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can only ask him to accept the Bible as an authentic record of the truths God has communicated to His people, and of the way in which they were made known.

Thus then, the Scriptures are a body of writings of inestimable value, given by God to His Church, in order to enshrine His message to man. They speak to us with a very high authority. Their writers were in possession of special guidance, special information, special inspiration of God. Therefore, no man with ordinary common sense, to say nothing of the Gospel virtues of reverence and humility, would speak slightingly of them or lightly reject anything they contained. But if we go further than this, we are on unsafe ground. To quote Mr. Aitkin's speech at Wakefield once more, “ The Apostles did not demand belief in the cosmogony of Moses as the condition of baptism. They preached Jesus and the ResurrectionJesus as the Incarnation of Divinity.” That master-key once grasped, men may safely trust it to unlock all difficulties. But the first principles of belief are not difficult they are so simple that any child may understand them. We are not required to pledge our assent to intricate theological systems, we are only asked to believe in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—the Name into which we are baptized. The Bible is dear to us because it speaks, and speaks with authority, of Him, and the salvation He came to bring. But when it comes to the demand that we shall not only respect and reverence that holy book, but admit that it cannot, by any possibility, contain a single error, we may boldly ask in whose name such a demand is made. Not in that of Christ, for He never said anything of the kind. Not in that of His Apostles, for they committed themselves to no such statement. Not in that of the Universal Church, for the Universal Church has never propounded it as a condition of salvation. Not in the name even of the Reformed Churches, for it was only in their later Confessions of Faith that the doctrine began to make its appearance, and then only under the pressure of a supposed logical necessity. I have attempted to show that no such logical necessity ever existed. The necessary truths of Christianity, it has been contended in these pages, are not a complicated system of theology, gathered with infinite care and pains from the obiter dicta of sacred writers who were engaged in applying those necessary truths to the wants of their own day. Rather they would appear to be a few simple facts involving correct conceptions of our true relation to God and to each other. Those facts, and those alone, have been given to the Church to

, hand down, and she is vouchsafed the aid of the Holy Spirit to expand and develop them, and to apply them to human needs as they arise. They are the regula fidei of which Irenæus and Tertullian speak. They are the deposit of truth of which the Church is the appointed witness and keeper. It is they, I venture to repeat, and neither the Church, nor yet the Bible, that we must regard as infallible and necessary truth. It is they which constitute that simple norm of Christian doctrine which St. Paul termed his “Gospel,” and which is all that we require for our soul's

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health. The enunciation of these facts has assumed the form, in the Christian Church, of Creeds. But it is not confined to the Creeds. It is as truly found in such passages as the prologue to St. John's Gospel, or the declaration of first principles in 1 Cor. xv., or the memorable passage in St. John's Epistle, “ This is the witness, that God hath given us eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath the Life, and he that hath not the Son hath not the Life,” coupled with another passage in the same Epistle, “ In this we know that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” The only certain cure for the disorders of our own time is to bear clearly in mind that Jesus Christ delivered to us no propositions concerning the infallibility of the Church, nor of the Bible, nor any other theories of a purely intellectual kind, but Life—Life from the Father, in Himself, and through His Spirit. This “Life,” developed patiently,

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,, lovingly, cautiously, honestly, fairly, will prove hereafter, as indeed it has proved hitherto, to be the “ Light of men." Wherever in the past it has. failed to guide us, the reason has been that we have interpreted it according to our own fancies, and not according to the Divine Will. Let. us be more modest and more patient, and, I may add, more obedient henceforth, and the Day at length will dawn and the Day-star will appear, " to give light to them that sit in darkness, and to guide our feet into the way of

peace."

MR. PERCY W. BUNTING ON EVOLUTION AND THE CHRISTIAN

FAITH,

By Rev. T. G. SELBY. The paper on the above subject, sent by the editor of the Contemporary to the Methodist Ecumenical at Washington, was anticipated with keen and widespread interest, and received in some quarters with more or less of dismay. It was assumed that the editor of one of the leading monthlies would have exceptional opportunities of estimating the more recent attitude of scientific men to supernatural religion and that a devout believer who inherits the traditions of a rigid theological conservatism and is actively identified with aggressive evangelism in the West End of London, would not err by conceding too much to science. In some sections of the Ecumenical Delegation the essay created a panic; but whether the panic victims or the panic producer ought to share the chief blame of the incident, the readers of this article must judge for themselves.

