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Minutes. It was Voted, That the registrar be authorized to complete the minutes for publication.
Rev. William A. Waterman, of Indiana, offered prayer, and a recess was taken till 7.30.
THURSDAY EVENING. At 7.35, Rev: Spencer Snell, of Alabama, read the Scriptures and led in prayer.
Paper. Rev. George H. Ide, of Wisconsin, read a paper on The Living Christ, a vital force in Pulpit and Pew.
Address.2 Rev. Charles E. Jefferson, of New York, gave an address on Consecrated Personality a Supreme Need of the Church of To-day.
Thanks to the Moderator. The following was adopted : The Council expresses its grateful appreciation of the ability, impartiality, and gentle courtesy with which the moderator has presided over its deliberations, and will hold him always in affectionate remembrance.
Resolution of Thanks. The following resolution of thanks was adopted : It seems fitting, since the Council of 1898 looked from the Portland of the West toward that great sea which once had been the limit of our “longdrawn battle line" of frontier missions, and which now beckons us toward other lands yet remaining to be conquered for liberty and for Christ, that this one should meet at another equally beautiful Portland, overlooking that other sea which bore our fathers, few and feeble, when they came to begin the conquest of the New World for God.
And now, as this very profitable session draws near its close, we desire to express our sincere gratitude to the pastor and people of the State Street Church for their warm and cordial welcome to this beautiful house of worship, and to the other pastors and friends who have co-operated with them in furnishing us with every possible comfort and convenience; remembering also the courtesy of Bishop Codman.
I Page 355.
2 Page 364.
We desire also to thank the president and officers of Bowdoin College for giving us a delightful excursion and an opportunity to perform that very Congregational act of inspecting a college, whereby we are enabled to give our testimony to the splendor of its history, the completeness of its equipment, and its great promise for the future.
We are most grateful to the historic Second Parish Church, its pastor and its members, for the reception tendered to the Council. That occasion will remain among our most pleasant memories of our visit to Portland.
Nor should we omit to express our appreciation of the service rendered us by the daily papers of Portland, whose excellent reports of our sessions will be of permanent value; to the choirs whose songs have cheered and helped us; to the Y. M. C. A. for their kindnesses; and to the railroads for their concessions.
We are also especially grateful to the people of the churches and of the city, who have welcomed us to their homes and cared for our wants. Those of us who live far inland have imitated our Pilgrim Fathers in thankfulness that we have been “nourished by the abundance of the seas and the treasures that were hid in the sand.” We have all learned anew the lesson that Christian hospitality on earth is a foretaste and foreshadowing of the time when we shall eat bread together in the Kingdom of God. Let us, then, as we return to our homes, unite in grateful thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father who has guided our deliberations, and, as we verily believe, made this the most profitable and hopeful of our Congregational synods.
Rev. Rollin T. Hack, pastor of the Second Parish Church, responded to these resolutions.
The moderator made a closing address, expressing the hope that the National Council may be of increasing usefulness and power to the churches.
After the singing of “Rise my soul and stretch thy wings,” the moderator pronounced the benediction, and declared the eleventh session of the National Council dissolved.
AMORY H. BRADFORD, Moderator. JOEL S. IVES, Registrar.
GEORGE A. Hood,
BY REV. WILLIAM J. TUCKER, D D., PRESIDENT OF DARTMOUTH COLLEGE.
When the Son of man cometh, shall be find the faith on the earth? xviii. 8.
Jesus did not ask whether men would continue or cease to believe. He understood, as we cannot understand, the imperishable instinct of faith. He knew that man would never rest in any conclusion of unbelief before the unsolved mystery of his being.
The question which Jesus put was so definite and personal as to be almost pathetic. “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?” He who was giving to the world an idea, a faith, the most precious which had ever entered the mind of man, a faith which was to be consecrated by his passion and transfigured by his resurrection and then to go out into all the earth, recovering so many individual lives and changing so often the face of society, he asks if, in the event of his coming again, he shall find the idea alive, the faith burning at the heart of humanity. This question, falling from the lips of Christ, is, I say, pathetic. We can see in it one of the sorrows of Jesus.
But the chief significance of it to all generations of Christian believers, and now, in turn, to us, lies in the fact that it points with unerring constancy to the danger which is inherent in Christianity, namely, the danger of losing faith in itself, in its distinctive principles and method, and in the certainty of their success.
