« AnteriorContinuar »
facts. They read ideographs, not ideas; “characters ” (though this is a foreigo term), not books. After your literary Chinese candidate has kept you awake till the “wee sma'” hours of the morning with his diligent studying he stares at you in blank amazement if you venture to ask him the meaning of what he has been reading. “Meaning! As if it were not sufficient toil to learn the form of the characters and the order in which the author has placed them!” Searching for the idea is as strange to him as riding a bicycle. No Chinese scholar, no matter how learned he may be from the purely native standpoint, can read a book on religious or scientific topics in our sense of the word unless he has been personally instructed either by the foreigner or by the foreigner's pupil. The ideograph is a splendid instrument for locking up ideas so that the living teacher becomes absolutely indispensable. A lad who has studied ten years in a mission school is able to teach a viceroy in reading the modern newspaper printed at Shanghai. And unless the idea is securely locked away in an abstruse style the Chinese graduate casts the book aside as trashy. Opinions differ greatly among missionaries as to what may or may not be expressed by the use of the ideograph, but the slowness with which Western ideas bave spread among the reading Chinese shows plainly that the task of getting an idea into ideographic composition is not so great as the task of getting it out. A bright young student of our Anglo-Chinese College was asked to consider the following proposition and give his opinion: “Two Chinese lads, equally intelligent, begin their studies when eight years of age, one studying by means of the ideograph (so-called classic '), the other through the medium of the English language, of which he knows not a word to begin with. Now after ten years of equally diligent studying, under equally able teachers, these lads are called up to read the Bible to an audience in their native village. Which is likely to read more intelligently?" (Of course in both cases the “reading” means translating.) His reply was, “The boy who has studied English.” To add another incident by way of explanation. One of our oldest ordained native preachers recently spoke with much delight of the benefit he was receiving from having his daughter read to him the well-known tract called The Christian Secret of a Happy Life. He said, “I never saw the Scriptures made so plain before.” “But,” I said, “that book has been translated and printed in Chinese these ten years.” “Ah,” he replied, “it is all so new and fresh. I know it has long been in print, and I have it in my library, but it seems when any. thing good is put into our ideograph the meaning is blunted, or runs auay." “But you do not read English," I replied. “No, but my daughter does, and she just talks it to me in my native dialect; it is truly good!” The longer I am in China the more I am convinced that the good has in a large measure been the enemy of the best—that China must have an alphabetic literature before sweeping reforms can be inaugurated. The ideograph is used for essay writing, for poetry, calendars, edicts and proclamations, deeds and mortgages.
The moment one attempts to write something not coming under these heads the war of words begins, and ideas are expressed approximately-"aimed at.”
If a second question is asked it is likely this: How is it then that this literature now begins to produce such encouraging results ? I reply, because of the prolonged presence and labors of the living teacher and interpreter, and because of the multitude of his pupils. In a word, the ideograph would have been limited for all time to come to the above uses had it not been for the emancipating energy of the mission schools. But to this day it remains a disputed question whether this emancipation does not cost more time and labor even now than it would cost to teach the Chinese—what the race was three thousand years in learning-to say A, B, C. Antau, China.
LINCOLN AND TEMPERANCE.
Five minutes after reading Lincoln's temperance address delivered at Springfield, Ili., February 22, 1842, I happened to pick up Mr. Thompson's delightful article on " Abraham Lincoln and Temperance,” in the Review for January, 1899. But I could not help wondering how he could assign Lincoln's references to the drinking usages of society to “later years ” than 1859 (page 11), while it is a part of the speech from which he quotes on page 15, and which bears date 1842.
It seems to me that it greatly strengthens Lincoln's position and Mr. Thompson's article to remember that at the age of thirty-three years Lincoln was fully aware of the breadth and strength of the drinking customs of society, and of the force and effects of public opinion ; and that his position was deliberately chosen and publicly declared ere he began to ascend the ladder of fame. That he had weighed all these matters carefully, and counted the cost accurately, appears in that same speech when he asks a man “what compensation he will accept to go to church some Sunday and sit during the sermon with liis wife's bonnet upon his head !” Lincoln continues, “Not a trifle, I'll venture. And why not? There would be nothing irreligious in it, nothing immoral, nothing uncomfortable—then why not? Is it not because there would be something egregiously unfashionable in it? Then it is the influence of fashion ; and what is the influence of fashion but the influence that other people's actions have on our own actions—the strong inclination each of us feels to do as we see all our neighbors do ?”
Now if we sandwich this between his description of the drinking customs of bis day and his prophecy of their final overthrow—as Lincoln did—and remember that they were all delivered in the same address at the beginning of his public life, we shall have a still clearer insight into the sort of stuff Lincoln was made of.
WILLIAM POWICK. Manayunk, Philadelphia, Pa.
THE ITINERANTS' CLUB.
PUTTING OFF THE ARMOR.
On Sunday, November 19, Dr. R. S. Storrs sent to the congregation of the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, his resignation as its pastor. Like his colaborer for a quarter of a century in the same city, Dr. Cuyler, he steps aside from the path which he has so long trodden when he feels that his strength is no longer equal to his great responsibility, and cheerfully accepts the order of Providence at the time when there is no friction or dissatisfaction on his part or on that of his people which should lead him to lay aside his task. His letter begins with the keen regret with which he finds himself unable to conduct his usual services, and continues:
“It is, as you know, more than fifty-four years since I entered on the public ministry of the Gospel, in October, 1845. For fifty-three of these years, since November 19, 1846, it has been my singular happiness to be the sole pastor of this distinguished church, without associate or assistant, except as honored brothers in the ministry have successively supervised our fruitful mission work in the chapel, and have otherwise rendered occasional important service. Continuing health on my part, with your continuing kindness, and with the constant favor of God toward us, bas made this long active pastorate possible.
