4. Another rule is of concerted works: the rule of the Engineer. Back of every advance in our country, in facilities of trade and transportation, or of public health and safety, stands the man who thought it out. Take, for instance, the development of the "Great American Desert." Who projected its irrigation, by which areas have been redeemed from barrenness and waste? Who planned the economic use of the Niagara Falls? Who built the Brooklyn Bridge? Who projected the vast waterway from Chicago to the Gulf? Who first thought of a cable across the depths of seas? Who bridged the Firth of Forth, the Ganges, the Mississippi? Who projected the gray docks of Montreal? the Simplon Tunnel? Who wound the iron rails across the Alleghanies, the Rockies, the Sierras? Who drew the wall that has encircled China for a thousand years? Who projected the Suez Canal? the Trans-Siberian Railway? Who sunk the mines of Eldorado? Who designed the Esplanade at Hamburg? the stone banks of the Seine? the waterways of Venice? the aqueducts of Rome? the Appian Way? the military roads of Chili and Peru? the Subway in New York?
Gravity, stress, strain, weight, tension, sag, cohesion,—a few mathematical formulas, and a knowledge of the primary laws of physics,—upon such principles as these, the world is rapidly changing form and use.
The Engineer, in a strange and subtle way, stands near to God. His work is done hand-in-hand with God. He takes the forces of nature and the laws of the material world, and bends them to the needs and use of man. Sky and sea or desert may be about him. He knows the arctic cold, the tropic heat; the forest and the plain; the mountain and the marsh; the brook and river; the peak and the precipice; the glacier and the tempest in their course. Out of the very elements he is daily building new paths for man to tread. Soon he, too, must pass; laid after death, it may be, beside some mighty water that his handiwork has spanned.
In loneliness and silence does he not often think, I wonder, of the God with whom he deals? It is God who provides the river and the sea; God who through endless ages has piled stone on stone, crust on crust, and has crumpled the strata of the earth as tissue in His hand. It is God who has bound every mote to the earth-centre; who has sent magnetic currents coursing through the globe, and has made tides and sea-changes, and the trade-winds to blow. It is the God of the Gulf Stream, the Caribbean Sea, the God of the Appalachians, the God of the Himalayas, the God of the Cordilleras, of the Amazon, the Yukon, the Yang-tse-Kiang with which he really deals.
The endless ages pass and go, but God abides. Little, daring man lifts here and there a hand to mould the world which God has made—pricks the earth for gold or silver, iron or coal—but GOD is everywhere immanent and shines through every hour of change. Hence the March of Engineers is the march of men whom God has trained; in a special sense His master-workmen, craftsmen whom He loves. It is theirs to say, We are the Kings of Works: the Master-builders of the Most High!
5. There are Kings of Academic Thought, men who lead in professions and in collegiate careers. The wise man is the true aristocrat. His court may not be in a palace, but within its precincts are received and entertained the leaders of the race. To be provost, to be college president or university professor, is to be seated on an intellectual throne.
The problem of academic rule is not to attract a large number of students, to put up imposing buildings, to have endowments, and fill chairs with learned specialists; to grant many degrees, and to keep the hum of a teaching staff and of a student body alive in the ears of a community, marking the college group by flags and colors, cap and gown, processions and occasions. These things are right, but are mainly accessory. We have not all of a university when we have men and buildings, money, students, brains. Back of a university there lies its foundation-idea, that of academic control.
What is academic rule? It is rule over the pride of man. A college is a place whose chief power is to inculcate humility by the means of true learning; to establish intellectual honor and integrity by searching out the ways of God in nature, science, and philosophy, and in letters and in art.
It is the primary work of a university to make men humble. The Freshman is not teachable. The Sophomore is an intellectual upstart. But by the time a man has been beaten and conquered by the great ideals of the world, which have pierced his bones and humbled his conceit—by the time the race-passions and the race-sorrows have crept across his spirit, by the time that he has been confronted with the achievements of Homer, Empedocles, Hippocrates, Michelangelo, Socrates, Buddha, Plato, Emerson, Gladstone, Bismarck, Lincoln, and Carlyle—his self-exaltation drops from him like a garment. He—who knows how to construe a few pages of the classics, who knows how to demonstrate a few mathematical problems, scan a few verses, recite a few odes, carry on a few scientific experiments, undertake a small research—how shall he compete with these rulers of the thought of men?
Then it is that the real rule of a university—its spirit of humility, and of reverence for antiquity—begins. The true university man, born and bred in the century, not in the years, in the race halls, not those alone in his Alma Mater, is neither a scoffer nor an atheist, nor a critic, sceptic, or cynic. He is a man of simple and exalted faith. God, who hath brought such great things to pass in science, nature, and art, in human character, in the destiny of nations, and the history of humble men and women, is a God before whom there must be awe and reverence, and not a flippant scouting of the ancient ideals. Man, who is so tried by temptation and scourging of the spirit, is a creature to be loved, appreciated, understood; not a being to whom shall be shown arrogance, aloofness, and pride. The university that makes snobs of its graduates has not yet entered into its kingdom of control.
A university also holds rule over truth. Absolute truth is in God's hand. But the university has class-rooms and libraries, apparatus and laboratories, which are intended for the discovery and furtherance of truth. The university is not a place to cry out for big salaries. The salaries should be living salaries. The seeker after truth should not be left without enough money for heat and shelter, for bread and meat, rest and summer-change; for the coming of children and their education. But truth may lodge without shame in an humble dwelling and may be greatly furthered without an elaborate bill of fare.
The university men of the times are the establishers of a kind of righteousness that is not always found in books. Their individual value, as they go out into the world, is to set right values on social customs and decrees; to establish the law of freedom in the home; to lead men and women out of the thraldom of ignorance, vulgarity, hearsay, and "style," into simplicity of living and a sane scale of household expense. The university leader of the future is the man who shall set laws over household accounts and who shall rule over such simple things as what best to eat and buy. He shall be an economist of the larger sort, providing for the spiritual necessities of men and their moral conduct, rather than for their balls, card-parties, and social side-shows, including church entertainments and philanthropic dances and bazaars. He shall pave the way to a larger view of wealth, influence, and reform; endue man with a keener sense of his own responsibilities, make him a creature of larger desires and of more aspiring wants.
In particular, he shall pass down from generation to generation the high and noble learning of the past; he shall keep alive the flower of courtesy and charity; he shall tell the dreams of past sages, and interpret them; he shall review the thronging nations; and he shall so imbue the mind with a love of truth, of ideals, of excellence, of honor, that a new race shall go out into a larger and a nobler world. And then a better day shall dawn for men.
6. The Kings of State. Says Milton, in his sonnet on Cromwell:
"Yet much remains To conquer still; Peace hath her victories No less renowned than War: new foes arise, Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains. Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw."
In the third moon of the year 1276, Bayan, the conquering lieutenant of Genghis Khan, captured Hangchow, received the jade rings of the Sungs, and was taken out to the bank of the river Tsientang to see the spirit of Tsze-sue pass by in the great bore of Hangchow—that tidal wave which annually rolls in, and, dashing itself against the sea-wall of Hangchow, rushes far up the river, bringing, for eighteen miles inland, a tide of fresh, deep-sea splendor, and thrilling all who see or hear.
In the life of nations there are times and tides. Against the tide-wall of history, beaten by many a storm, and battered by many a thundering wave, there is about to sweep the incoming wave of a new life for the race: there is about to pass a greater than the spirit of Tsze-sue,—even the Spirit of God!
"We are living,-we are dwelling, In a grand and awful time, Age on age to ages telling, To be living is sublime!"
We are moving out into a period of great statesmen, and of great political standards and ideals. The days before us are days which will make the Elizabethan era pale in history. Upon the head of our nation are set responsibilities such as have never before rested on any one man.
The day of the true statesman is here; the day of the demagogue is done! The rule of the orator is over the ideals and hopes of men. The demagogue prostitutes this power. His rule is over the passions, prejudices, and resentments of men. He cries aloud in the market-place, and rogues and ward-heelers, and evil-minded politicians, group themselves around him. He waves his sceptre over the vulgar and the rascals of the town.
The vital problem of municipal reform is not the shattering of the ring, the overturning of the boss, the gagging of a few loud tongues. It is the problem of the training of better bosses; the education of men and women in social control; their enlightenment, from childhood up, in civic duties, in national affairs, and the conduct of civil power. Thereupon oratory turns to its higher ends. Through statesman, preacher, and political teacher, it cries aloud of righteousness. I look for the time when the typical politician shall be an honorable man; when to be "in the ring" of municipal or national control shall mean to be an integral and orderly part of the administration of God's great world; when city life shall be purified; and when international law shall be the interpretation of the will of the Almighty for the rule of nations. We have honest doctors, lawyers, tradesmen; shall we not have an honest politician and an upright ward-boss?
Public service is a god-like service! Our Presidents shall more and more be chosen, not alone for ideas, experience, or for party affiliations: the President shall be chosen because he is a moral hero! Something has stirred in the heart of the American people, which shall not soon be stilled: a spiritual outlook upon political preferment. In the White House we long to have the great spiritual exemplars of our race. Not alone in church shall we offer up a "Prayer before Election." The time is coming when each true ballot-slip shall be a prayer.
