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fact that precludes the hope of reaching a conclusion in which all will concur.
It must be said at the outset, that however our conceptions may have changed, Christianity, as a great historical fact, stands absolutely untouched. Our fathers may have held views about it that we cannot accept, and our own views may be equally unacceptable to those who come after us, but this in no wise affects those fundamental and indisputable facts, viz: the life of Jesus Christ on earth, his aim to bring men into nearness and fellowship with God, the marvelous power of Christianity through all the centuries that have intervened, and its purifying and enlightening influence as it exists in the world today. Theorize as we may, accept or reject the non-essential accompaniments that have followed the Christian religion like the camp-followers of a conquering army, mistaken often by the thoughtless for a part of the army itself, we find ourselves face to face with a great historical fact, a gigantic force that, however explained, exists, and makes itself felt today as never before.
Again, no matter how we may seek to explain it, there is such a thing as personal religion. We may or may not have an adequate comprehension of its psychological basis, but those who have sincerely endeavored to come into such a relation to God as Jesus Christ sought to establish, and have felt the impulse to a higher and better life that it gives, have within themselves a knowledge based on actual experience, as real, though possibly as difficult of explanation, as the enjoyment of music by one unacquainted with its theory.
Whatever may be said, then, in what follows, that may in any way appear to conflict with commonly accepted views, the point of departure has been clearly indicated. We proceed
with the distinct recognition of Christianity as an actual historical fact, and personal religion as an actual experience.
The first question to be considered is whether biological study in itself tends to weaken religious faith. There is, apparently, a more or less prevalent impression that such is the fact, and it becomes of importance to ascertain, if possible, whether this impression is well grounded.
A great number of individual cases at once present themselves, amply sufficient in my own judgment to show that studies of this nature neither make nor unmake Christian character. Like every other absorbing pursuit, they may, of course, be so conducted as either to develop or repress religious sentiment. One who enters upon a scientific career with a predisposition towards agnosticism is likely to have this strengthened. Dealing constantly with phenomena, accustomed to observe manifestations of life only in connection with matter, the physical and material come to fill his range of vision, and the spiritual becomes more and more alien to his habits of thought. If, on the other hand, his scientific work has been taken up and carried on under the influence of a dominant religious idea, then year by year his study of living things will bring him into more direct relation with the Divine Source of life.
A striking illustration of this is seen in the career of two of the most eminent workers in biological science of the present century, Charles Darwin and Asa Gray. Both were men of unquestioned integrity and extraordinary scientific attainments. In their kindred subject of investigation they were in mutual sympathy, and frequently corresponded with regard to the perplexing questions opened up in their earlier studies of evolution. Yet in their religious views and various other respects they were
totally different. In the latter part of his life Darwin frankly said of himself: "For many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry....I have also almost, lost my taste for pictures or music.... My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts;" and in another connection: "As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.
Of Dr. Gray, on the other hand, it has been said, his "was a life in large dimensions. Nature had dealt generously with him, and from none of her gifts and proffers did he turn away. It was in accordance with this larger measure of life that he held in its integrity the Christian faith. In his Yale lectures he said: accept Christianity on its own evidence, which I am not here to specify or justify; and I am yet to learn how physical or any other science conflicts with it any more than it conflicts with simple theism.'
Cases of this kind, though perhaps presenting less striking contrasts, might be almost indefinitely mnltiplied. While, then, it is obvious that pre-eminent attainments in science give no assurance of either a religious life or correct apprehension of religious truth, it is certain that they present no obstacle to the highest development of Christian character.
It will be said, however, and apparently with much truth, that here, as elsewhere in human affairs, we have to deal so largely with habit, temperament and will, in other words, the "personal equation" is so prominent a factor, that a comparison of individual cases, however extended, is unlikely to lead to positive results. Our study, accordingly, will now take the form of an inquiry, as to whether the fundamental conceptions of Christianity are capable of comparison with those of biological science, and if so, whether they are mutually antagonistic.
How shall we ascertain what is fundamental in Christianity? By comparing the views of Christian people? The question has only to be asked to answer itself. Christian conceptions—so far as they are Christian-must be decided directly from the teachings and practice of the founder of Christianity.
In referring thus to the authority of Christ, I by no mears intend to imply that there could not and ought not to be, in the time following his life on earth, any modification in the forms of Christian thought. He seems to have fully understood that there would be such changes and to have desired that there should be. The prediction that those who followed him should do still greater works, directly implies development and growth. He introduced the kingdom of God, taught the elementary lessons, sowed the good seed, and left to his disciples and those who came after them, to care for the growing grain and gather in the harvest. They were to develop forms and methods, and even elaborate into a system the truths he taught or implied. But while freely admitting the singular confidence thus reposed in his followers, and the extraordinary trust committed to them for all the ages, it must be clearly understood and insisted upon that nothing is really Christian that is not in essential harmony with the teachings of Christ. There may well be development, or unfolding, of Christian doctrine, but anything not in accordance with the teaching and mind of the founder of Christianity is unchristian.
Let us, then, as far as the habits of years will permit, uninfluenced, as far as this is possible, by the accumulated interpretations, additions and misconceptions of eighteen Christian centuries, try once more to understand what Christianity really was in the beginning. I assume, for this purpose, the essential genuineness and authenticity of the gospels, 1 olding as the result
of the most trustworthy scholarship that they tell us enough, and truthfully enough, to enable us to form a clear and substantially accurate mental picture of the life, work and teachings of Christ.
In the first place, then, Christ's conception of God was of a Father. Through life and in death the fatherhood of God was something as real as his own being. Witness his life of prayer. In the presence of the multitude he lifted up his eyes to heaven. and blessed the food he gave. In the silence of the night he rose up a great while before day and went into a place apart to pray. His very imagination was filled with the thought. Listen to the parable of the prodigal son. How that most beautiful piece of the literature of all nations and ages embodies the great theme that filled the life of Christ! God the Father of all men, loving and pitiful, not waiting, merely, but reaching out to help and save and forgive.
Now this is the Christian conception of God. Whatever may have been added to it, whatever a relentless logic may have attributed to the Creator of the universe, now or in times past, the fundamental conception of the fatherhood of God is characteristic of Christian modes of thought. "Behold, he prayeth.' That meant that the man referred to was a Christian. actually approaching God, and asking him for what he needed, The conception and its application is precisely the same today as it was nineteen hundred years ago, and it still serves as a practical test. A Christian regards God as his Father and asks him for help.
Again, there comes to us in the teachings of Christ, like air from the mountains, the conception of righteousness. Listen to the terms of admission into his kingdom. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and