Изображения страниц

The first water craft was simply a floating object, perhaps only sufficient to carry one person ; but, by the aid of science, the forces of nature have been brought into use, until we look with wonder upon the mighty iron-clad steamer that, with compass and chart, ploughs the briny waves and never misses a single beat of its great iron heart from shore to shore. The iron rails that now stretch across the continent from sea to sea, and the great network as they cross and recross, all working in perfect order, carrying the merchandise of the nation, and the wonderful mass of human beings, with such certainty that it is claimed that almost the safest place to be found is on board a train of cars. But what effect would it have had on science had it always been considered heresy to make any improvements?

We have had many blessings in this land. Indeed it may be said of us as it was said by Moses to the Israelites on the border of the land of promise. After he had stood upon the top of Pisgah and looked at the land and received the knowledge that he could not pass over, he then spent the remainder of his time in rehearsing God’s dealings with them : “Search earth and heaven and ye will fail to find a nation that has been dealt with as this people.” So may it be said of us. We have had trouble as a nation. Only a few years ago was heard the sharp rattle of musketry and the heavy roll of cannons. The heavy tread of soldiery as the long lines went forth to deadly combat, brother against brother. When I speak on this subject my feelings are such that I scarcely can control them ; and, although the combat is ended and the blood has ceased to flow, yet the tears still course their way down my aged cheeks as I remember brave sons whose bones lie mouldering beneath the rays of a Southern sun. Every hearthstone in this land has been wet by tears and every family circle has been broken. But these things have passed away, and the angel of peace is hovering above us, and we pray God it may continue. And, whilst we are thus blessed, let us each one endeavor to build the house of God, and no danger but the glory of God will be there, the Urim and the Thummim will be there, and the spirit of prophecy will be there ; and, though it be builded larger than the first and built by those in the younger walks of life, it will be for the same purpose and in it will be the same vessels and all the precious things of the first with the improvements of the present.


Read at Concord First-day School Union, held at Chester Fourth mo. 18th, 1885.

There are two distinct things in the world that pass under the name of religion, correct believing and correct behaving : faith in the sense of accepting prescribed dogmas, and faith in the sense of faithfulness, devotion to duty. The difference between these two things, in the statement of them, is very obvious, but in every-day life it is not so easy to separate them. In fact, we rarely find either of them, in the entire absence of the other. Every form of religion, every individual religious mind, contains a blending of both. The most advanced

liberalism, while it founds itself upon character, inculcates the necessity of some belief; and the most benighted conservatism, while it teaches that certain doctrines must be subscribed to at peril of eternal perdition, still urges the necessity of good behavior. It is plain to the student of history that belief, for ages past, has been assuming less and less importance in the estimation of the Christian world, and that character, in all religious teaching, is coming more and more to the foreground; and the question, whether this is a hopeful change is a very important one to every lover of humanity. I propose therefore

to inquire whether or not belief can ever be a duty.

If the tree is to be judged by its fruits, if systems are to be judged by their consequences, then the form of religion which consists in mere belief stands condemned in the light of all history. Its fruits have been evil, wholly evil. Jesus was crucified because he was accused of believing himself to be the Son of God. The Apostles were persecuted, some of them put to the most cruel deaths because they believed in the resurrection. Luther was excommunicated because he would not believe that the church could sell the right to sin for money. Bruno was burned because he believed the sun to be the centre of the Solar system, and Galileo only saved himself from the stake by denying his belief. To go back in the world’s history, the rightful owners of the soil of Palestine were exterminated because they believed in the wrong God, and their very domestic animals were put to tortures shocking to read of for the wrong belief of their owners. What is it that keeps up the smothered hostility between and among the various sects of christendom ? Why is it that each indulges a concealed contempt and hatred of all the others? It is because each teaches that all the others, as far as they differ from it, are guilty of the wrong belief. It would be well to have the words of Paul conspicuously placed in all places of worship : “If I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have all faith and have not charity I am nothing. If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and give my body to be burned, and have not charity it profiteth me nothing.” But is belief ever a duty ? True belief is the result of the impartial weighing of testimony. The mind puts the reasons for and against in juxtaposition and contrasts them, to ascertain which is the stronger side. Its conclusion is the result of a fair balancing of the scales. The mind may force the balance; indeed the fairest mind is apt, unconsciously, to put its wishes in one scale and so to force a result. But in such a case the result is never reliable. We may therefore lay it down as a settled rule that if we wish to believe a proposition, our conclusion in the premises is not to be depended upon. We had better in such case let the point remain undecided. At least we will not then be deceiving ourselves. How then can it ever be a man's duty to believe anything? Certainly it can never be our duty to weigh the evidence unfairly, to cheat our own minds. If we conclude we ought to believe, that alone incapacitates us from weighing the testimony fairly We will wish to do what we ought, and that wish will get into the scale and produce an unreliable result. I am very far from holding, however, that it is immaterial what we believe. There are some beliefs apparently honestly held, that are demoralizing. We should always believe what we conclude upon full examination to be true. But if we find that any particular belief renders us uncharitable, unkind, unforgiving, we may fairly conclude that some selfish item has gone into the balance without our knowledge, and we should at once reject the result as necessarily wrong, or re-examine the question, eliminating the selfish element, that is to say the wish to produce a given result. It is remarkable that faith in the sense of belief holds a very inconspicuous place in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The good Samaritan, held up as an example to all Christians throughout all the ages, was an arrant heretic, an infidel, a believer in the wrong creed, in the estimation of both Jew and Christian. In the parable of the final judgment, it was the believers, the professors that were rejected, because they had relied upon their belief to save them, and had neglected the little human duties, in their daily pathway through life. On the other hand, they who were accepted had no belief, knew nothing of theoretical religion, wondered that they should even be called followers of Christ; but having no creed, they had gone about doing good, rendering

