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enables them to enrich their schemes of natural religion with all the ethical and spiritual wealth of the contents of the Christian religion. On the whole it is a question whether you can produce the fruit when you have cut down the tree. Apart from Christ, Christianity does not amount to much. Take the risen Christ away, and what have you! Take away the Christ who can help, and save, and bless men to-day, and you have taken away the essential and distinctive characteristic of Christianity, and what remains is not worth fighting about.
The religion which undertakes to do without the supernatural is no religion ; neither has the nature nor can do the work of a religion. The British government clerk who, a few years ago, leaped into repute as an author with his book on Social Evolution, was quite correct in saying that there never can be such a thing as a merely rational religion. “It is a scientific impossibility, representing from the nature of the case an inherent contradiction of terms." No belief is capable of functioning as a religion which does not contain supernatural elements and provide super-rational (not anti-rational) standards and sanctions for the regulation of human conduct. Precisely the one essential which makes a real religion is belief in the supernatural. And Christianity is the supreme religion, largely because it has most authentic and impressive supernatural tokens that it comes from God.
The reductionists who desire to dispense with the Lord of life and King of glory cause a recent writer to remark that “We perceive how inherently hopeless and misdirected is the effort of those who try to do what Grégoire attempted to make the authors of the French Revolution do-reorganize Christianity without believing in Christ.” In a letter dated Rome, 1859, Mrs. Browning wrote of meeting “Theodore Parker, who has been writing a little Christmas book for the young to prove how they should keep Christmas without a Christ.” In such an attempt neither youth nor age could feel any more enthusiasm than Mr. Hale's Man Without a Country would feel in celebrating Washington's Birthday or the Fourth of July.
The searching and critical mind of George John Romanes at last confessed, “It is Christianity or nothing;” and it is equally clear that the choice for mankind is either the undiminished superhuman Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, as well as the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, or agnosticism and the blackness of darkness forever.
AN UNAPPRECIATED BENEFIT OF LITERARY STUDY.*
LITERARY study is as necessary to the preacher as biblical study, though not for the same reason nor to the same extent. Indeed, it is indispensable in order that a man may have insight into the human heart, sentences that may be quoted with tremendous effect, and a breadth and comprehensiveness of culture which will save him from sciolism, narrowness, fanaticism, and will give him a genial and large-minded view of life and the world. Even if for no other use than as a quarry for illustrations, literature is of more value than all books of illustrations. For this purpose alone Shakespeare is worth all the homiletic commentaries which a famous publishing house not a hundred miles from Astor Library has been circulating among the clergy with a diligence worthy of a better cause. It is not, however, of these uses of literature that we now speak, but of the value of the study of literature for its influence on the preacher's style.
If it be said that in a Church like ours which cultivates extemporaneous preaching there is no occasion for this benefit of literary study-that it may be needed by preachers who use a manuscript, but not by those who preach offhand-we answer that this is a hasty conclusion; for certainly the man who forms his sentences while speaking needs the power to utter himself with force, simplicity, and perspicuity, if not with elegance and beauty; and one important source of that power is a thorough knowledge of the English classics. In fact, the extemporaneous speaker needs to be specially reinforced here, because he has not the leisure and quiet of his study in which to give his thoughts their most effective expression. Every moment it is either now or never with him. If he speaks clumsily, confusedly, with repetitions and expletives, he has no opportunity of correcting himself. He thus mars his message, and in that measure destroys its power. And if he is wordy and thinks that his extraordinary verbal gift will take the place of literary discipline and fit him for preaching, he deceives himself. He is swamped in words; there is no point nor sting in his sermon, and men come away as if from an entertainment, saying, “Words, words, mere words; no matter from the heart.” If the preacher wishes to speak well and strongly, let him saturate himself in the English classics. Henry Ward Beecher and Richard Salter Storrs are illustrations of what literary study can do for extemporaneous preachers. From other fountains of power these men had indeed drunk deeply and
*An address delivered at the annual meeting of the Browning Club of Drew Theological Seminary.
long, but this they had not neglected. Is it not possible that the decline of churchgoing is due in a measure to the lack of skill and strength and beauty in the manner of utterance on the part of extemporaneous preachers? The preacher must do two things at once: he must give forth thoughts that are true, fresh, stimulating, interesting, and edifying on themes that have been threshed a thou. sand times, and he must do this in a style that is clear, effective, and attractive, and this to the same congregation twice a Sunday year after year. If he fails in either thought or style, he does not reach his highest success. From such a burden as that Atlas might desire to be excused. As a matter of fact, many extemporaneous preachers are in style tedious, repetitious, feeble, and sometimes even vulgar. And this may have something to do with the lapse of some from church attendance and the transference of others to churches where a different method of sermonizing prevails.
Does anyone here say, How can you speak to us of the value of literary study in forming our style as preachers, when this club is devoted to the study of a poet who has attained preeminent success, one might almost say, without any style at all, or with a style so crabbed, obscure, difficult, and rugged that it reminds one of the sacred writer's description of primeval chaos—a world waste and formless where darkness was upon the face of the deep? We answer that Browning is not without use even in this humble ministry of which we speak. A study of many of his poems will serve to give terseness, clear-cut energy, and virile strength to style, just as the study of Longfellow, Lowell, and Tennyson will serve for other qualities. Indeed, in that great masterpiece which this club has been studying this winter, “The Ring and the Book," there are passages as splendidly beautiful as any in Tennyson. And, again, Browning has so many other qualities which make him worthy of study that he must be listened to in spite of his Æschylus-like style, craggy and frowning. Mr. G. Barnett Smith states the secret of Browning's appeal when he says: “As a poet Browning is distinguished for his capacity in the creation of real men and women, and also for the depth of his spiritual insight. His lyrical faculty, dramatic energy, and power of psychological analysis have rarely been equaled. Besides being one of the most erudite of poets, he has intense human sympathy and high imaginative gifts, and a profound and vigorous faith.” Now, when the preacher can present those gifts, or their equivalents in his own sphere with like wealth, then he may without fatal injury imitate Browning in his obscurity of style.
