Adrien Jean Quentin Beuchot.

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1858.] Valm rfthe PracHad T4nden€%e$ ^JUUgian. M7

must att appear before the judgraent-ceat of Christ," exerts now and
is adapted ever to exert & wide aad amasiog practical power otct

The profoundest student and believer io Christian doctrine ia
likeijr to be the most asfudnous- observer of Christian precepts, the
most vtdiiahle example of ChristiaQ praotioe. A grand working
world this wyooid be^ were the doctrines of religion admitted to their
fall and righitfo). place in. its wmmanities. It is to be beared that
ibey h^ve ,pqt their proper. pypmiiMnce and power in the public
preachiqg* 9f the cpuntcj.i These neglected, practiee dies, jost as,
when food if^.witl^dmwn^ inoscAitor action ceases. •

IL I pp^a &oa^ the fact pf, the. practical tendencies of religion, to
a considon^iion of tk^ pmlu^ ^^hd .%mporUmc$ of such tendencies.

The. external serviq^ of Chrisjtiiajuty; render it capable of becoming
an efiectiYe-coanterac^oD «f aU.irreltgion.

The pollers of evil ajto decidedly practieaL All the passions of
vice prodnee the activities of vice $ all the interior devisings of mis-
chief appear in the outward accomplishings of mischief. Though in
its grosser forms wickedness loves the night time and skulks ia lanea
and concealments, jet even from these places it steams up iafeetiona
into the whole structure and movements of society. It finds its way
in some of its forms into all the bosiBess aad all the pleasures of life.
It is upon all the currents of travel, and in all the bazars of traflte»
It seems never to sleep, and never to suffer the least paralysis or re*
mission. It is ev^ and everywhere on the alert. It is a busy, ma-
licious meddler in the house aad by the way, in the city and taomtrj^
in the workshop and on the fana, in the cooathig^room of the mer-
chant and in the office of the maatt&ctarer. It does something to
move the muscles and limbs of all oommuaities. It speaks aU Ian*
guages. It knows the technicalities of all arts aad proiessioas. It
sets up distilleries and groggeries aad gambling bouses. Itpotrcmisea
theatres aad circuses and duels and street fighting. It fills every oom-r-
munity full with wrong and outrage.

Now religion was never expected to oppose and rraiove tUs aotivoi
universal mischief-doer, by nestling itself down cosily and quietly ia
a sweety gentle comer of the human heart. It was not expected t^
do this by merely inrinoatlag itself into the intellects of maakind aa
a passive fhiih in the great doetrines of ChristiaailT. It was not ex«
pected to do this wholly by even the devotions and Diviae comttra*
nion permitted to the followers of Christ in the presence-chamber of
God. These dodriaes ai&d these devotkms, it ia most tnie» are hea*

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868 The Practical JBIenterU in Ckrisiiamijf. lA^Uih^

venlj, are entirely essential ; thej are the gr^t frame and limbs and
vital circulation and invigorating breathing of religion. But in order
to compete with such a spirit and power of wickedness as the world
is filled with, besides a strong structure and an interior vitality, reli-
gion must be an outwardly stirring, pushing, aggressive agency, and
that beyond any other which is abroad in society. In the grand rush
of the powers of evil, that must rush still more powerfully. Chris-
tianity must have more eyes out upon the scene of life, must employ
more spades, pickaxes and drills to push moral thoroughfares and
aid the travels and freights of philanthropy, than Satan cair muster
to assist the dissemination of iniquity and woe. This that it needs
to do the practical character of religion, adapts and empowers it to
accomplish perfectly. All that sin can do, religion can undo ; all its
infections it can neutralize ; all its wastes and deaths restore.

There are special evils attendant upon the rapid advancement of
society in general wealth and improvement There confe in with
this progress toward refinement, lavbh expenditure, luxury, eficmi-
nate gratifications, dwarfed mind, neglect of life's serious duties, fatal
religious opinions, depreciated integrity, general corruption. As an
antidote to all these deteriorations, religion carries its practical agency
into the busiest scenes of enterprise and advancement ; with all its
industrial energies, sound practical teachings and transforming power,
keeps up fiush with the front rank of- civilization. Expended, how«
ever, in desires, joys, hopes, blessed meditations, religion would have
but little infiuence on the projecting, accomplishing generation of the
present time.

