"One generation shall praise thy works to
another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I I (Ps. cxlv. 4.)
Brethren of the Nebraska Conference: -- By a resolution passed a year ago I was invited to preach a sermon at this session of our conference in recognition of the "semi-centennial term" now completed in my connection with our Methodist Itinerancy. I desire first of all to express my high appreciation of the honor thus conferred upon me, however inadequately the task may be performed. Nor would I begin this discourse without here recording my unfeigned gratitude to God who, through His providential guidance and amazing mercy, has allowed me to labor for fifty consecutive years in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Your invitation intimates that this sermon should have a semi-centennial character but suggests no particular theme for the occasion. Left to my own judgment in this respect, I shall not ask your attention to matters of merely personal reminiscence; still less shall I attempt anything like a discussion of all the events which have concerned the kingdom of Christ in this most eventful half century. The first would be as much too small for your consideration as the second would be too large for my time and abilities. I will therefore apply myself to the more simple work of noting some of the changes which have taken place during the last fifty years, which have more particularly concerned us as ministers of Christ.
1. By way of introduction I may mention some changes which this term has witnessed in our church itself. At the commencement of this period there were thirty-one Annual Conferences as against, one hundred and forty-six now, including "Missions" in our own country, and "Mission Conferences" in other lands. The dimensions of some of these thirty-one conferences is now suggestive. One comprised "California and Oregon," and another "Iowa and the Territory of Nebraska." The church had about 4,000 ministers and a little more than half a million members. There were four Bishops -- Waugh, Morris, Janes, and Hamline of precious memory. There were "Domestic Missions" in every annual conference excepting the Vermont. Of "Foreign Missions" we had one in Liberia which had been attended with very indifferent success; one in South America which had been in part abandoned, and one in Foo Chow, China, which was four years old but had not yet baptized its first convert.
The first General Conference held within the period of which we are speaking numbered 179 members. It occupied about one-third the seat-
ing space in the old Bromfield Street church in Boston. There
were no colored delegates; there were no southern conferences.
There were no lay delegates; these came in twenty years later.
This General Conference was occupied for three days in trying the
appeal of an expelled minister. The whole machinery for trying
ministers and their appeals other than in open conference was not
yet in the Discipline. Our Tract Society, our Board of Church
Extension, Board of Education, Freedmen's Aid Society, Woman's
Missionary Societies, Sunday School Boards, Missionary Bishops,
District Conferences, Children's Day, Deaconesses, and much more
have all come into existence during this time.
The legal limit of the Presiding elder's term has been lengthened from four to six years; the pastoral term has passed from two years to three, from three years to five, and now has ceased to be limited at all by law. Band Societies have disappeared from both church and discipline, the Hymn Book has been twice revised, and Fourth Quarterly Conferences elect twelve instead of three standing committees. Courses of study for Local Preachers have been instituted, those for traveling ministers have been greatly modified and enlarged, and the wholesome pledge, "wholly to abstain from the use of tobacco," is required of all who would receive Local Preacher's License or be received into an annual conference.
In the first issue of the Discipline in the period under review the "Chapter on Slavery," which occupies the last two pages of the book, is a reminder. It declares that "we are as much opposed to the great evil of slavery as ever," an evil so great that slave-holding members who will not emancipate their slaves, in states where the laws permit their freedom, shalll (sic) not be eligible to official positions in the church. Traveling preachers are required to free their slaves, "if it be practicable," or forfeit their ministerial character, and all our preachers are directed "prudently to enforce upon all our members the necessity of teaching their slaves to read the word of God, and to allow them time to attend public worship." It reminds us of a bit of temperance legislation by an earlier General Conference which declared that "when any of our traveling or local preachers become retailers of spirituous liquor & they shall forfeit their ministerial standing." It is plain that both the magnitude and the machinery of Methodism have materially changed during the last fifty years.
