The Evening Star TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1914.
Ov the afternoon of Friday and tho morning of Saturday of last Tho Blhlc-in- week the Presbyterian Schools General Assembly deLoagUC. voted their attention to
an attempt to urge the neiiil'nv and adherents of the I 1 reeky- j tciiam Church to supiort at the. ensuing General Election those candidates for the. suffrages of the people who will pledge themselves u> give the latter an opportunity of voting through tho medium ot a Referendum (practically framed by the league themselves) on the “platform” pul forward by the organisation. The Rev Mr B.ilfoui's motion —“that the Assembly “ receive the report and reaffirm their "approval of the system of Bible in State “ schools promoted by the Bible in State “ Schools League*, end resolve to continue j " £o co-operato with tho league in the effort “to got that system introduced into the “Stats schools of tho Dominion”—was carried almost without comment. When however, the Kcv. Mr Balfour farther moved ' that on Sunday, tho 6th Decern“her, ministers be requested to bring this “matter before their congregations,” it became evident that all members did not. see eye to eve in the matter of promoting and co-operating with the league. As was to be hoped for and expected, every member is willing and anxious to see tho Bible reintroduced into the public school. It hj curious, however, to note that men like the P.cv. Andrew Cameron and the Rev Piofessor'Hewitson, whose devotion to th,; sacred office held by them will not be deputed even by the most rabid leaguer, ar,: strongly opposed to tho league’s platform. Mr Cameron secs clearly, as, indeed, who but the wilfully blind can fail to do, that tiro inostensiblo objective of the league is the introduction of denotninationalism into tho primary schools. It must have been new s to Mr Cameron that, on the authority of the Rev. Mr Jolly, ho was putting himself in opposition to the policy of Presbyterianism throughout tho world. Shade of Dr Bunkum! Where did this jovial gentleman learn his Church History? Since when did it become either a policy or a tradition of Presbyterianism to introduce the Priest into the schools of tho people? In ISO 3 the Rev. Dr Gibb conceded that such a stop would strike a deadlv blow at tho liberty in religion which their fathers had won at so great a price. Either the Rev. Dir Jolly thinks, because Dr Gibb has recanted, that the traditions and policy of the Church ought also to have changed to keep the versatile doctor in countenance, or Mr Jolly, in the warmth of debate, quite unconsciously had confused the traditions and policy of his own little tabernacle in Auckland with the traditions of a great Church which lias always claimed for its adherents tho right of private judgment. The Presbyterian minister and tho Presbyterian elder are by no means wanting in humor, and members of tho Assembly mus; have smiled when Dr Gibb called Mr Cameron a merry-go-round, and, whoa speaking of men who did not care for the Bible, lie made an exception in favor of Mr Cameron.
Now, both .Mi- Cameron and Dr Gibb are so well known to the people of Otago that they will surely bo of opinion that tho comparison to a merry-go-round would be more aptly applied to the rev. doctor than to the Chancellor of tho University of Otago. That Mr Cameron has worked hard and loyally for the introduction o: the Bible into our primary schools no one who has taken any interest in tho subject can deny, and Dr Gibb, it is true, has from time to time vehemently exhorted his followers that his views for tho moment are tho only possibly acceptable ones. Hr Gibb would rather not say anything about Mr Caughloy, or he may be tempted to utter things that ho would afterwards regret. We believe with Dr Gibb that if ho said anything to belitt’o Mr Caugliley (the well-known head master of West Christchurch School) he would afterwards regret it. We quite believe that Mr Caughley, knowing Dr Gibb as well os he musk, would consider am - £«?'■
oonal reflection on himself, coming from aucl; J a quarter, to bo more in the nature of a personal compliment. It must have a spectacle not tending to edification when Dr" Gibb lashed himself into an immense fury, and, in that delicate phraseology | which has become a part of himself, declared himself “ready to burst.” The funny thing about the worthy doctor ia that when indignant he really does not know what he is saying. It is to his credit that when the Moderator rebuked him for the use of strong language he expressed his sorrow. Although wo regret that Professor Dickie supports ttya league's (platform, wc record with pleasure his noble words, which, to the minds of the laity, will be more convincing than the Rev. Mr Jolly’s interpretation of the Church’s traditions; When the Church assumed powers for which it had no special aptitudo and no special ability as by interfering with political questions, it lost its spiritual power. In regard to this particular matter, the ministers had no greater qualifications than tho laymen. He also thought it a great pity that tho policy of the Presbyterian Church should bo dictated by an outside organisation.
To compare the Assembly to a debating society must have greatly shocked Dr Gibb, who lias never forgotten how lie himself helped to raise the dignity of the Assembly by ruling it in Court attire. True, this outward sign of dignity has not been followed, because, as wo are told, it was thought inconsistent with Scripture, inasmuch as “Ho taketh not pleasure in tho legs of a man.” Until the Rev. W. J. Connie declared that it was cruel and unjust to speak of opponents of tho league as on the level of Gorman spies, wo doubt if the opponents were themselves aware of the degradation which had fallen upon the Priest-m-Schools party. ■ Tho Rev. W. Gray Dixon explained somewhat irrelevantly that ho stood for his country egainst “tho wicked doctrines of jawprised that tho Kev. J. Kennedy Elliott breaking Germans”! We are not surehouid have been astonished to find that the manner of Dr Cleary was that of a gentleman ! Doublets Mr Elliott had read so much from unbiased Presbyterian sources about tho coercion put upon an ignorant peonlo by a domineering priesthood that ho expected something of the kind from tho Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland. The Presbyterian Assembly must have caught Mr Elliott that tho Bible Leaguers are leaving no stone unturned to uso tho power of tho Protestant churches for political purposes. Furthermore, ho has been taught.from his youth upwards that this is the policy of tho Roman Catholic Church. He is now urging the Protestant churches to adopt a similar policy. It would almost seem as if some of our Protestant ministers envy the good fathers their influence ever their flocks. They may themselves gain this influence oven yob" if they will teach their people to pay for denominational education out of their own pockets, as do the Catholics, instead of entering into unholy combinations to force those who do not agree with them to pay for tho “ Ism ” they affect. After all the storm and stress of Saturday the following amendment, moved by tho Rev. Mr Bertram, was carried by a great majority ;
The Assembly urge all our people to realise the critical stn.gc of the movement, and recommend them, wherever possible, to give tho issue due prominence at the poll.
Though fatal to Mr Balfour's motion, this amendment of itself is quite innocuous. But it saves the face of the General Assembly, and permits Dr Gibb to seo his change of front has impressed the representatives of the Presbyterian Church. We extend our sympathy to the leaders of the Anglican Church, who must ere now regret their imposition of a policy of coercion on their allies.
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The Evening Star TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1914., Evening Star, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914