, appeared in connection with the great revival, soon after the beginning of the present century, Mr. Brown immediately commenced an investigation of their character, which resulted in the conviction that they were in no sense the work of the Spirit. Mr. Brown's principal reason for this conclusion, as afterwards given to Dr. Samuel B. Wilson, was: If the Spirit his sent me to preach the gospel, it surely cannot be the same Spirit that prevents me from deliver- ing my message, or the congregation from giving it serious attention—reasoning which reminds one of Paul's reasoning about the disorderly "speaking with tongues" at Corinth. Under this conviction he opposed these bodily "exercises" rigorously, and succeeded in keeping them out of his congregation almost entirely, while they prevailed in most or all the congregations around. Among those who were deeply grieved at this course was a venerable elder in a neighboring congregation—a man of eminent piety, and withal one of Mr. Brown's most attached friends. This elder made him a visit, with a view of remonstrating with him, and convincing him, as he believed, of his mistake. After a long discussion, he found his arguments all disposed of, and went away silenced, but not satisfied. In the course of a few days he repeated his visit, confident that he should then be able to accomplish what he had failed to do before, but he met now with a discomfiture more signal than the first. The gray-headed old man, as he rose to start for home, in the warmth of his feeling, grasped Mr. Brown's hand, and said with great earnestness: 'Mr. Brown, I cannot reason with you, but I am right and you are wrong, and I solemnly warn you that if you do not cease your opposition to this work of God, you will cease to be useful, will lose your Christian comfort, and at last die under a cloud.' Mr. Brown simply replied: 'I am willing to leave it all in God's hands.' Many months after, the good old man came back to visit him, and acknowledged that he was himself in the mistake, and asked forgiveness for what then seemed to him his unreasonable and ungracious remarks." — Sprague's Annals, Vol 4. p. 76.
It was well for our church that she had in her ministry at that time such men as Samuel Brown; men who, when they had reached a conclusion as to what the truth of God was, were willing to live up to their convictions at every hazard. To their influence we must trace the fact that the Presbyterian Church in Virginia retained its integrity, whilst that of Kentucky and East Tennessee was rent asunder. For it was in the conflict over these bodily exercises, regarded by some as a special work of God, and by others as, in part at least, a work of the devil, that the division originated which led to the formation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
After the disappearance of the jerks, our churches enjoyed a season of quiet prosperity for some twenty-five years, and then began the troubles which resulted in the rending of the Presbyterian Church throughout the United States into the two bodies  afterward known as the Old and New School Churches. The exscinding acts, as they were called, by which the four synods of the Western Reserve in Ohio, and Utica, Genessee and Geneva in New York, were declared to be no part of the Presbyterian Church were adopted by the General Assembly of 1837. This was the overt act which consummated the disruption, but the real cause of that disruption had been at work for years before. I was a student in Union Theological Seminary in 1837, when the disruption actually took place, and was licensed to preach by Lexington Presbytery in September, 1838, so that the early part of my Christian ministry was passed in the midst of the commotion attendant upon the disruption, and what I shall say of that sad time of trial for our Church will be largely from my own personal recollection.
In the year 1801, the General Association of the Congregational Churches in Connecticut proposed to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church a plan of cooperation, or plan of union, as it was more frequently called, to meet a difficulty arising from the fact that in the newly settled portions of the country, especially in Western New York and Ohio, the population was frequently made up of Congregationalists and Presbyterians in about equal numbers, neither denomination being strong enough to maintain gospel ordinances by itself. The plan, as finally adopted, embraced the two following provisions, viz: (1) That Congregational ministers might be regularly settled as pastors of Presbyterian churches, and Presbyterian ministers as pastors of Congregational churches without change in their ecclesiastical connection, and (2) That mixed churches of Congregationalists and Presbyterians might be organized, and the immediate government of such churches should be by a Session of regularly ordained Ruling Elders, according to the Presbyterian plan, or by a Committee elected from time to time, according to the Congregational plan, as the majority of members might choose. There can be no doubt that the difficulty which this plan of union sought to obviate was a serious difficulty in many newly settled portions of the country; nor, that the plan itself was adopted by our fathers with the best of motives, but in its practical operation it proved disastrous.
The Presbyterian and Congregational churches of that day were, in their faith, essentially one: but in their systems of government and in their practical methods of doing the work of the church, they stood very wide apart. The government of the particular church, according to the Presbyterian system, is in the hands of a session, consisting of a Pastor and Ruling Elders, all regularly ordained to their work, and at their ordination required to accept the Confession of Faith as a creed, with a right of appeal from the decisions of this Session to the Presbytery and higher courts of the church. According to the Congregational system, the government of the particular church is in the hands of a Committee of unordained men, who have never adopted any confession of faith, but the brief summary of doctrine to which they gave assent at the time they were admitted to the communion, with no right of appeal from the decisions of this Committee but to the assembled membership of the particular church to which the appellant belonged. In carrying forward the general work of the church— its work of education for the ministry, and of domestic and foreign missions, for example—the Presbyterian Church, in its Presbyteries, Synods and General Assembly, has an organization for doing its work under the immediate direction of the Church, and with direct responsibility to constituted authority on the part of all executive officers. The Congregational Church, having no such organization, must do this work through the agency of Voluntary Societies.
For a time, this plan of union seemed to work smoothly, and not only Presbyteries, but Synods were formed, consisting largely of mixed churches, which could in no way be held to proper responsibility to the courts of the Church. Then came a great revival of religion, especially powerful in Western New York and Central Ohio, under the ministry of Rev. Charles Finney and others, beginning about 1827-8. This revival, like that in our own section of the country, a quarter of a century before, was accompanied with many departures from the orderly worship to which Presbyterians were accustomed—the introduction of "new-measures" as they were called, and in the case of some of the leaders, a departure from sound doctrine also. When the attempt was made to correct these disorders, and to discipline certain men who were teaching doctrines at variance with our standards, the attempt was constantly frustrated, in consequence of the irregular constitution of the four Synods subsequently exscinded. So, in conducting the benevolent operations of the Church, especially in the department of domestic missions, the American Home Missionary Society, a Volunteer Society, properly the organ of the Congregational Churches of New England, was constantly coming into collision with our Presbyterian agencies operating with the  same end in view. This society gathered its funds, in part, from our churches, and yet it was alleged, threw the whole weight of its influence in the new settlements in favor of Congregationalism, and against Presbyterianism.
