« 이전계속 »
is the inspiration and support of doubt and disbelief. Particular truths may be so taught as to engender, on the whole, a blighting skepticism. The great facts and laws of the universe may be so combined and presented
resented as to foster naturalism, and to discredit spiritual existence. One may be so blinded by a false system that he can walk through the splendid corridors of creation, and not discern the Creator. At the fountains of Helicon many a youth drinks in the poison of infidelity. In the groves of the Academy he learns a deceptive and corrupting philosophy. He climbs the steeps of Parnassus, but he fails to discern the glory of God shining in the heav
He listens to Plato and Aristotle, but he hears not the words of Jesus, the Supreme Teacher, “the Prime and Blossom of the race.” In all the voices of creation, he discerns not the voice of Him who “spake and it was done,” who “commanded and it stood fast.” The lessons of history do not teach him tlie grandest of all lessons—the lesson of a wise, watchful, and eternal providence. Despite all his acquisitions, he is aeos, an atheist, “without God in the world." His studies have not brought him into the realm of the highest culture, where the beauty of the Lord is discerned. He has compassed the whole diapason of Nature's scale, but he has not caught the highest note—the note of redemption ; he has not listened to the divinest melody—the melody of the heavens.
Not discerning God in human affairs, he is, notwithstanding his accumulations of knowledge, ignorant of the world, incapable of comprehending the drift of things, the currents and courses of the progress of the race, the mighty impulses of redemption in the growth and development of communities and nations. He is not able, therefore, to keep step with the music of the world's march in the realization of its highest ideals. He lacks adaptation to life, and is incapable of conquering a genuine success. He is not a helper to his fellows, but a hinderance and a burden. His doubts cloud the heavens, his fears chill the atmosphere, and his infidel speculations blight and blast every thing beautiful and ennobling in life. So far as his knowledge is power, it is a power of evil. Service to man is not to be expected of him; for he has no worthy conception of the dignity and value of a Christ-redeemed soul.
It is this class of men which bring learning into reproach.
Their scholarship is infernal in its prostitution, and their genius is set on fire of hell. In the courts, in Congress, in business, in literature, in art, in every walk of life, high and low, these men scheme mischief, breed corruption, organize rings, debauch morals, and defile, by pretense of favor, patriotism, religion, and all holiest things. Cultured wickedness, in a word, is pre-eminently satanic, as the whole history of civilized man proves. A sirocco is not so blasting, a simoom is not so deadly, a famine is not so fearful, as the wide-spread desolation of infidel thought, presented by trained minds, with the charms of learning, eloquence, and song, employing all the stores of knowledge and all the forces of discipline for the perversion of the truth, the weakening of faith, the degeneration of the race, and the destruction of society.
Now, when rare attainments in science and charming literary gifts are used to discredit the Christian revelation, it is no time to yield to the sway of ignorance, no time to cherish dogmatism or sectarianism, and no time to rail at culture and scholarly research as being inimical to the faith of the Gospel. On the contrary, while we guard ourselves and guard our youth from an insinuating skepticism, we must seek sedulously those fountains of learning which flow fast by the oracles of God. The only sufficient antidote to a skeptical scholarship is a sanctified scholarship. It is the uncultivated and ill-informed whose misguided feet are caught in the meshes of infidelity. If a lack of knowledge suggests doubt, an increase of knowledge will remove it. The more skepticism there is in a community, the more the truth of God, scientific, philosophic, and theologic, needs to be diffused. There is no conflict between science and revelation, and none are so conscious of this truth as those who are familiar with the facts and laws of the natural world, and also with the spiritual domain of faith and experience. More knowledge, more research, more discipline; more humility, more consecration, more power with God in prayer, more comfort of the Holy Spirit—this is the defense, the victory, and the glory of the Christian Church. Good books and periodicals, thoughtful, scientific, devout, must be widely scattered and diligently read and pondered. The Christian man who does not read must be relatively unintelligent, and correspondingly narrowed in his realm of usefulness. An
unreading Church, in a reading age, must go to the very rear rank of moral forces; and it will even be found in opposition to some of the grandest of Christian movements. This is a reading age. Infidel books, magazines, newspapers, and tracts, not all of them coarse, vulgar, and repulsive, but many of them learned, polished, and persuasive, and well calculated to deceive and betray, are scattered by the millions throughout this land and in all lands. The most dangerous ideas and sentiments, calculated to subvert and destroy society itself, are thus diffused through communities and nations. This literature is the more dangerous because it is plausible and attractive, tinged with romance and adorned with classical allusions; because it assumes to speak with the wisdom of the schools, claims to interpret the great facts of history, employs the discoveries and conclusions of science and philosophy for its own perverted purposes; teaches doubt by suggestion, and destroys confidence by insinuation; assails the Church in a pretended concern for humanity, impugns religion in the name of reason, and blasphemously denies God because of an affected regard for morality and virtue. What, then, is our remedy and duty ? We must print and circulate good books—books which not only flash with the scintillations of genius, but which also throb and glow with the power and fire of the Holy Ghost. We inust exalt that system of science and philosophy which casts no disparaging reflections on the Christian doctrines, and indulges in no sneers at the world's Redeemer. We must devote our means and energies to the work of personal improvement, and consecrate our ripest culture on the altars of a Christian civilization. The highest scholarship must be sanctified to God and to the work of human redemption. This is the grandest field which opens to our godly endeavors, From the sanctities of our homes, from the sacred inclosure of our Sunday-schools, from the hallowed places of our Church Lyceums, and from the halls of our Christian colleges, must come forth the daring and enthusiastic knights of the Cross, not to rescue the Holy Land from the infidel, but to bring the nations of the earth into the grand symposium of the Gospel.
