Obrazy na stronie

sire to find everything in them that is of beautiful worth; and they do find many things of truth and beauty, many things which excite their admiration, as illustrating the attainment of the higher aspiration of the human mind, reaching after the unseen if haply it might find it. But they find nowhere the discovery of one personal God, eternal in authority, immaculate in character, creating man in His own image, and opening before him the ageless immensities beyond the grave; and in the absence of such recognition of God, and such recognition of the immortality, man is left to grope where he can not fly, to clutch the earth where he misses heaven. So it is that industrially, politically, commercially, socially, intellectually, he is on the lower level, until some exterior power reaches and ennobles him. So it is that crime, such as is unknown in Christian communities, is familiar and tolerated in the world. In fact, we need not fix our thought, prominently, on the more devilish crimes which still exist in parts and portions of the earth,-cannibalism, infanticide, human sacrifices, self-torture, the slavery that would destroy body and soul together in its own hell. Commoner vices have told us the story sufficiently,—drunkenness, licentiousness, the gambling passion, the opium habit, the fierce self-will that rushes to its end, regardless of anything sacred, in order to attain its pleasure.

All these we know. How familiar they are to the mind, and in the life, of the world at large! And there seems no power arising within the circle not reached by Christian influence to relieve the gloom, to elevate those who are opprest by these sore burdens. There, is no power. Property asserts its right to oppress, and to enjoy; poverty accepts its function, however unwillingly, of suffering in silence; the degradation of woman strikes a vicious stab at the heart and conscience of immense communities, while the oppression of childhood blights life at its germ; and, with the prospect of nothing better to come, suicide becomes a common refuge from the unbearable misery. There is nothing overstated in this description of the world at large; and you know how it is in your city slums, even in this city of refinement and culture, I have no doubt; certainly in the city in which I live; in the London and Birmingham of the other side, where the little girl twelve years old had never heard the name of Christ, where the boy of about the same age only knew the nature of an oath by having been his lordship’s caddy. These are what we are to reach and lift, if we can do it. These are they to whom we are to bring blessings from the Most High. Certainly, every heart in which there is a spark of Christian sympathy must feel the power of this motive, pressing to the utmost and instant exertion of every force

to relieve the suffering, to enlighten the darkened, and to lift the opprest.

No one need exaggerate, everyone should recognize, the weakness and wretchedness, the exposure and the peril of human society. When we remember that in this universe of ours destiny clings closely to character, has never anything mechanical or arbitrary about it, but follows the spirit which encounters it, then those tremendous words of our Lord in the twenty-fifth of Matthew have upon them an appalling sharpness and reach, as addrest to the great classes and companies of mankind; and we must recognize it, and hear the solemn bell of the universe ringing through His word, and telling us of what is to be looked for in the hereafter.

But then with this recognition of the exposure and peril of human society, of mankind at large, we must associate the recognition of the recoverableness to truth, to virtue and God, of persons and of peoples who are now involved in these calamities and pains; to whom, now, unrest and apprehension are as natural as speech or sight; the recoverableness of men as persons, and of communities as well as persons.

Here, of course, we come into direct antagonism with the pessimist, who says, “It is all nonsense! You can't possibly do the work; you can't take these ragged and soiled remnants of humanity in your city streets

and weave them into purple and golden garments for the Master; you can not accomplish the effect which you contemplate, in the cities, in your own land, along the frontier, or in other lands. It is as impossible to make the unchaste pure, to make the mean noble, as it is to make crystal lenses out of mud, or the delicate elastic watch-spring out of the iron slag!” That is the world's view, a common and a hateful view. Our answer to it is that the thing can be done, and has been done, and done in such multitudes of instances that there is no use whatever in arguing against the fact. Christ came from the heavens to the earth on an errand. He knew what was in man; and He did not come from the celestial seats on an errand known beforehand to be fruitless and futile. He came because He knew the interior, central, divine element in human nature, to which He could appeal and by which He could lift men toward things transcendent. We have seen the examples of success, how many times! Hundreds, yea even thousands of times, in our own communities, as missionaries have seen them in the lands abroad: where the woman intemperate, in harlotry, in despair, has been lifted to restored womanhood, as the pearl oyster is brought up with its precious contents from the slimy ooze; where the man whose lips had been charged with foulest blasphemies has become the preacher of the gospel of light and love,

[ocr errors]

of hope and peace, to others, his former comrades; where the feet that were swift to do evil have become beautiful on the mountains in publishing salvation. We have seen these things in individuals and in communities; in the roughest frontier mining-camp, where every door opened on a saloon or a brothel, or a gambling-table, and where, by the power coming from on high, it has been transformed into the peaceful Christian village, with the home, with the school, with the church, with the asylum, with the holy song, where the former customary music had been the crack of revolvers. We have seen the same thing on a larger scale in the coral islands, scenes of savage massacer and of cannibal riot and ferocity, where the Church has been planted, and Christian fellowships have been established and maintained. We have seen these things, and why argue against facts ?

Arguing against fact, as men ultimately find out, is like trying to stop with articulate breath the march of the stately battleship as she sweeps onward to her anchorage. An argument may meet a contrary argument; no argument can overwhelm a fact. And these facts in experience are as sure, as difficult of belief perhaps, but as compulsive of belief, as are the scientific demonstrations of the liquid air, of the wireless telegraphy. We do not question the reality of what we see; and we know that these effects

« PoprzedniaDalej »