From The International Library of Masterpieces, Literature, Art, & Rare Manuscripts, Volume I, Editor-in-Chief: Harry Thurston Peck; The International Bibliophile Society, New York; 1901; pp. 1-12.
ABBOTT, LYMAN, an American Congregational clergyman, religious writer, and journalist, son of Jacob Abbott, was born at Roxbury, Mass., December 18, 1835. He graduated at the University of the City of New York in 1853; studied law with his elder brothers, Benjamin and Austin Abbot, who in conjunction with him wrote two clever novels, “Cone-Cut Corners” and “Matthew Caraby,” which were published under the nom de plume of “Benauly,” made up of the initial syllable of the names of each of the writers. He subsequently studied theology under his uncle, John, S. C. Abbott, and was pastor of Congregational churches in various parts of the country. About 1869 he began to devote himself especially to literature, in editorial connection with a number of periodicals, although he continued to preach not unfrequently. In 1876 he became associate editor of the “Christian Union” (changed to the “Outlook” in 1893), and in 1881 its editor-in-chief. On the death of Henry Ward Beecher he was requested to take charge temporarily of Plymouth Church, and in 1888 was installed as its permanent pastor. He has also written many separate works, among which are: “The Results of Emancipation in the United States;” “Old Testament Shadows of New Testament Truths;” “Jesus of Nazareth: His Life and Teachings;” and a “Dictionary of Religious Knowledge.” His later works are: “An Illustrated Commentary on the New Testament;” “Life of Henry Ward Beecher;” “In Aid of Faith;” a commentary on “The Epistle of Paul to the Romans;” “Signs of Promise;” “The Evolution of Christianity;” “Christianity and Social Problems.”
THE story of Sodom and Gomorrah epitomizes the Gospel. Every act in the great, the awful drama of life is here foreshadowed. 2 The analogy is so perfect that we might almost be tempted to believe that the story is a prophetic allegory, did not nature itself witness its historic truthfulness. The fertile plain contained, embedded in its own soil, the elements of its own destruction. There is reason to believe that this is true of this world on which we live. A few years ago an unusually brilliant star was observed in a certain quarter of the heavens. At first it was thought to be a newly discovered sun; more careful examination resulted in a different hypothesis. Its evanescent character indicated combustion. Its brilliancy was marked for a few hours — a few nights at most — then it faded, and was gone. Astronomers believe that it was a burning world. Our own earth is a globe of living fire. Only a thin crust intervenes between us and this fearful interior. Ever and anon, in the rumbling earthquake, or the sublime volcano, it gives us warning of its presence. These are themselves gospel messengers. They say if we would but hear them — “Prepare to meet thy God.” The intimations of Science confirm those of Revelation: “The heavens and the earth . . . are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” What was true of Sodom and Gomorrah — what was true of the earth we live on — is true of the human soul. It contains within itself the instruments of its own punishment. There is a fearful significance in the words of the Apostle: “After thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath.” Men gather, with their own hands, the fuel to feed the flame that is not quenched; they nurture in their own bosoms the worm that dieth not. In habits formed never to be broken; in words spoken, incapable of recall; in deeds committed, never to be forgotten; in a life wasted and cast away that can never be made to bloom again, — man prepares for himself his own deserved and inevitable chastisement. “Son, remember!” — to the soul who has spent its all in riotous living, there can be no more awful condemnation.
JESUITS is the popular name of a society more properly entitled “The Society of Jesus” — of all the Religious Orders of the Roman Catholic Church the most important. The Society 3 of Jesus was founded in 1554 by Ignatius Loyola. He was a Spanish cavalier; was wounded in battle; was by his wounds, which impaired the use of one of his legs, deprived of his military ambition, and during his long confinement found employment and relief in reading a Life of Christ, and Lives of the Saints. This enkindled a new ambition for a life of religious glory and religious conquest. He threw himself, with all the ardor of his old devotion, into his new life; carried his military spirit of austerity and self-devotion into his religious career; exchanged his rich dress for a beggar’s rags; lived upon alms; practised austerities which weakened his iron frame, but not his military spirit; and thus he prepared his mind for those diseased fancies which characterized this period of his extraordinary career.
He possessed none of the intellectual requirements which seemed necessary for the new leadership which he proposed to himself. The age despised learning, and left it to the priests; and this Spanish cavalier, at the age of thirty-three, could do little more than read and write. He commenced at once, with enthusiasm, the acquisition of those elements of knowledge which are ordinarily acquired long before that age. He entered the lowest class of the College of Barcelona, where he was persecuted and derided by the rich ecclesiastics, to whose luxury his self-denial was a perpetual reproach. He fled at last from their machinations to Paris, where he continued his studies under more favorable auspices. Prominent among his associates was Francis Xavier, a brilliant scholar, who at first shrunk from the ill-educated soldier; yet gradually learned to admire his intense enthusiasm, and then to yield allegiance to it and its possessor. Several other Spaniards were drawn around the ascetic. At length, in 1534, Loyola and five associates, in a subterranean chapel in Paris, pledged themselves to a religious life, and with solemn rites made sacred their mutual pledges to each other and to God.