Within the next fifty years shall be determined some of the greatest questions of history. Among them shall be questions of industrial adjustment and development, and of social progress. We must have in our Cabinet not only the representatives of War and State, of Finance, Trade, Labor, and Agriculture; but also of Education and of Social Health. This is not a dream. You and I may live to see the results of this religious awakening: it is elemental and epochal.
Back of all individual dominion there is rising a yet higher dominion—the dominion of the English-speaking race. We, having been called by the providence of God to stand at the head of the march of progress, may well ask ourselves concerning our imperial powers. The line of progress for a nation is to allow no spiritual ideal to stagnate or to retrograde. The spiritual aspiration of a nation always dominates what is called the Social Mind. We grow toward what we worship. It is ours to plant the dominion of civilization in foreign lands, and to supplant a waning culture by a richer, truer, and nobler way of life. The first thought of each of us, entering these new lands, whether merchant, soldier, educator, or missionary, should be to hold Christ aloft, that all tribes may come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising.
God leads us on. Said Lincoln: "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day." Like a vast Hand stretched against the sky of Time is the Hand of God—a Hand writing, in these wondrous days, a destiny for generations yet to be! Rising with us are all God-fearing nations—the Teutonic, Slav, and Latin peoples. Sitting yet in darkness, and massed against us, crouch sullenly the immemorial hordes of Asia, the wild blacks of the African swamps and jungles, and the dwellers of Polynesian seas. Occident and Orient, the world's battalions are forming for new encounters and new dismays. Never since the strong-limbed Goths changed the face of Europe has there been a period of such tense anticipation, nor so great a possibility of volcanic change. We are entering an historic period of reconstruction, when new maps of the world will be drawn. The sceptre is passing into new hands: to-day the throne of civilization is being arched above the seaway which joins London and New York. To-morrow, it may be builded above Pacific tides, where our own shores look westward to the ports of Asiatic Russia. For, rising on the world-horizon, are these two World-empires, Russia and the United States. The dictators of these two countries will soon become the dictators of the human race. They are brave and virile nations, with untold reserves of power! As these two giants gird themselves for World-dominion, who but God shall gird the armor on, direct the onward course of change?
Much of the ancient wealth and beauty shall be done away. In a few generations the shrines of thirty centuries will be no more. Fane and temple and pagoda will disappear; carvings, images, and Sikh-guarded courts. Long lines of yellow-robed priests will chant their last processional hymn to Buddha, and the smoking incense to waning gods shall be quenched forever. Where Tao rites were celebrated, silence shall fall; where fakir and dervish tortured and immolated their lives, happy children shall play. Instead of the lotos of the Ganges and the Nile, there shall bloom the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Vale.
But as the empires of Buddha and Muhammad fall, a new Empire shall prevail!
"Kings shall bow down before Him, And gold and incense bring; All nations shall adore Him, His praise all people sing. To Him shall prayer unceasing And dally vows ascend; His kingdom still increasing, A kingdom without end."
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF PRELATES AND EVANGELISTS
O Majesty throned, O Lord of all Light, Shine down on our spirits and scatter the night; As Adam received his life-impulse from Thee, Endued with all fulness, we quickened would be
Let all that we know—love, learning, and power— Melt down in Thy Presence, and flame in this hour; Anoint us and bless us and lift our desire And grant us to speak as with tongues touched with fire!
Life flows as a dream—its pleasures are dear: The world is about us—temptation is near; Oh, guide us, and shew us the pathway to God The feet of the prophets aforetime have trod!
The bells cease their chime,—the hosts enter in: May many be purged of their sloth and their sin! Cheer Thou the despondent, the weary, the sad, Rouse all to rejoicing, that all may be glad.
And when life is o'er, and each must depart In quaking and silence,—abide with each heart; The songs of Thy saints then caught up to the skies, As waves of great waters shall thunderous rise!
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
In Malory's Morte d'Arthur there is the legend of the Sword of Assay. In the church against the high altar was a great stone, four-square, like unto a marble stone. In the midst of it was an anvil of steel, a foot high, and therein stood a naked sword by the point. About the sword there were letters written, saying, "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is righteous king born of all England." Many assayed to pull the sword forth, but all failed, until the young Arthur came, and, taking the sword by the handle, lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone! By this token he was lord of the land.
Each man's life is proved by some Sword of Assay. The test of a man's call to the ministry is his power to seize the Sword of the Spirit: wield the spiritual forces of the world, insight, conviction, persuasion, truth. To do this successfully at least five things appear to be necessary: a sterling education, marked ability in writing and in public speaking, a noble manner, a voice capable of majestic modulations, and a deep and tender heart. These phrases sound very simple, but perhaps they mean more than at first appears. Have we not all met some one, in our lifetime, whose acquaintance with us seemed to have no preliminaries?—some one who never bothered to say anything at all to us, until one day he said something that leaped and tingled through our very being? This is the power that a minister ought to have with every soul with whom he comes in contact: his word should quickly touch a vital spot. No one to-day cares much for mere oratory, literary discussion, polemics, or cursory exegesis; "marked ability in writing and in public speaking" means that grip on reality which makes people quiver, repent, believe, adore!
Sincerity is the basis of such power. At heart we worship the man who will not lie; who will not use conventions or formulas in which he does not believe; who does not give us a second-hand view of either life or God; who does not play with our conscience because it is not politic to be too direct; who does not juggle with our doubts, nor ignore our hopes and powers; who also frankly acknowledges that he, too, is a man.
A call to the ministry also involves an over-mastering spiritual desire. Tell me what a man wants, and I will tell what he is, and what he can best do. If a man desires above all things to conduit a great business, he is by nature qualified for trade; if he desires knowledge, he is designed for a scholar; if he is always observing form, rhyme, aesthetic beauty, and striving to produce verse, he is a born poet. But if the one thing that rules his dreams is the longing for spiritual power—the thought of impressing God upon his generation, and leading men to a clearer view of life and duty—he is a born minister of the Spirit, and to the spirit of the sons of men. Along with this goes the great burden: "Woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel!"
Wherever, to-day, there is a young man in whose heart is stirring a great devotional dream for the race, who longs to project his life into the most enduring and far-reaching influence, who craves the exercise of great gifts and powers, there is a man whose heart God is calling to possibilities such as no one can measure, and to triumphs such as no one can forecast! The highest triumphs of these coming years are to be spiritual. The leader is to be the one who can carry the deepest spiritual inspiration to the hearts of his fellow-men. Do not let the hour go by! This day of vision is the prophetic day!
But if the call be answered, if certain high-spirited and noble-minded men ask thus to stand as spiritual ministrants to the souls of men, how shall they be trained for the high office?
The old way will not do. Sweeping changes, in these last days, have come over the commercial, academic, and social world. We do not go back to the hand-loom, the hand-sickle, the hand-press. What is true of these aspects of life is true of the spiritual training. It must be larger, freer, grander, than before. Time was when a theologian, it was thought, must be separated from the world—an ascetic working in the dim half-light of the old library, or scriptorium, or hall. To-day, he must gain much of his training from the great life of the world—learn how to meet men and occasions, and be prepared to deal with modern forces and energies with courage, knowledge, and decision.
We read of the earnest Thomas Goodwin: his favorite authors were such as Augustine, Calvin, Musculus, Zanchius, Paraeus, Walaeus, Gomarus, and Amesius. What Doctor of Theology takes the last six of these to bed with him to-day?
Our theological courses are too dry. Look carefully over the catalogues of thirty or forty of our own seminaries, and notice the curious, almost monastic, impression which they make. Then realize that the men who pursue these abstruse and mediaeval subjects are the men who go out into churches where the chief topics of thought and conversation are crops, stocks, politics, clothes, servants, babies! There is a grim humor in the thing, which seems to have escaped those who have drawn up the curriculum.
Life is not monastic. It is very lively. We scarcely get, in all our post-collegiate life, a chance to sit and muse. We go through sensations, experiences, and incongruities, which stir a sense of fun. A man reads (I notice) in his seminary, St. Leo, Ad Flaeirmum, and makes his first pastoral call on a woman who proudly brings out her first baby for him to see. Ad Flaeirmum indeed! What does St. Leo tell the youth to say?
What should be breathed into a man in the seminary, is not the mere facts of ecclesiastical history, but the warm pulsating currents of human life; the profound significance of the founding and the progress of the Church; a deep psychological understanding of human desires, motives, joys, ambitions, griefs; the relentlessness of sin; the help and glory of Redemption; the quickening of the Christ; the vigor and the tenderness of faith. Coincident with these must be a growth in depth and dignity of life. No one likes to take spiritual instruction from men who are themselves crude, foolish, sentimental, or conceited. Many social snags on which young ministers are sure to run, are simply the rudiments of social conduct, as practised by the world. Noble manners are one's personal actions as influenced and guided by the great behavior of the race. Under the impulse of ideals, much that is untoward or superficial in one's bearing will disappear. It is impossible to think as noble men and women have thought—to dream, love, and work as they have dreamed, loved, and wrought—and not have pass into one's mien the high excellence of such lives.