Two practical conclusions remain to be stated :
1. It is every man's duty to make the most of himself, to seize all opportunities for mental culture and growth, to use
books, papers, lectures, associations, and all kindred facilities for his improvement, to study diligently the Holy Scriptures with an earnest purpose of comprehension and edification, and
believingly for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify all knowledge and discipline to his growth, development, usefulness, and happiness.
Especially is this the duty of every member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; for the spirit of the denomination, from the inception of the grand movement, has been, first, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ; and, secondly, the best possible culture and development, and the wisest and most practical use of every talent, whether of endowment or opportunity, for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom in the earth. Its schools, periodicals, Book Concerns, and educational organizations have precisely this significance. “The higher education of her youth” is an avowed disciplinary object of the Church; and the necessity of seminaries, colleges, and regular educational contributions is recognized and enforced. The “Church Lyceum,” a local but important agency, has for its aim “mental improvement,” provision for schools and libraries, the dissemination of religious literature, assistance for young men called to the ministry in obtaining an education, and, generally, the fullest ministration which the Church can offer to the varied nature of man.” That particular society exhibits practical wisdom, and will reap a golden harvest, which makes the completest use of these provisions. The youth will be attracted and instructed, the charms of social comminglings will be added to the pleasures of intellectual pursuits, and the paths of learning, like those of holiness, will be directed toward the Zion of God. All will be interested, saved from frivolous and corrupting associations, refined in thought and feeling, and allied by pleasant and profitable intercourse to the Christian Church; and some, without donbt, will be drawn, not only to the house of God, but also to the altar of prayer, will be changed in heart and life, and will
“hy due steps aspire
That opes the palace of eternity.” 2. The Church of Christ, which has been the conservator of knowledge in the days of greatest darkness, which saved
ancient learning from founder and wreck in a turbulent sea, which has always gained her surest victories in uplifting and enlightening men, needs now, more than at any period in the past, to ascend every summit of science, to explore every field of knowledge, to speak in every dialect of culture, to use the facts in every domain of learning, to convert every invention and discovery into a resource of power, to rear her battlements on every beetling crag of philosophy, and to fill every realm of art and song with the brightness of her creations and the melody of her sacred hymns.
ART. IV.-SOME HISTORIC PLACES OF METHODISM.
FOREMOST of these places is Epworth, where the leader of the second Reformation first drew breath. In the flat lands of Lincolnshire, where in winter the eye fell on dreary wastes of water, and in summer ague reigned supreme, stood the poor parish town of Epworth.
The minister was that "rugged and granitic man," Samuel Wesley, who fought hard against poverty within doors and against “the rabble of his parish without.” In those days local politics ran high, and Samuel took sides. The other side fought him with weapons of the baser sort, and took full revenge on “the parson.” They stabbed his cows, cut off his dog's leg, broke down his doors, drummed under his window at night to ruffle him as he wrote sermons; they stole his grain, burned his flax, and twice set fire to his house. Few men worked harder, few fared harder. But he stood his ground, and when timid friends urged him to give up, he said, “No, 'tis like a coward to desert my post because the enemy fire thick upon me.” And so he held on, preached truth boldly, and eked out a scant living by parish rates and the writing of multitudinous, if not immortal, verses, over which thoughts and pen ran so rapidly that a day's work of two hundred lines was an easy task. Thrown into prison for a trifling debt, he lay in confinement three months. But even there he was far less concerned for himself than for his “poor lambs left in the midst of so many wolves." His brave heart did not sink, and