Part 2 out of 3
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
"_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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
We get out of a word just what we put into it, plus the individuality of
the man who uses it. Some men read into noble words only their own
silliness, vulgarity, prejudice, or preconceived ideas. Another man
reads with his heart open for new impressions, new insight, new fancies
Words have not only their inherent meaning; they have their allied
meanings. A word may mean one thing by itself. It may mean quite another
thing when another word stands beside it; even marks of punctuation give
words a curiously different sound and shade. Literature is a mastery,
not only of the moods of men, but of the moods of words. Corot takes a
stream, some grass and trees, a flitting patch of sky. By means of a few
strokes of his brush, he manages to present that tree, sky, stream, in a
way which suggests the pastoral experience of the ages. Where did that
misty veil come from? the trembling lights and shadows, the half-heard
sounds and silence of the woods, the changing cloud, the dim reflection,
the atmosphere of mystery and peace?
So each man goes to the dictionary. He takes a word here, a word there,
common words that everybody knows. He puts them together: the result is
a presentation of the life of man, and lays hold of his inmost spirit.
"_Our birth is but a deep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home!_"
To write, the soul chooses, and God stands ever by to help. That is why
great work always impresses us as inspired. God did it. It is God who
whispers the deathless thought and phrase: the subtler collocations
Take the word _star_. To the child it means a bright point that glitters
and twinkles in the sky, and sets him saying an old nursery rhyme. To
the youth or maiden it suggests love, romance, a summer eve, or a frosty
walk under the friendly winter sky. To the rhetorician it suggests a
figure of speech--the star of hope. To the mariner it suggests guidance
and the homeward port. To the astronomer it means the world in which he
lives. His life is centred in that star. To the poet it means all these
things and many more. For the poet is the one who, in his own heart,
holds all the meanings that words hold for the race. Read again the
lines just quoted, and think of Wordsworth's outlook on the star!
The dictionary definition of a word can seldom be the real one, nor does
it reveal the deeper sense it has. It blazes a path for the
understanding, but individual thought must follow. Take the words _time,
friendship, work, play, heroism_. It took Carlyle to define Time for us.
Emerson has defined Friendship. Let the lights and shadows of the
thought of Carlyle and Emerson play upon these words, they are at once
removed from mechanical definition, and we dimly perceive that each word
is larger than the outreach of the thought of man. Another generation
than ours shall define and refine them. In heaven, in some other aeon,
we shall find out what they really mean!
Thus knowledge is not permanent. It reels. It proceeds, it changes, it
is iridescent with new significance from day to day.
What is true of a word, and what we make of it, is true of every phase
of learning. The black-board is not all. Learning is not tied to it, or
to any one person, demonstration, interpretation, event, or epoch. No
wise man can keep his learning to himself, and yet he cannot, though he
teach a thousand years, transmit his deeper learning to another. The
atmosphere, the casual information, the spiritual magnetism of a great
man, will teach better than the text-books, the lecture courses, and
the formal resources of academic halls. Thus Mark Hopkins is in himself
a university, given a boy on the other end of the log on which he sits.
It is the relativity of knowledge that dances before the eye, that
bewilders, eludes, evades. Group-systems and electives seem like a
makeshift for the real thing. We cannot tie a fact to a pupil, because
to the tail of the fact is tied history itself. Until a pupil gets a
glimpse of that relation, that dependence of which we have just heard,
with all that has yet happened in connection with it, he is not yet
quite master of his fact. He recites glibly the date of Thermopylae, and
does not know that all Greece is trailing behind his desk. When, after
subsequent research, he knows something of Greece, he discovers Greece
to be dovetailed into Rome and Egypt, and they lay hold upon the plain
of Shinar and Eden, and the immemorial, prehistoric years.
Ah, no! We never really know. Every fact recedes from us, as might an
ebbing wave, and leaves us stranded upon an unhorizoned beach, more
despairing than before. Education does not solve the problems of
life--it deepens the mystery. What, then, may the sage know? Are there
no sages? And have we all been misinformed?
A sage is one who knows what, in his position of life, is most necessary
for him to know. The larger sage, the great Sage, is the one who knows
what is necessary for the race to know.
