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Nowhere in Christendom is the church called to lend a hand in regulating wrong-doing. It is for Christians to resist evil to their utmost; if then the wrong goes on, let it go branded with the trademark of the devil, and not legalized by the revenue stamp of the state. Neither is there any argument for the Christian in the reiterated statement that law must not be in advance of public sentiment; and that until the people are ready to enforce prohibition the evil must have legalized permission. For does not our Scripture make it clear that law is the standard of right, even though it may not at once establish the right; that “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” even when it is not the immediate destruction of sin ?
A great theologian has declared in memorable words that “of law no less can be acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God.” Alas for the ethics of the Christian church, when she assents to the proposition that law has its seat in the bosom of the people! Which means, being interpreted, that Mt. Sinai must test the public sentiment of the worshipers of the golden calf on the plains below, before she presumes to put into the decalogue the prohibition, “ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” Here is a kind of Antinomianism at which the church may well be alarmed, the theory which makes law the thermometer of public opinion, rising or falling in its enactments with the changing temperature of the times, instead of making it the theometer—if I may coin a word—the God-measure which shall indicate to the people the eternal and unchangeable standard of divine righteousness. The first question in regard to law is not, “ What can be enforced ?" but, “What is right?” The Scriptures clearly pronounce drunkard-making and robbery and prostitution to be sins. In trying to resist these evils, we may find out “what the law cannot do in that it is weak through the flesh." But if a prohibitory statute is not able to stop these things, it can make criminals of those who practice them, and this is of immense importance for enabling the innocent and uninstructed to “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
Then let the church make answer to the needs and perils of society, according to her own high principles. Let her exhibit her primitive ideal of having in common, to those who are clamoring for a community of goods. Let her present her own doctrine of believing without knowing to those who have been blinded by overmuch light, and let her hold up God's “Thou shalt not” to those who need the restraints of law to help them to do good when evil is present with them.
After Dr. Gordon's address, President Gates, of Rutger's College, led the Conference in prayer.
MR. DODGE: We are now going to have a series of short addresses directly to the point of our evening's work. I hope all our friends here will remember how easy it is to awaken in one's own heart a glow of sentiment that comes from the enthusiasm of numbers, and from the earnest pleadings of those who talk to us. That false sentiment we do not want to-night. We want to have the truth come home to us with a practical force that shall influence our wills. God has something practical for each one of us to do for our brethren who are suffering and dying about us. I will call first on Rev. Dr. Van Dyke, of New York.
REV. H. J. VAN DYKE, D. D.
When that fiery cross which was the symbol of warfare in ancient Școtland appeared shining upon the brow of some distant hill, beneath the gloom of night, the question was, not who would admire and applaud that flaming signal, but who would first answer its summons, and spring forth to snatch the torch from the hand of its bearer and carry it on its mission.
The question to-night is not, who has heard and admired these words which have been spoken to us here, but who will answer to the call, “The Son of God goes forth to war. Who follows in his train ?”. Who springs to take the cross, at cost of personal sacrifice, at cost of pain, of suffering, of reproach, or whatever it may be; at cost of long, weary, distasteful, monotonous labor ? Who springs to take the cross of the warfare of Christ and carry it forth, that its call may be answered, not only here, but with a clarion voice in every corner of our land. I tell you, Christian friends, the practical purposes of this Alliance are not in danger from outward opposition, but they are in danger from fat, supine, inert, comfortable indifference.
I would illustrate. We have had a good deal of talk here about the political dangers of our country. I live in a village called New York. . [Laughter.] They have a street there called Fifth Avenue, supposed to run through the center of the country. How many people do you suppose voted at the last election, on Fifth Avenue, between 40th and 68th streets—a distance of a mile and a half? Just twenty-eight! The peril of our citizenship is in the men who do not care enough for their country to vote. The peril of the church is in Christians who do not care enough for Christ to work for him.
Now, what do we want from this Conference? We want what the child in the Sunday-school said was wanted from the speaker who got up very late. The speaker said “Well children, what shall I say to you?” A little boy, away back, said “Say · Amen.'” What we want from this Conference is an “Amen." But there are two kinds of Amens. There is the “ Amen” of a departing congregation, and there is the “ Amen” that is like the tramp of an advancing army coming forward to battle. That is the kind of Amen we want from this gathering. That can be given by every church.
