Billeder på siden

views. The test of excellence was to be, not the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of the views presented; but the rational unity, the logical coherence, with which the views, whatever they might be, were shown to spring from and develop out of a central principle common to them


The only theological difficulty I have ever encountered was three or four years ago; and that was entirely my own fault. In reply to a question which involved a certain article, incorporated into the great creeds of the church, and based on passages bound up in the New Testament, which modern critical scholarship is finding it increasingly hard to believe, I gave a negative answer in dogmatic and rhetorical form. The Episcopal bishop of the diocese very properly protested against such treatment of an article of the faith of his church. I promptly presented my apology; and while I said that I could not either change, or if questioned conceal, my view, I promised not to introduce the subject of my own accord; and in case it was brought up by others to state both sides of the matter dispassionately and reverently; as, indeed, I ought to have done in the first instance. As a matter of fact, the question has not arisen since: and if it should, I am confident it could be treated without giving offense to the most conservative. The deeper grasp we gain on essentials, the more tolerant we become in both directions, toward those more conservative and those more liberal than ourselves, with respect to what they deem important and we do not.

What are the results of this experiment? What may we reasonably expect to be the outcome? First, we shall get the greatest diversity on non-essentials. The Catholic will be a Catholic still; the Unitarian will be a Unitarian still. I doubt whether in twenty years of such instruction, any person has consciously and deliberately changed his ecclesiastical relationships as the result of instruction and discussion in the class-room. If they did, it would be evidence that as a public institution we were not dealing fairly by the pupils intrusted to us. From those communions which are most in earnest about religion, we should receive no more students, if we were suspected of the attempt to proselyte. For example, this year I received the following statements of belief in an essay on the Ideal Religion. "I believe that there is a material and spiritual world created and ruled by God. He is the Creator and all-powerful Ruler of the earth, and is one God in three persons, known as the blessed Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. God is represented on earth by a visible head called the Pope, and is present in the form of bread and wine, which represents his body and blood in the sacrifice of the Mass" "If one dies in mortal sin, he is

condemned to eternal punishment in hell. If one has lived a good life in the eyes of God, he is rewarded by being admitted to the joys of Heaven for eternity. Between the two is purgatory, where the soul which is not yet worthy of Heaven must suffer until repentance enough has been shown, when he is admitted to Heaven."

Inasmuch as the majority of our students come from evangelical Protestant homes, the greater part of the theses took a middle ground between these two extremes. The following extracts give the view of the majority of the class.

"God is the one great purpose who stands under the facts of the world, and gives them the reality they have: the common ground of unity between nature and the mind of man; the bond and basis of intelligibility between different minds; the supreme source and standard or truth which has a ruling power over our minds. He is the unity of the whole, the purpose which works in humanity for righteousness and truth. His position is to the universe what the nation is to the citizens. He includes all the thoughts and acts of finite persons in the unity of his larger thought and will. He is the assertion of the common well-being. He is the spirit which gives the ideal of conduct. He is the unity and purpose which binds all things and thoughts together, and makes them the object of our love.

"It is perfectly natural that our conception of God should have some finite symbol or representation. Let us put into this conception all we can conceive of righteousness, love, and truth, let us put into it every trait of moral character, every quality of spiritual grace, and then search for the man whose life and principle has revealed these human ideals. We find no other but Christ. No other character has lived whose teaching and life could stand such a test. He met all temptation with the consciousness of the Father whose commandment he was to obey as a filial duty in the assurance that it was right. He accepted every duty and relationship of life as an apportunity to do the will of the Father, and to bring men to the consciousness of their relationship to God and their brotherhood with each other. Christ is all of the divine nature and spirit that can be manifested in human form, and therefore has the perfect right to be called the representative or Son of God. By virtue of his moral and spiritual excellence he becomes the Mediator between God and man; and if we are unable to see God in Christ, we are not able to see him at all."

Some one may ask, " What is the use of spending three or four weeks on these topics, if men come out with the same views as those with which they started?" They are the same in verbal statement and ecclesi

astical label. But they are different in depth, and breadth, in scope and charity. The Universalist is a deeper Universalist; the Episcopalian is a more tolerant Episcopalian; the Methodist is a more rational Methodist; the Congregationalist is a more spiritual Congregationalist, the Hebrew is a more sympathetic Hebrew; the Catholic is a more ethical Catholic for having discussed these great themes in an atmosphere of earnestness and candor and reverence.

Underneath these diversities of view, they all partake of a common spirit. That two radically different faiths should altogether fuse was not to be expected. But all the Christians, widely as they differed on many points, were practically united in the main spirit of our common American Christianity. Any one of them who should live up to his professed ideal of religion would be at once a worker with Christ for the spiritual welfare of the world, and a partaker with him in the divine life.

