Project Canterbury

The Church's Burden

The Reinicker Lectures for 1902

By the Right Reverend George Herbert Kinsolving, D.D.
Bishop of Texas

New York: Edwin S. Gorham, 1902.

Chapter III. Some Reasons for Believing in the Ultimate Triumph for the Missionary Idea

"Before His discourse to men passed into converse with God," the last words uttered by Christ to His disciples were an assurance of victory, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." After His resurrection from the dead, and on the eve of His Ascension, the Church received her marching orders, and the assurance "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the age." Implicit confidence in the Captain of our salvation is our first reason for belief in the ultimate triumph of the missionary idea. The promises of God are "Yea" and "Amen." We start with faith; we believe in the truthfulness of God. As surely as the world stands, the plan of God in its redemption shall be carried out. It is the work for which Christ became incarnate and for which He shed His blood. We are certain of success and victory, for He has declared it. [49/50] "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Faith, like a gentle handmaiden, waits in the inner chambers of our hearts and minds. With her guidance we are able to look beyond the surface. She brushes away the cobwebs and obstructions from the windows of the soul. We begin to perceive many things which to the mere carnal mind may be invisible. We become like the young man for whom Elisha prayed when he said, "Open his eyes, oh, Lord, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha."

The office of faith is to clarify the perceptive faculties of the soul and enlarge the horizon of spiritual vision; it enables us to look beyond and through the outward and apparent, until we reach the inward and hidden; it leads us across the threshold of sense and places us in the presence of verities as they are in the secret essence of their being rather than as shadowed by, or concealed behind, some external form. It makes an unseen truth as real and evident as anything in the sphere of what can be seen and touched and handled; it leads us as in the daylight, when, without its help, all would be darkness; it gives us a talisman which enables us to be patient amid [50/51] discouragements, and brave when apparently there is cause for fear. It gives us the victory when reason and common sense and human experience, and everything earthly, fails us, or is arrayed against us. When we have Faith righting on our side we always come off conquerors, and are able to subdue every enemy and trample them under our feet. Faith is an invaluable instructor, a devoted companion and an invincible ally and friend.

With our starting point, then, in the promises of the great Head of the Church, let us take a brief review of the history of Christianity, and see if we cannot find sufficient evidence in the past and present upon which to base a reasonable hope for the future, building our hope on facts as well as faith, or faith rooted and grounded in facts growing out of fulfilment of the promises. In the first place, Christianity is to be regarded as an organism rather than a mechanism. It is a principle of life, an influence, a spiritual power progressing on the line of growth and development, rather than on the basis which characterizes earthly kingdoms, such as arbitrary will and physical force. In reading the New Testament, we are struck with the normal and gradual manner of the bringing-in of the new and better Covenant after the old had been found fault with, [51/52] and was ready to vanish away. Christ did not needlessly and ruthlessly shock men's prejudices, nor do violence to their feelings. He was as unobtrusive as was possible under the circumstances, and was tolerant of man's weakness and considerate of his blindness and even hard-heartedness to a degree that speaks far more of Heaven than of earth, of the divine than of the human. His religion was not like the flash of a brilliant meteor, but it dawned upon men like the quiet breaking of day--the rays of its light becoming gradually brighter, touching the hilltops at first, and then speeding onward from point to point, flinging back the heavy shadows of ignorance and sin, penetrating every slope and plain and illuminating every valley, meadow and stream, until all the civilized world should be suffused with the light and gladness and refreshed by the full-orbed splendor of the Sun of Righteousness.

Christ did not come to revolutionize society, nor even to attack directly and aggressively many things to which He was opposed. Spiritual influence and moral suasion were His chief weapons, and their work must ever be slow and gradual. We know of no case where Christ ever attempted to force the acceptance of His religion upon any man. He left man free and [52/53] independent. There was no coercion, no arbitrary interposition of power. He, at times, superseded the laws in the natural world by which matter is controlled and overruled physical forces, but never did he interfere with the laws of man's social life, nor override the workings of his moral nature. The new was left to supersede the old in a normal and natural manner. Mohammedanism used the sword of well-tempered steel, and thought that it did God service in hating and slaying the infidel. Christ trusted to the sword of the Spirit to do His work, and the weapons which He put into the hands of His Church with which to fight its way to conquest and victory were the heart, and brain and tongue. With these weapons the Church in her early history certainly accomplished a work in the world which is simply astounding, and reminds us of conquests after the manner of earthly kingdoms, so external and visible was the prowess, and we can see and examine and study it as we do other occurrences in human history.

