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a means to something higher-or, in other words, wholly subordinate to the moral-one who cannot look with indifference upon the action of rational beings, however finite, and in respect to whom, therefore, we are driven to the conclusion, so awful yet so sublime, that he must make no less than an infinite difference between right and wrong? A'man whose whole soul is arrested by the bare thought of questions like these is, therefore, unfitted, it is said, for their examination. The very fact that certain views have an awful power for him is an evidence of their weakness. He has prejudged the matter. He is not calm, as is the philosopher or the man of science, whose discoveries might have been anything else and yet have equal interest, equal right to the name of law. Such is the position of Mr. Spencer. The theological bias disqualifies. On the other hand, one who sees no greatness, no glory in the views referred to, who feels no need of them as satisfying any want of his intellectual or moral being, who simply desires to have in this life " the portion of goods that falleth to him,” whether it be wealth, or power, or sensual pleasure, or literary fame--he is the impartial judge. This loftier thinker is on å pinnacle from which he can survey the whole field with the coolness of philosophio contemplation. How absurd, even if it were true, as matter of fact, even if, as said before, such assumed calmness, in respect to such ideas did not, from the very nature of the case, betray the most deadly hostility-in other words, the most positive antitheological bias. It is enough to state the case to the reader. This, we think, has been fairly done. Let the serious, thoughtful man-and for such only do we write-draw the true conclusion. A bias there is, a bias there must be ; but it remains to be decided which is of the purer and the higher kind.
Sunday in Lowlands. The metropolis of Marshland is King's Lynn ; that of the Netherlands, of course, Amsterdam. In both places it was my hap recently to spend two consecutive Sundays. There is much akin in both towns and their surroundings. The architecture of Lynn strikes one as being very much like that of Holland. Its custom-house is a veritable Dutch building dropped down in Norfolk. The extensive " walks" with trees and ornamental waters of the former very strongly resemble the “plantages" of the latter. The creeks answer to the canals, and the enclosure of thousands of acres by the estuary to the embankments keep back the sea at Amsterdam.
But now to my Sundays. My host in Lynn wished me to accompany him to Old St. Margaret's in the morning. Magnificent double-towered building it is. Once it had a spire, but a certain Dutchman sailing up the Ouse levelled his cannon and lowered the spire. The cannon ball which did the damage-if tradition may be trusted-still hangs from a beam in one of the courts close by. The church has recently been restored, and the worship adapted from “Low" to “High.” Such a gabble as were the prayers I have seldom heard. The "beautiful" liturgy of the Church was murdered
by Ritualistic intonations and elongations of final syllables. The singing was good, but the sermon cannot have so much said for it. It was on “ Temptation." The preacher paraded the "paper," and read of its "being simply silly not to resist temptation,” of entering into “ more sinful sinfulness," and of "wearing a crown which brds here and blossoms hereafter, if only we overcome sin.” The church was certainly not crowded. Apart from school children, teachers, and choir, there were not more than two hundred adults present. One felt on leaving the performance that the baldest service in the barest of Nonconformist meeting-houses was preferable. The impression must not, however, be conveyed that the Nonconformist churches here are bare and empty, for that would be wrong.
But now let us just step over the North Sea. Here is Amsterdam lying low by the side of the water. So little of it can be seen that one has a small idea of its extent. Here is no mean city. The four hundred thousand who dwell here make it a large one, and, in respect to its architectural appearance, it ranks high. On Sunday evening the sun in setting threw into golden glory every gable, red-tiled roof, variegated front, quaint pinnacle, palace dome, and trimmed tree, while the canals repeated the scene on their unrippled surface. I thought I had never seen anything more charming, and felt that Amsterdam well deserved the appellation of the “Venice of the North.”
My Sunday was a pleasant day. In the morning, at ten o'clock, there is service in the large church near the palace of the King of the Netherlands. As the preachers who minister there have the reputation of being very energetic, it was an attraction to go thither. Entering ten minutes before the time, a large congregation was found already assembled. An old lady offers a seat on a folding velvet-covered chair, in the broad middle aisle. She soon after holds her hand in a way very suggestive of “Give me backsheesh.” I found afterwards that these women, or their husbands, farm the chairs-paying a certain amount per year to the church authorities, and taking their chance of making a profit. A popular preacher brings up the “takings” much to their advantage. I understand also that when it is cold weather, these dames supply the visitor with a little stove, in which is a piece of smouldering turf. These little square footstools—of which such a number were scattered about-have four or five holes through which the heat and fumes ascend. It is said to be unbearable in winter, when there is a large congregation, and consequently a larger number of these lilliputian wooden stoves. How the poor preacher's throat must suffer !