kind services to the least of humanity, and therefore

[ocr errors]


If we were to attempt an analysis of the features of Quakerism, it might be said that in a certain broad, but perhaps not very precise sense, the Friends had three classes of characteristics, and that these Wel'e - 1. Their religious principles. 2. Their Testimonies, views affirmative and declaratory, or negative and condemnatory, in relation to the practical affairs of life. 3. Their customs, usages, and peculiarities. To the world outside it is these last, unessential, and scarcely important at all, that are often best known. The idea of “Quaker” entertained by many superficial observers is a man with a straight coat, or a woman with a plain bonnet. And with many of our own membership it is doubtless the case that our “Testimonies” occupy their first and highest thought. Yet it is true, and cannot be too earnestly or too emphatically declared, that it is the first characteristic which is the essential one. This is primary, the others proceed from it. For the Society of Friends is a religious body. It is that, and that only. All its manifestations are derived from the fact and lead back to it. Unless it be a religious body, it has neither reason for being, nor the possibility of being very long. The moral and benevolent activities of the Society, valuable as they have been to the world and honorable as they have been to those who undertook and maintained them, were not fundamental, - they were simply the practical outcome of its Christian char

acter. It was the religious force within which was thus manifested, and without that force these manifestations would have been of little consequence. Upon this point, therefore, we agree heartily with those who insist upon keeping always in view the primary and essential nature of our organization. They are quite right. It can be built only, on one foundation. Any attempt to move it off that foundation will destroy the whole fabric. All the strength of the structure that has been reared since the days of the early Friends is that given by the stones which they laid. When he began to preach, George Fox had in his perception the simple subject of religion. No other force animated him. Nothing else drew him on. He thought of his mission as containing nothing other than this. That Christianity should be practical he did most distinctly believe, but he proved it by its outcome; he did not build the religion itself upon its outward evidences. He believed that the proof of attention to the Monitor Within must be presented by a course in life consistent with the Christian teachings, and that as a foul stream is evidence of an unclean fountain, so a pure stream showed that the source in the soul had been purified by the divine sunlight. He never failed to understand that the reason for doing right must be the religious apprehension of the duty of right-doing, and that without such deep seated and solemn convincement in the most sacred and secret recesses of the professing Christian's heart, there can be no assurance that his right-doing will long continue. If it should be asked, then, of what avail is it to strive to awaken new interest, and arouse a fresh life in our body, we should reply frankly that it is of no avail whatever, except as a means of increasing our religious warmth. Fire is but the increase of heat, and heat is derived from active effort. If it were the fact that Friends now hoped to revive their Society by mere expedients, by moral, or social, or literary, or scientific stimulants, it would be a reason for giving up all expectation that any permanent revival would be accomplished. The Society is neither a moral association nor a social club. It is a religious body, or it is nothing.—Friends' Journal.

We reprint the above from the Journ AL of Fourth mo. 9, desiring to bring it to the notice of FRIENDS' INTELLIGENCER readers.


John H. McIlvain, a birthright member of our Society, died at his residence in West Philadelphia, on the 26th ult., in his seventy-seventh year.

