« AnteriorContinuar »
lars. We have a familier instance in the tenacity with which nany are holding to old evangelistic methods merely for the reason that they were the methods of our fathers. Most pastors of commanding churches are urged by brethren who believe themselves set to conserve the oldtime faith, to the use of means in revival work which we know will re. tard rather than advance the kingdom of God. The only reason that should be given for any methods is that they are efficient. To persist in their use when they cease to throb with life is to burn incense to a serpent of brass, which in the wilderness was an instrument of healing, but at Jerusalem is Nehushtan.
We have another illustration in the discussion which is agitating the Church concerning the individual cup in the administration of the Lord's Supper. We have no disposition to champion the new method; experience in its use leads us to the belief that it degrades the divine service to a question of pots and kettles, and conceals rather than reveals the Lord's body. But to reject it on the ground of the sanctity of the old form is rank phariseeism which confounds a rite with the truth it enshrines. As a matter of fact, our canonical form is not that our Saviour gave us.
It was the growth of sacerdotalism that took the administration of the elements from the priestly head of the family and gave it to the clergy. It was the dogma of transubstantiation which brought the communicant to his knees before the sacred host. Doubtless it is possi. ble to retain an idolatrous form without the idolatrous spirit; but to make any form a holy thing is idolatry itself.
Still another instance of the pharisaic spirit in the Church is seen in the all but idolatrous adherence to the letter of the holy book. The letter is no more holy than the paper on which it is printed. The divinity of our Bible is not its pure Hebrew and Greek speech, its correct grammar, the accuracy of its science and history, por the uncorrupted preservation of its original text. What makes our Bible divine is that it is the Revelation of God, bis law, his salvation, his purpose, unfolding to us Him and ourselves and our destiny. In this respect it stands in solitary splendor among all other books and is properly speaking THE BOOK. But the things about which Biblical critics are concerned, important as they are, are still not Revelation. There is no need of our contending about them as though the Gospel of the Son of God were to stand or fall with them. Those who do, have the Pharisee's conception of the divinity of forms, which must necessarily lower the tone of their spiritual life and darken their vision of the Truth itself. But he who gets from the Bible the revelation of what God is and what he means is at once lifted out of "an incredible mechanism of words and rites " into the life of God. We name another particular in which we begin to feel the presence
of the Pharisee. When the Church seeks a more elaborate service in public worship, and one appropriate to its advanced growth, the Pharisee would cast it in ancient molds. He even commends the use of the Apostles' Creed, the oldest and poorest adapted to the expanded life and
thought of the Church. We have no objection to the creed per se any more than we have to the stencilings on the walls. But why make a form which is so meager, so false in name, so inaccurate in some of its statements, and so uncertain in others, the word in which the worshiper voices his faith? To argue its sanctity on the ground of its antiquity is the very cant of phariseeism. Bishop Vincent's statement of the doctrines of grace is infinitely better.
The Pharisee furthermore lays a withering hand on personal liberty in private matters, such as dress, food, equipage, amusements. He mi. dutely defines what is and what is not lawful. He forbids things which once were associated with evil, even when that evil is eliminated and the reason for the prohibition has ceased. It thus makes virtue a barren and lifeless negative.
The limit of these pages forbids further specifications ; and those we have given are possibly too meager. But I am sure that I have not stepped into the arena to face a man of straw. The Pharisee is with us, clad in the garments of a holy traditionalism, using the fair speech of the fathers, zealous for the forms of the heroic days, austere in his morality -beautiful as the chiseled marble mausoleum. But in his heart are the moldering bones of a dead evangelism. If ever our Methodism outlives its evangelism, and ceases to be a revival Church, there is no longer any reason for its continuance. It is what Renan once said of the Hebrew Church, “a walking skeleton which bas survived the blow that slew it." Newark, N. J.
ALEXANDER HARRISON TUTTLE.
PREACHING BOTH SIDES OF THE GOSPEL.