Amid all the noise of the creaking of chairs, of shuffling of feet, of the gathering of the crowd, and of the loud talk of the chair-letters, the “reader" quietly goes through the lessons. The notices are given out at the beginning of the service ; rather, one would imagine, an unwise proceeding, because those arriving late would not hear them. As nothing can be heard of the mumbling of the “reader," the eye naturally wanders over the church. Certainly its construction is quaint, but grandly Gothic. The windows in the transepts are, if memory deceives not, very little smaller than the large east window in York Minster. One of them has stained glass at the bottom, and the figures in purple robes, and throne with canopy of green,
stand out distinctly against the large unstained upper portion. The pillars supporting the roof are very massive, and the corbels, all gilded, give a rich appearance. A screen of solid brass shuts off the north end of the church. The pews are of carven oak. A sounding-board is placed over them, and round each pillar. The king's pew is just opposite the pulpit, but the king was not present. And that pulpitwhat an elaborate affair ! One wonders how preachers dare to enter them, lest the poverty of their utterances should be made the more conspicuous by the ornateness of the spot from whence delivered. The panels of the pulpit represent the saloons of a great palace, but the design is out of harmony with the Gothic church. The sounding-board is a very pinnacle, in which are more courts, galleries, with people crossing them, and other fanciful designs. It must rise quite twenty feet upwards; and as no supporting rod is visible, it looks like a huge extinguisher ready to descend on a prosy preacher. The board is so close to the head also, that for a man to lift his head would be to dash it against the wood work. On either side the pulpit are green curtains, which are drawn by an invisible hand directly the preacher is seated, in order, probably, to protect him after his heated exertions from draught. This is not, however, peculiar to this church ; I noticed the same in other places.
There is the preacher for the day, a venerable and intellectual-looking man. Open and bright is his rounded face. Keen eyes peer from beneath a noble brow. He is, as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, habited in the usual black gown and white bands. He has no need to announce in loud tone the number of the hymn, as on several black boards, in gilt letters and figures, the numbers of the chants and psalms are set up. From the organ come the softest sounds of melody. One is almost tempted to describe that immense organ with its gilded succession of pipes rising tier above tier to the very roof, and its large screen of folding, fluted doors, all painted within by a Rubens or Tintoret, with the representation of some Scriptural or classic event. The singing of the people was full and devout. How it seemed to swell upwards to Heaven ! But the people sit to sing, and the men keep their heads covered. This was surprising, and still more so when I found that the hats were unlifted even when the minister engaged in prayer. Of course the people could be devout, even though they worshipped as the Jews in their synagogues, with hats on, and the draughtiness of the churches may have been the excuse for the custom. With soft, flexible voice and earnest tone, the minister offered the devotions of the people to God. No liturgy was read, but how intently the people listened. They sighed their “ Amens" to cert uin parts of the prayer where he said, “There is no man, no man but has sinı ed. We have sinned, yet pardon us, 0 our God. Wondrous is Thy mercy. . . . . Let us today walk with Thee, O Jesus. Give us a golden day in spiritual power.”
After the prayer the text was read, then more singing, then the preacher began, and, without further announcement of the text, plunged into his subject. It was on the warning of Christ against the leaven of the Pharisees and Herodians. During the sermon the vergers cam 3 round for another collection. "I saw long sticks waving about, and could not make out at first what they were for, until, one coming nearer, a black bag was seen to be on the end, in which the contributions were placed. Some of the bags have little bells on them, to draw the attention of slow contributors. About ten minutes after one verger had gathered the money from the people among whom I was sitting, another came and thrust his bag before each person to glean still more. And many contributed a second time. This, with paying for chairs, made a triple collection at one service! The prescher must have been much troubled by the long-continued collecting. I know ministers who could not have proceeded with the sermon, much less speaking, 23 713 the preacher for the day, without notes. Very energetically, however, did he instruct and exhort the people. He told them that “there were thousands on thousands of Lutheran and Protestant Pharisees." He described with much power. We saw the orthodox Jew draw his robe closely, so that he might not be contaminated by the sinful publican. We heard the “Stand aside ; I am holier than thou." :« The Pharisee," said the speaker, “hears and appears to do, but does not. Open his heart; it is as a whited sepulchre. He is proud of being a Jew, but he hates Jes23. And the Herodians are no better. Worshippers of worldly power and success, Believers simply in the powers that be, are they. They know nothing of the righteousness of Jesus, who raises and saves. Herod was a sort of Ahab. He feared John, 23 Ahab Elijah. The one would have killed and the other, really murdered his best adviser and friend. But how should he or his fol. lowers, when absorbed in selfishness and hardness, listen to Jesus of Nazareth ? Many so-called - Liberals are Herodians-good citizens, but worldly souls.” Then he effectively applied his words, “Which are youPharisee or Herodian? Are you followers of the Talmud of tradition or of the uncertain light of reason & Faith must be associated with reason, and both be the subjects of God's Holy Word.”
