R1334-151 Further Complications For Presbyterianism

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Every day may be said to furnish fresh disclosures proving the lack of sincerity of ministers prominent in various denominations—lack of honesty upon questions of doctrine. Their hearts are larger than their heads, but their love of popularity and a good living proves stronger than their conscientiousness toward either God or their denominations.

The following dispatch to the public press explains itself:

NEW YORK, Oct. 17.—”There is some agitation in store for President Patton, of Princeton, growing out of a speech he delivered to the Philadelphia society of Princeton college, on March 31, 1887.

“During that year the controversy at Andover, on the question of future probation, was agitating the whole religious world. Dr. Patton, then professor of ethics in the college, as well as in the seminary, was invited by the students of the former institution to give an address on the subject in Murray hall, Philadelphia. A large audience listened to him with the deepest interest, his views being supposed to be safe and final. Two members of the staff of the Philadelphia Magazine, one of them a stenographer, reported the speech with care. At the request of a member of the faculty, the venerable Dr. Duffield, who deemed the address ‘very broad,’ one of these students waited upon Dr. Patton the following morning, gave him the proof of his address and requested his permission to insert it in the magazine. To his surprise the professor emphatically forbade using it, saying that ‘he had spoken as Dr. Patton and not for the seminary,’ and that ‘to publish his remarks would injure the seminary.’

“Here is an extract from the Philadelphia address: ‘We continually see men going into the other world imperfect; they must be im perfect when they reach there, and need some time for restoration or change.

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“‘I am pretty sure that there is no doctrine that is put in jeopardy by the simple affirmation of this belief,’ i.e., future probation.

“The Presbyterian situation has been curiously complicated the last two days, first, by the discovery that Prof. Patton, president, of Princeton

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college, the rival of the Union Theological Seminary, and the leader of the anti-Briggs forces in the church, privately holds very much the same views as Briggs himself in regard to the doctrine of probation for the wicked after death. The second is that Dr. Hall, a celebrated Presbyterian divine of New York, and a trustee of the Union seminary, has resigned, because, while he did not fear being prosecuted, he was afraid to oppose the general sentiment.”

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At the time of its proposal we pointed out sundry incongruities between the portions of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith proposed to be retained and the amended or altered words and sections. We showed that the parts of the same Confession thus amended would contradict each other. It seems that Presbyterian ministers are gradually reaching this conclusion, and present prospects are that the revision suggested will be rejected. However, all are more than ever dissatisfied with the old Confession and the result will probably be an entirely new Confession. The end is not yet.


— November, 1891 —