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UNION SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
An esteemed correspondent asks whether Union Theological Seminary, Ne.v York, is or claims to be a Presbyterian institution. We had always supposed that it ?vas Presbyterian, hut that it had drifted rretty far from the teachings of the Presbyterian Church. We had based our opinion, we must admit, upon the fact that it has occupied so much of the attention of the Northern Assembly at each meeting for a number of years. Since receiving this letter we have been making some investigations, and we will give our readers the benefit of what we have learned, based largely upon the report of a committee of the Northern Assembly after two years' study of the subject. Union Seminary had its origin in a meeting of a few gentlemen in New York city in 1835. It seems to have been an entirely voluntary movement without any ecclesiastical connec tion. It was provided in the beginning that it should be governed by a self-perpetuating board of directors. No provision was made for their being responsible to any other body for their actions, nor was any means provided by which their actions could be annulled. The declaration of principles adopted in con nection with the organization of the seminary stated it was the design of the founders "to furnish the means of a full and thorough edu cation in all the subjects taught in the best theological seminaries in the United States, and also to embrace a thorough knowledge of the standards of faith and discipline of the Presbyterian Church." The directors were required to sign an ob ligation in which they stated their approval of the Confession of Faith and Form of Govern ment of the Presbyterian Church, and their promise to sustain the same. The obligation of the professor in the seminary required that he should "solemnly and sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of the Presby terian Church, in the United States of America," and also the Form of Government and discipline. Had the constitution stopped there it might have saved the Church much of the trouble that it has had. Instead of that, the board of directors was given authority to add to or alter this constitution in any way that it deemed advisable. One of the first changes made was in the obligation required of the professors in as suming their office. The expression, "C'onfes fion of Faith of the Presbyterian Church" was changed to "the "Westminster Confession of Faith." An addition made to the constitution in 1853 provides that all gifts made to the semi nary "shall be considered as having been made and as being made to uphold and teach the doctrinal basis," as given above. In 1890 the constitution was changed so that in the declaration of the professor the words "the "Westminster Confession of Faith and Presbyterian B'orm of Government" were (hanged to "System of Doctrine and Form of Governi lent of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America." In 1893 this was again modified to read "the system of doctrine contained in the West minster Confession of Faith in all the essen tial and necessary articles thereof, as contain ing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; that I approve the Presbyterian Form of Government; and that I will teach nothing which shall appear to me to be sub versive of the said system of doctrine or of he principles of the said form of govern In 1904 still another change was made in the declaration of the professors, so that it read: "I promise to maintain the principles and purposes of this institution as set forth in the preamble adopted by the founders on the 18th of January, 183G." In the beginning all the directors, of whom one-half were to be ministers and the other half laymen, must be members of the Pres byterian Church. In 1905 this was changed to read "some Presbyterian or other evangeli cal Church." The revised requirement as to the professors of the same date was "all members of the faculty shall satisfy t lie board of their Chris tian faith and life." In 1870, before these later changes in the constitution were made, the seminary seemed to desire to have a closer connection with the General Assembly than it had ever had. So il asked the Assembly to enter into a com pact with it by which the Assembly must pass upon the election of the professors in the seminary. Xo election would hold good unless approved by a majority vote of the Assembly. This was agreed to by the Assembly, and this agreement was maintained until 1892. The seminary then asked the Assembly to assent to the termination of the agreement. The As sembly "declined to be a party to the break ing of the compact." Thereupon the board of directors rescinded its action of 1870, asking the Assembly to approve the election of the professors in the seminary. It seems evident that the board was deter mined to get away from any connection with the Church, and various actions taken since that time have shown it all the more clearly? The history of this institution shows these facts clearly. The founders of the seminary intended it to be Presbyterian. The manage ment of it was put into the hands of an irre sponsible board of directors, .who were given absolute authority to change its constitution and principles. For many years the seminary maintained a close relation in its government and teaching to the Presbyterian Church. In more recent years the directors have shown a determination to get farther away from the Presbyterian Church. The General Assem bly has made many efforts to bring the semi nary into closer relation to itself, and it has failed. We leave it to our readers to say whether Union Seminary, New York, is a Presbyterian seminary or not. DOES THE SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NEED A UNIVERSITY? Amid the maelstrom of discussion in educa tional matters we surmise this is the real ques tion to ask and answer. It is not, whether our present colleges and high schools are numer ous enough and endowed sufficiently. Nor is it the. question of educational units. These are very minor questions and only trifling with the matter. The one thing to dccidc is, does the cause of God and of truth demand that we have a university under the direct or in direct control of our Church, of whose ortho dox Preshyterianism there can never be any doubt, world without end? When we have decided this there is but one thing to do, to arise and in the fear of God, build. We rise to remark that the fathers of our Church saw that the time would come when we would need imperatively, a university. In the stressful years of the generation after the Civil War it was as much as a man could do to get a sort of college education. Money was scarce. The institutions were poorly equipped and hard to reach. But such men as Dr. Talrner, of New Orleans; Dr. Thorn well, of South Carolina; Dr. Dabney, of Vir ginia, and Dr. Shearer, of Davidson, felt_the coming need of our Church. With this end in view, Dr. Palmer put his splendid energies into the Southwestern Pres byterian University, hoping it would become the apex of our educational system. We re member the risibles that were excited by the prospectus of the South Atlantic University, Atlanta; which only showed our ignorance and the far-seeing vision of the prophet of things educational ? Dr. Shearer. Dr. Dabney, despairing of such a university, turned his powers of teaching philosophy to the secular institution of Texas. These men saw far and knew much. Smaller men had to get nearer to our times to see what they saw. Some even now, purblind by look ing at little things, can see no need for the university. These leaders of thought realized that colleges were not enough. These colleges might be good, but the very idea of a college failed to give the special teaching necessary to the full development of the mind of man. These men were not antagonistic to colleges; they knew their value, but they also knew their limitations. Theu the question of the hour is, has the time come for the institution that Drs. Pal mer, Shearer, Dabney and Thornwell and other leaders of the past saw to be necessary! We submit that the hour has struck. One of the patent objections in days gone by was the poverty of the Southern people. It takes an immense amount of money to found a university. Where was it to come from? Not from a section exhausted by war and dislocated in all its economic life by the results of war. What is the condition of the South now? It is rolling in wealth. It has so much money that it is dazed. The men have not learned to let it go as yet, but we are learning rapidly. It is no more trouble to raise millions for a university now than it was to establish a high school a generation ago. Another reason for the failure of these men to materialize their vision was the fact that very few men from the South wanted or could afford a university course. Only here and there did a man go off to the Northern universities or to Germany. IIow is it now? Thousands of our men and hundreds of our women are going away to the North for their special training. There is a large and growing clientage in the South. Our colleges have awakened a desire for more and higher learning. Brilliant young men and women are answering the call and receiving splendid intellectual training in other univer sities. The larger reason for a university, anchored to our type of religious thought, lies in the fact that nearly if not quite all the Northern universities have swung away from what we hold most dear. In the year 1909 there appeared an article by Harold Bolce, which asserted that there was a radical conflict between college teach ing and orthodox authority. He mentioned these universities where the truths of historic Christianity were boldly flung overboard. He was never answered. He could not be, because he was giving the facts. In a recent article he has boldly challenged the teaching of the higher colleges for women, and asserts that they are teaching th? seventy thousand women in them to discard the teach ings of the word of Qod and of His Church.