These changes have indicated a commendable progressiveness in the church, but great and many as they have been, far greater ones have been operating underneath them. The half century just closed has been distinguished most of all as a period of marvelous intellectual quickening. The revival of learning in Europe which constituted the transition from medieval to modern history, did not at all equal it . The human mind has never before displayed such energy and activity inventrions have appeared in bewildering numbers, involving amazing
practical results. The industrial world has been
revolutionized, Science has made discoveries in such rapid
succession that text books have become old on leaving the press.
Scientific methods have come to be applied to all subjects, and a
critical spirit has taken possession of the age. New sciences have
been brought out and old ones have been rewritten. Men have seemed
determined to know all that can be known. They have demanded the
disclosure of all secret things, and have pushed their logical
processes to the last possible conclusion The doctrine of
evolution which, as propounded by Mr. Darwin less than fifty years
ago, was applied to one branch of science only, has come to be the
working theory in all lines of investigation. In some form or
other it is accepted by the scientific world. No one announcement
of science has ever before so profoundly affected human thinking.
It has not only reconstructed science and philosophy and history;
it has materially influenced theology also.
In such a revolution of thought and theory it could not be that religious ideas should remain untouched. In such bold and determined philosophizing it was certain that questions long forgotten or never before raised, should be asked. Indeed everything has been questioned.
Theological statements have been sifted; creeds venerable with age have been arraigned at the bar of criticism, and interpretations of Scripture which have seemed to assume the correctness of by-gone theories of the universe have been revised or abandoned. Nor is it strange that in this cyclone of intellectual reconstruction, the Bible should have been assailed, the timid made to fear for their faith, and that some should have been swept altogether from their theological moorings. Through all these amazing changes however, God has been present, healthful advances have been made. Somethings have been shaken only that "those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
1. The period has been one during which Unbelief has been constantly changing its forms and shifting its points of attack. Scoffing infidelity is left to the street and the saloon. No man who cares to be regarded as sincere now charges imposture upon Jesus Christ or his apostles. "Watson's Apology," which was in the Conference Course of Study fifty years ago is no longer needed. Unbelievers vie with each other in pronouncing eulogies upon Jesus. The mythical theory of Strauss has likewise passed to the rear. It died before its author. The theory of evolution, which may be said to have come in with the half century, was at first proclaimed by unbelievers of all schools as a final refutation of Biblical views, Christian doctrine in particular. It was thought to teach a materialistic atheism. A great change has taken place. The most scholarly evolutionists in America are now out-spoken in defense of the existence and immanence of God in nature, and of "the everlasting reality of religion." The scepticism which claimed Astronomy and Geology as its shield and buckler has abandoned largely its scientific
defences. The canons of historical criticisms by which Old
Testament history was supposed to be laid low, went on to prove by
the same authority that Troy and the Trojan War were mythical
inventions, but when Troy was laid bare with the spade, historical
criticism became more modest. If it reappears somewhat in what is
popularly known as "The Higher Criticism," its mood and temper are
greatly changed and, so far as it takes issue with Christianity,
its lance is being wrenched from its hand by scholars who are
loyal to Christ.
Fifty years ago Universalism was the doctrine that all men go directly to heaven at death. "Restorationists," so called, who believed in the limited future punishment of those dying in sin, were the very few exceptions among those calling themselves Universalists. The moral condition of men at death was considered no factor whatever in the question of their eternal salvation. At the present time we do not know of one minister of that persuasion who teaches what was called "the death and glory doctrine," nor one church of that denomination in which such a belief is professed. The denomination has abandoned what was formerly regarded as its essential position, and has moved into Unitarian views with the notion of a second probation, or rather the indefinite extension of that which we now have.
We may observe also that there is a great change in the orthodox handling of this subject. The terrible symbolism of Scripture pertaining to the future state of the wicked was formerly treated as baldly literal in its meaning. Prolonged emphasis was placed upon conditions external to the soul itself, as though material fire could make a spirit miserable. Future punishment was regarded as a direct infliction of God applied to the incorrigible sinner from without. The deeper study of the human spirit, and a better plane in the interpretation of Scripture have wrought a change. The symbolical language of the Bible is interpreted according to accepted laws of hermeneutics; not by the mere sound of the words. With orthodox churches there has been no abatement of the awful reality attendant upon final impenitence, but it is viewed as coming under the eternal law of consequences. God is in no way responsible for the existence of hell, other than he is responsible for delirium tremens. Nor is there any condemnation by God which does not involve a corresponding self-condemnation. This change in the concept of future punishment has practically dismissed from our pulpits that Miltonic rhetoric which has sometimes been mistaken for the meaning of the Word of God. Some have concluded from this that our ministry has become silent upon this awful theme. We believe this to be a mistake. The change has come by a deeper apprehension of the nature of man, the government of God, and the meaning of the Bible.
