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They all brought the Bible, for which they and their ancestors had been ready to suffer and to die ; and their devotion to that book had descended to the Continental Congress, which, a week before it was driven from Philadelphia, ordered an importation of twenty thousand Bibles. At the Centennial celebration, at Philadelphia, of the Declaration of Independence, the acting VicePresident, Ferry, said that the American statesmen, who had to choose between the Royal authority or popular sovereignty, had been inspired by the truth uttered on Mars' Hill, and repeated in the opening prayer of the morning, that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men.”
The future of the Christian civilization, which has come to us from our true-hearted and sturdy ancestors, on the preservation of which, in its purity and beauty, depend the character of our countrymen and the destiny of our country, rests upon the generation of to-day.
Those who assisted to purge it of the laint of slavery are fast passing away—and the guardianship of our sacred heritage devolves upon the present generation, as its stands, “a link in the chain of eternal order” between the generations that are past and those which are to come.
You will now have the pleasure of hearing the Address of Welcome, by Bishop Edward C. Andrews, D. D., LL. D., of Washington.
ADDRESS OF WELCOME.
The Washington Branch of the Evangelical Alliance has assigned to me the pleasant office of speaking to you their word of greeting and welcome. In this word, the Evangelical churches and people of the city do, I am sure, most cordially concur.
With one heart we welcome you to the Capital of the Republic, to a city not unworthy, as we fondly think, of the nation that now is, and having a promise of beauty and magnificence that shall honor the nation which is to be. We welcome you to a city which is yours as well as our own; which is yours, indeed, in a sense in which it is not our own. For the nation decreed and named it. The nation, with a magnificent faith, mapped its magnificent distances, its broad avenues, its spacious parks. The nation has reared all these stately piles in which the laws of a great people are made, administered and judicially determined; has begun these collections, already notable, in science, art and literature; has here commemorated its noble dead, statesmen and heroes, in marble and bronze, and chiefly in that lofty shaft whose simple massiveness and purity fitly symbolize the first great President of the Republic. And the city which the nation has thus builded and adorned, the nation still rules with absolute though benignant sway. Representative as you are of all portions of the land, we welcome you to your own. We act as your ushers; enter, examine, enjoy, indulge a laudable pride, exchange congratulations as to what is, and hopes as to what shall be when the political life of five hundred millions of freemen shall here have its mighty heart.
But some things here are our own. In coming to this Capital City, neither our fathers nor we have forgotten the life of our former homes. We have builded churches, capacious and fair, and they are thronged by the feet of willing worshipers. We have homes where blossom all the amenities and sanctities of domestic love, where feeble age is cherished with tenderest care, where maturity daily refreshes itself for renewed struggle, where childhood is trained for the life that is and shall be. And here, we trust, are hearts not a few that, surrounded by excessive ambitions and gayeties, are still loyal to the supreme Lord and Saviour, and wrought more or less completely into unison with His great thought. To churches, homes and hearts we bid you cordial welcome. We open all to entertain you. In the name of your Master and ours, in the sympathy of common opinions and experiences, of common aims and hopes, we hail your coming with unfeigned joy.
“For we be brethren." We are one body, animated by one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling. To us there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. Our lack of uniformity is not lack of unity. One life from the Lord and Giver of life pervades all believers and constitutes them His one indivisible body. Even death cannot disrupt this tie :
One army of the living God
To His command we bow,
And part are crossing now.
But to some of you we are bound by more than the common fraternal tie. We are your debtors for knowledge and guidance, for example and inspiration. Often unknown to us in person, you have silently and unseen ministered to our spiritual life. Your books have enlarged our horizon, ennobled our thoughts, corrected our errors, and inspired us to higher faith and better living. That which you have gained in sharp and costly struggle of mind and soul have you freely imparted to us. Others of you have entered into self-denying and heroic conflict with the powers of darkness which gather within the walls of great and crowded cities, and, through faith in Christ and His gospel, have before our eyes vindicated the salvability of the lowest of our race, and of society itself. And some of you, eminent in professional and business life, have by strict integrity and princely munificence illustrated how every department of human activity may yield effective service to the Lord Christ.
Brethren, beloved for the Master's sake, and honored for your faithful and large contributions to the kingdom of Christ, accept, one and all, our sincere welcome.
And we welcome you the more for the specific purpose of your coming. Our city is not unused to conventions—patriotic, scientific, educational, philanthropic. We do not undervalue any one of these factors of our complex civilization ; much less do we undervalue the Governmental functions which are exercised in our city.
