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The English Presbyterians are following this course, and a committee has reported a symbol. But the Presbyterian Church in this country is not so well prepared for such a method. What discussion may accomplish we cannot say; but at present many conservatives and liberals, to some degree from opposite reasons, are alike opposed to an attempt to construct a new formula.
Two other methods of adjustment are discussed: a declaratory act, and a relaxation of the terms of subscription. The United Presbyterian Church of Scotland has been in the peaceful and happy enjoyment for some ten years of an excellent Declaration which was printed in the last April number of this REVIEW. It seems to be questioned by influential Presbyterians in this country whether their Church could agree at present on such an act, or is any better prepared to construct a declaration than to make a new creed. It will be interesting to watch the progress of discussion on this point.
If a new creed is out of the question, and revision of the old one is also undesirable or impracticable from the logical structure, consistency, and homogeneousness of the Confession, a declaratory act is the next resort for those who desire to secure a testimony from the church to the truths it now holds. A mere change in subscription attests that the existing creed is indefinitely relaxed; it does not promote the end of testimony to the truth. Probably laymen are more likely to favor either a new creed or a declaration than clergymen. Both may see and desire the same end; but laymen are more likely to follow simple and direct processes, partly because they do not see so many difficulties in the way as do clergymen. The positive advantage of a declaratory act is, that it does something toward a confession of present faith, without requiring a degree of general progress in doctrinal enlightenment necessary for a new and elaborate creed. Such an act should go no further in positive statement than what expresses the common conviction. Beyond this it should aim simply at relief from what is found to be too restrictive or liable to serious misapprehension.
In the matter of terms of subscription the American Presbyterian Church already has a comparatively liberal formula. The Adopting Act of 1729 indorsed the Westminster standards "as being in all the essential and necessary articles, good forms of sound words and systems of Christian doctrine." The promise or "subscription" required of church officers pledges allegiance to the Confession only "as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures." Professor Briggs maintains that the phrase "system of doctrine" must be understood to embrace solely "essential and necessary articles." It is proposed by some to make this formula of subscription still more liberal, but no specific emendation, so far as we have observed, has been as yet offered. Such a method, as we have intimated, is simply one of relief. The broader the subscrip tion, the less in force is the creed which is subscribed. It would seem to
be more advantageous as a measure of relief to drop subscription altogether - a method which is suggested by a letter from one of the foremost of the framers of the Westminster standards, Dr. Anthony Tuckney. Writing to Dr. Whichcote he says:
"For matter of imposing upon, I am not guilty. In the Assembly I gave my vote with others, that the Confession of faith, put out with authority, should not be required to be either sworn or subscribed to 1 (we having been burned in the hand in that kind before), but so as not to be publicly preached or written against."
On the whole, in view of the discussion thus far and of the difficulties of the situation, from the Presbyterian point of view, we should suppose that the most practical method and a necessary preliminary, would be first to determine the proper scope and ends of church confessions. A thorough discussion of this subject, and a consequent intelligent general agreement upon it, would do much to smooth the path to a satisfactory settlement of the grave difficulties which have arisen with the present standards. Much is gained when a church realizes its duty to conform its creed to the progress of truth. A serious effort of this sort is a provisional relief. Time is all on the side of those who seek readjustment, and of the most thorough and effective method.
FATHER DAMIEN AND THE LEPER SETTLEMENT ON MOLOKAI.
The eulogies which have been passed upon Father Damien for his noble work have been often attended by misrepresentations of the Leper Settlement, which have naturally awakened the resentment of the Hawaiian government. Among many like statements in regard to the condition of the lepers the following have been published:
“The brutal indifference of the Hawaiian government had thrust these poor creatures away upon a barren peninsula."
"The government had adopted the barbarous theory that the lepers could sustain themselves."
"Father Damien took up first the question of sufficient food, and as a result of his importunities the Hawaiian government arranged that food supplies should be sent at regular intervals to the island."
"Through his representation and personal direction, the government has comfortably housed the colony, Father Damien himself having built many of the houses."
