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SCHURMAN'S AGNOSTICISM AND RELIGION. AGNOSTICISM AND RELIGION. By Jacob Gould Schurman, President of Cornell Unie
versity. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1896. 12mo, pp. 181. Price, $1.00.
This little book, from the pen of the brilliant president of Cornell University, consists of three lectures of a somewhat popular nature, delivered on three different occasions.
The first deals with “Huxley and Scientific Agnosticism"; the second considers “Philosophical Agnosticism"; and the third expounds "Spiritual Religion: Its Evolution and Essence."
These lectures exhibit, in a marked degree, the author's well-known qualities of vigorous and original thought, and of a clear and expressive style. At every turn the philosopher appears, and an elevated rationalism of an idealistic type breathes in all these lectures. In each of them there is much of interest and value, if for no other reason than to show the direction of much of the best philosophical thinking of the present day, and the attitude of this thinking towards the churches of the age in which we are living.
It is to be regretted that the general tone of the author, as it appears in these lectures, should be so much opposed to the views of religion which have been his. torically regarded as evangelical. This appears in the concessions made to Husley in the first lecture, in the inferences which appear in the second, and in the assault upon creeds found in the third. We seriously doubt if a defence like this really defends the Christian faith; and we are inclined to think that, if these views prevail, there will really be little in the Christian religion worth defending. It is a defence which consists largely in capitulation. We regret to have to say this of such an able and brilliant author. Louisville, Ky.
FRANCIS R. BEATTIE.
ELY's SociaL LAW OF SERVICE. THE SOCIAL LAW OF SERVICE. By Richard T. Ely, Ph. D., LL. D., Professor of
Political Economy and Director of the School of Economics, Political Science and History in the University of Wisconsin. New York: Eaton & Mains. Cincindati: Curts & Jennings. 1896.
This modest volume will add to the fame of Dr. Ely as a thinker on social and economic questions. Its chief merit consists not in the proposal of a new view of social service, but in the hearty acceptance and vindication of the position that. present-day social problems must find their solution in evangelical principles and their evangelical application. Addressed to “those who accept Christ and his gospel,” it is admirably adapted to stimulate the Christian conscience to a better performance of admitted social duties and to the practical recognition of new obligations ever emerging from the growing complexities of modern social life. As a stimulus to serious thought touching many of the perplexing social questions of the dny, it might well be placed in the hands of under-graduates in our colleges, serving them as an introduction to the nascent science of sociology. Popular in style of treatment yet rich in thought and elevated sentiment, this little manual manifests at once the truly Christian and the truly scientific spirit.
Social science forfeits all claim to scientific method by ignoring the supreme
social fact. The title, The Social Law of Service, is thus significant. It implies the essential social nature both of the subject of the law and of the authority from whom the law proceeds, and finds the bond of union between the two in the divine image impressed upon the subject at his making. Social law finds thus its ultimate basis, not in any abstract principle, but in the vital relations implicated in the eternal fellowship of holy love of the Tripersonal Jehovah.
Our anthor finds the only “firm foundation" of social service in the altruism of Jesus, supreme love to the Supreme Other, and self-equal love for all others in him. The law of service is the “categorical imperative," not of abstract reason, but of incarnate love, love fulfilling the law for us, before us, and in us. This supplies what all merely rational theories lack, authority, practical potency, and promise of attainment. Here we have absolute certainty, comfort, and steadfast hope. The religion of Jesus alone makes true self-sacrifice possible and rational ; alone renders reforms and reformers safe by furnishing on the one hand an enduring hope, and on the other restraints against resort to methods of force and the propaganda of anarchy.
Our author next vindicates the absolute superiority of “our point of view," thus attained by a brief yet incisive criticism of certain rival claimants. Christ is the first genuine philanthropist, stands without a rival as the full and efficient revealer of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
His teaching touching the infinite worth of every human individual, and our endless mutual obli. gation to reciprocal and universal benevolence stand in sharp contrast to the inhumanity of the most humane of the ancients; to the purely individualistic, selfcentered, morality-destroying ethics of Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Stoicism.
