Page images

Government commissions throughout be caught only by hearing them. At the empire are now at work upon these best, collectors can give, as it were, songs; the subject is far from ex- only the skeleton of the melody, which ha usted. This collection by Madame depends for its execution on an eleEvguènia Lineff is the first which has ment defying the powers of art to symbeen made by phonograph; the author bolize.” The main difficulties naturally claiming that she has thus found the for every modern collector are, first, most unerring method of transcription. that the Russian folk songs whatever But, knowing the Russian peasant's their original source, are obviously the idiosyncrasies, we think that a certain outcome of scales quite remote from self-consciousness has at times consid- our present tempered system of music. erably marred the effect of his singing For their exact notation we have no into the lady's phonograph. Still the corresponding signs; secondly, their experiment is not without interest, and rhythmical accent and punctuation are should be persevered in. It has been absolutely opposed to any known metriwell said though "that neither the cal system of accentuation in music. words nor a musical notation can give Should a complete revolution of the any idea of the effect of these horovodi laws which now govern European when sung with a full-throated chorus music ever come about, we may asto the open air and sky; their peculiar suredly look for its germs in the Rusmelodious cadence and inflection can sian folk-song.

The Saturday Review.



IV.-CHRISTIANITY AND HISTORY. My desire is to go out as far as pos- satisfying or being felt essential to sible to meet theologians on their ap- spiritual aspiration, either of an indiproach to the camp of physical science; vidual or of a church or fellowship, on for it is generally far more useful to the other. If I am right in this underdiscover points of possible agreement standing, I am willing to accept the than to emphasize points of difference. criteria suggested, without further To my comrades in science I would criticism, and have pleaded for the point out that the leading men among gradual reconsideration of certain traorthodox Christians now set us a good ditional tenets, on the grounds: example, since they no longer seem to (a) That they are not of a nature to be desire to maintain any fundamental ob- well evidenced historically, (to say jection against overba uling from time more than that would imply that I reto time the material and historical as- garded myself as a competent hissertions associated with Christianity, torical critic), and discarding those which cannot be (6) That they are not edifying to people established as facts. Discarding, that at any reasonable intellectual level; is to say, those which do not satisfy

1 Reference is intended to previous articles: one at least of two criteria or condi

that on

**Christian Doctrine," in April 1904;

on "Sin," in October 1904; as well as to tbat tions: that of being well evidenced his

"The Material Element in Christianity," in torically on the one hand, and that of January 1906.



while as to higher spiritual aspiration, it is independent of them.

It is satisfactory that cultured and learned theologians of the present day profess themselves ready to welcome hostile criticism of dogmas in which no doubt they personally believe; and I can assure those theologians that, in so far as I am constrained to feel that the Christianity of the Churches is cumbered with needless accretion, it is in no light spirit that I feel it, nor do I think that their entrenched position will be proved by process of time to be quite so impregnable in every detail as at present they evidently consider it. To them I and other critics or questioners may appear as akin to those who in physical science would throw doubt upon Galileo's laws of motion or upon Newton's theories of the precession of the equinoxes and the tides; and if I had attacked the inward and spiritual convictions of Christianity, my case would indeed be analogous with that of those crazy reformers. But all that I have endeavored to show is that certain asserted facts are not really essential to Christian life and fellowship, nor helpful in our outlook upon the universe, while in the light of experience they are extremely im

le; and in order further to clear the ground, let me make profession of the things I am willing to accept, before proceeding to the more positive or constructive division of our subject.

I accept the historic Christ as represented in the Gospels, together with the general account given of his teachings. In so far as the record is not accurate-and even without any knowledge of biblical criticism we must admit that it is bound to be inaccurateI consider that the record is likely to be inferior to the reality, that the report of the teachings may have been

spoiled and garbled in places but is not likely to have been improved. Some of these spoilings may have been due to misunderstanding, others to a desire for extra edification; and it is difficult to say which attitude of a transcriber is the more dangerous.

A similar view, however, may be held concerning the record of the words of any astounding genius; his contemporaries and immediate successors not likely to improve upon his teachings: even as mere commentators they may exhibit well-intentioned stupidity; but, if they have to act also as re porters, omission eked out by exaggeration must be prominent, and unconscious misrepresentation is bound to occur.

But now in the case of Christ I wish to go much further; I admit his inspiration in an extraordinary sense, and, though I might not have been able to make the discovery for myself, I accept the general consensus of Christendom as testifying to his essentially divine character: in other words, that he has revealed to the inhabitants of this planet some of the salient features of Godhead to an altogether exceptional extent.