The first education is spiritual. Until mind and heart are swept by the spirit of God, chastened, purified, ennobled, and inspired, vain is all the learning of the schools! To this end, there should be a more deeply spiritual atmosphere in our seminaries, less of the mere academic impulse. In every age, there are men just to come in contact with whom is a benediction and a help for years. Such a man was Mark Hopkins, Noah Porter, James McCosh. Such the leading men in every seminary should be.
The plan of education must be of principles, not of facts. The university research-men gather facts, and scientific men everywhere collect, analyze, and classify them. But each small department of human learning—each minute branch in that department—needs a lifetime for the mastery of that one theme. Hence the work of the college is quite apart from that of the school of theology. It is the place of the school of theology, not to ignore the New Learning, but to group, upon the basis of a thorough college training, certain great interests and pursuits of mankind, in such a way as to afford, by means of them, a leverage for spiritual work.
After all is said and done, it is not the grammar-detail of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic dialects that makes a minister's power. It is the strange language-culture of the race which should enter in; the inner vitality of words, the beauty of poetic cadences, the strong flow of rhythm, noble themes, great thoughts, impressive imagery and appeal. We should know the Bible as literature, not as one knows a story-book, or a dialect-exercise, but as one knows the melodies and memories of childhood.
The vital thing is not a knowledge of the historical schisms and decrees of Christendom—not the external Evidences of Religion, Ecclesiastical History, Ecclesiastical Polity, monuments, texts, memorabilia—the vital thing is the power to think about God, and the problems of mankind. It is a heart-knowledge of the difficulties and questionings of a race that yearns for virtue.
Man thirsts for God. No one is wholly indifferent to the Spirit. I fear that some ministers do not know—and never will know—the heart-hunger of the world. When they rise to speak, there is always some one present whose breath is hushed with longing to hear spoken some real word of truth, or strength, or comfort. If he receive but chaff!—
Theology is not a dry thing, and ought not be made so. It is quick with the life of the race. Each dogma is a mile-stone of human progress. It is the sifted and garnered wisdom of the centuries, concerning God, and His ways with men. Each student should feel, not that a system is being driven into him, as piles are driven into the stream, but that he is being put in philosophic contact with the thought of the race on the great topic of Religion, with liberty himself to experiment, think, and add to the store.
Homiletics is not a series of nursery-rules for man—formal, didactic droppings of a pedant's tongue. Homiletics is the appeal of man to man, for the welfare of his soul, and the true progress of mankind. Exegesis is not a matter of Hebrew or Greek alone. It includes the spiritual interpretation of the great problems of the race. Homer, Tennyson, Browning, and Dante are exegetes, no less than Lightfoot, Lange, and Schaff.
Pastoral Divinity is not the etiquette of a polite way of making calls: it is an entering into the social spirit of the time; the learning of friendliness, unreserve, sympathy, persuasion, and a way of approach. It is the mastery of spiritual savoir-faire.
Outside of this group of technical subjects there are yet others of vital importance from a scientific understanding of the world, and of one's work. They are Psychology, Ethics, Sociology, and Politics.
Since we have known more of the psychological meaning of adolescence, a new theory of Conversion has sprung up; and whether or not we accept it, the whole outlook over the underlying principle of conversion has been changed. We must at least recognize that conversion is a scientific process, as much as digestion is, or respiration; it is not a purely emotional occurrence.
The minister must learn what society really is, and how the far still forces of time act and react upon each other, producing group-actions, institutions, customs, ways. There are social fossils as well as physical ones. Sociology is not a system of fads and reforms. It is the scientific study of society, of its constitution, development, institutions, and growth. He must also breathe largely of the great governmental life of the race—understand the primary principles of politics and administration. He should have some knowledge of commercial interests, of the formulas, incentives, and right principles of trade.
There should also be in the seminary an inspirational atmosphere of music, literature, and art. Literature is a revelation of the life of the soul. The man who reads literature and comprehends its message is receiving a fine training which shall fit him for a thorough understanding of the heart; of its practical, ethical, and spiritual problems; of its domestic joys and sorrows; of its human cares and burdens; of the appeals that will come to him for sympathy; of the temptations that beset the race; and of the hopes and trials of the world.
Literature is one of the best tools a minister can have. He should be read in the great literary and sermonic literature, the work of Bossuet, Massillon, Chrysostom, Augustine, Fenelon, Marcus Aurelius, mediaeval homilies, Epictetus, Pascal, Guyon, Amiel, Vinet, La Brunetiere, Phelps, Jeremy Taylor, Barrows, Fuller, Whitefield, Bushnell, Edwards, Bacon, Newman, Ruskin, Carlyle, Emerson, Davies, Law, Bunyan, Luther, Spalding, Robertson, Kingsley, Maurice, Chalmers, Guthrie, Stalker, Drummond, Maclaren, Channing, Beecher, and Phillips Brooks, yes, even John Stuart Mill. All these men, by whatever name or school they are called, are writers of essays or sermons which appeal to the most spiritual deeps of man.
He should read the novels of Richter, Thackeray, Dickens, Scott, Eliot, and Victor Hugo. He should know intimately the great verse which involves spiritual problems, and human strife and aspiration,—Milton, Beowulf, Caedmon, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser, ballads, sagas, the Arthur-Saga, the Nibelungenlied, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Herbert, Tennyson, Browning, Dante and Christina Rossetti, Whittier, Lowell, Longfellow, to say nothing of Goethe, Corneille, and the Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, Hindu, and Arabian verse.
In music his heart should wake to the beauty of oratorios, symphonies, chorals, concert music, national and military music, and inspiring songs, not to speak of hymns and of anthems, the progress of Christian song! The Creation, the Messiah, the Redemption, Bach's Passion Music, the St. Cecilia Mass, Spohr's Judgment, Stainer's Resurrection, the Twelfth Mass, Mendelssohn's Elijah,—these are monumental works and themes.
What is a hymn? We think of it as being some simple churchly words, set to a serious tune. A hymn is the rhythmic aspiration of the race. No one can look through a good hymnal—through Hymns Ancient and Modern, for instance, or the Church Hymnary—without feeling that therein is bound up the devotional life of the world. The spiritual outlook is cosmic. Our every mood of penitence, praise, and aspiration resounds in melodious and time-defying strains.
In art, the religious spirit broods over the great work of the world. In Angelo, Francesca, Veronese, Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Tintoretto, and Correggio, the brush of the painter has set forth the adoration of the Church of God.
Thus, taken all in all, to be educated as a minister should be to be educated in the Higher Life of the race.
Finally, above all else is the spiritual study and interpretation of the Word of God. A minister may be fearless of the investigations of scientific criticism. Every truth is important to him, but not all truths are vital. When a man such as Caspar Rene Gregory speaks, something of the holy mystery and inspiration of biblical research, as well as a scientific result, is presented, and one gains a new conception of what it really means to study and to understand the Word of God.
Under all is the life of ceaseless and prevailing prayer. By the life of prayer, many mean merely a way of learning to make public petitions, an objective appeal to God. The true life of prayer is as simple, as unteachable, and as vital as the life of a child with its mother—the little lips daily learning new ways of approach to its mother's heart, and new words to make its wants and interests and sorrows known.
Prayer is the true World-Power. Just as there are vast stretches in the world where the foot of man has never trod, so there are unmeasured regions whereon prayer has never been. The more we pray, the more illimitable appears this spiritual realm. And all about us in the universe are also great hidden forces: nothing will lay hold of them but prayer.
Each prayer enlarges the soul. The measure of our praying is the measure of our growth. No man has reached his full possibilities of achievement who has not completed the circuit of his possible prayers. Power is proportionate to prayer.
And last of all, there is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What it is, who may say? But that it is real, who can doubt? To read the lives of Wesley, Whitefield, Finney, Moody, is to feel a strange, deep thrill. They are men who spake, and men listened; who called, and men came to God. Others, alas, so often call, and there is no response. They cannot make headway through the indifference, the sloth, the materialism, and the inherent vulgarity of the world.
The life itself is arduous. After all is said, it is not quite the same task to examine and classify either protoplasm or the most highly organized forms of nature, that it is to analyze and understand the mysterious workings of the heart, the intricacies of conscience and conduct, the possibilities of spiritual development or of moral downfall, and the many questionings, agonies, and ecstasies of the soul of man. And they are to be studied and understood with the definite and positive aim of the absolute reconstruction of the world-bound spirit—a change of its motives, purposes, affections, ideals. More than this, there must be at the heart of the more thoughtful minister a philosophic basis for the reconstruction of society itself.