The paper throughout was hypothetical in its form of statement. The introduction premised that

“By science was meant pre-eminently the doctrine of evolution which has come to dominate every field of modern thought. If the extreme view of evolution is accepted, where does the Christian believer find himself? Can the various articles of our faith adjust themselves to the new atmosphere ?” In the judgment of the essayist, "evolution left the argument for a First Cause where it found it, or, if anything, accentuated its force. The new scientific

doctrine scarcely helped belief in the goodness of God. A sense of the Divine Fatherhood is an intuition of the heart, and not the conclusion of an inductive process. The belief in immortality arises out of our sense of the Fatherhood of God, and is neither helped nor hindered by the modern revolution in thought. Perhaps the difficulties of the bodily resurrection have been minimized, for identity has been shown to consist not in the molecules of the body themselves, but in the formula that underlies the specific organization. Free will is inexplicable in the terms of the physical universe. The highest authority on the will is the conscious will itself.”

In the latter part of the paper, Mr. Bunting pointed out that “ it is in our conception of the spiritual history of man that the new science threatens the most disturbing revolution." “ Consciousness, volition, moral sense are produced side by side with a growing complexity of structure which seems to be necessary for their adequate manifestations. The interaction of society develops ethics, and perhaps religion." “ Such assertions," says the essayist,

seem to take our breath away. But if the growth of mind is related to physical growth in the child, and we still believe the child to be the possessor of a soul, what greater difficulty exists if such should prove to be the fact in the wider history of the race. The doctrine of evolution helps to explain the relative character of all early morality and the probable defect and impermanence of our own standards in comparison with the bigher ideals that are yet before us. The Bible story of the Fall will represent the moment when on the evolutionary view man's moral consciousness awoke to the sense of guilt. It will be asked,” said the essayist, " how it is consistent with a doctrine of gradual development that any one specimen of the race should be unique? For such an assumption is, of course, implied in the received view of the person of Christ. Well, uniqueness is not unnatural; genius is not shown to be progressive. The objection to uniqueness disappears if it is fundamental. In conclusion, it was well shown that the field opened up by evolutionary science gives boundless scope to hope and faith. It does not yet appear what we shall be.” Such is a brief outline of a singularly subtle and suggestive paper.

A little confusion in the essay, and much misunderstanding on the part of its hearers, arose from the fact that two issues were apparently present to the mind of the writer. The title and opening passages seem to suggest that it was Mr. Bunting's aim to sketch the effect of evolution on the religious beliefs of the scientific minds of the present decade. The essay, however, goes on to discuss the more general question how far evolution will compel a re-statement of the cardinal articles of the Christian faith, and what forms of phraseology will promote a concordat between the two.

The essay might perhaps have gained in force and lucidity if it had defined in its introductory passages the extent to which the believer, scientific or otherwise, must hold himself indebted for some of his first principles to consciousness or intuition. Perhaps the parenthetical form in which references to these questions are put is a concession to the left wing of scientists who frown on metaphysics, and deny it a place in the category of exact knowledge; but is it not a little sign of weakness that, without making a clear and courageous claim of this sort at the beginning, the writer should again and again in the course of the essay fall back upon our innate moral and spiritual discernments? Mr. Bunting states that science helps the argument of a first cause, but he seems to forget that the postulates of intuition are at the basis of the logical process. “The argument for a first cause," he says, “has risen approximately to the point of a demonstration in connection with the recent advance in science,” and then, when the inductive process seems to fail in giving us sufficient security for faith in the goodness of God, he falls back upon the logic of intuition, and tells us that the Divine Fatherhood is a thing we know by inward consciousness. Faith in immortality, again, is not helped by the researches and generalizations of recent scientists, so we must retreat again upon the second line of defence, and look upon faith in personal immortality as a subdivision of the innate faith we have in the Divine Fatherhood of God. Mr. Bunting seems to overlook the fact that faith in personal immortality has been all but world-wide, apart from faith in the Fatherhood of God, and that we must, therefore, trace it to some deeper and less modern root. The doctrine of moral freedom is dealt with in the same way.

