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Lecture 7 Religion as a Social Phenomenon—The Church

Lecture 7
Religion as a Social Phenomenon—The Church
IN our last chapter we considered the phase of worship that consists in the prayers and offerings with which men approach their God. At the same time however we remarked that they do so in the confident belief that they will not seek that God in vain inasmuch as He reveals Himself to them in many different ways. This belief finds expression in another phase of worship: in the oracles and portents in which the believer with his imperfect knowledge of nature and mankind imagines he reads or hears the will of the gods; in soothsaying which observes the flight of birds or the appearance of the entrails of the victim or casts lots or watches the position of the stars and the play of the lightning-flash or attempts by various other strange methods to fathom the mysteries of Providence; in the Thora or doctrine which was doubtless originally a mere collection of precepts regarding the proper manner of serving the deity but which afterwards embraced the moral law also; in the recitation and interpretation of documents which were believed to contain the veritable word of God; in the free prophecy of inspired speakers; and even in those dramatic representations often associated with worship which may be described in the phrase of Rauwenhoff (though wrongly applied by him to all worship) as “faith made visible” and in those symbolic observances which on a higher plane of development shadow forth man's belief in the nearness of God.

Were we to attempt to describe each of these forms of divine revelation or subject them all to a psychological analysis or sketch the history of their development we should have more than ample material for a whole lecture. And the task would certainly be an interesting one. We should have to direct our attention to the persons who have been regarded as the interpreters of such revelations—sorcerers soothsayers augurs haruspices priests prophets saints—and we should thus be carried back to a discussion of the belief in mediators of which we have already treated. This would however involve too serious a digression from the ontological inquiry to which this course of lectures is devoted.1

We are at present solely concerned to inquire what is essential and abiding in religion. It is of course absurd to say that the Infinite makes His will known by visible or audible signs or that He reveals Himself in the rustling of trees or the flight of birds. For what primitive people have spelt out of these has been but the outcome of pious imagination and emotion the result of their own thoughts or hopes or fears; just as the essential feature in the famous Delphic oracle consisted not in the ravings of the Pythia but in the interpretation often sensible ethical and religious which the prophets put upon them. And we are all well aware that however far above us the most illustrious interpreters of divine revelation may be however superior in wisdom and insight in piety and saintliness they are all but men of like fashion with ourselves differing from us in capacity and talent but not differing from us in nature. Yet it is certain that no communion of man with his God (such communion being as we have seen the essence of worship) is possible or conceivable if all the aspirations of the pious soul all its longings and entreaties for help light and support are to end in the despairing cynicism of Heinrich Heine “No one but a fool expects an answer”; if in short men were to give up seeking the face of their God in despair of getting a direct answer although at the same time well aware that the voice of God is only to be heard within their own inmost soul or in the inspired words of others. And in the second place there is no doubt that religious persons will always feel the need of typifying their belief in fellowship with the deity by means of some symbol or observance corresponding as far as possible with their disposition and development. All forms are transitory because mankind itself is never stationary; but a religion without forms is lost in indefiniteness. And lastly to create or to recast these forms and to clothe the constant religious element in images adapted to the wants of the most advanced members of the existing generation is the vocation of those who are not satisfied to be merely the guardians of a venerable tradition and the learned interpreters of sacred texts but who as prophets themselves bear witness in inspired language to what God has implanted in their hearts; and not merely as ministers of the cult but also as free witnesses of the divine spirit as poets by the grace of God as religious thinkers as leaders of religious life—in a word as persons in whom as Pfleiderer has finely expressed it “we recognise and gratefully revere the radiation of divine light individualised in manifold ways and the embodiment of divine life.”