Youth is not an adequate preparation for this task: a man must live and grow. To deal with such themes and occasions, there must appear in the world lives of such vigor that they can command; of such charm, that they can attract; of such wisdom, that they can guide and comfort; of such vitality, that they can inspire. And hence there rises before the mind's eye a figure that is both knightly and kingly—a man earnest in the redress of wrong, and who yet holds a subtle authority over the forces that make for wrong; a man burdened with the cares and sorrows of many others, and yet conducting his own life with serenity, enthusiasm, dignity, and hope; a man to whose keen yet tender gaze a life-history is revealed by a word or tone, but whose own eyes receive their light from God. A prophet and a father, a priest and a counsellor, a brother, friend, and judge, a sacrifice and an inspiration should he be who, in reverence and love, brings before a waiting congregation the very Word of Life!
SECOND: OF SPIRITUAL RULE
1. The primary rule is over conscience. The man who sways a conscience sways a human life. The man who sways a nation's conscience controls that nation's life. To rule conscience, a man must himself be unprejudiced and well informed. He must strive, not to keep up an unhealthy excitement which shall make conscience introspective and morbid, but to preserve a sane moral outlook, to encourage freedom of thought and judgment, and to develop a normal conscience which reacts promptly against wrong. Conscience measures our inner recoil from evil. The power of a preacher is in direct proportion to the energy with which he reveals sin in the heart of man, and wakes his whole nature against its insidious power.
Sin is. To-day, sin is thought a somewhat brusque word, lacking in polish. To use it frequently is a mark of lack of 'savoir-faire! Indeed to speak of it at all is as archaic as to speak of the Ichthyosaurus. But sin is a root-fact of the life of man. It is the office of the spiritual teacher to pluck out sin; to pierce the heart with a recognition of the enormity of sin, and of its far-reaching consequences; to stir the seared conscience, rouse the apathetic life, thrill the spiritual imagination, and to quicken the heart to better love and to nobler dreams. He rebukes the private sins of individuals and the public sins of nations. In the Faerie Queene, the "soul-diseased knight" was in a state
"In which his torment often was so great, That like a lyon he would cry and rare, And rend his flesh, and his own synewes eat."
But Fidelia, like the faithful pastor, was both
"able with her word to kill, And raise againe to life the heart that she did thrill."
This power has at times been misunderstood and misapplied. No human authority can bind the conscience, nor set rules and regulations for the soul of man. The prerogative of final direction belongs to God alone. No man may arrogate it—no pastor for people, no husband for wife, no wife for husband, no parent for child. The sadness of the world has been, that men have not always been spiritually free. Freedom has been a social growth—a phase of progress. It has taken wars and persecutions, revolutions and reformations, the blood of saints and martyrs, the sorrow of ages, to plant this precept in the mind of man.
The evangelist warns. He speaks of sin, death, hell, and the judgment to come. It is for these things that he is sent to testify. These are not the catch-words of a new sort of Fear King who uses oral terrors to affright the soul of man. Heaven and hell are not a new sort of ghost-land: retribution is not a larger way of tribal revenge.
No. The latest facts of science present this universe as not only progressive, but as retributive. There is a rebound of evil which makes for pain. Each broken law exacts a penalty. Each deed of sin is a forerunner of personal and of social disaster. The generation that sins shall be cut off, while the stock of the righteous grows strong from age to age.
The scientific vista opening to the eye of man is impressive and appalling. Each man has within himself a future of joy or sadness for the race. Do you remember the sermon of Horace Bushnell on the "Populating Power of the Christian Faith"? Do you recall the history of the infamous Jukes family? That of the seven devout and noble generations of the Murrays? The Day of Judgment is not only the Last Great Day—it is to-day and every day. "Every day is Doomsday," says Emerson. Nature is unforgetful. Nature is accountant. Each iniquity must be paid for out of the resources of the race.
It is of these grave omens that the Man of God must speak. He dare not be tongue-tied by custom or by fear. He must proclaim hell in the ears of all mankind. For wherever hell may be, and we do not yet know, and whatever hell may be, and we cannot even imagine, Hell is; and the soul of man must be kept mindful of these great things.
The evangelist comforts and consoles. The heart of man is wayward and goes oft astray. No one can be belabored into righteousness. The true lover of souls allows for the hereditary weaknesses of man, for his infirmities of will and temper, for his excuses, wanderings, and tears, and presents to him Jesus, in whose sight no one is too wretched to be received, too wicked to be forgiven.
We must have forgiveness in order to know God. The most comforting thought in the world is that God knows all we do. There can be no misunderstanding between us: He cannot be misinformed.
The evangelist must come close, in sympathy and counsel, to the personal and individual life of those whom he would help. Perhaps the best way to emphasize this point would be to insert here words written by a woman who has been thinking on this subject.
She says: "I have never had a pastor. It is the one good thing lacking in my life. I have grown up among ministers, and have had many friends among them—some of them have cared for me. But there has never been one among them all who stood in an attitude of spiritual authority and helpfulness to my life. We church-going and Christian men and women of the educated class are almost wholly let alone; apparently no one takes thought for our souls. We are not in the least infallible; we come face to face with fierce temptations; we have heart-breaking sorrows; we are burdened with anxiety and perplexity. But we are left to grope as blind sheep; there is no one to point out the path to us, however dimly; no one to say, at any crucial moment of our lives, Walk here!
"Once, however," she continues, "one of my friends, a minister, knelt down by me and prayed. It was a simple and ordinary occasion—others were present. But every word of that prayer was meant for the uplifting of my heart. In that hour, I was as if overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; new aims and purposes were born within me. My friend loves me—that does not matter—it is his spiritual intensity I care for. And this is his reward for his fidelity and tenderness: In the hour when I come to die, when one does not ask for father or mother, or husband or wife, or brother or sister, or friend or child, but only for the strong comfort of the man of God—in that hour, I say, if I be at all able to make my wishes known, I shall send for that man to come to me. He, and no other, shall present my soul to God."
Reading the above words, more than one minister will cry out, his eyes blazing: "I say the same to you! Who is there that tries to shield the minister from sorrow and from pain? Who is there to comfort and help him? You think we can just go on, and preach, preach, preach, standing utterly alone, and with no one on earth to keep our own hearts close to God! I tell you, it is a lonely and weary work at times, this being a minister!"
Yes, there must be a people, as well as a pastor. The relation is reciprocal. Wherever there is a strong man, leaning down in fire and tenderness to help the lives about him, there must be a loyal and loving congregation, with here and there in it some one who more fully appreciates and understands. Nothing beats down and discourages a man more than to feel that he is preaching to cold air and not to human folks, and to get back, when he offers sympathy, a stare.
A congregation is a mysterious and subtle social force. Its effect on a minister he can neither analyze nor explain. But he knows that its power is mesmeric and cannot be escaped. He goes into its presence from an hour of exalted and uplifted prayer, serene, happy, strong, and prepared to speak words of power and life. Gazing at his people—he can never tell why—the words freeze on his lips. An icy hand seems laid upon his heart, and he makes a cold and formal presentation of his glowing theme, and wonders who or what has done it all. Something satanic and repelling has laid hold of his tongue and brain.
Or again, he may have had a worried and troubled week, full of personal anxiety and sorrow. He has not had full time to study—he feels quite unprepared, and enters the pulpit with a halting step, and a choking fear of failure at his heart.
In a moment, the world changes. Something imperceptible, but sweet and comforting, steals over him,—an uplifting atmosphere of attention, sympathy, affection. He begins to speak, very quietly at first, with quite an effort. But the congregation leads him on, to deeper thoughts, to nobler words, to modulations of voice that carry him quite beyond himself. His voice rises, and every syllable is firm and musical. His language springs from some far centre of inspiration. He is conscious of superb power, and as sentence after sentence falls from his lips——sentences that amaze himself more than any other——he enters into the supreme height of joy, that of being a spiritual messenger to the hearts of longing men and women. He and they together talk of God.
This sympathetic atmosphere makes great preachers and great men. In return, there flows from a pastor toward his people a love that few can know or understand.
2. His rule is also over spiritual enthusiasm. What is a revival? We confound it with a local excitement, a community-sensation of an hysterical and passing type—with sensational disturbances, falling exercises, shouts, weeping, and the like. A revival is something far different. A revival is an awakening of the community heart and mind. It is a quickening of dead, backsliding, or inattentive souls.
Man as an individual is quite a different person from the same man in a crowd. One is himself alone; the other is himself, plus the influence of the Social Mind. A revival is a social state, in which the social religious enthusiasm is stirred up. It is a lofty form of religion, just as the patriotism which breaks forth in tears and cheers as troops go out to war is a finer type than the mere excitement and fervor of one patriotic man. What would the Queen's Jubilee have been, if but one soldier had marched up and down? A great commemoration! If we grant the reality of national rejoicing in the royal jubilees, commercial rejoicing in business men's processions, university enthusiasm on Commencement Day—shall we not grant the reality of the religious interest and enthusiasm of a great revival, in which whole communities shall be led to a clearer knowledge of spiritual things?
The Crusades were a magnificent revival. The Reformation was a revival. The Salvation Army movement is a revival. But the greatest revival of all times is even now upon us: it is a revival in the scientific circles of the race. Time was when science and religion were supposed to be at odds; to-day the intellectual phalanxes are sweeping Christward with an impetus that is sublime! Thinkers are finding in the large life of religion a motive power for their thought, their growth—a reason for their existence—a forecast of their destiny. We are beginning to realize the dynamic value of Belief. This revival is coming, not with shouts and noise, but with the quiet insistence of new ideas, of new facts—with the still voice of scientific announcement. The atheist is being overcome, not by emotion, but by evidence; the scoffer is being put down by cool logic.
