תמונות בעמוד

nothing else than, according to their theory, the outgrowth of the Christianity which they despise and contemn.

As an indication that "the cycle in which the complicated interests of Christendom are now revolving " has not in our modern life reached its completion, I shall quote an able passage from an author who has only recently passed away from the position he adorned as well as filled :

“What a wonderful century (eighteenth) was that which we have left immediately behind us! How immense its accumulations of knowledge, skill, and power! How boundless its provisions, if only guided by the spirit of the gospel, for the future triumphs of humanity! Political freedom, studied with a depth and an earnestness, a reduction to first principles, and an intense conviction of its necessity before unknown--a colonization that might diffuse the best thoughts and feelings of Europe through the world-a philanthropy that has ceased to recognise any distinction of race or colour, and that burns to carry the motives and the consolations of religion into the bosom of the slave and the savage on every shore-a productive industry adequate, if well directed, to feed, and clothe, and surround with the comforts of a home the entire population of the globe-art vanquishing all obstacles-science carried by the perfection of its instruments and its calculations into the deepest secrets of the material universe-civilization no longer regarded as the accidental privilege of a nation or a class, but embracing in its aims and its tendencies the collective interests of the race! Such agencies—the enduring effects of the century that is gone-are now in operation around us. If we look for their primary cause and animating principle, we shall find them in the spirit of Christian earnestness and freedom awakened into new life by the Reformation. If we inquire how they are to be conducted to the best results, and guarded against the mischiefs of too sanguine a reliance on the resources of human wisdom, we must equally reply, by Christianity."

The civilization of modern times has its force imparted from the heights from which it descends. And even though its streams, like that of the Rhine, divide and dispart, and seem to be cut off from each other and absorbed in the sands it has brought down in its course, it is not released from the impulses, got in the Alps, of its origin. Modern life is full of the influences of Christianity; even the infidelity of the day owes its freedom of speech to the gospel it rejects; even the independence of individual life which so many use to their own undoing is derived from the gospel and the civi. lization on which the gospel insists. Our laws, our polity, our social customs, our treaties of rights, our moral philosophy, directly or indirectly, receive from Christianity all that makes them best. And sad indeed is the lot of man

" Unless he feel
Some source of consolation from above,
Secret refreshings that repair his strength

And fainting spirits uphold." * J.J. Taylor, B.A.-Lecture on the History of Christianity, pp. 26, 27.


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The gospel is adapted to modern life in its political relations. The gospel reveals the purpose of God, and the force of the purpose of God endures through all ages. "He is the Almighty and the All-wise, and He has taught us in the gospel the first principles of human happiness, and given us the law of human brotherhood. It is the believer in the gospel alone who can properly affirm,

“I know that through the ages one unceasing purpose runs. The secret of the continuous current of human affairs, that which speaks to the Christian of

“One far-off divine event

To which the whole creation tends," is that God has inspired the whole history of man with purpose and progress ; and that past, present, and future are alike under His power, and bound to effect His design. “God in history " is the only unriddler of the enigvias of civilization. In the great predeterminations of Deity this is not an orphan age. W are not cut off from the law and effects of causation ; we are not, in our times, deprived of the efficacious providence of God. “The history of the World is one of God's own great poems;” and we may be well assured that He who commenced the magnificent epic of civilization will not leave its concluding stanzas to be written by chance, or drivelled out by circumstance and the philosophy of positivism.

« Of all the creatures both in sea and land,
Only to man hast Thou made known Thy ways,
And put the pen, alone, into his hand,

And made him secretary of Thy praise." It is because man is the instrument and agent of the will of God -a free agent, working out the divine necessity of history that we can say to God,

“What seemed an idle hymn now speaks of Thee.” The gospel is adapted to modern life socially. Social life is the life of active communion and communication. Its prosperity and happiness lie in tbe heart. The gospel purifies the heart. The gospel reveals the true end and purpose of life. It informs us that God designs us to be fellow-workers with Him to make men happy, and requires us to do unto others what we would that they should do unto us, in order that we may live at peace with all men, may cease to do evil and learn to do well, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God. It provides a sure and efficacious law for the government of the entire relations of life, a law which, unlike all other laws, is not a law of constraint, but of restraint, a law which does not negatively probibit the doing of evil, but positively enjoins and efficiently causes us to delight in the doing of goud. In this the gospel is pre.emioently adapted to modern life in its social relations, when the etiquette of the heart is supplanting the etiquette of fashion.

The guspel is adapted to modern life individually. The great characteristic of modern life is its individual independence, its reverence for personal freedom. Emancipation has been the order of the day. Slaves have been manumitted, serfs have been made freemen, the liberties of individuals have been extended, and in general the vast polities of the earth have been found to be most safely built on the independence of persons. In this relation of the question there are a few rarely wise words from the lay sermon of Coleridge, which it is surely right to quote:-“In the Bible every agent appears and acts as a self-subsisting individual; each has a life of its own, and yet all are one life. The elements of necessity and free will are reconciled in the higher power of the omnipresent Providence, that predestinates the whole in the moral freedom of the integral parts. Of this the Bible never suffers us to lose sight. The root is never detached from the ground. It is God everywhere, and all creatures conform to His decrees; yet so that morals spring from faith, while, faith presupposes knowledge and individual conviction. In this way the sacredness of personal opinion, and the responsibility of each for what he believes to the divine Master, protects in its integrity the individuality of each human being.

