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Yet a more excellent way. An essay on the theory and practice of the Christian religion online

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"Yet a More Excellent Way."

284927
AN ESSAY

on the

Theory and Practice

\ /

of the

CHRISTIAN RELIGION



By

R R. BENSON



Published by the Author, Anoka, Minnesota
J903



Yet a. More Excellent Way."



AN ESSAY

on the

Theory and Practice

of the

CHRISTIAN RELIGION



By

P. R. BENSON






Published by the Author, Anoka, Minnesota
J903



'34927.



^t>



CONTENTS.



PART I.— THE THEORY.



Chapter I. The Sensible Service of Christianity 9

Chapter II. The Church Diverting 12

Chapter HI. The Social Rendezvous 19

Chapter IV. The Ancient Church 25

Chapter V. The Decay of Faith 35

Chapter VI. Pagan Piety 49

Chapter VII. Semp er ] dem 5-7

Chapter VIII. The Secondary Religious Appetence 60

Chapter IX. "Follow Me" 70

Chapter X. The Word of God 86

Chapter XI. St. Paul 94

Chapter XII. Some Modern Testimony 113

Chapter XIII. The Obdurate Self 120

Chapter XIV. De Via 126

Chapter XV. The Dark Ages 132

Chapter XVI. The Reformation 138

Chapter XVII. The Corporate Church 146

Chapter XVIII. The Established Church 153

Chapter XIX. The Ethical Impulse 158

PART II.— THE APPLICATION.

Chapter I. Vengeance Without the Law 167

Chapter II. The Making of a Right 170

Chapter III. Right and Might 183

Chapter IV. The Resort to Violence 187

Chapter V. The Law " 194

Chapter VI. The Will of the Individual 204

Chapter VII. Wants 214

Chapter VIII. The Poor 221

Chapter IX. How the Law Fails 231

Chapter X. Legislation by the Mob 236

Chapter XI. The Prince of Peace 244



"How difficult and discouraging soever this at-
tempt may seem, when I consider how many great
and extraordinary men have gone before me in the
like design, yet I am not without some hopes — upon
the consideration that the largest views are not al-
ways the clearest, and that he who is short-sighted
will be obliged to draw the object nearer, and may,
perhaps, by a close and narrow survey, discern that
which had escaped far better eyes."

— Bishop Berkeley.



PART I.



The Theory*



CHAPTER I.

The Sensible Service of Christianity,

Every Sunday the highways and byways of Chris-
tendom are thronged with people going to church.
About eyerybody goes to church more or less often.
The man or woman who never goes to church is rare.
Few, perhaps, go every Sunday, but almost any Sun-
day finds a large part of the people going.

Why do people go to church?

Because they find some profit in going, of course.
In providing the church to go to, Christianity renders
people a sensible service, by which I mean a service
appreciated by the people themselves as such. The
church to go to is plainly the efficient implement, so
to speak, to a valued purpose, else the people would
not make the use of it we find them making.

On the first face of it, going to church is a religious
proceeding.

Religion, in the general and objective sense, holds
always, I suppose, the purpose to effect a harmony of
will between God and man; to make God's will to be
man's will. In a word, atonement, that is, at-one-
ment, is the purpose common to all religions. It is
in their several methods of bringing about the atone-
ment that religions differ. Each religion has its own
peculiar method of making man to be at one with
God, and back of the method its peculiar theory of
the relation of man to God.



10 THEORY AND PRACTICE OF

The theory back of the Christian method, if I un-
derstand it, embraces these three fundamental doc-
trines, namely: The doctrine of man's inevitable de-
pravity, holding that we fall into sin, that is, into
God's disfavor, in spite of all we may do, and that
such sin, prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, was in-
expiable, to the end that we could not possibly be at
one with God; the doctrine of vicarious expiation,
holding that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, while ren-
dering us none the less inevitably sinful, expiated our
sin in general, in such measure as to leave the com-
pletion of our atonement within the compass of our
own power; and, finally, the doctrine of completed
satisfaction in virtue of expiatory activities by our-
selves in our own behalf.

I use the term anivities in a large sense. For in-
stance, I would rail believing an activity, and the
faith whereby man is justified according to some, an
expiatory activity. For this faith is an act of the
mind in some degree voluntary, as every exhortation
to faith implies.

There is no unifurmily of practice among (,'hristians
to determine what these expiatory activities are; in
answer to the question. What must a man do, pre-
cisely, in consummation of his atonement made possi-
ble by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? various answers
are heard; it is in answering this question that Chris-
tianity breaks up into sects. But it is enough for
our })resent purpose to observe that going to church
is one of these activities. It is, ])rinui facie, as we
were just now saying, a i-cligious and a Christian pro-
ceeding.

Are we, then, permitlcd to say at once that the
sensible seivicc which dirisl i;niiiy ]>l;nnly ]«.?)d»'?'«



THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. H

the people in providing them a church to go to is a
religious service?

Obviously, we have yet to look at this proceeding
of going to church in another aspect. We need to
know sonaething of the intent with which people go
to church, before we decide what is the sensible serv-
ice rendered b}' Christianity in providing the church
to go to. Before we may say that the sensible serv-
ice, the service which the people themselves appreci-
ate as such, is a religious service, we need be assured
that the proceeding of going to church is actuated by
a religious purpose; specifically, the purpose to ex-
piate sin, as our brief view of the Christian theory
will perhaps serve to make clear.

What is it that the people have come out for to
see, or hear, or feel?

Is their purpose, which the church to go to is being
made to serve, a religious purpose?

We need attempt no fine analysis. The motives of
the multitude we find going to church concern us
only in their general character. It is not what they
are, particularly, but whether or not they are derived
from the desire to be at one with God, that has to do
with our present inquiry.



CHAPTER II.

The Church Diverting,

In a house of Christian worship where there were
sittino^s for 1,500, fewer than fifty souls met, on a cer-
tain Sal)bath evening, to hear the sermon of instruc-
tion and the anthems of praise.

The pastor and the trustees ajjreed that something
had to be done, at once; it did not pay to hold serv-
ices of that sort for the benefit of such a small con-
gregation. Thr i>astor jnojiosed, since the peopl?
ANouM not < (line io tlio clmrcli. that the church go to
llic |MM>|il('. S]M'rirK;illy. lie was for having the Sun-
day cvriiiiiLi scrvirrs in I lie cliicf theater of the town;
lie \\(tiillement to
some xaliKMJ jiiirpose of his the church supplies in
providing the place and 1 he occasion for ju'ayer and
comnmnion; and it < ann(»i be the puri)()se of diver-
sion.

li is jMissihlc iliai he \vlirima
donna sing ciicounicitMl. hy ilic way, something
wliicli siMiilt'd liiiii into a conscicuisness of his rela-
tion to (mkI; something whicli set him to thinking of
(Jod, to the end that he came back the next Sunday
\\'\\\i ;i \ icw to jdcising (Jod. and to the profit of his
soul. Thai is lo say, it is jxtssihle that the church,
by nie;ins of i he innocent dr\ ices it uses to bring
peojdc lo it. is ('iialdcd to touch ihese people, or some
«d" ilicni at least, with a religious purpose, and to
niai


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Online LibraryRamsey BensonYet a more excellent way. An essay on the theory and practice of the Christian religion → online text (page 1 of 16)