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more mature years. While all this is probably admitted, while institutionalism in the Church has come to be a very valuable adjunct, while gymnasiums, club rooms, halls for all sorts of entertainment have come to be regarded as legitimate agencies in the life of the well ordered parish, I want to say, as an experimentalist, and not a theorist, that this movement is fraught with certain very serious perils. Has it occurred to you that possibly—I do not say positively—that possibly, with the introduction of institutionalism, we have had a slight decline in the inspiration ? Has it occurred to you that too much stress has been laid upon these institutional agencies? If you examine our books you will find that probably two-thirds have gone over to the work along so-called institutional lines and probably onethird to the consideration of work upon inspirational lines.
As an experimentalist, I am beginning to feel a tremendous concern about this new movement. I do not want to abandon it, but I am urging this conclusion: That, if the institutional movement in the life of the church in this country is to survive, it must survive through the agencies of laymen and not clergy
You will remember in the early Church when the demand upon the services of the Apostles was too great, that they concluded they could not longer serve tables, that they said, “Let us look out for men of honest report and set them over this business," and so created an order of
men to minister to these departments. I am speaking to you with affection and yet with all definiteness. If institutionalism means in your life the waning of inspirationalism, then it is a blight, and not a blessing, and it must ultimately result in the decline and not in the forward movement of the great cause of Jesus Christ. Don't conceive any notion, that I have said it was an unworthy thing, that it is a thing to be abandoned, but I have said, and I repeat, that if it takes in any wise, the place of the inspirational in the life of the clergy or the people, then it is a menace, and a very grave menace, to the life and permanence of religion.
Now, the second thing I want to say arises almost normally and naturally out of the first part. May I say by the way, that I am interested in this social service movement. I suppose among the clergy that I am as conspicuously related to it as anybody. But, I am only speaking now a word of warning. Once again may I remind you of the laity as well as the clergy, to be mighty cautious in this movement. Let us not prosecute it with such tremendous zeal that it does not receive its inspiration from the great central powerhouse. If social service in any wise means a falling off in the inspirational, or if in the prosecution of these great tasks you are not going back at times to sit at the feet of the Nazarene to receive from Him direction and inspiration, I say seriously that your spiritual life is in peril.
We must recognize that the church in this
great movement must be placed in a right relation to man.
If the church is not the powerhouse from whence proceeds these great streams of power, if the pulpit and the altar are not the stations at which you and I receive our commission and inspiration, and if we are seeking for these things along so-called altruistic or humanitarian lines, then I say, in the fear of God, let us be mighty cautious about this social service movement.
Again I plead—do not misunderstand me—I am an enthusiast of this movement-I believe it is the new way to interpret the meaning of the Kingdom of God. I maintain that before I am a priest of the Church I am a citizen of the state, and by the rights of my citizenship I exercise my prerogative as a citizen, and I say social service is a new interpretation of religion. It is a great movement. It is enthusing many and many a man who has been indifferent to the cause of religion. It has become the greatest ally of the Church, the adjunct of the Church; but, oh, let me caution you, that you live close to the true springs of inspiration. The new movement may become too altruistic, or too humanitarian in tendency, and we may in our tremendous zeal and enthusiasm, forget that the only strength that can carry men through the great battles of life is the strength that proceeds from the source of all strength and inspiration from the power of God Himself.
Another point I want to make is most im
portant-I think my brethren will recognize it as quickly as the laity—and that is, with reference to the teachings of the Church. Two notes have characterized the teachings of the Church—what I would call the prophetic office of the Church. I want to call it by this term, I want to think our men are prophets, that we have not lost the prophetic. The two notes that have characterized the teaching office of the Church have been, on the one hand, negation, and on the other hand, speculation. It has been a period of investigation; it has been a period of analysis. Our pulpits have been turned into laboratories for the purpose of analysis. It has been a sort of ecclesiastical surgery and has characterized much of the teaching of the Church in the past quarter of a century. We have been much absorbed in the theories of men concerning Holy Writ.
This is true of the younger generation. Some of us have been, maybe, carried afield, by the legerdemain of great critics. .There is something tremendously fascinating about the study of higher criticism. It has no doubt made a very large contribution to the religious thought and to the religious life of our day and generation. But the time has come, and it should have come long ago, when we must abandon these methods in our pulpit. The time has come when the people are weary of critical analysis in the Christian pulpit. You cannot feed men with the bread of life if you are going to turn your church into
a clinic; if you are going to turn your pulpit into a laboratory for mental expression, in the name of God and Jesus Christ have done with that business so far as the pulpit is concerned. Our age is crying for the word of life, and alas and alack, we are giving men stones instead of the word of life. We are giving men, not the
, water of life freely, but we are giving men out of our own mental treasure house things old and new, principally new, that we in our conceited way have ventured to work out and give as our interpretation of the Word. One might venture in the face of such a situation, with which we are all familiar, to speak with tremendous feeling concerning the want of definite, positive, dogmatic teaching in the pulpits of our day and generation.
I remember a few years ago Doctor Huntington, great, noble Huntington, was preaching for me in my church at Yonkers, and I shall never forget the text. It was, "And Saul met Samuel in the way and Saul said to him, Tell me, I pray
, Thee, where the seer's house is. And Samuel said, I am the seer.” What are you looking for the seer's house for? A superb text, and a superb sermon; and when he came into the vestry - he was a manuscript preacher, almost peerless in his way-when he came into the vestry-room he was absorbed in his theme. He was a true prophet, and as he was taking off his vestments he said to me, "Do you think I was too dogmatic?" I replied, "No, sir; that is the last word