It is a wrong idea of wisdom, that we must necessarily know what some
one else knows. Wisdom is single-track for each man. There are in the
world those who know how to build aqueducts, and to bake _charlotte
russe_, and to sew trousers. Aqueducts and tailor work may be alike out
of my individual and personal knowledge, yet I may not necessarily be an
ignorant man. The primitive hunter stood in the forest. For him to be a
hunting-sage, was to know the weather, traps, weapons, the times, and
the lairs and ways of beasts. He knew lions and monkeys, the coiled
serpent and the serpent that hissed by the ruined wall; the ways of the
wolf, the jackal, and the kite; the manners of the bear and the black
panther in the jungle-wilds. Kipling is the brother of that early man:
he is a forest-sage, and would have held his own in other times.
The sea-sage was the one who could toss upon the swan-road without fear.
He knew the strength of oak and ash; the swing of oar, the curve of
prow, the dash of wave, and the curling breaker's sweep. He knew the
maelstroms and the aegir that swept into northern fiords; the thunder
and wind and tempest; the coves, safe harbors and retreats. To-day, the
sea-sage rules the fishing-boat, the ocean liner, the coastwise
steamers, and the lake-lines of the world.
The fishing-sage knows the ways and haunts of fish. He is wise in the
salmon, the perch, the trout, the tarpon, and the muscalonge. He says.
To-day the bass will bite on dobsons, but to-morrow we must have frogs.
No sagacity is universal, but the love of sagacity may be. The man who
starts out to implant a new way of education has a noble task before
him, but is it a final one, or even a more than tolerably practical one?
Is there such a thing as a place for Truth at wholesale, even in an
academy or college? Can a man receive an education outside of himself?
He may be played upon by grammars and by loci-paper, by electrical
machines, and parsing tables and Grecian accents, by the names of noted
authors and statesmen, and the thrill of historic battles and decisions.
He may be placed under a rain of ethical and philosophic ideas, and may
be forced to put on a System of Thought, as men put on a mackintosh. But
his true education is what he makes of these things. If he hears of
Theodoric with a yawn, we say--the college-folk--He must be imbecile.
No, not imbecile! he may become a successful toreador, or snake-charmer,
which things are out of our line! And a man may be an upright citizen, a
good husband, and a sincerely religious man, who has never heard of
Francesca, nor Fra Angelico, nor named the name of Botticelli!
The moment we set bounds to wisdom, we find that we have shut something
out. Wisdom is the free, active life of a growing and attaching soul.
We must not only attach information to ourselves, we must assimilate it.
Else we are like a crab which should drag about Descartes, or as an
ocean sucker which should hug a copy of Thucydides.
Education is the taking to one's self, so far as one may in a lifetime,
all that the race has learned through these six thousand years.
Education is not a thing of books alone, or schools; it is a process of
intellectual assimilation of what is about us, or what we put about
ourselves. At every step we have a choice. This is the real difference
between students at the same school or university. One puts away Greek,
and the other lays up football and college societies. A third gets all
three, being a little more swift and alert. One stows away
insubordination--another, order and obedience. One does quiet, original
work of reading and research; the other stows away schemes for getting
through recitations and examinations. No two students ever come out of
the same school, college, or shop with the same education. Their
training may have been measurably alike, but the result is immeasurably
unlike. Education, in the last analysis, is getting the highest
intellectual value out of one's environment and opportunities. There is
a cow-boy philosopher, a kitchen-philosopher, as truly as there is a
philosopher of the academic halls.
Conduct is the _pons asinorum_ of life. Wise men somehow cross it,
though stumblingly, and with tears. Fools, usurers, oppressors, and
spendthrifts of life are left gaping and wrangling on the hellward side.
Thinkers have always been climbing up on each other's shoulders to look
over into the Beyond. What they have seen, they have told. Some men
climb so high into the ethereal places of the Ideal, that they do not
get down again. They are the impractical men. An impractical man is not
necessarily the educated man; he is the man at the top of some
intellectual fence, who wishes to come down, but has absent-mindedly
forgotten that he has legs. The legs are not absent, but his wit is. So
with the impractical man in every sphere. Education has not really
removed his common-sense, as some say, his power to connect passing
events with their causes, and to act reasonably; but it has set his
thought on some other thought for the time being, and the dinner-bell,
we will say, does not detach him from his inquiry. His necktie rides up!
