[The Christian World, London.]

The primitive believers, looked at from the standpoint of our hard-shell orthodoxies, were in a singularly destitute condition. They had no systematized theology. The great creeds were non-existent. A hundred things connected with them had not as yet been thought out. They were without the New Testament, in the sense in which we have it. It did not exist for them as a complete and separate volume, far less as an inspired volume. And the young community had against it, not only the governments, but the latest world-culture of the time. Yet against these odds, and all destitute, as it seemed, of the things the Church now regards as so essential, it won its fight, hands down. And it won upon the hard facts of its own case. It won, not by orthodoxy, but by love and enthusiasm genuine and irresistible because so entirely well-founded. The Master the disciples followed was their one sufficient reality, felt at every moment by the breathing of his spirit into them. Here, surely, is the open secret for our time. When criticism has done its utmost and its worst; when it has dissected the creeds, and exhibited the fallible humanness of the New Testament, what then? It leaves us precisely, in these respects, where the first Christians found themselves. The position only further requires that we possess their spirit, derived from their communion with the Master, and we have the materials which ensured their victory.

August 31, 1907

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