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strong effort of thought can it be apprehended, and if the last clause had not been vague and ambiguous. Yet after all deductions have been made the Creed has been a serviceable contribution to the Church, having been adapted to its militant stage, sounding the trumpet-call for the advance to repel the enemy.
We seem now to have passed from the militant stage-wisely or not I do not say—and to be entering into what may be called the stage of exposition. Is it not with this view that the Society at Birmingham has issued its revised creed? If it is, the idea is worthy of consideration, and I think a more expository creed would be an improvement. But I am sorry to have to say that I think the Birmingham Creed would not meet the requirements of the Church; and I presume that it would not be adopted by the Birmingham Society without the sanction of the Church, for we are too small in number to be split into sects.
My first impression of the Birmingham Creed was that it is a string of aphorisms; and I think it is only necessary to read the first clause in confirmation of this view. There are points enough raised in that clause for several clauses ranging from the Godhead to freewill. This creed also lacks method. There is no causal link that I can see; the first clause especially is a grouping of beautiful statements. If any other proof were needed of this lack of method it would only be necessary to turn to the third and fourth clauses, which are in part identical, both relating to the future life, and virtually the same idea in different forms.
My second impression was that it lacked force. It has no backbone. Saving a few expressions it is not positive enough. It sounds more like an experimental essay than as the bold utterance of an earnest believer; and whilst I would be tolerant of other people's opinions, I would not express my belief tentatively, but rather firmly and decisively, although it might be wide as the poles asunder from the opinions of others; for if it be true it will not admit of being tampered with, and if it be false the sooner it disappears the better.
These are the impressions I have taken from the perusal of the Birmingham Creed; and I think they have resulted from the apparent desire of its framers to make things comfortable for all men. I have too many mental obligations to the Birmingham Society to doubt their ability or their desire for the spread of the New Church; but whilst I would live in charity with all men, I would not shrink in my creed from showing that I held distinctive doctrines. Hence I conclude that though a sweet posy of spiritual ideas, the Birmingham Creed is not vigorous enough for the New Church.
It may seem that I am a carping critic, but I am not afraid to submit my
view of a creed to the criticism of others; and if it is thought desirable to revise the present Creed or to substitute a new one, the following may be looked upon as a suggestion :
“I believe in One God who is a Being of Infinite Love, Wisdom, and Power; in whom there is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Father is the Divine Love, the Son is the Divine Wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is the Divine Power.
“I believe that God revealed Himself as Jesus Christ by taking on Himself human nature, thereby effecting the redemption of man from the power of hell; and by His example and teaching made known the way of salvation for all men; therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is to be worshipped as the only God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator, in a glorified human form.
“I believe in the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, the fountain of spiritual wisdom, which contains an internal sense adapted to angels and men, and is able to make me wise unto salvation; and the Second Coming of the Lord is the full reception of this Divine Wisdom as the Guide of Life.
“I believe in a future life in which the good dwell together in heaven and the evil dwell together in hell; and when I die as to my natural body, I shall join those who are like unto myself; my future state being determined by the life I lead in this world.
“I believe that true religion has relation to life and is shown in love to God and love to my neighbour ; in striving to do good and in shunning evils as sins against God; trusting not in myself but in God, whom I love, worship, and pray to as my heavenly Father.”
W. M. C.
WHO WAS JESUS CHRIST? By the Rev. CHAUNCEY GILES. Philadelphia:
American New Church Tract and Publication Society. This is a sermon composed in Mr. Giles' well-known and characteristic style. Our readers will doubtless remember the excitement that was caused in Philadelphia by the refusal of the Young Men's Christian Association to allow Mr. Giles to deliver a public lecture in their hall.
The result of that excitement has been that Mr. Giles' own church has since been crowded every Sunday morning. Sunday after Sunday Mr. Giles has had to push his way through the dense mass of hearers to reach the pulpit. The interest at first awakened has by no means abated. It has now continued for several months, and bids fair to leave a permanent result behind it.
The daily papers of Philadelphia have published some of Mr. Giles' Sundaymorning sermons at full length, and have besides given favourable notices of his Sunday-evening lectures.