Hence the evangelist of to-day is more than a man who can popularly address a public audience, and by tales and tears arouse a weeping commotion. The evangelist is a man of intellect and prayer, who can preach the gospel to a scientific age, and to a thinking coterie—a coterie of college men and mechanics, of society women and servant-girls, of poets and of mine-diggers, of convicts and of reformers. To-day calls for the utmost intellectual resources of the teacher of the truth, for a great imagination, great style, great sympathy with men, large learning, and unceasing prayer!
3. His rule is over social ideals. He must be a man of social insight. The social spirit is abroad in the world, but it is woefully erratic and misguided. Any one thinks he can be an altruist. Why not? Take a class in a college settlement, make some bibs for a day nursery, give tramps a C.O.S. card, with one's compliments, and attend about six lectures a year on Philanthropy—the lectures very good indeed. One is then a full-fledged altruist, n'est-ce pas?
The philanthropy of to-day has a bewildering iridescence of aspect. Each present impulse is reformatory. Correction, like a centipede, shows a hundred legs and wants to run upon them all. Much of the so-called philanthropy is not well balanced and is run by cranks. Cranks attach themselves to any social movement, as a shaggy gown will gather burrs. It is not all of philanthropy to classify degenerates, titter at ignorance, and to go a-peeping through the slums! We have not yet realized the fulness of redemption. Of what avail is it to save one street-Arab, or one Chinaman, if a million Arabs and Chinamen remain unsaved? Redemption is a race-savior: it seizes not only the individual, but his environment, his friends, and his future state.
The true minister is a reformer. A reformer is one who re-crystallizes the social ideals of man, who breaks up idols and bad customs, and sweeps away abuses. But we must first ask: What is an idol? What is a bad custom? What is an abuse? They are social standards which are out of harmony with true concepts of God, life, and duty. Behind the work of the reformer is the dream of the reformer, the meditation of the mystic, the seer. He must first have in mind a plain, clear conception of what the relation is of man to God, of what man's environment should be, and of what the society of the Kingdom should be. The reformer is one who changes an existing social environment for approximately this ideal environment of his own thought. When he breaks an idol, it is not the idol itself that he everlastingly hates, it is the materialistic concept of the community. What he wishes in place of the idol is a right conception. No man could break up every idol in the Sandwich Islands. But a man went about implanting a spiritual idea of God, and the idols disappeared.
Hence the work of the reformer is deep and heart-searching work. It means constant study of the spiritual needs of the age, continual insight into the material forces which are moulding the age-images, money, conquest, or whatever they may be. He wishes to maintain a spiritual hold on civilization itself, so to transform the ideal within a man, a community, a nation, in regard to custom, observance, belief, that the outer rite shall follow.
To reform is not to rush through the slums, and then preach a sensational sermon about bad places in the slums, of which most people never knew before! To reform is to know something of the conditions which produce the slums—it is not to scatter the slum-people broadcast elsewhere in the town; it is not alone to give them baths, playgrounds, circulating libraries of books and pictures, dancing-parties, and social clubs. To reform the slums is to set up a new ideal of God, and of righteous conduct in the heart of the slum-dwellers. One must know something of the slow processes of social change, of social assimilation, growth, and stability, to have an intellectual perception of the problem, as well as a spiritual one. One does not make an ill-fed child strong by stuffing five pounds of oatmeal down its throat!
The reformer must not only be a man of energy, he must be a man of patience. Great reforms come slowly. As man has advanced, idleness, indolence, brutality, tyranny, drunkenness, cant, and social scorn are gradually being cast out. But behind these simple words lie hid centuries of strife and endeavor, and limitless darkenings of human hope.
To fly against vice is merely to invite enmity and opposition. To present a pure and noble ideal, to breathe forth a holy atmosphere for the soul, are constructive works. The trouble is not, that the ministers preach on social themes—all themes that concern the life of man are social themes. It is that they do piece-work and patch-work of reform, instead of plain, direct upbuilding work in the souls and consciences of men. To preach upon horse-stealing is one thing. The horse-stealer may be impressed, convicted, made penitent, and return the stolen horse. But not until his heart is imbued with a spiritual conception of honesty, as the law of God, will he steal a stray horse no more. Hence the first questions in reform are not: How many groggeries are there in my parish? How many corrupt polls? How many hypocrites on my church-roll? The question is: How is my parish society in enmity to the highest spiritual ideal I know? Many men preach about saloons, when they ought to be preaching about Christ.
The force of this reform-energy is uncomputed. We hear of occasional great reformers, but forget that there has been a prevailing influence extending over the ages, of holy men of God, who have preached and taught and prayed; who have preserved our social institutions of spiritual import, and have been a mighty and continuous force working for righteousness and peace.
Missions are a higher form of politics. To further missions is to further government, international comity, world-peace.
4. His rule is over creed. He is inevitably a teacher of doctrine.
What is doctrine? Doctrine is spiritual truth, formulated in a systematic way. It is also, in church matters, a system of truth which has been believed in, and clung to, by a body of believers constituting some branch of the catholic Church.
It is a noble and serious office to hand down from generation to generation the faith and traditions of the Church of God. But this handing-down must be upright. "You must bind nothing upon your charges," says Jeremy Taylor, "but what God hath bound upon you." Conviction is at the root of the lasting traditions of the Church. Only this—his conviction—can one man really teach another. If he try to speak otherwise, he shall have a lolling and unsteady tongue.
No soul is finally held by the indefinite, or the namby-pamby. It begins to question, Upon what foundation does this phrase, this fine sentiment, rest? It must stand upon a proposition. This proposition rests either upon a scientific fact, or upon that which, for want of a more definite term, we call the religious instinct of man. But a proposition cannot standalone. It is connected with other propositions, arguments, conclusions. Hence a system of logic, of philosophy, of expressed belief, of doctrine, inevitably grows up in a thinking community, a thinking Church.
The statement of an ecclesiastical system of doctrine may not be the absolutely true one, nor the final one. Doctrine changes, even as scientific theories change with fuller information. Doctrine also expands, with the growth of the human spirit and understanding. To-day, in one's library, one has a thousand books. They are shelved and catalogued, for reference, in a special order. But years hence, one's grandson, who inherits these books, may have ten thousand books. The aspect of the library is changed. It is filled with new volumes, and new thought. Shall we give a liberty to a man's library which we refuse to his belief? Must he—and his church—have only his grandfather's ideas, standards, and decrees?
The tenets of a sect are the theological arrangement of belief which for the present seems best; it is the systematic arrangement of facts so far examined, determined, and classified. But no system of theology can be final. Thought is moving on. Experience is progressive. Providence is continually revealing. The race is a creed-builder, as well as a builder of pyramids, cathedrals, and triumphal arches.
The building-up of doctrine is superb. Into doctrine are woven the intellectual beliefs, the emotional experiences, and the spiritual struggles of mankind. Doctrine is an attempt to classify the spiritual problems of the race and to present a theory of redemption which shall be adequate, spiritually progressive, and the exact expression, so far as yet revealed, of the will of God for man. All Christian doctrine is centred about one point: the redemption of the race from sin. Dealing with such great and fundamental themes, each system of doctrine is an intellectual triumph.
Doctrine is an intellectual necessity. Christ is not sporadic, either in history or philosophy. To teach Christ, as the unlettered savage may who has just learned of Christ the Saviour and turns to teach his fellow-savages, might do good or save a soul from death. But in order to command the intellectual respect of the race, there must be another form of teaching yet than this, a teaching which presents Christ in the historic and philosophic setting: the central Figure in a great body of associated spiritual truth; Christ as the fulfilment of prophecy, the means of social adjustment and regeneration; the Finisher of our Faith, and the Source of eternal joy. We must be, not less spiritual Christians, but increasingly intellectual ones, as time rolls on.
Who are the men who have built up doctrine? Men speak as if doctrine were an ecclesiastical toy—to be shaken by priest or prelate, as one shakes a rattle, for noise, for play! A doctrine is not a toy; it is the crystallized belief of earnest, thoughtful, and godly men—belief which has passed into a church tradition, and is now received as an act of faith.
Shall doctrine be taught a child? Yes! To have a specific doctrine clearly in mind does not fetter the young soul, any more than to be taught the apparent facts of geography and history, which may change either in reality or in his own interpretation as his mind matures. A doctrine is a practical and definite thing to work with; in later life to believe, and to approve of, or disbelieve, and disapprove of. If a man wishes to build a house, does it fetter him to know square measure, cubic contents, geometry, mensuration, and mechanical laws? Yet when he builds his house, he builds it in his own individual way; he stamps it with his own personality and ideas. While building it, perchance, he discovers some new relation or geometric law.
Doctrine does not save from hell, but it does save from many a snare that besets the feet of man. It is a steadier of life, a strengthener of hope, a stalwart aid to a practical, devout, and duty-doing life. A catechism is a system of doctrine expressed in its simplest form. Therefore, for the intellectual and moral training of the Church, let us have sound doctrine in the pulpit, and the catechism in the home and Sabbath-school.
It is objected that doctrinal terminology is too hard for a child to understand. Is this not absurd, when the same child can come home from school and talk glibly of a parallelepipedon, a rhombus, rhomboid, polyhedral angle, archipelago, law of primogeniture, the binomial theorem, and of a dicotyledon! He also learns French, German, Latin, Greek, and the argot of the public school!
The theological leader of to-day cannot be a creed-monger: he must be a creed-maker. Side by side with the executive officers who will reorganize the Christian forces, there will stand great creed-makers, giant theologians, firm, logical, scientific, and convincing, who, out of the vast array of new facts brought forth by modern science, will produce new creeds, a new catechism, a new dogmatic series. It is worth while to live in these days—to know the possibility of such monumental constructive work in one's own lifetime. The creed-makers must have a thorough literary training; no mere vocabulary of philosophy will answer. Like the Elizabethan divines, they must rule the living word, which shall echo for a century yet to come.
As the great Ecumenical Council was convened for missionary progress, so the times are now ripe for the assembling of a historic Theological Council, to revise and restate, not one denominational catechism, but the creed of Christendom; to provide a new literary expression of the Christian faith. Together we are working in God's world, and for His kingdom.
If doctrine be the crystallized thought and belief of godly men, what is heresy? What is schism? Who is dictator of doctrine? How far are the limits of authority to be pressed? What are the bounds of ecclesiastical control? of intellectual mandate in the Christian Church?
In the academic world, we do not cast a man out of his mathematical chair because he can also work in astro-physics or in psycho-physics. If he can pursue advanced research in an allied or applied field, it will help him in his regular and prescribed work. We do not cast an English professor out of his chair, because he announces that there are two manuscripts of Layamon's Brut, and that the text of Beowulf has been many times worked over, before we have received it in its present form. Yet there are accredited professors of English who do not know these facts, and who, if called upon, could neither prove them nor disprove them. They have not worked in the Bodleian, in the British Museum, or in other foreign libraries, on Old English texts and authorities. They think themselves well up in Old English if they can translate the text of Beowulf fairly well, remember its most difficult vocabulary, and can tell a tale or two from the Brut.
Not every man has Europe or Asia in his backyard, nor a lifetime of leisure for research, for special learning, on the moot questions of church-scholarship. Progress consists in each man's doing his best to advance the interests of the kingdom of God in his own special sphere. From others he must take something for granted. The ear of the Church ought always to be open to the sayings of the specialist. A Church should grant liberty of research, of thought, of speech—to a degree.
But whatever may come out of twentieth-century or thirtieth-century combats, one thing remains clear: A Church is an organization, a social body, with a certain doctrine to proclaim, a certain faith to hand down to men. The doctrine is not in all details final—each phase of faith may change. But the organization, to protect its own purity and integrity—however generous in allowing individual research, and the expression of individual ideas—must exert authority over the teachers in her midst, those who are called by her name, who have her children in their charge, and for whose teaching the Church, as a whole, is responsible. There is doubtless a time when the man who is really in advance of his times intellectually must be misunderstood, must be disagreed with, must be cast out. But all truth may await the verdict of time. If he has discovered something new, something true, the centuries will make it plain. There remains a chance—and the Church dare not risk too great a chance—that he is mistaken, impious, presumptuous, or self-deceived. We dare not rush to a new doctrine or spiritual conception, merely because one man, who knows more of a certain kind of learning than we do, has said so. One must be bolstered up by a generation of convinced and believing men, before he can draw a Church after him. No other process is intellectually legitimate. In any other event ecclesiastical anarchy would reign. To maintain the historic position of the Church is a necessity, until that position is proven untrue. So to maintain it is not bigotry, it is not lack of charity; it is merely common-sense.
The question, Where is the line between ecclesiastical integrity and individual freedom? is therefore one which the common-sense of Christendom is left to solve—not to-day, not to-morrow, but gradually, generously, and conscientiously, as the centuries go on.
THIRD: OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITY
It is said that a minister is greatly handicapped to-day in all his efforts for two reasons: First, that the times are spiritually lethargic, that men are so engrossed by material aims, indifference, or sin that a pastor can get no hold upon their hearts. Second, that he is bound hand and foot by conditions existing in the organization and personnel of his church, and hence is not free to act.
What would we think of an electrician who would complain that a storm had cast down his network of wires? Of a civil engineer who would lament that the mountain over which he was asked to project a road was steep? Of a doctor who would grieve that hosts of people about him were very ill? Of a statesman who would cry out that horrid folks opposed him? It is the work of the specialist to meet emergencies, and it is his professional pride to triumph over difficult conditions. The harder his task, the more he exults in his power of success.
It is a glorious task that lies before the minister of to-day—to maintain, develop, and uplift the spiritual life of the most wonderful epoch of the world's history; to place upon human souls that vital touch that shall hold their powers subject to eternal influences and aims. The times are not wholly unfavorable: our era, which spurns many ecclesiastical forms, is at heart essentially religious. The World for Christ! How this war-cry of the spirit thrills anew as one realizes how much more there is to win to-day than ever before. The Warrior girds himself and longs eagerly to marshal great, shining, active hosts for God!
It is true that the conditions of work are more trying than they have usually been. A man goes out from the seminary. He has had a good education, followed by perhaps a year or two abroad, and some practical experience in sociological work. He has plans, ideas, ideals, a vigorous and whole-souled personality, a frank and generous heart.
What does he find? He soon discovers that the battle is not always to the strong, the educated, or the well-bred. Too often he is at the mercy of rich men who can scarcely put together a grammatical sentence; of poorer men who are, in church affairs, unscrupulous politicians; of women who carp and gossip; and of all sorts of men and women who desire to rule, criticise, hinder, and distrain. They, too, are the very people who, in the ears of God and of the community, have vowed to love him and to uphold his work! The more intellectual and spiritual he is, the more he is troubled and distressed.
Many churches, too, are in a chronic state of internal war. As for these rising church difficulties—try to put out a burning bunch of fire-crackers with one finger, and you have the sort of task he has in hand. While one point of explosion is being firmly suppressed, other crackers are spitting and going off. Whichever way he turns, and whatever he does, something pops angrily, and a new blaze begins! And this business, incredibly petty as it is, blocks the progress of the Christian faith. Men and women of education and refinement, of a wide outlook and noble thoughts and deeds, are more and more unwilling to place themselves on the church-roll; a minister sometimes finds himself in the anomalous position of having the more cultured, congenial, and philanthropic people of the community quite outside any church organization.
All these things mean, not that a minister must grow discouraged, but that he must set his teeth, and with pluck and endurance rise strong and masterful and say, This shall not be! Let him not listen to the barking and baying: let him hearken to the great primal voices of man and nature. Love lies deeper than discord. The constructive forces of humanity are stronger than the disintegrative. The right attraction binds.
There are some men who by the sheer force of their personality subdue their church difficulties. They hold the captious in awe. By a sort of magnetic persuasion and lively sense of humor they soothe this one and that, win the regard of the outlying community, attach many new members to the organization, and build up, out of discordant and erstwhile discontented elements, a harmonious and active church. This is the man for these martial times! If there are born leaders in every other department of the world's work, men who quietly but firmly assert their authority and supremacy in the tasks in which they hold, by free election or legitimate appointment, a place at the head—it ought to be so in the Church of God! I long to see arise in the ministry a race of iron!
There are other difficulties, seldom spoken of, of which one must write frankly, though with the keenest sympathy, if one is to look deeply into the modern church problem. First: Is a minister's environment favorable to his best personal development? Does he not miss much from the lack of the world's hearty give-and-take? He gets criticism, but not of a just or all-round kind. Small things may be pecked at, trifles may be made mountains of by the disgruntled, but where does he get a clear-sighted, whole-hearted estimate of himself and his work? Who tells him of his real virtues, his real faults? Among all his friends, who is there, man or woman, who is brave enough to be true?
Other men are soon shaken into place. Their personal traits continually undergo a process of chiselling and adjustment. They are told uncomfortable things how quickly! At the club, in the university, in the market, the ploughing-field, the counting-room, they rub up against each other, and no mercy is shown by man to man until primary signs of crudeness are worn off. Let a conceited professor get in a college chair! Watch a hundred students begin their delightful and salutary process of "taking him down" by the sort of mirth in which college boys excel! Their unkindness is not right, but the result is, they never molest a man who is merely eccentric.
Watch a scientific association jump with all fours upon a man who has just read a paper before their body! How unsparingly they analyze and criticise! He has to meet questions, opposition, comments, shafts of wit and envy, jovial teasing and correction. He goes out from the meeting with a keener love of truth and exactness, and a less exalted idea of his own powers. Watch the rivalry and sparring that go on in any business. Men meet men who attack them; they fight and overcome them, or are themselves overcome.