“In the last two years, however-since the great sorrow, of which you know, broke suddenly into my life--I have been not infrequently aware that the self-renewing force, mental and physical, in which I had before rejoiced, had been seriously diminished, so that duties, at home and abroad, always till then delightful, were becoming laborious, while especially the initiative and stimulating impulse of the pastor in church activities, constituting perhaps his most important function, was plainly beginning to surpass my strength. ...
“It has thus become apparent to me, under these admonitions, that, on this anniversary, before any further warning of weakness, I ought to resign into your hands the pastoral office which your fathers and grandfathers so long ago committed to me, and in the fulfillment of whose duties has been hitherto the gladness of my life. I do, therefore, hereby so resign it; and ask you promptly and cheerfully to accept the resignation and to unite with me in whatever measures may be needed to ratify and complete it.
" Beyond this release from duties which are evidently ere 'long to be impossible for me, I desire, my dear friends, to leave everything concerning our future relations entirely in your hands. If it should be your united desire that I remain connected with the church as its pastor emeritus, ready to perform any desired occasional services, while wholly freed from general responsibility, I shall cordially accept that arrangement. If, on the other hand, it shall seem to you wiser, as easily it may, that my relation to the church be henceforth only that of a private member, leaving to him who shall come after me a position wholly unembarrassed by any remaining official character in myself, I shall fully accept your thought concerning it and sympathetically approve your action. My only desire is that the Master's work shall continue to be done here as we together have striven to do it amid the changing environments of the past; that under a leader of earnest faith and unknown vigor, in whom your hearts shall safely trust, and on whom God's blessing shall abide, the church which we have together loved and served may face with new consecration the many duties and front without fear the many problems to be encountered in years to come. It is not for me longer to lead in its collective movement, to put needed energy into its ever-enlarging work, to guide it through or over the swells of influence, adverse or helpful to the Gospel, which are to surround it, or to try to make it an ever-fresh power for beauty and welfare in the city.
“If to-day were offered to me choice of a pathway in life the most alluring and rewarding, I should choose none other than that which has been given me—the pathway of a Christian pastor, joyfully trying to bring to men the grace and glory of the Lord's Gospel. If the choice of any place for Christian labor were again set before me, I could choose no other than this city, so long the object of my joyful affection and pride; than this church, in which my heart's life bas so tenderly and deeply been garnered up.
"May God still have us in his holy keeping till the end of life on earth has come, and then open to us in his unspeakable grace the gates of the immortal temple, and unto him be all the praise.”
It is too soon-and may the time be far distant-before it will be necessary to write the biography of this distinguished preacher of the Gospel. It may be well, however, for younger ministers to note some characteristics of the man who has laid aside his armor with such dignity and grace and sweetness. In giving an estimate of Dr. Storrs it is well to remember that his whole life has been spent in preaching to a congregation well known for its culture and liberality. He has had his difficulties, of course—all preachers must have them yet he has had but little contact with the rougher side of life. He has never been a frontier preacher, among people gathered from various nationalities, nor has he ministered in struggling churches. Perhaps critics will say that he has been a preacher to the classes rather than the masses—
it being a wellknown fact that the contributions of his noble congregation to the welfare of humanity during fifty years have been one million five hundred thousand dollars. His environments have undoubtedly molded the character of his preaching, and have given him opportunities for the culture of a literary style quite unusual.
Perhaps the first characteristic, therefore, by which Dr. Storrs has been known is that of finished address. He has not employed large words, nor has he been guilty of pedantry in pulpit utterance. But he has manifested a classic diction and a clearness of thought and expression which belonged to the ancient Greek culture. His mind by nature and training is refined, and in his preaching he has expressed the rich truths of the Gospel in rare language. It has been thought that his style has been too finished for the mass of people, and yet all who have heard him, whether learned or ignorant, have been impressed that he is a model preacher of the Gospel. In style he stands among our American preachers as Canon Liddon among English preachers, both of them being scholars and cultured in thought and diction, with the one marked difference between them, that Canon Liddon uniformly read his sermons, while Dr. Storrs has preached without notes.
Further, it is worthy of note that Dr. Storrs in the midst of his pastoral labors has produced literary works which have been highly esteemed. The following among his writings have been mentioned by the press: Graham Lectures on the Wisdom, Power, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Constitution of the Human Soul; The Condition of Success in Preaching without Notes ; The American Spirit and the Genesis of It; The Declaration of Independence and the Effect of It; John Wycliff and the First English Bible; Recognition of the Supernatural in Letters and Life; Manliness in the Scholar; and The Divine Origin of Christianity Indicated by Its Historical Effects. It is to be observed that these and other writings have not been the result of an ambition for literary success on the part of Dr. Storrs, but have been followed in the orderly course of his studies of the sacred Scriptures and cognate topics. Throughout his long life he has been first and chiefly a preacher. His literary work has always been subordinated to his main purpose to preach the Gospel.
He has also been profoundly interested in missionary work, and as the President of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions he guided its affairs with remarkable success in the midst of great difficulties. As a citizen of Brooklyn he has ever been held in high esteem. He has shown a great wisdom in his relation to public affairs. While never partisan in political affairs, on questions of public interest he has been heard with great satisfaction. His citizenship has been broad and courageous, as he has identified himself with what he has regarded as the best interests of the people.
It is not the purpose of this paper to analyze the character or services of Dr. Storrs. It is too early to do that. He is not yet laid aside from work, but is only putting off the armor of the public responsibilities which he has borne so long, and is thus enabling himself in a quieter but not less useful way to go on working for his Master. We simply call attention to his resignation as an important incident in modern Church history. It is no insignificant matter, in these restless times,