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and magnetic in his touch upon the weak and tender spots of life. His breezy faith in life, although based upon fact, is also experimental. His belief in man has faced the last word that can be urged against the essential dignity and worth of human nature, but it is easy to see that with such men as he the final certainty of conviction is sure to come. There is a distinct charm in all this; and the act of confidence is not without its heroic quality, when we consider the almost utter lack of faith in human nature at the beginning of his ministry and the almost unconscious atmosphere of doubt and gloom which still remained as the lingering influence of rampant Calvinism. The too common belittlement of life was beyond the toleration of a culture so profound, so robust as his.
One cannot help rejoicing that Dr. Dewey's days were prolonged to the full demonstration of a faith so sane and sweet. There is something wonderfully fine and reassuring in the spirit with which he accepted that long-enforced isolation of later years, after such vivid proofs of his immediate power over men, and while yet bodily health was intact and his interest in active life unabated. It is one thing to watch the assertions of genius when the crowd is by to attest its admiration and responsiveness; but the real test comes in the hungry silence that sometimes follows, when the human presence is withdrawn, and the only honor is in patient self-repression. The crowded years of work in New Bedford and New York are interesting and impressive, but one loves to linger over the last thirty years of Dr. Dewey's life for a certain deep and calm assurance of the spirit which the more prosperous part of his career cannot quite give. When the man of conscious power, with the lifelong habit of personal influence fixed upon him, consented to be ignored and forgotten without losing either his interest in others or his cheerfulness in living, we seem to have reached the highest possible point of his influence upon our lives. One even confesses to a little feeling of veneration for the quiet spot he made the shrine of so much solitary thought and hopeful self-abnegation. It has already become instinctive with some of us to think of Sheffield as one of those
places set apart to that highest of all possible fruitions, which Matthew Arnold so beautifully attributes to Emerson, “happiness in the spirit.”
With a nature grandly in earnest, yet almost boyish in its playful abandonment and persistent hope, Dr. Dewey rounded out a life which, upon the whole, we must call remarkably fortunate. The very strength and beauty of it often lies in the fact that out of such simple elements he was able to organize so forceful and happy a result. The annals of the pulpit can hardly furnish a more genuine and unaffected spirit than his, while few men have exerted an influence more uniformly healthful and stimulating. An eminently devout soul, there was so little of the pietist about him that professional constraints and expectations were irksome to a nature that must be natural and spontaneous or nothing. Always more a man than a minister, his manliness was yet ever unaffectedly spiritual. His religion was unquestionably religious, even while it smacked of the solid foundation which all things, even the spiritual, must have in the soil of fact. He belongs here, not so much to a school that is passing away, as to one that is surely coming, -a school of fearless, reverent questioners, whose devout investigations will be in the line alike of scientific fact and spiritual experience. Such a school stands already on the threshold of our ministry, and is knocking at its very gates. There can be no better influence for the younger generation of our preachers than the life and works of Dr. Dewey. His understanding of the trials, doubts, and temptations peculiar to young men is sure; and the vein of sympathy for their necessities which runs through his writings is fine and helpful. He talks about human weakness and passion, not like an analyst, but like a live man, whose strength of character is vitally related to the struggles of brother men. He puts no professional finger on the gaping wounds of society, but, as it were, ministers to them out of his own hurt. His personality and his word alike are, in this respect, fitted for a work of influence which, we may safely feel, is but as yet begun.
EDWARD F. HAYWARD.
THE AUTHORITY OF OUR FAITH. The objection is sometimes urged that our modern religion lacks authority. This modern religion, it is said, leaves every one to think as he pleases. It has nothing assertive to bind men's belief. When the late endowment of the Cambridge Divinity School was made, we heard this objection. The Cambridge school represented the modern thought of theology. But where is the authority of this new theology? it was asked. One has to meet this suspicious feeling not merely among objectors to the modern faith. There is a dim apprehension also among many in our liberal churches that the old faith had more authority than we have. There is sometimes a little half-conscious envy of those churches which are supposed to have plenty of authority.