Commenting on these statements, "The (Honolulu) Friend" of July, 1889, makes the following quotations from the government reports in reference to the settlement, just before the coming of Father Damien :
"We now quote from the Biennial Report of the Board of Health to the Legislature, dated April 1, 1874, about the time of Damien's arrival at the settlement. This report is signed by Hon. H. A. Widemann, then President of the Board of Health, a gentleman of high standing, a Catholic, a vigorous critic
1 Italics ours.
of administrative faults, and his party having just come into office, quite at liberty to denounce any neglect of the late Protestant Minister of Interior, E. O. Hall. Mr. Widemann asserts that 'in a material point of view these people are better off on Molokai than most natives of these Islands, and also better off, with few exceptions, than they ever were in their own homes.' A 'large number of kuleanas''with numerous good houses' had recently been purchased to meet the wants of the increasing population. (Kuleanas are small private pieces of land.) Six thousand feet of water pipe had been laid. 'Mr. W. P. Ragsdale, who some months ago gave a remarkable example of self-sacrifice in going of his own accord to Molokai, is the present superintendent of the asylum. A more active and efficient man could hardly be found.' The lepers have been made in all respects as comfortable as possible.'
"Turn back two years to the report of Dr. F. W. Hutchinson in 1872. 'The food ration is a large one, and exceeds that supplied to the soldiers of the best supplied European and American armies.' 'The Board can fairly assert that these people are better supplied than they ever were in their own homes proof of the assertion may be found in the fact that many of the people living at the landing place at Kalaupapa have been anxious to make themselves lepers.' 'We repeat again, that these people are well taken care of, and not unhappy.'
"The tone of defense of this report betokens the fact that the treatment of the lepers was then as always the subject of jealous scrutiny by the Hawaiian public.
"At that time thatched houses were the common abodes of the people in all the country districts. These were often more comfortable and more healthy than their present wooden cottages. For many years our pioneer missionaries lived in grass houses. One writer complains that the lepers did not get milk. The natives are not used to have milk at home. What they want is poi, and poi was always a chief part of the leper's rations.
"This report of 1872 describes the commodious house of the keeper, two hospitals for the sick, and separate houses for those lepers needing special care. There are described separate houses built for boys and girls, with a special building for a school room,' the teacher being a leper. A number of milch cows furnish plenty of milk' for the patients, and the food is prepared by a Chinese cook.'
"A little distance from this central place, nearer the seaside, a little church has been built, where every Sunday a native minister, a leper himself, holds a service. . . . It is well attended by the poor people for whose benefit it has been specially erected.'
"This last testimony of Dr. Hutchinson will have the more force with those who remember how entirely out of sympathy he was with the Protestant missionaries.
"Molokai was in many respects the most thoroughly and successfully worked missionary field in the group. Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock were at the head of the work from 1832 to 1857. They were peculiarly devoted and efficient, and had excellent missionaries associated with them. There were no traders in their field, and their influence was less impeded than on the other islands. Nearly every man and woman on the island came to own their powerful moral and spiritual sway. Father Hitchcock was a first-class example of a devoted, hard-working missionary hero, whom the people both loved and feared,
and we had plenty more like him. About the time of his death the count showed an excess of births over deaths on Molokai. This was the one solitary instance of the kind in this kingdom. It evinced the superior moral condition of that island. After this, for eleven years, Rev. A. O. Forbes carried on the work ably and devotedly, periodically visiting and ministering to the lepers after they came there in 1865, organizing the Siloam church, and installing their first pastor.
"A considerable proportion of the lepers were members of Protestant churches, many deacons and some ministers. Their spiritual wants were well supplied by church and Sabbath schools, and have always been the object of solicitous care from the other churches and the Hawaiian Board."