This naturally leads us to our subject of to-day—religion as a social phenomenon—or the church. I have already stated my interpretation of the word Church and I desire to adhere to it. In the concrete sense we understand the word to signify “all the more or less independent religious organisations which embrace a number of kindred communities and in general in the abstract the whole domain of religion in so far as it manifests itself substantively in society.”2 We have also already inquired how these independent institutions have been developed out of small communities which contained the germs of the ethical religions and which had sprung up within the pale of those religions of the tribe or the folk where state and church as yet undistinguished were so closely united that membership of the folk almost necessarily involved veneration of its gods and observance of its traditional rites. We have likewise answered the question how far the church which is sometimes regarded as the chief obstacle to the progress of religion is really a most potent factor in its development and under what circumstances on the other hand it may become a hindrance to that development. We need not now revert to these matters. Nor can we enter upon further questions however interesting which fall beyond our present scope. We cannot for instance stop to inquire into the relative merits of the various churches and sects or attempt to decide which of them is most conducive to the advancement of religion in society. Is for example the cause of religion best served by a mighty organisation like the Roman Catholic Church which inspires awe and with which even the temporal powers have to reckon while they have no difficulty in vindicating their supremacy over the numerous rent and riven Protestant Churches and parties? Or does not the leaden weight of such a hierarchy crush out living religion and does not so inexorable a discipline make her feared rather than loved? Nor can we here treat of the difficult problem of the proper relation between church and state except in so far as it concerns the vital question we shall have to answer presently. Such questions as these I admit are neither purely historical nor purely practical for they have their theoretical phases also and in that respect may be said to belong to the department of philosophy; but they belong rather to the philosophical doctrine of religion and therefore find their proper place in the dogmatic teaching of the various churches. And although the inquirer may have strong convictions on these subjects as I myself have on the last-mentioned of them they are not strictly pertinent to the science of religion.
Let us therefore keep in view the object of the ontological investigation in which we are now engaged. We are now in quest of that constant and permanent principle which underlies ever-changing forms which is essential to religious life under all possible circumstances and which is a fundamental of that life in its normal condition. We are not now concerned to ask if the church is conducive or prejudicial to religion—a question we have to some extent answered already. Though we are convinced that while the faults and failings of the church's champions have injured religion she herself has promoted it yet the same may be said of the older forms of religious communities which she has superseded but which were nevertheless in their day the indispensable and only possible organisations for the maintenance of religion. For what is useful at any given period may become superfluous in a period of higher development. Nor do we inquire whether the existing churches conform to the plane of development which religion has now reached. For the answer would require to be “If not try to purify and reform them so as to bring them into accord with the higher needs of the day.” Or may not the question rather be put thus: “Has the organisation of religion in its most recent form—that is the self-dependent church—attained to such a pinnacle of development as to entitle us to say that an ethical religion as a condition of its existence must always be necessarily embodied in a church?” For we have already pointed to the possibility of a higher form of religion being developed out of the ethical; and who would venture to predict the nature of the embodiment it might assume? No one however can doubt that religious persons of like views and sentiments will always cling together as man's social propensity prompts him to associate with kindred spirits; but such small cliques or societies leagues or communities are not churches in our sense of the word. The question our science has to ask is rather this: “Does religion in its own nature and with a view to its perfect evolution require so mighty a mechanism so elaborate an association as the church even were its forms and ordinances to assume a totally different character from those of the present day?” And when I say that our science must at least search for an answer this of course does not imply that I claim to have yet discovered it. Or rather let me state plainly that I have an answer but that I shall state it as a mere hypothesis the result of study and reflection which will however require to be further tested by facts and to be compared with the result of other scientific researches before it can claim to rank as an established theory. In short all I can hope to do is to offer a humble contribution towards the solution of this intricate problem.
Two of the possible answers may be at once rejected. First that of those who regard religion as a mere passing phenomenon or as a phase in human development. They will probably say that the existence of a church is an indispensable condition of the existence of a religion but that the churches will inevitably die out with religion. Secondly the answer of those who whether they distinguish between religion and church or consider them absolutely identical fondly regard their own church as the only true church and the only way to salvation and as a divine and therefore eternal institution destined some day to supersede all others and to embrace the whole of humanity. Well we shall not quarrel with them. What they expect is not in itself impossible although it is not very probable and although some of the very churches that indulge in this aspiration seem to be losing power and influence instead of making conquests and gaining ground. Yet no scientific research no conclusive demonstration avails in the slightest degree to shake their firm conviction. There is indeed an undeniable grandeur and sublimity in this creation of faith. A church sprung from the blood of so many martyrs reared amidst humiliations and persecutions ever fighting and struggling yet ever extending her sway among the nations a church militant on earth a church triumphant in heaven and destined to triumph at last in this world also—this is truly a bold and impressive conception. The only objection to it is that the conception is bound up with a specific form of church and that perpetuity and imperishableness are ascribed to what is really a transitory perishable mortal body although that body is of a moral and not of a physical kind. Let me remind you of the profound saying of Goethe that “everything transitory is but a similitude.” No man of science would therefore venture to deny that this conception of a universal church although erroneously bound up with mere outward human institutions contains the germ of a great truth and is the similitude of a well-founded expectation.