For such reasons as these, the "plan of union" designed to give harmony to the operations of the two churches, became a fruitful source of discord, and for several years before the disruption in 1837, the Presbyterian Church was practically divided into the two great parties, then and afterwards known as the New and Old School. In the Assembly of 1835, the Old School party were in the ascendancy, and they initiated measures looking to the reform of the abuses which had crept into the church, for, as a matter of fact, the "plan of union" had been made to cover a great many cases such as were never dreamed of when it was originally adopted—e. g., Congregational ministers owning no allegiance to the Presbyterian Church, and committee-men who had never adopted our standards, through an election by the mixed Presbyteries, had been admitted to seats in all the church courts, even the General Assembly, and by their votes in certain instances had decided cases carried up by appeal, in which the peace and purity of the church were involved. In the Assembly of 1836, through the management of Dr. Absalom Peters, Secretary of the American Home Missionary Society, as it was said, the New School party found themselves in the majority, and they speedily undid the work of the preceding Assembly.
This action thoroughly aroused the Presbyterian feeling in the sections of the church in which the Old School party predominated. And the Assembly of 1837, when it came together, was found to be most decidedly Old School. I have already remarked that for several years the church had been practically divided into the two great parties of the Old and New School, and recognizing this fact, the first movement in the Assembly was to attempt a quiet and peaceable division. A committee was appointed, embracing the leading men of the two parties, to arrange, if possible, a plan of division. The committee subsequently reported that in their judgment, a division was desirable, but as to the terms upon which this division should take place, they could not agree. "The Plan of Union" was then abrogated as "unconstitutional in so far as the action of the Assembly of 1801 was concerned, having never been submitted to the Presbyteries, and totally destitute of authority, as proceeding from the General Association of Connecticut, which was invested with no power to legislate in such cases." This abrogation was carried by a vote of 143 to 110; and I give this vote as I believe that it represents pretty fairly the relative strength of the Old and New School parties in the Presbyterian Church in the United States at that day. This action was followed by the adoption of "the exscinding acts," i. e., resolutions declaring that the Synods of the Western Reserve in Ohio, and of Utica, Genessee and Geneva, in New York, said Synods having been formed under a plan of Union unconstitutional and therefore void from the beginning, were no longer a part of the Presbyterian Church.
Many in our Southern Synods who believed that a division of the Church was inevitable, and in all the circumstances of the case desirable, and who had no sympathy with the measures and doctrines known distinctively as New School, yet regarded the exscinding act as unconstitutional and unnecessarily harsh, and so far sympathized with the exscinded Synods as to withdraw from the Old School portion of the Church and to unite with those Synods in forming what was afterwards known as the New School Presbyterian Church in the United States. The first New School General Assembly was organized in Philadelphia in 1838; and the final separation within the bounds of the Synod of Virginia took place the same year. That spring the Presbyteries constituting the Synod of Virginia, reported to the General Assembly 140 ministers. The year following they reported 106. The entire Presbytery of Abingdon, "Old Abingdon Presbytery," as it has been called, numbering 7 ministers, went with the New School. The entire Presbytery of Lexington and that of Greenbrier, which had been set off from Lexington but a year before, numbering together 48 ministers, went with the Old School. The other Presbyteries were divided. And this division was not limited to the Presbyteries, but particular churches were rent asunder, and New and Old School Churches stood side by side in the same field.
In effecting this division of the Church there was a great deal of crimination and recrimination indulged in on both sides, and as a consequence of this, an estrangement between brethren and a great deal of bitter feeling awakened All association of the churches of the two schools was discountenanced; and when Presbyteries, and Synods, and even their General Assemblies met in the same place, they refused to commune with each other. For some years the two divisions of the Presbyterian Church seemed, practically, further apart than either of them was from other evangelical denominations. In parts of the country where no division had taken place, as within the bounds of Lexington Presbytery, the condition of the Church was comparatively quiet. But where the plough-share of division had been run—and roughly run—as in the city of Richmond, for example, for a looker-on to have said "behold, how these brethren love one another," would have been about as sharp a satire as the tongue could have uttered. As I look back, it seems to me almost incredible that such a state of things as I have described could ever have existed. And yet, I do not think that I have overdrawn the dark picture.
Gradually a better state of feeling began to prevail; and this better feeling within the bounds of our Synod, was owing, in part, to a revival of the Christian graces in the hearts of our ministers, and to the influence of revivals of religion in our churches; and in part to the fact that a few years after the division the New School Church of the South was compelled to withdraw from the New School Church North, by the rampant abolition spirit which manifested itself there. For several years before the reunion at the South occurred, the way had been gradually opening for it.—Ministers of the two schools resumed the friendly relations of former years, and began to exchange pulpits and to preach for each other on special occasions, and private members passed freely and without censure from one church to the other. But it was not until the war of 1861-'65 compelled the Southern portion of the Old School to assume an independent position, and an organization distinct from that of the North, that the way for reunion was fully opened. In 1864, after a careful comparison of views by large committees of the Synod of Virginia and the United Synod, as the New School body was called, finding that whatever difference as to Presbyterian policy and doctrine there may once have been, there were none remaining in the way of their coming together with mutual respect and confidence, the breach, after lasting for 26 years, was finally healed; and one Presbyterian church now covers the whole territory of the Southern States as it did in the beginning. A few years later the Old and New School churches at the North united also.
The separation of the Southern Presbyterian church from that of the North, in 1861, was caused immediately by the war between the States. The history of that separation the men of another generation will write more correctly and impartially than we.—There are two facts, however, belonging to this part of the history of our church in Virginia I must mention, viz: (1) The influence of the late war upon the piety of our people was not as disastrous asit was in the war of the Revolution. There was no influence of infidelity, claiming admittance under the guise of counsel from a friend to whom gratitude bound us, during the late war, as in that of the Revolution. The leaders of our great armies, especially the army of Northern Virginia, were men of decided piety. The daily life of such Christian men as Robert E. Lee and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson could not but have a happy influence on the armies under their command. The churches, too, from the beginning, cared for the soldiers. They were members of our churches and members of the families of which our churches were made up; our fathers and brothers; and as they went forth to the war, our hearts went with them. Hence it came about that many of our best young ministers went with them as chaplains; and our old ministers—pastors of our largest churches—often visited the army, and when in winter quarters, spent weeks with them, preaching the Gospel. For myself, I can say that some of the pleasantest recollections of my whole ministry are recollections of days—or rather nights—spent in preaching to the soldiers. (2) The bitter feelings engendered by the war, and which for a time forbade all friendly relations between the Presbyterian churches north and south, have now entirely passed away. Fraternal relations —which are really fraternal—have been established; and if organic union is not desired, on our side, it is not because of any lingering hostility or distrust remaining, but simply because we believe that the United Church would be too large and unwieldy to attend properly to its work.
