A traveller from the old European Continent, disembarking on the shore of this New World, feels as the Psalmist says, that “his thoughts crowd upon him like a multitude”. Compared with the eddying waters of your new stream of life, the old stream in which he was moving seems almost frostbound and dull; and here, on American ground, for the first time, he realizes how so many divine potencies, which were hidden away in the bosom of mankind from our very creation, but which our old world was incapable of developing, are now beginning to disclose their inward splendour, thus promising a still richer store of surprises for the Future.
You would not, however, ask me to forget the superiority which, in many respects, the Old World may still claim, in your eyes, as well as in mine. Old Europe remains even now the bearer of a longer historical past, and therefore stands before us as a tree rooted more deeply, hiding between its leaves some more matured fruits of life. You are yet in your Springtide,—we are passing through our Fall;—and has not the harvest of Autumn an enchantment of its own?
But, though, on the other hand, I fully acknowledge the advantage you possess in the fact, that (to use another simile) the train of life travels with you so immeasureably faster than with us,—leaving us miles and miles behind,—still we both feel that the life in Old Europe is not some thing separate from life here; it is one and the same current of human existence that flows through both Continents.
By virtue of our common origin, you may call us bone of your bone,—we feel that you are flesh of our flesh, and although you are outstripping us in the most discouraging way, you will never forget that the historic cradle of your wondrous youth stood in our old Europe, and was most gently rocked in my once mighty Fatherland.
Moreover, besides this common parentage, there is another factor which, in the face of even a wider difference, would continue to unite your interests and ours. Far more precious to us than even the development of human life, is the crown which ennobles it, and this noble crown of life for you and for me rests in the Christian name. That crown is our common heritage. It was not from Greece or Rome that the regeneration of human life came forth;—that mighty metamorphosis dates from Bethlehem and Golgotha; and if the Reformation, in a still more special sense, claims the love of our hearts, it is because it has dispelled the clouds of sacerdotalism, and has unveiled again to fullest view the glories of the Cross. But, in deadly opposition to this Christian element, against the very Christian name, and against its salutiferous influence in every sphere of life, the storm of Modernism has now arisen with violent intensity.
In 1789 the turning point was reached.
Voltaire’s mad cry, “Down with the scoundrel” was aimed at Christ himself, but this cry was merely the expression of the most hidden thought from which the French Revolution sprang. The fanatic outcry of another philosopher, “We no more need a God”, and the odious shibboleth “No God, no Master”, of the Convention,—these were the sacrilegious watchwords which at that time heralded the liberation of man as an emancipation from all Divine Authority. And if, in His impenetrable wisdom, God employed that Revolution as a means by which to overthrow the tyranny of the Bourbons, and to bring a judgment on the princes who abused His nations as their footstool, nevertheless the principle of that Revolution remains thoroughly anti-christian, and has since spread like a cancer, dissolving and undermining all that stood firm and consistent before our Christian faith.
There is no doubt than that Christianity is imperilled by great and serious dangers. Two life systems1) are wrestling one with another, in mortal combat. Modernism is bound to build a world of its own from the data of the natural man, and to construct man himself from the data of nature; while, on the other hand, all those who reverently bend the knee to Christ and worship Him as the Son of the Living God, and God himself, are bent upon saving the “Christian Heritage”. This is the struggle in Europe, this is the struggle in America, and this also, is the struggle for principles in which my own country is engaged, and in which I myself have been spending all my energy for nearly forty years.
In this struggle Apologetics have advanced us not one single step. Apologetics have invariably begun by abandoning the assailed breastwork, in order to entrench themselves cowardly in a ravelin behind it.
From the first therefore, I have always said to myself,—“If the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life-system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life-system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power. And this powerful life-system is not to be invented nor formulated by ourselves, but is to be taken and applied as it presents itself in history. When thus taken, I found and confessed, and I still hold, that this manifestation of the Christian principle is given us in Calvinism. In Calvinism my heart has found rest. From Calvinism have I drawn the inspiration, firmly and resolutely to take my stand in the thick of this great conflict of principles. And therefore, when I was invited most honourably by your Faculty to give the Stone-Lectures here this year, I could not hesitate a moment as to my choice of subject. Calvinism, as the only decisive, lawful, and consistent defence for Protestant nations against encroaching, and overwhelming Modernism,—this of itself was bound to be my theme.
Allow me therefore, in six lectures, to speak to you on Calvinism.
1. On Calvinism as a life system,
2. On Calvinism and Religion,
3. On Calvinism and Politics,
4. On Calvinism and Science,
5. On Calvinism and Art,
and 6. On Calvinism and the Future.
