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Christianity as a Civilization.

Christianity as a Civilization.

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" And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." — Mai. 3 : 3.

" And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." — Mai. 3 : 3.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CHRISTIAITY AS A CIVILIZATIO.By DAVID SWIG" And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." — Mai. 3 : 3."I discussing the proposition suggested by this text,that Christianity is a civilization, it will be neces-sary to think of civilization in two lights — the one asthe condition of the individual, the other as a power toiniluence others standing apart from its condition. Whatmankind needs is not simply a picture of an elevatedhuman life, but also an agency that will rapidly cast meninto the likeness of this ideal picture. Individuals havealways been visible here and there who have, in theirminds and hearts, reflected the features of almost theideal manhood, but their virtues have been unable tomultiply themselves infinitely in the outer world; andliving, they never perceived virtue to have gone outfrom their garments at a world's touch ; and dying, theyhave taken their moral excellence into their tombs, asBeatrice took away her beauty with her, and as the dy-ing songstress recently took with her, forever, her warm202 GHRI8TIAITT AS A CIVILIZATIO.melody. History is dotted over with names of suchpiety as marked Aurelius, and Cato, and Xenophon;but as between the stars of heaven, there are awful soli-tudes across which light itself flies invisible, and whichno sound of even thimder or softest music has everblessed, so between these isolated characters of thepast, there have lived and died countless millions of thehuman family, without excellence and without hope — awful solitudes of the soul. In seeking, therefore, for adesirable civilization, it is necessary for us to find aculture that will overflow. We seek a ile that shall
cross its banks in June, and make the whole adjoiningempire pass from a wilderness to a garden. That thisis what we should seek may be learned in an instantby a glance at the world, for that glance reveals the factthat the moral harvest of any one age is only a redupli-cation of the seed sown in the age before; that, forexample, the Christian church is only a reduplicationof the Seventy, the Seventy a harvest from the Twelve,the Twelve an overflow from Christ, with Christ him-self an outreaching from eternity. Thus it becomes per-fectly evident that when we seek a civilization, we mustfind one, if possible, that possesses the aggressive powerand genius that will open out, fan-like, and pass fromone to many, incapable of rest as to labor, and as to itsaspirations and conquests. Christianity seems to me toCHBISTIAITY AS A CIVILIZATIO. 203surpass all other reforms in these two needed particu-lars; it presents us with a high type of manhood, anda manhood that flows outward from one to many. Letus, then, direct our attention first to the Christian char-acter as a civilization.Impossible or difficult as it may be to find a defi-nition of civilization, it will answer the demands of the hour in which we meet together as a public, com-mon assemblage, and not as exact philosophers, if westate that man is civilized when all his faculties of mind and heart are active within their spheres, notfalling short of ature's law nor going beyond it.Under " faculties " must be included conscience and allthe tender sentiments of friendship, love, sympathy,and religion, for without these a character may possessgreatness in many respects, but not that perfect blend-ing which seems to give us the perfect manhood. Theword whose definition we seek primarily means fittedfor organized society, fitted for the state. The wild
man, whose club is his law, may become so trans-formed in thousands of years that he is fitted, at last,for a home in a community, where many ages andconditions and qualities of soul meet with equal rights,and where egotism must give place to the confessionof others. Out of the peculiar demands of society,demands for reciprocity, for kindness, for liberality of 204 CHBISTIAmTT A8 A CIVILIZATIO.thought, for respect to law and morals, and out of the mental and aesthetic culture which the wise statebrings, to be fitted for state life soon came to besynonymous with the idea of perfect manhood. Ed-mund Burke says : " The spirit of civilization is com-posed of two parts, the spirit of a gentleman and thespirit of religion." This is only another way of in-forming us that civilization is a life lived as in thepresence of man and God. But cull the definitionfrom what fields you may, and express it in whatwords you prefer, and yet the ew Testament,through Christ in His discourses, or through Paul inhis letters, will surpass all other analyses, from sourcesmodern or ancient. "When to personal purity of deed,and even of thought, Christ adds the command tolove one's neighbor as one's self and to be kind evento enemies, he has reached the ideal ; for when thewave of virtue flows within the heart, and the waveof good deeds flows outside, all around, we havefound a manhood full armed for life in its varied re-sponsibilities. It would seem that Paul, in his chapterupon charity, was expressly describing the perfect gen-tleman. " Charity suffereth long and is kind. Charityenvieth not. Charity boasteth not itself, is not puffedup, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not herown, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth

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