On two separate occasions our Lord represents the work of the Gospel minister as that of a fisherman. In Matthew 4, 18-22, we read: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And he said unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him. And going from thence he saw other two brethren, James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed him." And in Luke 5, 4-11: "Now when he had left speaking, he saith unto Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your net for a draught. And Simon answered and said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night and taken no thing; nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had so done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their net brake"—was ready to break. "And they beckoned unto their partners which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both of the ships so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O, Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so was also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land they forsook all and followed him."
On the occasion on which our Lord used this figure to set forth the nature of the Gospel minister's work, recorded by Matthew, we are told that He found James and John "mending their nets." Mending the net is as important a part of the work of a successful fisherman as "casting the net" after it is mended.
In the 13th Chapter of Matthew, that chapter of wonderful parables, our Lord closes his discourse with a parable beginning—"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away." (Matt. 13: 47-8) By ''the kingdom of heaven" here represented by this net, we are undoubtedly to understand the Visible Church of God in the world.
With this net it is that the "fishers of men" have to labor. And experience teaches that in every age, those who have done effective work for the Master with it, have been compelled to spend no small portion of their time in "mending the net." When we consider the material of which the visible church on earth is made up—men and women "of every kind," and the best of them but partially sanctified—this should cause us no surprise. A net with so many slack-twisted and rotten strands, must needs often break; and before it can be cast with good effect, must needs be mended. Our Lord's own ministry was with a visible church, embracing a Judas Iscariot, a devil from the beginning, a doubting Thomas—to whom the fallible testimony of his senses was more trustworthy than the sure word of the Son of God—and a rash, self confident Peter, who could protest "though I should die with thee I will not deny thee," and then, before the morning dawned, deny his Master thrice. And with what infinite patience and unfailing love did He bear with the hypocrisy of Judas, and meet the unreasonable incredulity of Thomas, and pray for, and by his prayer save, the almost apostate Peter. Truly may it be said of his ministry that much of it was occupied in mending the old net.
And so, when we turn to the history of the Presbyterian Church in Virginia, for the last hundred years, we are not surprised to find that she has been called to pass through trial after trial: and the men who have been most efficient in the Master's service have been compelled—like the Master—with long-suffering forbearance, yet with an unwavering loyalty to the truth, to spend much of their time in mending the old net. It has been said that the secular history of Great Britain is largely made up of the story of rebellions and revolutions, and hard fought battles for the independence and integrity of the Empire. So, likewise, the history of the Church of God in the world, is made up largely of the story of struggles for the truth, now assailed from one side—now from another.
The history of the Presbyterian church in Virginia for the last hundred years, opens with an account of a conflict with French infidelity, so sore that the faith of many good men was ready to give way. Then follows the story of a great revival, marred and finally brought to a close by a fanaticism which threatened, for a time, to overthrow the orderly constitution and descent worship of the church. And then, we have the rending in twain of the Presbyterian church of the United States, of which the church in Virginia was a part, by a division of such a character and so accomplished that for a time it seemed as if brotherly love had forsaken the church altogether. And lastly a bloody civil war, arraying Christian against Christian in mortal strife. And yet out of all these trials has the "good Lord" granted us a deliverance.
Had this centennial celebration occurred a few years ago, I should have closed this account by saying that though in the past much time had been taken up in mending the old net, we might now congratulate each other with the fact that it was in better condition than it had been for many years. Brethren, did not some of us indulge in vain-glorious boasting over the unbroken peace and perfect unity in faith of our Southern Presbyterian Church? Now, that the century has reached its close, we are obliged to confess that the old net has given way again: some slack-twisted—perhaps rotten—strand has broken, and the principal business of our General Assembly at its last meeting was to mend the old net again. Let us not be discouraged by this, "as though some strange thing had happened unto us," but, emulating the faith and courage of our Fathers, let us labor earnestly, honestly and  with cheerful confidence in the work which the Master has assigned us as the work of to-day.
And this leads me to a second remark. When our Lord repeated His representation of the work of Gospel minister as that of a fisherman, as the incident is recorded by Luke, Peter and his companions had been fishing all night, and caught nothing. And then, when with trembling yet obedient faith, they let down their net at the Master's bidding, they "enclosed such a multitude of fishes that the net was ready to brake " And this is but an illustration of what has ever been found true in the history of the church. The old net, if it were not God's net, would have gone to pieces long ago.
In the numberless trials, from every conceivable quarter, to which the Catholic Church Visible has been subject, she has, contrary to all judgment founded upon human probabilities, come out uninjured from the trials. And, to-day, she possesses larger numbers, and greater wealth, and profounder learning, and greater facilities for the discharge of her great commission—"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,"—than at any previous period of her history. So, with that portion of the church with which we are more immediately connected—the Presbyterian Church in Virginia—the closing years of the century leave her far in advance of the position she occupied at its beginning. In 1788, the year in which our Synod was organized, the three Presbyteries of Hanover, Lexington and Abingdon, covering the territory now covered by the Synod, embraced 21 ministers; and 2 licentiates. This year, as appears from the report to the General Assembly, our ten Presbyteries number 226 ministers and 16 licentiates—an increase of more than ten-fold.
The history of our church for the last hundred years, seems, at first sight, but a history of trial after trial—the story of the continual breaking and mending of the old net. Yet, does it furnish no good ground of discouragement. And certainly it is well adapted to enforce a lesson of wisdom which Solomon taught the men of his day, when he wrote: "Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." Ecc. 7. 10. Let us ever remember that the old net is the Lord's net. Is it broken? Let us labor diligently to mend the break. Is it whole? Though patched and mended in almost every part, let us, at the Lord's bidding, cheerfully "let it down into the sea," for it will doubtless "enclose a great multitude of fishes."
* * * * * *
THE HIGHER CRITICISM AND ITS CONCLUSIONS.
The Substance of Three Discourses
Preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, CA.,
By Geo. D. Armstrong, D. D., Pastor.
Published by the Congregation, 1884.
"THE LAW WAS GIVEN BY MOSES."—JOHN 1: 17.
Of late, we have heard much of what is popularly styled "the Higher Criticism," and of the results of the application of the principles of this "higher criticism" to the Scriptures.
What is this higher criticism? and what does it profess? What it is, is a question we will be better prepared to answer at a later stage of this discussion. What it professes is, to judge of and decide all questions respecting the interpretation, the authorship and the credibility of the Scriptures, just as we would similar questions respecting any other book. Rightly understood, no one can object to such a proceeding as this. How the higher critics understand it, we shall see in the course of our investigation.
What are the conclusions to which the higher critics have come, in applying their principles of criticism to the Scriptures? To this question it is impossible to give a definite answer, for no two of them agree. Confining our attention to the Pentateuch.
