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the enormous advantages, the broad magnificence, the grand general effect of institutions where human nature, for the first time, is trusted with liberty, education, and plenty, and cultivate the poor satisfactions of a superiority based on criticism, doubt, and evil prophecies. A distinguished and most acute English visitor to this country told us, just before the war, that he had scarcely talked with an educated and thoughtful man in America who had not expressed doubts and fears of the success of our institutions. Thank God, the people have no doubts and no fears. Thank God, those who make and uphold our liberty, love it, trust it, and estimate it at its value, believe in its durableness. They have no misgivings of God's clear intention; no backward looks, no cautious apprehensions. And they are right; wiser, because simpler and more childlike, in their patriotism. They are animated by the fresh instincts, the original convictions, the startling realities, of a new era. And thus, while learned science, and thoughtful philosophy, and even grave experience, shake their heads and mutter, "Impossible," the mighty hope of the people, sure of God's willingness and help, attempts the impossible, and changes it into the accomplished. "I thank thee, O Father! that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
The great popular instincts of a new era in the life of man are the vast powers, the mighty discoveries, the wonderworkers, of the age. The multitude is doing for Christ the miracles he did for them. They, too, say "Peace" to the sea in his name; they, too, are in and out, where all doors are shut; they, too, repeat the Pentecostal marvel, and bring all tongues together, and make them alike intelligible to all. Like Joshua, they stop the sun, not to fight their battles, but to paint their pictures and perpetuate their friends. "Canst thou send lightnings that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?" asked the scornful Job; and the multitude now first is able to answer, "We can."—"Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea, or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" and the multitude now first replies, "We have." "Who hath laid the measures of the earth, or
who hath stretched the line upon it?" and the multitude again answers, "Glory be to God who has first given such power to men, in our own days."
The great and all-emboldening confidence of our time is, that the multitude-historically and naturally incapable of estimating human nature as it is, or suspecting their own latent powers, and therefore absolutely dependent on the delivering mercy and energy of the providentially awakened and inspired portion of the race has now got beyond this syncope and self-oblivion, beyond its dependence on any powers but God's direct inspirations through that same human nature, aided by all recorded revelations, which, to this time, be has kept in pupilage to indirect human instrumentalities. The multitude now elects its own teachers, judges of its own wants, chooses its own creed, rejects and accepts, on its own judgment, the propositions of the learned, the philosophical, and the exalted. Of course, it makes great mistakes, does very rash and injurious things, and gives skepticism and aristocracy abundant superficial arguments for their despairing creed. But what are all the mistakes it makes, compared with the astounding fact of an attempted self-government, an attempted self-education, an attempted self-reliance, on the part of the people? When, in 1858, we heard that a single sign had flashed across the Atlantic, what cared we for the stuttering and stammering of the instruments? The great thing was done; the miracle was wrought: and, had the cable parted the next moment instead of a month later, the bemispheres would not have moved an inch from the close moorings effected by that single fact. And so no wretched local rulers, no inefficient police, no insecurity of life and limb, no mistaken outbreaks of self-protection, no exceptional blots and blotches in the fabric of our prosperous, safe, and successful life of freedom, shall introduce one ray of despondency or doubt into the patriotic conviction, that-measured by positive, not by negative standards; measured by the sum of intellectual, moral, and physical activity; by the amount of happiness, intelligence, and virtue; by openness to improvement, by tendencies to truth, by humane sympathies, by religious aspi
rations—the multitudes were never, in human history, so little an object of compassion, so much an object of hope, confidence, and joy, as here and now.
If our hearts swell with pride and gratitude at the contemplation of this truth, let us not conceal, let us not fail to blazon the fact, that it is God's power manifested in man that has brought about this result; let us not forget how entirely it is the Divine wisdom that has planned the great drama of human history, and which is now permitting us to see the beauty and benevolence of the plot, and the bliss of the consummation. Let us not forget that, because it is God who is working in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, it is all the more our bounden and grateful duty to work with him, to work indeed with a new kind of fear and trembling because of the greatness of the inspiration and the enormous importance of the task; to work, in short, as the high-hearted projector, the original supporters, the scientific operators, the officers and sailors, of the Atlantic Telegraph Company worked, when, after repeated failures and terrible difficulties, they at last laid in silence and amid prayers, but with herculean toil and almost deadly anxieties, God's bond between the nations, God's bow under the sea; not dissolving and inconstant like the first which was over it, but a steadfast sign from heaven to our generation, that no deluge of ignorance, barbarism, and despair shall ever again cover the hopes, the interests, and the destiny of a United Globe and an inseparable Human Family.
