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thoughts, look upon the controrersies and conduct of bigoted sectarians, contending about modes of faith and forms of worship to the woful neglect of moral character; who cultivate not much — certainly not chiefest, “the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ?” Which is the truer way to reverence and honor Jesus, contending about Creeds, or aspiring to cherish his spirit and keep his commandments ?
It is pleasant, profitable, hopeful to receive a Chunder Sen, or a Mozoomdar from Hindostan, and hear them tell of Jesus and the good principles lie taught which his disciples ought to study and put in practice, instead of quarreling about their dogmatic creeds, and peculiar forms. It tells of an inward moving of the spirit, when those of differeing Creeds forget their narrowness, and meet, and greet, and eat with a Hindu heathen in a respectful, and almost fraternal manner at a comfortable breakfast. It argues well for the future, if it does not come quite up to the example of him who chose fishermen for his companions and ate with publicans and sinners, rebuking the scribes and pharisees, who, while pretending superior piety, were of the class wlio condemn and persecute, and prevent the real reformation of the world.
It is told of the beloved disciple, that when in banishinent on Patmos, many came to hin from the seren churches with complaints, differences of opinion, and subjects in dispute ; his invariable answer was, “ Beloved, love one another." Which of all the Creeds is inost willing to heed such advice, and obey Jesus ? Who can contrive and authorize a better rule ?
If it be asked, low Christianity can be sustained and extended without a dogmatic creed; it should be a sufficient answer to say, on the same principles, in the same spirit, and by the same means and methods Jesus employed, exemplified, and coinmanded during his ininistry among men. “ It is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his Lord. “ If any man (especially preacher), have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. As many as are led by the
spirit of God, they are the sons of God. If you love not your brother, whom you have seen, how can you love God, whom you have not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he that loveth God, loveth his brother also.” Love, not Creeds, is the fulfilling of the law. Suppose all who have named the name of Jesus had remembered to depart from iniquity, and to love one another, from the beginning, instead of contending about Creeds, what would have been and now be the condition of the Church Universal ? Suppose all Christians, regardless of Creed, name, or sectarian affinity, would join sincerely and lieartily before God, in a Covenant something like this:
Accepting the religion of Jesus Christ as a revelation of truth, duty, and destiny, and adopting it as our guide and rule of conduct, we confess ourselves to be his disciples, members of his church; and we do enter into a solemn covenant of fellowship and fraternity, promising to live in love, and in peace and good will towards all men.
Cannot all sincere Christians who love the religion of Jesus more than theories and systeins of men, conscientiously join in such a covenant, leaving Creeds, and forms, and names to per, sonal preferences, “having their faith to themselves,” but allowing them in no way to interfere with the " operation of the spirit” of love to God and man. What inore is needed to unify the church, and save the world ? The only name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved, will then supersede and be preferred to all other names, by all who love God with all their hearts, and Christianity more than self or sect. In due time the white stone and the new name will be given, and be preferable to the mark in the forehead. What else but pride and prejudice, name and Creed, keeps professed Christians in severance, too often inaking them uncharitable and scvere towards each other.
Dark and gloomy as the prospects of Christianity may seem to some, and severe as the attacks of unbelievers may be, there is ground to hope for its deliverence out of the wilderness through which it has long been wandering. Creeds are no longer the proof of actual faith, the tests of character, the measure of social esteem, or the assurance of salvation. No
sectarian is satisfied with another's Creed, nor many careful, honest, reverent thinkers with their own. Recently two na tional conventions have been held ; one of the “ Church Universal,” the other the “Universal Church." Both have been proposing and discussing amendments in ritual or profession. The latter, for ten years, has been worried over the changing of a single word. A compromise was reported by a committee which had it under consideration for years, which the members afterward confessed did not suit any of them; and it was referred back for further consideration. They had no Hosius nor Constantine to strike out the Iota. The assurance of hope gains strength from the fact, that no one sect longer thinks to slam the gates of glory in the face of every other Creed, but look with king and serene regards upon good people of all Creeds, and of no authorized Creed but their own. Prayers go up from every altar - prayers of faith it is hoped
to the one God and Father for the dominance of love, truth, righteousness, purity, peace and salvation in all the earth.