Professor Robertson Smith comes to the conclusion, that a small part of Exodus, viz: ch. 21-23, and the first eleven chapters of Deuteronomy, were written by Moses; but by far the larger part was written in the days of Josiah; was in fact "the book of the Law" found in repairing the temple, (see II Kings ch. 22,) 800 years after Moses' day; and the remainder is made up of traditions, first reduced to writing, after the .Jews return from captivity in Babylon, probably by Ezra, 200 years later still—these last-mentioned portions being ascribed to Moses, in order to give them greater authority among the Jews.
The conclusions to which Professor Crawford H. Toy, of Harvard, the latest American writer on the side of "the higher criticism" comes, I will state in his own words. In his "History of the Religion of Israel"' he writes:—
"Moses' work uncertain. If we cannot suppose that the Pentateuch the live books of Moses is correct history, then we do not know precisely what Moses did for his people. Did he try to make them more humane, as well as more spiritual? It seems that in those  days they were half barbarians; was Moses a reformer like the Athenian Solon? It is hard to say * * From all that we do know, we are led to believe that what Moses did, was rather to organize the people, and give them an impulse in religion, than to frame any code of laws, or make any great change in their institutions. In after years it became the fashion, to think of him as the author of almost all the religious customs of the land; as the divinely appointed lawgiver, who received his instructions (Tora the "Israelites called it,) from the mouth of Yahwe himself. But it is not very important for us to be able to say that Moses did just this and that. Under the guidance of God, Israel grew in wisdom and worked out a great Tora, an instruction in righteousness; and it matters little to us whether it was Moses or somebody else, who had the chief part in it. But it is probable that he was a great man, and did much for his people." p.p. 25, 26.
"The march from Goshen to Canaan. After leaving Egypt, the Israelites seem to have moved from place to place, in the northern part of Arabia, where they spent some time, before reaching Canaan. Their route is described in a general way in the books of Deuteronomy (1-3 and 10: 6-7) Exodus (14-19) and Numbers 10-14, 20-22); and there is a list of stations, (an itinerary) in Numbers 33 ch. But these were written so long after the events occurred, that we cannot rely on their correctness. Whether, on leaving Goshen, they crossed the upper part of the Bed Sea, or skirted the Sirbonian lake, or went some other way, there is at present no means of determining. There was in later times a firm belief among the Israelites, that they had spent sometime at Mount Sinai, in the peninsula called by the Greeks and Romans Arabia Petrea, and that there, the Law was given by God through Moses. We know that it was not there, that God gave Israel its law; but the people, or a part of them, may have stayed there awhile. Thence they marched northward towards the Dead Sea, and perhaps approached their, new land, in two divisions, one on the east, and one on the west of the sea." p. 27.
I have quoted thus largely from Dr. Toy's book, for two reasons— (1.) It is the first attempt made, in so far as I know, to bring the conclusions of the Higher Critics, to the attention of the mass of the people. His ''History of the Religion of Israel" was prepared for the use of Sabbath Schools, and is published by ''The Unitarian Sunday School Society, Boston:" and (2.) It seems to me, that Dr. Toy has but honestly and fairly carried out the principles of the higher criticisms, to their legitimate conclusions.
I do Dr. Toy no injustice, I think, when I state as his conclusions, (1.) That there is no sufficient reason to believe that Moses wrote any part of the Pentateuch,—even the small portion which Professor Smith assigns him, and (2.) That the Pentateuch is not "correct" or creditable history.
 In opposition to all this, the long-established faith of the Church is briefly and well expressed in the words of the text—"The Law was given by Moses."
"The Law." "When the word Law is used with the article, and without any word of limitation, it refers to the expressed will of God, and in nine cases out of ten to the Mosaic Law, or the Pentateuch of which it forms the chief portion." Smith's Bible Dictionary.
"Was given," i. e. God-given, as is expressly affirmed in the Pentateuch many times.
"By Moses,'' i. e. by Moses as God's agent, accredited by him to Israel, in many ways.
The common faith of the Church—traditional faith, the higher critics like to call it—is, that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and is inspired, in the sense in which Peter defines that word—"Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (II Pet. 1: 21,) and is therefore credible history.
Which of these conclusions shall we accept, that of Dr. Toy, or the common faith of the Church? Let the principle professedly followed by the higher critics, viz: to judge of questions concerning the Scriptures, just as we would judge of similar questions respecting any other book, decide.
There is a book bearing the title of "Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars," which is universally received,—by the higher critics as well as others,—as written by the man whose name it bears, and as credible history. I select this book because its author, Julius Caesar sustains to his history, very much the same relation that Moses does to the Pentateuch, he was an eye-witness and a principal actor in the events he records. Why do we receive this book as authentic, i. e. written by the man whose name it bears, and credible; i. e. worthy to be believed? Mainly, for the reasons:—
(1.) The book, in several passages, claims to have been written by Julius Caesar, and to be true history.
(2.) It has been quoted and referred to by writers in every age, from Caesar's day to the present, as authentic and credible.
(3.) It bears internal marks of having been written by Caesar, and of being true history.
Let us apply these rules of judging to the case of Moses and the Pentateuch.
I. THE PENTATEUCH CLAIMS MOSES AS ITS AUTHOR, AND TO BE TRUE HISTORY, IN SUCH PASSAGES AS THE FOLLOWING, VIZ:
"And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do, And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord." Ex. 24: 3, 4. "And the  Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee, and with Israel." Ex. 34: 27. "And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys, by the commandment of the Lord; and these are their journeys according to their goings out. Numb. 33: 2. This is the introduction to the itinerary of Israel's travels in the wilderness, of which Dr. Toy explicitly denies the Mosaic authorship, and says it "was written so long after the events occurred that we cannot rely on its correctness."
"And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel has come to appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing." Deut, 31: 9-11. Of a compliance with the requirement, thus publicly to read the law, we have an account in Nehemiah ch. S, where it is said the reading continued "from the morning until midday."
"And it came to pass, that when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you, for I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death." Deut. 31: 24-27. The book here mentioned is doubtless the book found in the temple in Josiah's day, (see II Chron. ch. 34) about which the higher critics have written so much.
It is true, that in none of the passages quoted above, does Moses claim to have written all of the Pentateuch, but, fairly interpreted, he certainly does claim to have written the most important parts of it, and the very parts of which the higher critics deny his authorship.
II. THE PENTATEUCH HAS BEEN QUOTED, AND REFERRED TO BY WRITERS IN EVEKV AGE, FROM MOSES' DAY TO THE PRESENT, AS AUTHENTIC AND CREDIBLE.