This was the beginning of the Order of the Jesuits. The original design was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and a mission for the conversion of Infidels. But as all access to the Holy Land was precluded by a war with the Turks, Loyola and his associates soon turned their thoughts to a more comprehensive organization, specially designed to meet those exigencies which the Reformation had brought upon the Church.
Loyola introduced into the new Order of which he was the 4 founder the principle of absolute obedience which he had acquired in his military career. The name given to its chief was the military title of “General.” The organization was not perfected so as to receive the sanction of the Pope until 1541. Its motto was Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam — “To the greater Glory of God.” Its vows embraced not only the obligations of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, but also a pledge on the part of every member to go as missionary to any country which the Pope might designate. Loyola was himself the first General of the new Order. Its Constitution, due to him, is practically that of an Absolute Monarchy. The General is elected by a General Congregation, selected for the purpose by the whole body of professed members of the various Provinces. He holds his office for life. A Council of Assistants aid him, but he is not bound by their vote. He may not alter the Constitution of the Society; and he is subject to deposition in certain contingencies; but no instance of the deposition of a General has ever occurred. Practically his will is absolute law, from which there is no appeal.
The Jesuits are not distinguished by any particular dress or peculiar practices. They are permitted to mingle with the world, and to conform to its habits, if necessary for the attainment of their ends. Their widest influence has been exhibited in political circles, where, as laymen, they have attained the highest political positions without exciting any suspicion of their connection with the Society of Jesus; and in education they have been employed as teachers, in which position they have exercised an incalculable influence over the Church. . . . It should be added that the enemies of the Order allege that, in addition to the public and avowed Constitution of the Society, there is a secret code, called Monita Secreta — “Secret Instructions” — which is reserved exclusively for the private guidance of the more advanced members. But as this secret code is disavowed by the Society — and since its authority is at least doubtful — it is not necessary to described it here in detail.
WHEN man would make a rose with tools, he fashions petals and leaves of wax, colors them, manufactures a stalk by the 5 same mechanical process, — and the rose is done. When God makes a rose, He lets a bird or a puff of wind drop a seed into the ground; out of the seed there emerges a stalk; and out of the stalk, branches; and on these branches, buds; and out of these buds roses unfold; and the rose is never done, for it goes on endlessly repeating itself. This is the difference between manufacture and growth. Man’s method is the method of manufacture; God’s method is the method of growth. What man makes is a finished product, — death. What God makes is an always finishing and never finished product, — life. What man makes has no reproductive power within itself. What God makes goes on reproducing itself, with ever new forms and in ever new vitality. The doctrine of evolution, in its radical form, is the doctrine that all God’s processes are processes of growth, — not processes of manufacture.
Evolution is the history of a process, not the explanation of a cause. The doctrine of evolution is an attempt on the part of scientific men to state what is the process of life; not an attempt to state what is the cause of life. When Isaac Newton discovered and announced the doctrine of attraction and gravitation, he did not undertake to explain why the apple falls from the bough to the earth, nor why the earth revolves around the sun in its orbit; he simply stated what he had seen, — that all matters acts as if its bodies were attracted to one another inversely to the square of the distance. So the evolutionist does not attempt to explain the cause of phenomena; he simply recites their history.
A correspondent recently wrote me a letter saying in substance, “I am sorry that you have taken up with that dangerous doctrine of evolution. Huxley and Darwin and Tyndall tell us that matter somehow or other once upon a time began to create itself.” He is mistaken. He would find it difficult to point to page or paragraph in any scientific writer as authority for any such notion of evolution. Evolution does not undertake to give the phenomena at all; it simply recites their processes. A man may be an atheistic evolutionist, — that is, he may believe that there is no intelligent cause lying back of phenomena. Haeckel is an atheistic evolutionist. Or he may be a theistic evolutionist, — that is, he may believe that the cause lying back of all phenomena is a divine, intelligent, loving Person; Dr. McCosh of Princeton was a theistic evolutionist. The evolutionist 6 is simply one who understands the history of life to be a history of growth. “Evolution,” says Mr. Huxley, “or development, is at present employed in biology as a general name for the history of the steps by which any living being has acquired the morphological and physiological characters which distinguish it;” and on that Mr. Henry Drummond, an eminent evolutionist, comments as follows: —
“Evolution is simply history, a history of steps, a general name for the history of the steps by which the world has come to what it is. According to this general definition, the story of evolution is narrative. It may be wrongly told; it may be colored, exaggerated, over or under stated, like the record of any other set of facts; it may be told with a theological bias, or with an anti-theological bias; theories of the process may be added by this thinker or by that, but these are not of the substance of the story. Whether history is told by a Gibbon or a Green, the facts remain; and whether evolution be told by a Haeckel or a Wallace, we accept the narrative so far as it is a rendering of nature, and no more. It is true, before this story can be fully told, centuries still must pass. At present, there is not a chapter of the record that is wholly finished. The manuscript is already worn with erasures, the writing is often blurred, the very language is uncouth and strange. Yet even now the outlines of a continuous story is beginning to appear, — a story whose chief credential lies in the fact that no imagination of man could have designed a spectacle so wonderful, or worked out a plot at once so intricate and so transcendently simple.”
