Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

vice, and from the pernicious facility of divorce ; peril to our intelligent Protestant faith, from the aggressive activity of a system of religion hostile to it, determined to substitute for it another gospel which is not another, and represented by a hierarchy compactly organized, richly endowed, and animated by a constant governing devotion to the pontiff at Rome ; peril to society, from the exaggerated and imperious claims of a considerable portion of those who depend on daily work for their daily wage, and from the temper of hostility toward accumulated capital which is perhaps extending among them.

All these have been impressively set forth; and no doubt the facts thus presented and grouped are sufficient to excite, and fully to justify, grave apprehension in the minds of those whose thoughtful attention they have attracted. It may, not improbably, appear to some that they are perils too vehement and imminent to be either arrested or averted ; that contending against them will be like the effort to swim up stream against a fierce current ; that all which can be done is to build here and there a temporary dam and make occasional tranquil spaces, in which the furious press and rush of evil influences shall be checked or transiently suspended ; that any attempt to make good conquer evil and take the place of it in our rapid and turbulent American society, is almost hopeless from the beginning.

But, on the other hand, the Christian resources in the country for meeting this emergency in our history have been exhibited; and it is evident that if they are called into full activity, and are wisely and efficiently used, there is no occasion for despair. The church of Christ, in the various sympathetic Protestant communions which here have their home, is not a feeble and forceless body, without clearness of brain or vigor of will, and without tenacious grip in its muscle. There is a distributed power in it, moral, spiritual, social, financial, which needs only to be fully evoked, and set at work in appropriate directions, to arrest the evils which threaten to overwhelm us, and to master them by the forces working for good, which are as fresh for us to-day as they were for the earliest Christian disciples, and which can surely conserve the Christian development which they have created. The only question is, How can these forces be summoned to the effort needing to be made, and be used most effectively for the accomplishment of the end which we all have at heart? And the answer comes at once, with a force as inevitable as that of the law of gravitation, bearing upon it as clear a self-evidence as belongs to the sunshine: It is to be done by bringing the scattered resources and energies which in their dispersion are relatively powerless, are certainly insufficient for the effect, into harmonious co-operation, making them interact on each other, while acting together to maintain the intelligence, the virtue, the religion, in which has been always, and must be hereafter as heretofore, the security and power of our civilization.

There is nothing artificial or fanciful or doubtful about this answer. It is not theoretic, conceived in the study, and elaborated by cautious speculative thought; it is intensely practical, appealing immediately to every man's judgment. It is not an unfamiliar suggestion, for the first time set forward under these special circumstances. It is generically the very answer which men instinctively make whenever a work too great for individual effort, but not too great for combined endeavor demands to be done. Every important manufacturing establishment is planted by the common counsels, with the combining labors and investments, of several or of many persons. So the railway is laid out and built; so the mine is developed; so the bank, the insurance company, the steamship line or the telegraph line, is organized and established; and so men unite for the furtherance of public welfare by any great local institution, the library, the hospital, the seminary or college. Governments are established or are revolutionized, reforms are initiated, philanthropies are advanced, city missions are prosecuted, on just this basis. Organic union is not required among those thus associated, in the church, or the club, or in the same political party. Co-operation in effort alone is needed: compacting into a whole, forces which in their separateness are weak; combining the individual wires, the tensile strength of each of which is not great, into the cable which can bear without yielding, enormous loads, with the incessantly repeated strain of severe concussive impacts. This is the law for the safe beginning and the prosperous progress of all large institutions, of all wide, popular movements; and this is the law which fronts us to-day, assembled in this Conference, with the peremptory challenge of an imperative command.

Such co-operation is needed for giving to all who earnestly desire the best things for our land, a place and a part in the work to be done: putting culture, where it exists, or genius, or wealth, or social influence, where such are found, side by side with energetic purpose, a fervent zeal, a power to touch the popular heart; and making them all bear directly on the enlightening and rectifying efforts which are needed quite as much in our cities and prosperous towns as in remote hamlets, or along the frontiers, where the instincts and even the customs of barbarism constitute a continua. danger and threat. Such co-operation is essentially needed to keep the efforts of those who are willing to work and to give for the public welfare, from being wasted in the foolish enterprises of denominational rivalry, or worse than wasted, in the manifold bitter alienations and prejudices which these are wont to leave behind them.