The attacks of infidelity, bold and resolute, do not harm Christianity, but rather strengthen it, and make it more vigorous. They show professors their faults, and the cause of their failures, and awaken them to see and move them to purge away the perversions and corruptions which have crept into the ministry and the churches, leading them to put pretension for reality, as if to deceive the people. From such conditions Christianity must be delivered, by a genuine and thorough reformation from dead works to a living faith. Christians must " walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love ; endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; that they of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of them.” A corrupt church, ministers or members, van never bless the world, or spiritually prosper. The greatest enemy of Christianity, is, and ever has been, nursed in the bosom of the church itself. It is the manner of dogmatie
teaching and sectarian living, and not, in the matter of truth and righteousness, as taught by the Master, that has hindered its progress and delayed its triumph. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Fidelity to God, conscience, and the law of lore, are far more essential and efficacious than a tame assent to Creeds not understood, the doctrines and commandments of men, and conformity to the traditions and formalities, substituted for devout obcdience to God and reverence for the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The leaven is in the meal. Many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increasing. Men and women are coming to see and acknowledge their true relations, duties, dependencies, and responsibilities, and to assert their rights. Names of Creeds may be still seen on church and college walls ; they are so faded by thic light of God, that they are little read and less cared for. Nations, like sects, are looking orer boundary lines with more generous regards. Kings and councillors ineet and talk of reducing armies, arid as fast as they dare, do it. Conquerors are no longer the great men, most fit to rule in civil governments. Swords are rusting in their scabbards, and spears are curiosities in museums. Pity schools should be kept to teach young men how to kill each other scientifically, or to preach the everlasting gospel by human Creuds. Kindness lives in humanity. Electric lights are sparkling through the darkness. Truth dominates error, virtue vice, principle policy, at least in thought and desire, and goodness must prevail. Creeds and platforms are disappearing before the coming day; when liberty, equality, fraternity sl:all prevail the wide world over. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth ; let the earth rejoice.
Theories which thousands cherish
Priss like clouds that sweep the sky;
Rev. W. S. Balch.
The Gospel of Perdition According to Joseph Cook.
One day not long since, while looking along my shelves for a book with which to make an hour profitable, my eye was caught by a volume among a series, its title being “ Boston Monday Lectures, by Joseph Cook — Orthodoxy.” It contains the author's course of lectures during the winter of 1877–8. The book has gone somewhat into obscurity, but is still as aggressive and able a book in the interest of what Mr. Cook is pleased to call “ Calvinistalistic Orthodoxy," or “ Improved Calvinism," as las come within the range of my knowledge.
During the time these lectures were being delivered I was on terms of friendly acquantance with Mr. Cook. In several private discussions I held with him on theological questions, I learned somewhat of the inside view of modern Orthodoxy. In those days I respected him as a man of conviction who tried conscientiously to do an opponent justice. I have still an admiration for his marked forensic abilities, but concerning his candor my opinion has undergone some modification.
I open the book at page 29 — a page I easily reinember. I read for the fiftieth time this ponderous sentence:
“ The failure to attain predominant love of what God loves and hate of what God hates is peruition.”
It is bis definition of perdition. How came that sentence to be made ? It came by growth, and no one save its author knows better than myself the process of its growth. In fact, I can, in a partial sense, claim to be its author. If Joseph Cook evolved it, I helped to develop it.
Some personal reminiscences are now in order. It fell to my lot to report one of his lectures for the Springfield Republican, and agreeably to an understanding I submitted to Mr. Cook my report. In reading it from my manuscript he came to these words (which I now take exactly from the printed record): “My definition of cternal punishment is that it is