Before proceeding to cite these quotations and references, I would ask the reader to remark the fact, that the Bible is not one book, written by one man, and at one time; but is a collection of many books, written by different men, at different times, during a period of fifteen centuries. The Old Testament contains all the extant literature of a great nation for a period of a thousand years.
Beginning with the oldest of these books, other than the five books ascribed to Moses, viz: The book of Joshua, who for a large part of his life was Moses' cotemporary, and succeeded him in the leadership of Israel.—we read—"The Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun . . . be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thus mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." Josh. 1: 7, 8.
And here, let me remark in passing, to dispose of a silly cavil, that the brief chapter with which the book of Deuteronomy closes, and which contains an account of the death and burial of Moses, was doubtless written by Joshua; and belongs rather to the book of Joshua than to that of Deuteronomy, the first mentioned of these books being but a continuation of the history given us in the last mentioned.
In the book of Judges, which continues the history of Israel for a period of 300 years, from the date at which the book of Joshua closes, we read:—"Now these are the nations which the Lord left, . . . to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would harken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." Judges 3: 1-4.
The 105th and 106th Psalms contain a brief recapitulation of the chief incidents in the history of Israel, as given in the Pentateuch, cited as grounds of thanksgiving to God on the part of Israel. The 90th Psalm bears the title, "A prayer of Moses the man of God." "The correctness of the title which ascribes this psalm to Moses is confirmed by its unique simplicity and grandeur; its appropriateness to his times and circumstances; its resemblance to the Law in urging the connection between sin and death; its similarity of diction to the poetical portions of the Pentateuch, without the slightest trace of imitation or quotation; its marked unlikeness to the Psalms of David, and still more to those of later date; and finally the proved impossibility of plausibly assigning it to any other age or author." J. A. Alexander.
David's parting charge to Solomon is in the words:—"I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statute, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies as it it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou tamest thyself." 1 Kings 2: 2, 3.
In his prayer at the dedication of the first temple. Solomon urges as a reason why God should hear the prayers of Israel,—"For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant,  when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, 0 Lord our God,"—and he follows the prayer with a blessing of the people in the words,—"Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised; there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant." 1 Kings 8: 53, 56.
In the account of the reformation effected in the days of King Hezekiah,—in whose reign the Prophet Isaiah lived and prophesied, we read—"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it, and called it Nehushtan." II Kings 18: 4. Of Moses making this brazen serpent we have an account in Numb. 21: 8, 9.
At a later date, and shortly before the captivity in Babylon, King Josiah in giving directions for observing the passover says—"So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses." And in the account of the observance of that passover we read.—"And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the Lord, as it is written in the book of Moses." II Chron. 35: 6, 12.
As instances of the recognition of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and its historic credibility by the Prophets, take the following, viz:
By Isaiah, who lived before the captivity,—"Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, where is he that brought them up out of the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? That led them by the right hand of Moses, with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?" Isaiah 63: 11, 12.
By Daniel, who lived during the captivity,—"Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his word, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us." Dan. 9: 11-13.
By Malachi, who lived after the restoration, and whose prophecy closes the Old Testament Scriptures,—"Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and Judgment." Mal. 4: 4.
Turning now to the New Testament, we have the testimony of the Apostles, in such words as these, viz:—
Of John:—"The Law was given by Moses." John 1:17.
 Of Philip:—"And Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." John 1: 45.
Of James, "And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying . . . For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day." Acts 15: 21.
Of Jude, or "Judas, not Iscariot," as he is called in John 14: 22. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Baalim for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Jude 7, 11. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Cain and Baalim and Core or Koran, is found in the Pentateuch alone.
Of Peter. "And Peter answered unto the people. . . . Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." Acts 3: 22. Quoted from Deut 18: 15.
Of Paul. "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." Rom. 5 : 14. "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." I Cor. 10: 1,2. "Now as James and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth." II Tim. 3: 8.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, generally ascribed to Paul as its author, is, in large part, a commentary on "the Law of Moses"; And in all it says of Abraham, and Melchisedec, and Aaron, and of the Patriarchs, in its illustrations of the nature of faith in Ch. XI, it takes for granted, the truth of the history contained in the Pentateuch.
The testimony of our Lord to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and its credibility as history, is oft repeated and explicit. As specimens of this testimony take the following, viz:
"Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words." John 5: 45-47.
"They said therefore unto him, what sign showest thou then, that we may see and believe thee; what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily,  I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." John 6: 31, 32.
"Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me. The people answered and said, thou hast a devil; who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the father;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are ye angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?" John 7: 19-23.
When Our Lord had healed a leper, he "said unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the Priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." Matt. 8: 4. For the law referred to see Lev. 13 and 14 Chs.
"Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; for he is not a God of the dead, but of the living." Luke 20: 37, 38.
To his two sorrowing disciples at Emmaus, Our Lord said—"O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself." Luke 24: 25-27.
"And he said unto them (i. e. his Apostles) These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning me." Luke 24: 44.
Such is the explicit testimony of Prophets and Apostles, and of our Lord himself, to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and to its credibility; besides passages almost innumerable to be found throughout the Old and New Testaments in which, by fair implication, the authenticity and credibility of the Pentateuch is taken for granted:—and in view of these facts, I remark, the evidence of this kind for Cesar's authorship of "The Gallic Wars," and the credibility of that book is not a tithe of that there is for Moses' authorship of "The Law," and its truth as history.
Thus far we have considered the testimony of Prophets and Apostles, and of Our Lord himself, as the testimony of ordinary men. But in forming a judgment, respecting questions of the kind before us, in the case of other books, we always take into account the character, and probable means of information of the witnesses. It is a dictate of reason that witnesses should be weighed as well as counted. Prophets and Apostles claim to have written under inspiration of God; and our Lord claims to be truly and properly di- vine; to be God as well as man; and these facts must be taken into account if we would deal with the Pentateuch just as we deal with any other book.
I. Prophets and Apostles claim to have written under "inspiration of God."
What do we mean by "inspiration of God?" Let us see if we can get from the Scriptures themselves, a satisfactory definition of the term:—And this is the more necessary, because many writers, especially the advocates of the Higher Criticism, have juggled with the term, until in their hands it has come to mean anything or nothing, as best suits their purpose.
The expression is used in II Tim. 3: 16. ''All scripture is given by inspiration of God;"—and it is defined in such passages as the following, viz:
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Heb. 1: 1, 2.
"When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God." I Thess. 2: 13.
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were move[d] by the Holy Ghost." II Pet. 1: 21.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual," (or as Dr. C. Hoge renders the last clause—"joining spiritual things to spiritual words.") I Cor. 2: 13.
