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ance of half a dozen pregnant petitions by the head of the family and the repetition of the Lord's prayer. The family gathers in the library before breakfast and five minutes suffice for lifting up the hearts and sounding the keynote that determines to what measure and tune the life shall be set during the day.
In still another home where the children must hurry off to school the Bible is brought to the breakfast table, the verses read at the conclusion of the meal and then all kneel for the short prayer that commends the family to God before they separate. Only on Sunday is there time for all to join in a hymn or to repeat the texts they have learned for the occasion.
Naturally, the simplest form of family worship demands a measure of self-sacrifice. The last dear five minutes in bed must be renounced; lazy habits must be conquered; leisurely dressing is a luxury to be abandoned. In theory all these are indulgences that it is supposed to be a hardship to relinquish. But are they really? Is it not all a question of the point of view!
Anyone will rise early with some definite gain in prospect. Decide to start on a delightful expedition and see with what alacrity the couch will be quitted at an unearthly hour. Is it not because of defects in our training that we do not appreciate the benefits we derive from the time taken from our beds for devotions of any sort? And does not this bring us back to the point of departure that the religious home is essential to the formation of habits of private and of family prayer as well as of attendance upon public worship?
There can be no denying the fact that to make a custom ingrain it must be started early in life. We have heard too much talk of allowing children to come up untrammeled and to choose their particular preferences in religion when they arrive at years of discretion. The truth is that the child does not grow up an independent entity. Influences of one sort or another surround him and he is bound to be swayed by them. The parents have the responsibility of deciding which form of faith shall be inculcated and what this shall be is naturally determined by that which they themselves hold to be the highest, the truest, the most efficient.
Illustrations sometimes make clear a condition as no amount of generalization can do. The thought of a home comes to me in which the practice of permitting the family to decide as they pleased was followed. The mother had been reared in Church surroundings but had drifted away from them, influenced largely by the attitude of her husband, who was an avowed agnostic. He would not have opposed her going to church or taking her children there, but he was absolutely indifferent to religion in any form and never attended a place of worship. I have sometimes wondered how he, a man of undoubted integrity, reconciled to his conscience the vows he took when his children were baptized.
While they were young family example and custom led the mother to continue an intermittent church-going and as the children grew older they went with her, when they felt so inclined, and attended Sunday-school. But a little later all of them removed to another city and even the pretence of religious observances was terminated. No obstacle was put in the way of it and the children could have gone had they so desired. They simply did not choose to do it. Once in a while they would drop in to a service as they might at a place of entertainment, but of anything like vital piety they were absolutely ignorant.
All of them are grown now. Two of them have married and established what I hope I am not uncharitable in calling godless homes. There is no vestige of family worship. I am in doubt as to whether there is even private prayer; it is uncertain if there is a Bible or a Prayer-book in either home. Sunday is a day of cheerful relaxation, with no thought of church-going. All of the family seem entirely moral and upright; not one of them, so far as the close observer can judge, has any reliance upon God, any window open towards Heaven.
In making this rather sweeping statement I do not forget how impossible it is for the mere spectator to judge of the heart or to determine how much of the beauty and integrity of a life comes from dependence upon God. But so far as being an asset for the Church and for acknowledged religion I feel I am safe in saying that these households must be regarded as a negligible
quantity. If they are not openly against the cause of Christ and His Church it is indisputable that they are not for it in even the smallest degree.
"But," someone may say, "how can you be confident that family worship and church-going would have been sure means of leading the souls of the members of these households into union with God? Is not something more than these required for the development of the Christian life?"
Undoubtedly, just as something besides attendance upon school and college is demanded to produce a cultured man or woman. None the less, we bring our children within the influence of educational institutions; we accustom them from infancy to the idea that they are to learn; we do not permit their shrinking from mental labour to excuse them from study. Is there any more reason why we should yield to their disinclination to give up their amusements and pleasures instead of establishing them in the habits of private and public worship? Is not their spiritual training, their teaching in the ways of the Kingdom of too much importance for us to regard their immature preferences for their own will?