Of course it does not lend itself to mechanical demonstration, but the fine paper might have been stronger if this question had been given precedence of the entire argument.

The chief difficulty raised by the doctrine of evolution,—the apparent tentativeness of the processes by which it travels to its goal,-is one about which Mr. Bunting is silent. If all asserted for fact is worthy of our credence, not only does evolution travel to its far-off ends on the feet of the tortoise rather than on the wings of the eagle, but it is blind as a mole, it doubles like a hare, and it sleeps for as unconscionable periods as a polar bear. · A recent writer in one of the monthly magazines who assumed a competent acquaintance with science, asserts that “nature makes ninety-nine shots to one hit. Variations occur which serve no useful end, and finaily disappear with the individual in which they are exhibited." That fact, if based on generalizations sufficiently broad and painstaking, seems to suggest a limitation in the unseen worker scarcely consonant with our view of the perfection of God. It brings us back to the idea of a good-natured demiurge who cannot work so fast or so well as he would wish. Nature forges her forms, not with one clean, precise Titanic blow, but by an infinite multiplicity of taps, many of which seem to be misdirected. The reason for graded rather than cataclysmic processes of creation must be sought for, not in the person and attributes of the Invisible Creator Himself, but in the agents He may employ in His work, or in the measure of capability in those to whom that work is to be an object-lesson. Have we here an anticipation of the self-limitation of Him by whom all things were made, a self-limitation which took final form in the Incarnation, or may the Divine worker be bringing His methods down to our power of studying them? The conception of successive creations in nature certainly makes God nearer to us in both time and space than the old, and that may assist the future education of the world in spiritual things. And then not only are we but learning the ABC of nature, the final chapters of the record are unwritten. The scientist who asks immense periods for the changes of the past must allow for the incalculable changes of future epochs before pronouncing judgment on the Divine work. With our present materials it is madness to dogmatically deny the teleological interpretation of nature.

The essayist thinks that the most serious discrepancy between the new science and the old faith is to be encountered when we come to deal with the religious history of man. “The Fall does not fit itself into any theory of evolution.” Less difficulty would have been experienced in touching this part of the problem if a more conspicuous place had been given to the doctrine of moral freedom. The mystery of the Fall is substantially one with the mystery which invests the place and function of the will. For good and for evil the will possesses a power of practical creativeness. If it cannot bring " things which are out of things which are not,” it can bring maturity out of the seed, and adjust at its own pleasure the scale of operating motives.

Perhaps physical analogies cannot help to any very great extent our understanding of the facts of morals, but is there not a parallelism between the ever-recurring phenomena of degeneration in every order of life and man's spiritual backsliding? Reversion to the life of the animal when evolution has brought man on to a high moral grade is no more inconceivable than the cases of atavism familiar to every student of heredity. If races backslide in intelligence and civilization, why not in morals also ? Indeed, science, in its pessimistic and unbelieving fits, is ever ready to urge this class of facts upon our attention. It tells us that the tendency of evolution is not necessarily towards a goal of perfection, and we have no right to cherish rose-coloured anticipations of the march of either man or his universe upon a pathway of beneficent progress.

The essay has been said by some of its more rigorous censors to make not only conscience, but Christ's personality itself a product of evolution. It is assumed the writer has put himself in a position in which he is logically bound to deny the miraculous conception. But that is an unfair inference. Mr. Bunting might very fairly reply if evolution has given rise to the curious function of parthenogenesis in a species of highly organized insects why should the same laws be incompetent to bring it about in an individual belonging to a different species?

In interpreting this reference to the Incarnation it is only just that two passages should be kept in mind. The author speaks of certain spiritual qualities which are produced gradually side by side with a "growing

' complexity of structure which is probably necessary for their manifestation.” Separate from the mere mechanism of evolution, there is something waiting for the perfecting of the earthen vessel in which it may go forth to its future work. The illustration, it is presumed, is intended to apply to the person of Christ as well as to the history of the race. It is the outward structure through which these qualities

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