Some students of the philosophy of religion take a diametrically opposite view. They think that the church has had its day and this opinion is even gaining ground among those who prize and uphold religion. Let us listen to what some of them say. “Agreement of views regarding the supersensual” says Rauwenhoff (p. 842 seq.) “does not of itself constitute a religious community. Such a community only arises when in view of the supersensual power recognised by a number of people in common a certain similarity of sentiment has been awakened in their emotional life giving rise to the need of union and forming a bond of brother-hood.” Thus far I agree with him except that I would substitute the word “superhuman” for “supersensual.” But on the next page he continues: “When we now ask in what form of religious body the requisites mentioned can best be realised I would answer—in that of the independent community. This must always be a local community which may indeed enter into a certain administrative alliance with similar communities established elsewhere but must possess entire independence of life and organisation. Such is certainly the truest and most natural realisation of the idea of a religious community.” And in a similar sense Pfleiderer (p. 745 seq.) is of opinion that a common religious life finds its natural if not its only true home in local church organisations. In the early days of Christianity as he contends such local organisations were the only manifestations (“Erscheinungen”) of the spiritual church. “They will always be indispensable. On the other hand the permanence of their coalition into large organisms like our various modern denominations however inevitable in the meanwhile cannot be inferred either from the nature of the church or from that of religion itself. The confessions which derive their names from Luther or Calvin or the Pope are according to the evangelical or Biblical conception of the church mere schisms mere degenerate deviations from the true nature of the church and possess no ideal right of existence.” I must however beg to differ from both of these thinkers and I do so from strong conviction. There is no church according to them except the one ideal spiritual church which however has no real existence. In this they agree; for the administrative bond which Rauwenhoff admits to be a possible bond of union between similar local communities does not constitute a church. The true and proper realisation of their ideal church is to be found in the local communities. Such was the state of matters at the beginning of the Christian period and to that state we must return. That is to say that the religious development of some twenty centuries is to be regarded as a huge aberration that we must wipe it all out and begin afresh at the beginning. This is surely not the teaching of the philosophy of history but rather a flat denial of its plain lessons. And this opinion is all the more surprising in a scholar like Pfleiderer who in the immediately preceding pages of the same work gives us so clear and admirable an historical survey. The churches that have been formed by the union of local communities have assuredly not all been ideal. Even their noblest representatives while continuing to serve and vindicate them will be the first to admit that they are but imperfect realisations of the ideals cherished by their founders. Yet they are not on that account mere unholy aberrations. They have rather been earnest attempts to realise the ideal church which after all is only a conception in accordance with the needs of different peoples in different periods. They are not mere creations of human caprice or ambition but have emanated from the irresistible impulses of religious emotion and therefore from the very essence of religion.
If it be said that they have ceased to satisfy the religious needs of the most advanced thinkers of the present day and that it is impossible now to reform them in principle be it so. That might at least be a matter for discussion. Or rather since science can pronounce no opinion in the matter let every one solve the question for himself. Some people may decline to try excusing themselves “on religious grounds” like Schiller when he declined aus Religion to adhere to any definite religious confession. But those who really have any religion at all will always feel the need of attaching themselves to persons of like sentiments and of equally advanced development with a view to foster their religion by means of common religious observances. The associations thus formed will of course be small and purely local at first. But let it not be supposed that the matter can rest there. What has always happened in the past will happen again. These local associations will seek support from others not because they require an administrative bond for their material maintenance but because they are children of the same spirit and feel that they are akin to each other. When they are convinced of the truth of the religious doctrine and of the soundness of its principles they will proclaim it publicly by preaching and writing and thus necessarily institute a propaganda. They will perhaps prefer to call their union of local communities a Brotherhood or a League rather than a church; yet it will be a church all the same although it may differ widely in principle and in organisation from all the churches hitherto known. It will be a church a new church and let us hope a more excellent realisation of the great ideal to which others have aspired though without entire success.