Clearness of presentation demands that in this first lecture I begin by fixing the conception of Calvinism historically. To prevent misunderstanding we must first know what we should not, and what we should, understand by it. Starting therefore from the current use of the term, I find that this is by no means the same in different countries and in different spheres of life. The name Calvinist is used in our times first as a sectarian name. This is not the case in Protestant, but in Roman Catholic countries, especially in Hungary and France. In Hungary the Reformed Churches have a membership of some two and a-half millions, and in both the Romish and Jewish press of that country her members are constantly stigmatized by the non-official name of “Calvinists”, a derisive name applied even to those who have divested themselves of all traces of sympathy with the faith of their fathers. The same phenomenon presents itself in France, especially in the Southern parts, where “Calviniste” is equally, and even more emphatically, a sectarian stigma, which does not refer to the faith or confession of the stigmatized person, but is simply put upon every member of the Reformed Churches, even though he be an atheist. George Thiébaud, known for his anti-Semitic propaganda, has at the same time revived the anti-Calvinistic spirit in France, and even in the Dreyfus-case, “Jews and Calvinists” were arraigned by him as the two anti-national forces, prejudicial to the “esprit gaulois”.—Directly opposed to this is the second use of the word Calvinism, and this I call the confessional one. In this sense, a Calvinist is represented exclusively as the outspoken subscriber to the dogma of fore-ordination. They who disapprove of this strong attachment to the doctrine of predestination coöperate with the Romish polemists, in that by calling you “Calvinist”, they represent you as a victim of dogmatic narrowness; and what is worse still, as being dangerous to the real seriousness of moral life. This is a stigma so conspicuously offensive that theologians like Hodge, who from fulness of conviction were open defenders of Predestination, and counted it an honor to be Calvinists, were nevertheless so deeply impressed with the disfavour attached to the “Calvinistic name”, that for the sake of commending their conviction, they prefered to speak rather of Augustinianism than of Calvinism.—The denominational title of some Baptists and Methodists indicates a third use of the name Calvinist. No less a man than Spurgeon belonged to a class of Baptists who in England call themselves “Calvinistic Baptists”, and the Whitefield Methodists in Wales to this day bear the name of “Calvinistic Methodists”. Thus here also it indicates in some way a confessional difference, but is applied as the name for special church-denominations. Without doubt this practice would have been most severely criticized by Calvin himself. During his life-time, no Reformed Church ever dreamed of naming the Church of Christ after any man. The Lutherans have done this, the Reformed Churches never.—But beyond this sectarian, confessional, and denominational use of the name “Calvinist”, it serves moreover, in the fourth place, as a scientific name, either in an historical, philosophical or political sense. Historically, the name of Calvinism indicates the channel in which the Reformation moved, so far as it was neither Lutheran, nor Anabaptist nor Socinian. In the philosophical sense, we understand by it that system of conceptions which, under the influence of the master-mind of Calvin raised itself to dominance in the several spheres of life. And as a political name, Calvinism indicates that political movement which has guaranteed the liberty of nations in constitutional statesmanship; first in Holland, then in England, and since the close of the last century in the United States. In this scientific sense, the name of Calvinism is especially current among German scholars. And the fact that this not only is the opinion of those who are themselves of Calvinistic sympathies, but that also scholars who have abandoned every confessional standard of Christianity, nevertheless assign this profound significance to Calvinism, appears from the testimony borne by three of our best men of science, the first of whom, Dr. Robert Fruin, declares that: “Calvinism came into the Netherlands consisting of a logical system of divinity, of a democratic Church-order of its own, impelled by a severely-moral sense, and as enthusiastic for the moral as for the religious reformation of mankind”.1) Another historian, who was even more outspoken in his rationalistic sympathies, writes: “Calvinism is the highest form of development reached by the religious and political principle in the 16th century”2). And a third authority acknowledges that Calvinism has liberated Switzerland, the Netherlands, and England, and in the Pilgrim Fathers has provided the impulse to the prosperity of the United States.1) Similarly Bancroft, among you, acknowledged that Calvinism “has a theory of ontology, of ethics, of social happiness, and of human liberty, all derived from God”.2) Only in this last-named, strictly scientific sense do I desire to speak to you on Calvinism as an independent general tendency, which from a mother-principle of its own, has developed an independent form both for our life and for our thought among the nations of Western Europe and North America, and at present even in South Africa.
The domain of Calvinism is indeed far broader than the narrow confessional interpretation would lead us to suppose. The aversion to naming the Church after a man gave rise to the fact, that though in France the Protestants were called “Huguenots”, in the Netherlands “Beggars”, in Great Britain “Puritans” and “Presbyterians”, and in North America “Pilgrim Fathers”, yet all these products of the Reformation which on your Continent and ours bore the special Reformed type, were of Calvinistic origin. But the extent of the Calvinistic domain should not be limited to these purer revelations. Nobody applies such an exclusive rule to Christianity. Within its boundaries we embrace not only Western Europe, but also Russia, the Balkan States, the Armenians, and even Menelik’s empire in Abyssinia. Therefore it is but just that in the same way we should include in the Calvinistic fold those churches also which have diverged more or less from its purer forms. In her XXXIX Articles, the Church of England is strictly Calvinistic, even though in her Hierarchy and Liturgy she has abandoned the straight paths, and has met with the serious results of this departure in Puseyism and Ritualism. The Confession of the Independents was equally Calvinistic, even though in their conception of the Church the organic structure was broken by individualism. And if under the leadership of Wesley most Methodists became opposed to the theological interpretation of Calvinism, it is nevertheless the Calvinistic spirit itself that created this spiritual reaction against the pertrifying church-life of the times. In a given sense therefore it may be said, that the entire field which in the end was covered by the Reformation, so far as it was not Lutheran and not Socinian, was dominated in principle by Calvinism. Even the Baptists applied for shelter at the tents of the Calvinists. It is the free character of Calvinism that accounts for the rise of these several shades and differences, and of the reactions against their excesses. By its hierarchy, Romanism is and remains uniform. Lutheranism owes its similar unity and uniformity to the ascendency of the prince, whose relation to the Church is that of “summus episcopus” and to its “ecclesia docens”. Calvinism on the other hand, which sanctions no ecclesiastical hierarchy, and no magisterial interference, could not develop itself except in many and varied forms and deviations, thereby of course incurring the danger of degeneration, provoking in its turn all kind of one-sided reactions. With the free development of life, such as was intended by Calvinism, the distinction could not fail to appear between a centre, with its fulness and purity of vitality and strength, and the broad circumference with its threatening declensions. But in that very conflict between a purer centre and a less pure circumference the steady working of its spirit was guaranteed to Calvinism.
Thus understood, Calvinism is rooted in a form of religion which was peculiarly its own, and from this specific religious consciousness there was developed first a peculiar theology, then a special church-order, and then a given form for political and social life, for the interpretation of the moral world-order, for the relation between nature and grace, between Christianity and the world, between church and state, and finally for art and science; and amid all these life-utterances it remained always the self-same Calvinism, in so far as simultaneouly and spontaneously all these developments sprang from its deepest life-principle. Hence to this extent it stands in line with those other great complexes of human life, known as Paganism, Islamism and Romanism, by which we distinguish four entirely different worlds in the one collective world of human life. And if, speaking precisely, you should coordinate Christianity and not Calvinism with Paganism and Islamism, it is nevertheless better to place Calvinism in line with them, because Calvinism claims to embody the Christian idea more purely and accurately than could Romanism and Lutheranism. In the Greek world of Russia and the Balkan States, the national element is still dominant, and therefore the Christian faith in these countries has not yet been able to produce a form of life of its own from the root of its mystical orthodoxy. In Lutheran countries, the interference of the magistrate has prevented the free working of the spiritual principle. Hence of Romanism only can it be said, that it has embodied its life-thought in a world of conceptions and utterances entirely its own. But by the side of Romanism, and in opposition to it, Calvinism made its appearance, not merely to create a different Church-form, but an entirely different form for human life, to furnish human society with a different method of existence, and to populate the world of the human heart with different ideals and conceptions.