There has also been something of a corresponding change in the theological world concerning the future of the redeemed. This advance however has been a slower movement. We still build the Christian's
heaven out of gates of pearl, streets of gold, and choirs of
angels, as if these were the essentials of spiritual blessedness.
Let the time soon come when we shall all teach and all be taught
that loving fellowship with God, and loving service for others
constitute the "heavenly places," in which Christ has made us sit
together. It is easy enough to let men into heaven when we can get
heaven into them.
2. Our sister churches of Calvinistic creeds have also experienced theological changes. Fifty years ago predestination and its logical corollaries -- unconditional election and reprobation, were no uncommon pulpit themes in what were known as orthodox churches. Congregations accepted the five points of Calvinism as good doctrine and very full of comfort. Any protest of sentiment against these doctrines was attributed to the opposition of the depraved heart to the word and sovereignity of God. In New England at least Arminianism was regarded by those of Calvinistic faith, as a form of doctrinal heresy. The foreknowledge of God was held to demonstrate the foreordination of whatsoever comes to pass.
The change has been gradual but nevertheless radical. Calvinism is still in the Catechism and the Theological Seminary, but it has lost its hold upon the popular mind. The pulpits have become practically silent upon its distinguishing features; and congregations recoil from any other than a disguised presentation. Unconditional reprobation is discarded even by moderate Calvinists, and the dogma of non-elect infant damnation hangs in effigy with none to offer a defense or apology. Ministers and members leave Calvinistic churches and become members of those of Arminian creed with no demand for a change in their doctrinal beliefs. Others who have never accepted Calvinistic views unite with churches professing Calvinistic doctrines, without protest or hindrance. Books written in refutation of Calvinistic teachings, once thought to be essential to the equipment of a Methodist preacher, have disappeared from the courses of study, as if to announce that the field has been won, and that henceforth theological swords and spears are to be turned into implements of Christian husbandry. And the end is not yet for the creed is to be revised.
3. But the changes in theological thought during the last fifty years have not been confined to departing ideas. That which has gone out is significant but that which has come in is still more striking. So many have been the new phases of religious thought that a mention of them would require time not at command here. We select two only, one of which has profoundly affected the doctrine concerning God, the other the views of the Christian Scriptures.
First: It is in recent years that there has come into Christian thinking a proper emphasis upon the doctrine of Divine Immanence. We inherited from the eighteenth century deistic conceptions of God. It was allowed that He created the material universe, and that in a very short
space of time. But the more common idea has been that, having
created the worlds, He lives apart from nature, so far as this,
that his active presence and energy are not necessary to its
existence and orderly movements. It was taught that in the one act
of creation, matter was endowed with certain physical forces by
which the whole system of nature goes on of itself. By this view
God was made a mere mechanic. He was the observer rather than the
preserver of the universe. He acted upon matter if at all from the
outside. Transcendence was made to mean separateness. Natural law
was treated as an entity in itself. Power was ascribed to it to
pull and push and handle worlds with infinite force and ease. The
whole phenomena of nature were attributed to this mighty something
called law. The relation of the Creator to creation was that of a
wise architect and manufacturer.
