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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

The Orthodox Presbyterian Nut-Shell

The Orthodox Presbyterian Nut-Shell.

Sir,—The reverend Editor of the loving and Christian Protestant Standard has, in a recent issue, made a general attack on Unitarians, Romanists, Ritualists, and men of the highest standing in science and philosophy, on the ground that they will not cramp their minds into the Presbyterian orthodox nut-shell. It is some satisfaction, however, to learn that Unitarian intellect is "clever and shrewd," although "unsanctified," and that we merely come in for an occasional thrust of the fierce onslaught of which the Church of Rome has to bear the brunt. With his inbred coarseness, moreover, this Editor impertinently wonders how the cause of Free Religious Thought in Sydney manages to meet the cost of "printing" and "gas," innocent as he tries to be of the fact that superstition and credulity invariably pay the best.

He seems greatly astonished that you should wish people to "trust in God instead of in documents," but can he assign any valid reason why people should not? Like the drowning man and the straw, he catches at the word "impossible," as applied to Miracles, regardless of the sense in which Dr. Kalisch uses it, and would no doubt be ready to prove by chapter and verse that it is quite possible to limit the limitless and supersede perfection. The Standard, I suspect, has yet to recover from the thumping it received from your "Libra" some time back, though its Editor is still equal to the trick of misconstruing a rational estimate of the Bible into a total rejection of its claims. Misrepresent, however, as he may, he stands powerless and condemned in the presence of the five leading principles which appear on the cover of your Periodical, and which, I believe, will stand the test of the most searching criticism that can be brought to bear against them both now and hereafter, placed as they are far above the controversies of historical tradition or the discoveries of modern science. One thing, at any rate, is certain, namely, that a strong dose of these principles occasionally taken by the Standard would tend to impart a far more elevated tone to that bigoted and bellicose organ of Orangeism.

Gladly admitting the truth of the Standard's remark, "that evangelical theologians are assuredly not quite all of them fools," I may perhaps be permitted to ask how it is that they exhibit such unmistakeable alarm as often as some new truth of science or philosophy is brought to light? The fact is that their revealed truths, so-called, are based, not on the Rock of Truth, but on the unsteady sands of human opinion; and that their instinct of self-preservation will assert itself.

Apologising to you, esteemed Sir, for thus rushing to the front, knowing myself to be but a raw recruit in such matters, I have been constrained to do so from the feeling that such ridiculous diatribes against Free Religious Inquiry as the Standard is capable of publishing, are scarcely worthy of veteran steel.