History proves that this has always been the course of events with those religions at any rate which have entirely outgrown the animistic stage. No ethical religion has ever been satisfied with founding a few isolated local communities but all have striven and as a rule successfully for the promotion of some kind of general union. At first it is usually the state or rather the sovereign that promotes this union but it is not a union based solely on the unity of the state. A priesthood of more or less hierarchical organisation a sacred Scripture recognised as a divine revelation and sometimes even a creed imposed on all believers; but above all obedience to the same commandments observance of the same rites celebration of the same festivals and adherence to the same principles—all this raises such a community above the position of a mere agglomeration of like-minded yet entirely independent associations and exalts it to the rank of a substantive church. In treating of this question people are too apt to limit their horizon to their own religion as if the churches of Rome or England or Geneva were the only churches in existence. In order to generalise with any certainty we require to study the origins principles and character of other churches than the Christian. For a great deal more is expected of the science of religion than of the Christian the Judaic or any other system of theology. Although we cannot at present enter upon so comprehensive a study or even state its results I may at least indicate a few illustrations. Long before the Sâsânides the founders and rulers of the Middle-Persian Empire established the religion of Zarathushtra after the year A.D. 226 as an organised state church on the Jewish and Christian models the Avesta the sacred Scriptures had spoken of a visible sway of Ahura Mazda on earth fighting against the powers of Deceit a reflection of his perfect sway in heaven. To this system belonged a fixed creed imposed on all a recognised doctrine an ordained priesthood headed by the Zarathushtrotema whose authority extended over all the eastern and north-western provinces the holy city of Ragha being its centre where the high priest alone to the exclusion even of the sovereign of the land reigned supreme. This was undoubtedly a church whether different from or a coalition with the state church of the Achæmenides that of Media and Persia which appealed to the same Scriptures but whose priests were exclusively magi a tribe or class nowhere mentioned in the Avesta. And was not Judaism afterwards followed on a grander scale by Islâm a genuine church also? It was a church whose members were scattered all over the civilised world and which had its local synagogues everywhere while its centre was Jerusalem where its revered high priest and the Sanhedrin held exclusive sway. In Buddhism we find another striking illustration. This was certainly not a church at first nor even indeed a religion in the proper sense. In its origin it was simply an order of mendicant monks similar to others which had sprung up within the pale of Brahmanism. But around the monks was soon gathered a body of lay brethren who were not bound to obey all the precepts of the order. As they rejected the Veda which all Brahmans revered as the divine revelation as they equalised all castes and even persons who belonged to no recognised caste at all and freely admitted all men to the blessed hope of salvation they could not but be regarded as a heretical sect and they were therefore compelled to set up an independent organisation of their own. And ere long they possessed all the characteristics of a church—church fathers saints and spiritual heads and councils which laid down their discipline and doctrine in sacred writings of their own. The stories told of a great council held immediately after the Nirvâna of the Buddha and of other councils besides may be unhistorical; but it is certain that a council was held in the reign of King As´oka towards the close of the third century before Christ and that a list of the canonical scriptures was there drawn up by the king's command as appears from a genuine inscription relating to that monarch. In the Sangha or community one of the three jewels as they are called Buddhism possessed the germ of a church a germ which did not fail to develop. Several Buddhistic churches were accordingly formed the most important being probably that which has its headquarters in Ceylon and another whose two sovereign pontiffs the great Lamas reside in Tibet. The hierarchy customs and institutions of the latter are externally at least so similar to those of the Roman Catholics that the pious Jesuit missionaries of Tibet declared that the devil had played them the abominable trick of caricaturing their holy Mother Church.
But perhaps some one will try to refute my contention by repeating the now somewhat exploded argument that we have no right to assume that what has happened in the past will happen again in the future. No doubt we are exploring a province where we cannot predict any future event with absolute certainty as the astronomer predicts eclipses of the sun or the moon; yet while our expectations as to what will happen in the future can never be more than conjectures or hypotheses they are not mere baseless fancies but rest upon solid foundations. And if we cherish the belief that wherever religious communities of kindred spirits have been formed they will naturally grow into churches our expectation is founded on our knowledge of human nature and of the essence of religion.
Concerning human nature I need not say much. I need of course hardly remind you of the familiar truth that man is a social being yet it is a truth we must be careful not to overlook. The sense of weakness he feels in isolation impels him to seek support in others. And it is not merely his weakness in relation to the external world but weakness as regards himself. If his thoughts and opinions find no response he begins involuntarily to distrust their soundness and accuracy and to ask whether he is not deceiving himself. And more particularly when a new conviction has burst upon him a conviction opposed to everything he has been taught and to all he hears from others he feels the need of sympathy to strengthen and encourage him. He enters with fear and trembling upon the new path and hesitates to enter it alone. Solitary great men indeed there are understood by none of their contemporaries outstanding above them all who yet cling stedfastly to their sacred convictions confident that “wisdom will be justified of her children”; but these are very rare apparitions in the history of humanity. All ordinary men require others to agree and co-operate with them. And thus there arise societies leagues parties and sects in every domain of human life. And so too we find that small religious communities will look around them for kindred spirits to assist them in the promotion of objects which they could not attain unaided.