The world all abroad on the currents and waves will pay its de&r^
ence to religion, if it sees that also as one of life's craft dashing its
way with other keels, and trying the same tides and winds. The
world will even acknowledge superiority and accept a pilot from the
sacred bark, if she is out in the ocean-roads, and at the mouths of the
great havens and marts of commerce. But they will not run after
her into coverts and eddies, or under the lee shores of promontories
and islands. It is just the practical genius of Christianity, with her
full sails set, to be visibly abroad where pass all the world's inbound
and outbound cargoes ; it. is just its practical genius to be out amid
all the adventures, expeditions and movements of men, to convoy, to
pilot, to moor. Let no one indulge fears for human society, except
from the exclusion of true religion. Let this, in the use of its fuU
energies, assist and augment all our thrifty consecrate all our enter*
prise, appropriate all our accumulations, dictate all our legislation,

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1851 j Practical OhrUHamiy nourishes Piety. 369

breathe in all the eloquence of our orators, speak its authoritative
lessons in all our pulpits, spread its purifying power everjwfaere, and
all is safe, all is illustriouslj progressive.

The practicalness of Christianity makes it an important nourisher
of piety in the heart

It is an important principle in our moral constitution, that outward
expressions of emotion become themselves stimulants of emotion.
The reaction is as invariable and certain as the action. Excellent
works minister nutrition and vigor to the interior powers of godliness,
just as a thrifty foliage furnishes elaborated juices for the roots below.
Emotions which are fainting and sinking, it is always found, can be
immediately revived by carrying them into action ; by giving them
outward manifestations ; by permitting them to breathe out audibly
and visibly. Thus the obediences of Christianity work the spirit of
Christianity ; the visible doings of righteousness, the interior vitalities
of righteousness. Not only does the practice of religion enrich the
soul of religion, but in the absence of such practice, godliness shrinks
and decays. The sensibility of the heart becomes effete when denied
outward and visible activities, just as fires are suffocated when driven
in upon themselves and pent up closely and fast.

The allegation is, therefore, that, both by positive enrichment and
by preventing deterioration, godly doing creates godly feeling, so that
he who is making a purity and a light around himself, is erecting a
holiness and an illumination within himself. It is not enough at a
safe distance inactively to survey human want and woe. IVIan must
descend from his post of dbservation, and actually pass into every
habitation of ignorance and sin, which the eye has surveyed. If one
do this ; if as an angel of mercy and of light he give himself to the
great work of purifying and enlightening the whole population ; if he
carry instruction to all who will receive it ; if he approach every
corrupted one with holy and urgent counsels ; if he pull the brutalized
and lost out of the fire by his own exertions ; if he prosecute these
incessant labors in rescuing men from sin and woe and ignorance, in
the face of dangers and obloquy and ingi-atitude and misrepresentation,
his piety will have grown into a great, rich, inexhaustible fountain,
into a grand reservoir of living waters, always to overthrow and

Besides a happy influence directly in warming and ftbgiHefating the
piety of the heart, outward exertions assist to keep that piety well
balanced and symmetrical* The religious character left in monastic
dedusion is likely to have its qualities unequally excited and ad*

Vol. rX. No. 84. 82

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870 The Pradieal £hmmi in.C9M§tiamif. [Apbil,

Tanced. DevoutDess before God may be cultivated to the exduskn
of benignitj toward men ; epiritual fenror maj become more promi-
nent than patience and self-control ; the spirit of reyerenoe may grow
to be stronger than the spirit of forgiveness ; the spirit of exhorta-
tion and rebuke, than the spirit of self-sacrifice ; a vague admiration
of holiness, than intelligent desire for personal righteousness. Fietj
confined in the heart is likely to select some object, and grow entha-
iiastic and extravagant and exclusive in its behalf, until a partial
monomania succeeds. A thorough-going system of activity in ih^
cause of God and man, is the best thing to efiect an equilibrium. It
arouses and cultivates the whole interior man. All that monasticism
had permitted to sleep, is likely to be carried into the grand current
of zeal and self-improvement Personal piety in this way receives
back to her noble form her withered limbs, her blind eye, her deaf
ear, her dumb tongue all made whole ; her clustered graces live and
shine together like a full orb without spot or eclipse.