Human friction is not always harmful. A minister should not be hurt or angered by disagreement and discussion. No one's ideas are final. Let him expect to stand in the very midst of a high-strung, spirited, and hard-working generation. Let him be turned out of doors. Let him travel, look, learn, meet men and women, and conquer in the arena of manhood. Then, by means of this undaunted manhood, he may the better guide the fiery enthusiasms of men, inspire their higher ambitions, and comfort them in their bitter human sorrows!
Again, too often a minister is spoiled in his first charge by flattery, polite lies, and gushing women. He is sadly overpraised. A bright young fellow comes from the seminary. He can preach; that is, he can prepare interesting essays, chiefly of a literary sort, which are pleasant to listen to, though, in the nature of things, they can have scarcely a word in them of that deep, life-giving experience and counsel which come from the hearts of men and women who have lived, and know the truth of life. He is told that these sermons are "lovely," "beautiful," "so inspiring," and he believes every word of praise. No one says to him, "When you know more, you will preach better," and his standard of excellence does not advance. This man, who might have become a great preacher, remains, as years go on, alas! an intellectual potterer.
He is also socially made too much of, being one of the very few men available for golf and afternoon teas, suppers, picnics, tennis, charity-bazaars. Other men are frankly too busy for much of these things, except for healthful recreation; and not infrequently one finds stray ministers absolutely the only men at some function to which men have been invited.
A minister is not a parlor-pet. How many a time an energetic man, society-bound, must long to kick over a few afternoon tea-tables, and smash his way out through bric-a-brac and chit-chat to freedom and power!
I should think that a real Man in the ministry would get so very tired of women! They tell him all their complaints and difficulties, from headaches, servants, and unruly children, to their sentimental experiences and their spiritual problems. Men tell him almost nothing. Watch any group of men talking, as the minister comes in. A moment before they were eager, alert, argumentative. Now they are polite or mildly bored. He is not of their world. Some assert that he is not even of their sex! Hence the lips of men are too often sealed to the minister. He must find some way not only to meet them as brother to brother, but he must capture their inmost hearts. The shy confidence of an honorable man once won, his friendship never fails.
The question of a minister's relation to the women of his congregation and the community is not only curious and complex—it is a perpetual comedy. How do other men in public life deal with this problem? They have a genial but indifferent dignity, quite compatible with courtesy and friendly ways. They shoulder responsibility; they do not flirt; they sort out cranks; they flee from simpers; they put down presumption. If married, they laugh heartily with their wives over any letter or episode that is comical or sentimental. If not married, they get out of things the best way they know how, with a sort of plain, manly directness. If a minister would arrogate to himself his free-born privilege of being a thorough-going man, many of his troubles would disappear.
Let him hold himself firmly aloof both from nonsense and from enervating praise. Let him dream of great themes, and work for great things! Let him rely on more quiet friends who watch loyally, hope, encourage, inspire. By and by the scales drop from his eyes; he sees himself, not as one who has already achieved, but as one to whom the radiant gates of life are opening, so that he, too, can one day speak to human souls as the masters have done! He discovers that out of the heart's depths is great work born! This is a memorable day, both for this man and for his church. From that hour he has vision and power.
Another error in ministerial education and outlook is that too often ministers forget that they compete with other men: they are not an isolated class of humanity. Competition underlies the energy and efficiency of the world's work. When men do not consciously compete with others, they inevitably drop behind. What a minister was intended for, was to stand head and shoulders above other men. God seems to have planned the universe in such a way that everywhere the spiritual shall be supreme. He was meant to be a towering leader. Who, in other realms, has excelled Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, Paul?
But if we consider the responsibilities which are now being laid upon different classes of people, and carried by them, I think that we must acknowledge that the statesman is looming up as the most influential and upbuilding man to-day. He is the one who is adjusting the new world-powers and the new world-relations, over-seeing the development of our country, and planning for its laws and commerce. Close to him comes the physician, who is laying his hand on world-plagues, and is studying the conditions and the forms of disease, with a view to striking disease at its root. The hand of the doctor is laid upon consumption, malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, typhoid fever, and bubonic plague, and the advance in medical research is marvellous.
The lawyer and the capitalist are together adjusting the industrial relations of the country. We have trusts, syndicates, and corporation-problems handled with a firm intellectual grasp and a wide outlook over human affairs.
The reading of the world is in the hands of editors of enterprise and sagacity. They daily bring wars, statecraft, business plans, political situations, trade openings, scientific discoveries, forms of church-work and philanthropy, accidents, murders, and marriages, to our breakfast-table. The press of to-day has a tremendous scope. When some of the magazines come to hand, one feels that he is in touch with the affairs of the universe and has reading of a cosmic order.
The day-laborer is discovering that to ingenuity, talent, and manliness, the whole world swings open. Carnegie's Thirty Partners, most of whom have come from the working-ranks, demonstrate that a man can rise from the pick, the spade, the foreman's duties, to the control of great industrial interests.
Bankers are thinking out the financial problems—currency, legal tender, the best forms of money and authority; the whole monetary system of the world is under consideration and analysis. The farmer is learning, through chemistry and other forms of science, new ways of making his farm productive, and the educated agriculturist is rising to be an intellectual factor in the development of our country. Everywhere we see Life awakening—a great renaissance!
Has the minister, as a thinker and active force of regeneration, kept pace with this advance? Do many sermons thrill us in this large way? Where does he rank among the world-masters of energy and power?
The ministry is supposed to be a work of saving souls. But if we could know the direct effect of preaching, and the conversions which are really due to preaching, I think we should find them comparatively few. What touched the boy or girl, man or woman, and led him or her to Christ was not the sermon, or pastoral talk, though this one or another may have united with the Church after a special sermon, revival, or personal appeal. It was the memory and influence of a mother's prayers; of early associations; of a teacher, a lover, a friend. The conversion came direct from God—the soul was acted upon by some special moving of the Holy Spirit. Or it was the death of a friend, an illness, an accident, a disappointment, which turned the thoughts to heavenly things. Or it was a book that searched the soul's depths, or some quickening human experience. Is this quite as it should be? Is not professional pride aroused?
Suppose that New York City should suddenly be invaded by the bubonic plague or yellow fever. Would any one be to blame? Certainly! Such an outcry would go up as would echo across the country. Where were the quarantine officers? Where was the port physician? Where were the specialists who attend to sanitation and disinfection?
We say that divorce and Sabbath-breaking are sweeping over our country—gambling, social drinking, and many other ills; a sensational press, a corrupt politics, a materialistic greed.
All the ministers under heaven cannot take sin out of the world, nor uproot sin altogether from the heart of man: the plague conies in at birth. Neither can all the doctors living remove disease, so that no one will get sick or die. But just as the doctor can, by study, by training, by counsel, by practice, and by the direction of wise law-making, protect the health interests of his country or community, so the minister should stand, yet more largely than to-day, as a break-water between the world and the tides of sin! He should not only be able to keep alive in a country an atmosphere of prayer, devotion, and unselfish service—he should, by God's help, make piety the general estate of the land; he should not only be intellectually able to show the great advantage of the upright Christian life, he should straight-way lead all classes into that life; he should be able to lay a hand on the moral maladies of mankind, personal and national, and prescribe effectual remedies; take lame, halt, sinning souls, and by God's grace and Spirit, lift not only individuals, but whole communities, to a more spiritual plane.
This is a Titanic intellectual task, as well as a spiritual one. When a doctor wishes to keep plague out of America, he goes to Asia, to see what plague is! He takes microscopes, instruments, and drugs; he buries himself in a laboratory, and gives his whole mind to the problem, until one day he can come forth and tell how to heal and help. More than this, he risks his life. For every great discovery in medical practice, doctors and nurses have died martyrs to their faithful work.
Moral evil must be studied in an energetic and intellectual way. The variations of humanity from righteousness must be deeply understood. Look at Booker T. Washington, or at Jacob A. Riis! What daring, what indefatigable toil, what insight, patience, and swerveless hope have been put into their task! Edison is said to have spent six months hissing S into his phonograph to make it repeat that letter, and many days he worked seventeen hours a day. Have many ministers ever bent themselves in this way to solve a special moral problem—that of, say, a disobedient child in the congregation? Have they spent six months, hours and hours a day, to make the law of God, the word Obedience, ring in that child's ears? Spiritual guidance is definitely and positively a scientific task. The mastery of one fact may lead to the correlation of a psychic law. When a minister can help a soul to overcome temptation, and a parent to bring up a child, he is in touch with two final human problems. As he gradually enlarges his careful and illuminating work, his church becomes in time a body of spiritually well-educated communicants, thoroughly grounded in doctrinal, ethical, and social ideals, well taught in public and in private duties. It is not self-centred or wholly denominational in spirit, but recognizes itself to be a part of a catholic body of believers, reaches out with friendly cooeperation to near-by churches, extends its missionary efforts to other neighborhoods or lands, and partakes of a world-life, a world-love!
Ruling religious thinkers should also, by and by, become leaders of national thought and life. Great public questions should be open to their judgment and appeal; they should be moral arbiters, and spiritual guides in national crises. By a word they should be able to rouse the prayers of the country, and by a word to still widespread anger and uprising. If accredited spiritual leaders cannot help, who can?