Two years ago we reduced these common points of spiritual affinity to formal expression in a creed to which the entire class of sixty gave assent; and while the creed thus composed was not as comprehensive and explicit at certain points as one might wish, yet, if universally acadopted and lived out, it would make this earth a heaven within a single generation; which is perhaps as good a test of orthodoxy as any.

Man is by nature religious. Truth has an affinity for the human mind. Whoever will trust implicitly in the intrinsic persuasiveness of the truth and the inherent honesty of youth, and strive in candor and reverence to bring together the truth of God and the mind and heart of young men, will find that religious instruction is not only possible and practicable in the midst of the greatest diversity of views; but also the most interesting and profitable portion of the college curriculum. Some of his students will believe more than he; some will believe less; all will believe differently. But they are all sure to gain the great ends at which religious instruction really aims: more reverence for their common Heavenly Father, and more respect for each other, more loyalty to the Spirit of Christ, more readiness to live pure lives and do good work in the world.





That music may have a substantial part in the enrichment of the religious life may seem an absurdity to some, a beautiful but impracticable dream to others. Our ordinary notion of the art is that it is, to use Spencer's phrase, "a striking constituent of the efflorescence of civilization "; in certain strictly utilitarian aspects, the handmaid of religion; or, more popularly, the language of the emotions.

This last characterization of music has been responsible for a regretted misconception of its scope and usefulness. If music be the language of the emotions, how is it that beyond simple exhilaration or depression, music has no direct power? It cannot call forth anger, love, hate, contempt, derision, care: these are outside music's realm. A large part of the standard musical literature, particularly the classical and pre-classical masterpieces, arouses no emotional excitement; on the contrary, the mind is absorbed by pure contemplation, as if one were looking at the Parthenon. Speaking philosophically, when moods or emotions accompany music they seem to be accidental rather than essential. Music is a self-subsistent art, working in its own material and governed by its own laws; its relation to life should be estimated only after a consideration of its essential nature and of the results of its work.

What, then, may we say as to music's contribution to the full life? Music tells us of Law and inferentially of the Lawgiver. Deep in mathematics lie its foundations. The mathematical, acoustical, and musical primacy of the octave and the perfect fifth are absolute. Nature in the harmonic élan, gives her orders as to chords, keys, and modulations, and the composer disobeys them at his peril. Here is the foundation of our whole tonal system, and on it rest, too, the laws of musical form. Man is never nearer God than when, out of the impalpable things we call sound-waves, and in accordance with God's laws, written in Nature, he makes an enduring overture or symphony. The musician is not a creator. He is God's man, achieving only as he is law-abiding. If Glück exceeded Monteverde, and Wagner, Glück, it was only because law in the artist's vision was unfolded and, being unfolded, obeyed. "Music ministers to the larger life by revealing in

fresh and entrancing forms some of the great laws of God; by conforming ourselves unto law we attain unto liberty."

But music makes a contribution to the abundant life even more striking, if not more significant, than the one just referred to: it gives opportunity for self-expression. If law be thought of as repressive, opportunity is expressive. Of what is music expressive? Happily, music has not a word-definite message; it accepts our interpretation and carries our word, our hope, our prayer. Whether we take part in a hymn or in an oratorio, or are some Ysaye or Melba, or only a humble listener, still we can pour out our soul, can give voice to heart-hunger or to praise. Because music deals with material dissociated with everything suggesting the earth or that which is earthy, we may draw from it so much that gives satisfaction to the soul. To the vast majority of His children, God has mercifully given this opportunity of self-expression. Hand in hand with self-expression goes self-development, and self-development means the abundant life.

If we consider music's physiological power chiefly, it is pre-eminently the art for youth, just as, if we consider it in its formal and reflective aspects, it is the art for maturity. The music exemplifying the highest artistic impulses, the sanest, wholesomest artistic life, is the only music that will minister to the religious life of students; for it is that music, above all other music, which is based on law, which carries with it admiration and love for law, and is the best vehicle for self-expression.

The proper presentation by college students of the best music, or the full appreciation of the best music by them, involves,first, a serious attitude towards the art, and second, a serious study of it. We are, I am sure, impressed with the claims of music to thoughtful consideration as an art having vital relations with the mental and spiritual life of a great majority of our college students. In the educational world, signs point to a careful study of the value of music in the highest education; and this comes about, not simply because music is interesting or enjoyable, or because of its emotional power, but because of its ideal and suggestive beauty, and because of its close relation with the intelligence and with the life of the soul.

What direct steps may be taken towards securing the helpful cooperation of music in the religious life of the students? I take it that the center of the outward religious life of the student is the college chapel. Granted the existence of the religious spirit, it must be continued and nourished. If the college chapel be bare, unattractive; if the organ be inadequate; if the organ be adequate and the organist not alive to the privileges of his position, or incompetent for them; if the choir

« ForrigeFortsæt »