In 1876, the itinerant Dr. Murray wrote to his wife: “In travelling the last three or four days, I have met ever so many people who appear willing to accept Christ; but [they] have not the needful knowledge or help. I have felt so deeply that if one had a divine enthusiasm, the warmth of faith and love, to compel them to come in — one might be a blessing from home to home.
"I have this day sought to lay myself afresh upon the altar, and to look to the great High Priest presenting me to the Father — [as] an acceptable and accepted sacrifice. How, I know not fully.
"The want, the universal want, of a dealing with souls in the fervency and joy of a living faith, rests heavy on me. But whether there is any prospect of my doing the work, I cannot say. Or whether by training workers, teachers and missionaries the Lord will permit me to do more — I know not. But it is sad to see souls by multitudes seeking and not finding; sighing, and not [ being] helped — apparently because there is none to show them the way of the Lord. Oh! Why should not our hearts verily be filled to overflowing with that love which wrestles for souls unto the death?"
Dr. Murray's very conservative evaluation of the 1877 international Pan-Presbyterian Council in Edinburgh, is most illuminating. As a delegate thereto, and as himself a very great champion of
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Presbyterianism, he reported on it in a long paper. There he said: "The Constitution of the Council…laid down that the consensus of the Confessions of the various Reformed Churches, was to be considered the basis upon which the Council was united."
Observes Murray: "The discussion on this question was opened by the well-known Dr. Schaff…. He first reminded his hearers how, more than 300 years ago (in 1562), Cranmer had issued an invitation to Calvin, Melanchthon and other Continental divines, to assemble and draw up a united Confession for the Reformed Churches; and how Calvin had replied that for such a purpose he would be willing to cross not one but ten seas…. Such Confessions cannot be drawn up to order. They must, if they are to have any spark of vitality, be the fruit of deep religious convictions born in a time of struggle for the faith. Theology cannot produce them. They demand a religious enthusiasm which is equal to any sacrifice, and which does not shrink from death itself.
From Schaff the American, to Cairns the Scot. "A paper by the revered Dr. Cairns was read," continues Murray, "on the Principles of Presbyterianism — in which it was pointed out that Presbyterianism fostered true liberty."
Next, reported Murray, "Dr. Alexander Hodge…discussed Presbyterianism in connexion with the tendencies and needs of the present age. The same force in the Reformed Churches, he said, which in former ages had opposed tyranny in Church and State, must now do battle against the modern enemy — the lawlessness which defies all authority, and exalts man and nature above all things."
"A long paper," Andrew Murray goes on, "was read from the pen of [Rev.] Dr. Duff, the prince of modern missionaries…. Speaking as one of the prophets of old, he said…that 'Missions are not one of the activities of the Church but the only object for which it exists…. I give expression to my immovable assurance, that unless and until this supreme duty is more deeply felt, more powerfully realized, and more implicitly obeyed, not only by individual believers but by the Church at large — we are only playing at missions, deceiving ourselves, slighting the command of our blessed King, and expending in all manner of fruitless struggle the powers, the means and the abilities which should be devoted with undivided enthusiasm to the spiritual subjugation of the nations!'"