That this had not been realised until our time, and is now acknowledged by friend and enemy in consequence of a better study of history, should not surprise us. This would not have been the case, if Calvinism had entered life as a well-constructed system, and had presented itself as an outcome of study. But its origin came about in an entirely different way. In the order of existence, life is first. And to Calvinism life itself was ever the first object of its endeavours. There was too much to do and to suffer to devote much time to study. What was dominant was Calvinistic practice at the stake and in the field of battle. Moreover the nations among whom Calvinism gained the day,—such as the Swiss, the Dutch, the English and the Scotch—were by nature not very philosophically predisposed. Especially at that time, life among those nations was spontaneous and void of calculation; and only later on has Calvinism in its parts become a subject of that special study by which historians and theologians have traced the relation between Calvinistic phenomena and the all-embracing unity of its principle. It can even be said that the need of a theoretical and systematical study of so incisive and comprehensive a phenomenon of life, only arises when its first vitality has been exhausted, and when for the sake of maintaining itself in the future, it is compelled to greater accuracy in the drawing of its boundary lines. And if to this you add the fact that the stress of reflecting our existence as a unity in the mirror of our consciousness, is far stronger in our philosophical age than it ever was before, it is readily seen that both the needs of the present, and the care for the future, compel us to a deeper study of Calvinism. In the Roman Catholic Church everybody knows what he lives for, because with clear consciousness he enjoys the fruit of Rome’s unity of life system. Even in Islâm you find the same power of a conviction of life dominated by one principle. Protestantism alone wanders about in the wilderness without aim or direction, moving hither and thither, without making any progress. This accounts for the fact that among Protestant nations Pantheism, born from the new German Philosophy and owing its concrete evolution-form to Darwin, claims for itself more and more the supremacy in every sphere of human life, even in that of theology, and under all sorts of names tries to overthrow our Christian traditions, and is bent even upon exchanging the heritage of our fathers for a hopeless modem Buddhism. The leading thoughts that had their rise in the French Revolution at the close of the last, and in German philosophy in the course of the present century, form together a life-system which is diametrically opposed to that of our fathers. Their struggles were for the sake of the glory of God and a purified Christianity; the present movement wages war for the sake of the glory of man being inspired, not by the humble mind of Golgotha but by the pride of Hero-worship. And why did we, Christians, stand so weak, in the face of this Modernism? Why did we constantly lose ground? Simply because we were devoid of an equal unity of life-conception, such as alone could enable us with irresistible energy to repel the enemy at the frontier. This unity of life-conception, however, is never to be found in a vague conception of Protestantism winding itself as it does in all kind of tortuosities, but you do find it in that mighty historic process, which as Calvinism dug a channel of its own for the powerful stream of its life. By this unity of conception alone as given in Calvinism, you in America and we in Europe might be enabled once more to take our stand, by the side of Romanism, in opposition to modern Pantheism. Without this unity of starting point and life-system we must lose the power to maintain our independent position, and our strength for resistance must ebb away.
The supreme interest here at stake, however, forbids our accepting without more positive proof the fact that Calvinism really provides us with such an unity of life-system and we demand proofs of the assertion that Calvinism is not a partial nor was a merely temporary phenomenon, but is such an all-embracing system of principles, as, rooted in the past, is able to strengthen us in the present and to fill us with confidence for the future. Hence we must first ask what are the required conditions for such general systems of life, as Paganism, Islamism, Romanism and Modernism, and then show that Calvinism really fulfils these conditions.
These conditions demand in the first place, that from a special principle a peculiar insight be obtained into the three fundamental relations of all human life; viz., 1. our relation to God, 2. our relation to man, and 3. our relation to the world.
Hence the first claim demands: that such a life system shall find its starting-point in a special interpretation of our relation to God. This is not accidental, but imperative. If such an action is to put its stamp upon our entire life, it must start from that point in our consciousness, in which our life is still undivided and lies comprehended in its unity,—not in the spreading vines but in the root from which the vines spring. This point, of course, lies in the antithesis between all that is finite in our human life and the infinite that lies beyond it. Here alone we find the common source from which the different streams of our human life spring and separate themselves. Personally it is our repeated experience that in the depths of our hearts, at the point where we disclose ourselves to the Eternal One, all the rays of our life converge as in one focus, and there alone regain that harmony, which we so often and so painfully lose in the stress of daily duty. In prayer lies not only our unity with God, but also the unity of our personal life. Movements in history, therefore, which do not spring from this deepest source are always partial and transient, and only those historical acts, which arose from these lowest depths of man’s personal existence embrace the whole of life and possess the required permanence.
This was the case with Paganism, which in its most general form is known by the fact that it surmises, assumes and worships God in the creature. This applies to the lowest Animism, as well as to the highest Buddhism. Paganism does not rise to the conception of the independent existence of a God beyond and above the creature. But even in this imperfect form it has for its starting-point a definite interpretation of the relation of the infinite to the finite, and to this it owed its power to produce a finished form for human society. Simply because it possessed this significant starting-point was it able to produce a form of its own for the whole of human life.—It is the same with Islamism, which is characterized by its purely anti-pagan ideal, cutting off all contact between the creature and God. Mohammed and the Korân are the historic names, but in its nature the Crescent is the only absolute antithesis to Paganism. Islâm isolates God from the creature, in order to avoid all commingling with the creature. As antipode, Islâm was possessed of an equally far-reaching tendency, and was also able to originate an entirely peculiar world of human life.—The same is the case with Romanism. Here also the papal tiara, the hierarchy, the mass, etc., are but the outcome of one fundamental thought: viz., that God enters into fellowship with the creature by means of a mystic middle-link, which is the Church;—not taken as a mystic organism, but as a visible, palpable and tangible institution. Here the Church stands between God and the world, and so far as it was able to adopt the world and to inspire it, Romanism also created a form of its own for human society.—And now, by the side of and opposite to these three, Calvinism takes its stand with a fundamental thought which is equally profound. It does not seek God in the creature, as Paganism; it does not isolate God from the creature, as Islamism; it posits no mediate communion between God and the creature, as does Romanism; but proclaims the exalted thought that, although standing in high majesty above the creature, God enters into immediate fellowship with the creature, as God the Holy Spirit. This is even the heart and kernel of the Calvinistic confession of predestination. There is communion with God, but only in entire accord with his counsel of peace from all eternity. Thus there is no grace but such as comes to us immediately from God. At every moment of our existence, our entire spiritual life rests in God Himself. The “Deo Soli Gloria” was not the starting-point but the result, and predestination was inexorably maintained, not for the sake of separating man from man, nor in the interest of personal pride, but in order to guarantee from eternity to eternity, to our inner self, a direct and immediate communion with the Living God. The opposition against Rome aimed therefore with the Calvinist first of all at the dismissal of a Church, which placed itself between the soul and God. The Church consisted not in an office, nor in an independent institute, the believers themselves were the Church, inasmuch as by faith they stood in touch with the Almighty. Thus, as in Paganism, Islamism and Romanism, so also in Calvinism is found that proper, definite interpretation of the fundamental relation of man to God, which is required as the first condition of a real life-system.
