« PoprzedniaDalej »
fall into the hands of ambitious men, seeking chiefly for distinction. It may prove to be more social than devout. Methodists need to remember that in holding this Council they are placing themselves and their Church in the focus of the world's observation. Methodism will be on exhibition, and will be studied, scanned, and criticised as never before in its history. There is no place in such a Council for platitudes, and no demand for oratory. There is some practical, earnest work to be done which will benefit the Church and hasten the glad hour of the world's redemption. This object, this chiefly, this only, now demands the brain and heart of Methodism. Mr. Gladstone, in his short speech after his great Mid-Lothian victory, said :
What we have now to show, gentlemen, is that we can use the strength which we have shown ourselves to possess, and that we can turn the victory we may be said to have obtained both here and elsewhere to good account for the common and universal benefit of our country.
So, in this Ecumenical Council, Methodism, now conceded to have strength and ability to achieve noted triumphs, must demonstrate to the world that she can use her resources wisely, that she can turn her victories to good account, and that she has learned how to employ her wealth, culture, influence, piety, organic life, and practical expedients, for the benefit of mankind. Great responsibility rests on those who have the authority to appoint the delegates to this Conference, and even greater, perhaps, on the general Executive Committee, which must make a programme of exercises, indicate the topics to be considered, and select the men who are to present them to the Council.
Methodism is not only world-wide in extent, but many-sided in development and Christian work. To carry religion into all the affairs of life and to make every secular thing sacred, has been its fundamental purpose. Methodism, therefore, has vital relations to the home, to the school, to citizen-duties, to reforms, and to all missionary modes. Methodism has peculiar means of evangelization, such as camp-meetings, an itinerant ministry, and the employment of the lay element in the Church for the performance of certain ministerial and pastoral work. How far these may need to be modified or adjusted, so as to secure the greatest efficiency, are legitimate questions for an Ecumenical Conference. How Methodist unity may be maintained, increased, and made manifest to the world, is an inquiry of great importance. It is possible that a common psalmody, a common liturgy and order of worship, co-operation in missionary work, the perpetuation of a general executive committee, a pastoral address to the Methodism of the world, and Ecumenical Conferences at stated periods, are among the things contributing to that end which may be realized. The safety of small craft in a turbulent sea will not, perhaps, be increased by having them lashed together; but they ought to be within hailing distance of each other, and to have a wellunderstood system of signs and signals, to which each and all will be ready to respond. Methodism cannot afford to have her smallest ship sink, while there are abundant resources in the whole squadron to bring every galley which floats her flag at its mast-head safely into the harbor. We heartily concur in the conclusion, reached by the Committee of Correspondence, that a Methodist Ecumenical Conference, while not imperiling the autonomy of any society, “would produce a salutary visible unity; would bring the stimulation and strength of a great growing body to each of the several parts; would secure a wiser and less wasteful expenditure of the resources and energies of the Church ; would make the practical experience of each body the property of all; would demonstrate the adaptation of Methodism to every demand of Christ's cause in every part of the earth; would combine the strength and influence of all Wesleyan organizations against the giant sins and wrongs of the age; and would impart new impulses of spiritual life to Christendom und the world."
This ultimate Protestant unity—the practical co-operation of all who are in Jesus Christ by faith—must be kept constantly in view as the great object to be realized. This is the convincing argument for the Messiahship of Jesus. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” To show that love to the world is the business of Christendom. When it does this, thoroughly and effectually, the world will speedily be saved. “Great as the Presbyterian Church may be," said Professor Patton, in his sermon before the General Assembly, “in that for which she is distinguished, she is greater still in that which she shares in common with the Christian world.” So also of Methodism. Great as this movement is, in its peculiar usages and distinctive features, and worthy as it is when thus considered of the world's study, it is greater stil! as the conservation of the common orthodoxy of Christendom, as a revival of that spiritual life which is possessed, to a greater or less degree, by all bodies of Christians, and as an aggressive agency against that Antichrist, in whatever form revealed, which is the deadly antagonist of the whole Church of God.