Is relation to current reforms and questions of the day the minister needs to preach a whole Gospel. The heavenward side of the Gospel concerns itself with theology, with the mutual relations of God and man, and with those more distinctively abstract and supernatural themes which arise from man's other-world affinities. These heavenward aspects and relations are the philosophic and revealed biblical bases of man's duties both godward and manward, and in every well-balanced scheme of preaching are always first to be taught and emphasized.
But it is none the less to be recognized by the pulpit that these things are given simply as the foundation for our present-world practical living. Duties to our fellow-men, to the visible kingdom of God on earth, and to society at large are the vital, practical outcome of the heavenly vision. We are not told of the life hereafter, of God in redemption, and of a judgment to come for our mere intellectual or imaginative gratification, but with a matter-of-fact view to practical righteousness here. The teaching of theology only becomes valuable as it relates itself to the performance of the duties of righteousness in the life that now is. To teach men of God means nothing worth while, except it practicalize itself in the teaching of the cardinal moral virtues.
It is the temptation of the preacher to dwell too much upon one or the other of these, upon either the heavenward or the earthward aspect of the Gospel. If a moral coward, he takes refuge from the duty of reproving and exhorting men with all authority and doctrine, as Paul says, by speaking wholly upon the theological aspects of his message. He nego lects application. He does not say, “Thou art the man." He dwells habitually in his ministrations in cloudland and the heavenlies, and thus escapes antagonizing the miser, the liquor dealer, the dishonest church member in the pews before him. He preserves his stay among the people with whom he dwells, but at the cost of one half his loyalty to his divine message. On the other hand, the mere humanitarian and the sensationalist, while he may preach popular sermons on the sins of the time, yet, because of his lack of having laid the foundation of moral duty in a just view of man's relation to the supernatural and eternal, lacks authority for his message. It is simply as the crackling of thorns under the pot, and comes with no thus saith the Lord” and its deep appeal to man's moral nature.
Jesus preached both sides of the Gospel. He dwelt often on the scenes of the final judgment, on man's supernatural birth, on the divine fatherhood, and on the heavenward outlook of man's life. None the less did he preach against the Pharisee, the hypocrite, the bigot, the extortioner, and the man without mercy or love ; and he did this so cogently that it at last cost him his life. No minister can by any possibility preach more of politics—using that word in its best sense- -than did Jesus. He was a preacher of righteousness, with the most directly personal and practical bearings and applications in his discourse that we can conceive. Had he lived in our day, he would be at the very forefront of the reforms in respect of labor, temperance, civic righteousness, and the like, simply because all he said regarding his father was with the design of effecting the brotherhood of man.
Away, then, with the idea that a minister is preaching the Gospel only when he dwells on the divine side of religion. The human is the practically important side The other is its sanction and basis ; but he is a coward who takes refuge in a declaration of mere abstract principles, and shuns to warn men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. Let ministers preach a whole Gospel.
J. C. JACKSON. Columbus, o.
A NEW HYMNAL,
THE watch-cry for the twentieth century has gone forth—“Two million converts and two million gold eagles,” to which we respond with a hearty “Amen! and a new hymnal.” From the first Methodists have been famous for vigorous and joyous singing. We are in danger of losing our preeminence in this respect ; indeed, some would say we have lost it. If so, it can and should be recovered. We cannot maintain an acknowledged supremacy, however, without constant and persistent effort.
Our Aim.—Why do we sing in our services? What end do we wish to attain by our church music? Is our aim “high art?” Then let us secure quartets of skilled musicians and pay their price. Is our object to dazzle the spectators? Then we should gather large choruses of superior voices, and to these add expert soloists. If our purpose, however, is to enkindle thought, to subdue hearts, to inspire loving worship—then let all the people be encouraged to sing and be taught to sing. Let them sing " with the spirit and with the understanding also." We regard church music not as an end but as a mighty instrument for accomplishing the grandest possible result, the salvation of men.