That literary expression ought not to be despised by a religious teacher can be easily illustrated by examples. One of the chief reasons for the power and attractiveness of that great manifesto of Episopalianism, Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, perhaps the first book of distinction in modern English prose, is its style. That has preserved it and invests it with continued influence, while Presbyterian
works written against it have been forgotten. This also is in part the secret of Jeremy Taylor and John Howe, and in a less degree Richard Baxter. They knew how to write, and so they live to-day. It was a matter of vast importance that when Methodism was born she had a leader who could explain' and defend her teachings in a style which for clearness and force has never been excelled. Fletcher was not the equal of Wesley in this regard, but when we remember he wrote in a foreign tongue the smoothness and strength of his style is remarkable. Besides, it was Methodism's incalculable loss that in those formative years she had not a race of preachers whose culture and intellectual power were equal to their zeal and orthodoxy. The late Professor George R. Crooks said that the loss to evangelicalism of Sir Walter Scott on account of the crassness and coarseness of the evangelical preachers whom he heard was in its historical influence of more moment than the adhesion of thou. sands of lesser minds. Methodism assuredly has been called to more important work than literary culture. But, after all, our loss in this respect has been a real one. To win the strongest minds we must be able to attract and feed the strongest minds. Speaking now of books which illustrate this literary failure on our part, we do not fail to recognize their many and noble excellencies in other respects. Contrast the late Dr. Kidder's Homiletics, in this matter of literary expression, with Professor Hoppin's Homiletics, or with that book of marvelous virility, suggestiveness, and attractiveness, the late Professor Shedd's Homiletics and Pastoral Theology. This last was a master mind steeped through and through in the study of great books. Or in systematic theology compare our Methodist standards -we mean in this matter of style with Professor Shedd's Theology, or even Hodge. How lucid, strong, interesting is Professor Shedd! This one merit will give his Calvinism a life it would not otherwise have. In fact, how much of the influence of Calvin's Institutes in the Reformation period was due to its marvelously pure and forceful Latin we may never know.
In the matter of preaching our plea receives reinforcement from great examples like South, Barrow, Taylor in their day, and from Robert Hall and Chalmers in this century. Even the strong, homely, vivid style of Spurgeon is an illustration of what poring over books of an elder age in English theology will do. He immersed himself in the Puritan divines of the seventeenth century. But he did not confine himself to them, as he was an ardent reader of Shakespeare. Perhaps the most notable example of literary power, however, is Frederick W. Robertson, whose sermons may be taken as at the same time a perfect instance of beautiful, unhackneyed, effective expression, and a strong, living, real message of the Gospel to the age. A most remarkable instance of the power of literary culture is New England Unitarianism. Compare the writings of Channing with those of Samuel Worcester and Moses Stuart. The books of Channing are reprinted in cheap form and circulated by thousands to this day, while the abler and sounder treatises of the old orthodox divines are forgotten. It is by their literary distinction alone that the sound of the Unitarians has gone out into the world-Channing, Parker, Hedge, Longfellow, Lowell, Chadwick.
To all young ministers we say, If you would make your sermons strong, interesting, forceful, perspicuous, give your days and nights to the study of the English classics, especially to the masters of English prose.
JOHN ALFRED FAULKNER. Madison, N. J.
THE SADDUCEE IN METHODISM.
In the March-April Review there is an article from the facile pen of Dr. Tuttle on "The Pharisee in Methodism.” Without specially controverting the positions assumed by Dr. Tuttle, it may not be out of place to call attention to the fact that the Sadducee is in Methodism, as well as his ancient enemy, the Pharisee. Now, the Sadducee denied the authority of all revelation, and was skeptical with regard to the miraculous and supernatural. He gave himself up to ease and self-indulgence, accepted Greek culture, and viewed with indifferent liberality the laxity of heathen morals and even idol worship. It is not surprising that Jesus was not a Sadducee. "They were widely and hopelessly asunder. The dividing line was an impassable gulf.” They were the materialists of our Lord's day, and believed in neither angel nor spirit.
The broad-gauge Methodist has his prototype in the ancient Sadducee, and in these days one does not need to go far to find him. He is ready to throw overboard all the old methods simply because they are old, and to take on new ones simply because they are new. He does not stop to inquire whether the new method will be a success; to know that it is new is enough. Though the old methods still "throb with life" whenever they are faithfully used, and, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, instrumentally cure all that use them in sincerity and in truth, they are discarded, though the people die of the serpent bite of sin. The Sadducee can get along with many cups, one cup, or no cup at all, for with him the Lord's Supper is meaningless. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ has no atoning merit, as it was not necessary that any atonement should be made. The fall of man was a fall upward, not downward.
As to the Bible, the Sadducee regards it as a venerable volume, to be respectfully treated, but largely, if not wholly, a human produc. tion. His view of the Bible is properly characterized by Dr. Storrs in one sentence: “ 'Thus saith the Lord,' which commanded our fathers' immediate assent, now means to many, 'Thus saith somebody, nobody knows exactly who, reported by somebody else, of the correctness of whose report we can in nowise be certain."" The Sadducee boasts about holding no idolatrous views of the letter of the book, and it really contains for him no law that is binding or rule of faith that he must adopt.