Imágenes de páginas

would find their way down in the deep and ring the city's bells. And through the sound of the storm on the surface of the sea might be heard the stifled ringing of the buried bells. Even so, buried in the depths of our human life, lies the true city of God, whose Temple we are. And through all the discordant clash of competing claims in the world of to-day, and the confusion caused by the changing bases of belief, we sometimes seem to hear the far-away, low, penetrating music of the bells beneath-the bells of the city of God. And because we hear them we know that a time shall come when that city shall rise and be seen by the eyes of men. Thus do all our nobler impulses and inspirations join as it were in a world-wide harmony in prophetic anticipation of the day when the spiritual oneness of man shall be a real experience of life, in God the Eternal Home.



My early life was passed far away from the stress of those great religious movements which had their birth about the middle of the last century. The throes of that birth were very painfully felt far and wide, but they did not affect me personally until I had passed from the obscurity of home life, and even out of college, to the wider and more independent conditions of pastoral work.

It is now almost impossible to understand the policy of a somewhat blind training in colleges that were intended to fit men to move and work in the strong currents of the world's life. But in evangelical circles, blinkers were almost universal ; and even yet are used to narrow the range of theological vision to a strictly


straight-ahead course. In those times, at any rate, the only chance of knowing anything about the strenuousness of outside life lay in the possibility of suspecting that such anxiety to fashion our minds might arise from a sense of danger from which theological students must be protected. But young and docile enthusiasts are not given to much reflection of that kind; so that our mental condition, though contemporaneous with great outside intellectual activity, reflected an older tradition very much as a presently existing tribe may represent an older stage of human development.

On looking back from the standpoint of old age, one can now see that the great conflict of those years centred on the question of the plenary inspiration of the

ible, as a book simply indivisible as to its general purpose, and of perfectly even value all through. It was quite timeless in the sense that for its intended governance of human thought and conduct it might have been issued but yesterday. No questions could be raised on its historic statements of fact; no natural deductions could be made from the concession that it was all written very long ago ; and that even so, many parts were much older than others, were written by different men, and under very different conditions of outer circumstance and personal culture. The questions that now sound commonplace were then hardly so much as formulated. We did not know that some parts of the Bible were compiled from older secular sources and were successively revised for purposes other than those for which its several parts were written. It was not then suspected that unconnected history was set back in time and made to do duty for prediction; or that parts were written for controversy without representing the questions controverted. If various religious and social ideals were recognized, we were quite disposed to see in them partial revelations of divine truth, or did not shrink from forced interpretations to bring them into a tolerable consistency. It did not trouble us that myth and legend, poetic metaphors and moral stories were taken for serious history, nor that a love-poem should be an allegory of the relations of Christ and his Church. It was our sole book of ethnology, and the search for the exact locality of the Garden of Eden was an interesting puzzle. We judged of the wickedness of nations from their hostility to Israel, and of their kings from a prophet's condemnation. Local tribal laws and customs had more than a temporary sanction or an antiquarian interest. National songs of the narrowest patriotism and of the most doubtful morality caused us no offence, though rebuked by pietist psalms of the tenderest and most humane spirit. In the proverbs we were taught worldly wisdom, and in Ecclesiastes the utter vanity of life ; but neither of them provoked any hostile criticism. We supposed that there was a much greater gap than there actually is between the two parts of the Bible, yet never asked what had become of inspiration and revelation meantime. In the Gospels we saw only books that complemented each other, without suspecting their different

« AnteriorContinuar »