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THE RELIGIOUS WORLD, Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD
'THE CHRISTIAN,' Bt Hall Cains.
At the Moray place Congregational Church On Sunday the Rev. W. Saunders disedssed Hall Caine's latest work in these terms :
We are reminded to-day that this church has existed for, thirty-five years. Now, an anniversary affords a auitable opportunity for departing in some slight measure from the ujual expository sermon. We are almost naturally led to review the past, examine the present, or forecast the future. To-night let our thoughts dwell upon the present, and that under the guidance of Mr Hall Caine, who undertakes in his latest book, ' The Christian,' " to depict, however imperfectly, the types of mind and character, bt treed and culture, of social effort and rcl'gious purpose which he thinks he sees in the life of England and America at the close of the nineteenth century." Nor, I think, is any apology needed for noticing the teaching of a popular book on t!)C3e great allied subjects. It is enough that tho book is popular, and that it will in all probability aff=ct, and deeply affect, the judgment of many concerning THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH ttnd oh what are the essential characteristics tf a true Christian. If what it say 3on these two matters is erroneous or in any way misleading, it is surely for the pulpit to point this out. But if, on the other hand, it is altogether correct and trustworthy, then (whether it makes agreeable reading or not to the members of our churches) its statements should be received by them with thankfulness. The interest of this book is divided almost equally between one John Storm and a Glory Quayle. When introduced to us they are youag man and young woman, leaving the Isle of Man, where they have spent years together as boy aud girl. They are both goiug to London she as a hospital nurse, and ho as assistant to a clergyman in the West End. With the young woman wo shall have little to do this evening, save as she is necessary to the right understanding of him who presumably gives the title of ' The Christian' to the volume before us. Of her I may perhaps say something more at another time. She is a deeply interesting study, and, although she is unquestionably guilty of much vulgarity of speech and of gross folly in conduct, the reader's patience being often sorely tried by her, yet I cannot wholly agree with the severe strictures passed on her by some—the 'British Weekly,' for example—for in her heart of hearts there was neves any lack of a genuine and splendid humanity. It is, however, with John Storm that wo have to do to-night. It is in him that those questions centre which have special interest for ua hero and now. And this inquiry,
AND WAS HE REALLY A CHRISTIAN? first demands our attention. It may seem more reasonable to ask this question after we have studied his life in London. And, indeed, there is nothing to prevent our doing so then, and correcting our early answer if need be. Meanwhile it i 3 absolutely necessary for us to know whether ho had what has been called " the root of the matter" in him when he entered on his public ministry. " The root of the matter" —this is an old-fashioned phrase, but it refers to what I must pronounce essential to the victorious Christian life, whether John Storm's, or yours, or mine. It is well, therefore, that we should have clear and correct ideas on this matter, not only for the right understanding of this book, but also, and chiefly, because in the end of this nineteenth century there is much erroneous and hurtful thought current concerning it. For my own part I am far from denying that he was a Christian ; yet I do"not believe that he had the root of the matter in him, if I may repeat lhat phrase. He is Bent forth by our author to engage in the moat arduous work conceivable, but lacking what is most vital to the Christian's full equipment. Aud it is from this deficiency that the tragic element in his career springs. Let me tell ycu that this John Storm was highly connected by birth, hia uncle being Prime Minister of England. He was himBelf most carefully educated, especially by extensive foreign travel, for a political career ; bu!