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DEMOCRACY OF THE GOSPEL.
BY J. M. W. GEIST.
THE faithful and humble believer in the Divine truths of the Gospel needs not to be told of its wonderful adaptation to all the wants of the entire human race. He has felt its power in his own heart and witnessed its outward manifestations in the lives of others. Wherever he goes, and in whatever he does, he carries with him the conviction of Hager, "Thou God seest me!" Through all the changes of life-in the sunshine of prosperty and the clouds of adversity-he sees the finger of an All-wise though often mysterious Providence, tracing out those comfortable words of eternal significance, "God doeth all things well!" Has the hand of affliction fallen heavily upon him; have "summer friends" vanished before the chilling blasts of adversity's winter; or has the last fond hope of worldly happiness become extinguished in the approaching shadow of an ominous to-morrow? The true believer in the Gospel looks with the certainty of assured hope beyond the Present, and turns philosopher on the true and scriptural principle-"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." However humble he may appear as an atom in the great creation of the universe-however much he may know himself to be scorned or overlooked by the vain worms of the dust who may surround him-he not only feels that the grace offered in the Gospel is "sufficient" for him, but he looks with compassionate hope upon those who stubbornly refuse to work while it is yet day, for he feels that there is a Democracy in the ARISEN GOSPEL which may yet bring an anchor of hope to their souls before that terrible night of death cometh in which no man can work.
But while this is true of the really faithful and humble believer in the Gospel, there are many who profess its sacred truths, and many more who ignore them altogether, who strangely overlook the most popular element in Human Progress-the Democracy of the Gospel. It has become a settled axiom, at least among the people of this favored land, that the safety and prosperity of a people is best attained under that system of government which secures "the greatest good to the greatest number." This is regarded as the basis of a true democracy. No party, no government, no individual, can justly claim to be democratic, the immediate and ultimate aim of whose system does not center in the social and moral, as well as in the political elevation of the masses. An exclusive aristocracy is directly at war with the best interests of society. In politics it is bad enough; in religion it is worse. Its natural tendency is to elevate the Few into an insecure position of self-confidence and to depress the Many below that happy mien
where true happiness is most sure to follow as the reward of honest industry, however humble. An aristocracy in religion is as unnatural as the mistletoe in the apple-tree. It may be often seen there, growing in vernal luxuriance, very pleasant to the outward sense, yet neither the power of nature nor ingenuity of art can make it harmonize with or become a part of the native tree. In the luxuriance of its vernal leaves it may surpass its less ostentatious parent by adoption, but that which maketh glad the heart of man is not there. That unseemly trunk, with its irregular branches. and dwarfish searing leaves bears fruit in abundance-that ostentatious mistletoe affords at most but a momentary pleasure to the curious eye. The husbandman, in due season, eats of the fruit of the one and his soul is satisfied: he looks on the other, beholds nought but barrenness, and, like the fig-tree of the parable, it is cursed.
I insinuate no disparagement to the pure religion of the Cross, when I say that much of our professed Christianity is but the mistletoe of practical unbelief, partially disguised among the branches of a living faith. When the world prospers with us, we are too prone to regard ourselves as "the salt of the earth," of which we are at once the sun and moon and stars, the dry land and the seas; the leaven of that little lump called Self, of which we constitute the center and circumference! We forget that the Gospel is humanitarian as well as divine; that Jesus died for a Lazarus as well as a Joseph of Arimathea; that he chose for his disciples the unlearned and unknown fisherman as well as an accomplished and celebrated scholar in his Apostle Paul. Our great EXAMPLE tells us that he "came to seek and to save that which was lost"-to preach the kingdom of righteousness and peace in the by-ways and hedges of life as well as in the gorgeous Temple at Jerusalem; but how often do we act as if the Cross had been erected on Calvary merely that we might, beneath its holy shadow, build magnificent churches, occupy the "highest seats in the synagogue," wear the finest apparel, and fare sumptuously every dayforgetting, alas, how often, that the Son of God had not whereon to lay his head, and that we are surrounded by those of his brethren and sisters-immortal souls bought with the dreadful price of his blood-who are poor and neglected and "without God in the world."
We aim too much to make a display of our religion-regarding too much the form and ignoring its practical power. I do not protest against fine church edifices and extravagant establishments for those who can afford them, but we should not blind our eyes to the fact that in that direction lies a dangerous extreme. We are but the stewards of God's truth as well as of that portion of this world's goods with which in his Providence he may have been pleased to bless us. It is not our own any more than we are our
own-for are we not "bought with a price?" If we have an abundance, a liberal share of that abundance belongs to our poor brethren. Democracy in human government teaches the greatest good to the greatest number-but Democracy in the Gospel teaches the greatest good to the whole family of man. "God is no respecter of persons," and he who has invidious respect to the persons of men cannot be a practical Christian.
The Gospel is democratic, because it teaches its true believers to care for the bodies as well as the souls of men. Its divine author not only preached repentance and faith, but he "went about doing good. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. If he became the guest and saviour of the rich and great, he at the same time permitted a vile and despised Magdalen to wash his feet and wipe them with the hair of her head-almost gray with a life-weight of iniquity-and then forgave her all her sins. If, when the weary pilgrimage of this life is over, we would hear the divine welcome of "well done, good and faithful servant," we must put this "higher law" Democracy of the Gospel into daily practice. If we are sincere in our desires to see Humanity elevated we must remember that it is only by a practical admission of this Democracy of the Gospel that such a glorious end can be attained. We must strive less for Self and Sect and more for the general good and the glory of God.