He displays, in fact, attributes which many persons understand and signify when they use the word “God”: so much so, that they call him by the name of the Spirit which he reveals.? He does not display all the known attributes of God- not those studied in Natural Theology, for instance,-but he exhibits those which are most important to poor struggling humanity, and those which by their very simplicity and naturalness might otherwise have been overlooked by the human race, or stigmatized as too hopelessly anthropomorphic. The attributes of Fatherhood, for instance, strongly

2 The statement that the Christ depicted in the gospels is God. is a statement Illustrative of our conception of Godhead, and not really an

explanatory statement concerning Christ: we cannot define or explain the known in terms of the unknown.


and simply realized, constitute one rev- the Incarnation and the Resurrection, elation; the effective combination, or have never been doubted by Christians. even identification, of love of God with Until recently, I agree, no, not to any service of neighbor, constitutes another; great extent; but half a century ago and there is, it seems to me, an even they were ser ly doubted, by ple bolder conception of Deity suggested who thereby felt themselves outside the in the dramatic parable "the child in flock, but who ip all practical details the midst," of which I fancy we have of life and conduct were as good asbut an abbreviated version.

well, were comparable with-orthodox Practically then, and speaking in the Christians. The disbelief went, in my first person only because I have no judgment, too far: it extended itself right to commit any one else, I accept to some of the spiritual teachingsthe teachings of Christ; partly because those concerning prayer, for instance; I realize some of them myself, chiefly and it threw needless doubt upon some because saints and prophets and poets, phenomena, such as those referred to to whom I look up, have realized them in my earlier article, which may after far

vividly and completely. all have been facts. Whether it went Where I have hesitated, and found it too far or not, an atmosphere of disnecessary to remonstrate, is on the ma- belief became prevalent; and it was terialistic side of orthodox Christianity generated by the persistence of the -the place where the ordinary pbe faithful in certain material statements nomena of nature enter into the doc. which to an age of more knowledge bad trines, and are more or less associated become incredible. The extreme exor incorporated with them. Here I cursion of the pendulum has subsided plead for more elastic treatment, and now, but it is still swinging, and when here alone do I imagine that the mod- it settles down it will not occupy preern mind can see further and walk cisely the same place as it did before more securely than the mediæval mind; the oscillation began. The swing was it is possible that in the light of ac- caused by a shifting of the fulcrum or cumulated knowledge it can in some point of support, and only the bob has respects see more clearly than even the been visible. So it has become our saints and prophets of the past.

duty to determine how much and in It has been the perennial glory of what direction the real pivot of the Christianity that it can adapt itself to pendulum has been effectively moved, all conditions of men, and to all chang- and to realize that that is the position ing periods of time; but it has done so which will be taken by the oscillating always by modification of the non-es- mass of opinion, when present dissential: the spirit and essence have pre- turbances have subsided. Those, if served their identity; the accidentals, in there be any, who think that it can Judæa, in ancient Rome, in mediæval ever go back permanently to a preGermany, in modern England and nineteenth-century position, or to a poAmerica,-the accidentals have been sition determined by the first sis or any different.

other past centuries, are assuredly But throughout, it will be said, cer- mistaken. tain of the material aspects have pre- We shall now endeavor to arrive at served their continuity and identity un- a closer appreciation of what the eschanged. Some of the miracles, es- sence of Christianity really is, and also pecially the physical details supposed what it has been considered to be by to accompany, or even to constitute, all sorts and conditions of men.

V.-VARIETIES OF CHRISTIANITY. Christianity is a word of wide signif- and to insist not only on their symbolic icance, and it is not easy to attach to interpretation, but on some actual physit a definite meaning. It is clear that ical transformation, some bodily or as it exists among us it has many material efficacy. It builds less upon phases, which may be grouped around an historic past, and more upon a presfive or six principal types.

ent virtue residing in the Church, or 1. First there is evangelical or spirit- accessible to and utilizable by the ual Christianity, usually associated proper officers and dispensers of the with the name of Paul, which seeks to means of grace. It feels the imporemphasize a forensic scheme of salva- tance of times and seasons and buildtion, and to link itself on to the He- ings and sensuous representation; it is braistic and Hellenistic ideas of blood apt to concentrate attention on eccleand vicarious sacrifice. Salvation by siastical details, with a zest for minufaith in the Atonement is the central tiæ, which when compared with the feature of this scheme, and right con- vital issues at stake, strikes an outduct is a secondary though natural se- sider as rather pathetically humorous; quel to right belief and to trust in what and it sometimes so elaborates the maby Divine mercy has been already fully terial acts of worship, such as the sacaccomplished; so that no “perform- raments, that they tend to take on the ance” is necessary for salvation, but nature of incantation, and are occaonly assimilation of the sacrifice and sionally performed by the priest alone, oblation of Christ, once and for ever the congregation passively sharing in accomplished.