The representatives of peoples and states, who last Monday met in the marble halls on yonder hill, have an office for the American people, and, indeed, for humanity, of large and far-reaching possibilities. They may affect greatly the course of history. They may abate illiteracy, may ordain equities between diverse and struggling classes, may regulate in some degree the composition of the American population, may strengthen fraternal ties at home and confirm peace abroad, may, within the limited scope of the General Government, repress crime and promote virtue, and, in many ways, may develop our national resources, and guide the national life. And it is occasion for devout joy that we may believe, in the face of much ignorant and flippant criticism, that many of these Senators and Representatives undertake their great work with the spirit of patriots and of Christians. If any of them fail to do this, even then are they also true representatives of our imperfect national life. Shall the stream rise higher than the fountain ?
But concede to political institutions and laws all of utility that any will claim for them, and there is still a field which they do not enter. They do not reach man in his interior nature. They do not restore the lost proportion and balance of his faculties. They do not make good men out of bad. They do not determine the faith, the character, the moral life, of the nation. So far from determining such questions, they do, for the most part, simply register the point which the nation's character has already reached. Institutions may affect character. Character, in the long run, absolutely determines institutions. The human mind, in its diversities, accounts for all history. Invisible itself, it has been successively revealed as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, Modern Europe, and now, this new phenomenon in history, the United States. And what issue shall come to this new life is simply and solely a question of mental conditions, a question of moral character. In this is the determination of all our institutions, our laws and our customs. The question of character is the paramount question. Beside this all questions of revenues, armaments, new States, fisheries, subsidies, landgrants, and all questions of party supremacy pale into insignificance. Our evils and our dangers are not in our conditions, but in ourselves. Sin is the radical evil. Righteousness, even the righteousness which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ, is the radi. cal cure.
Gentlemen, you come from pressing occupations and grave responsibilities in your distant homes to deliberate on these transcendently important topics. We thank you for coming. The work is weighty ; the difficulties are great ; the solicitude is deep. May you be encouraged by remembering that the great and good of successive generations have shared the convictions which underlie your gathering ; that, for instance, in his memorable Farewell Address, in paragraphs too long to be here cited, the man first in the Republic and “ foremost in the files of time," emphasizes the indispensableness of national righteousness ; saying in substance, and almost in the words themselves, “Public prosperity has no foundation but morality and religion ; and religion is the only security of morality."
That proposition is the postulate of this Convention.
The key-note of our discussions, as indicated by the call, is in the three words, peril, opportunity, co-operation.
I. That American Christianity and American Society are confronted with perils, new, various, organized and gigantic, is obvious. The city disproportionately enlarging ; immigration increasing beyond our power of assimilation; wealth accumulating rapidly in a few hands; monopolies repressing individual enterprise; a foreign church, hostile to American principles, fortifying itself among us; the saloon, threatening every interest of the home and the state; illiteracy overshadowing a large part of the body politic ; socialistic tendencies among the laboring classes; crimes multiplying with extraordinary energy; sexual vice patent everywhere, attended by a loosening of the marriage tie and the growth of Mormonism; the alienation of great masses of the people from the Church, with a startling increase of Sabbath desecration; corruption among the makers and administrators of law—these are facts portentous of disaster and, if unchecked, of ruin.
As Christians, we must recognize some of them as rooted in the persistent evil of human nature itself, in the soul which, because it does not like to retain God in its knowledge, is given up of God to all unseemly thoughts and deeds. Not easily will they yield to correctives. They are part of the universal human sinfulness, now and here, because of new external conditions, manifesting itself with unusual energy and virulence.
The situation is grave beyond question. The forces of evil are alert, aggressive, and in many quarters victorious. They imperil the most precious interests of ourselves and our posterity. They imperil our institutions and our civilization. They imperil the souls for which Christ died. They summon all right-thinking men to conflict severe, long-continued, and costly in every sense.
But throughout the struggle it is wise to maintain a serene faith and hope. Not otherwise shall we conquer. We may, indeed, exaggerate danger so as to paralyze endeavor. We may even misinterpret Providences to our loss. The Roman Christian, who saw gathering on the declivities of the Alps the portentous cloud of Barbarism, Hun, Goth and Vandal, soon to burst in undistinguishing fury on all the fair lands of the Mediterranean basin, engulfing in a common ruin all that was best and noblest in the ancient civilization, could not discern how the vigor of these new races was in the end to rescue Christianity from perversion and decay. When in 1818 the last faint trace of state religion was overthrown in Connecticut, Dr. Dwight, a man eminent for a calm and judicial