He was the eldest son of Hugh and Hannah McIlvain of West Philadelphia, and the grandson, on his mother's side, of John and Rachel Hunt, the latter an approved minister of Darby Meeting. He was thoroughly convinced of the truth of Friends' principles as he understood them, and was a great admirer of the character and writings of William Penn. Though a frequent attender of our little meeting in West Philadelphia, he took no part in business meetings. For many years engaged in the lumber business on the west side of the Schuylkill river, his courtesy and probity in dealing won him many friends among his customers.

He leaves a wife, three sons, two daughters, and ten grandchildren, among whom, as well as other relatives and friends, his gentle loving nature created for him a warm attachment, and by whom he will be greatly missed. A sincere fiend of the Indian race, whose original character he deemed both noble and truthful, he made several visits to their reservations in what was then considered the “far West,” and remained among them for months at a time, always parting from them with friendly feelings on both sides. Frequently when a delegation passed through Philadelphia, on their way to Washington, or on their return, he managed to interest the whole party sufficiently to induce them to visit him at his house. The Indians seemed always to recognize that he was their friend, and he gained their attention when many others failed. The valuable museum of objects relating to their customs and dress, which he has left, shows many mementoes of their appreciation of his kindly attentions. He possessed great mechanical skill in imitating some of their productions, notably, bows, arrows and arrow-heads, which he made so deftly, that they could scarcely be distinguished from the originals which he had copied. The arrow-heads he made by the Indian mode of chipping the mineral of which they were composed, by pressure, using hard bones, precisely as the Indian workman did, and producing specimens, accurate and of the highest finish. He was an earnest lover and close observer of nature, and never seemed more at home than when among the mountains, or on the great prairies of the West. This bent of mind made him an ornothologist, and his intimate knowledge of the habits and notes of the birds of our country, from personal observation, was shown, in the wonderful skill with which his specimens were mounted, always true to nature, a skill, as competent judges have testified, second to none in this country, and to which, the beautiful collection in his museum bears visible evidence. In this interesting pursuit he mostly hunted and killed his birds, and although a good shot he never destroyed life without an object, and when sufficient specimens were secured, desisted from his work. On such subjects as he was interested in he was a fluent talker, and his conversation was often very instructive and interesting. West Philadelphia, Fifth mo. 3d, 1885.


F. W. Robertson says: “It seems to me a life of amusement is irreconcilably antagonistic to Christianity, and more destructive to the higher spirit than even the mercantile life in its worst form.”

He further says: “The austerity that comes after life's experience is more healthy, because more natural than that which begins it. When austerity begins life it is the putting of the new wine into the old, weak wine-skins, which burst, and the young heart, cheated out of its youth, indemnifies itself by an attempt to realize the feelings which were denied it by a double measure of indulgence in age;” “or,” adds a Friend, “instead of indulgence, it adopts a narrow proscriptive spirit that would square all

others by its own rules of action. There is a robust, healthy, hearty taking up of the higher life, just as it finds us, not changing from wibout so much, only !opping off that which is false or unprofitable, a working from within until the leaven is diffused through and through. This is what will never fossilize into dogmatism. Let us pray for an increase of such asceticism.”



[The following is taken from The Student. It was one of the Essays read at the Educational Conference at the Meetinghouse, Fifteenth and Hace Street, on Second month 28th, 1885.]

In talking one day with a much honored Kindergartner of the discouragements in the work with children, she turned the whole tide of my feeling by saying, “Keep your faith;” and for many years that has been a sort of starting-point—a place to go to to take my bearings. Let us lose our faith once in the child, and all the poetry is gone out of teaching ; it would be better for us and the child both if we were at some other avocation.

A professor of a prominent college once said to me that he felt sorry to see a fresh young girl take the profession of teaching; that she must so soon find that it is a life of giving and giving, and getting nothing. Another teacher—a woman—once said, “Well, I am heartily tired of teaching, and teaching, and asking the children to please take it in.”

