Графични страници
PDF файл

which naturally passes without question in the Church itself. While the judicial processes of the Church, in the discipline of incorrigible dissentients from its doctrinal standards, is manifestly agreeable to “God's Word written,” and are all applauded by sound public sentiment, it is also gratifying to know that they have been followed by the blessing of the Great Head of the Church. The following extracts from the Chicago “Daily Inter-Ocean," of November 14, 1881, are full of interest and instruction:

Dr. Thomas was pastor of the Centenary Church for three years, and did a great work in the way of building up the congregation. People crowded the church to hear him, and no larger congregations were to be found in the city. He did not however, it is claimed, add greatly to the spiritual strength of the church. He drew to him that class of church goers whose ideas on religious subjects do not accord with the strictly orthodox, but rather tend to the liberal, or, as some call it, the heretical. None of these became members of the church, and when he left it they followed him. The membership of Centenary was, at the beginning of Dr. Thomas' pastorate, about 700, and it did not get above th figure in the three years. Some claim that it even decreased to about 500, but this is not credited by others. The class-meeting, the solid foundation upon which Methodism is built, decreased under Thomas' pastorate, and ceased to be a power in the church. At the close of his pastorate, a year ago, there were but three small classes, and they were not regularly attended.

Dr. George took charge of the church a year ago, under embarrassing circumstances. Thomas had left with the majority of the Conference against him, and a heresy trial hanging over his head. This created sympathy for him, and the man who followed him in the Centenary pulpit was supposed by the unthinking to be in some way responsible for this state of affairs. Those who were in sympathy with Dr. Thomas arrayed themselves against the Methodist Church and its representative in this pulpit. The large outside congregation, attracted to Centenary and held for three years by Dr. Thomas, left, and Dr. George came from another Conference and another State to build up a church divided against itself. He was no ordinary man, although Chicago people had not heard much of him. He was orthodox, in the extreme, perhaps, but a man of giant intellect and great powers of attraction. He appeared cold and austere when he entered the pulpit, and the little congregation at first were repelled. His voice was not so cold as his looks, and when, after the sermon, he came down from the pulpit to mingle with the people, they found him warm and hearty in his welcome. His sermons, too, were as full of originality and deep thought as those of his predecessor. His first congregation was his smallest, and from that time the audiences have increased in size, until now they fill the church, and are as large as those attendant upon Dr. Thomas' preaching. The three small classes have increased to sixteen, and the prayermeetings double in attendance, and the whole spiritual growth of the church such as never before in its history. The membership also has increased, and is more closely associated with the church work. The finances of a church are generally an indication of the success of a pastor. After the fire in 1871, Centenary Church had a debt of $10,000, and this gradually increased until, in 1880, the bonded debt was $14,000, and the floating debt $2,000, making a total debt of $16,000 to confront the new pastor; and part of this debt, it is said, was $500 of Dr. Thomas' salary. Dr. George at once went to work, and in less than ten months had money subscribed to pay off this entire debt, and now, practically, the church is free from debt--something never known in her history before. When he returned (from Europe) a week ago, the people did not wait for the trustees to arrange for a reception, but took it upon themselves, and gave the pastor such a greeting as could only come from those who loved him as a friend and a teacher.

There is no church in the city to-day doing a greater or better work than Centenary, and none more closely united. Dr. George is quiet and unostentatious, irever catering to the publie, and moving in the way he considers the path of duty. The “InterOcean” believes in justice to all men, and takes this opportunity to set the facts before the public in their true light, that it may be known that Centenary Church did not cease to exist when Dr. Thomas organized the People's Church.

Receiving this as a truthful representation of the Centenary Church and its recent history, it is conclusively shown: first, that the blessing of God rests upon the Church's vindication of her doctrinal purity; second, that the unscriptural heresies of a popular preacher are far more likely “to sink the Church,” than her intelligent fidelity to recognized doctrinal standards as the best attainable expositions of revealed truth; third, that contending “earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” in the spirit and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the surest means of promoting the Church's prosperity; fourth, that the Church can better spare her most eloquent sons than tolerate their violations of solemn ordination vows; and fifth, that this exciting instance in a long line of precedents is an additional reason for the zealous and loving preservation of the truth as it is in Jesus, and as it is understood by the continuous documentary consensus of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