With any fair interpretation, these passages cannot be made to teach less than:—(1) That in the scriptures we have an errorless record of truth, a record worthy to bear the name of "the word of God:" and (2) That this errorless record of truth has been made under the moving power of the God, the Holy Ghost.
In consistency with this doctrine, a careful examination of Scripture will show, that this inspiration of God the Spirit, did not interfere with the free and natural operation of the writer's own mind, did not obliterate his characteristic peculiarities of thought and diction. There is as marked a difference in style between the historic book of Genesis, and the poetic book of Isaiah, as between the writings of Thucydides and those of Homer. And this is in perfect accord with what experience teaches us of the operation of this same Holy Spirit upon the human spirit in regeneration and sanctification. Peter and John had characteristic peculiarities, of spirit as well as body, before their regeneration; they retained those peculiarities as long as they lived on earth:—and I doubt not, they will retain them evermore:—that in heaven, after the resurrection of the body has made the work of redemption complete, Peter will be Peter still, and John will be John.
Inspiration did not supersede the use of such means of information as, in God's providence, were within the writer's reach. Thus, Luke writes—"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye witnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed." Luke 1: 1-4. It may be that Moses, in writing the book of Genesis, made use of traditions current among his people; possibly, of historic documents, which had come down to him from former generations: But this much is fairly implied in his writings being a part of the Word of God, that "if he did make use of such information, he was guided by God the Spirit in the selection of the material used, separating between the appropriate and the inappropriate, the true and the false. Nothing less than this would make his writings worthy the title of "the Word of God."
There are two questions which have been much discussed of late, viz: (1) Is the inspiration of Scripture plenary? i. e. full, such as to make it an errorless record on all points on which it speaks, and not in matters of doctrine, and the essentials of the Christian faith only. To this, I answer, yes. It is plenary, The original autograph of the sacred writers was an errorless record, though errors may have, and as a matter of fact, unquestionably have crept in in the process of transmission from the writer's days to ours. (2) Is inspiration verbal? To this I answer:—Not in the sense which would make the writer a mere amanuensis; but it is verbal in such a sense as is implied in Paul's words—"which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, joining spiritual things to spiritual words." I Cor. 2: 13.
Such is the doctrine of inspiration as plainly taught in Scripture. Prophets and Apostles wrote under the influence of inspiration, the inspiration of God the Spirit. Our Lord was himself the Son of God. Taking into account, now, as we would in the case of any other book, the character of the witnesses, do I go too far when I say that to the Christian, the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and its truth as history, are established as fully and firmly, as it is possible for testimony to establish anything;—that it comes to us sealed with the seal of God himself.
 III. THE PENTATECCH BEARS INTERNAL MARKS OF HAVING BEEN WRITTEN BY MOSES, AND OF BEING TRUE HISTORY.
1. The literary style of a book is often appealed to in settling its age and authorship. It is on this question, largely, that the Higher Criticism rejects the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch; Prof. R. Smith contending that in differences of style we have evidence of the work of at least four different authors, in the books usually ascribed to Moses.
The argument on this ground cannot be presented in a popular form, and from the pulpit. I will not therefore attempt anything of the kind, but instead thereof ask your attention to what Prof. F. L. Patton of Princeton, one of the ablest scholars and logicians of our day and country, has written on the subject. In an article published in "The Presbyterian Review" for April 1883, he writes: "English readers are not unfamiliar with the precarious nature of arguments based on style. Some of us have not forgotten the discussion of the question whether Bacon wrote Shakespeare. Stanly Leathens, himself a Hebruist, makes admirable use of a controversy carried on in the columns of the London Times respecting the authorship of a poem, and says: If, some two hundred years after Milton's death, a number of educated Englishmen, versed in the many known writings of Milton, cannot agree about the authorship of a certain poem upon internal evidence, are we to believe that great weight should be attached to the assertion of a German critic, who some twenty-five centuries after the death of a Hebrew Prophet declares positive upon internal evidence alone [for here there is no handwriting to help us] that a series of Poems are not by him." He is speaking of what he calls "the imaginary figment of a second Isaiah," but the illustration suits the question in hand equally well.
"It would have been better for the theory of a fourfold narrative; so far as we are concerned, had Prof. Smith contented himself with the argumenfum ad ignorantiam, and told us that this is a matter that no one but a critic can understand. For in attempting to make us see the argument upon which criticism relies, he has confirmed our skepticism. We may assume that in illustrating differences of style between Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, he would not choose the passages in which it is least apparent; indeed, when we read the parallel passages in which he holds up this difference of style, to the gaze of eyes that are kindly supposed to be unfamiliar with the Hebrew text, we take it for granted that we have before us a crucial instance. As such we have studied it according to our lights; and our conclusion is that, judging by the differences apparent in these passages, the critics have most ungrudgingly, obeyed the law of parsimony when they assign only four authors to the Pentateuch. Why not forty? For we have no hesitation in saving  that by the same rule which gives four authors and a redactor to the Pentateuch, we will undertake to show that four authors and as many redactors were concerned in each of the articles written by Prof. Smith and Dr. Briggs."
"But let us listen to what specialists have to say upon this subject. Prof. Smith admits that "literary criticism, though a good and delicate tool," is subject "to special limitations in the case of Hebrew," and that "when carried beyond a certain point it arouses suspicion." Prof. Curtiss tells us there is "need of great caution in accepting the analyses of the critics." Dr. Green regards the recent right-about-face as to the order of the Elohist and the Jehovist as "a fresh demonstration of the precarious and inconclusive nature of the entire process of argument." Stanley Leathers pronounces unsatisfactory and unsound the results of criticism "which arise from the application of the Elohistic and Jehovistic theory to the composition of the Pentateuch." "Imaginative and unreasonably arbitrary" says Dr. McCaul, speaking of the Elohistic question; and Dr. Harold Browne puts his estimate upon the theory that denies the Mosaic authorship of Genesis when he says: "the romance of modern criticism is as remarkable as its perverse ingenuity."
2. In the case of Historical writings, unexpected confirmations of their incidental statements by other writings of admitted authority, properly, have great weight in deciding such questions as that before us.
As instances of this sort of confirmation of the authenticity and credibility of the Pentateuch, take the following, viz:
(1.) In Gen. 41: 14, we read—"Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh." On this Hengstenberg remarks—"Even the most prejudiced mind, in this incidental notice, recognize a purely Egyptian custom. Herodotus mentions it among the distinguishing peculiarities of the Egyptians, that they commonly were shaved, but in mourning they allowed the beard to grow. The sculptures also agree with this representation. So particular, says Wilkinson, were they on this point, that to have neglected it, was a subject of reproach and ridicule; and whenever they intended to convey the idea of a man of low condition, or a slovenly person, the artist represented him with a beard. Although foreigners, says the same author, who were brought to Egypt as slaves, had beard on their arrival in the country, we find that as soon as they were employed in the service of this civilized people, they were obliged to conform to the cleanly habits of their masters; their beards and head were shaved; and they adopted a close cap." (Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 30.)
