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look toward the ideal of beauty as well as of holiness? But above all, to the struggling, sorrowing soul there comes to-day, as in the earliest days, that message of present help and encouragement, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' So long as weak, erring, perplexed human nature remains the same, so long will Christianity continue to minister to it as no other religion ever has done; and the faith of Jesus can never be superseded, for in its essentials it is perfect and enjoins perfection.
What word, then, does the primitive church send across the ages to the present hour? It bids us rejoice that we are born in a period and land free from the fiery trials of faith through which it passed. It bids us see clearly the distinction between germinal and historical Christianity, between the religion of Jesus as a vital principle and its embodiment in institutions which, though a necessary result of innate tendencies brought into relation with an environment, are nevertheless not the essential things. It bids us first of all "Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness;" and then, with the calm trust and confidence of a soul conscious of its redemption, to live the Christ-life day by day It bids us convey to others, near and far, the tidings of great joy Finally it bids us join with the redeemed of all ages in the hope and proph
"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
His Kingdom spread from shore to shore,
THE FORCE OF CHRISTIANITY IN UNITED STATES
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John VIII-32; also Acts XVII—26.
PROF. ANDREW C. MC LAUGHLIN.
Delivered April 10, 1892.
Force and Christianity seem antithetical. Of Christianity we predicate gentleness, love, and peace. Humility and modesty, rather than energy, may be said to be the attributes of the followers of the Son of Man. But such an antithesis is only apparent. Christianity may be partially defined in a great many ways, but however you attempt to describe it, its place is in the field of dynamics and not of statics. Christianity is true life, is movement, is the unfolding by action of the perfect. truth of God. Christ came to lead us to the truth. His teachings are the touch-stone of truth. A nation is feeling the force of Christ or exhibiting the force of Christianity as it struggles to a fuller realization of truth in its national life.
Does Christianity show itself in the forces of history? History is popularly supposed to consist of a succession of battles, or the rise or fall of dynasties, or at best the growth of institutions through the influence of individual men, or perchance through apparent accident. Unless the church, as the
instrument of God, has directly shaped a political movement, or a man imbued with Christian doctrine has preached the living truth and influenced the founders of states, or unless there has been some direct and evident manifestation or God's power, we conceive the state as a heathen thing, coming into being and moving its way along unaided or unguided by the life-giving breath of God. We are ready to study most profoundly the wonderful conversion of Constantine, and are willing to accept the cross in the heavens as a God-given miracle. Even if it were subjective entirely, we fain would see God coming from His throne to change the life of the Roman Empire, by turning the mind of its Cæsar to a contemplation of the verities of Christianity. In accord with such a conception of history, the Maker and Ruler of the universe, for three hundred years and more after the birth of Christ, sat upon His distant Olympus and watched the different races of warring men, His curiosity piqued perhaps, to see how all would result.
We are willing also, as students of God's work in the world, to study eagerly the introduction of the Church into ancient England. We trace the work of Augustine with rigid Eich new advance of the priests from kingdom to kingdom we note with great exactness, as if we were seeing the advance of God into regions which before he had not known. I would not underestimate the beatific influence of the Church in old distraught, chaotic England. My contention is simply for a fuller recognition of God's presence in the world, and I would maintain that He was not wholly absent or unconcerned when the semi-barbarous, wholly-heathen, brutal Englishman came from the forests of Germany, swept the remnants of Roman power into the sea, and scattered the sluggish, force less Christian British into mountain fastnesses of the island. God
was not absent when that heathen wedge was inserted into the Christian Roman Empire. For the Christianity was devoid of vigor Not every one that cries, Lord! Lord! is a forceful child of God. The heathen nation was alive, physically strong, mentally alert, and imbued with a certain feeling of rugged Independence and of sturdy individuality, qualities that were never to be lost, but to withstand the vicissitudes and trials of the passing centuries, to show themselves refined and disciplined in institutions of government whereby the individual might more fully realize himself and perfect himself as a member of the whole. The heathenism itself contained strong elements which were of great service in the progress of Christian civilization. "In the old Gothic religion were embodied principles and morals that in due course of time and under favorable circumstances evolved the Republic of Ireland, the Magna Charta of England, and the Declaration of Independence." (1)
I shall be obliged at the very outset to insist upon this conception of history There is method in the seeming madness, in the hurly-burly of succeeding events in history There is progress through the centuries toward a completer development of man, toward a completer realization of himself, toward completer freedom. The wandering savage who is a bond-slave to the forces of nature, becomes their master as society becomes more complicated and as each man more fully expresses himself in the highly organized state. As the centuries go by, man becomes a higher being; for an increase of duties means an increase of functions. As a social being, by a thousand tender tentacles, he holds fast to his fellows and gives them aid, and is nourished in turn again It is impossible to conceive of him
(1)Anderson's Norse Mythology, p. 129.
save in his relations. We watch the multiplication and strengthening of these relative ties, and we know that this is the process of history-the transformation of nomadic man into the highly developed social being of the twentieth century It is a fundamental conception-and I shall endeavor to show its application in America—that man has been increasing in a fuller realization of himself, and freedom has been increasing in depth and meaning. In the perfect state we shall have perfect freedom, for there we shall have perfect love and a perfect arrangement of society Man has not lost his individuality but is gaining it. He becomes more of a man and a higher man when he can perform more duties. The law of perfect love, which is perfect self-sacrifice, is not self-stultification or self-destruction, but the building up—the edification of self into a higher and nobler companion to man and child of God.
There are many who would deny that the scientific study of history is possible. Political science is deemed a pleasing figure of speech. The scoffer would study with diligence the gregarious habits of the chimpanzee, and wonder at the artful works of a colony of ants or beavers. Generalization would follow generalization, and a pretty piece of inductive science be the result. But man, he says, has free will; he is bound by no law; he is more and more an independent and self-determining being Now nothing could be more false than this. Free agency is a wofully over-burdened phrase. The advancing ages have shown man less and less the subject of caprice. He daily moves in paths that may be traced. He is more and more the creature of law We must not set God to work over a beaver dam or an ant-hill, and banish Him when a mighty state is rearing out of the chaos of savagery A broad study of the events of history will show that different nations playing their