Now, we all know what this means, and we have all felt just so, but “keep your faith.” Harriet Martineau, in her Household Education, says: “Have patience to let Nature work, without hindrance and without degradation; give her free scope, remove out of her way everything that is low and Sordid and needlessly irritating, and minister to her everything that is pure and gentle, and noble and true, and she will produce a glorious work.” Why is it we have to ask such a question as “How shall we induce children to keep up an interest in their studies after they leave school?” Why do we have to say, “Children, please do try to do something for yourselves after I am done doing for you?” Is it that our schools are filled only with sick children who are not hungry enough to eat nor merry enough to play? I do not like to degrade a school into a hospital. Suppose we start a school for healthy children, what shall we do to preserve the inborn desire for knowledge? how shall we keep that activity which Froebel says is Nature's first law Ż He teaches that idleness in the child is a habit—that the child begins the life of acting after the first few months; that children like to work and they will work hard ; it is their nature, for man was created to work. To children all work is play, and they are continually asking the assistance of grown people in that play; they want to be counseled and guided, but grown people seldom know how to be true guides; they either are, overbearing and arbitrary, desiring children to act according to their ideas, or they are without interest and sympathy. They do not realize that by such playful ways the child gets conceptions, and a little exertion gradually increased makes finally the greatest exertion possible. Laziness in children often results from the care which parents take to save them from exertion by having everything done for them. A Ledger editorial of some months ago asks, “What becomes of all the promising children 2 How is it that children really promising and even superior in certain directions too often dwindle into second and third rate men and women 7° and went on to lay the responsibility at the feet of parents and teachers. Justice to the child is beginning to be done, and people are beginning to look in the right direction to lay their eriticisms. Keep your faith in the child, and look to parents and the home, to teachers and the school, to answer for the apathy or dislike for intellectual exertion. For the child in all the first vigor of activity, we are now beginning to look to the Kindergarten to foster and direct; there we are ready to acknowledge, are the appliances for doing and the correct principles for government and growth. Let us look to the Kindergarten for the inspiration for the work to come. Miss Peabody writes a little book called After the Kindergarten, What? and most of us have to do with the “What?” but to those who have gone so far as the “What?” there is hope. The only school to be suspicious of is the one that has no Kindergarten, and consequently no “What ?” I speak of the correct principles of government in Kindergarten, for therein I think lies much of the damage done in schools toward stifling or misdirecting activity. Let there be no steps between the school-room and polite society, the government of one's self for the rights of others. Let us remove our marking and grading and let each child find his own place—individuals from first to last. To many children the machinery of the school-room and the personality of the teacher is a great hindrance; the great activity of the teacher, the wonderful teaching that she does, may in itself create languor in the child. I have felt myself in the presence of some teachers as though I could think of nothing but how well she explains, how wonderfully she manages; all excellent for the teacher, but how many children before her are growing strong? Such a school may become such a power that it seems to the child a world within itself, governed upon principles that do not apply at home, teaching things that are not brought into his life and he never imagines they can be. A certain course to be completed and then a new life. Some teachers speak of school work as being only to make a skeleton to fill out in time to come. I remember being told that once, and somehow there grew up in my mind so ghastly a picture that I am sure I should never blame anybody from shrinking from the completion of the monster when he came out from school and had his own way of it; but to those who like skeletons, that might be an enticing work. Still, I would advise some more generally pleasing comparison for the work of school days. I do not believe many of our schools do the best thing toward making us strong to work for ourselves. The average scholar studies too much for the teacher; this lesson is prepared for this particular recitation.

A teacher of genius will overcome this in her class by various devices all her own, and make machine work unpopular. That I may know this thing— that it may be one link in my chain, is not a sufficiently strong idea in the pupil. We know this, and we regret it. We have our theories about helping the young out of it, but they are better than our practice. We believe in self-activity, but we absorb: the activity. Idleness becomes a habit in the child before our eyes, while we are doing and doing. We believe that the child should not hear or learn anything which it cannot by reproducing make its individual property. Froebel tells us that the means to the young child of reproduction is in drawing, and we know, later on, what the pencil in the hands of a child with ideas will write, if we only had time to let him use it; but there is so much to teach, and if he ever should learn to use the pencil for reproduction of his thought, do you imagine for a moment that he could be induced to keep up an interest in drawing or writing after he left school 2 Did you ever try to induce a girl to keep up an interest in reading after she left school, if she had ever learned to read 2 if words have become aids and not hindrances to thought 7 Can you keep her from feeding where thought is expressed ? We are all groping after methods; let us remember there is no method for us to apply to all minds, but we can help each mind to find its own method of growth. I have seen a history class of young girls, this winter, sent to the library with topics of American history to look up, reading from Irving, Prescott and Bancroft with interest and intelligence, and I am confident they are gathering more than facts. I know they are learning to love history, and I am not in the least in doubt but they will take an interest in American history all their lives. To send children on voyages of discovery accomplishes two things: it teaches them the fact they have found, and it strengthens them for the next trip; finally, they will not need to be sent at all, for with every true victory springs up the longing for another. Certainly there is something wrong, there has been Some sad mistake, when children do not want to study after they leave school. That they do not immediately organize and systematize their work may not always be their fault; the demands of business and of society may claim them ; but if the fire has not been smothered in school it will burn out of school. Was there ever better advice to teachers than that of Philip of Macedon to Aristotle when he gave him his son, the young Alexander, to teach : “Make yourself unnecessary to him.” West Philadelphia. LUCRETIA. M. B. MITCHELL.