This is the faith which called for the anxious questioning of Jesus. The world will keep this faith to the end if it maintains a Christianity which it can trust. Any generation may lapse from this faith and lose its place in the succession by failing to maintain a Christianity which it can trust.
I propose, therefore, the question for our consideration, as a representative body of Christian believers, whether we as a generation are keeping or losing the faith – faith, that is, in Christianity.
It will not be easy to answer this question according to its seriousness except as we find the right approach to it.
When our Lord reopened the kingdom of God on earth he laid down two, and only two, conditions of entrance character and faith. The terms of admission were reduced to the simple formula, repent and believe. The contribution of character was to be in excess of that which was then current among religious people. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Not more righteousness was demanded, but righteousness of another spirit and of wider action, a righteousness adapted to the new faith and commensurate with it. The contrast came out in perfect clearness when the young ruler offered to Christ the old obedience, but could not follow him. The transfer from the old type to the new was fully made in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. That excess of righteousness of which Jesus had spoken was found in the difference between the righteousness of Paul the Christian and that of Saul the Pharisee. The character which was to support the new faith was to have all those outgoing qualities which would make a Christian believer worthy of being a follower of Christ.
And the chief characteristic of the new faith called for was belief in the ability of Christ to accomplish the ends for which this advance in character was demanded. Faith took this practical form throughout the ministry of Jesus. He never dealt in abstractions. He never confused the issue of faith. “ Believest thou that I am able to do this?” That was all that was required to issue a miracle of healing. The training of the twelve both in doctrine and in action was to the same end. Did he wish to make the disciples believe in the new conception of God, he taught them to believe in his capacity to reveal God and to represent him. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Did he wish to make them believe in the new estimate of humanity, he taught them to believe in the possibilities of men, of all men, in him, “the Son of man.” Did he wish to make them believe in the new way to power over men, the way of sacrifice — “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said signifying what death he should die.” Did he wish to make them believe in the new assurance of immortality — “I am the resurrection and the life.” “ Because I live ye shall live also." Everywhere in the teachings of Christ about himself as the object of faith one note is struck; it is the note of power : “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And the Christianity which he left to be believed in and trusted was the embodiment of his glorious personality, quick with the spirit of his teachings and ministry, wide as the sweep of his sacrifice, strong and sure as his resurrection.
Reaching, then, the question before us through this approach, I ask again, Are we, as a generation of Christian believers, keeping or losing the faith - faith in Christianity?
There are three tests through which any generation must pass in making any substantial answer to this question. The absolute loyalty or faith of a generation must be measured by its intellectual attitude to Christianity, by the depth of its moral passion and by the timeliness of its action.
The intellectual attitude of our generation to Christianity represents in some respects the generation at its best, for its attitude in this regard has been conspicuous for hospitality and courage. It is altogether profitless and may easily become un-Christian to expose the intellectual shortcomings, or even follies, of other times, but it is quite fair to say that one of the greatest hindrances to the progress of Christianity — a sign of unfaith whenever it has appeared has been the inhospitality of the church to the Christian idea in its fulness. There has seemed to be an inability, perhaps more than an unwillingness, to accept the gospel in its universality. The gospel has been obliged to force its way from age to age through some limitation or restriction, now of dogma, now of ecclesiasticism, now of mere tradition. I doubt not that at certain times narrowness of conception has resulted in intensity of action. But the fact remains that the church has but just reached the position, not yet established in the confessions, but a position from which it seems impossible to recede, namely, that of the acknowledgment of the absolute and equal right of every human being in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I do not lay great stress upon the acceptance of this idea as a mark of our intellectual hospitality, for the idea has simply culminated in our time. What is much more clearly in evidence is the fact of the incoming, in our time, of the idea that Christianity is applicable not only to the individual, but also to the world, the world of organized institutions and forces. It is one thing to believe in the individual as the subject of redemption, even when you multiply him into all men of all races throughout the world, and another thing to believe in the world itself as the subject of redemption. And this is what we are beginning to believe in. The earlier Christianity lost the idea through its misapprehension of prophecy. Mediæval Christianity could not accept it because of its direful experience in this world. Modern Christianity recognizes its sig