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that our illustrations are sufficient to show that Philosophy is the aid of Universalism. Do we need to say that this is not the theory that death removes all sin, completely changes character ? The philosophy of Universalism is the doctrine of final holiness and happiness. Channing shunned the word because it was associated with the belief of immediate holiness and happiness. Dewey and Emerson do not employ it. But the philosophy of all is the philosophy of the Universalism to-day. We have not quoted from German authors. We are not familiar with them, but it is well known that onr philosophy is widely prevailing in Germany. Our limits will not allow quotation. Our point does not need further fortification. It is an open secret that Philosophy voices the belief that men are made for progress, that evil is incidental, that the good shall finally prevail.
It would be interesting to discuss some of the side movements of this mighty pewer. Pessimism, final impenitence, conditional immorality are terms which indicate their presence and their influence. We do not believe that the theories they formulate will be able to withstand the optimism announced and advocated by the strongest thinkers of our times .We are emboldened to hold this belief also by the great aid afforded our faith by the science of Philology. The word “eternal” of the New Testament no longer means endless. Sholarship yields the old definition and emphasizes the new. Dr. Porter, President of Yale College, says that the words used by Christ do not signify the duration, but only the terribleness of punishment. We understand that our own Dr. Hanson's book on “ Aionios” is deemed conclusive, and is having wide influence. One of the strongest Universalist books in our library is Rev. Samuel Cox's “ Salvator Mundi," and he is an English Congregationalist. We believe, therefore, that we are not too bold in claiming that, like Literature and Science, Philosophy — the deep thinking of the unlearned many and the strong thinking of the learned few -- is a mighty force that works for Universalism. We may confide, therefore, in its progress.
We have still another reason to advance for the hope that makes us confident. We believe the Universalist denomination is increasing in power, and, that under new conditions of organic life, increase of culture and deepening of spiritual life, it is to be the great Liberal Christian body of the future, Unitarian as to its belief concerning Deity, Universalist as to its belief concerning the destiny of man. It is comparatively only a few years since we became an organized body. We were separate congregations in 1830. In 1881 we are a church. Our simple catholic creed gives unity and freedom. Our state conventions and General convention give us order, coherence, increasing effectiveness.
Of course much might be said in way of criticism, but every student knows how hard it is to secure organization. In New England especially, he sees how jealousy of interference with the individual or the single congregation prevents rapid growth in organized life. We feel, therefore, that our progress in this direction in the last fifteen years is a prophecy of increasing power. Our culture is increasing. To the charge that we have no theology, the reply is very simple. We have the theology of Christ. Our culture has shown us the history of councils and of creeds. It delivered us from bondage to Nicea and Trent, from Augustine and Athanasius. We are not yet as diligent as we ought to be in the study of the origin of the Scriptures. But we are making progress here. Ewald, Kuenen, Stanley, Robertson Smith are finding readers and students among us, and we venture the prediction that our clergy, in the next twenty years, will rank well in thoughtful scholarship with Presbyterian or
or Unitarian co-workers. Our institutions of learning have multiplied too fast. They are suffering from the depreciation of values. Zealous men are too busy in regarding local interests. Nevertheless, we are not without hope that the General convention will yet teach clergy and laity the need of concentration, the importance of completing what has been begun before entering upon the new. We believe we see increasing spiritual life in all our churches. Our people no longer wish to hear Orthodoxy demolished. They delight in the service of worship, in the beauty of holiness, in the recognition of good in all denominations, in the summons to noble work. We rejoice in the increasing use of responsive service. We believe it is unnatural for the people to be silent in the house of God listening to minister and choir. Our people are now joining more and more in the service of reading and united prayer. The decay of the conference among us is not a symptom of declining spiritual life. It is rather the sign of a higher demand for instruction and inspiration. In some cases the conference will live, will help, but if it should cease, something better will take its place.