Meanwhile I anticipate two objections. In the first place, it may be asked, whether I do not claim honours for Calvinism which belong to Protestantism in general. To this I reply in the negative. When I claim for Calvinism the honour of having reestablished the direct fellowship with God, I do not undervalue the general significance of Protestantism. In the Protestant domain, taken in the historic sense, Lutheranism alone stands by the side of Calvinism. Now I wish to be second to nome in my praises of Luther’s heroic initiative. In his heart, rather than in the heart of Calvin, was the bitter conflict fought which led to the world-historic breach. Luther can be interpreted without Calvin, but not Calvin without Luther. To a great extent Calvin entered upon the harvest of what the hero of Wittenberg had sown in and outside Germany. But when the question is put, Who had the clearest insight into the reformatory principle, worked it out most fully, and applied it most broadly, history points to the Thinker of Geneva and not to the Hero of Wittenberg. Luther as well as Calvin contended for a direct fellowship with God, but Luther took it up from its subjective, anthropological side, and not from its objective, cosmological side as Calvin did. Luther’s starting-point was the special-soteriological principle of a justifying faith; while Calvin’s extending far wider, lay in the general cosmological principle of the sovereignty of God. As a natural result of this, Luther also continued to consider the Church as the representative and authoritative “teacher”, standing between God and the believer, while Calvin was the first to seek the Church in the believers themselves. As far as he was able, Luther still leaned upon the Romish view of the sacraments, and upon the Romish cultus, while Calvin was the first in both to draw the line which extended immediately from God to man and from man to God. Moreover, in all Lutheran countries the Reformation originated from the princes rather than from the people, and thereby passed under the power of the magistrate, who took his stand in the Church officially as her highest Bishop, and therefore was unable to change either the social or the political life in accordance with its principle. Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life. Hence Lutheranism is nowhere spoken of as the creator of a peculiar life-form; even the name of “Lutheranism” is hardly ever mentioned; while the students of history with increasing unanimity recognize Calvinism as the creator of a world of human life entirely its own.
The second objection, we have to meet is this: If it is true that every general development form of life must find its starting-point in a peculiar interpretation of our relation to God,—how then do you explain the fact, that Modernism also has led to such a general conception, notwithstanding it sprang from the French Revolution, which on principle broke with all religion. The question answers itself. If you exclude from your conceptions all reckoning with the Living God just as is implied in the cry, “no God no master”, you certainly bring to the front a sharply defined interpretation of your own for our relation to God. A government, as you yourselves experienced of late in the case of Spain, that recalls its ambassador and breaks every regular intercourse with another power, declares thereby that its relation to the government of that country is a strained relation which generally ends in war. This is the case here. The leaders of the French Revolution, not being acquainted with any relation to God except that which existed through the mediation of the Romish Church, annihilated all relation to God, because they wished to annihilate the power of the Church; and as a result of this they declared war against every religious confession. But this of course very really implied a fundamental and special interpretation of our relation to God. It was the declaration that henceforth God was to be considered as a hostile power, yea even as dead, if not yet to the heart, at least to the state, to society and to science. To be sure, in passing from French into German hands, Modernism could not rest content with such a bare negation; but the result shows how from that moment it clothed itself in either pantheism or agnosticism, and under each disguise it maintained the expulsion of God from practical and theoretical life, and the enmity against the Triune God had its full course.
Thus I maintain that it is the interpretation of our relation to God which dominates every general life system, and that for us this conception is given in Calvinism, thanks to its fundamental interpretation of an immediate fellowship of God with man and of man with God. To this I add that Calvinism has neither invented nor conceived this fundamental interpretation, but that God himself implanted it in the hearts of its heroes and its heralds. We face here no product of a clever intellectualism, but the fruit of a work of God in the heart, or, if you like, an inspiration of history. This point should be emphasized. Calvinism has never burned its incense upon the altar of genius, it has erected no monument for its heroes, it scarcely calls them by name. One stone only in a wall at Geneva remains to remind one of Calvin. His very grave has been forgotten. Was this ingratitude? By no means. But if Calvin was appreciated, even in the 16th and 17th centuries the impression was vivid that it was One greater than Calvin, even God Himself, who had wrought here His work. Hence, no general movement in life is so devoid of deliberate compact, none so unconventional in which it spread as this. Simultaneously, Calvinism had its rise in all the countries of Western Europe, and it did not appear, among those nations, because the University was in its van, or because scholars led the people, or because a magistrate placed himself at their head; but it sprang from the hearts of the people themselves, with weavers and farmers, with tradesmen and servants, with women and young maidens; and in every instance it exhibited the same characteristic: viz., strong Assurance of eternal Salvation, not only without the intervention of the Church, but even in opposition to the Church. The human heart had attained unto eternal peace with its God: strengthened by this Divine fellowship, it discovered its high and holy calling to consecrate every department of life and every energy at its disposal to the glory of God: and therefore, when those men or women, who had become partakers of this Divine life, were forced to abandon their faith, it proved impossible, that they could deny their Lord; and thousands and tens of thousands burned at the stake, not complaining but exulting, with thanksgiving in their hearts and psalms upon their lips. Calvin was not the author of this, but God who through his Holy Spirit had wrought in Calvin that which He had wrought in them. Calvin stood not above them, but as a brother by their side, a sharer with them of God’s blessing. In this way, Calvinism came to its fundamental interpretation of an immediate fellowship with God, not because Calvin invented it, but because in this immediate fellowship God Himself had granted to our fathers a privilege of which Calvin was only the first to become clearly conscious. This is the great work of the Holy Spirit in history, by which Calvinism has been consecrated, and which interprets to us its wondrous energy.