EveRY man, says Sir Henry Thompson, ought to deal carefully and faithfully with himself, watching rigorously the effects of the smallest license on his mental and bodily state, and boldly denying himself the use of a luxurious habit if he finds any signs of harm arising therefrom. And he must perform the difficult task with a profound conviction that his judgment is very prone to bias on the side of indulgence, since the luxurious habit is so agreeable.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE CHURCH OF THE PRESENT.-While we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the Church in the past has kept alive in the hearts of men a reverence for God, and in varying degrees has helped the world to understand the duties and responsibilities of human life and to realize an accountability to God as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we must acknowledge that the enormous power it has wielded, has too often been used to fetter the conscience and stifle investigation, thus cutting man off from the sources of knowledge, and circumscribing his thought within the limits of human authority. It is the province of the Church to exert a regenerating influence upon the world ; but to do this it must meet the world's needs. It holds within its grasp the keys of the kingdom of heaven, not in the sense claimed by the followers of St. Peter, but in the fulness of that sympathy and fellowship of the Gospel of Christ that unlocks the gates of selfishness and distrust, that the peace of God may enter in and abide forever. It is this conception of the Church and its work that is slowly but surely taking possession of its living members now bearing its burdens and responsibilities. They are learning that there can be “pure and undefiled religion ” without a formulated creed; that it is a matter of individual experience that whatever reveals God to us, whatever brings Him nearer to us, whatever lifts us up into the purer light of the infinite glory and gives us a sense of communion with the Highest, is religion; all that prompts to kindly action, to gentle, loving speech, is worship, and the soul, realizing the immanence of the Divine, makes haste to put its house in order for the heavenly Guest. We read the visions of prophet and apostle, of the time when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of God and His Christ, the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, and we cry “Lord hasten the time.” But do we not know this glorious renovation will be brought about through the faithfulness of the Church, and will come, as each individual member, through obedience to the refining influence of the Divine Spirit, makes all things new within himself.”

The principles of Christianity as enunciated by its founder include the principles of justice and fairdealing one with another. The Golden Rule lies at its very foundation. To come to an obedience to this law, requires close searching of heart that the springs of action may be kept pure and sweet. We cannot divorce this Christianity from our business, our recreations and our social relations, it must permeate and pervade every action of life. The “Whatsoever ye would ask of another,” must be the principle of action with the Divine precept always before the mind, “Do all to the glory of God.”

All work that makes life better, truer and more God-like is Church work, and we are wise in our generation if we accept it as such and conform our methods to the broadening field of duty and service opening before us.

OUR APPROACHING GATHERING.—A few more words ere we enter upon the services of our annual meeting, to which, and from which, we date so many of the points along the line of our religious work. Religious in the sense of keeping us in the way of “unspotted lives,” by applying to ourselves the inquiries which we ask and answer collectively at this time; religious also in the aiding of the weak and helpless if perchance we report ourselves as engaged in work for humanity, and religious in a devotional sense, that hereby we strengthen one another in that love and fealty we all owe to Him who has caused our lines to fall in “pleasant places,” and who has given us such a “goodly heritage.” But let us guard ourselves against the grave error of permitting this large assembly to feed our selfcomplacency. Rather let us search ourselves as with a “lighted candle” to see where we fall short of the standard of a true disciple. If, in comparing notes of the past, we find good results, let it spur us on to fresh activity; if otherwise, let there be no gloomy reflections, but take fresh courage and resolve, if possible, to make better use of our advantages for religious growth. Let us search for hidden talents, by calling into the ranks of workers as many of all ages as we can. In the making up of committees for the various services to be performed we need the aged for counsel, the middle-aged for strength, and the young for zeal and warmth ; thus shall we have all the elements gathered to add strength and interest to this our yearly feast, and make it one of profit and blessing to all who may be privileged to attend. Nor should those who abide at home be neglected. Let there be diligent storing up of all that will benefit, whether it be in the meeting proper, or the sustly-valued social

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »