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THE STATUS OF THE UNION QUESTION.
Agitation of the question for Church union has been evident in the churches of the world for some years. At times it has seemed as though there was going to be a good deal ef fected in this line. The only two cases of union between prominent churches in recent years was that of the Northern and Cumberland Presbyterian churches in this country and the Presbyterian churches in Scotland. In each case there resulted a split. In one of the cases leaving a small body to represent one of the churches which went into the union so that the number of the churches lias not been reduced. In each case there was caused a good deal ?;f friction and trouble. In this country a number of efforts have been made which have not yet met with success. Sometimes it lias seemed as though success were about to crown the efforts. A few years ago the Southern and United Presbyterian church es took up the question of union and it looked for a time as though they were going to get together. But the whole matter was dropped and though these two churches are probably nearer together in their doctrine and practices than any other two churches in this country, there is no effort being made at this time to bring them together. The Northern and South ern Methodist churches seemed to be on the point of completing their union, but they have not yet succeeded in doing so and so far as we can tell, interest in the matter is not so great now as it was a year ago. The Northern Bap tist churches declined to accept the invitation of the Northern Presbyterian Church to unite with them in an effort looking to union of all Protestant churches. Some parts of the Episco pal Church of this country advocate union with other churches, but it seems that their propo sition always amounts to other churches be coming Episcopal. A Baptist talking with a leading Episcopal Bishop on the subject asked him how many division there were in his church, such as the high church and low church parties, and he was told that there were nine different parties in his Church. The Baptist suggested that it would be well to unite those parties before the Church undertook to unite with other denominations. The Northern Presbyterian Church is very anxious to unite with the Southern Church and declines at the present time to consider the question of uniting with any other branches of the Presbyterian Church, although it had taken the stand that it would like to consider the question of the union of all Protestant church es. The Southern Presbyterian Church has ex pressed itself as opposed to organic union with the Northern Church, but advocates a federal union of all Presbyterian churches in this country. In Canada before the beginning of the war there seemed to be strong prospect that the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist churches would be united. When the Avar came on the leaders decided that it would be better not to push the matter at that time and it was found that there was great opposition among certain people to this combination and that op position seemed to grow stronger and more outspoken after the beginning of the war than, it had been before, but for the last year or two the whole matter seems to have been held in abeyance and whether it will be taken up again or not the future only can tell. Farther on 011 this same page will ho found an article by Dr. James M. Gray, of the Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Gray is one of the best known ministers of this country and one of the best informed, probably, in regard to the va rious churches of our land. I11 his great work he is thrown constantly in touch with churches of many denominations and has fine opportu nity for seeing their work. lie takes tha ground, as will be seen in his article, that the churches had better remain independent, each, doing its own work instead of uniting one with the other. A DEPLORABLE CONDITION. The business of the Church is to present Christ to the world ? to seek the salvation of sonls. Questions of order and of organization are always secondary. The moment our energies and our time are taken up with these lesser things, Satan finds little work for him to do. The mind of the Church has been largely on the lesser things of the kingdom. She has been tithing mint, anise and cummin, and neglecting the weightier matters of law, justice and mercy. The moment the Y. M. C. A., which repre sented the Church in this world war, began to take over the canteen and found much of its finest energies given to furnishing cigarettes and chocolate, it began to lose favor. If it had confined its work to spiritual and social lines it would have accomplished far more. Our own Church is about to enter upon a period of ecclesiastical discussion over the question of oragnic union. In our Church courts we fear this will occupy the stage of in terest, while the major thing of carrying the gospel to the millions of destitute sinners will be forgotten. It will put our Church in a de plorable condition. When the early Church began to discuss the question of ceremonial law ; whether a man must become a Jew before he could become a Christian, it began to lose power. The letter killeth ; it is only the spirit that maketh alive. The consumption of time and energy will atrophize our efforts for the spreading abroad of the kingdom of God. The time of a great Assembly, that ought in a Home Mission terri tory to have made a profound impression on a whole State was consumed in deciding for a "Federation." A committee proceeds to con sume much time and spend much money over a plan of federation that was the laughing stook of the Northern Church and was promptly rejected. A plan that was withheld from the Southern Church, amf when the mountain finally brought forth it was a poor little mouse. A pan jejune and insipid ; neither fish, flesh nor good red herring. A play of Hamlet with Ham ' let left out ? an ornamental cupola of remark able architectural design, such as had never been seen before, stuck up on the top of the Church, a thing of beauty with the loveliness left out. Wherefore are we interfering with the se rious business of evangelizing the world by making camouflages? Has the Church gone wild over organization anyhow? Everything must be organized and a constitution and by-laws must be adopted. When the world is going wild over organiza tion and not finding God or any other good, why should the Church depart from the fool ishness of preaching to ape the wTorld? Amid all this welter of red tape ecclesiastical, it ought to arise and call upon this wicked world to repent, or be consumed with everlasting flames. In the diseussion that is to come, we venture to prophesy that many things will be said that Vill not be unto edification. Many hard knocks be given that will not promote brotherly love or bring us into fellowship with the saints. ^Vill it not be a deplorable thing indeed if a result of an effort to bring together two great churches into loving fellowship should resul in separation of brethren beloved? It seems that our Church ought to humble herself before the throne of God and ask for the spirit of guidance and then follow the cloud of leadership, even if it leads straight in to the wilderness. Friction, discord, hard feelings, with hard speeches, will grieve the Spirit. Let us put them from us." THE PROPOSED WORLD CHURCH UNION? IS IT OF GOD, OR MAN? (Synopsis of an address by Dr. James M. Gray, Dean of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, before the Graduating Class, 1919.) Dr. Gray said that his address was based upon the newspaper reports of certain regional conferences now being held for the promotion of a world church union or a inter-church world movement. It was proposed to organize a league of churches as the result of the war, and he ask ed what churches are to be included in the league 1 "Three Protestant Episcopal bishops" he said "are now across the seas seeking a con ference on unity between the Russian Greek and Roman Catholic churches, and the Pro testant churches of the world and although the Pope politely bowed them out of his presence, yet the movement is significant as the first time since the reign of Ilenry VIII when Protes tant bishops have waited upon the Pope. "Here we may see prophecy in process of fulfilment, for not only is a league of nations revealed in prophecy whose head is desig nated as a secular despot, but side by side with him is an ecclesiastical head who exercises his authority. "It might be said that the regional confer ences were^not thinking of a union with the Roman and Greek churches, but only one of the Protestant churches, but even in that case the recent war illustrated the kind of a union which it might be when the Knights of Colum- ^ bus on the one hand and the Y. M. C. A. on the* other controlled the entire field. However such unionizing of religious activities may have been justified by war conditions, it was nevertheless a body blow to evangelical Christianity and an injury to the spiritual interests of our fight ing men." Dr. Gray referred further to the reported declaration of the promoters of world church union that the spirit of co-operation was in the air so that "sectarianism and the accompany- ' ing bigotry which it engenders will not be tol erated." "I do not believe in bigotry," he said, "and with grief I am bound to admit that sectarian quarrels have produced bitterness, wrath, an ger, clamor, and evil-speaking, but still it is true that devotion to and promotion of the tenets and interests of a denomination of Chris tians is a good ajid necessary thing in this age, when the tenets and interests are in harmony with the word of God." He then went on to show that there was a time in the history of the church in this coun try when had it not been for the Evangelical Adventists the testimony to the coming of Christ would have suffered an eclipse. He also showed that the Baptist testimony to the ordi nance from which that denomination took its name has been a promient factor in restrain A. A. L. Contributed