their mysterious and miraculous virtue. This variety of Christianity aims at 3. Then there is the practical or pragattending to the spiritual aspect only, matical form of Christianity, usually asand despises the material; it rejects the sociated with the name of James, intervention of men and of material which emphasizes the virtue of good aids; it mistrusts the use of music and works and the importance of conduct, ornament, and it endeavors, sometimes which regards belief and doctrine as with poor success, to contemn the of secondary importance, which seeks beauty of this present world in compar- no cloistered virtue, but throws itself ison with the glory that shall be re- vigorously into social movement, and vealed; even the sacraments it is in- endeavors both by word and deed to clined to minimize, and to regard them serve the brethren, and by active charas memorial services helpful to the ity to ameliorate the lot of those whom spirit, rather than as agencies of real it thinks of as Christ's poor. and present efficacy achieving some- 4. Yet another variety is the mystical thing otherwise unattainable. Definite emotional form of Christianity, historical fact is of supreme importance usually associated with the name of to this variety of belief; for if that be John, which seeks by rapt adoration taken away the basis of faith is under- and worship of the Redeemer, and love mined, and the system totters to of all whom he has called his brethren destruction.

-"even the least of these my brethren," 2. Next there is ecclesiastical or dog- --to rise to the height of spiritual conmatic Christianity, usually associated templation and ecstasy: tending somewith the name of Peter, which is apt what in this its high quest to isolate to emphasize the efficacy of ceremo- itself from the world, in order to lose nies, to regard material actions and itself in an anticipation of heaven. priestly offices as essential to salvation, ö. There exists also, one must admit,



some trace of what may be called gov- nize it as the greatest that has yet exerning or hierarchical Christianity, isted on this planet; hence, if it is which glorifies the priestly office, which through human nature that we seeks after temporal power, which re- gradually grow to some dim concepgards the material prosperity of the tion of the majesty of the Eternal, it Church as of more importance than is the life and teachings of that greatthe welfare of states and peoples, est Prophet that we shall do well to which joins hands with autocratic rul- study diligently when we wish to disers for the oppression of the poor, entangle and display some of the se. which blesses and sustains violence, so crets of the spiritual universe; and, by it be used against the Church's ene- the saints, his words have always been mies, which banishes and excommuni- recognized as the highest yet spoken on cates the saints-even those of its own earth concerning the relations between household,-and by corruption of the man and man and between man and best succeeds in abetting the cause of God. It is certain that only a few of the worst. This is the kind of Chris- his utterances are contained in our tianity which attracts the special no- documentary records, and it is probable tice of sceptics and scoffers; and that some of them have been mutimost of the diatribes of good men lated and spoiled in transmission; against Christianity and the Christian nevertheless it is of interest to take ideal are based upon some confused ap- those recorded words and see how far prehension of this ghastly and blas- they countenance the various schemes phemous travesty.

or types of Christianity which have Whether it exists, here and there, in been based upon them. And in parthis country it is not for me to say, ticular I wish to select those which but it certainly has some existence in seem to strengthen the case for either that country which is now, or soon we a partly material or a purely spiritual hope will be, in the throes of an ulti- interpretation of Christianity. mately beneficent revolution—the coun- First, to clear away the blasphemous try whose Church has excommunicated use of Christ's name in association with Tolstoi, and whose Procurator of Holy political or temporal or hierarchical Synod, in the furtherance of what is Christianity, the following will suffice: conceived of as legitimate ecclesiastical

"My kingdom is not of this world." aggrandizement, has exhorted the Czar

“Woe unto you, generation of vipers, to folly and wickedness in terms of ful

that stoneth the prophets,” etc. some and superstitious adulation.

"Ye make the commandments of God 6. Lastly, there is the Christianity of none effect by your tradition." particularly exemplified and taught by that Syrian Carpenter, during his three There are many emphatic statements years of public service, before his ex- that religion is peculiarly a spiritual ecution as a criminal blasphemer. The affair:name of that gentle and pathetic figure has been used by the greater part of

In favor of a spiritual form of religion. the Western world ever since, some- "God is a spirit, and they that wortimes to sanctify enterprises of pity and

ship him ..." tenderness, sometimes to cloak miser

"Neither in this mountain nor yet in

Jerusalem ..." able ambitions, sometimes as a mere

“The words that I speak unto you garment of respectability.

they are spirit ..." Whatever view we may take of this “That born of flesh is flesh, of spirit Personality, we can most of us recog. is spirit.”

« PreviousContinue »