The Kingdom of Heaven, in a very deep and real sense, "cometh not with observation"; "the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven which a woman hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened." "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, the least of all [53/54] seeds." It is "as if a man should cast seed into the ground and it springeth up and groweth, he knoweth not how." The manifestations of this inner and hidden growth of the Kingdom are just as evident to those who possess spiritual discernment as is the outward or historic growth of the Church. All through the ages, Christianity has been creating a moral atmosphere, which is diffused on every hand and penetrates deep into every department of life, and though it may be too intangible to measure, and we cannot say this or that is positively Christian, yet men breathe the air, and it is the vital force about them which makes for righteousness. "There is a common stock of ideas on which we all live, in which we all move often without being quite conscious of it." "The virtues of the world," it has been beautifully said by Dr. Phelps, "in their finest growth live upon the graces of the Church, and in this way the Church achieves a vast amount of unacknowledged conquest." But the figure which best describes the Church's progress at first, when it was once fairly started on its mission, is the onward march of an irresistible army, yet an army fighting, not with the noise of trumpets, nor the carnal weapons of earthly warfare, but with the weapons and instrumentalities to which we have referred.

[55] On the Day of Pentecost we find a little band of weak, disheartened disciples, who, after the Ascension of their Master, had adjourned from the Mount of Olives and repaired to a private chamber in the City of Jerusalem and were there awaiting the Master's promise that He would pour upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost. Let us go in thought for a moment into that upper room and look in upon that little band and see who they are--those men and women, the majority of them probably women, and only one hundred and twenty in all. A little group of persons taken from the humbler walks of life, with not a single illustrious name among them--illustrious names were added afterwards, but at this time there was not a single illustrious name, to speak as the world does; they were dull men, ignorant men, men taken from the lower classes of society, as we use that hateful and un-American expression. What could we have predicted from a movement inaugurated thus and originating from such a source? "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel against the Lord and against His anointed." The mighty power of the Roman Empire, both secular and ecclesiastical, was arrayed against the infant Church. "It was surrounded by all that combines to make a doctrine or a system impossible," [55/56] declares one of our historians, Dean Farrar. "The philosophers and thinkers were opposed to it; they denounced it as a dream of folly. The habits and passions of the people were opposed to it; it threatened somewhat rudely to interfere with them. There were venerable institutions coming down from a distant antiquity and gathering around them the stable and thoughtful element of society--these were opposed to it, as to an audacious innovation, as well as from an instinctive perception that it might modify or destroy themselves. National feeling was opposed to it, for it flattered no national self-love. It was to be the home of human kind; it was to embrace the world, and as yet the nation was the highest conception of associated life to which humanity had reached, and religious feeling, itself, was opposed to it, for religious feeling had been enslaved by ancient falsehood. There were worships, priesthoods, beliefs in long established possession, and they were not likely to yield without a struggle."

Every possible force was drawn into the field and mingled in the strife; hence, the blood of the martyrs flowed like water, and bitter were the contents of the cup which the dear Lord gave His saints to drink. Their sufferings are almost inconceivable to us at this late day in "their trials [56/57] of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments." "They were stoned; they were sawn asunder; were tempted; were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy." But the results of this conflict have been well illustrated by Uhlhorn, when he points us to the Emperor Julian, the last of the Church's persecutors. "Filled with youthful enthusiasm, Julian hoped to see the glory of the ancient world revived and yet all his labor and zeal did not avail to kindle one spark of true life in those burnt-out ashes." "He was deluded in holding that the ancient world, in whose behalf he was so enthusiastic, was still capable of life," and being driven to act as a tyrant and a persecutor of the Church, his life became a contest between himself and the Nazarene. He called for a judgment of God, and it came to him in the plains beyond the Tigris, when he fell struck to the earth by a Persian spear and expired with the cry, "Oh, Nazarene, Thou hast conquered." "Heathenism here gave proof that its life was exhausted. From this time on it collapsed most rapidly, and the victory of Christianity was complete." The little band of one hundred and twenty despised, ignorant men, with their cross of wood, had [57/58] climbed from the upper room into the Capitol of the civilized world. They took possession of the Senate, sat down in purple on the imperial throne of the Caesars, and of "all revolutions, religious, moral, social or political, ever produced on earth, they had effected the greatest, the most influential, the most permanent, the most extensive and most beneficial."

