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it was valuable one or two thousand years ago, that some wheat was reaped from it then, but that what was good in it has been gathered out, and that we are coming, by progress, to a new era. Some think it is to be an era of spiritualism, in which there are to be glimpses of light and knowledge from other spheres; and yet, what foundation it is to stand upon they do not know, though they think it will stand on something.

In sympathy with these, or in antagonism to them, as the case may be, there is a host of men who believe that science is breaking the seal, and that the things of God, hidden from the foundations of the world, are now being made known through the ministrations of science; and they say, “Away with your superstitions and dogmas and doctrines! They may once have been helpful; but the time has come for the shining of truth through science."

So, in these different ways—some out of fear for the integrity of religious things, and some with the hope that there is to be a far more blessed day of knowledge than ever before, and almost all, I think, with an amiable, kind, humane feeling this great outlying, skirting host are of opinion that religion is pretty much done up, and that we are now to look for something better.

To all such I say, The foundations of God stand yet, firm and sure; and I declare that the essential elements of Christianity were never so apparent as to-day; that they were never so influential; that they were never so likely to produce institutions of power; that they never had such a hold on human reason and human conscience; and that the religious impulse of the human race was never so deep, and never so strong in its current.

In the first place, then, we must recollect that there may be very great changes around about religion, in its external forms, without any essential interior change, nay, even with the augmentation of its interior power. I will admit that there has been a great change of the forms in which facts have been woven into doctrines. In other words, the great outlying facts of human consciousness-the nature of man; the character of intelligence and of volition; the truths of responsi

bility and moral government; what they are; how they are to be brought together into a perfect system; the existence of God and of a divine providence-all these things have been held in various ways, and have been philosophically stated in different forms; and that there has been, and is yet to be, a great change in the mode of stating these things, I do not deny; but I hold that their statement is one which grows better and better from age to age. Some men think that anything which is a revelation from God must be always one and the same thing; but God's revelation is alphabetic ; it is a revelation of letters, and they can be combined and recombined in ten thousand different words, varying endlessly. The great facts which are fundamental to consciousness, once being given, are alphabetic; and these facts may be combined; and with the development of the human race in intelligence and moral excellence they go on taking new forms; and larger experiences must have a larger expression. The trouble with a statement in an early age is, that while it is true to the sum of the knowledge of that age, each age develops an individuality of its own, knowledge making it larger; and a statement must be made which is as large as the actual experience of the human soul has been.

Take agriculture. In the earliest period of the settlement of a neighborhood, men clear a piece containing a few acres of ground, and put such a fence around it as they can afford, and plow among the stumps, and leave them standing; but as time goes on the stumps disappear, and in twenty or thirty years, when they are gone, a man, coming back, and missing them, says, "Why, where are those precious stumps that I remember used to be in this field? The boys have easy times plowing now-a-days; but when I was a boy it meant something to plow among those stumps and their roots. This is not what I call farming. You are all going to effeminacy." It is not such farming as he was used to; but it is better than the farming that belonged to primitive times, which may have had its pleasant memories and associations, but which was not farming in its highest form. Has not agriculture grown? Has it lost ground because the fences and the plows are better than they were at the beginning, and because one

man can now do as much as ten men then could? Has agriculture gone under because its instruments are changed, and because its forms are different? Is not the change it has undergone a sign of advancement and improvement?

So, in the knowledges of the world, and in its various institutions, there have been changes, and there are to be changes; but they are progressive. On the whole, they are not ominous of evil, but are full of fructifications of hope.

The changes of religious institutions trouble people; and if I supposed that the church was an exactly ordered institution, I should be troubled about its changes; but according to my understanding it is not such an institution.

When an architect has drawn the plan of a house, or a public building, his lines are laid down just sc, bis measurements are precise, and he specifies whether it shall be of wood or brick or stone; and the contract is made according to the specifications, and the builder has to follow them.

Now, there are many who think that the church was sent to us in that way, that there are just such lines and measurements laid down respecting it, and that we are bound to follow those lines and measurements. They think that exact ordinances are prescribed, and that we are under obligation to observe them.