A better view has in recent years come into the theology and the philosophy of this question. By this view we are taught that God is as actively and pervasively present in the system of nature now as at any former moment. The physical universe exists by the perpetual goings forth of Divine energy. If it were possible to eliminate the sum total of Divine activity from the system which we call nature, then nothing would remain. What we call natural laws are but the observed methods of the Divine working. The philosophical proverb is correct, "The habits of God are the laws of the world. "In the last analysis physical forces are modes of one force, and all force is will-power. Nature is thus the out-speaking, the out-hanging of the Mind Almighty. It is the continuous manifestation of His presence; the expression of His wisdom and will. It is a revelation of Him who "is before all things, and by whom all things consist." "Nature," says Taylor Lewis, "is an Invariable doing." All science consists in ascertaining how God works."Science," says Prof. Cowles, "will take no exception to the doctrine, that nature is nothing more or less than God's established mode of operation." Wesley was in this as in many other things in advance of his time when he wrote: "What is nature but God's method of acting in the material world?" God acts in heaven, in earth and under the earth, throughout the whole compass of creation by sustaining all things, without which every thing would in an instant sink into its primitive nothing. Well might Carlyle exclaim, "Force, force, every where force! Illimitable whirlwind of force which envelops us. Everlasting whirlwind, high as immensity: old as eternity; what is it? It is Almighty God."
The advantages to Christian truth of this better view are beyond estimate. The entity of natural law challenged the doctrine of Providence and the utility of prayer. The outsideness of God compelled a definition of miracles which gave to deistical writers a decided advantage.
It put a yoke upon the neck of Christian apologetics which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. The later view makes room for
prayer and providence and miracle without discrediting law or
undoing the works of God. It recognizes the same God in the
ordinary course of nature as in miracles. It credits both equally
to his presence and energy. The difference between miracle and
nature is not that God is present in one and absent from the
other. It is simply the difference between His ordinary and his
extraordinary method of working. He is as much in the daily tides
as in the dividing of the sea; as immanent in keeping men alive as
in raising them from the dead. For worthy moral considerations He
has seen fit, at special epochs in history, to reveal himself in
extraordinary ways which we call miracles. To ages in which men
could not see Him in the usual course of nature He has thus made
Himself known. But to those who rightly understand God's relation
to nature no miracles are needed in order to reveal His presence.
If miracle means only the presence and direct agency and energy of
God, miracle is everywhere.
The faith which sees God in everything is
higher, richer and stronger than that which acknowledges Him only
in unusual manifestations. And that dispensation in which miracles
are neither needed nor granted is more advanced, more perfect than
that in which it must be said, "Except ye see signs and wonders ye
will not believe."
This view answers the question whether design is exhibited in creation. It is all design. It shows the fallacy of those who attempt to substitute "secondary causes" for immediate Divine agency. Correctly speaking there are no secondary causes. What men call secondary causes are manifestations of one all-pervading Cause. They simply reveal the modes of the Divine procedure. For some cause men seem inclined to to fall into the strange fallacy that, when they have found out how God does things, they may conclude that He does not do them at all. To place secondary causes between God and the operations of nature involves this absurdity.
It should also be observed that from the Christian standpoint, our God who is thus behind and above and through the whole system of the universe, is Christ the Eternal Son. It is He "for whom and by whom all things were created." He it is by whom God made the ages, and by whom all things hold together. A profound thinker of our time of the most conservative school has recently said, "God never thought any thing, never said any thing, never did any thing which He did not think and say and do through Christ." Christ is the revealer of God in nature as well as in his own Divine Personality. He is the Life. He, is the spiritual life in such a sense that "he that hath the Son hath life and he that hath not the Son hath not life." In a sense just as real He is the life of all that lives. This all-creating, all-sustaining,
all-pervading revealer of God is our adorable Savior -- God
over all blessed for evermore.
4. Fifty years ago very little practical use was made of the historical development in revelation, now made so emphatic in biblical interpretation. The Bible was treated as one book rather than a a collection of books, and little was done to bring out its harmony with the moving ages of the world. It being an inspired volume, it was assumed that it must speak the same truth in all its parts. The theory of inspiration then current took small note of the progressive feature in revelation. Efforts were often made to show that the moral teachings and standards of the Old Testament were as high and perfect as those of the New. Inspiration, it was thought, could not improve upon itself. Prophecy was interpreted by searching for technical fulfillment of phraseology, rather than by developing the inner thought poured forth from the heaving soul of the prophet. To admit that God could inbreathe His thoughts into men, and yet leave their mental faculties to act in a normal way, or to allow that there could be any human element in the expression of thoughts received by inspiration of God, was thought to reflect upon the fullness of that inspiration, and to cast a shadow upon the divine authority of the records.