And this brings me to the application of this desultation-for I cannot dignify it with the title of Essay-the objects which we have in view in organizing and sustaining_Christian Associations. Whatever may be said, truly or falsely, I affirm not, of the exclusiveness and jealousies of Christian sects, in these, at least, men of all shades of religious opinion, if based upon an evangelical sentiment, can meet together for the general good of one common platform. Here we know not the distinction of Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran or Methodist, or any title of exclusive significance, but we hail and welcome in each a Christian brother! Here the various shades and distinctions which mark the creeds of sect, and too often fall like evening shadows on our social system, are obliterated by the noonday light of Christian Brotherhood. Here the bond of union is brotherly love and the object of that union the work of love.
I look upon the work and destiny of all Christian associations as a glorious mission, and especially worthy of commendation where the young become the active instruments of doing good. The work of Young Men's Christian Associations is not merely, as many suppose, to build up a library and reading room, which of itself would be an achievment worthy the exertion and meriting the thanks of our fellow citizens. As we gain strength with increasing years, new fields of usefulness will open before us. Where neglected children are to be clothed and educated in the Sabbath
School, into which so many have not yet entered, there will the democracy of the Gospel be practically illustrated by the members of Christian associations building up Sabbath Schools without the circles of our churches which, under the blessing of God, will stand as living monuments of Christian Association in a good cause. Already, I am pleased to be able to state, have the preliminary arrangements of this great and good work been commenced, and I know all Christians, everywhere, who love to see the highest interests of humanity advanced, will join with me in wishing a hearty "God-speed" to the good work.
And when the chilling frosts and driving snows of winter are again upon us, bringing destitution and misery to many an humble fireside now peaceful and adorned with that hope which springs perennially from the smiling present-then may not the members of Christian associations be found as "ministering angels of mercy" in the hut of poverty and want, calling down upon them as the rewards of their endeavors to practice the democracy of the Gospel,. the blessings of grateful souls, tenants of comfortable bodies, made so by their humble mission. Oh, my friends! here is a mission in a field which you may well look forward to with hope and joy, for He who dispenses blessings and withholds misfortunes has said that whoever shall thus give a cup of cold water in his name shall not lose his reward.
In conclusion, my friends, I am a firm believer in Human Progress; and while I ignore any system of preaching to the soul which overlooks the claims of the body, I regard the Gospel of Jesus as the only basis in which any great moral, social, or political reform can be prosecuted to a final triumph. The voice of divine wisdom has told us that if in all our ways we acknowledge the Lord he shall direct our paths. No matter whether that way leads us to the house of God, the social circle, the place of business, or to the ballot box in the exercise of a freeman's highest prerogative, we must remember him through the claims of our suffering brothers and his children, if we at the end expect his blessing. If we pray "Thy kingdom come," we must work, not wait in idleness for that kingdom. Then will this Gospel, based upon that higher democracy of the greatest good to the whole number, "cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."
THE OLD AND THE NEW.
GENTLY, and without grief, the old shall glide
GOOD FOR EVIL.
MR. EITDOR: The following sketch, taken from the Cincinnati Dollar Times, in which a school teacher gives his experience in school-going and school-teaching, struck me as peculiarly interesting and good; and thinking it would be equally so to your readers, I thought it would be worthy of being preserved in the Guardian. In the course of narrating his experience the teacher says:
But to return. I must mention an incident of which it gives me real pleasure to think, betimes, when I look back upon the past.
There was a little nervous fellow, of some ten summers, attending school. He was all brain and motion. Not one minute was he still. I could not comprehend him. Every motion was gra and poetry. Every look from those liquid blue and sparkling eyes revealed a soul. He must be doing something all the time; no listlessness, no dullness. He confounded me and all the rest. No lesson too deep for him to comprehend; no task he would not accomplish, as it were, by intuition. I often stood by his side and watched him in his studies, that I might learn, perchance, from him, but the longer I looked, the more I marveled. He was a gay fellow, and very easy to laugh at anything bearing the semblance of being funny, consequently it was the delight of his schoolmates, less given to study, to watch him when he was off his guard, and provoke his risibilities. I always knew something wrong was going on when I heard "my favorite" laugh, and generally was quick enough to catch the offender in his tricks, which were often of such a laughable nature, that I had to lay by my dignity and join in the chorus of voices.
One day, while having all my attention directed towards the hearing of a recitation, I heard Charley's clear, ringing laugh, behind me. Other scholars took it up, which irritated me considerably, and I mentally resolved that I'd visit a heavy punishment upon the "little rascal," who was the originator of the fun. I soon finished the recitation, and with a heavy cloud hanging portentiously upon my brow, I inquired who was the author of so much merriment and confusion. No one answered, but all appeared to be zealously engaged upon their lessons. Again I inquired in an angry tone, and I saw many a little bosom heaving with fear, while anxious, fearful glances were cast towards me.
"Let the guilty one make himself known immediately, or, when I do find out the offender, it will go hard with him."
No answer, no movement, all as still as death.
I then changed my tone; told them that such disorder was incompatible with good school government, that it could not be allowed or endured; that if the mischief-maker would come forward,