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of a certain long-past time. It is hardly true of the present. But we need both a speculative and a practical direction of our thought upon this problem of evil as an element of conduct and of choice. The discovery of a new truth in science always compels a revision of the old theories. It need not be surprising if the acceptance of the Divine truth of the final perfecting of the moral world compels us to vacate some of the tumble-down theories of sin which once were the dwellingplaces of human minds.
3. But perhaps more pressing in its practical importance than either of the problems upon which we have touched, is another, which, in its immediate bearings, is very vital to the existence of the Universalist Church. Our faith is secure. It is the coming faith of Christendom. Our ecclesiastical future is a different affair, and rests upon different conditions, and the life of our Church, and its continued prosperity, is purely a question of whether we are wise and aggressive in our polity. The Universalist Church has made it possible for a man to be received into the communion of other churches which once counted its hopeful faith a fatal heresy. It remains to be seen whether this facility of fellowship will injure the future of the Christian organization which has brought it to pass. And perhaps the most vital problem which calls for solution at our hands is that which grows out of the liberal spirit which is rapidly permeating the churches, and the amelioration of theological dogmas. Our greatest difficulties in the future will arise from the adoption, by other churches, of the Universalist philosophy and faith, and the welcome of Universalist believers into their communions. The conditions of our ecclesiastical life are very different to-day from those in which our Church was cradled. Then the hostility to our faith drove every one suspected of holding it from every other fold. Now the eagerness with which it is received is fast making it impossible to excommunicate a man from any church for avowed Universalism. Then a Universalist was at home nowhere but in a church of his own denomination; to-day he is entirely in place among Unitarians, Episcopalians and Con
gregationalists; and even the sturdy Presbyterian Church has, in more than one recent instance, permitted the entrance of Universalists as church-members, and winked at the heresy in those already fellowshipped. In the former days, it was a thing unheard-of that an avowed Universalist minister should receive the endorsement of evangelicals, and be fellowshipped as a preacher over their churches. To-day, it is a matter of common knowledge that a clergyman may step from a Universalist pulpit into those of certain evangelical churches with never a change of one article in his creed. But clearly these radically altered conditions of our work make a wide difference in the policy we must pursue, and in the results for which we may look. These overtures which are quietly extended from churches which once treated us as aliens, betoken a great reconciliation soon to come, after which a Universalist will be as good as any other Christian, and received into equal rights and privileges.
But do we not see how this ease of interchange among the churches may operate against the smaller sects, and to help the larger? The multitude gravitates to the largest bodies. The crowd runs where it sees a crowd already. As the sects fraternize more and more, there may be a reäction from the old segregations and schisms. The churches may insensibly merge again. The larger sects may swallow the smaller. The less effectively organized will then succumb to those more wisely built. And looking into the future from the standpoint we hold to-day, it is plain that another half-century is certain to bring before us the problem of how our individual existence as an ecclesiastical body is to be maintained. Instead of hostile churches crowding us out, we shall be surrounded by very friendly churches inviting us in. How shall we treat the invitations? It is in vain to say that the problem is too remote for serious discussion. It is close upon us. Individual cases are familiar to all of our clergymen who have found it to their personal advantage to make a change of church fellowship, and have gone from us, taking their faith in the triumph of good along with them. These instances are only a warning
of the welcome which very shortly awaits Universalists in the bosom of once hostile churches. The problem is a very imminent one.