There are times in history when the pulse of religious life beats faintly; but there are times when its beat is bounding, and the latter was the case in the 16th century among the nations of Western Europe. The question of faith at that time dominated every activity in public life. New history starts out from this faith, even as the history of our times starts from the unbelief of the French Revolution. What law this pulse-like movement of religious life obeys, we cannot tell, but it is evident that there is such a law, and that in times of high religious tension the inworking of the Holy Spirit upon the heart is irresistible; and this mighty inworking of God was the experience of our Calvinists, Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers. It was not in all individuals to the same degree, for this never happens in any great movement; but they who formed the centre of life in those times, who were the promotors of that mighty change, they experienced this higher power to the fullest: and they were the men and women of every class of society and nationality who by God Himself were admitted into communion with the majesty of His eternal Being. Thanks to this work of God in the heart, the persuasion that the whole of a man’s life is to be lived as in the Divine Presence has become the fundamental thought of Calvinism. By this decisive idea, or rather by this mighty fact, it has allowed itself to be controlled in every department of its entire domain. It is from this mother-thought that the all-embracing life system of Calvinism sprang.
This brings us of itself to the second condition, with which, for the sake of creating a life system every profound movement has to comply: viz., a fundamental interpretation of its own touching the relation of man to man. How we stand toward God is the first, and how we stand toward man is the second principal question, which decides the tendency and the construction of our life. There is no uniformity among men, but endless multiformity. In creation itself the difference has been established between woman and man. Physical and spiritual gifts and talents cause one person to differ from the other. Past generations and our own personal life create distinctions. The social position of the rich and poor differs widely. Now, these differences are in a special way weakened or accentuated by every consistent life system, and Paganism and Islamism, Romanism as well as Modernism, and so also Calvinism have all taken their stand in this question in accordance with their primordial principle. If, as Paganism contends, God dwells in the creature, a divine superiority is exhibited in whatever is high among men. In this way it obtained its demigods, hero-worship, and finally its sacrifices upon the altar of Divus Augustus. On the other hand whatever is lower is considered as godless, and therefore gives rise to the systems of caste in India and in Egypt, and to slavery everywhere else, thereby placing one man under a base subjection to his fellow-man. Under Islamism, which dreams of its paradise of houries, sensuality usurps public authority, and woman is the slave of man, even as the kafîr is the slave of the Moslim. Romanism, taking root in Christian soil, overcomes the absolute character of distinction, and renders it relative, in order to interpret every relation of man to man hierarchically. There is a hierarchy among the angels of God, a hierarchy in God’s Church, and so also a hierarchy among men, leading to an entirely aristocratic interpretation of life as the embodiment of the ideal. Finally Modernism, which denies and abolishes every difference, cannot rest until it has made woman man and man woman, and, putting every distinction on a common level, kills life by placing it under the ban of uniformity. One type must answer for all, one uniform, one position and one and the same development of life; and whatever goes beyond and above it, is looked upon as an insult to the common consciousness. In the same way Calvinism has derived from its fundamental relation to God a peculiar interpretation of man’s relation to man, and it is this only true relation, which since the 16th century has ennobled social life. If Calvinism places our entire human life immediately before God, then it follows that all men or women, rich or poor, weak or strong, dull or talented, as creatures of God, and as lost sinners, have no claim whatsoever to lord over one another, and that we stand as equals before God, and consequently equal as man to man. Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. Hence Calvinism condemns not merely all open slavery and systems of caste, but also all covert slavery of woman and of the poor; it is opposed to all hierarchy among men; it tolerates no aristocracy save such as is able, either in person or in family, by the grace of God, to exhibit superiority of character or talent, and to show that it does not claim this superiority for self-aggrandizement or ambitious pride, but for the sake of spending it in the service of God. So Calvinism was bound to find its utterance in the democratic interpretation of life; to proclaim the liberty of nations; and not to rest until both politically and socially every man, simply because he is man, should be recognized, respected and dealt with as a creature created after the Divine likeness.
This was no outcome of envy. It was not the man of lower estate who reduced his superior to his level in order to usurp the higher place, but it was all men kneeling in concert at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. This accounts for the fact that Calvinism made no sudden break with the past. Even as in its early stage Christianity did not abolish slavery, but undermined it by a moral judgment, so Calvinism allowed the provisional continuance of the conditions of hierarchy and aristocracy as traditions belonging to the Middle Ages. It was not charged against William of Orange, that he was a prince of royal lineage; he was the more honoured for it. But inwardly Calvinism has modified the structure of society, not by the envying of classes, nor by an undue esteem for the possessions of the rich, but by a more serious interpretation of life. By better labor and a higher development of character the middle and working classes have provoked the nobility and the wealthier citizens to jealousy. First looking to God, and then to one’s neighbour was the impulse, the mind and the spiritual custom to which Calvinism gave entrance. And from this holy fear of God and this united stand before the face of God a holier democratic idea has developed itself, and has continually gained ground. This result has been brought about by nothing so much as by fellowship in suffering. When, though loyal to the Romish faith, the dukes of Egmont and Hoorn ascended the same scaffold on which, for the sake of a nobler faith, the working-man and the weaver had been executed, the reconciliation between the classes received its sanction in that bitter death. By his bloody persecutions, Alva the Aristocrat advanced the prosperous development of the spirit of Democracy. To have placed man on a footing of equality with man, so far as the purely human interests are concerned, is the immortal glory which incontestably belongs to Calvinism. The difference between it and the wild dream of equality of the French Revolution is: that while in Paris it was one action in concert against God, here all, rich and poor, were on their knees before God, consumed with a common zeal for the glory of His Name.
The third fundamental relation which decides the interpretation of life is the relation which you bear to the world. As previously stated there are three principal elements with which you conic into touch: viz., God, man and the world. The relation to God and to man into which Calvinism places you being thus reviewed, the third and last fundamental relation is in order: viz., your attitude toward the world. Of Paganism it can be said in general, that it places too high an estimate upon the world, and therefore to some extent it both stands in fear of, and loses itself in it. On the other hand Islamism places too low an estimate upon the world, makes sport of it and triumphs over it in reaching after the visionary world of a sensual paradise. For the purpose in view however we need say no more of either, since both for Christian Europe and America the antithesis between man and the world has assumed the narrower form of the antithesis between the world and the Christian circles. The traditions of the Middle Ages gave rise to this. Under the hierarchy of Rome the Church and the World were placed over against each other, the one as being sanctified and the other as being still under the curse. Everything outside the Church was under the influence of demons, and exorcism banished this demoniacal power from everything that came under the protection, influence and inspiration of the Church. Hence in a Christian country the entire social life was to be covered by the wings of the Church. The magistrate had to be anointed and confessionally bound; art and science had to be placed under ecclesiastical encouragement and censure, trade and commerce had to be bound to the Church by the tie of guilds; and from the cradle to the grave family-life was to be placed under ecclesiastical guardianship. This was a gigantic effort to claim the entire world for Christ, but one which of necessity brought with it the severest judgment upon every life-tendency which either as heretical or as demoniacal withdrew itself from the blessing of the Church. Hence the stake was fit alike for witch and heretic, for in principle both lay under the same ban. And this deadening theory was carried out with iron logic, not from cruelty, nor from any low ambition, but from the lofty purpose of saving the christianized world, i.e., the world as overshadowed by the Church. Escape from the world was the counterpoise in monastic and partly even in clerical orders, which emphasized holiness in the centrum of the Church in order to wink the more lightly at worldly excesses without. As a natural result the world corrupted the Church, and by its dominion over the world the Church proved an obstacle to every free development of its life.