But problems arose difficult of solution, and sceptical critics were quick to harvest the advantages of unsatisfactory explanations. How Abraham could be the father of all the faithful and yet the father of Hagar's child; how a Hebrew could hold a foreigner as a slave, but could not make an Israelite a bondman; how Jephthah and Jael could have had such a standing with God while doing things abhorrent to New Testament morals; how King David could have written such heaven inspired psalmody, and yet have interwoven such terrific imprecations upon his enemies; to square all this with the Sermon on the Mount was a task which might well have made the Christian apologist exceedingly fear and quake.
The fact of a progressive feature in revelation is now very generally, if not universally recognized. A proper application of this canon of criticism disposes of all these difficulties, and with them a thousand and one more upon which would-be infidels have been wont to ring their changes. God made both the Bible and the ages. They run in parallel lines. They are responsive to each other. In the childhood of the race God taught the world as children must be taught by symbolism. The tabernacle and its wearisome ritual constituted an object lesson. Revelation implies not only a power to reveal but a capacity to receive. Revelation must necessarily be adjusted to the capacity addressed. The moral standards of the Old Testament were not perfect, but they were as high as the world could then reach, much higher than any other standards then existing in the world. The earlier books of the Bible were a rudimentary revelation, predicting and leading up
to more perfect developments. Men could not hold onto a God
whom they could not see, and the pillar of cloud and fire was
given them. Commands and prohibitions made nearly the whole of the
little Bible which came through Moses. It was "The Law," which
came by Moses, and it must necessarily precede the fullness of
grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ. Abraham, though his
life did not in every particular reach the New Testament plane,
was the leader in a great religious movement. He was a great and
good man, greatly in advance of his time. His faith was great
faith, and it will be well with us if we live as closely to our
light as he did to his. Jephthah and Jael lived in the medieval
period in the history of the Jewish church. The days were dark;
the light was dim, but they held on to all there was to hold on to
Jehovah the God of Israel. All Hebrew history, zigzag as it
appears to a superficial observer, was nevertheless a development
in religious thought. It led on and up, through varying degrees of
light, to the fullness of time when God sent forth His Son.
The Bible is not a heathen oracle. Inspiration does not come under the law of statics. Like the power that makes for righteousness, it is the living breathing energy of God. The Bible thus becomes the book for all times. Those who would read the New Testament into the Old have reversed the order of God. If the Bible be the oldest book in the world, it is the youngest as well, and in it every age and every man finds his portrait accurately drawn.
5. In conclusion allow me to call your attention to a change in our own church which is the subject of frequent comment, and which in my judgment is frequently misunderstood. Fifty years ago the type of religion among us was much more demonstrative than now. I mean that our religious services were quite uniformly attended with expressions of fervid and enthused feeling. Responsive "amens," and other endorcing ejaculations were common in the Sabbath congregations. It was a dull sermon which did not call forth from good souls these sympathetic utterances. Prayer meetings, class meetings, and love-feasts were enlivened and stimulated by frequent expressions of intense religious emotion. The sound of camp meeting altar services could be heard for miles away, and late at night the songs and shouts rolled out upon the evening air like the sound of many waters.
I need not tell you that a change in this respect has come over us. The change has been wide spread, and somewhat uniform. It has been by many lamented and resisted, but it has kept on coming and is likely to stay. What is the meaning of the change? Have our people lost their religious experiences? Have our churches become filled with a generation of Methodists who have no conscious experiences of salvation to express? Does it mean that we are suppressing our religious feelings out of deference to custom? Are we toning down our distinctive religious type. rather than subject ourselves to criticism? Have our improved
church edifices, and our wider recognition as a denomination
worked pride in us so that we would not shout if we could and
could not honestly if we would? Have our choirs and organs and
societies drowned our hallelujahs in the rattle of our church
machinery? I know there are those who would explain this
phenomenon by answering these questions in the affirmative. I
shall offer no apology for I expressing the opinion that such an
explanation is based upon a superficial view of the problem.