(2) In Gen. 43: 31-33, we read: "And he (Joseph) washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, set on bread. And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves; and for the Egyptians, which did not eat with them, by themselves; because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination to the Egyptians, And they sat before him." On this account Hengstenberg remarks —"Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians abstained from all familiar intercourse with foreigners, since these were unclean to them, especially because they slew and ate the animals which were sacred among the Egyptians. Therefore (since the Egyptians honor much the cow) no Egyptian man or woman will kiss a Greek upon the mouth, they also use no knife or fork or kettle of a Greek, and will not eat the flesh of any clean beast if it has been cut up with a Greek knife. The circumstance that Joseph eats separately from the other Egyptians, is strictly in accordance with the great difference of rank, and the spirit of cast which prevailed among the Egyptians."
"It appears from V 33, that "the brothers of Joseph sat before him at the table, while according to patriarchal practice they were accustomed to recline. It appears from the sculptures, that the Egyptians also were in the habit of sitting at table, although they had couches. Sofas were used for sleeping. In a painting in Rosellim, each one of the guests sits upon a stool, which in accordance with the custom took the place of the couch." (Egypt and the Books of Moses, p.p. 37, 38.) For numerous other instances of a similar character, the reader can consult the book from which the above quotations are made.
(3) A very remarkable "undesigned confirmation" of the history contained in Genesis, has lately been brought to light. In his study of the papyri and inscriptions in the tombs which especially concern the daily life and habits of the Egyptians, Brugsch-Bey, one of the best informed among the Egyptologists of the present day, has made out, what may be called, an Egyptian "price-current," of the days of Joseph. According to this—
A Slave sold for $9.73
An Ox sold for .31
A Goat sold for .7 7-10
A Pair of Fowls sold for .1
A Razor sold for .3-1/2
(Osborn's Ancient Egypt, p. 82.)
If we turn now to Gen. 37: 28, we read, "And they sold Joseph to the Ishmalites for twenty pieces of silver; and they brought Joseph into Egypt." The piece of silver was doubtless the silver sheekle, worth, according to the best authority, a little less than 50 cents of our money:—the twenty pieces of silver corresponding almost exactly to the $9.73 of the old Egyptian "price-current."
3. The character of the communications, and the style of thought and reasoning of a book, often furnish important evidence respecting its age and authorship.
The Pentateuch contains a communication, commonly spoken of  as "the Moral Law" or "the Ten Commandments,"—which the author claims to have received directly from God; first, as spoken in audible words from the top of Sinai, and afterwards on "two tables of stone, written with the finger of God." According to this claim God is the author of this law in a very peculiar sense. Does the nature and style of this Law correspond to such a claim?
In a little tract, published by the American Tract Society many years ago, an eminent lawyer gives the following brief summary of the Moral Law, with his own remarks thereon: "I have been looking," writes he—"into the nature of that law. I have been trying to see whether I can add anything to it, or take anything from it so as to make it better. I cannot. It is perfect."
"The first commandment," continues he, " directs us to make the Creator the object of our supreme love and reverence. This is right. If he be our Creator, Preserver, and Supreme Benefactor, we ought to treat him, and none other, as such."
"The second forbids idolatry. That certainly is right."
"The third forbids profaneness."
"The fourth finds a time for religious worship. If there be a God, he ought surely to be worshipped. It is suitable that there should be an outward homage, significant of our inward regard. If God be worshipped, it is proper that some time should be set apart for that purpose, when all may worship him harmoniously and without interruption. One day in seven is certainly not too much; and I do not know that it is too little.
"The fifth defines the peculiar duties arising from the family relations."
"Injuries to our neighbor are then classified by the Moral Law. They are divided into offences against life, chastity, property and character. And applying a legal idea, I notice that the greatest offense in each class is expressly forbidden. Thus, the greatest injury to life is murder; to chastity, adultery; to property, theft; to character, perjury. Now the greater offense must include the less of the same kind. Murder must include every injury to life; adultery every injury to purity; and so of the rest. And the moral code is closed and perfected by a command forbidding every improper desire in regard to our neighbor."
Where did Moses get that law? I have read history: the Egyptians and adjacent nations were idolaters; so were the Greeks and Romans, and the wisest and best Greeks or Romans never gave a code of morals like this. Where did Moses get this law which surpasses the wisdom and philosophy of the most enlightened age? He lived at a period comparatively barbarous; but he has given a law, in which the learning and sagacity of all subsequent time can detect no flaw. Where did he get it? He could not have soared so far from his age as to have devised it himself. It must have come from heaven."
 And this is just what is affirmed respecting it in the Pentateuch. As Rousseau, after a careful study of the character of Christ Jesus as set forth in the gospel, said—"It is more inconceivable that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one should furnish the subject of it"—so may we say respecting the Ten Commandments, that it is more inconceivable that any man of the age and people, among whom they first appeared should have written them, than that they were "written on two tables of stone, by the finger of God " as is affirmed in the Pentateuch.
In our examination of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and its credibility, we have now applied the tests by which similar questions respecting other books are determined, and in view of all the facts of the case, I see not how the thoughtful man can avoid the conclusion that the books were written by Moses, that they are true history, and, as they claim, written under inspiration of God.
1. A radical fault in much of the reasoning of the Higher Critics is their utterly ignoring the divine element in the authorship of the Scriptures.
The Bible claims for itself a divine as well as a human agency in its production. "Holy men of God spake,"—there is the human,— "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (I Pet, 21: 21)—there is the divine agency. There is a true sense then in which it is a God-made book, and we cannot deal fairly with it, judge of it just as we would judge of any other book, if we ignore this fact; and a disregard of it must inevitably lead us into error.
In our day the art of making artificial, man-made flowers has been carried to great perfection, especially in the city of Paris, to such perfection that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish at a little distance, between them and the natural, God-made, flowers which are produced in our gardens. If we disregard this distinction, and treat all flowers as man-made, it will lead to the greatest absurdities. For example—take the best artificial rose-maker in Paris, a glass of water and a handful of charcoal, and ask her to make you a rose of it;—will she be much to blame if she thinks you crazy? and yet that is the very material out of which the most beautiful God-made rose has been constructed. Or, suppose I take a natural rose, one that has grown in my garden, and attempt to answer the question— where was it produced? It is very perfect in its form and structure, much more so than the rose made in New York or Philadelphia,— it must have been made in Paris. And this is the only rational conclusion to which I can come if all roses are artificial, man-made.