As individual men and small societies thus seek to gain encouragement in their ideals and co-operation in their aims from the sympathy and alliance of others so every one who entertains a profound and living conviction will long to give it utterance. Convinced that no God is so great and mighty as theirs or (as the more advanced express it) that salvation is only to be found in His service and in communion with Him the adherents of most religions do their utmost to extend His sway. Even during the period of the nature-religions when folk and religion were inseparable the chief aim both of conquests and of the peaceful diffusion of any given form of civilisation was usually to extend the dominions of the national religion and the national god. The wars waged by the Assyrians for instance were expressly declared to be wars of the god Assur and the wars of the Israelites to be the wars of Yahve. Whenever the Assyrians conquered a new province they introduced into it the worship of their god; and when they succeeded in capturing the gods of their enemies they would only restore then to their worshippers after inscribing upon the images a declaration of the superiority and glory of their own god Assur. One of the lost Nasks of the Zend-Avesta of the Sâsânides according to an extract given by the Dînkârd lays it down that conquered enemies must not be spared unless they not only bow down before the King of kings and adopt the Iranian nationality but declare their readiness to serve the sacred yazatas of the Zarathushtrian creed.3 And so too Confucianism penetrated into Japan along with the Chinese civilisation; and Vishnuism S´ivaism Buddhism and a combination of the last two found their way partly into Further India and partly into the Indian Archipelago along with the Hindoo civilisation.
The higher ethical religions especially those that have shaken off their particularism in whole or in part are not unaptly called by Professor Max Müller missionary religions. Pious missionaries go forth to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to those who still walk in darkness and ignorance. Such were the emissaries of Pharisaic Judaism and those of Buddhism who were the first to set the example and those of Christianity and of Islâm although these two the latter in particular now and then used the argument of the sword. Every man who has a conviction if only clear and intelligible feels impelled to convince others. But the impulse is strongest when his religious convictions are concerned as they are most deeply rooted in his heart and his inmost being. And the result is inevitable. Religion cannot possibly remain partitioned among little local societies either independent of each other or slenderly connected by some external tie; but these will gradually be merged in a greater community which will be conscious of its unity in spite of all local differences. In its present stage of development at least religion cannot live and progress within the narrow bounds of a small and isolated community like an eagle cooped up in a cage. To bind it to this primitive form would be a retrograde step just as it would be a reactionary measure to dissolve great states and to hand over the whole task of civilisation to the care of independent civic communities. Such a step would be inconsistent with its very nature. If as we have said man's sense of kinship with God is one of the foundations of religion that sense naturally gives rise to a feeling of mutual fellowship among men as being worshippers of the same God and children of one Father. At the same time the differences among men in their views of life and particularly their differences in development will always or for a long time at least prevent either Christians or Buddhists from forming a single great church union and from establishing some uniform mode of worship even when they are satisfied that they all adore the self-same God. A plurality of religions will therefore doubtless be the rule at first. But every new and original conception of religious life—that is every essentially new religion other than a mere sect founded upon some subordinate difference in dogma or ritual and other than the mere hallucination of some fanatic—will find itself compelled with a view to its own maintenance and promotion to objectivise itself in some kind of league of sympathisers which name it as you please is simply what is commonly known as a church.
I have said that it is not our business to define the relations that ought to subsist between church and state. That question belongs to political rather than to religious science. Nor can it be solved by means of any theory of general application; for it partakes of a practical nature depending upon historic conditions of which account must be taken. We certainly cannot concur with the estimable Richard Rothe whose ideal conception of the state according but little with reality and in my opinion quite impracticable has led him to advocate the absorption of the church by the state while the state should in future be charged with the whole of the tasks hitherto incumbent on the church. This is going still further than the view recently propounded that state and school should together take over from the church the whole guardianship of the moral life of the nation.4 Now the state is precisely the least qualified body and therefore the least entitled to superintend to promote and to regulate the religious life. One would rather intrust this duty to the school to science to the family although even these could only partially fulfil it. What was possible on the naturistic plane—though even then the priesthood always enjoyed a certain independence—is impossible now that religion has attained its majority. An ethical religion requires to have a voice of its own and is fully entitled to it. Whatever attitude the state thinks fit to take up towards the various churches in so far as their external organisation is concerned and however properly it may subject them to the laws of public order it can no more assert authority over religious life and thought than it can dictate the methods to be followed or the results to be aimed at by science or the rules and directions to be observed by art. There is a growing inclination nowadays to extend the state's sphere of action and to impose upon it duties which for centuries past have been performed by individuals or by independent associations. Whether this is wise or whether things will be done better under the new system than under the old I will not venture to state my opinion. But I may at least express my strong conviction that the state will be ill-advised if it lays hand upon religion or presumes to meddle with the internal affairs of the church. Among the Germanic peoples at least any such attempt would assuredly meet with overwhelming opposition. Let governments therefore beware of attempting to invade the sanctuary of man's spiritual life.