He goes out into the street without a hat! Let him alone till he proves
the worth of what he is about. The practical man, who hears the
dinner-bell and prides himself upon this fact, may not hear sounds
far-off and clear, that ring in the impractical man's ear, and that may
sometime tell him how to make a better dinner-bell, or provide a better
dinner--a great social philosophy--for the race!
The really impractical man is not he who reaches out to the intellectual
and ideal aspects of life; it is he who lives as if this life were all.
There are women who make pets of their clothes, as men make pets of
horse or dog. They have just time enough in life to dress themselves up.
Looking back over their years, they can only say, I have had clothes! In
the same number of years, with no greater advantages or opportunities,
other women have become the queenly women of the race. Some women are
girt with centuries, instead of gold or gems. Whenever they appear, the
event becomes historic; what they do adds new lustre to life.
We are all prodigals. We throw away time and strength, and years, and
gold, and then weep that we are ignorant, and embeggared at the last.
Who shall teach us wisdom, and in what manner may we be wise?
What say the sages of the vast possibilities of the race? With one voice
they say: Be brave! Do not cower, shrink, or whine. Throw out upon the
world a free fearlessness of thought and word and deed. Courage,
freedom, heroism, faith, exactness, honor, justice, and mercy--these
traits have been handed down as the traditional learning of the heart
Another ideal of the race is Law. We have given up a
chaos-philosophy--the haphazard continuity of events--a cometary orbit,
for the world. There are fixed relations everywhere existent: the
succession of cycles is orderly and prearranged.
Another ideal is Progress. We are moving, not toward the bottom, but
toward the top of possibility. We reject annihilation, because then
there is nothing left. And there must always be something
left--progress--a bigger something, a better something. Should
annihilation be the truth of things, and all the race mortal, then some
day there would be a Last Man. And after the Last Man, what? He would
die, and then all that any of the other stars could view of the vast
panorama of our earthly generations would be an unburied corpse, with
not even a vulture hovering to pick it to freshness in the air!
A Last Man? No. Instead, the seers have shown us a great multitude in a
heavenly country, praising God, and singing forth His Name forever.
Immortality broods over the great thought of the race. All great minds
look upward to it: it is the final consummation of our dreams.
Another ideal is social adjustment, and social service. We must do
something for some one, or we cast current sagacity behind the back.
People crowd each other to the wall. The weak of communities and nations
are too often crushed. Redress is in the air. The longed-for wisdom of
to-day shows a kaleidoscopic front, in which are turning the
slum-dweller and the millionaire; the white man, the yellow, and the
black; the town and the territorial possession. The slave-colony,
garbage-laws, magistrates, and murderers are mixed in motley, and there
are whirling vacant-lot schemes abroad, potato-patches, wood-yards,
organized charity, Wayfarers' Lodges, resounding cries of municipal
reform, and various other interests of the wisdom-scale.
Hence, wisdom has not yet been arrived at: we are still on the run. This
twentieth century will find new problems, new queries, new cranks, and
One thing, however, shines out clear: Wisdom is being recognized as
having a moral aspect, and men are looking for a Religion which shall
sum up the learning of the sages, the information of the race.
When we look down into the physical universe, the primary thing that we
find there is gravitation. When we look into the moral universe, the
primary thing that we find there is also gravitation--a sinking to a
Lower. This is sin--a contrariness of things--which makes the world an
evil place to live in, instead of a good; which wrecks character and
states, eats the hearts out of cultures and civilizations, destroys
strong races, leaves a stain upon even the youngest child, and which is
constantly drawing the race downward, instead of upward.
Sin, sin, sin! Everywhere the fact glares upon us, and cannot be hid, or
put away. Sin is not an intellectual toy, for philosophers to play with
or define as "a limitation of being." Sin is a reality, for men to
feel, recoil from, and of which one must repent.
Sin is energy deliberately misplaced: energy directed against the course
of things, the infinite development, the will of God. Sin is corruption,
and desolation, and decay. Death broods over the spirit of man, unless a
Redeemer come. The unredeemed ages hang over history like a pall. In
them there are monumental oppression, cruelties, and crimes. The breath
of myriad millions went out in darkness, and there was none to save. A
plague swept over all the race.