Thus making its appearance in a dualistic social state Calvinism has wrought an entire change in the world of thoughts and conceptions. In this also, placing itself before the face of God, it has not only honored man for the sake of his likeness to the Divine image, but also the world as a Divine creation, and has at once placed to the front the great principle that there is a particular grace which works Salvation, and also a common grace by which God, maintaining the life of the world, relaxes the curse which rests upon it, arrests its process of corruption, and thus allows the untrammelled development of our life in which to glorify Himself as Creator. Thus the Church receded in order to be neither more nor less than the congregation of believers, and in every department the life of the world was not emancipated from God, but from the dominion of the Church. Thus domestic life regained its independence, trade and commerce realized their strength in liberty, art and science were set free from every ecclesiastical bond and restored to their own inspirations, and man began to understand the subjection of all nature with its hidden forces and treasures to himself as a holy duty, imposed upon him by the original ordinances of Paradise: “Have dominion over them”. Henceforth the curse should no longer rest upon the world itself, but upon that which is sinful in it, and instead of monastic flight from the world the duty is now emphasized of serving God in the world, in every position in life. To praise God in the Church and serve Him in the world became the inspiring impulse, and, in the Church, strength was to be gathered by which to resist temptation and sin in the world. Thus puritanic sobriety went hand in hand with the reconquest of the entire life of the world, and Calvinism gave the impulse to that new development which dared to face the world with the Roman thought: nil humanum a me alienum puto, although never allowing itself to be intoxicated by its poisonous cup.
Especially in its antithesis to Anabaptism Calvinism exhibits itself in bold relief. For Anabaptism adopted the opposite method, and in its effort to evade the world it confirmed the monastic starting-point, generalising and making it a rule for all believers. It was not from Calvinism, but from this anabaptistic principle, that Akosmism had its rise among so many Protestants in Western Europe. In fact Anabaptism adopted the Romish theory, with this difference: that it placed the kingdom of God in the room of the Church, and abandoned the distinction between the two moral standards, one for the clergy and the other for the laity. For the rest the Anabaptist’s standpoint was: 1. that the unbaptized world was under the curse, for which reason he withdrew from all civil institutions; and 2. that the circle of baptized believers—with Rome the Church, but with him the kingdom of God—was in duty bound to take all civil life under its guardianship and to remodel it; and so John of Leyden violently established his shameless power at Munster as King of the New Zion, and his devotees ran naked through the streets of Amsterdam. Hence, on the same grounds on which Calvinism rejected Rome’s theory concerning the world, it rejected the theory of the Anabaptist, and proclaimed that the Church must withdraw again within its spiritual domain, and that in the world we should realize the potencies of God’s common grace.
Thus it is shown that Calvinism has a sharply-defined starting-point of its own for the three fundamental relations of all human existence: viz., our relation to God, to man and to the world. For our relation to God: an immediate fellowship of man with the Eternal, independently of priest or church. For the relation of man to man: the recognition in each person of human worth, which is his by virtue of his creation after the Divine likeness, and therefore of the equality of all men before God and his magistrate. And for our relation to the world: the recognition that in the whole world the curse is restrained by grace, that the life of the world is to be honored in its independence, and that we must, in every domain, discover the treasures and develop the potencies hidden by God in nature and in human life. This justifies us fully in our statement that Calvinism duly answers the three above named conditions, and thus is incontestably entitled to take its stand by the side of Paganism, Islamism, Romanism and Modernism, and to claim for itself the glory of possessing a well-defined principle and an all-embracing life-system.
But even this is not all. The fact that in a given circle Calvinism has formed an interpretation of life quite its own, from which both in the spiritual and secular domain a special system arose for domestic and social life, justifies its claim to assert itself as an independent formation; but does not yet credit it with the honour of having led humanity, as such, up to a higher stage in its development, and therefore this life-system has not, so far as we have yet considered it, attained that position which alone could give it the right to claim for itself the energy and devotion of our hearts. In China it can be asserted with equal right that Confucianism has produced a form of its own for life in a given circle, and with the Mongolian race that form of life rests upon a theory of its own. But what has China done for humanity in general, and for the steady development of our race? Even so far as the waters of its life were clear, they formed nothing but an isolated lake. Almost the same remark applies to the high development which was once the boast of India and to the state of things in Mexico and Peru in the days of Montezuma and the Incas. In all these regions the people attained a high degree of development, but stopped there, and, remaining isolated, in no way proved a benefit to humanity at large. This applies more strongly still to the life of the coloured races on the coast and in the interior of Africa—a far lower form of existence, reminding us not even of a lake but rather of pools and marshes. There is but one world-stream, broad and fresh, which from the beginning bore the promise of the future. This stream had its rise in Middle-Asia and the Levant, and has steadily continued its course from East to West. From Western Europe it has passed on to your Eastern States and from thence to California. The sources of this stream of development are found in Babylon and in the valley of the Nile. From thence it flowed on to Greece. From Greece it passed on to the Roman Empire. From the Romanic nations it continued its way to the Northwestern parts of Europe, and from Holland and England it reached at length your continent. At present that stream is at a standstill. Its Western course through China and Japan is impeded; meanwhile no one can tell what forces for the future may yet lie slumbering in the Slavic races which have thus far failed of progress. But while this secret of the future is still veiled in mystery, the course of this world-stream from East to West can be denied by none. And therefore I am justified in saying: that Paganism, Islamism and Romanism are the three successive formations which this development had reached, when its further direction passed over into the hands of Calvinism; and that Calvinism in turn is now denied this leading influence by Modernism, the daughter of the French Revolution.