There is one sad deterioration to which religion shut up in tbe
soul is specially liable, an over-estimate of itself self-complacency,
spiritual pride. This is, as all know, an obstacle to improvement
nearly insuperable. Swollen up with a belief of one's superior god-
liness, higher attainments are not struggled for, scarcely prayed for.
Belf-conceits and self-gratulations on account of great supposed god-
liness^ are best cured by hard service out in the families of the world,
much as the swell and bluster of iouigined courage are in the actual
strife of life for life. The matter is subjected to the test of experi-
ment In order to humble religious pride, great self-sacrifices and
self-fatigues and self-dangers should be entered upon. The self-ex-
alted one, to know his metal, must try the battle-axe, and the winter
campaign, and the night-watch, and the short allowance, and the
forced mai*ch. It is easy to imagine one^ self in a state of commu-
nion with God, when by seclusion worldly attractions are totally ex-
cluded ; gentle, and easy to be entreated, when nothing is met to ruf-
fie the spirit or thwart the purposes ; full of benevolence, when no
being of want is present to solicit our charity ; a prodigy of philoso-
phic contentment, when everything is wafting us prosperously whith-
er we most desire to be borne ; a wondrous example of self-possession
and of fortitude, when there is no danger and no required endurance.
To learn humility, to dispossess the spirit of its imagined strength
and worth, let men go out into the world, where they will be tempted
and sifted and vilified and persecuted and defrauded and afflict.ed and
cast down and forsaken* That is the furnace to discover to the in-

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1852.] Pracrieal BM^ion cMvatn Ihs PutKc Virtues. 871

dividiial lumself what in his character is dross, and what is gold. In
order then to a deep, symmetrical, humble, unexceptionable pietj in
the heart of the church, visible labors, great labors in the cause of
truth and righteousness must be valued, insisted on, augmented, per-
severed in.

Mark further how the practical character of religion assists the
cultivation of the stem public virtues of the Christian. In the clois-
ter many negative qualities may be well enough acquired. From
envy, revenge, avarice, discontent and malice, the heart may be kept
compawtively clean, when deeply sequestered where there are few
excitements, all away from the busy scenes of the world. But the
sturdy, positive virtues grow best in the conflicts and struggles of life.
Love of right becomes strong and lofty, when dierished and obeyed
under those powerful temptations and rivalries found on the open
theatre of human action. Submission to Providence grows into a
sublime and Christian philosophy under the painful ills and reverses
of the real world. Consecration of one*s self to the work of human i/^
progress and salvation, is nourished into a holy magnanimity in the
active labors of beneficence. All the moral attributes of man are
wrought into the soul as inseparable elements and vigorous habits,
under external difficulty and obstacle and discouragement and labor
and blandishment Shut up a man in still seclusion, to deep
meditation, to soul-exercises and effervescences, if you would make
him a pale, moral pigmy. If you would construct and mould him
into a glorious being of giant heart, bring him out to the sun ; let
the winds sweep over him ; let the storms rock him ; let the tides
dash him ; let the currents take him and drift him and peril him*
Great Christians were never wholly or chiefly made in retirement,
any more than great captains in genteel saloons, or great navigators
on board dismantled receiving-ships, moored to the wharves of ele*
gant cities. The stirring scenes where religion calls men into action
incessant and arduous, are certainly the places to educate true moral
heroes. Out of great tribulation, where all was struggle and labor,
came they who are glorious in heaven.

Such is the influence of the practical character of religion in promot-
ing both interior godliness and the great public virtues. It is not m*
serted here that this method of active Christian labor is the only one of
fostering noble, pious qualities. It is not intimated that much time alone
with Gk>d is not absolutely eisential to growth in grace. Close, warm,
frequent communion with Heaven is entirely indispensable. An ad-
ditional manner of cultivating the heart is all that is here suggested.

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872 The Practical EUmmt in Okriitianity. [Afbil,

When other efforts have nearly failed, and one of Chnsf a disciples
has heen left frigid and sterile, new labors of love and augmented
works of faith have oHen sent great life and love down into his spirit
Every blow of his arm in the service of God has started a new gash
of the spiritual current into and out of his heart, and sent a living and
waking thrill through his whole moral being. Piety, on the other
hand, confined in the soul, is warmed only to be evaporated by its
own ebullitions ; is kept under a bushel only to be suffocated ; is
withdrawn from circulation only to become a rust-eaten coin ; is stop-
ped in a pool only to grow stagnant or freeze.

These observations in reference to the existence and valuable influ-
ence of the practical element in Christianity, have many substantia-
tions in the Scriptures. On this subject the testimony of the Bible
is clear and emphatic Not every one, taught our Saviour, not every
one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of •
heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Said Christ, in another place, 1 must work the works of him that
sent me. It was a world of works when he fulfilled his mission ; the
mission itself was a mission of works. By works is faith made per-
fect; faith without works is dead, writes an apostle. Do works
meet for repentance, is a Divine injunction. Blessed, it is alleged in
the Revelation, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord ; they rest
from their labors and their works do follow them. My Father work-
eth hitherto and I work. A sublime truth ; an illustrious example !
It is another scriptural proof and recognition of the practical nature
of Christianity, that the heaven for which it proposes to prepare us,
is presented as a scene of immense, unceasing, vigorous, universal
engagement ; that every resident spirit is described as only a concen-
trated, energizing, everlasting activity, whom every evolving age of
eternity will call to more crowded, more august occupation.

The practical element of Christianity renders it specially suited to
the present times of unusual action and progress. Amid the univer-
sal enthusiasm now prevalent, religion is decidedly the greatest ex-
citement ; amid the vast stir and advancement, it is the most stirring
and progressive agency ; among all agitations, the greatest agitator ;
among all things revolutionary, the boldest innovator.

It would be proper, in showing how fitted Christianity is to our
stirring era, to refer to the very special and valuable development of
purity and of power which it is itself likely to receive in the excited
and crowded scene where it is now called to act But our imme-
diate concern is with the fact that into this great Babel the Gospel

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1852.] Practical CkrisUanity encourages Preachers. 373

Ib competent to introdiice all needed excitement, aggressiTeness, di-
rection, order and righteousness. Be it so that human passion is
pushing into unheard-of schemes, avarice making bolder attempts for
gain than ever before, ambition playing more desperate games for
place and power, love of pleasure levying wider and more imperious
contributions for sensual gratification. Be it so that the excitements
and collisions and turmoils and hurrying rush of business exceed all
that society has ever witnessed. Immense as these activities are,
religion is perfectly adapted to them all, can control them all, can
move with them all, can turn them all into the channel of its own
still* vaster and holier operations. Certainly a practical and active
Christianity has special adaptations to the present age.

The practical element of Christianity offers no small encourage-
ment to the ministers of the GospeL They preach an active and
efficient religion. Their messages and appeals faithfully delivered
will spread around them manifest and marvellous effects. They are
permitted to see the work of their own hands. Stop, stop, some one
cries, is not the sov^^ignty of Divine grace overlooked and forgotten
in this remark ? Doth not the Scripture say, that Paul may plant
and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase ? This is not for-
gotten. The sovereignty of Divine grace is unconditionally sub-
f^uibed to. But the freeness and the fulness with which the same
grace is made to attend upon the faithful ministrations of the Divine
word, are ever to be freshly remembered, as a high encouragement
for Paul to plant and Apollos to water. The history of the church
for eighteen hundred and fifty years is appealed to for proof that
visible and real religious reformations, actual establishments and ex-
tensions of the church, have occurred under a kind Providence, to a
great extent in proportion to the able and godly preaching of tho
GospeL In connection with such {^reaching, have the sovereign
riches of Divine grace been signally revealed and exerted. Let us .
stand then on the grand truth, corroborated by a thousand Scriptures
and by innumerable providences, that religion faithfully preached is
a most efficient practical transformer all around the preacher himself.
Ministers, it is true, frequently witness seasons when they seem to
labor in vain and spend their strength for nought ; when they are
constrained to cry : ** Who hath believed our report, to whom is the
arm of the Lord revealed?" But as in nature so in morals, there
are often processes and advancements which are silent and unob*
served. We go out in the spring-time, when the world is waking
into life, and we cannot see the actual growing of a single germ,