Hence, even scientifically considered, the final aim of thinking must
be, to arrive at some thought which will take hold of this primary fact
of sin and uproot it; which will show how the world may be purged
Slowly but inevitably we are moving to this great Thought. It is summed
up in one word: Redemption. The watchword of a century ago was
gravitation. It explained the poise of the universe by a great and
hitherto undiscovered law. The watchword of yesterday was evolution. It
explains progressive change: the mounting-up of life "through spires of
form." The forms of the universe are seen in a series which is in the
main ascendant, and in which the survivor is supreme. The watchword of
to-morrow is Redemption. The Thinker will some day live, who will make
that great word Redemption stand out in all its vast majesty and
significance. This, I take it, is the work of our new century.
Redemption is the explanation of the existence of man, of his present
progress, and his future destiny. It is the great mystery of joy in
which the race partakes; the spiritual culmination of all things
earthly; the forecast of eternal things yet to be.
Redemption is not a dogma; it is a life. Redemption is a perpetual and
ascendant moral growth. It marks a world-balm, a world-change. It is in
the spirit of man that it works, and not in his outer condition, or
external strivings. It is ultimately to root sin out of the world.
Through stormy sorrows and perpetual desolations comes the race to God.
Zion is the Whole of things--the encompassment of space, and time, and
endless years,--an environment of immortality and peace.
Virtue leads the race to Joy, and there is no byway to this height. The
final aspect of the universe is joy. Joy is elemental--a vast vibration
that sweeps through centuries as years! A day in His courts is as a
thousand, and a thousand years are as one day, because they thrill with
an immortal and imperishable emotion. The seraphim and cherubim,
Sandalphon and Azrael, are angels of enduring joy. Joy is the soul's
share of the life of God.
Thus when the world has breathed to us the holy name of Christ, it has
told us the highest that it knows. The March of Sages is toward a
Redeemer! The banner of Wisdom is furled about the Cross!
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF TRADERS
_Lo, my soul, look forth abroad
And mark the busy stir:
Wouldst thou say, in pride and scorn,
Our God is not in her!
Nay, the bonds, the wares, the coin,--
These, in truth, are passing things;
Other treasures thrill the life
Of earth's great merchant kings!
We, they say, would wake the power
In mountain and in mine;
And transport, from sea to sea,
The cedar, oak, and pine:
Build the bridge, and plant the town,
Enter every open mart;
Make our nation's commerce flow,--
But this is not our heart!
Many a prayer uplifted springs
O'er desk, and din, and roar;
Many an humble knee is bent
When the rushed day is o'er;
Far within, where God may be,
All exists His Throne to raise;
Every triumph of our power
Becomes a form of Praise!
God of nations, hear our cry,
And keep us just and true;
Lay Thy hand on all our lives,
And bless the work we do:
Then from every coast and clime
Land and sea shall tribute bring;
Gold and traffic, world-domain
We offer to our King!_
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
We are all traders. Each of us is endowed with some faculty, ware, or
possession which he is constantly exchanging for other things. We trade
time, talent, service, goods, acres, produce, counsel, experience,
ideals. The world is in reality a Bourse of Exchange. Each of us brings
some day his special product to the common mart.
There are traders and traders--the just and the unjust--the man of honor
and the rogue. We set values on thoughts and on transactions, on
merchandise and on philanthropies, on ideas and on accounts; and there
is a constant distribution of the affairs, as well as of the worldly
goods of men.
But in a restricted sense, we think of trade as the exchange of produce
which is material and mobile,--which may be touched, handled, weighed,
transported, bought, and sold. The substance of the earth is constantly
taking new shape before our eyes, being rearranged in kaleidoscopic
combinations, and transported from port to port, from town to town, from
sea to sea. One can look nowhere without seeing this ceaseless activity
progressing. Everywhere there is a whir of wheels, a plash of waves, a
din of assembly, as the new combinations take place.
There was a day when trade was a thing of here-and-there; a thing of
sailing ships and caravans, of merchants of Bagdad, Cairo, Venice,
Alexandria, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Damascus. Ivory, gold, gems, precious
stuffs, teak and cedar wood, Lebanon pine, apes, peacocks, sandal-wood,
camel's hair, goat's hair, frankincense, pearl, dyes, myrrh, cassia,
cinnamon, Balm of Gilead, calamus, spikenard, corn, ebony, figs, fir,
olives, olive-wood, wheat, amber, copper, lead, tin, and precious stones
were the chief articles of exchange. A very little sufficed the poor;
the rich were housed in palaces and panoplied in gems.