Now, this objection, if true, is very serious. Religion, so far as we can trace it back, has always rested upon some sort of authority.. This was the notion in pagan times. This was the old Hebrew thought,- that, in certain favored times, certain chosen men - Abraham, Moses, Samuel had had direct mission of God. So of the later thought of the authority of a church whose councils or popes could
Their decrees bound men, showed them what to believe, made God and heaven and the ways thereto certain as demonstration. So also of the great Protestant doctrine of the authority of the Bible. Thus, in some form, the world has always been used to the idea of religious authority. It would be, therefore, a very great break, if, from many centuries of religions, hoary with authority, the world were to emerge into a religion which had no authority.
Besides, the world needs authority for its religion. Whatever you may please to think of select individuals, rich in their circumstances, education, thought, and experience, the great mass of men, certainly at present, and presumably for as long as we can foresee, want an authority for their religion. They have not time, means, ability, nor sufficient earnestness to work out and demonstrate religious ideas. Who
has never felt this need of authority? Who has never longed after sure, definite, irrefutable kuowledge of God and the possibilities of the hereafter! Or who, again, has not been made glad, as though a great hunger had been met, when, as he looked for some religious authority, he has seemed to find it?
We have been speaking of authority in religion. What do we mean? The comparison which people made between Jesus and the scribes illustrates our meaning. Jesus taught, people said, like one having authority, and not as the scribes. Now, it is very significant that the scribes were precisely the people in Jesus' time who thought themselves and were thought by others to have authority. They were the regular, authorized teachers of the traditional religion. They were the men out of all the Hebrew nation who were supposed to rest upon the certain authority of the ancient revelations. And yet, somehow, these scribes, teaching from authority, did not move people. You can seem to hear them expounding their texts. They proved their points, but they did not convince you. They professed to be certain of God, but they did not make God seem real. Some of them reasoned about immortality, but the Sadducees had their doubts just the same. The teaching of the scribes was second-hand. That was the trouble with it. They told you of others long ago who, they said, had seen God; but they had not seen God themselves. And men were dying to know some one who had seen God.
On the contrary, Jesus was the man who had not any traditional authority. He did not depend upon what the ancient books said. He was not a graduate of the regular established divinity schools, where they taught authority. Conservative people were suspicious about him. There were the scribes, they said, who knew all that was needful. And yet people poured out to hear Jesus. Without the ancient books, he laid down the laws of the holy life; and you who listened knew while he spoke that it was the most real life. He spoke of God without demonstration or proof-texts, till he made your nerves tingle with the sense
that God was near. He told of the immortal hope. He did not prove it, he did not go back to the miracles of Elijah for it,- that was the way the scribes taught; but it simply grew out of the eternal fact, which you felt as you heard him, that you and he were the children of God, who was God not of death, but of life.
What now gave Jesus this authority ? What could he have known of religion which the scribes did not know? Every one is familiar with the artificial answers which have been made to this question. Jesus, it is said, before this life here, had lived in heaven, and therefore brought with him the things of which he taught, or Jesus, it is said, besides being a man, was also God.
On the contrary there was nothing essential which Jesus taught which, in some form, had not been taught by men before. The cardinal ethical principles, the most concise form of the Golden Rule, the doctrine of self-sacrifice and forgiveness, the reality of God, the secret of peace, the ancient hope of immortality, even his figures and metaphors, were either in the familiar Hebrew books on which Jesus had been brought up or in the thought of his generation. Wonderful as we deem Jesus' teaching, its wonder was not its novelty or originality, but rather its clearness, its vigor, his fresh, strong, spiritual treatment of it. You ask, then, Jesus' authority? Ask rather the authority of that earlier, unknown writer, who first put into words, hundreds of years before, that sublime command,—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Ask rather how Newton knew the law of gravitation. Because it grew out of the facts and matched the facts, and it had therefore only to be seen to certify itself. So with the Golden Rule. So with all Jesus' teachings. They did not need a voice from the sky or an angel to reveal them.
Jesus, in fact, was like one who stands on a hill while the fog covers the valley. The man on the hill sees sky and sun and distant reaches of view. The men below see nothing but the ground underneath and the fog. There are men in the fog who carry maps and compasses, and profess