For what supremely enticing form of employment or diversion is attendance upon Church and Sunday-school neglected? What is put in the place of it in the average household? Is there anything more agreeable or uplifting than a late and lazy breakfast, a morning of dawdling over the Sunday papers, an afternoon of napping or of strolling aimlessly about wishing that the day were over and something interesting would happen? Would not it prove more entertaining, to look at the question only from a pleasure-seeking standpoint, if some regular sacred pursuit were planned for and carried out on the first day of the week? If the habit of religious practices were implanted would it not be taken for granted and cherished in later life?
I have heard grown men and women say that they were sickened out with church-going in childhood, that they were obliged to attend service "every time the church-bell rang," and that as a result they do not care to go to church when they finally become free agents. When this is the case, something has been
wrong with the judgment of the pastors and masters who have had in charge the bringing up of these especial young people. The fault is not with the religion but with the fashion in which it has been followed in the home from which they came.
Any relationship may be made distasteful by the way in which it is conducted. But the children who have always been used to seeing the faith of Christ made the rule of living, who have been wonted to Christian guidance in the home, including not only the practice of private and family prayer, grace at meals, reading of the Bible and regular church-going, but have seen that these connoted gentleness of speech, self-control in temptation, generosity of judgment and other graces of the spirit have gained an introduction to the career of the Christian that promises more progress in maturity than they could hope for under other conditions.
The bitter experiences through which the world is passing now have turned the thoughts of thousands to the only abiding things and have made for a longing of the soul to find the One True Foundation that remains unshaken and unshakable. men and women who have been blessed from infancy by familiarity with a religious life have, as a rule, a marvelous advantage over the untaught who must, undirected, work out their own salvation and struggle for means to learn the right way.
Those who comprehend that the cross is the medicine of the world hold the key to many mysteries that lacking this knowledge they could not grasp. Can we who are called by the name of Christ justify ourselves in neglecting to place this clue to life in the hands of those for whom we are responsible. And can a better method be found than by giving to our children and youth the habit of religion in the home, with all that this may mean to them here and hereafter?
The Sacraments and Recent Criticism of the New Testament
BY THE REV. WILLIAM PITT MCCUNE, PH.D.
ICHARD HOOKER somewhere says of the sacraments that "God hath annexed them forever unto the New Testament." The remark is characteristic and worthy of the Judicious Hooker. It is not a piece of special pleading for Anglicanism or sacramentalism or sacerdotalism; it is sober statement of fact. I propose to take it as a kind of text for my discourse. Its truth has been borne in upon me recently by reading, more or less desultory, of various books and articles concerning the New Testament. From these has come new and, to me at least, unexpected testimony to the truth of Hooker's words. Modern critics seem to be in process of rediscovering, often to their own surprise, the fact that the sacraments are an integral part of the New Testament, that to accept the Bible means to accept the sacraments and to reject the sacraments means to reject the Bible.
This rediscovery of the sacraments in the New Testament is only a part of a larger movement in criticism. I refer to the gradual lessening of the interval which elapsed-or, rather, which German scholars assert must have elapsed-between Christ and Catholic Christianity. This Movement has been summarized by Father Tyrrell, who may well be quoted in such a discussion as this because he was so sensitive-so fatally sensative, one might say-to all phases of modern thought. "The antiquity of the leading features and principles of Catholicism," he says, "has been pushed further and further back, till its beginnings are found in the New Testament. The hierarchy is felt in the Pastoral Epistles; sacramentalism in S. Paul; theology in the Johannine writings; ecclesiasticism in S. Matthew; the Petrine ascendancy in S. Matthew and the Acts." (Christianity at the Crossroads, p. 36). To these data, noted by Father Tyrell, must be added the further important fact that the books of the New Testament are no longer considered to be chiefly documents