Making all due allowance for the fact that there are those among us who have lost spiritual life, and that others in the church have never known Christ as a personal Savior; admitting that, in some of our churches, such a degree of conformity to the world exists that the distinctive Methodist spirit and type are uncongenial, still the problem is not solved by these admissions. The change has been too general to be thus explained. Besides, there were always Methodists of an undemonstrative type. Among them were the Wesleys and many of their helpers. Within the period under review not a few of our most saintly ministers and members have been of a serene and noiseless habit. They have evidenced their nearness to God by calm self-sacrifice, and sympathy with a suffering Savior, rather than by any overflow of religious fervor. Among our colored churches in the South much of the old time demonstrative manner still remains, and while this may indicate in the main simplicity and sincerity, we are not prepared to accept it as evidential of the deepest and strongest piety. The deepest emotions are always unspeakable. The highest joy is
Vivid consciousness of God begets
self-diffidence and hiding of the face. He who bears the burden of
the Lord will know a joy which is mingled with continual heaviness
and sorrow of heart for brethren and kinsmen according to the
flesh. So far as religious effervesence is the natural result of a
particular mental constitution it is innocent but of no
importance. It should be passed without either praise or
To lament its absence; to attempt to bring it back into the church as the credential of earnest piety is as futile as it is unnecessary. The result will be a weak and meaningless mimicry. May heaven save us from a religion of imitation. Methodism is a religion of experience evidenced in life.
In the intellectual quickening which has constituted such a marked feature of the last half century, an investigating element has become prominent in every thing. Movements of every kind have become conspicuously movements of thought. Religious movements are no exception to this fact. Reasoning, questioning, doubting are in the air.
The age resents mere appeal and demands proof. Under this habit of mind a subordination, and even a subsidence in religious feeling has
been a philosophical result. The change has been in harmony
with psychological law. In periods of transition the wisest may be
puzzled in deciding just what is old and ready to vanish away. But
the lesson of history is plain in this, that the nation and the
church have most frequently erred in attempting to perpetuate or
revive forms, ways and notions which have ceased to be adjusted to
a given present epoch. But few among even the leaders of men have
been endowed with the wisdom which has enabled them to step on to
an in-coming era, and at the same time to allow an out-going age
to slip from under their feet. Let us hold fast to essentials, but
waste no time in efforts to reproduce by-gone types. They must
give place to something higher.
The question whether the present generation of Methodists is on the whole less spiritual, less deeply devoted to God and his cause than was the church half a century ago is not as easily answered as some seem to suppose. Change in the types and manifestations of life may take place and yet the life remain and even increase. Besides, it is difficult accurately to compare the present with that past which is within our own recollection. It is exceedingly difficult to eliminate the personal equation from such comparisons. We are comparing what we beheld in the rose colored world of youth with the judgments of age and experience. Despite ourselves, we are comparing our own former and later views of things, rather than the things themselves. It is easy to fall into the error of regarding modes and denominational habits as essential to piety itself. Making proper allowance for these modifying influences, we think a calm and intelligent judgment will say that the average piety in the church now is equal to that of former years, and in its aggregate much greater.
There is however another comparison of far more importance, which we are in duty bound to make, and which presents a much less favorable showing. The Methodist church was poor; it has become wealthy. Some of its members are still poor but an equal number are rich. We were few in numbers and now our churches belt the world. It can be said without great exaggeration that the Methodists are responsible for the fate of the kingdom of God among men. Comparing ourselves with our responsibilities we have reason to tremble. Comparing our churches with the New Testament standard of Christian living, loving, sacrificing, giving, we have cause for deepest humiliation. Our revival efforts are often mechanical and to that extent always superficial. We gather many unregenerate souls into our churches. We do not mean hypocrites, but persons of awakened religious sentiments and feelings, but who have stopped short of uncompromising submission to God. One soul brought to the point of unreserved surrender to Jesus Christ is a greater revival than any number who have been persuaded to put on an easy religiousness, or have been led to follow the fluctuating halo of stimulated emotions. Wherever the solicitude of our members is not so
much for the salvation of men as for the elevation of the
church; if the aim of the minister is alloyed with a selfish
regard to his own standing; if his hope of success and his dread
of failure center around his own name and future prospects, the
Holy Spirit is grieved, and the work will prove a play upon the
religious feelings of those who are most susceptible.