It is not our purpose, as we have before observed, to suggest solutions to the problems we are stating. But it will be proper to refer to certain conditions which ought to affect our treatment of them. For example, we may observe that there will never be any occasion for a church to become absorbed in any other, if it be doing essential Christian work. There are emergencies of reform, in theology and in church administration, which are temporary. They have reference to conditions which in the course of time pass away. And with the cessation of the emergency it might be truly said that the usefulness of any body enlisted for that peculiar work had also ceased. So that if a church were organized to effect one purpose, and that alone, whether it be the contradiction of Calvinism, or the assertion of Universal Salvation, when once these objects had been effected, it might properly be advised to disband. But this is a condition of things which seldom occurs. Every legitimate church is doing God's legitimate work in the salvation of souls. There is no intimation that the work of the Methodist Church is done, though the emergency which called it into being long since passed away; because it is always busy pressing the fight against unrighteousness, and seeking to save the lost. There will never be any intimations that the Universalist Church shall yield its place, from those who appreciate the spiritual work that is expected of it, and done by it. The peculiar emergency which made it a necessity may have long since passed, but while it possesses an organization and a purpose which aim at the salvation of men from their sins, it has a raison d'être which cannot be called in question. There is a clear solution to this problem of our future to be found in earnest, aggressive, spiritual labor with men. A church found full of such works never is called upon to disband, never would disband if called on.
But perhaps of equal gravity with the problem which grows out of this phase of the reconciliation of Orthodoxy to Univer
salism, is that suggested by the presence of an increasing number of minds in the churches who incline strongly in sympathy and in desire toward our views of the Gospel, yet who do not hold it as a settled faith. What shall we do with the class who hold our solution of life and destiny as an "eternal hope"? May they come into our church-membership? They cannot enter our ministry, nor even study in our divinity schools, though inclined to preach their hope more positively and practically than some Universalists preach their full faith. Our laws debar them from the place of teachers in our churches. May they come as learners, then? May they enter what we have always considered the school of the Christian, and as members of our churches become associated spiritually with those whom they most nearly resemble in practical faith? Or must we exclude them by the prescription of doctrinal tests for church-membership? It would seem as if we might venture to be as liberal as our neighbors. And they are extensively changing their ground so as to encourage and welcome Universalists into their church-membership, waiving all doctrinal points for the sake of the unity of the spirit. Yet we venture the conjecture that one-half the churches of our communion make the doctrines of our creed a test of membership; and though a man be very desirous of entering the fellowship and bonds of the church, if he have not come to the full measure of faith outlined in the Winchester Confession, a good proportion of our churches are closed against him. Now obviously a believer in "eternal hope" is more nearly allied to Universalists than he is to Calvinists. And if he seeks admission to a Universalist church, the verdict of nine men in ten would be that he belonged there by virtue of his sympathies, his religious affinities, his liberal hope for man. Are we justified in excluding him? Shall we turn him over to the care of a church with whose system he has little sympathy, and with whose methods he has less? Or shall we make it possible for him to share the spiritual life of a church whose spirit he loves, and with whose general philosophy he is in accord? Canon Farrar, for example, is to all intents and
purposes a Universalist. He would find himself vastly more in sympathy with the preaching in Universalist Churches than in Evangelical. Is it a wise or far-sighted policy which would carry the aims of sectarianism to the extent of excluding such a man from membership in a Universalist church? There are hosts of Farrars in the rank and file of orthodoxy. They are straying continually into our congregations. They are beginning to knock at our churches for membership. How shall we treat their appeal? This is an inevitable question which we must settle. And we shall have to grapple with it before another decade.
The rapid and unexpected changes which are occurring in current thought make it imperative upon all who hold in charge the interests of churches, to take frequent observations. These are days when old conditions are dissolved in very short order; and all to-day's policy may be rendered void by to-morrow's altered needs. It would be matter for profound regret if the Universalist Church should ever prove itself so wedded to a settled policy that it could not, or would not, revise that policy to meet new emergencies. But one thing is certaiu. In the days which are close upon us we shall have an opportunity to show whether we are level to the changing demands of the theological situation. Upon our method of dealing with the new problems of our thought and our polity, rests the future of our Church.
"On the True Site of Nineveh."
It is hardly possible, we think, that the question of the true site of Nineveh, and of its associate cities, as they are collectively described in the 10th chapter of Genesis, will be hereafter seriously agitated, either by cuneiform scholars, or by biblical critics, who are familiar with all the facts now known.