The Christian ideal has suffered much from a certain proprietary spirit on the part of those who held it. It would be difficult to say how much the personal salvation schemes attaching to this ideal have insensibly promoted the spirit of selfishness. Up to a very recent time—and it is so even now—the Christian gospel has been applauded and pressed on men's attention from the single point of view of the personal security it was supposed to offer. Natural and even justifiable as this may be, still it places the value of that gospel more on its beneficial relation to the believer than on its absolute merits. This mercenary view is fast passing away; it commands little respect from intelligent minds. Yet never was Christianity better understood or more highly prized for its real merits than in the present age of so-called religious doubt and distrust. While the old belief in its supernatural origin and character grows colder and feebler, appreciation of its true historic worth and beauty and moral necessity grows daily. The new ideal is not always recognized by name, and is sometimes pointedly denied. It is content to lose its identity as such rather than seem to violate the principle of universal brotherhood. Like Christ in the legend, it will strip itself of every recognizable sign, and disguise itself beyond all recognition, if thus it may the more quickly reach and stir the instinct of human compassion; and Longfellow, in "The Legend Beautiful," teaches that true worship is no mere rapt contemplation of the beautiful, but can tear itself away from spiritual delights at the command of conscience, and take up the homely duties of the day.

The (London) Christian Life.

Oh! how different would be the position of the Church if we clergy would sacrifice everything to concentrate ourselves upon really bringing out the social meaning of our Sacraments, upon really understanding and giving voice to the spirit of Christian brotherhood, upon really making ourselves the organs for expressing social justice and uttering effectively the Divine wrath upon all that degrades and crushes the weak and ignorant and poor. Oh! how different would be our moral appeal if Christ's claim upon wealth—Christ's claim for great sacrifices, great abandonments, as the normal exhibitions of a converted heart—were really once again the claim of the actual Church upon clergy and laity.

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November 3, 1906

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