Not one whit more reasonable than this is the conclusion of the Higher Critics, from Gen. 36: 31, "And these are the Kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any King over the children of Israel," that this portion of Genesis, at least, must have been written after the days of Saul, the first King of Israel. The inference is reasonable if the book has no divine element in its authorship; but if it has such an element, if in a true sense of the expression, the book is God-made; then this passage must be regarded as nothing more than an instance of predictive prophesy, and is worthy of no more attention in fixing the date of the book than—Gen. 35: 11, "And God said unto him, I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation, and a company of nations shall be of thee, and Kings shall come out of thy loins."
2. A second radical fallacy in the reasoning of the Higher Critics is their utterly ignoring the divine agency, in man's progress in civilization and religion; and assuming that all such progress has been made through the agency of reason alone, and by a regular process of development or evolution. Dr. Toy writes—"The facts that have come to our knowledge make it probable that all the ancient or national religions originated in the same way, and grew according to the same laws. The differences between them are the differences between the peoples to whom they belong. Up to a certain point in their development they are all alike, and then they begin to show their local peculiarities. Of the earliest stage in the growth of Israel's religion, the fetishistic, we known almost nothing; when we first find them in Canaan, they are polytheist, like their neighbors, that is, they had separated the Deity from the objects of nature, and regarded these last as symbols of the Godhead. Thus much of their religious career belongs to the general history of ancient religions." (History of the Religion of Israel, p. 148.)
In common with the advocates of the Darwinian theory of evolution of man from the brute, Dr. Toy here assumes that man, as man, began his course upon earth as the most ignorant, debased and superstitious savage; and gradually, by his own effort, continued through ages, worked out a civilization and a religion for himself; that God having created man, if he did, indeed, create him, a pitiable troglodyte, like the Digger Indians of the West, left him to work out his destiny as best he could, and anything inconsistent with this monstrous hypothesis he treats as irrational and unworthy of credit.
In irreconcilable opposition to all such assumptions as this the Bible teaches that at man's creation. "God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen. 1: 26, 27.) And David writes—"Thou madest him (man) a little lower than the angels, and has crowned him with glory and honor, thou madest him to have dominion over the work of thy hands." (Ps. 8: 5, 6.) Civilized man has "dominion over the work of God's hands " to-day, over the steam which drives our machinery, and the electricity which carries our messages around the earth, not because he is mightier than they, but because he has learned the fixed laws which govern these agents, and through the operation of these laws, compels them to do his bidding. Of any other dominion than this we know nothing.
In consistency with this idea of man's condition at the beginning, we read, in the third Chapter of Genesis:—of the division of labor, —"Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground"—of the building of Cities,—"and he builded a city and called the city after the name of his son Enoch"—of mechanics and metallurgists,—"Tubal-Cain was an instructor of every artificer in brass and in iron"—and of music and musical instruments,—"Jubal was the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ"—all of them marks of an advanced civilization. We read also of Abel and Cain, as engaging in the Public Worship of God; the one, by bloody sacrifice, which he "offered in faith." (Heb. 11: 4) the representative of the religion of the Gospel; the other by his offering of the fruit of the ground," the representative of "natural religion," the two great phases of religious thought among the civilized peoples of to-day. From this condition of advanced civilization, the scriptures teach us that man sank from generation to generation, through the degrading influence of sin, until Christianity, in its form of world-wide activity, commenced its reclaiming work. On many tribes and peoples Christianity has not yet been brought to bear, and they are the troglodytes and cannibals of to-day, in "the Paleolithic, or old stone age" of their existence. Among others it has long been at work, e. g. the people of Great Britain and America; and they lead the van of civilization, and dominate the world.
With this scriptural idea of the course of civilization, the facts of authentic history, and the monuments of antiquity, all agree. The oldest civilization of which we can learn anything with certainty outside the records of scripture, is the Egyptian; and among the monuments of this Egyptian civilization, the grandest are confessedly the oldest. So it is with the Assyrian and Indian civilizations, the written and monumental records of which have lately been disentombed. On our Western Continent, the civilization of the empire of the Incas in South America, was far in advance of that of their descendants in our time. The mouldering temple of Central America, and the rock cities of New Mexico tell the same story. Standing on the height of our modern civilization, and looking away into the long past, the farthest off of the objects distinctly seen, are the pyramids and temples of Egypt, and then the palaces and great cities of the valley of the Euphrates, and then the rock-hewn temples and old pagodas of India and China, all telling—not of savage man working up, through force of intellect, from savagery to civilization; but of civilized man, sinking lower and lower, from generation to generation—all utterly inconsistent with the assumption of the higher critics—all confirming the simple story of the Bible.
 Returning now, in conclusion, to the question with which we started, and which we then remitted to the present stage of the discussion—What is "the higher criticism," I answer—It is a system of "destructive criticism," false in some of its most important and fundamental assumptions, partial and unfair in its application of the criteria of judgment to questions concerning the authorship and credibility of the books of scripture, and unreliable in its methods, even when those methods are least open to objection.
Carried out to its legitimate results, as it is in Dr. Toy's "History of the Religion of Israel."
(1.) It takes away from us the Bible as the word of God; though Dr. Toy would doubtless repudiate such a conclusion. But how can a plain man look upon a book as the word of God which is but a mass of fables and falsehoods; e. g. a book which holds up Abraham as "the father of the faithful" and "the friend of God," when in fact he was but a savage fetish worshipper, and this he must have been if Israel did not emerge from fetishism until their settlement in Canaan—a book which tells of Moses, as the man by whom "the law was given" at Sinai, when, in fact, it is doubtful if Moses was ever at Sinai, and the law was not written until a thousand years after Moses died, and then written out by some old priest or prophet, and palmed upon the people under the false pretense that it was Moses' work, to give it authority in Israel?
(2.) It takes from us Christianity as a supernatural religion revealed of God; though Dr. Toy would probably repudiate this conclusion also. But how can it be avoided if the religion of Israel, like Buddhism or Confucianism, is but one of the ''natural religions, which all originated in the same way, and grew according to the same laws?"
"Let no man deceive you with vain words." (Eph. 5: 6.) "It is the gospel of Christ," our holy religion which is in controversy. The higher criticism is but an attack "within the walls," just as the atheism of Payne and Ingersoll is an attack from without. We need not, we do not fear the result. We have the Master's assurance that his church, with all that is precious in the gospel it enshrines, "is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16: 18.)
SERMON & LECTURE INDEX.
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