“Without philanthropy there never would have been a Christian Church, and without Christ we would have had no philanthropy.” The partial anticipations of Hebrew ethics form no exception; their social laws being derived from pre-incarnate disclosures of the law of love on the part of the eternal Word. The incarnate Christ realizes, universalizes, intensifies and elevates the social law of the effete dispensation. “The whole spirit of the Old and New Testament teaches us that we must strive for national righteousness and help to carry out God's purpose, which is to make the kingdoms of this world God's kingdom. But how does Christ's law of service stand related to individual happiness? The great ethical law of indirection applies here. Our desire for happiness is natural and legitimate; yet we lose it, if we seek it directly. Self-sacrifice itself when viewed as end and not merely as a means of service, issues in unloving and self-hurtful asceticism. Self-forgetting love is the secret of Christ-like self-denial and also of true individual well-being.
The self-indulging tendency of our day is a rebound from the excesses of asceticism, a change from bad to worse. Dr. Ely thinks that “it is better for men to be called upon even by superstition and false religion to make self-sacrifice than to lead a life of self-indulgence.” He exhorts us to see to it that at any rate religion is for us something more than “a graceful and pleasing appendix to life.”
Our attention is now directed to the sacraments of Christ's church as embodiments and illustrations of social law. The social significance of baptism and the Lord's supper is most marked, and yet it has lost its due relative importance for us. Their Godward and manward sides are inseparable; neither must be neg. lected; and on their manward side they mean the solidarity of the family and the fraternity of all believers. “The Godward side of the Lord's supper draws us to heaven, and bids us contemplate in humility the infinite, yearning love of our Father, revealed to us in our blessed Lord and Saviour. The manward side draws us to our fellows, and bids us love men as Christ loved men."
The fact that the social import of these ordinances is well-nigh lost to many finds explanation in a low and inadequate appreciation of the fundamental fact of "social solidarity.” What is solidarity ? Dr. Ely tells us that its import has not yet been fully grasped, though the fact is most patent to every observant mind, and its recognition forms one of the most remarkable features of the Bible. It means the common weal of man, oneness of human interest, dependence of man upon man, both in things good and evil. “It implies not only fellowship in interests and responsibilities, but that unity in nature which is brought before us by the expression ‘human brotherhood.'” Their reciprocal dependence is traced into every department of our common life, physiological, intellectual, political, economic. At the same time our author escapes the snare of Mr. Benjamin Kidd by properly accentuating the supra-organic character of the social organism. While the fact of solidarity relieves the weak and erring of part of their individual guilt, on the whole, it increases individual responsibility immensely. We are responsible, to a certain extent, for all the poverty and sin and suffering about us. Who, then, from this point of view, is “our neighbor "? Theoretically, every man; practically, every one who needs our help. Our author indicates that it was an age of materialism that asserted the all-sufficiency of unrestrained selfinterest, and attempted to restrict economic inquiries to the one question, how to produce the greatest amount of wealth. But the wisest of the ancients asked, How may such economic and social relations be established among citizens as to render them good and happy? And we, in wider range of ethical obligations, are beginning to ask similar questions.
The present widening and deepening of the range of ethical obligation rests on a basis of solid facts, such as the extension of international connections, the free movement of capital, the growing feeling of brotherhood among wage-earners. The favored classes are, to some extent, trying to atone for the shortcomings of past centuries; but they should also seek to quicken the conscience of wage-earn
"The downward movement in the extension of the range of ethical obligations has, in recent years, been stronger than the upward one. Like all others, working people have been thinking too much about rights, and too little about duties."
By an easy transition we are led to consider the vast importance, in relation to the betterment of our fellows, of the state, wise legal enactment, and organized effort. Our political life in the United States is deemed so unworthy because the true idea of the state, as a divine institution having its basis in human nature, has been to so large an extent obscured. It is the duty of the church to instil Christian principles into our entire public as well as private life. “Let all Christians see to it that they put as much as possible, not of doctrine or creed into the state constitution, but of Christian life and practice into the activity of the state. The nation must be recognized fully as a Christian nation."
Then follows a well-deserved scoring of certain modern thinkers, who, in opposing remedial legislation, prate about "making men good by law.” The efficiency of the method of indirection employed in such legislation is fully vin
dicated by reference to the conditions of social and family life, the security afforded to person and property, the regulation of industrial life, the basis of successful popular education. “The universal and compulsory education established by law renders the Bible accessible to all, and thus the law becomes indirectly a means of grace."
Laws should be not only negative and repressive, but also attractive and persuasive. We have followed too exclusively the Roman method, to the neglect of the Greek and Teutonic, and especially the Mosaic system.