If I believed this, I should look upon the innovations of modern times as dangerous; but I do not believe the church was ordained to be in a particular shape any more than I believe that schools were. I do not believe that the New Testament prescribes that our ordinances and methods of worship shall take on any given form. I do not believe that the rules and regulations of the church were made precise and specific any more than those of town meetings, or the constitutions of the several States, or the Constitution of the United States were. Government is ordained in the nature of man, and it begins to operate, and men find out among themselves, by their experience, that their government is to be formed and administered largely according to the climate and physica. characteristics of the country where they are, the degree of civilization which they have attained, and the exigencies of national life as they arise.

The same is true of religious institutions. I believe that God ordained the church. That is to say, when he made men he made them social beings, so that no man can live without wanting to touch his fellow men somewhere. It is the necessities of men's social natures that have led them to come together in churches.

When patriotism swells in the hearts of men, and sets them on fire, no man wants to be alone in the field, and he seeks his neighbor, who joins him; and the villagers unite together; and the more intense men's feelings are, the more they run to each other. For we are not born to be separate drops, but drops united together to form streams, with channels deep and wide, and with impetuous currents. When God made men with social natures, he ordained that they should come together by their loves, by their tastes, by their enthusiasms; and that ordination is the foundation on which the church stands. It is decreed that you shall come together with your aspiration, with your devotion, with your affection, with your hope.

So God created the church; but whether it should be Presbyterian, or Methodist, or Baptist, or Congregational, or Episcopalian, or Roman Catholic-God has never troubled himself about that, though his zealous disciples have. The form of the instrument of religion is not a part of his decrees. He no more ordained that divine worship should be carried on in certain fixed ways than he ordained that men who live by agriculture should harrow or furrow their fields. Agriculture does not stand on the machines which it employs, but on the necessity of men to eat. When God made men hungry he foreordained agriculture. And in the matter of the church,

t does not stand on its ordinances.

But do not think that I am speaking contemptuously of these things. What I desire to be understood as saying is, that men have no business to worship an ordinance. I say that men have no right to make an idol of the church, or of Sunday, or of the Bible, or of anything that is in itself an instrument. Religion is something other than the instrument by which it is produced.

Do I say my prayers to the school-house? No. And yet,

I believe in intelligence; and the school is simply an instru ment by which we develop that intelligence. Do I say my prayers to the arithmetic, the geography, and the grammar? No. I think they are useful; but I would kick them every one out of the house if you were to tell me that I must say my prayers to them. They are my servants, my helps, but not my masters.

And so, when men open the doors of the sanctuary on Sunday, the church is not my master: I am its master, for I am a son of God. It is simply the chariot which he has sent to carry me on my journey.

When a minister stands to teach me, is he my master? No. If he can help me, well and good. Like other men, he is to be estimated according to what he can do. What he is, that am I. I am a sinner before God, living on God's mercy and goodness, and that is he. No ordination, no long line of influences, though ten thousand times ten thousand years should rest on his head, would make a man anything but a man. And when he ceases to be a man, he dies, and is gone. All men that live have the same passions and appetites; human nature is the same everywhere; and ministers have their pride, their vanity, their weaknesses and their temptablenesses; they are all just common men; and God never put one of them over his fellows, or made him superior to them. Still less did God ever say to an ordinance, "Go down and stand in the midst of men, and make them bow to you." Therefore, not to the refluent waves, nor to the sprinkling drops, nor to any instrument, will I bow down, and say, "Ye are my master." God is my master; and to these things I say, "Ye are my servants;" and I look down on them all.

Now, when I see that there is change in the institutions of religion, in the currents of government, and in the ordinances of the church, I do not stand quivering, and saying, "Men have departed from the counsels of God, and religion 18 going to destruction, and we do not know where it will end." I say that religion lies, not in outside things, but in the states of men's minds. It is the way that they think and feel and act that determines what their religion is. Religion

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