After this first great triumph, the Church continued until the eclipse of the Dark Ages and the schism between the East and West upon a forward march of splendid missionary success. When the barbarian hordes broke through the breaches in the ramparts of the Roman Empire and inundated the civilized world, they were at once confronted by this new power, before which they stood spell-bound, and became tame and were gradually converted into humble subjects of the Cross. The work of the Church in this direction was most extraordinary. There is no parallel to it in subsequent history. Time would fail us to follow the Church beyond these two periods, or enter upon a discussion of the innumerable questions and problems which confronted her during many centuries. We have referred to the past because we wish to find in the fulfilment of our Lord's promise in those days an assurance and guarantee of a like fulfilment at the present time [58/59] and for the future. Our contention is, if Christianity has conquered under the most adverse circumstances, it is logical and reasonable to believe that it has an inherent and sufficient power in itself for the further fulfilment of its mission in the world. What it has done once, we believe it can do again, and do with a comprehensiveness and completeness of which the early histories are only faint adumbrations and forecasts. "Astronomers ask that you give them three points in the movements of a planet and they can calculate its orbit." One falling apple served Newton for his great generalization.

Humanly speaking, what made the triumph of Christianity possible in the beginning was the condition of the Roman Empire. For the first time in human history, the use of a common language created a medium of communication of ideas, without which the obstructions in the way would have occasioned serious delays and, perhaps, have led to ultimate disaster, unless, indeed, the deficiency had been supplied by the universal and continued gift of tongues. Again, the world was externally under the control of one government. From her seven hills, the proud City of Rome gave laws and policies to all mankind. By reason of these political conditions, it was made possible that Christianity could be propagated. The [59/60] twentieth century is reproducing similar conditions, under different forms, of course; but the same substantially, in their facilities and opportunities for missionary work. The gift of tongues was very limited at the first, and the almost universally spoken and understood Greek language was the chief instrument for the intelligent communication of thought in the apostolic age. Nothing supernatural, in the way of gifts and instrumentalities, was designed to dwell with the Church perpetually. They were not to attend the growth and progress of Christianity. Miraculous voices merely proclaimed in glad joy its heavenly origin, and then it was left to grow in the earth and win its own way on its own merits, and with its own inherent strength, while subject to the laws and conditions of its earthly surroundings.

The English language is now taking the place of the ancient Greek, and what is lacking in the adaptability and use of our tongue is being supplied by the widespread education of all the peoples of the earth, who are learning to speak each other's languages and to communicate with each other to a degree never known before. We regard this fact as one of the most hopeful signs of the times, and as one among many evidences that God is now opening the way and preparing the [60/61] ground for an onward advance of His Church, beyond any expectations which have ever heretofore been realized. We know how one of the chief causes of the slow progress made in the work of foreign missions has been the want of a suitable instrument in the shape of a common language with which to operate. Previous years were lost in the effort to master the various foreign tongues which, when mastered, often proved sadly inadequate to express even the simplest truth which the missionary had to teach. If the primitive Church found itself in possession at once of one of the most pliable and effective vehicles for conveying thought which has been wrought out of the mind of man, a language combining, in the most exquisite proportions, graceful beauty with robust strength and with a natural faculty of transforming itself into every variety of shape conceived by the imagination, the modern Church is not one whit behind in the growing use of the English language, with its compositeness, its tesselated beauty and assimilative qualities, with the additional advantage of the age in being able to speak many languages and, by reason of ever-increasing facilities of communication in commerce and travel, to understand and be understood in every part of the earth.

[62] Again, we are hopeful concerning the future, because of this very commingling of the peoples. Mountains and seas are giving way as well as languages. "Around the Mediterranean, the central sea of the ancient world, dwelt the cultivated nations. Far into the midst of this sea projects the long peninsula of Italy, and in the middle of this peninsula stood the City of Rome, the centre of the centre, and from this point the world was conquered and controlled." But in our day the progress of the world is changing such provincial geography into a great cosmical organization, or rather, we might say, under the influence of steam pressure and electric force, the whole modern world is shrinking into one vast parochial neighborhood. "Saint Gothard tunnels, Channel tunnels, Suez and Nicaragua Canals, connections of the Atlantic and Pacific, the Danube and the Rhine, the telegraph, the railway, commercial treaties, trusts, international exhibitions--what are they all doing," asks Hall Caine in "The Eternal City," "but obeying the irresistible law which works out the brotherhood of man?"