The succession of these four phases of development did not take place mechanically, with sharply outlined divisions and parts. This development of life is organic, and therefore each new period roots in the past. In its deepest logic Calvinism had already been apprehended by Augustine; had, long before Augustine, been proclaimed to the City of the seven hills by the Apostle in his Epistle to the Romans; and from Paul goes back to Israel and its prophets, yea to the tents of the patriarchs. Romanism likewise does not make its appearance suddenly, but is the joint product of the three potencies of Israel’s priesthood, the cross of Calvary, and the world-organization of the Roman Empire. Islâm in the same way joins itself to Israel’s Monism, to the Prophet of Nazareth, and to the tradition of the Koraishîtes. And even the Paganism of Babylon and Egypt on the one hand, and of Greece and Rome upon the other, stand organically related to what lay behind these nations, preceding the prosperity of their lives. But even so, it is as clear as day that the supreme force in the central development of the human race moved along successively from Babylon and Egypt to Greece and Rome, then to the chief regions of the Papal dominion, and finally to the Calvinistic nations of Western Europe. If Israel flourished in the days of Babylon and Egypt, however high its standard, the direction and the development of our human race was not in the hands of the sons of Abraham but in those of the Belshassars and the Pharaohs. Again, this leadership does not pass from Babylon and Egypt on to Israel but to Greece and Rome. However high the stream of Christianity had risen when Islâm made its appearance, in the 8th and 9th centuries the followers of Mahomet were our teachers and with them rested the issue of the world. And though the hegemony of Romanism still maintained itself for a short time after the peace of Munster, no one questions the fact, that the higher development, which we are now enjoying, we owe neither to Spain nor to Austria, nor even to the Germany of that time, but to the Calvinistic countries of the Netherlands and to England of the 16th century. Under Louis XIV, Romanism arrested this higher development in France, but only that in the French Revolution it might exhibit a ghastly caricature of Calvinism, which in its sad consequences broke the inner strength of France as a nation, and weakened its international significance. The fundamental idea of Calvin has been transplanted from Holland and England to America, thus driving our higher development ever more Westward, until on the shores of the Pacific it now reverently awaits whatsoever God has ordained. But no matter what mysteries the future may yet have to disclose, the fact remains that the broad stream of the development of our race runs from Babylon to San Francisco, through the five stadia of Babylonian-Egyptian, Greek-Roman, Islamitic, Romanistic and Calvinistic civilization, and the present conflict in Europe as well as in America finds its main cause in the fundamental antithesis between the energy of Calvinism which proceded from the throne of God, found the source of its power in the Word of God, and in every sphere of human life exalted the glory of God,—and its carricature in the French Revolution, which proclaimed its unbelief in the cry of, “no God no master”; and which presently in the form of German Pantheism is reducing itself more and more to a modern Paganism.
Thus notice I was not too bold, when I claimed for Calvinism the honour of being neither an ecclesiastical, nor a theological, nor a sectarian conception, but one of the principal phases in the general development of our human race; and among these the youngest, whose high calling still is to influence the further course of human life.—Just now, however, allow me to indicate another circumstance, which strengthens my principal statement, viz., the commingling of blood as, thus far, the physical basis of all higher human development. From the high-lands of Asia our human race came down in groups, and these in turn have been divided into races and nations; and in entire conformity to the prophetic blessing of Noah the children of Shem and of Japheth have been the sole bearers of the development of the race. No impulse for any higher life has ever gone forth from the third group. With the two other groups a twofold phenomenon presents itself. There are tribal nations which have isolated themselves and others which have intermingled. Thus on the one hand there are groups which have dominated exclusively their own inherent forces, and on the other hand groups which by commingling have crossed their traits with those of other tribes, and thus have attained a higher perfection. It is noteworthy that the process of human development steadily proceeds with those groups whose historic characteristic is not isolation but the commingling of blood. On the whole the Mongolian race has held itself apart, and in its isolation has bestowed no benefits upon our race at large. Behind the Himalayas a similar life secluded itself, and hence failed to impart any permanent impulse to the outside world. Even in Europe we find that with the Scandinavians and Slavs there was hardly any intermingling of blood, and, consequently having failed to develop a richer type, they have taken little part in the general development of human life. On the other hand the tablets from Babylon in our great Museums by the two languages of their inscriptions still show that in Mesopotamia the Aryan element of the Accadians mingled itself at an early period with the Semitic-Babylonian; and Egyptology leads us to conclude that in the land of the Pharaohs we deal from the beginning with a population produced by the mingling of two very different tribes. No one believes any longer the pretended race-unity of the Greeks. In Greece as well as in Italy we deal with races of a later date who have intermingled with the earlier Pelasgians, Etruscians and others. Islâm seems to be exclusively Arabic, but a study of the spread of Islamism among the Moors, Persians, Turks and other series of subjected tribes, with whom intermarriage was common, at once reveals the fact that especially with Mahometans the commingling of blood was even greater than with their predecessors. When the leadership of the world passed into the hands of the Romanic nations, the same phenomenon presented itself in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. In these cases the Aborigines were generally Basques or Celts, the Celts in turn being overcome by the Germanic tribes, and even as in Italy the East-Goths and Lombards, so in Spain the West-Goths, in Portugal the Swabians and in France the Franks instilled new blood into debilitated veins, and to this wonderful rejuvenescence the Romanic nations owed their vigour until far into the 16th century. Thus in the life of nations the same phenomenon repeats itself which so often strikes the Historian as a result of international marriages among princely families, as we see how the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, the Oranges and the Hohenzollern, for instance, have been, century after century, productive of a host of most remarkable statesmen and heroes. The raiser of stock has aimed at the same effect in the crossing of different breeds, and botanists harvest large profits by obeying the same law of life with plants; and by itself it is not difficult to perceive that the union of natural powers, divided among different tribes, must be productive of a higher development. To this it should be added that the history of our race does not aim at the improvement of any single tribe, but at the development of mankind taken as a whole, and therefore needs this commingling of blood in order to attain its end. Now in fact history shows that the nations among whom Calvinism flourished most widely, exhibit in every way this same mingling of races. In Switzerland, the Germans, united with Italians and French; in France, the Gauls, with Franks and Burgundians; in the Lowlands, Celts and Welch with Germans; also in England the old Celts and Anglo-saxons were afterwards raised to a still higher standard of national life by the invasion of the Normans. Indeed it may be said, that the three principal tribes of Western Europe, the Celtic, Romanic and Germanic elements under the leadership of the Germanic, give us the genealogy of the Calvinistic nations. In America, where Calvinism has come to unfold itself in a still higher liberty, this commingling of blood is assuming a larger proportion than has ever yet been known. Here the blood flows together from all the tribes of the ancient world, and again we have the Celts from Ireland, the Germans from Germany and Scandinavia, united to the Slavs from Russia and Poland, who promote still further this already vigorous intermingling of the races. This latter process takes place under the higher exponent that it is not merely the union of tribe with tribe, but that the old historic nations are dissolving themselves in order to allow the re-union of their members in one higher unity, hitherto constantly assimilated by the American type. In this respect also Calvinism fully meets the conditions imposed on every new phase of development in the life of humanity. It spread itself in a domain where it found the commingling of blood stronger than under Romanism, and in America raised this to its highest conceivable realization.