Requisites. — To accomplish the purpose at which we aim certain conditions are necessary. Our pastors must not be ignorant, indifferent, and haphazard in their management of this part of public worship. They must appreciate this important means of grace, must love holy song, and know how to secure it. Our theological schools are doing good work. We only wish that they might do more. At any rate our ministers in their pre-graduate, graduate, or post-graduate courses should learn some things. They should, for example, be familiar with the English Bible, should understand the elements of public prayer, know how to conduct a funeral service, run a prayer meeting, and how to manage the church music. These are some of the things a pastor ought to learn, even if he is deficient in ancient philosophy and dogmatics, or is not up to date on evolution and the higher criticism. Another indispensable condition of real success is a weekly singing class in every church for at least two terms of ten or twelve weeks in the year. The first money that the committee on music expends should not be for an organist or a chorister, but for a competent teacher for the children and young people. This school should be graded. The beginners, after they have learned to read music, should be promoted into an advanced class, and from this class the best singers should be graduated into the choir. In many places the children do not attend the preaching services, or if they do attend, they are not interested in them. If, however, we teach them to sing, and give them to understand unmistakably that they are wanted in the congregation to assist in the service, we shall secure their presence and the singing will be a success. The smaller and the more feeble the church, the more this system is needed. Another important though not an imperative need is a good choir. By a good choir we mean a well-balanced company of trained men and women who love to sing the Lord's songs and, because they have the Christian spirit, love to help others to sing. The gifts and labors of our church choirs are not always appreciated. Their services are usually gratuitous and their work is trying. We should pray for them in public and in private, and give them judicious encouragement. People frequently say to a pastor, “We enjoyed your sermon very much;” or, “Your discourse was helpful.” Such words of appreciation are encouraging to a pastor, and would be also to a chorister, a soloist, or a member of the choir, Other means can be devised to show that the efforts of these persons, whom God has endowed with unusual musical gifts, and whom he has called to lead his people in holy song, are duly appreciated. A choir is not indispensable, but it is often desirable, and if we have one, we should aim to have a good one.
A Suitable Hymnal.—This is of the greatest importance. It may be claimed that the present book is a good one. We grant this, and yet it is not altogether suited to the needs of the Church. The revisers of the English Bible did not undertake their work because the King James version was not a good one, but because they believed that a revision was needed, and that they could make a good book better. We advocate a revision of the hymnal for the same reason. The Methodist Episcopal Church has always furnished its people with a good hymn book. The ancestor of the whole family, published by Robert Spence, of York, England, was a good book. It was adopted by Bishops Coke and Asbury for that very reason. It was “revised and improved " and copyrighted by Ezekiel Cooper in 1802, because it was so good a book that other publishers began to print it. It was augmented by Bishop Asbury in 1808. Dr. Bangs reedited and again improved it in 1821. Then it was republished with a supplement in 1836. Dr. James Floy and his associates, a committee of seven appointed by the General Conference of 1848, revised it again and greatly improved it, and Dr. Buckley, chairman of a committee of fifteen appointed by the General Conference of 1876, and his fellow-workers edited our present hymnal. This book has been in use twenty-two years, longer than any previous revision except that of 1849, which the bishops of that day thought would last "for generations," but which really gave satisfaction less than one generation. Dr. Buckley, in the Quarterly Review of 1876, page 323, expressed a similar hope concerning the present book, but it was an unwarrantable expectation. One generation cannot do the work of another. We provide for our needs and our children will do the same. A progressive Church ought to revise its hymnal at least once in twenty or twenty-five years. The present hymnal is too large and cumbersome It weighs nearly two pounds. A quarter of a century ago church hymn books, as a rule, contained ten or twelve hundred hymns and sometimes more. They have been revised since then and greatly reduced in size. The old Plymouth Collection contained 1,374 hymns. The new Plymouth Hymnal, 1894, contains 638 hymns. The Baptist Hymn and Tune Book, of 1868, contained 1,518 selections. The Baptist Hymnal, of 1883, has 704 hymns. The Church Hymnal, Protestant Episcopal, 1889, has 679 hymns, and the Hymnal for Congregational Churches, 1898, contains 724 selections. The value of a hymnal does not depend upon the number of hymns it contains. Hymns Ancient and Modern, probably the most popular hymn book ever published—a million copies a year were sold for more than twenty years—contained in the enlarged edition only 473 hymns. The Coronation Hymnal, 1894, edited by Drs. A. J. Gordon and Arthur T. Pierson, contains but 408 selections.