As time went on, the processional of traders became a processional led
out, in turn, by the merchants of one city after another. It is a
picturesque study, that of the trade-routes of the Middle Ages! There
was the Mediterranean seaboard, and there were the Baltic towns and the
Hanse towns; the Portuguese mariners and traders; the Venetian merchant
princes. There was the Spanish colonial trade; the Dutch trade of the
East Indies; the trade of Amsterdam and London. There were the
Elizabethan sea-rovers. Then came the British trade in the East Indies,
and the gradual growth of the trade of France, Germany, England, and the
United States. This is a story of human wants reaching out as
civilization advanced, and of the extending of the earth-exchange.
Everywhere there has been a correspondence between national prosperity
and increasing trade.
To-day, each man demands more of the earth's products than ever before.
He reaches out a hand for comforts and luxuries, as well as for
necessities. He grasps not only the produces of his own and his
neighbor's field and vineyard, but demands what lies across continents
and seas. Instead of the ship, the camel, and the ass, we now have the
ocean freighter or liner, and the flying train of cars: new forces, oil,
steam, electricity, and water-power, do the carrying work of man. And
hence trade has become Trade, and each trader is involved in the
comfort, success, and prosperity of many others. A single commercial
transaction to-day involves the lives of hundreds of thousands, competes
for their toil and life-blood, carries the decision of their destiny.
A great merchant is the real Kris Kringle. He stands at the centre of
exchange, distributes from the tropics and the arctic zones. He deals
out fur and feathers, books, toys, clothing, engines; ribbons, laces,
silks, perfumes; bread-stuffs, sugar, cotton, iron, ice, steel; wheat,
flour, beef, stone; lumber, drugs, coal, leather. He scatters
periodically the products of mills and looms, of shoe-shops and
print-works, fields, factories, mines, and of art-workers. He thus
becomes a social force of great power, a social law-giver, in fact.
Under his iron rule, the lives of the masses are uplifted or cast down.
As large eras open, the ethical ideals become higher. We are beginning
to inquire, as never before, into the basis of trade, the place of the
trader, the right conduct of this vast problem of Distribution upon
which hinges so much of human life and fate. All things look, not only
to the integration of trade, but to its exaltation.
Trade has ceased to be a thing of individual energy, talent, and
commercial alertness. It has risen to great proportions. The large
trader is in control of national conduit, as well as of national
expense. There is a great deal more in business than the art of making
money. Business is, at the roots, a way of making nations; of developing
the resources of a country, of handling its industries, of protecting
its commerce, of enlarging its institutions, of uplifting its training,
aspirations, and ideals. Traffic is educational. Imports influence the
national life. We may import opium or Bibles, whiskey or bread-stuffs,
locomotives or dancing pigs.
The sceptre held by Tyre and Venice is passing into our own hands. But
trade, to-day, is a matter of the imagination, as well as of the
stock-book. 11 needs a great imagination to handle the present-day
problems of business and finance. The prosperity of a nation depends
largely on the intelligence, integrity, and magnanimity of its business
men. To be narrow-minded in business, is not only intellectual
astigmatism, it is poor commercial policy. To make use of present
opportunities to control present advantages needs a great education and
a large human experience. It is the man of insight, of sympathy, of
economic ideals, who will lastingly control our national prosperity and
advance our industrial wealth.
With all this demand, the business man still stands largely in a class
by himself, a class apart from the great leaders of the world. He is not
yet received into the spiritual circles of the race. He goes about the
world, sits on boards and committees, fills directorships and
trusteeships, pays pew-rent, and runs towns. But when the spiritual
conclaves of the world take place, when the things of life and death are
inquired into, when words are said of the higher conduct of the life of
man, if he draw near inquiringly or unguardedly to the sacred place,
scholar and poet, priest, saint, and proud hand-worker alike rise up and
say, Go away.
It wears upon the heart--this spiritual isolation of the business man.
Does not he often say sadly to himself, They only want my money?
Why must he go away? What has he done, that he must be waved down? If we
discover why he must go away, we shall discover the meaning of that
great caste-line which has long been drawn, and ought no longer to be
drawn, between trade and letters, trade and the Church, trade and
The reason he must go away is this: He has never ruled the higher
history of man; he does not yet quite belong to the ideal-makers of the
race. Understand, I am not now speaking of the new business man, the
exceptional one, upright, cultured, altruistic, whom you and I may know;
I am speaking of a broad class-line, a class distinction.