There are a few men living who seem to hold, for the whole world, the temporal balance. They control mines and shipping, banks and trade. Who, to-day, holds the spiritual destiny of the world in his hand? I long to see men appear upon whom the eyes of the world shall be fastened, in recognition of their spiritual preeminence, as they are now fastened on these industrial giants.
Rise! Let some man, earnest and endowed, look forward into the future, and with the courage that comes from inborn power, assert himself among the nations! Allay, O World-Evangelist, not only neighborhood disputes, but international dissensions; project a creed that shall be profound and universal; sweep sects together, unite energy and endeavor, baptize with fire, bring repentance, quicken the race-conscience, uplift the World-Hope! Erect and elemental, hold CHRIST before the race!
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF SAGES
_Our Father in Heaven, Creator of all, O source of all wisdom, On Thee we would call! Thou only canst teach us, And show us our need, And give to Thy children True knowledge indeed.
But vain our instruction, And blind we must be, Unless with our learning Be knowledge of Thee. Then pour forth Thy Spirit And open our eyes, And fill with the knowledge That only makes wise.
From pride and presumption, O Lord, keep us free, And make our hearts humble, And loyal to Thee, That living or dying, In Thee we may rest, And prove to the scornful Thy statutes are best._
If we should be told that at birth a strange and wonderful gift had been bestowed upon us, one such that by means of it, in after life, we could accomplish almost anything we wished, how we should guard it! With what delight we would make it work, to see what it would do! We should never be tired of such a toy, because every day it would reveal new possibilities of power and delight.
Such a gift God has given us in our power to think. What a mysterious and deep-hid gift it is! Nerves and sensations, a few convolutions in the brain, acts of attention and observation, certain reactions following certain stimuli: the result, a world of worlds spread out before us; unlimited intellectual possibilities within our grasp!
What is thinking? Thinking is an attempt to express infinite thoughts, affections, relations, and events, in finite terms. The child strings buttons. The philosopher strings God, angels, devils, brutes, men, and their appurtenances and deeds. Hence no real thought will quite go into words. Out beyond the word hangs the infinite remainder of our idea. The search for a vocabulary is the search for a clearer articulation of ideas.
Thinking is the power to take up life where the race has left off attainment, and to lead the race one step farther on, by a new concept or idea. It is a curious thing, this little turn in the brain, a thought. We cannot see it, or touch it, or handle it. Yet we can give it, one to another, or one man to the race. It has an infinite leverage. One great thought moves millions onward. Plant the word steam, and globe-transport changes. Plant electricity, and a hundred new industries spring up. Plant liberty, tyrants fall. Plant love, chaotic angers disappear.
If we refuse to learn to think, we refuse to do our share of the world's work. We are like a horse that balks and will not pull. While we sulk the universe is at a standstill.
Spelling and arithmetic, history, etymology, and geography, are not tasks set over school-children by a hard taskmaster, who keeps them from sunshine and out-of-door play. They are catch-words of the universe. They are the implements by which each brain is to be trained to do great work for the one in whom it lives. What every earnest soul asks is not gold, fame, or pleasure. It is: Let me not die till I have brought millions farther on.
We cannot deliberately make thoughts. Thought is like life itself: science has not found a formula which will produce it. But just as marriage produces new lives, though we cannot say how, so study and meditation produce thoughts. Something new appears: a concept which was not with the race before.
The work of sages has been to rule the thinking of the race. They receive the inspired ideas and spend their lives in teaching them to others: in setting up intellectual vibrations throughout the world.
Some day, I hope Sargent will paint a March of Sages, as gloriously as he has painted the panels of the Prophets. Then we shall gaze upon the train of heavy-browed, noble-eyed, wise, gentle-mannered men, who have been the enduring teachers of the race,—thinkers, leaders, seers. Confucius, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, the mediaeval philosophers, the Egyptian, Persian, and Arabian thinkers, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Eckhart, William of Occam, Bede, Thomas a Kempis, Francis Bacon, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Spencer,—with what dignity the processional moves down the years! The sum of human knowledge is vast; but how much more vast seem the achievements of each of these men, when we realize how few his years, and how many the obstacles and impediments of his all too short career! There is ever a pathos in the life of the wise.
By thinking, we pass from the gossip of the neighborhood into the conversation of the years. We do not know what Alcibiades said to his man-servant about the care of his clothes, baths, perfumes,—nor what his man-servant retailed to other retainers of the eccentricities and vanities of his master. But we know what Pericles and Plato said to the race. Here is the advantage of a thinking mind—that at any moment one may enter into eternal subjects of thought, and have converse with those who of all times have been the most profound.
Nothing teases the soul like the thought of the unfinished, the imperfect, the incomplete. And yet, when we have thought and planned a really great and abiding work, whether we ever finish it or not—for many things in life may intervene between conception and completion—to have thought of it is to have had in our lives a pleasure that can never die. For one blessed hour or year we have been lifted to the thoughts of God and have entered into the great original Design. Hence it is that the life of the real Thinker, however broken or disturbed, is at heart a life of serenity and joy. What matters a conflagration, a disappointment, to him whose thoughts are set upon the race?
Thinking is a form of vital growth. We all wish for growth. Is there any one who wishes to stay always just where he is to-day? To be always what he is this morning? The tree grows, the flower grows, the ideals of the race grow—shall not I?
We are born to a destiny which has no limit of grandeur save the limit of the thought of God, The wish for growth is the wish to enter into the spiritual ideals of the universe,—to become one with its advancement, one with its decrees.
But do not the secular look upon growth as a sort of chase—a chase for more learning, more money, a bigger business, a higher degree, a better position, a brilliant marriage,—a struggle for wealth, renown, acclaim? These things are not in themselves growth, nor its real index. Growth is not a form of avarice. Growth is a vital state of being. Growth is the assimilation of experience. Growth is development in the line of eternal purpose. Growth is the combination of our souls with the things that are, in such a way as to make a perpetual progress toward the things that are to be.
We lose much because we lose avidity out of our lives, the eagerness to grasp what spiritually belongs to us,—to share the universal enthusiasm, the universal hope. Day by day the world wheels about us—sunset and moonrise, wind, hail, frost, snow, vapor, care, anxiety, temptation, trial, joy, fear. Whatever touches the sense or the soul is something by which, rightly used, we may grow. There is nothing we need fear to take into our lives, if it receives the right assimilation. Each experience is meant to be a vital accession. We narrow our lives and enfeeble our powers when we try to reject any of these things, or unlawfully escape them, or are yet indifferent to them. Prejudice, cowardice, and apathy are death.
Experience is what the race has been through. Each of us has his personal variant of this common life. Thought is the power by which we make it available for our own better living, and the future life of the race.
To the early man, there existed earth, air, water, fire, heat, cold, tempest, and the growth of living things. He lived, ate, fought, but his thoughts were primitive and personal. Have I had enough dinner? he asked, not, Is the race fed?
By and by some one arose who began to consider things in the abstract, and to relate them to his neighbor, and formulate conclusions about them. He was the first real Thinker, Then air-philosophy and element-philosophy grew up—beast-worship, animalism, fire-worship, and the rudiments of simple scientific learning, as, for instance, when men found that they could make a tool to cut, a spike to sew.
Since then, what the sage has done is to teach men to see, read, write, think, count, and to work; to love ideals, to love mankind and relate his work to human progress.
Man's first primer was near at hand. When he wished to write, he made a picture with a stick, a stone, on a leaf, or traced his idea in the mud. When he wanted to count, he kept tally on his fingers, or with pebbles from the beach or brook. When he wished to communicate an idea orally, it was with glances, shrugs, gestures, and imitative sounds. Once, in a game of Twenty Questions, this was the question set to guess: Who first used the prehistoric root expressing a verb of action? Who, indeed?
Out of that leaf-writing, and bark-etching, and later rune, have grown the printed writings of mankind. Homer, Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare are the lineal descendants of the man who made holes in a leaf, or lines on a wave-washed sand. Out of the finger-counting have grown up book-keeping, geometry, mathematical astronomy and a knowledge of the higher curves. Out of the prehistoric shrugs and sounds and grimaces we have oral speech—much of it worthless, and not all of it yet wholly intelligible. We are still continually being understood to say what we never meant to say: we are forever putting our private interpretation on the words of other men. Even yet, we are all too stupid. In our dreariest moments does there not come to us sometimes a voice which cries: Up, awake! Cease blinking, and begin to see!
Language is electric. Words have a curious power within themselves. They rain upon the heart with the soft memories of centuries of old associations, or thoughts of love, vigils, and patience. They have a power of suggestion which goes beyond all that we may dream. Just as a man shows in himself traces of a long-dead ancestry, so words have the power to revive emotions of past generations and the experiences of former years. The man of letters, the Thinker, strews a handful of words into the air, breathes a little song. The words spring up and bring forth fruit. Their seed is human progress and a larger life for men. Think, for instance, who first flung the word freedom into space!—gravitation, evolution, atom, soul! There is no power like the power of a word: a word like liberty can dethrone kings.