We believe here, as has been so well said to day, that all churches are equal. All churches are equal. No, I am wrong. There is one church that does not stand on the same basis as the others. You may go into the High Church if you like, you may go into the Free Church if you like, you may go into the Low Church if you like, you may go into the Broad Church if you like, but I beg you, for your own soul's sake, and for Christ's sake, do not go into the Hard Church.
The Hard Church is the church which reduces theology to an arithmetical calculation, and makes religion a matter of personal salvation, whereas religion is a matter of doing the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. I see that Hard Church floating on the sea of human life, dark, gloomy, repellent, and into it I see the Elder Brother of the parable clambering to save his life. He goes in and shuts the door behind him, and that little ark floats out over the waters. No joyous song comes from those windows. There are no enterprises of rescue; there is no hand stretched forth to save the perishing; and, unlovely, it floats among the other ships that crowd the sea. I see them drawing nearer the heavenly shore, and as every ship comes in, I see the throng of angels rush down to welcome it with shouts and joyous songs. Some come in with cordage rent, sails torn, masts shattered, and the vessel almost dismantled. To those most crowded with wretched passengers, who have suífered most from the fury of the storm, the welcome is most joyous. Now, at last, the Hard Church comes into port, but the angels that come to welcome her are silent. There are no songs upon their lips. Slowly they drag her on the shore, and the doors are opened, and those amazed travelers step forth. They are saved, but saved alone. Saved, but saved without the sweetest joy of heaven. They have found a place, but, oh! it is the lowest place, on the outskirts of the throng, far from the King in his beauty. There those elder brothers, who cared only to save their own souls, at last learn the lesson which Christ would have taught them here on earth if they had heard him—that he that loveth, dwelleth in God and God in him.
MR. DODGE: I am going to ask a dear friend of a great many in this room to say a few words to us. God, in his wonderful prov. idence, took away from him, years ago, the sight of his earthly eyes, only that his heart and brain might work the sweeter and stronger and more constantly for his fellow-men. He has been an inspiration and help to me, as I know he has been to a great many, and I am sure he will say a word that will be of great value to us. I am going to ask Mr. Thane Miller, of Cincinnati, to occupy a few minutes. [Applause.]
MR. H. THANE MILLER.
May I ask that you simply applaud in your hearts, because I want to ask every man and woman in this large audience, with the President's permission, to unite in a prayer of song, just as softly as you can sing it. Let every one sing, from the heart, this prayer, and mean it:
“Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee.” Can you sing these next lines ?
“E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.
The verse having been sung, Mr. Miller continued: • Amen. Even so may it be. Do you know, dearly beloved, that Jesus, the Master of assemblies, is here in deed and in truth, at this very moment? Do the eyes of your spirits see Jesus? Do you feel his presence? Do you recognize his touch, beloved ? Do you hear him say to you, as you are sitting for a few last moments upon this mount of privilege, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel ?” That is the commission that every clergyman in this house, every layman, every soul here, should hear Jesus giving at this moment. And are we prepared for it? Are these things so, that we have heard in these few days, as to the perils in the church and the perils outside the church? Dear friends, are the remedies we have heard suggested, true remedies ? I tell you, my mind has been almost paralyzed as I have thought of these things from the world's standpoint, but it has been a perfect calm when I have thought of them from God's standpoint. For he is able to cure all these diseases, if you and I are willing to be personally consecrated to him. The wealth will pour out, the talent will come to the rescue of the ministers and others, to help them. Everything needed is in God's possession. It is simply that you and I are not consecrated. Are we willing for the consecration to-night?
Dear friends, I do not know where we can find any remedy in any book, in any paper, in any address, equal to the remedy that Jesus Christ proposes. It is simply that we should give ourselves, body, soul and spirit, to him, utterly, to command us. When we do that, his work will prosper in our hearts and in our communities.
REV. C. A. DICKEY, D. D.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I can very truly say that nothing but the duty that you pressed upon me would have allowed me to give consent to break the silence of such a meeting as this. For it does seem to me that, after all that has been said, it has come to the time when the voice is very distinct to be still, and to know that the Lord himself is God. It is very difficult to bring into the utterance of a few sentences, any words that are human that can do