The financial platform of Methodism is, "get all you can, save all you can; give all you can." Many Methodists may be said to get all they can; few save all they can; fewer still give all they can, We declare to the world that a desire for salvation, when fixed in the soul, is evidenced "by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that most commonly practiced;" we rule out "softness and needless self-indulgence" as inconsistent with Christian character, and yet there are Methodist churches in which more is paid for tobacco than is given for missions, and thousands in their political life and methods might be seriously asked, "do not even publicans and sinners the same?"
As a people we are yet far below the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. He loved men well enough to die for them; we cannot hope to save them but in the measure in which we are willing to die with Him. Not "back to Christ, " but up to Christ should be our all-governing aim. Thus may we realize the abiding presence of Him who does not speak of Himself, but takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us.
Brethren, we are they upon whom the ends of the ages are come. Many of you will be actors in the conflicts and partakers in the victories of the first half of the twentieth century. There is little doubt that these conflicts will be such as no generation of Methodists has yet witnessed, and that. the victories will be such as the world has never yet seen. Our responsibilities demand the highest equipment, and an unbroken alliance with God. The look world-ward would lead me to wish back my youth, and to covet a place in your ranks for the fifty years to come. But I am content to have been a humble laborer in the Methodist ministry during the last half of the century past, and am happy to believe that when I shall lay down my work, as soon I shall, it will be taken up by stronger hands, and carried forward with greater efficiency. "The best of all is, God is with us."
Resolved: that this Conference express by a
rising vote its appreciation of the most excellent semi-centennial
sermon by Dr. D. W. C. Huntington, of his spotless and unselfish
life, and request the publication of this sermon in such form as
he may prefer.
J. S. W. DEAN.
Resolved: that we extend thanks to Mrs. C. E. Hobbs and family
for gift of the splendid cabinet and specimens of Rev. J. C. H.
Hobbs, donated to the Nebraska Wesleyan University and placed in
the museum as a memorial to him, and prized for their intrinsic
value and because they were collected personally by our beloved
F. M. ESTERBROOK.
1: -- Whereas: Our president, William
McKinley, has been stricken down by the murderous hand of anarchy,
Whereas: Our nation has, for the third time, been called to mourn the loss of its Chief Magistrate by assassination,
Be it resolved, That we, the members of the Nebraska Conference, in conference assembled, hear of the death of our honored and beloved president and brother, William McKinley, with feelings of profound sorrow and grief. That we do hereby express our deepest sympathy with Mrs. McKinley, in this her supreme trial and bereavement; and pray that God's grace maybe sufficient for her. That, with the nation, we accord our meed of praise for the character of our late president, believing him to have been an official who held his high trust for the good of the nation over which he presided. We respect him for his patriotism, we honor him for his manliness, we love him for his gentle tenderness and his domestic virtues, and we applaud him for his faithfulness to God, to duty and to his fellow man. That we utter our abhorrent detestation for anarchy and all its related iniquities, and demand of our authorities, law makers and administrators, that such measures be provided and executed as will rid this free land of the abomination, That, in this, as in every event that comes to our nation, we recognize the over ruling hand of God, and believe that in His Providence permissible or ordered, He designs the good of this nation and calls for its humiliation before Him in penitence, in prayer, and yet in confident reliance on His mercy and grace.
P. C. JOHNSON.
1: -- Resolved: That while we regret the
sickness which prevented Bishop C. D. Foss, from attending our
conference, we rejoice that so able an administrator was permitted
to take his place, and that we appreciate the Christlike spirit
and systematic method in which Bishop D. A. Goodsell, has
conducted the business of our conference.