The phrase, “ Beginning of Life" in the world-system, is an old and trite one, and presents an unsolved and perplexing problem; yet it seems as fresh and attractive to the men of to-day as it did to those of the nineteenth century before our era. In fact, it appeals too strongly to our intellectual curiosity ever to be dropped out of the lines of human thought. There have been hopes and expressed beliefs that the advances in biological science, especially in embryology, would soon or later bring us to the threshold of life, so that man could understand the initial life-growths, and put them into statements of cause and effect, phrase them in formulated interactions of matter and force, just as one can state the laws of chemical reaction. The aim and the hope have been to put the genesis of life in the same scientific status with the baking of bread and the formation of water and limestone. Agassiz seemed to believe that the now closed gates of life would yet stand ajar under the persistent pressure of scientific investigation. He says :* “ The time has come when scientific truth must be woven into the common life of the world; for we have reached the point where the results of science touch the very problem of existence, and all men listen for the solving of that mystery. When it will come, and how, none can say; but this much is certain, that all our researches are leading up to that question, and mankind will never rest until it is answered.” But, both from the nature of the problem and from the limits of scientific thought, we are compelled to the belief that the mystery of initial life will never be solved; that there will be for us no formulated statement of the interactions of the vital and other forces, bringing the fact (for it is a fact, a thing done, like other facts in natural processes) of the beginning of life within scientific limits, such as we have in the tabulated interactions of matter and force in the known methods of mechanical equivalents and chemical reactions. And one of the purposes of this article is to give some reasons for this belief.

To help explain the origin of life, some draw analogies between the merely chemical and the organic movements; as when they compare the sudden starts of crystallization in a liquid with the quick conversion of nutrient matter into living tissue by the bioplasts of that tissue, as if an analogy was a solution, and as though the marvelous dynamic flow of organic force was only the overflow of chemical rills. Others compare the birth of the first of a series with the birth of an individual in that series; thus trying to make a derivative birth-life explain the mystery of the introduction of life into the world ; as if reproduction in kind was the same thing as primal origination ; as if the organic natural links of a genetic connection between the individuals of a species was the same thing as the origin of the species. And yet others—and notably Bain, and Tyndall also, inferentially—have sought for a partial solution of the problem of organic existence in a new definition of matter. The proposed new definition represents matter as a “double-faced,” a doubly endowed something having a physical and a spiritual side, an upper and a lower side—the lower side with its inertia, color, gravity, and other physical qualities; the higher with its spontaneity and other spiritual qualities. They would thus put a spiritual potency and promise into the nebulous mist of the primordial world-dust, so as to be able, after a measureless reach of time, to take out of it a planetary surface film of vegetable and animal life, even though ages of fiery molten matter lie between the putting in and the taking out. And they do this in the face of the established fact, that no forms of life have ever been known to survive a heat much less than that which belongs to molten rock. But with the aid of all these analogies and suggestions, the method of life's origin is still a problem unsolved. Not only the origination, but also the reproduction of life, presents a like mystery. Even the advances of science, which take us from the complex adult organism backward through the embryonic stages of growth to the structureless ovarian egg, beyond which the microscope has no range of vision, and beyond which the scalpel has no point of touch, nor the crucible any chemic tests, are no advances toward an explanation of this mystery of life. Yet in spite of repeated and inevitable failures, philosophic thought will brood intensely over the life-problem, trying to put the links of causal connection between the facts and phases of the process by which the life principle weaves an organism with perfect functions out

*“Methods of Study in Natural History," p. 42.

of the functionless ovarian egg. The problem, ever present since the beginning of the race, but never solved, is to-day as fresh as ever; and the scientific imagination will project the known modes of motion of physical forces into the changes of living matter, so as to picture the tissue-weaving of organic life under modes of mechanical and molecular action. But just as none of the operations within the range of what we call natural can explain the existence and the properties of atoms in chemistry, so nothing within the known range of chemical and mechanical actions can explain the beginning of life. The existence of atoms, and that of organic life, are both births of finite being, are both to be taken as specific outcomes of Divine energy ; as breaks of a supernatural intervention, which will be forever outside of the imitations of the laboratory, out side of the formulas and laws that hold the inathematical and mechanical interactions of matter and force. Not the most profoundly cultivated imagination, playing ever so precisely according to the known modes of molecular mechanical action, can ever picture how the creative energy of the Supreme Will had its outcome in new forms of existence. The beginning of life lies outside of the domain of science, out of the reach of the swiftest, surest imagination, save under the form of vague analogies; and analogies are not solutions, for the reason that the original passage from the inorganic to the organic was rather an abrupt than a transitional one by insensible gradations.

But this persistent quest for the origin of life is not irrational, for as soon as the human faculties are sufficiently developed, this topic comes up with an original freshness. It is somewhat like the search for perpetual motion, but with this difference: that in the search along the lines of causation you are at last stopped, not by the impossible, but by the hidden.

To the question: Whence is the vital force derived, and what is its relation to the other forces of nature ? Prof. Le Conte, speaking for himself and for many physiologists,* says: “The answer of modern science to this question is: It is derived from the lower forces of nature; it is correlated with chemical and physical forces ; in all cases vital force is produced by decomposition; animals derive their vital force from the decomposi

"Popular Science Monthly,” December, 1873.

« ПредишнаНапред »