We shall only discover the true and wide significance of such convocations as the Pan-Anglican Convention, in Lambeth; the Pan-Presbyterian Convention, in Edinburgh and in Philadelphia; and the Methodist Ecumenical Conference, in City Road Chapel, London; when we see that the ultimate consumination must be a confederation of Churches, a practical union of the several tribes of our Israel in one godly commonwealth, a spiritual and powerful republic, which shall demonstrate to the world that the invisible and divine oneness of all who are in Christ, of whatever denominational name, is more real, effective, and available for the maintenance and extension of the truth of God and the victory of the cross in all lands, than any enforced uniformity in doctrine or discipline, or any array of ecclesiastical machinery with a pretended infallible head. When Anglican Episcopal Convention, Presbyterian PanCouncil, Methodist Ecumenical Conference, world-wide Baptist Association, and other bodies of similar import, can speak in the name and with the authority of the great Churches which they represent, there will soon come to be, not only a growing feeling of fraternity, but also more practical exhibitions of the common brotherhood of worship, work, and warfare for the common object of the world's evangelization. In a word, our children will see, if we do not, a Parliament of Protestantism, aiming not at uniformity, but rejoicing in spiritual unity, helping the coming, and heralding the advent of the millennial glory.
It is a mistake to suppose that this Protestant unity will be at the expense or sacrifice of denominational integrity. The several bodies of Christians will still exult in all that is grand and heroic in their history, will still cling to their respective confessions of faith, and will still maintain their own peculiar forms and usages; but every one will admit every other one's
right to be, and every one will discover that no single Church organization has all the excellencies, or has found out all the best appliances, for doing the Lord's work. The same spirit will prevail which characterized that memorable Church Council of which we have an account in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, that only council which had the right to say, “ It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us," and uniformity will not be exacted, and no unnecessary burdens will be imposed; but liberty will be guaranteed, and diligence in doing the work of the Lord will be enjoined. “The multitude of them” will not be of one name or of one belief, but they will be of one heart and of one soul ;” and the more persistently they speak the same thing, the less will there be of divisions, oxiquata, among them, and the more closely and lovingly and perfectly will they be "joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Cor. i, 10. All that is needed to this glorious consummation is the catholicity of Archdeacon Hare, when he asserts, “ If the body holds to the one Head, and is connected by the one faith, and is sanctified by the one baptism, it is a Church before God;" the self-sacrificing love of Calvin, expressed in the words, “I should not hesitate to cross ten seas, if by this means holy communion might prevail among the members of Christ;” and the brotherly spirit and wise, statesmanly evangelism of Wesley, revealed in his declaration, “I desire to have a league, offensive and defensive, with every soldier of Christ.” An organic union, even of Churches of the same faith and order, is not the objective point of our endeavors; but that we may all discern the things in which we agree, the precious treasures which we hold in common, the one grand indivisible work which we have to accomplish, and the completeness which we realize and manifest more and more as we grow up into Christ, our living Head. With this discernment will come a Pentecostal baptism, an increased strength and fervor of religious experience, a more aggressive movement against the powers of darkness, greater spiritual successes in all lands, and a speedier inauguration of the new earth and heaven.
Art. V.-THE GREECE OF TO-DAY.
New Greece. By LEWIS SARGEANT. Finley's Greek Revolution. The Hellenic Factor in the Eastern Problem. By Hon. Wm. E. GLADSTONE, M.P. Among the nations of antiquity Greece, though not the largest of the galaxy, is the brightest and most attractive. It has been her peculiarity and boast to be a microcosm of letters and art, of refinement and eloquence. Though often eclipsed and clouded like the sun, her nationality has never been destroyed. She has buffeted with hostile peoples, overcoming and being overcome, from the earliest times, but in the midst of saddest vicissitudes her spirit and genius have survived and reappeared. To-day, after three hundred years of barbaric Turkish rule, she lifts her proud head among the powers of Europe, like the little horn in Daniel's vision, and forces recognition as a factor in the Eastern Question that cannot be eliminated or waved aside. Though denied a representation in the person of a Greek embassador by the great powers at the Congress of Berlin, in 1878, she yet compelled a concession and recommendation from that imperial body that her domain shall be enlarged to an extent corresponding nearly with her ancient territorial limits.
No intelligent tourist considers his European or Oriental trip complete until he has seen Greece, and especially Athens, its capital. Nor is this country a point of attraction to the idle and curious merely, who travel for personal gratification or in search of health. Thinkers, historians, statesmen, and Christians are looking at Greece at the present moment with absorbing interest and exhilarating hope. Mr. Gladstone, by some thought to be the greatest living statesman, has recently written an important article on Greece for the “Contemporary Review,” taking the ground, as Daniel Webster did before him, that natural right and political justice require that her national independence should be conceded and guaranteed. The leading writers of England are in deep sympathy with the Hellenic cause. There is scarcely a number of the many stately “Reviews” of that country that does not contain an exhaustive discussion of some aspect of the Greek problem. And in all the diplomatic consultations it obtrudes itself. It is the "irrepressible conflict.”