And especially is this true as applied to the English-speaking people, and in a pre-eminent sense to the American people. Indeed, one of our writers (Dr. Storrs) has instanced the very [62/63] geographical position of our country, which recalls what we have just said about the peninsula of Italy in the olden times. "Our country poised on the crest of the globe, with the two great oceans of the world on either hand, with thirteen thousand miles of coast-line, inviting commerce from abroad, stimulating commerce in its exit, with its prodigious wealth so rapidly accumulating from the mine, from the prairie, from the meadow, from the orchard, from the orange grove, from the sugar plantation, from the wheat field, corn field and the cotton field--one of the wealthiest nations, perhaps the wealthiest nation, in the world, placed in this extraordinary geographical position, that it may send out its commerce as it does around the earth, searching every land with the enterprises of that commerce, carrying American manufactures into China, Japan, India, and the Islands of the Sea": may it not be that we have a mission and an opportunity of fulfilling it along such lines, that it may be as true in modern times as in the ancient days that "when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son"? The external preparation of the world for the first advent is one of the marvels of history, but are we not living in times big with possibilities and potentialities and teeming with evidences that the Divine Hand is working [63/64] in His providential manner and preparing the way of the Lord for a disclosure and revelation of transcendent success in the enlightenment of the people living in darkness and in furthering the Gospel and carrying the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth?

Look also at the development of the idea of humanity in our generation. Aristotle declares it "madness to talk of love between God and man, because love can only exist between beings of a like kind." The Christian apologist, Tertullian, says, "We desire a republic of the whole human race." The Incarnation is the answer to Aristotle, and the pledge of the gratification of the desire of Tertullian. Men are learning more and more of the divine character. Who God is, and, as a consequence, who man is, and a sense of son-ship and brotherhood must, of necessity, follow upon an enlarged conception of the divine character, for what we think about God determines the views and estimate which we put upon ourselves. The Fatherhood of God is an idea which is more and more filling the thought and heart of mankind, and with it a recognition of the correlated truths of our kinship with God and our relation to each other. It is quite true that there has been a counter-current of materialistic thought in our day, which leaves God out of the [64/65] account almost altogether, and which reduces man to a purely physical basis; yet the latest trend, of even such thought, is more and more in the direction of the recognition of an all-Father working in His universe, and man, as viewed by the most extreme evolutionary notions, has somehow acquired a certain something which makes him different from the mere animal creation. If he possesses no proofs of a "glorious genealogy, emblazoned in the heraldry of the soul," he has at least worked himself upward in the scale of being, until in possession of a heritage different from the animal and a destiny in store for him higher than the earth.

But the general thought of mankind, from whatever premises it proceeds, where it finds God at all, finds a kindlier conception of God than in former days, and man shares in the benefit of these truer and more worthy ideas concerning the Divine Being. And just as there has been an extreme so-called scientific view of God and His world, so also has there been a pseudo-humanity fallacy, begotten of the Positivist philosophy, which is as far removed from Christian humanity as is materialistic science from supernatural religion. This fact, however, does not invalidate our contention that no thought is ruling the age in which we live with more [65/66] widely-extending and ever-increasing influence than the idea of humanity based upon a broader and more intelligent appreciation of the nature and character of our God. I am not of those who disparage dogma and vent their ignorance and unbelief in denouncing creeds. To me, Theology is the Queen of Sciences, and I believe with all my heart and mind in "a Faith once for all delivered to the saints" which is as clear and definite and positive as is anything with which we have to do in this world, while, at the same time, I welcome it as one of the most hopeful signs of the times and as a harbinger of a brighter day beginning to break over the earth, that men everywhere are striving more and more earnestly to understand each other and to come together on a platform which is covered by the missionary idea of Fatherhood, Sonship and Brotherhood.

However clear may be our own grasp of Truth, in its fulness, and seeing and knowing what to others is dark and incomprehensible, we are learning everywhere to be patient and less exacting in our first demands upon others not so highly favored as ourselves, and to call men brothers and cherish a family feeling of kinship and are ready and glad to trace resemblances of feature and blood and are pained by all that still alienates and separates us.