Conversely as I need hardly remind you the state science and art the school and all other free human institutions are equally entitled to oppose any direct interference in their affairs on the part of the church. They cannot of course escape from the influence of religion; and in so far as the church faithfully represents religion they will experience its moral power. But let not the church while anxiously defending her own interests encroach upon the rights of other bodies or check the aspirations of the human mind. Let her beware lest she make herself and her sacred cause hated of attempting to obscure the light to thwart progress to rule where her sole mission is to serve or to lay upon men any other yoke than that of Him who invited the weary and heavy-laden to come to him. Sovereign in her own domain let her respect every other domain presided over by a different authority.
What then is her domain? What is the task imposed upon her in the present state of religious evolution and in our modern society? Here we have a twofold question and we must now try to answer it.
Her domain is exclusively the religious. This sounds like a truism a truth of which it is unnecessary to remind you. Yet few truths while admitted in the abstract are so constantly denied in the concrete. Most of the churches and especially the most powerful instead of confining themselves to their proper religious province have interfered and domineered in almost every other province little to the advantage of the latter and certainly to their own disadvantage. This was perhaps unavoidable in certain periods of history and was then perhaps a necessary evil. At the present day however such interference has become unnecessary and indeed impossible. Peoples and sovereigns philosophers and investigators poets and artists and in short all civilised and enlightened persons have now outgrown the old ecclesiastical tutelage. We shall certainly never return to Canossa. We no longer mutter the famous Eppure si muove of Galileo with bated breath but we proclaim our convictions on the housetops and it requires no courage to do so nowadays. We no longer bring the result of our researches with fear and trembling to the touchstone of church doctrine ready to fling them to the winds if they fail to stand the test. This is fortunate for society and it is fortunate for the church also. She can now be truly herself. She can give her undivided attention to her own mission hitherto so often neglected for side-issues. She can now awaken the poor children of men in their struggle for existence and their earnest quest for light to a consciousness of their true destiny of their kinship with God and of the infinite within them. She can comfort the mourners seek the lost raise up them that fall support the weak and humble the proud. And by her preaching symbols and elevating ritual and by the example of her ministers she can ennoble men's hearts and constrain them to look forward longingly to a salvation that passes not away and to a peace that nothing can destroy. “A sower went forth to sow.” What a beautiful emblem of the church's mission! For that is her mission and that alone. She must preach prophesy and testify by word and symbol of all that is highest in man and against all that tends to his ruin. She must never forget that she is a purely spiritual institution which can only attain its lofty aims by spiritual means. Let her beware of attempting for the sake of fleeting popularity or with a view to extend her external supremacy to deprive rulers or statesmen politicians or men of affairs of any of those tasks for which they alone are qualified. Let her also beware of invoking the aid of state and police for the forcible accomplishment of objects which she ought to compass solely by peaceful argument. Above all the church should be the last to doubt the power of the spirit which surpasses that of all commandments and prohibitions and which will at last be all-pervading all-hallowing.
Such then are the church's peculiar functions which neither pedagogue nor moralist nor benevolent society however excellent can possibly discharge. The churches alone stand for all that is purest and best in human nature and they will therefore be necessary as long as the need of religion and of religious development is felt—as long that is to say as human beings continue human. And if they remain true to their vocation—each in its own way and according to its lights—they will cease to be feared and hated as rivals of other powers and as standing menaces to the independence of individuals and of society generally. They will be prized and esteemed and their co-operation will often be invoked. They will then truly deserve a name which has hitherto been applicable to few of them—the name of a Mother who lovingly gathers her children around her and is a blessing to all.