-, to the lasting griff and enduring anger of his father, he chose to become a clergyman. Now, such a choice, we might reasonably conclude, followed upon what is usually called conversion ; for, though many in the Old Land enter the Establishment as they would enter any other branch of the Civil Service, for position and reward, yet John S'.orm was presumably losing, and not gaining, when he turned frtm politics to the churoh. And yet I do not think that he was what Juhn Wesley would call a converted man. It was Glory Quayle who really changed his career, though neither of them knew it. And let me add that it was Glory QuayleTatherthan onrLord and Saviour who wa3 the controlling influence in his life from beginning to end. Ho was, for example, led to choose the ohuroh in this way: She whom he loved was poor, and through her hi 3 thoughts were turned to the multitude of the needy. "Ha paesed through the world now with eyea open for the privations of the poor, and he saw everything in a new light. Unconsciously (it is the author this) he was doing in another way what his mother had done when she flew to religion from stilled passion." True, bis purpose was a noble one, and his ideal was high ; and if he had only beon moved by an ardent love for the Saviour Jesus all would have been well. He saw that " the man for the hour was not ho who resolved schemes for making himself famous, but he who was ready to renounce everything, and, if he was gteat, was willing to become little, and, if he was rich, to become poor. There was rcom for an apostle for a thousand apostles—who, being dead to the world's elory, its money, or its calls, were prepared" to do all in Christ's spirit, and to believe that in the renunciation which was the 'secret' of Jesus lay the only salvation remaining for the world." With these views he went to London, and there it would have been quite easy for him to find those like minded with himself. Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, the High" Church settlement, in Bethnal Green, and similar institutions are neither few nor unknown. Why it is, then, that Mr Hall Caine, desiring to depict religious purpose at the close of the nineteenth century, entirely ignores these splendid and renowned centres of practical Christianity it is difficult to understand. The result certainly is to create
A FALSE AND INJURIOUS IMPRESSION. Many a reader, not knowing London and England, might well suppose (as do those loud-speaking enemies of the church found in this our own City) that the Enslish Church (our author totally ignores Nonconformists, who are yet half of the nation) ia wholly worthless and worldly. But that it is not wholly so, and not nearly bo, I need scarcely say, and I speak as onewhoknows London well. John Storm, however, is sent to the West End, and there becomes associated with a mo3t wordlyminded clergyman, whose character is absolutely untouched by the true spirit and genius of Christianity. That two such men should fail to agree was from the first certain. John Storm's sermons on ' My Kingdom is not of this world,' 'Put on the Lord Jcsu3 Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof,' were not adapted to please a merely fashionable congregation. And when he spoke in plainest terms of their social sins unpleasantness was inevitable. He is in the end forced to leave Canon Wealthy, first, however, speaking some homo truths to him, such as " Your religion is not my religion, nor your God n-.y God." "You are the worst prostitute in the Btreets of London .... for you have prostituted your God-given talents, bartering them for benefices and peddling them for popularity." Now, in all this hatred for and contempt of a peculiarly offensive hypocrisy our sympathy is with the earnest man, and hia denunciation of insincerity and gross worldliness • wins our applause. Such honest and truthful Bonl3 as John Storm's are greatly wanted. But oh, how much they need the felt presence of their Saviour to help them endure the tempest that must break upon them. John Storm, however, like many more—and they are a growing number—thought he could live as a Christ, and suffer as a Christ, while being nothing . jnore than a very weak though earnest
man. la it straDge, in presence of such a mistake that HIS LIFE WAS A TRAGEDY? Hia nexb etep wag to flee from the world, and by following him we are ushered into a monastery belonging to the Church of England, and situated in the "City of London. The life and practice of the brothers are somewhat fully described. But are we to understand fromtho author that monaaticism is a growing phase of the religion of modern England ? Surely its proportions are very inconsiderable, so far. The introduction of this matter is exceedingly valuable, however, as showing the powerlessness of prayer, and faßting, and solitude, to bring peacS to a heart that is tumultously tossed. The trial he made of this method of securing rest fo? his spirit was, however, as we might expect froth him, persistent and even heroic. But the result is disastrous to his higher nature. He himself said, a 9 a reason for breaking his vows, that such a life of prayer and penance and meditation was stifling him, corrupting him, and crushing the man out of him, anil that he could not bear it. So ho left the monastery, proving—and let us heed thiß lesson wellthat no religions Institution and no religious discipline can take the place of a personal Saviour to a weary and troubled soul. Now followed the most useful part of hia lifework. Always in heart