It is important to understand, and frankly meet, a modern frame of mind which makes the gospel of Christ, and all distinct profession of it, distasteful to some enlightened and religiously inclined persons. This frame of mind utters
itself in a complaint of narrowness against the whole idea of revelation, miracles, personal authority, and binding example, — against rites and forms of any kind, however simply administered or interpreted. Christianity, it is now asserted, has too strait a gate and too narrow a way for the breadth of modern intelligence and the width of recent spiritual and scientific discoveries.
In short, it is complained of Christianity that it is not as broad as Natural Religion, in that it mingles historical facts, personal experiences, local geography, external authority, miraculous evidences, and outward forms with those general principles, absolute ideas, and universal experiences which natural theology gives us in her own great abstract and sublime way, and so narrows and particularizes religion. Of what importance is it, it is asked in this spirit of superior breadth, where truth comes from, if it only be truth; or goodness, if it is only real goodness? Why are virtue, justice, charity, piety, any better for being Christian than for being Buddhish or Mahometan or Judaic or wholly Natural? Is the golden rule any more binding, or any more beautiful, for being taught by Christ than if it had been (as indeed it is claimed that it was) taught by Confucius and Menu? And what advantage is there, the objector continues, in going to God by the way of Christ, if we can, more conveniently to ourselves, get to Him by any other way? People that never heard of Christ must find God by some other road, if they find him at all; and surely it is very narrow to affirm, or even to think, that none have attained the knowledge of God without the knowledge of a Saviour who came from heaven only eighteen hundred and sixty-six years ago, and the world is now at least six thousand years old. Besides, some of the Jews did know God without Christ; and we ourselves improve even our Christian faith by reading David's psalms and Isaiah's holy prophecies. If the knowledge of God, and the love, adoration, and obedience which the study of his character nourishes in man, be the sole object of religious quest, then certainly the help of Jesus Christ may gratefully be accepted in making this search; and the
most unqualified naturalist in religion would not deny the value and importance of Christ's life and teachings as a means of knowing God. But what they would complain of is that any insistence should be put upon the use of this special means as in any way indispensable, imperative, or authoritative. They would have Christianity put into the market with other religions, and with other means of religious growth and culture. If it is a better article, it will command a better sale. If it is more serviceable, people will find it out and use it. But, if anybody prefers Judaism to it, or Mahometanism or Buddhism or Platonism or pure theism, why should Christians take offence or make any stir about it? All things do not suit all people. Some most readily find religious and worshipful thoughts, they tell us, in looking at the works of nature. The stars, the forest, the ocean, speak for them a language more divine than any book. Others discover in theories of intuitive morals, or in Mr. Emerson's essays or Mr. Carlyle's hero-worship, a finer moral and religious inspiration than the New Testament affords. Still another set find, in the study of color and form, their completest revelations of a divine beauty, and choose to let their worship flow on the Sunday from the point of a pencil or a paint-brush, rather than from a hymn-book or in acts of common prayer. Still another variety find the microscope and the scalpel more religious than the font and the communion table. They see God in the infinitely small, and discover the hidings of his power by untwisting the fibres of the plant or the tissues of the human body. Another class declare that they find a ramble in the fields, a play with their children, and a pleasant time with their comrades quite as religious as a seat in a Christian church, or the prayers and praises of a demure and unsmiling congregation. Beyond all these, a growing class of minds and hearts, claiming still more breadth and intelligence, are now beginning to doubt whether religion in any form is not a narrowing thing, whether what is called natural religion is not merely a little less narrow and superstitious than what is called revealed religion. Some not immoral people of our day, and not ignorant and uneducated persons