It is needed to keep the spirit of those working together for the one supreme end, alive and alert ; to reinforce it in courage, to animate it with hope, and to inspire and sustain an exhilarating enthusiasm, which shall count no labor too great to be attempted, no obstacle too great to be overcome, no sacrifice, even, too rare or exacting to be joyfully made. The minds of these, separated from others, even when attempting a noble enterprise, are apt to become moody and morbid through their isolation. Minorities, long continuing to be such, commonly become either timid or acrid in their temper. Courage, expectation, a certain dynamic force of faith, hope, and determinate resolution, come with the consciousness that multitudes with us are intent on the ends which to us are supreme; that we are essentially affiliated in purpose with a great host of eager, capable, strenuous laborers, determined on success and expecting to achieve it. The seeming paradox is thus realized, in which the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts; as the army has a might which cannot be computed by adding to each other the individual forces of those assembled and organized in it.

For its effect, too, on those on whom a just and salutary moral impression needs to be made, such co-operation appears indispensable. Individual effort they will scoff at, as palpably, even ludicrously, ineffective. Dissociated effort of scattered and unallied squads of workers will have but little importance to their minds. But if all who love the truth and the Master, who value righteousness, who feel in themselves the impulsions of charity, and who are determined to make our Christian civilization secure and permanent, and to perfect its beauty, shall combine—as they may—to dissipate error, to conquer vice, to subdue the forces of misrule, to

extend the range of a pure religion, and to further that magnificent welfare which education, virtue and religion subserve, then the energy of their co-operative purpose will infallibly be recognized, its power will be felt, and evil influences will widely cower and shrink before it.

As to the methods of such co-operation it does not belong to me to speak. They will be presented clearly and earnestly, I am sure, with a wisdom corresponding to the earnestness, by those to whom that branch of the subject has been committed. As to the necessity of such co-operation, on which I have said words enough, perhaps, to furnish a text for further discussion, I am sure that I have said no word too much. It, and it only, can by any possibility lay firmly the foundations on which the great structure of an intelligent, free, advancing civilization is here to be reared or to be sustained. Without it, we may well despair. With it, we may have the assured hope which nothing enfeebles and nothing daunts, and which bears within it the presage of success. Without it, the Christian forces in the country will still be a multitude, but they will in no sense form a body, harmoniously working, with manifold instruments, for a common end, under the inspiration of one sov. ereign spirit. With it, they will be associated forces, moving consentaneously on different but converging lines, and marching to victory as an army with banners.

I cannot but think that the best instruction which God has to give to his people to-day, in the nation which he providentially planted, and to which he has given such promise of the future, and such opportunity and power for good, will concern the method of securing among them that cordial sympathy and mutual respect in which past differences shall be forgotten, and out of which shall come a co-operative effort for the accomplishment of spiritual ends, as naturally and surely as such effort comes when great secular works, of commerce or of politics, engage men's minds. For such instruction we must pray; and when its stately though soundless pillar of light shall show the way, we must be eager to walk therein !

MR. DODGE: I am sure that all the members of the Conference will join the officers of the Alliance in thanking Dr. Storrs most heartily for his kindness in preparing this paper, although himself prevented from being here. [Applause. ]

I now have the great pleasure of introducing to the Conference the Right Rev. Samuel Harris, Bishop of Michigan, who will address us in regard to co-operation.

NECESSITY OF CO-OPERATION IN

CHRISTIAN WORK.

ADDRESS BY BISHOP SAMUEL HARRIS, D. D.,

LL. D.,' MICHIGAN.

MR. PRESIDENT: As I understand it, this Conference is the outcome of a great popular movement. It represents a deep and wide-spread concern for the safety and perpetuity of our free institutions and our popular government. It is felt that a crisis in our national history has arrived, when it is the duty of Americans to take counsel together concerning the preservation of American interests. This feeling is shared by millions of our countrymen, who are of one mind in the estimate which they set on our American civilization, and of one heart in their entire devotion to it. And while, sir, we who take part in these deliberations can claim no formal representative character, yet there is a real sense in which we are representatives. For we are here simply in obedience to a great popular impulse. It becomes us, therefore, to speak with simplicity, with courage and with candor—with the simplicity of men who are subdued by a sense of great responsibilities, with the courage of men who speak out of deep convictions of duty, and with the candor of men who are stirred by the imminence of conflict and the presence of danger.

For, sir, it is well seen that the peculiar civilization which we are concerned to defend and preserve is gravely threatened. There are vast and hostile forces of evil that are being marshaled and organized against it. While those whose feelings and convictions we share are divided, scattered and dispersed, there are magnificent combinations and organizations of those who contend against and oppose what we hold dear, and there are strongholds of vantage that are being garrisoned and manned in our very midst. It is felt, therefore, that the need of this hour is co-operation

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »