« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
lived and died under that dispensation, and he came neither to destroy the law nor the prophets. When God commands war, it is right. When the men of the war-spirit can show us His command in the New Testament, we will go with them, but the sayings of the Saviour are pointedly against
Is it murder for one man to kill another in the field of battle? if it is, then no Christian should be there, for no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Meanwhile we wish to hear all that can be said on both sides.
H. W. BEECHER ON THE PRESENT POWER OF
H. WARD BEECHER devotes an evening each month to the consideration of "the work of religion in the world." A contemporary reports him
of Christ more.
I think that Christian character is larger, more symmetrical, sweeter and truer now than it ever was before. Single saintly natures there have been that stood out prominently in the world's history; but I apprehend that there were never such bodies of men, that there never were such churches, that there never were organizations in which the average moral development was so high, as at the present day. There never was a time when the world was so interested in Christ as it is to-day There never was a time when there was half as much scholarship employed in the illustration of Christ's history and life as there is to-day. There have probably, within the last twenty years, been over one hundred lives of Christ written. And in all the nations of Europe they are multiplying. No other line of scholarship is as much pursued to-day as that. And it is not, either, all of it in the nature of negative or destructive criticism. Some of it is; but taking it as a whole, it is the illustration of Christ's character in such a way as to bring Christ nearer to men, and to make Christ's heart seem sweeter to the world, and to make men feel the genius
Consider the great element of sympathy and benevolence which is the distinctive feature of Christianity. God manifest in Christ Jesus, to take away the sins of the world; God so loving the world as to give His own Son to die for it: God administering for the sake of saving the poor, and the helpless, and the needy-this is Christianity.
Now, there never was a time when there was so much literature that occupied itself in diffusing sympathy for the poor, for the helpless, and for the needy, as to-day. Men ridicule it; they call it the sentimentalism of benevolence;' they call it philanthropism;' but, after all, when novelists, when essayists, and when philosophical theorists are all moving in one direction ; when all speculative thinkers, when all schools of specu. lation are basing their writings and their reasonings upon the great central fact that the strong are to be the benefactors of the weak, that the rich are Gud's almoners to the poor, that the wise are sent to be schoolmasters of the simple; when the great law of love, with its attendant law of selfsacrifice, is the animating spirit of theory, and philosophy, and literature, how can you say that the spirit of Christianity is dying out?
Look at it more technically. I think there was never a time when there was more activity in organised Christianity seeking to take on a cooperative form, than there is today and this in spite of the efforts of men to prevent it. One of the best things that I see is, how scared
Observer, May 1, '71.
hierarchs are. The Pope in Rome sits up at nights over the waning authority, not of Christianity, but of Rome. I am glad of it. I would that the morning star might dawn on his sight. But he is not the only hierarch that is scared. Hierarchs everywhere (for Popery is diluted, and .
, is distributed all through the world; and there are numerous Papacies outside of Rome) are buckling the harness of ecclesiasticism a few holes tighter. I like that. These old churches, the high-bred churches,
the churches, as they distinctively call themselves—they make me think of beech and white-oak trees that do not shed their leaves in winter. The leaves stick to the branches and dry up, and there is not one of them that has a drop of sap in it. And they look very much like those churches, in some aspects. Now comes the Spring; and you will see these leaves one after another dropping down. Why? Because the tree is beginning to feel its sap moving, and filling and swelling every little twig and branch. And the moment the sap reaches the point where the leaves are joined to the tree, it begins to loosen them, and finally pushes them off and they drop to the ground.
And what do I understand to be all this flurry in the high-bred churches They are beginning to smell and to spy danger, and they are spurring themselves up, and bringing back the old regimen-the doctrines, and dogmas, and observances that were once in vogue—the ecclesiastical screws which used to be resorted to. Why? Because the old dead leaves are dropping off. There is growth. l'hey feel it. They don't like it. And yet the best part of their growth consists in what they are losing.
Look at it in another way. See how all denominations are laying down their bristles. Do you ever see four or five strange dogs come together! How every one of them puts himself upon his little self-possessed dignity! See how they walk around each other with their backs up ready to nip each other on the slightest provocation. They are like four or five sects, walking around each other with their bristles up, ready to attack each other upon the utterance of the first dissenting word. Did you ever see in a well-bred household how a number of dogs will lie down together, and caress each other, and lick each other, and live in perfect harmony? They are like the denominations of Christians that have learned to love one another, and to tolerate each other's religious opinions, as to-day churches are learning to do. And I do not know of any other thing that is more encouraging than this fact, that Christians not in the same denomination are beginning to love one another.