It is due to the Hawaiian government, to the residents upon the Islands, and to the Christian natives, that the exaggerations and misrepresentations, which perhaps naturally accompanied the early accounts of Father Damien's work, should be corrected, and that the corrections should have general notice. The corrections are made in simple justice to those who were concerned with the lepers before and since Father Damien's work among them. They are made in no spirit of detraction, but rather in a spirit of hearty appreciation of Father Damien's heroism. The friend who has sent us the corrections which we have quoted, himself a resident of the Islands, writes: "No one questions the motive of Father Damien in going to the leper settlement, nor would any of our Protestant Christians detract from the work he did, or deny that he died a martyr to his self-sacrifice. But granting all this, the representations made in American and English papers and magazines are unfair and unjust to those who have put forth earnest effort to do all that was possible for these poor people."
The peculiar charm in Father Damien's character lay in what "The Spectator" calls the "moral detachment" of his mind. This was manifest in childhood, and as he made the successive choices of his life it became more and more evident that it was the ruling factor in his religious consecration. So that when the occasion called for the mission, under the auspices of his church, to the lepers, he responded with the naturalness and promptness of one who had never made account of the ordinary ties even of the Catholic priesthood. The scene of his departure for his work is thus sketched by his biographer: —
"At a meeting that was held to celebrate the dedication of a chapel just completed by a Father Leonor at Wailuku in the Island Maui, Father Damien chanced to be present, together with the Bishop of Honolulu and others of his clergy. Among them were present some young priests of the Congregation, who had just arrived at Honolulu to supply the increasing needs of the mission. During the conversation Mgr. Maigret expressed deep regret that owing to the scarcity of his missioners he was unable to do anything for the poor lepers of Molokai, and especially did he regret that he was unable to provide them with a fixed pastor. Already his lordship had from time to time
sent one of the missionaries to confess and administer the sacraments to the dying; but this only happened rarely, and there was no guarantee of its being continued. Hearing the Bishop's lament, Father Damien took in the situation at a glance, and eagerly offered himself to supply the long-felt necessity. 'Monseigneur,' said he, 'here are four new missioners; one of them could take my district, and if you will be kind enough to allow it, I will go to Molokai and labor for the poor lepers, whose wretched state of bodily and spiritual misfortune has often made my heart bleed within me.' This generous offer was gladly accepted, and that very day, without even saying 'Good-by!' to his friends, he embarked with the Bishop on a vessel that was just leaving the harbor of Honolulu with a consignment of fifty lepers."
THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
A GENERAL VIEW OF MISSIONS.
IV. SOUTHERN AFRICA.
THE French Protestant brethren connected with the Paris Society have a flourishing mission in southeastern Africa, in the British possessions, but extending beyond them. They have some 6000 communicants, all of the Caffre or Zulu race, that vigorous branch of the vigorous Bantu family which fills the greater part of Central and Southern Africa, until in the extreme south it abuts upon the peculiarly modified Hottentot race, which by some unexplained mystery speaks a language allied to the Egyptian.
Christian Frenchmen are born to be missionaries. It seems to be almost a pity that a few millions more of them could not, by a friendly reversal of the dragonnades, be forced back into Protestantism, in order to furnish more Protestant missionaries. We know that they are at once the most numerous, the most zealous, and the most effective of the Roman Catholic missionaries. One illustrious name and example will come up before every mind. He was not, indeed, a Frenchman in allegiance, but French in training, and probably largely in race. The sympathy and gayety of the French temperament, and the absence in it of the stiff British pride of race, have always made the French loved by. inferior races, even when they have done much less for their advantage than the English. And, as Mrs. Stowe justly says, there is something in the French character which, when it receives Christ in very truth, reproduces his image in almost unique beauty. It may be that only a remnant will be saved of a republic which ages of superstitious tyranny have driven, almost or quite irrecoverably, into malignant atheism. But that remnant, Protestant, Jansenist, or Romanist, will assuredly have a seat very near the throne of Messiah the King. It is impossible to read the simple reports of the "Journal des Missions Évangéliques" without feeling a peculiar spirit of encouragement for the work of the Lord among the nations breathing from them.
The work of evangelizing the heathen villages within the range of the French mission is carried on entirely by native evangelists and private members, male and female. These evangelists are supported entirely by