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874 JSemarb an the Idea of Rdigiim. [Apbil,

spire or plant Let only a few dajs pass, and nature will be found
to have put on, as if by rapid creation, a gorgeous, luxuriant vegeta-
tion. So under the able and godly preaching of the word, without
apparent, indpient moyements or manifested caases, all invisibly and
noiselessly, will a rich moral scene frequently be discovered to have
sprung up and spread itself abroad to greet and gladden Christ's de«
spending servants. All godly ministers shall reap if they faint not.
Bejoidng shall they come bearing sheaves, golden, ripe, abundant.

In respect to private Christians, it is a just expectation that they
bear much fruit The religion they profess being remarkable for its
outward, striking, important effects, certainly labors, sacrifices, re-
formations, moral progress should be ever understood to be insepara-
ble from their lives. Imbued with the energetic, enterprising spirit
of Christianity, where they find in the great moral field no harvest,
they will push the plough, scatter the seed, cultivate, protect and
make one ; when they find one already ripe, they will put in the sic-
kle with a strong arm and bind up the sheaves. Great things are to
be done ; they will go forth and do them. Life weareth away ; what
their hand findeth to do, they will do quickly and with their might



By Rev. William A. Steams, Cambridge, Mass.

[This Article is from the last number of the Studien und Eritiken
for 1851. In giving it an English dress, considerable condensation
has been attempted and a few passages altogether omitted, as unim-
portant to the subject By the preparation of this treatise for the
press, an endorsement of all its thoughts and shadings of thought is
not intended ; it is presented to the readers of the Bibliotheca simply
as an able discussion of a most important question, and as showing
the present tendencies of the German mind in its sounder theol<^cal


zed by Google

1852.] Viem of ScUeiermaeh0r and Be^ 875

circles. On the sDljject of the active and passiye will, and on the
lelations and forces of the church as a Divine organism, its complec-
tion is Lutheran ; but the position that religion is a life snpematu-
rallj and divinely imparted, and that the appropriate sphere for the
workings of this life is in and through an organized kingdom of God,
no evangelical theologian of whi^tever school will deny.]

Is religion a certainty of the understanding, of the feelings, or of the
will ? Is there a single side of the soul's life into which, as an element
of the same, it can be inserted ? What is the relation of religion to
other manifestations of this life ? And how from the id<»i of religion,
can all those circumstances, activities, ordinances, etc which are ne-
cessarily connected with it, be developed ? On such and such-like
questions, numerous inquiries respecting the nature of religion have
latterly turned. Especially from the time that rationalism and super-
naturalism b^i;an to desert the theological field, two views have stood
forth in opposition to each other, that of Sdileiermacher, which ex-
plains religion as something belonging to the feelings, and that of
Hegel, which maintains it to be a kind of knowing. The contest be-
tween the two need not be considered as yet completely settled. Both
systems have always a number of valiant cham{Hons on the plain, and
the efibrts to transfer the scientific strife to another domain, though in
some respects important, have been attended with no durable result
The doctrine of Schleiermacher, especially, demands the concession,
first, that on the psychological ground which forms the basis of its
idea of religion, a dogmatic system has been erected, which may be
considered the fullest scientific apprehension of Christianity, contem-
plated from the position of the evangelical creed, yet given, and second,
that its fundamental thoughts more than those of any other system since
Eant, have penetrated into the common views of Christian life. A
notion of religion which resolves the whole system of dogmatics into
statements respecting the devout frames of the Christian mind, and
thereby destroys all security for the objective truth of the same, must
certainly meet with great opposition on the side of an objective science.
It is readily confessed that in this way scientific theology would be
in danger of entirely losing its value, because faith in the founda-
tion of it would be grounded, not on something existing without itself,
absolutely certain in and of itself, but on a mere inward persuasion.
The school of Hegel, under such circumstances might boast, not
without reason, having rescued the honor of science, for it has been

Online LibraryAdrien Jean Quentin BeuchotThe Bibliotheca sacra and American biblical repository → online text (page 43 of 98)