So that if you look at Christianity as a force, I think you will find that it never was in more vigour, and never was more operative, than it is at the present time. More than that, the missionary spirit is not decaying. It is not, perhaps, developing itself with that kind of novelty and special and enthusiastic interest that early periods have seen, but is better organized; it is working on a larger pattern. It has an experience that makes the force that is put into a given field do ten times as much work as it used to, not abating one single jot of its intention. The field is the world, go take possession of it—that was never before the feeling of so many Christians as it is to-day, and it never before was the subject of such a well-organized purpose and such an operative plan as it is to-day.
Now, having looked at the forces which are at work for the spread of Christianity, let us look a little at the field into which it has been carried. The whole world has been ransacked and explored. There is not now a corner of the globe where Christianity is unknown. How is it with England? Men think that she is decaying simply because her relative
Observer, May 1, '71.
brute force is less than that of the continental nations. But I tell you, the age is coming in which brute force is going to avail less and less. It is the power of thought and the power of organization, and the power of wealth, that are going to tell, more than the power of the hand in future times; and England's brain is not dried up, her heart is not dried up, and her pocket is not dried up. She is the strongest nation in Europe to-day; and she has a future as magnificent as that of any nation in Europe. And what is England ? She is evangelical.
She is truly Christian. I do not mean that every drop of the water is pure to the bottom; but I mean that the force of the nation on the whole is Christian
Well, what is the condition of the Continent? There were three or four nations that seemed, a little while ago, to hold Christianity in chains Christianity seemed to be muzzled by the Roman false system in Austria in Italy, in Spain, and in France. Look at them to-day. Austria is under the influence of a progressive, I might almost say Protestant premier. It is one of the foremost nations in religious progress. It has a priesthood that is almost in antagonism to Rome. Education is taking religion out of the hands of the hierarchy and putting it where it belongs. There is a genuine movement of Christianity in the right direction there.
Italy is only nominally Catholic. She is strongly leaning toward Protestantism. She is emancipating herself out of a dead Christianity into a living, vital Christianity. She goes for free schools, for free speech, and for a free press. Italy is growing stronger all the time—and not for retrogression, either.
And what is the condition of Spain? She is paralysed as a Papal nation. Though she is not organized, yet she is as one made free by Cbrist.
Here are these strong nations of a muzzled Church ; and they are either reorganizing or going under. What is the dominant nation in Europe to-day? Prussia-Germany. And what is Germany ? Its government, its institutions, its policy, and its people are all in favour of liberty,— liberty of thought, liberty of action, and liberty of conscience. God has kindled a light there that all the scepticism of the world cannot and will not put out.
So that if you look at the great national forces that exist to-day in the world, you find that they are all of them Protestant, Evangelical, Christian. America, Great Britain, Germany, with Franca humbled to the dust, and her proud power that was so long exercised in favour of a comparatively corrupt religion, broken, with Spain likewise humbled, with Italy regenerating, and with Austria progressing toward the establishment of a true Christianity—these nations all give promise of a new and better period in the history of religion. Decadence has had its run, renaissance is now to have its time and period.
There is one thing more, and that is the fact of language. Language is
å great power in this world. In the early days it was the Greek language--a noble tongue. Then came up the Roman power ; and Latin took its place, and began to be the medium of universal speech. The Spaniards once gained the ascendancy; but their language never gained on the affections of the people. Then French gained the ascendancy; and everybody who aspires to any culture must know French. When I was last in Europe I did not go to an inn or hotel but I found some one who spoke English. The English tongue is to have its turn. This language is to be spoken around the entire globe. It is not so artistic as the Grecian; but it has every element of domesticity, full of strength and
Observer, May 1, '71,
energy to express the more aggressive and more positive features in thought and power. See what a literature it is to carry out. The German tongue will never gain the universality of the English language, because the Germans never go far from home. Englishmen and Americans go every: where; and succeed, no matter how far they go from their homes. Look at the mass of Christianized literature, and when you come to look upon the prospects of the mission work in years to come we must feel encour. aged. Christianity is growing stronger every day.”
A PLEA FOR SUNDAY SCHOOLS. I GLADLY endorse the sentiments of J. Adams, last month, and pen the following in order to awaken sympathy. Here let me ask what is a Sunday school, and what need is there for Sunday schools ? It may be said that everyone knows what a Sunday school is, and the question may appear to some like insulting their intelligence. But not so, hear my explanation. A short time ago an attempt was made by the Secularists in this town to establish a Sunday school (the attempt proved a failure). Now, I don't expect they were intending to do what J. A. advocates. Their intention was very different, yet they thought fit to adopt the designation.
