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held to be the unwritten teachings of Christ and the apostles, preserved from generation to generation, and promulgated by the church. But tradition as the Council of Trent explains it, includes also interpretations of scripture which had been unanimously accepted by the Fathers, and dogmas and rules which had received the sanction of the church; and the whole rests ultimately on the authority of the church. This crude mass the Romish church imposes on the thought and life of the ages, as the gods put Aetna on Enceladus; and every turning and motion of human thought beneath its load produces volcanic disturbance. The Protestant believes in tradition; but it is tradition which acknowledges the written word as its source, and appeals to it as the sufficient rule of faith and practice; which is itself the meaning of the Bible, as it flows down through the ages in the Christian consciousness of the church, as it finds expression in the writings of theologians, in the creeds of councils and churches, in the teachings of parents and pastors, in the renovated Christian life, usages, and institutions of society, and the growth of Christian civilization. Protestantism puts the Bible into every man's hand to read and interpret for himself; but it comes with surer evidence, with richer meaning, with more diversified and far-reaching applications won from the thought and experience of successive generations. If "the meaning of the Bible is the Bible," the Bible itself comes down through the ages like a river of life, purifying, deepening, and broadening its waters as it flows.

6. While the church has historical continuity, it is in every generation as immediately connected with Christ and his Spirit, as was the first church ever planted. So every generation receives the immediate light of the sun. Christianity has to be received by each generation anew. It comes as new to this generation as to that of Christ. Christianity is never consolidated. Like light, heat, electricity, and vital force, it is perpetuated only as it acts, it continues only as it is perpetually renewed, it must be received afresh

by every one who feels its power. It is old, and yet forever new. It can never be antiquated. It is the same to every generation, as the sun climbs the sky every day, and the stars every night, fresh and vigorous as in the earliest days.

7. Hence the church in its very organization is adapted to human progress; it is receptive of it, and it quickens it. It is not a cast-iron organization, refusing all change and crushing all growth, but capable of existing in any condition of society and under any human institutions. It insists on the free circulation of the scriptures, the right of private judgment, liberty of conscience, the equal privilege of all men to have access to God, justification by faith. Hence it trains its members to alertness to discover and receive whatever light may break forth from God's word, to sensibility to whatever influences may come from the Spirit, to keen spiritual discerument, and to a lively sense of personal responsibility to bring their own lives into conformity with. God's will, and as much as in them lies to establish his kingdom on the earth. Hence it always has in it the power of revival and reformation, as fire always has in it the power of kindling. And whatever the intellectual and social progress of man, the church is able both to adapt itself to it and to guide and quicken it. Thus it stands in contrast with a hierarchical organization, which becomes by its massiveness incapable of adapting itself to new conditions antagonistic to human progress, and obliged to perpetuate the unchanged past in order to perpetuate its own existence.

VOL. XXIX. No. 113.




GOD's agency in advancing his kingdom is not extrahuman. Even his miraculous revelation was made in and through human history. The Eternal Word becomes the Redeemer of men only as he was made flesh and dwelt among us, under human limitations and in the courses of human history, working redemption. The redemptive energy of God, in each dispensation and in all its manifestations, works in and by humanity. Accordingly, in the dispensation of the Spirit, he works in and by humanity, and intrusts the advancement of his kingdom to his people. On them he imposes the responsibility of carrying the gospel to all mankind.

I. The Necessity of Human Agency.

Why is redemption dependent on human effort? Why does not God's love sweep over all human conditions, and extend his kingdom at once through the world?

1. This is only one form of the general question pertaining to the manifestation of the infinite in the finite. As such it transcends the limits of human knowledge. So far as we can conceive, God can manifest or reveal himself only by limiting or circumscribing himself. Every manifestation of the divine perfections, being through the finite, must be limited, incomplete, and progressive. At any given point of time in the manifestation, it must always be conceivable that a more complete manifestation might be made. This is as necessarily true of the manifestation of his infinite love in the redemption of sinners, as of the manifestation of his infinite power in the works of nature. The delay of

Christ's coming is no more an objection against the perfection of God's love, than the delay in the creation of man is an objection against the infinitude of his power. The existence of heathen on the earth to-day is no more an objection against the reality of Christ's reign of grace than it is an objection against God's government of the world. that there have been immeasurable periods when the earth was occupied by animals of a low organization, of which an eminent professor used to say, that he did not believe the time ever was when the Almighty reigned over nothing but bull-frogs. The great cosmic agencies act slowly.

Nor is any force added to the objection by the degree of limitation or incompleteness. Wherever the limitation is drawn around the works by which God reveals his glory, it is still a limitation, and the question recurs: "Why not more?" The worm, were it intelligent, would have no right to complain that it is not a quadruped, nor the quadruped that it is not a man, nor the man that he is not an angel, nor the angel that he is not a thousand times greater. Because the divine bounty is inexhaustible, every divine gift suggests the question: "Why not more?"

If this objection is valid, it proves that God cannot reveal himself in finite effects, that is, that God cannot act; in other words, that there is no God. It arises from attempting to scrutinize with the logical understanding the measureless grandeurs which are revealed to faith. Analogous objections would be met by one who should study the starry heavens with a microscope.

2. Dependence on human agency is involved in the historical character of redemption. God's redeeming grace can manifest itself only in human history. But, since it must be in human history, it must advance by human agency, and its advance must be subject to the processes and changes of human history.

3. The same is evident from the nature of redemption. If, indeed, God converts and sanctifies men by sheer almightiness, accumulating souls in his kingdom as one scoops

up sand in a shovel and throws it over a wall, it might reasonably be supposed that he would at once convert and sanctify all. But God's action on man is in harmony with man's mental constitution. "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." Therefore human faithfulness or negligence, human willingness or opposition, are to be taken into the account in determining the progress of Christ's kingdom.

4. This intrusting of the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom to human hearts and hands is itself the most beneficent and effective discipline in training Christians to love like Christ. There would be no training of men to the purity, the strength, and the helpfulness of Christlike love, if God by his miraculous energy should establish his kingdom, and leave his redeemed with folded hands to gaze indolently on his work.

We may draw from this fact a lesson for our own guidance as Christian ministers. Since God reveals himself and carries on his work of redemption in human history, laying hold of humanity and working through its thoughts, processes, and development, the same law governs our action in preaching his truth. It is not enough for a preacher to express his own thought and life. If his thoughts and his methods are foreign to the thought and life of the people, he cannot carry them with him, nor advance them in the divine life. The seed must take root in the hearer's heart. He alone preaches with power who grafts his thought on the thought and life of his hearers, and from and by these advances them to higher thought and life.

II. Characteristics of the Human Agency in advancing Christ's Kingdom.

The general principle is that already presented as fundamental in the constitution of the church: "Where the Spirit of God is, there is the church." In all our thinking respecting the human agency in the conversion of the world, we must conceive of the agency of God's Spirit as going

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