“The inadequacy of private philanthropy,” in relation to social reform, is here insisted on and illustrated. It “plays an essential role in all higher civilization, and when it is modest and unassuming, and deprecates all sounding of trumpets, it is truly a glorious thing." But reform must be accomplished by established, regularly-working, responsible institutions, served by individual effort and strengthened by private philanthropy. Education, sanitary reform, industrial improvement, Sunday rest, belong to this category. Private effort finds its chief field in individual cases requiring individual treatment; in ministering to the temporarily needy and distressed ; in assisting in improving the action of public agencies; it must precede legislation and make it possible, and enlighten public opinion with a view to the enforcement of good laws.
The three concluding chapters relate to individual economics. * Our Earnings." The ancient praise of moderation is repeated. As an ideal, it means the avoidance of hurtful desires for large acquisitions and those many practices which spring out of bad dispositions, together with all diligence, thrift, and right effort to acquire a competence. Making money at the expense of life and health of ourselves or others, by unjust competitive methods, by withholding taxes, by selling injurious commodities, are specifically noted and condemned.
But individual responsibility seems more pronounced in “Our Spendings." Our earnings are, to a great extent, limited by the established social system ; but our spendings are largely within our individual control. The law of mutual love applies here also. Provision for self and family comes first, and includes at times large expenditures in training our powers and maintaining our strength. This is no violation of the law, if our powers, developed and maintained at their best, are used in social service. But our circle must expand until the whole world is included. " All the nations of the world are our concern. It is a shortsighted and selfish policy of social reformers to denounce foreign missions."
It is helpful to classify our wants-expenditures for necessaries, conveniences, comforts, ostentation. “Other things being equal, we must place upon a higher plane the necessities of others than those things which are to us merely conveniences and comforts. Yet the latter may help us in our work, and thus find justification. When we come, however, to expenditures for mere show and display, we must draw a sharp line; they are absolutely interdicted by the law of love."
The plea that luxury gives employment to many is met by the laconic remark that the same expenditures made in behalf of others would give equal em. ployment to labor.
We find, however, indefinite variation of needs in inequalities of capacities and faculties and positions occupied; nor can we place upon the same plane private and public expenditures. “The purpose is to show that while we must draw a line and condemn most strongly the wanton luxury of our period, we must make discriminations; above all things, we must never be animated by petty envy and jealousy."
The Doctor thinks that altogether too much has been said about the difficul. ties of giving, and suggests several methods of relief to those who are under pres. sure in this regard. “If one is a believer in foreign and domestic missions-and no one can fail to believe in both who accepts Christianity—a way at once is opened to him for the expenditure of millions of money. Especially must one remember that theological training is exclusively committed to private efforts, and the endowments of our theological schools are sadly inadequate. At a time like the present, when the demands on the pulpit are becoming so vast, training schools for pastors and preachers must especially appeal to the thoughtful Christian of means."
Finally: " What to Do.”
Only helpful suggestions of a general character can be given. First of all, bring yourself into right relations with God. The beginning of social righteous. ness is personal salvation. “Apart from Christ, the natural tendency is to come back to the standpoint of the Greeks and despise the masses.” We need to keep close to Christ to avoid dangers besetting all, rich and poor. Then comes fruitbearing. Believers must be givers. Helpful words in practical acting are: “Do the next thing." "Every improvement in your character and surroundings is an improvement for every circle, large or small, of which you form a part. Every helpful word, every kind is contribution to the perfection of society."
Do your best in your own particular line. Seek light as to the what and how of your doing. Read your Bible ; read good biographies. Apply the law of love in each of the various social circles,
A parting word to the church: She must hold before herself her ideal as a transforming power for righteousness.
“We may, in short, study in common how to apply the moral truths and principles of Christianity to the social and economic difficulties of the present time; and we may present Christ in practical life as the living Master and King, the enemy of wrong and selfishness, the power of righteousness and love." Clarksville, Tenn.
J. E. FOGARTIE.
STERRETT'S THE POWER OF THOUGHT. THE POWER OF THOUGHT. By Jno. D. Sterrett. New York: Chas. Scribner's
This book comes from the pen of an elder in one of the country churches in the Scotch-Irish section of the Valley of Virginia; a lawyer by study and profession, but not by practice; for years a farmer at the homestead where his father died. The book comes from the county which produced Archibald Alexander, Sam. Houston, C. H. McCormick, and Bishop Taylor, all of them farmers' sons. It is worthy of such distinguished associations. It is one of the most original and striking contributions to philosophic psychology ever produced in this country. Washington and Lee University.
Jas. A. QUARLES.