[67] Again, look at the breaking up of the old forces of heathenism. Luthardt truthfully says, "However slowly the work of missions may advance, every heathen religion is pervaded by the feeling that its hours are numbered." "It is true that the fire of its ancient fanaticism still burns in Mohammedanism, but its very irritation against Christianity shows that it thinks itself endangered by the Gospel"; and as to the various ethnic religions, such as Hindooism, Taoism, Confucianism, and so on, evidences are accumulating every year that whatever good purposes they may have served in the slow ages of the past, now they are fast sinking into superstition and immorality and becoming either lifeless or stationary systems, "or else mere landmarks, registering the failures of the human soul to attain the knowledge and life of God." E. Griffith-Jones, in his fine book, "The Ascent through Christ," argues that the story of Christianity is, from this point of view, the story of the survival of the fittest among religions, and that under the pressure of Western civilization there is a general breaking up of old and effete customs, habits and ideas, both of the savage people and the more stable forms of life in the East, and he bases an earnest plea to the Christian world in behalf of missions on these very facts. "To carry a so-called [67/68] civilization to the heathen without our religion is invariably disastrous in its effects; it never fails to destroy the confidence of subject races in their own creeds and practices, without furnishing them anything in place of their sanctions and restraints." "The result is everywhere to be seen in the way in which heathen nations neglect our virtues and emulate our vices." "These faiths are inevitably going. Soon they will be gone; and the question presses--'What then?' If history proves anything, it proves that a nation without a faith is a doomed nation, that it cannot hold together, that it inevitably decays and dies. From this point of view alone, then, there is a tremendous responsibility laid upon us. The impact of our civilization is breaking up the fabric and undermining the foundations of the ethnic religions. Without religion of some sort, nations must perish; therefore, we must see to it that we give something in place of what we take away and that something must be the Christian Faith, or it will be nothing."

We believe the Church is beginning to grasp some such conception as this--of the awful responsibility imposed by arms and flags and guns, if you please, and the aggressive advance of our civilization, as in China, where all the nations of Europe were a short while ago gathered, and in [68/69] the Philippines, in Africa and India, and everywhere throughout the world. We are conscious of the possession of a universal religion, and we are waking up to a determination to prove its power and to substitute in the place of exploded error and idolatrous beliefs the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the one means whereby men's lives are to be renewed, their social relationships purified, and their souls saved for eternity.

And once more, as a kindred thought to what we have just been saying, I feel inspired and full of zeal and courage and confidence in the ultimate triumph of the missionary idea, in view of the missionary activity which is awakening in the Church and becoming, I trust, a differentiating feature of the times to which we belong.

The progress the Kingdom of God is now making in the world we regard as warranting the most sanguine expectations with reference to the future. During the century just closed, in nominal membership the Christian Church, in its various branches, had more than doubled the entire growth of the seventeen hundred years preceding it. That is to say, while there were two hundred millions of nominal Christians at the beginning of the last century, today there are more than four hundred millions. [69/70] Besides, old superstitions and evil systems and many forms of iniquity and various enormities have been perishing one by one, and it is not an impossible matter to conceive how the Christian Church in its present condition of strength and numbers, under the influence of a powerful religious awakening and aroused to a high pitch of enthusiasm and zeal, could speedily develop into an organization which would make the gates of Hades tremble on their hinges, and cause our old men to dream dreams and our young men to see visions of the Kingdom of Heaven, realized universally throughout all the earth. Consider the growth of the Church along foreign missionary lines for a moment, and we must have our faith further strengthened and our hopes raised that Christ will ultimately reign supreme, and righteousness and truth will fill the whole earth. Possibly it was William Carey who became the first foreign missionary in the modern technical and evangelical sense of that designation. He and a few friends raised sixty-five dollars with which to start the work of evangelizing one hundred thousand millions of heathen. That was in the year 1792. In the year 1900, over nineteen millions of dollars in money were contributed; there were 15,460 clergymen; 4,699 lay helpers; 1,317,-684 communicants, which number, including [70/71] native baptized children and adults belonging to Christian communities, amounts to over four millions, and we are not speaking of the Greek Church nor of the Roman Catholic communion.

In 1878, Dr. Legge said: "The converts in China had multiplied in thirty-five years two thousand fold; the rate of increase being greater year after year." In fifteen years the cannibals of Fiji were converted to the number of 22,000. One missionary found no Christians in one of the islands of 6,000 inhabitants, and as the result of his work, there were left no heathen. In Madagascar, in 1861, there were 2,000 Christian martyrs and from fifty converts left there have since sprung up 5,000 Christians. Our Church calendar quotes what Robert Louis Stevenson says: "I had conceived a great prejudice against missions in the South Seas, and I had no sooner come here than that prejudice was at first reduced, and at last annihilated. Those who declaim against missions have only one thing to do--to come and see them on the spot." Sir Harry Johnston, British Commissioner of Uganda, in South Africa, says: "The rapid spread of Christianity over the kingdom of Uganda and the District of Toro is one of the greatest triumphs to which the advocates of Christian propaganda can [71/72] point. Intelligence is quickened, ideas are enlarged and old superstitions are swept away by the acceptance of the new faith. The difference between the Uganda of 1900 and the bloodstained, harassed, barbarous days of Mtesa and his son is extraordinary."