It is a strange concept that would bar the business man from the ideal;
that would limit his life to an account-book, a ledger, a roll of
stocks, rents, and possessions, instead of granting him the freedom of
the universe, the privilege of ministering to the race. Singularly
enough, the business class is the last class that Christianity has set
free. Slaves have been given liberty; women, social companionship and
intellectual equality; manual labor has been lifted to dignity and
honor. But to break the shackles of the man of trade is the work of our
era, or of an era yet to come. Thousands of young men are daily stepping
into counting-houses, or behind sales-counters, or into independent
stores, who will never lift their eyes from their goods and
account-books, nor rise above the linen, hardware, groceries, or
house-fixtures which they sell. Such a situation is suicidal of national
prosperity, and blocks the high hopes of the world.
Lack of appreciation of the life of business is sinful and unjust. A
high-principled businessman may be one of the noblest leaders of
mankind. The world needs great business men--men who will know how to
use the resources of a country, how to plan for its industry,
manufactures, and commerce: men who understand the principles of
production and exchange; ways of transportation; systems of credit and
banking: men who know the constitution of the country, and the history
of its development; its strength and weakness, its possibilities and
needs: men who will deal honorably in business contracts, both with
buyers and employees, and also with law-making bodies: men who will
steadily try to advance international prosperity, as well as
But to understand business on this plane, and to conduct it in this
large way, needs a fine education, an education built, first of all, on
a practical basis, such as the education of our common schools. Then
should follow a course in the ideals of the race, the classic studies in
language, literature, history, science, and philosophy. Then should come
a technical course, graduate or undergraduate, such as the courses
offered by the Universities of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Wisconsin, which
include, in general, lectures and special studies in Public Law and
Politics, Business Law and Practice, Political Economy, Statistics,
Banking, Finance, and Sociology. In addition to this, there should be a
thorough knowledge of the Bible and of Christian Ethics, with a deep
heart-experience of religion.
Endowed with natural business talent, the young man who goes out into
the world with such preparation as this knows a great deal more than
just how to make money; he knows how to make it honorably and how to
spend it, in his business, family, and social life, for the public good;
he has in him the making of a statesman and a philanthropist, as well as
a man of wealth.
Two things take one into the inner circle of the ideal-makers of the
race--imagination and sympathy. Ideals cannot be bought with gold. The
ideal is always founded on integrity, progress, and common-sense. It is
preeminently practical, as well: the thing that inevitably must be, now
or hereafter, however men laugh it to scorn to-day.
Imagination is the faculty of perceiving the higher and final relations
of life, the relation of one's work to the progress of the world, and of
one's conduct: to spiritual history. What the ideal-maker tries to do is
to set holy standards that shall not pass away: to do abiding work, in
thought, deed, word; work philosophically planned, and perseveringly
carried out; work which he shall do regardless of the outer
circumstances of his life--poverty or wealth, of threats,
misunderstanding, or hoots of scorn. He is unmoved, both by the rage of
the populace and by its most tumultuous applause. He lives for truth,
not for personal advance; for progress, not for wealth or honor. What
he lays down as a precept, that he tries to live up to, in the way that
shall win the approval of the eternal years.
Sordidness in commercial life is not necessary: greed is
not foreordained. Christianity establishes a new system of
trading-philosophy, and a new basis of commercial ethics. There is a
god-like way of trade--Christ might Himself have bought and sold--else
Christianity fails of its full mission, and there remains a class of the
socially lost, of the ethically unsaved. One reason why it is so hard to
get business men into the Church, or to interest them religiously in any
way, is that ministers, in general, do not understand or appreciate
business men. In one of the most stirring sermons I ever heard, occurred
this unjust sentence: "Our country has been built up by the martyr, and
not by the millionaire." No! Our country has been built up by _both_ the
martyr and the millionaire!
Christianity projects into the world new ideals of Trade, of Gain, of
Competition, Value, and Return for Toil.
What is Trade? Is it merely a way of making money? Then there is no
ethical basis for it. "The amount of money which is needed for a good
life," says Aristotle, "is not unlimited."
One concept is: Trade is something which belongs to me. It is that part
of the world's exchange which I can get under my personal control. It
is the balance between human industries and human needs which I hold
for my part of the world, and which others are continually trying to
wrest from me, and which I must keep by all means, fair or foul.