The gospel is adapted to modern life morally, Moral life is, after all, the most important in a practical point of view. In modern life morality is all-important. It is the foundation of true indi. vidual independence, of genuine social happiness and well-being, of commercial prosperity, of civic honour, of political uprightness, and of national greatness. The aim of the gospel is to form the character aright, to make man acquainted with the divine philosophy of life and things, to bring the beart and therefore the actions of man into harmony with the law which rules and regulates the universe alike of matter and of mind. The gospel is given to concentrate the whole of life into one divine unity-love,-going forth upwards in love to God, going round to the utmost circumference of human influence in love to man. The gospel comes to purify man's actions, thoughts, and feelings, to relate bim to the eternal law of duty to which he is made subject as a creature. How then can the gospel be, by any possibility, otherwise than adapted to our age, and to every ager Theodore Parker has very truly and beautifully said, "The conceptions we form of God, our notions about man, of the relations between him and God, of the duties which grow out of that relation, may be taken as the exponent of all the man's thoughts, feelings, and life. They are therefore alike the measure and the result of the total development of a man, an age, or a race. If these things are so, then the phenomena of religion, like those of science and art, must vary

from land to land and age to age with the varying civilization.' But this change of accidental form does not necessarily imply essential difference. The moon changes from rounded orb to crescent wan,

but is still the same. The daily sun performs the circuit of the sky, and annually passes through all the course marked by the signs of the zodiac, but it is the same sun which gives the glimmer of a November day, and pours the blazing radiance of July over the panting earth. Religion, then, may change in its phenomena, and yet retain its essential sameness ; nay, it must change; for its very essence is to alter men's characters, and inspire their lives with a new and true life in God. As men endeavour more and more to bring their life into harmony with the laws of God in nature and the will of God in grace, civilization must change, and men must change with it. This, however, brings the adaptation of the gospel nearer to the spirit of man, so that it enters into the very forms of life, and interpenetrates the customs of society. Then it does not exist apart from the life, but becomes part and parcel of it; and it may be we lose sight of it by this very incorporation, which, like the air taken into our bodily frames, is received fresh and suitable, is inhaled almost insensibly, is found fully and finely adapted to our wants and states, at the same time that it becomes corrupt by the corruption we impart to it. The gospel is the divine inbreathing without which modern life could not exist.

The gospel as it appears to us, as it presents itself to us, is the instrument of God for the moral government of the world. “Every scripture inspired by God" (we adopt Dean Alford's revised version of the passage)" is also profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for discipline which is in righteousness ; that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Tim. iii. 17). Nothing can be plainer than this ; so far as modern life aims at completeness and thoroughness, so far as it should be disciplined in righteousness, the gospel is adapted to effect the purpose, ---80 adapted that nothing else can rival it. It is the inspired book of God, it claims supremacy over man in all ages, under all circumstances, and during all time. It cannot be dispensed with, cannot be superseded, cannot become effete. It is the wisdom of God and the power of God, and how can such a book be otherwise than adapted to the true and perfect development of man throughout the whole duration of this form of the universe ?

" The word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. i. 25). We therefore affirm that the gospel is adapted to modern life.

A. A.


This is a question of questions for gravity, and the reader has undoubtedly already begun to knit his

brows and to ask what terrible infidel he is who is about to venture on maintaining that the gospel is not adapted to modern life. But in this has not the reader been a little too hasty and rash? Has he read the topic for debate with care and intelligence ? Has he looked at it as it is, without having a foregone conclusion in his mind? The subject presented to us in this question is the gospei, and by the gospel we presume the suggester of the debate intended the Bible, in a somewhat loose signification of the term, for Bible and gospel are by no means really synonymous. Bible did originally signify book, as Chaucer in the “Chanones Yemanne's Tale," says

“To tellen all wold passen any bible

That o [any] wher is.” But the term has now come to be almost exclusively applied to the Old and New Testaments by way of excellence, so as to indicate that it is the Book which contains the most important communications which can be conveyed to man--the revelation of the dealings and purpose of God with and in regard to man in his creation, preservation, and salvation. But the gospel is a word of less general import, as we may show our readers by the following extract:

“What the word evayyéılov in Greek, which we render gospel, signifies among authors, is ordinarily known, viz., from tū and áyy ww, good news, or good tidings. Thus the angel speaks of the birth of Christ, Evayyeli Sojai úuiv xapàv peyúlny, I bring you tidings of great joy, i.e., very joyful good tidings. Only in this sacred use of it there seems to be a metonymy or figure very ordinary, whereby the word which signifies good news, is set to denote the history of that good news, the birth and life and resurrection of Christ, which all put together is that joyful news or good tidings.

And so this word godspel, or by euphony gospel, in Wycliffe's translation, and ever since, notes these good tidings delivered, as first by an angel, and after that by the apostles by word of mouth ; 80 here in writing by way of history also, and in brief signifies that blessed story of the birth, life, actions, and precepts, promises, death, and resurrection of Christ, which of all other stories in the world we Christians ought to look on with most joy, as an evayyé cov, or good word, i. e., a gospel.

The gospel in the foregoing passage is clearly defined to be the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ. There is, however, a unity so great, and a consecutiveness of purpose so remarkable, in the whole Scriptures, that we have no desire to take any advantage which the use of the word in its restricted sense might give us ; and we shall suppose, therefore, that the Bible is meant.

The words “ adapted to modern life” may perhaps be para, phrased into " able to exert an influence-direct, immediate, and tangible- -on the habits, manners, and customs of men in the condi. tion of society now prevalent; capable of being brought into living harmony and effectiveness with the state of civilization to which the nations of Europe have now attained.” We do not know, of course, how far the advocates of the affirmative may incline to go in their idea of appropriateness between the Christianity of the

* Dr. Henry Hammond's Paraphrases and Annotations on the New Testament, Annot. I.

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