Evolution, then, — let us understand this at the outset, — is the history of a process, not the explanation of a cause. The evolutionist believes that God’s processes are the processes of growth, not of manufacture.
We are all partial evolutionists. Every man believes that to a large extent the divine processes are processes of growth. He believes that the rose grows from a seed or a cutting; that all vegetable matter in the world has come to its present condition from earlier forms. He believes that this principle of growth applies to the animal as well as to the vegetable kingdom. He believes that every horse was once a colt, and every man was once a babe. He believes, too, in growth as a principle of history: that the American nation has grown from colonial to national greatness; that literature has grown 7 from primitive to sublime forms. He thus believes that most of the processes of God are processes of growth.
The radical evolutionist believes that all divine processes, so far as we are able to understand them, are processes of growth; that as God makes the oak out of the acorn, and the rose out of the cutting, and the man out of the babe, and the nation out of the colony, and the literature out of the alphabet, so God has made all things by the development of higher from lower forms. He believes that, so far as he can see, God is never a manufacturer, but always does His work by growth processes. The best simple definition of this process that I have ever seen is Le Conte’s: “Evolution is continuous progressive change, according to certain laws and by means of resident forces.”
It is, first, continuous progressive change. The rose the man makes does not go through continuous progressive change. He makes a little to-day, leaves it, begins again to-morrow, leaves it a year, comes back next year. He finds that he is making it wrong, changes his mind, makes it over again. There is no necessary continuity in his work. The work that man does is not done according to certain laws. It is often arbitrary. He makes the rose in one way to-day, in another way to-morrow, simply because the notion so takes him. His work is done by force external to the thing that is made; not by force operating from within, but by force applied from without. God’s work, on the contrary, we evolutionists believe, is the work of progressive change, — a change from a lower to a higher condition;2 from a simpler to a more complex condition. It is a change wrought according to certain laws which are capable of study. It is never arbitrary. Finally, this process of growth is produced by forces that lie within the phenomena themselves. The tools that God uses are in the structure that is being formed, or in its environment. The force that make the rose what it is inheres in the plant, in the soil, in the sunlight. God dwells in nature, fashioning it according to His will by vital processes from within, not by mechanical processes from without. The former theory of creation was of creation by manufacture. It was that God said to Himself one day, six, eight, or ten thousand years ago, “I will make a world;” the He proceeded to make it, in six successive days; and that when six days were 8 over the world was finished. As science disclosed the history of the past, men changed their conception of the creative days to longer and yet longer epochs. But still the conception of manufacture lingered in the thought of the Church. Some of the old mediæval writers undertook even to state what time of the year the world was made; one of them, I believe, argues that it must have been in the autumn, because apples were ripe. Still many persons conceive of creation as a process of manufacture, and of God as a kind of architect or master-builder, laying foundations, putting up pillars, carving, upholstering, decorating, — constructing the edifice in carpenter fashion.