The people were exceedingly attentive. Plain-faced women watched him with glistening eye, and hard-faced men stood up in the pews and leaned forward to catch more easily the words of the speaker. Indeed, his earnestness, energy, sustained flow, and pathetic tones thrilled at times one who could understand but little of the language. It was a long sermon, not less than fifty minutes. It speaks well for the Dutch that they listened 30 intently and in such numbers to such a preacher. At the close of the sermon a few more appropriate verses were read, and then with the singing and benediction we dispersed. As we passed out, our eye fell on the elaborate monuments raised to the memory of the great admirals Von Reuter and John A. Galen. Thoughts flashed of the days one reads of in history when Dutch land contested the mastery of the seas with England. Here is the Westminster Abbey of Amsterdam !
All the churches in Amsterdam are not crowded as the Nieue Kerck. Into another large place I went where the congregation was very sparse, and the preacher was prosy. The service was very perfunctory, and three of the vergers, even before the congregation had dispersed, lit their cigars and went about their work of closing books and re-arranging chairs. Perhaps this is the custom of the country.
The Government is said to be equally kind to all religions. Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Scotch and Catholic, all are subsidized. Probably this may account for the deadness that exists in some of the churches.
Staying at the “Old Bible Hotel,” I was favoured by the host with a view of the first Bible printed in the Dutch language. It was printed on the spot where the hotel now stands. A fine, large, heavily-clasped book it is. The type is very clear, and it is interspersed with many quaint and original, but small engravings. Carefully in a case, and under his custody, the host preserves this old copy. He has had a wooden fac-simile put over the doorway, and the verse he has painted thereon is that from the Epistle to Timothy, “ Drink no longer water, but a little wine," &c. He evidently believes that there is many a Timothy at the present time needing the exhortation. He pre-supposes the existence of a larger number of abstainers than, it is to be feared, are to be found in Amsterdam.
On the Sunday evening Amsterdam is anything but quiet. In some of the streets the crowds are so great that it is most difficult to get through them. The theatres, the beer gardens, and cafés are all open. Drapers, grocers, tobacconists, and hatters have the gas aglare, and some of their assistants behind the counters ; but I must confess that in very few of the shops did I see a purchaser. Possibly it is only another custom of the country thus to advertise or exhibit their goods on the Sunday. One could not but wish those poor shop assistants could have had some release from service. And one could only desire that, if released, they might find their way to the house of God, or at least employ their time more profitably than many of those who thronged the streets.
Looking back on the two Sabbaths spent in Lowlands, that in the metropolis of Marshland was certainly more peaceful than that in Holland. The keeping of a Sabbath after the Continental style would not suit the English taste. One could not but pray that the Continental notion of the Sabbath as a day for pleasure only might never obtain on this side the German Ocean.
Mr. Gladstone's Humanitarian Campaign, and its Results. The very best answer to the vehement rebuke which has fallen upon Mr. Gladstone from the “Mohammedan Press!! and Conservative orators, is the simple fact that the views which he has advocated with such passionate earnestness are now the recognised basis of the policy of England, and will in substance be supported by the English Envoy at the Conference which is to meet at Constantinople, to decide on the measures which will be presented to the Turkish Government as the ultimatum of the Great Powers. We say passionate earnestness, for there has been an intensity of conviction, an insistance of purpose, and a force of advocacy, apparent in all Mr. Gladstone's utterances, which are rare even in the history of English political movements. But the occasion demanded and has justified them. It is good for a great statesman to be “ zealously affected" in such a cause