A CHRISTIAN SOCIALIST, on leaving the monastery he became a worker in the slums, manfully etriving to raise the fallen. His whole programme was "to makeanattackon the one mighty stronghold of the Devil's kingdom, whereof woman is the direct aud immediate victim ; to tell society over again it is an organised hypocrisy for tho pursuit and demoralisation of woman, and the church thaS bachelorhood is not celibacy, and polygamy is against the laws of God ; to look and search for the beaten and broken who lie EcaUered and astray in our bewildered cities, and to protect them and shelter them wherever they are, however low they have fallen, because they are my sisters and I love them." In wot king out this fine progiamme many who had fallen were rescued, and destitute children were provided with a home ; and he became the valued friend of the fiier.dless and outcast generally. But now, as always, his apparently hopeless love for Glory Quayle and his great anxiety for her welfare colored his thoughts and moulded his actions. He was, indeed, constantly mistaking his love of her for love of God. He even thought of taking Father Damien's place among the lepers, and went so far as to announce his intention of doing so, only at last to find that it was not love of God or compassion for the suffering that was influencing him, but love of u woman. In the end his mind became unhinged. The strain, tho anxiety, the fasting, the endless work, his hungry despairing heart, broke him down. He deliberately sought to murder her whom he loved, hoping to save her soul by destroying her body. And he also encouraged belief in a speedy judgment of London, and the destruction of Lhat city by God ; so gaining for himself the sneers of the worldling, the hatred of those whom he bad misled, and the opposition of the police as a disturber of the peace, and as one responsible for the fatal results of a certain riot. A wreck almost every way, John Storm was at last struck down by a cruel blow—murdered under the gas lamps of the great city; murdered by some of those for .whom he had labored. In gathering up somewhat hastily a few of the lessons of this etory, let me Eay: That the social and ecclesiastical evils which so weighed on John Storm exist, and should weigh upon us. There is
WOELDLIXESS IN THE CHURCH, fipcl there is hardness of heart in society, and there is neglect of gutter ciildrcn, aud thsro is indifference to the fate of the fallen upon the streets of our cities. The;e things were never overlooked by our Lord. He gained for Himself the name of " Friend cf Publicans and Sinners"; He was called " a glutton and a winebibber" from the company he was seen in. Is the Christian Church true to. this its Lord ? Does it see eye to eye with him? Docs its heart beat with His heart? Alas ! only in part. And the John Storms are few. And too frequently the social S.iviour is found not at all in the older denominations, this duty and this glory baing largely handed over to the S-uvation Army, " which Army may God therefore ever abundantly bless. Then, too, those phases of spurious Christianity which are brought before U3 in this book nrst certainly exist. Do we not know something of the Canon Wealthys of the church, with their influential and rich congregations, and the make-believe which is theirs that wordliness being called Christian becomes Christianity ? And are we not also aware that some who call themselves disciples of Christ would yet speak of "the charming romanticism of the politics of Jesus," ridiculing the notion that His word should regulate public affairs—affairs of the nation, of the municipality, and vested interests ?
THE TRUEST TYPE OF CHRISTIANITY. Ah ! believe me, the Christianity of John Storm, with his refuges and shelters for women and children, bis ready help to tho outcast—such Christianity is of tho truest type, and may the Great Head of the Church multiply it on every hand. But let ua who would be Christians after his likeness, Christians in deed and in truth, sco to it that the root of tho matter is in U3. We cannot bear the strain or make the needful sacrifice unless our hearts are wholly Christ's. John Storm saw the intention of Jesus, but Jesus Himself, a3 helper, comforter, he did not find. He could not say with St. Paul: " I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me "; nor could he say : " The love of Christ constraineth me"—and so he broke down and his work fell in ruin about hirn.
The true, enduring Christian must have learned the secret of working with, and not without, the living Christ, and therefore wo can scarcely cill John Storm a martyr. I would emphasise that fact. He was slain not because he was true to Christ, but rather because of the mistakes he had made. Many, who labor as he labored, are greatly beloved. And yet, though ho often erred, and. though his motives were often most questionable, he demands a wreath at our hands—the wreath that we place on their brows who fall in a noble fight!