Thus it is shown that Calvinism meets not only the necessary condition of the mingling of blood, but that in the process of human development it also represents, with respect to this, a further stadium. In Babylon this commingling of blood was of small significance; it gains in importance with the Greeks and Romans; it goes further under Islamism; is dominant under Romanism; but only among Calvinistic nations does it reach its highest perfection. Here in America it is achieving the intermingling of all the nations of the old world. A similar climax of this process of human development is also exhibited by Calvinism in the fact, that only under the influence of Calvinism does the impulse of public activity proceed from the people themselves. In the life of the nations also there is development from the underage period to that of maturity. As in the family-life, during the years of childhood, the direction of affairs is in the hands of the parents, so also in the life of the nations it is but natural that during their under-age period first the Asiatic despot, then some eminent ruler, afterwards the priesthood, and finally both priest and magistrate together should stand at the head of every movement. The history of the nations in Babylon and under the Pharaohs, in Greece and Rome, under Islamism and under the papal system, fully confirms this course of development. But it is self-evident that this could not be a permanent state of things. Just because in their progressive development the nations finally came of age, they must at length reach that stadium in which the people itself awoke, stood up for their rights, and originated the movement that was to direct the course of future events; and in the rise of Calvinism this stadium appears to have been reached. Thus far every forward movement had gone forth from the authorities in State, Church or Science, and from thence had descended to the people. In Calvinism on the other hand the peoples themselves stand out in their broad ranks and from a spontaneity of their own, press forward to a higher form of social life and conditions. Calvinism had its rise with the people. In Lutheran countries the magistrate was still the leader in public advances, but in Switzerland, among the Huguenots, in Belgium, in the Netherlands, in Scotland and also in America the peoples themselves created the impetus. They seemed to have matured; to have reached the period in which they were of age. Even when in some cases, as in the Netherlands, the nobility for a moment took an heroic stand for the oppressed, their activity ended in nothing, and the people alone, by undaunted energy, broke the barrier, and among these it was the “common folk” to whose heroic initiative William the Silent, as he himself acknowledges, owed the success of his undertaking.
Hence as a central phenomenon in the development of humanity Calvinism is not only entitled to an honourable position by the side of Paganistic, Islamistic and Romanistic forms, since like these it represents a peculiar principle dominating the whole of life, but it also meets every required condition for the advancement of human development to a higher stage. And yet this would remain a bare possibility without any corresponding reality, if history did not testify that Calvinism has actually caused the stream of human life to flow in another channel, and has ennobled the social life of the nations. And therefore in closing I assert that Calvinism not only held out these possibilities but has also understood how to realize them. To prove this, just ask yourselves what would have become of Europe and America, if in the 16th century the star of Calvinism had not suddenly arisen on the horizon of Western Europe. In that case Spain would have crushed the Netherlands. In England and Scotland the Stuarts would have carried out their fatal plans. In Switzerland the spirit of half-heartedness would have gained the day. The beginnings of life in this new world would have been of an entirely different character. And as an unavoidable sequence the balance of power in Europe would have returned to its former position. Protestantism would not have been able to maintain itself in politics. No further resistance could have been offered to the Romish-conservative power of the Habsburgs, the Bourbons and the Stuarts; and the free development of the nations, as seen in Europe and America, would simply have been prevented. The whole American continent would have remained subject to Spain. The history of both continents would have become a most mournful one and it ever remains a question whether the spirit of the Leipzig Interim would not have succeded, by way of a Romanized Protestantism, in reducing Northern Europe again to the sway of the old Hierarchy. The enthusiastic devotion of the best historians of the second half of this century to the struggle of the Netherlands against Spain, as one of the finest subjects of investigation, only explains itself by the conviction, that if the power of Spain at that time had not been broken by the heroism of the Calvinistic spirit, the history of the Netherlands, of Europe and of the world would have been as painfully sad and dark as now, thanks to Calvinism, it is bright and inspiriting. Professor Fruin justly remarks that: “In Switzerland, in France, in the Netherlands, in Scotland and in England, and wherever Protestantism has had to establish itself at the point of the sword, it was Calvinism that gained the day.”
Call to mind that this turn in the history of the world could not have been brought about except by the implanting of another principle in the human heart, and by the disclosing of another world of thought to the human mind; that only by Calvinism the psalm of liberty found its way from the troubled conscience to the lips; that Calvinism has captured and guaranteed to us our constitutional civil rights; and that simultaneously with this there went out from Western Europe that mighty movement which promoted the revival of science and art, opened new avenues to commerce and trade, beautified domestic and social life, exalted the middle classes to positions of honor, caused philanthropy to abound, and more than all this, elevated, purified and ennobled moral life by puritanic seriousness; and then judge for yourselves whether it will do to banish any longer this God-given Calvinism to the archives of history, and whether it is so much of a dream to conceive that Calvinism has yet a blessing to bring and a bright hope to unveil for the future.
The struggle of the Boers in the Transvaal against one of the mightiest powers must often have reminded you of your own past. In what has been achieved at Majuba, and recently at the occasion of Jameson’s raid the heroism of old Calvinism was again brilliantly evident. If Calvinism had not been passed on from our fathers to their African descendants, no free republic would have arisen in the South of the Dark Continent. This proves that Calvinism is not dead—that it still carries in its germ the vital energy of the days of its former glory. Yea, even as a grain of wheat from the Sarcophagi of the Pharaohs, when again committed to the soil, bears fruit a hundredfold, so Calvinism still carries in itself a wondrous power for the future of the nations. And if we, Christians of both Continents, in our still holier struggle, are still expected to achieve heroic deeds, marching under the banner of the Cross against the spirit of the times, Calvinism alone arms us with an inflexible principle, by the strength of that principle guaranteeing us a sure, though far from easy victory.
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