We rejoice especially in the young of our denomination. They are interested in religion. At least, the proportion who are is very encouraging. Some may turn to the “ fashionable church,” to the society which has most of “good times,” but we believe we see thoughtfulness, devoutness, loyalty to Christ and God. We would appeal to all of them for greater study, greater readiness to sacrifice for the church ; but, knowing the solicitations of society and amusements, remembering the absorptions of friendship and of love, we look upon our young people as the future workers of our church. To that church, the thoughtful of other churches are certainly turning. We do not close our eyes to the facts of our day We know that practical abandonment of old doctrines keeps many within the old churches. We know that “ society” and “business" retain in old places, or determine choice of new ones.
But we feel, and we feel strongly, that the present non-committalism of many churches cannot much longer continue. They must defend anew the old creeds, or they must advance to our faith. The signs of this fact are sufficiently numerous. Nearly every week we read announcement of some new seceder from the old communions. Many of these will find rest only with us. With our freedom and our pronounced loyalty to Christ, our church will be their refuge and home. We believe, therefore, in numerical increase. We hope, not only that our faith will modify other churches, but that it will
number more avowed confessors. Sooner or later our believers will stand up to be counted. Believing thus in organization, that our organic life improves, that our gospel needs the body to proclaim it, we feel that the forces of Literature, Science, Philosophy will play through our church to advance the faith of Universalism. Nor can we conceive of a higher service to which we can call the earnest and the aspiring than the work of the Universalist church. It holds the highest philosophy . It teaches the doctrines and precepts of Jesus Christ. It inspires hope for all the fallen. It gives ample scope to learning, freedom, reverence, power. We are not referring chiefly to the work of its ministry. We have in mind even more the work of the laity. Glorious as is the privilege of being a preacher, we need to see the glory of the work of the layman. We wish, therefore, we could reach multitudes of young and old to deliver to them our message. To work with God is highest privilege. To work with Christ is a splendid opportunity. And when one thinks how many in every community are living lives of selfish ease, intent on what feeds the body or delights the eye and ear, it is with burning earnestness that one prays for power to rouse the indifferent to the thought, the service, the worship of God. We believe that the presentation of God as the Universal Father, the Universal Friend, as the one who punishes inexorably, but always in love, and always with the purpose of final improvement, is the one the world most needs to-day. When one thinks how little the true greatness of Jesus Christ is really seen, obscured as it is by the doctrine of the Trinity, or of some incomprehensible nature, the wish is passionate to he endued with might to preach Christ as our elder brother, our example, our inspirer, our Lord and Master.
We believe that the presentation of Jesus Christ by the Universalist church is the one the world greatly needs to-day. We know the diflerence of opinion among our preachers. But we see, or think we see, the inevitably increasing unanimity, of opinion which presents him as the divine ideal of humanity, to the measure of whose fullness all men are finally to arrive. When one thinks of the ignorance prevailing of the origin and the grandeur of the Scriptures, he prays God for wisdom and power to show men what these books really are, the record of inspiration to a great race of prophets, and to make their history and poetry, their gospels and epistles, feed men's souls as they hunger and thirst after righteousness. We believe the Universalist church can do this work. Others, as it seems to us, can do it no better. We may even venture to say, none can do it so well. For we meet the conditions of growth and power. We are limited by our allegiance to Christ. We are free to pursue all knowledge of his people, his Scriptures and his Church. Limitation is as much needed as freedom. We are not Liberals, but liberal Christians. Our movement is not a movement of free thought, but of a free Christianity. Believing with Matthew Arnold that “ for us religion is the solidest of realities, and Christianity the greatest and happiest stroke ever yet made for human perfection ;” believing with Channing that “the evidence of Christianity which operates most universally is not history nor miracles, but its correspondence to the noblest capacities, deepest wants, and purest aspirations of our nature ; ” believing with all our soul that it is the word of God, the power of God and the wisdom of God, and that Christianity and Universalism are one, we hold that whoever helps the Universalist church helps Christianity. May the young men and women of to-day study diligently its service to the world. May they find in the word of Christ and letters of Paul the inspiring words concerning God and man, concerning duty and immortality. May they see how poetry sings the strains of universal love and universal perfection. May they see how orator and thinker, how philanthropist and philosopher are strengthened by the faith in the