A PESSIMISTIC WORK. I cannot but feel that, on the whole, tho bock before us is pessimistic. And it is this for the two great reasons that it fails to grasp the true characteristic of a victorious Christian of St. Paul's type; and next, because its outlook ia altogether too restricted—the bright in the church being wholly ignored. Nevertheless it will do great good. It is already making men think, and if it leads us to distinguish between the mere Humanitarian and the Christian who labors for men, for love of and in the strength of the Saviour ; and if it causes this and every church carefully to examine their mission and work, then its author will have rendered such a great service as will secure for him the gratitude of all who hope and pray for the victory of pure Christianity and of God'a kingdom.
A CONGREGATIONAL DIFFICULTY.
Tho members of an Anglican suburban congregation have, through a number of causes, found themselves in an exceptionally awkward position. Unpleasant statements about the incumbent culminated in charges being taken before the bishop, and last week an Ecclesiastical Commission was held, presided over by Mr Justice Hodges, a3 Chancellor of the diocese. The incumbent was cited to appear, and Mr W. T. C. Kelly was instructed to watch his interests, while on behalf of the Vestry Mr Moule appeared. The case took a long lime to hear, a number of witnesses—all parishioners—being called on either side, but finally the Commission gave a decision to the effect that the rev. gent'emtn had been guilty of the ecclesia3tisal offence of druukenness on three separate occasions, and that in their opinion the penalty to be impoeed upon him should bo that ho should first be admonished and then suspended from the exercise of his ministerial functions, with deprivation of emoluments, for three months. The decision was received by the congregation with mixed feelings, for many of them looked upon tho incumbent as a persecuted man. Many of the choir took the trouble so much to heart that they spoke seriously of resigning in a body. This seemed to have been anticipated by the incumbent, for a message
from tb.it gentleman was conveyed to the Choristers uS Suuday evening to the effect that the incumbent wished anyone who desired to resign to do so quietlv and not cause any ssandal. On the same day the clergyman who, for the nonce, was filling the inoumbent's place announced from the pulpit that the incumbent would resume his duties next Sunday, which statement caused quito a flutter amongst the congregation, and led the Vestry and officers of the church into the awkward predicament of not exactly knowing how to act. The final decision rests with the head of the church in the colony, and as the bishop has six weeks in which to give his verdict, the incumbent, not being until that time under suspension, can, if he so chooses, take up his duties again. It is his determination to do so which has placad the Vestry m a difficulty.-' Argus,' October 26.
The Rev. Nancy W. P. Smith, who recently graduated from Tufts College Uivimty (school, was installed pastor of the Univcrsahst Church in Newfields (N.H.) on July 23.
The Auckland Presbytery held an all-n-.ght sitting on Wednesday over the trouble in bt. Andrew's Church relative to the recent " call." Twenty witnesses were examined, and the General Assembly will be asked to decide whether the proceedings in connection with the call were regular. Dr John Freeyr, ProfesSor of Oriental Languages and Literature of the University of California, ha 3 returned from China, where he has been in consultation with high Government officials about the founding of a great university at Shanghai for the educetion of Chinese in Western art, sciences, and literature. It i'b intended to be an educational centre where the favored vouth of the Empire may go to gain knowledge of the Occidental civilisation.
The Rev. Francis Muir, of Leith, was (says the 'British Weekly') the recipient of au anonymous letterof a disagreeable nature, and without acquainting even his nearest and dearest of its receipt he locked it fast in his desk and quietly "bided" his time. Not long afterwards he was met by one of his office-bearers, who, with mock sympathy, began to express his "regret to hear that he (Mr Muir) had received a nasty anonymous letter." With withering glance, the worthy old minister looked him through and through, and exclaiming " Aha ! my friend, and so I have found its author," he left the hypocritical office-beater to his own meditations.
Attention has been called to the remarkable progress which has taken place in the liberality of the Scottish churches. Before 1843 all of them together did not give more probably than £60,000 a year for religious objects. Last year their contributions were, speaking roundly, as follows :—Free Church, £663,000; Established Church, £466,000; U.P. Church, £406,000.
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD, Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement
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