2: -- Resolved, That we declare our loyal support to President Roosevelt in this time of unexpected responsibilty (sic), and pray that God may grant him all needed wisdom for his duties. Also that we deplore and condemn the prevalent habit of speaking evil of those in official positions, believing that it destroys respect for authority and encourages lawlessness.
3: -- Resolved, That, while we bow in submission to the will and providence of the Shepherd of souls who has summoned hence our honored and worthy brother, Rev. Dr. W. A. Spencer, secretary of the Board of Church Extension, we can but express our sorrow and sense of great loss in the death of this eminently faithful and useful servant of the church. We pray that to the bereaved wife and family there may come the precious consolations of grace, and that in the church there may be raised up men of equal fidelity upon whom may fall the mantles of her falling supporters.
4:--Resolved: That we express our appreciation of the generous hospitality and abundant entertainment of which we have been the recipients at the hands and in the homes of the pastor and members of St. Luke's church and of the people of David City. May the unbounded blessings of God in whose name we came and to whose service we shall go from this place of refreshment abide upon church and city.
5:--Resolved: That we express our thanks to each of our conference officers and helpers for their efficient service.
G. W. MARTIN, Chairman. F. A. COLONY Secretary.
Patience Cameron Peck was born in Canada,
July 13, 1846 and died in York, Nebr., March, 24, 1901. She was
married to Rev. Wm. Peck of the Nebraska Conference at Blair,
Nebr., May, 1866. She shared with her husband the pastoral labors
upon the following charges: Wahoo, David City, North Bend,
Papillion and Osceola. In 1881 her husband was appointed professor
in mathematics and modern languages in the York college. From that
time till the time of her death, with the exception of two years,
her home was in York. In 1888 her husband died from injuries
received in a cyclone while in the western part of the state near
Sidney. Sister Peck was a christian from early childhood. She was
a true woman of God, sincere, trustful, bearing the sorrows and
trials of life with patience and steadfast faith. Her example in
her later years was of exceptional merit, showing many fine
christian traits of character. Her last illness lasted several
weeks. She rallied and sank in turn.
Two sons and two daughters remain to mourn the loss of a mother. But they have the priceless memory that their mother was one of the choice characters whom God grants to live for a time on the earth to fill it with joy and sunshine and to be an example of christlikeness, and has. gone to the country where the inhabitants never say I am sick and where there shall never be any more pain and no more death. God's people die well.
J. W. STEWART.
Ida Burbank Lewis was born in Jerseyville,
Ill., Dec. 19, 1859, and died in Wells, Maine, June 7, 1901, age
forty-one years, five months and eighteen days. Soon after her
birth her parents moved to Springfield, Ill., and from there to
At the age of thirteen years her mother died, and soon after while living with an aunt was happily converted and at once united with the M. E. church. Her education was received at a college in Lexington, Mo., and after leaving school she began the noble work of teaching. In her school work she carried a bright loving disposition and was greatly loved by her pupils. In 1878 she was married to her now bereaved husband, J. W. Lewis, and into the work of the ministry she brought a trained mind, and a heart in sympathy with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in all the fields of labor she was a great help to her husband. During her sickness she manifested a remarkable resignation to the will of God. His Word was her solace and source of strength and comfort in the last months of her life. Her sickness was well nigh free from pain for which she was thankful, and died without suffering. Her unselfish devotion and love for her husband and children made life sweet, but she was resigned to God's will and thus the home-maker passed ininto the realms of light.
A husband and six children and a host of friends mourn the departure of this noble soul. We believe our loss is her gain.
T. S. FOWLER.
Pauline Berry Lathrop was born August 3, in
1817 in Lemington, York county, Maine. At the age of fifteen she
was converted under the labors of "Father Streeter," famous in
that region. She was married to the Rev. C. G. Lathrop, then
supplying a charge in the Rock River Conference, on Nov. 10, 1841
at Melugin's Grove, Ills. With her husband she toiled forty years
in the active ministry, first in the Rock River, then in the
Wisconsin and finally in the Nebraska Conference. Part of this
time her husband was presiding elder and also a missionary among
the Indians. She died January 17, 1901 at University Place,
L. C. LEMON.
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