And we might multiply such figures and testimonies indefinitely. Certainly they are sufficient to demonstrate that we base our hopes of ultimate triumph on reasonable grounds. We are quite aware that the slow progress of missions is often adduced as a source of disappointment and discouragement, and yet it is a singular fact that our missionaries seldom, if ever, cherish such sentiments. Indeed, our missionaries, as a body, are the most hopeful and enthusiastic class of men we ever meet with. The chief source of discouragement to them is not in the field at all, where they are at work. If they ever sit under the juniper tree, and have hours of sadness and despondency, it is when they are thinking of the home Church neglecting or forgetting them, or failing to measure the requirements of the situation and to avail themselves of openings and opportunities, promising returns and results almost miraculous in their largeness and value. If there is a discordant note sounding through the [72/73] Church at the present time, it comes not from the difficulties of the mission fields. '"Cut down expenditures," is the cry that chills, and it is the subterfuge of the coward and the traitor. "Increase appropriations," is the battle-cry of victory; "Send more men to the front"--that is the way to fight in order to conquer, and all of our missionaries feel in that spirit and give utterance to such sentiments from the ground of their hearts. The field is white for the harvest, and the Church in the past has been guilty of wicked folly, in sheltering her negligence behind the pretext of the impracticability and the impossibility of really successful missionary work.

When the Good Samaritan came to the assistance of a fellow-man who was suffering, he not only provided for his present needs, but left directions with the landlord to take care of him for the future until he was completely restored, saying, "When I come again, I will pay thee." This coming again is the pledge of victory; this not coming again is our greatest source of weakness in the foreign field. Half help may be worse than no help at all. The withheld completions of our undertakings have led to the saddest disasters the Church has ever experienced, but wherever she has worked in earnest, and has [73/74] persevered in her efforts, the results have been out of all proportion in their fulness to the apparent means employed and the expenditure in time, men and money. And because we believe these things to be true, whenever we think of the future of the Church we are fired through with a burning conviction of its final triumph. Christ intends that He shall be supreme and shall reign as the Lord and King of the whole earth. A part will not satisfy Him. The whole race of men are His subjects and must be brought into allegiance to His authority. That which opposes itself to the triumphant progress of its Kingdom must be broken. The haughtiness of man shall be brought low. Truth and Righteousness must be vindicated. Falsehood and evil must be destroyed. Whether Israel is to be converted before such a day, or whether the great apostasy spoken of in the New Testament is to take place before or after this triumph, we know not; but to me it is an inspiring thought, and I am bold to cherish it, that Christ's truth will gradually win its way in the world, until all men are brought into acknowledged allegiance to its influence, and "confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The powers of evil will one by one be neutralized or destroyed; those who resist Christ [74/75] will be crushed beneath the onward resistless force of His march, or will join as recruits in the Grand Army of the Redeemed, "until all shall know Him and love and serve Him, from the least unto the greatest; and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea." The history of the Church points to some such consummation. The promises of Christ guaranteed it from the beginning.

Therefore, come up to the help of the Lord; to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The work may be slow and arduous, but in God's time, in His way, and by His means, victory will crown our efforts in the end. "Come it will, and come it must, for a' that and a' that," and oh, what a joy and privilege to feel that we can, indeed, help in such work and do battle for Christ and serve in His army and share in the ultimate triumph of His glorious cause. The vision comforted St. John at Patmos, when he saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God. St. Augustine gazed with rapture upon the same entrancing sight, while the Roman Empire was crumbling to pieces around him; and the Voice of God whispers to our souls, even as we speak, and bids us gaze in faith upon a like vision, and even while [75/76] we look it may cease to be a vision by becoming transformed into a consummated reality.

"Believe thou, oh, my soul,
Life is a vision shadowy of truth,
And vice and anguish, and the wormy grave,
Shapes of a dream. The veiling clouds retire,
And lo, the throne of the redeeming God,
Forth flashing unimaginable day,
Wraps in one blaze earth, heaven and deepest hell."

Qarseite, egw nenikhka ton kosmon. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

Project Canterbury