As is customary in the New Church in America, Mr. Giles preaches on Sunday mornings only. Sunday-evening lectures are the exception and not the rule. It is therefore a very significant and encouraging circumstance that such large and interested audiences have attended the “ Church of the Advent.”
The place of worship of the Society of Philadelphia of which Mr. Giles is the minister, is, for the New Church, a large building. It is a plain oblong hall, and is light, cheerful, and well adapted to its use.
There are no useless arches stuck up inside of it to make it look pretty and mar the effect of the speaker's grand voice. The ceiling is of that form which is best calculated to transmit sound, and carry every delicate intonation to the ears of the audience. The sermon before us was recently delivered there, and we can well imagine how pleasant it must have been for our New Church brethren at Philadelphia to sit in the crowded building and listen to it.
To us the sermon comes without its appropriate and living adjuncts. This is a disadvantage that attends the appearance of all sermons in print, but it is especially great in the case of the production of a preacher with so remarkable and affecting a delivery as in this case. The appreciation of this disadvantage makes one inclined sometimes to think that sermons should never appear in print, but of course that would be going too far.
It has been remarked that Mr. Giles has a habit of delivering series of discourses on the same general subject, and that he thus succeeds in establishing a continuity of thought on that subject. This is the case with the sermon before us. It is one of a series. The titles of the other sermons of the series are, “How does He save Men?” “The Sufferings and Death of Christ,” and “ The Blood of Christ.” The first two have already been printed and circulated in a rather remarkable manner. After delivering the first sermon of the series, Mr. Giles announced that it would be printed and distributed to the congregation the next Sunday after the service. The following Sunday he accordingly stated that the sermon delivered the previous Sunday was ready in a printed form, and would be handed to those who wished to receive it as they left the church ; each person having the privilege of taking as many copies as he desired. Over seven hundred copies of the sermon before us were consequently taken, and from two to three hundred have since been called for and supplied. It is the intention of Mr. Giles' Society to pursue this course for some time. The “continuity of thought” established by Mr. Giles' method of delivering series of sermons is thus maintained in a very vivid manner.
But it is not only continuity of thought that is attained by the system of preaching sermons in series. It is possible in this way to get much deeper into a subject than is possible in the usual method of disconnected single
sermons, and no doubt as the Church progresses in wisdom and intelligence, our ministers will come more and more into the way of following their subjects up by reiterated attacks upon them. Theology in the New Church is a science, and requires to be taught at least as systematically as any other science. Desultory skirmishing with scientific subjects has its uses, but an educated public cannot be long satisfied with treatment of that character. It will be the same with theology, which, as we have said, is really, with us, one of the scientific subjects. It is not our intention to attempt any criticism of this sermon.
We leave that to abler and riper hands.
J. F. P.
A GRATEFUL HEART.
Give me, O Lord, a grateful heart,
So full of silent praise
All my remaining days.
How much more precious are Thy gifts
From ocean, sky, or land,
They all are from Thy hand !
Or small as grains of sand.
All beauteous sights that greet the eye,
And lovely sounds the ear;
And season of the year ;
That make Thy presence clear.
The infant's smile, the maiden's love,
The faithfulness of friends;
A stream that never ends;
From heaven Thy mercy sends.
Each kindly thought, each glimpse of truth,
Each secret prayer that flies,
Each impulse of the higher life
That bids me heavenward rise ;
And this sweet thought I'll prize.
But most of all, I thank Thee, Lord,
For God-like liberty,
For glow of charity.
“My Father gave them me."
TRUST IN THE LORD.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”—Psalm xxxvii. 5.
COMMIT my way to Thee! Ah! Lord, I must
Or I shall fall.
Oh that I could so trust,
How oft, forgetting Thee, O Lord, my way
Appears so plain
I think I cannot stray!
Then darkness, doubt, and troubled fears arise,
And very soon
I stumble, for mine eyes
But Thou dost lift me up and soothe my pain;
And then I see
If I would peace attain
Nor trust to self alone, in anything,
But like a child
Hold fast Thy hand, and bring