The Christian gathers a number of children together to give them re. ligious instruction, and he calls this assembly a Sunday school-a school for instruction in religious matters, held on Sunday. The Sunday was anciently dedicated to the Sun. It corresponds to our Lord's day. So, then, to put the matter in definite form, I would say the great object of Sunday schools is to instil into the minds of the young the truths of the Bible, and the one great desire of all Christian promoters of Sunday schools is, that the lives of the young and rising generation may become conformed to its truths. So, then, we see from this that Sunday schools have their origin in and through the Bible, and on this account alone, ought to be a sufficient inducement for the Christian to engage in this work. But as an additional inducement let me add, Sunday schools also have the support of all the great and good of our land.
Now let me ask what need is there for Sunday schools ? We are told that in this land of ours alone there is something like four millions of young people, such in age as attend Sunday schools, and that only about half of that number ever enter our Sunday schools. Think of this, dear reader. They are here with their bright eyes, merry voices and loving hearts ! They have entered into our midst and have become companions with us in our mortal existence. They are here holding in their hands, not only the happiness of the various families to which they belong, but also the characters and destinies of coming generations. They are here and they possess minds, that need to be trained and educated, and they also possess souls, which need leading to salvation. I ask, then, what can the Christian gaze upon with greater anxiety than upon these four millions young ones ? Can you look upon their future position without being impressed with the responsibility which their very existence places upon you? Can you conceive of a subject that will bear the least comparison with this great and solemn question? What is our duty toward them? We may neglect the duty but we never can escape the responsibility. If we neglect them, and they grow up in indolence, we shall have to support them in the workhouse. They may become criminal and we shall have to bear the expense of police and all the means of punishment.
Observer, May 1, 71.
But these are only secondary considerations. Our happiness and honour depend upon our conduct toward them. If we neglect them and they remain ignorant, and become immoral and vicious, they will brand us with å stigma that shall never be erased. But if on the other hand we become alive to their wants, and buckle on our armour and devote ourselves to the task of making them what God (whom we profess to serve) intends they should be, they will throw around our name a halo of glory that shall outstand time and last through eternity. The day is rapidly coming when we shall have to stand face to face with them before Him who holds indolence as sin, and who holds us responsible for all that we have the ability to do. I ask, then, dear reader, what in that terrible day shall we wish we had done for those four million children? Do you desire their good, then what are you doing to secure it? They are now tender and can be trained like the tender sapling, and can be fashioned as you please. A word, an act, a look, may now stir their young souls and affect them for ever. But let them alone till they come to riper years, and what will be the consequence? Why, they become as hard as granite. Then you may toil day after day and week after week, and your labour will be all but useless. Then be up and doing. Your services are much needed in this work. Oh, remember that there is in each one of these four millions a tender lamb, over whom the Good Shepherd is longing to rejoice, and let our ambition be to present them all perfect.
THE PHYSICAL CAUSE OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST, AND ITS
RELATION TO THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF CHRISTIANITY: BY W. STROUD, M.D.-London: Hamilton, Adams & Co.
A most thoughtful and valuable book. The second edition is now before us. This is not a dry medical work, but Scripture is elucidated by large medical knowledge: the types and prophesies are seen to have a more complete fulfilment than is commonly seen, and peculiar evidence for the truth of Christianity is supplied. An Appendix is added by Sir James Simpson, Bart., M.D., in which he says, “Let me try to state the arguments for this view in a few brief propositions." He gives them thus
"I. His death was not the mere result of crucifixion ; for, 1st, the period was too short; person in the prime of life, as Christ was, not dying from this mode of mortal punishment in six hours, as He did, but usually surviving till the secoud or third day, or even longer. 2ndly, The attendant phenomena, at the time of actual death, were different from those of crucifixion. The crucified died, as is well known, under a lingering process of gradual exhaustion, weakness und faintness. On the contrary, Christ cried with a loud voice, and spoke once and again,-all apparently within a few minutes of His dissolution.
II. No known injury, lesion, or disease of the brain, lungs, or other vital organs could, I believe, account for such a sudden termination of His sufferings in death, except (1.) arrestment of the action of the heart by fatal fainting or syncope ; or (2.) rupture of the walls of the heart or larger blood vessols issuing from it.
III. The attendant symptoms-particularly the loud cry and subsequent exclamations—show that death was not the effect of mortal fainting, or mere fatal arrestment of the action of the heart by syncope.
IV. On the other hand, these symptoms were such as have been seen in cases of rupture of the walls of the heart. Thus, in the latest book published in the English language on Diseases of the Heart, the eminent author, Dr. Walshe, Professor of Medicins in University Collego, London, when treating of tho symptoms indicating death by