Press enter after choosing selection

A Plea In Behalf Of Democratic Christianity

A Plea In Behalf Of Democratic Christianity image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

vin i.iiiaiiitj It is suggestive of the spirit of the age and the tendency of the times, in ;he matter of the improveinent and elevation of the tnasses, in all that per;aius to their woll-being, both here and in the horeafter, that at two large popular meetings, one in New York, the other in Brooklyn, an eloquent plea comes to us for giving the gospel, not denominationalism, to the maases, " the toiling millions," from two opposite stand-points ; the pulpit and the platform, and froin speakers popularly supposed ;o be, in their religious, if not moral status in public judging, heaven-wide apart. The oue plea was made by au eloquent and learned professor, liev. Boswell D. Sitchoock, D. D., in a recent address in ;he Lafayette Avenuo Presbyterian church (Rav. Dr. T. 8. Cuylor's,) Brookyn, on " Tlte Necesiity for a Democratie Christianity, - the other, by the uo less eloquent and talented platform speaker, Anna E. Dickinson, in a recent lecture on " Platform and Stage," dolivered in Chickering Hall, New York. Both speakers were listened to by a arge and sympathetic audience, and each audience liberal in its applause of the sentiments uttered, at both places; ihough, in the one case, with a subdued and hushed feeling struggliug to eye and lip for utterance; and, in the other, with a freedom of expression which the proprieties of the occasion did not hold in check by any conventional restraints. Prof. Hitchcock, in his address, plead for a more democratie presentation of gospel truth - and by a democratio presentation he means one more suited to the masses than is now characteristic of the utterances of " our protestant" pulpit. Ho says " The protestant reform was democratie, but have we not witnessed, in our own country, the beginning of the caste system 'i Have we not beeu building church edifices and organizing a style of Chritttian instruetion which has shut out the masses from the sound of the gospel as it has gone forth from our protestant pulpit? I have been profoundly impreased for a long time with this wcakness and peril of protestantism. üur protestant gospel has degenerated into culture, - oulture so fine that that plain, meíí CANNOT APPRECIATE IT AND DO NOT WANT IT. " This is plain language - a two edged sword, not indeed a Daniajcus blade, but the "sword of the spirit - "piercing even the joints and inarrow" of his subject, " The Weakuess and Peril of Protestautism." Further along in his address he saya, in terins clearly cut and incisive, in answer to the question which he raises, viz.: "Meanwhile, what is to be done to reach the uiasses, and by the masses we mean two-thirds of the people? I do not believe you will get to this brotherhood until you take the gospel to tbe masses in their oellars and garrete. Pind them out in their homes and then they will follow their benefaotors any where, even into a protestant ohurch." This is the '■Democratie Christianity " which gave powor to tho tnodieovitl churoh- Christ's church- whatever may have been ita baptismal name, - and which, the cross and crucified one to the masses, - spanned the dark aud wide abyss between the old GrecoEoman age and the more modern Teutonic civilization which succeeded the "Democratie Christianity," to use the Professor's exprossion, which held the very heart, name and fame of the Christ of the Gospel to the very heart of the masses, preaching that Jesus of whom it was said, in inspired terins, "but the common people heard hiru gladly." The other plea comes from a different quarter, though inspired, the writer believes, by the one good spirit under whose ministry both pleas were made. It comes from one of Quaker antecedents, training and surroundings, in early life, Miss Anna E. Dickinson, in her recent lecture in Chickeriug Hall, on "Platform and Stage." In that lecture she says, to guard herself against misapprehension: "Mind you, I am not talking of Eeligion. Religión has its inouth pieces, its influences manifold. I am talking about the pulpit technically." She then adds, in words memorable, uttered on such an occasion and by one not a representativo of the ministry or of the pulpit, but, "in pure nature," of "Eeligion," sueli as the Master taught, such as the learned professor cominends. "Take your stand in front of our church edifices Sunday after Sunday. What do you see 'i In the immense majority of cases, you see the well-bred, well-dressed, well-trained men aud women - the select few. Go iuto the church edifice, and what do you find? In a mnjority of cases, a thoroughly couscientious uian, giviug to his hungry audienee a stone, when they aak lor living bread, [applause music that neither thrill nor exalta. Is this what tho Master uieant His church to be? Where are the untaught, the unfed, the uncomforted P Where are the toiling, suftering, struggling, dying inillionsV Where are the poor that ought to be with the rich [and where they once were under the Uhrist niiuistry of the rnediteval church, wlien prince and peasant stood side by side in their worship] the poor with the rich in thought, the rich in intellect, the rich in experience 'i Where are the ragamufiins? Where are the poorly ciad and dirty men and women 'ï They are not inside your fine church ediüces. There is no place for them there!! Their clothes, their coats, and their gowns are out of keepiug with the cuahioned seats. Did the Maater say, Build yourself a fine churoh edifice with frescoed walls, with upholstered seats, with cushioned chairs, with exclusive atmo8phore - a church so small and so confiued that multitudes can tind no snace or place there. No. He said, Go ye into the world, into all the world, and preach my gospel to every oreature - a gospel of lovo, a gospel of humanity, a gospel of cheerfulness and sunshine, a qospel of charity, of mercy, of "good will," of something to make rough places smooth, narrow places wide, and hard burdens light." This is the gospel for whioh Miss Dickinson loads ; and is tds the goapel which 'our protestant pulpit" characteristically preachesr Or ia the stinging statement of Prof. Hitchcock, to bis crowded audience - painfully plaia as it is, as lainfully true - whon he said : " Our protestant pulpit has degenerated into CULTURE- culture so fine that plain men can not appreciate it, and do not want it." These two pleas coming, the one from ;he pulpit and the other from the plat'orni and the stage, bare the same democratie ring and seem to emanate 'rom souls in sympatliy with oue who s " no respector of porsons," but who ;ave bis life for all, thus enforcing by such an example the duty of a life-labor 'or all men - the multitude, tho masses, among those who are called by hia name and who would be among bis folowers. D. Aun Arbor, Feb. 1, 1879.


Old News
Michigan Argus