Over against this conception of creation by manufacture, we are coming to accept the conception of creation by evolution. It would require one far more familiar with scientific detail than I am to give the process with scientific accuracy; but it is possible to indicate the broad outlines and I am facilitated in doing this by a somewhat vague recollection of an experiment which I saw performed by Dr. R. Ogden Doremus many years ago. On the platform where the chemist was performing his experiments was a great glass box, and in that box a colorless liquid, into which he poured a colored liquid, — red, if my memory serves me right; and running through this box, with little arms extending from it, was a cylinder, with a crank at the top. While we sat there this colored material gathered itself together in a globular form before our eyes. It was of precisely the same specific density as the colorless liquid in which it had been plunged, so that there was no attraction of gravitation to carry it to the bottom. Then gradually, very slowly at first, the lecturer began a movement with this crank, and the globe, following the cylinder which he revolved, began revolving itself very slowly, and gradually more and more rapidly, and, as it revolved, flattened at the poles, and presently, as the cylinder became more and more rapid, flung out from itself, I forget now whether a ring or a single globe.39
So we saw, before our eyes, the nebular hypothesis illustrated. In some far-off epoch, misty matter hung nebulous in the universe. It came together as a globe under the law of the attraction of gravitation. It began its revolution, set in motion by that infinite and eternal energy which is an infinite and eternal mystery, and which I believe is God. As it revolved, by the very process of revolution it flattened at the poles. As it revolved it cooled, the mist turned to water, the water to solid. From this revolving globe a ring, like the ring of Saturn, was flung off, and the revolving ring itself was broken by the very process of revolution into separate luminaries. So grew the moons, so the planetary system. In this globe 10 was, as still there is, life, — that is, an infinite and eternal energy which is an infinite and eternal mystery, that is, God. Out of this life, manifesting this God, grew, as the rose grows from its seed, the lower forms, and, by successive process from these lower forms, other higher forms, and from these forms others till higher, until at last the world came to be what it is to-day. There never was a time when the world was done. It is not done to-day. It is in the making. In the belief of the evolutionists, the same processes that were going on in the creative days are going on here and now. Still the nebulæ are gathering together in globes; still globes are beginning their revolution; still they are flattening at the poles; still they are cooling and becoming solid; still in them are springing up the forms of life. In our own globe the same forces that were operative in the past to make the world what it is are operative to-day: still from the seeds are springing the plants; still the mountains are being pushed up by volcanic forces below; still chasms are being made by the earthquake; all the methods and all the process that went on in those first great days are still proceeding. Creative days! Every day is a creative day. Every spring is a creative spring. God is always creating. Such, briefly and imperfectly outlined, is the doctrine of creation by evolution.
Does this doctrine deny, or imply a denial, that there is intelligence in the universe? Is my correspondent right who thinks that Spencer and Huxley and Tyndall imagine that matter makes itself and governs itself? Is it true that the evolutionist believes, or if he be logical must believe, that there is no intelligence that plans, no wisdom that directs? Paley’s famous illustration suggests that a man going along the road finds a watch; picks it up; examines it; sees that it will keep time; knows that there was some intelligence that devised this watch. Suppose this watch which he picks up and puts into his pocket, after he has carried it for a year, produces another watch that will keep time; does that show less intelligence, or more? Suppose this watch which he picks up and carries in his pocket drops from itself in a year’s time a little egg, and out of that egg there comes a perfect watch a year later; does that show less intelligence, or more? Is the natural rose, with all its forces within itself, less wonderful than the artificial rose, which the man makes in imitation of it out of wax? The processes of growth are infinitely more 11 wonderful than the processes of manufacture. It is easier by far to comprehend the intelligence that makes the cuckoo which springs from the cuckoo clock to note the time, than to comprehend the intelligence that makes the living bird which springs from his nest and sings his song to the morning sun. Growth is more wonderful than manufacture. Growth has in it more evidence of marvellous intelligence than any manufacture. “In that statement appears the clergyman,” says the critic. No! The statement is Professor Huxley’s: —
“The student of Nature wonders the more and is astonished the less, the more conversant he becomes with her operations; but of all the perennial miracles she offers to his inspection, perhaps the most worthy of admiration is the development of a plant or of an animal from its embryo. Examine the recently laid egg of some common animal, such as a salamander or a newt. It is a minute spheroid in which the best microscope will reveal nothing but a structureless sac, enclosing a glairy fluid, holding granules in suspension. But strange possibilities lie dormant in that semi-fluid globule. Let a moderate supply of warmth reach its watery cradle, and the plastic matter undergoes changes so rapid, and yet so steady and purpose-like in their succession, that one can only compare them to those operated by a skilled modeller upon a formless lump of clay. As with an invisible trowel, the mass is divided and subdivided into smaller and smaller portions, until it is reduced to an aggregation of granules not too large to build withal the finest fabrics of the nascent organism. And then, it is as if a delicate finger traced out the line to be occupied by the spinal column, and moulded the contour of the body; pinching up the head at one end, the tail at the other, and fashioning flank and limb into due salamandrine proportions in so artistic a way that, after watching the process hour by hour, one is almost involuntarily possessed by the notion that some more subtle aid to vision than an achromatic would show the hidden artist, with his plan before him, striving with skilful manipulation to perfect his work.”
That is the account of an evolutionary process by an evolutionist who certainly will not be accused of theological prepossessions.
Does this doctrine of creation by evolution take God away from the world? It seems to me that it brings Him a good deal nearer. The Hindu believed that God was too great to stoop 12 to the making of the world, so He hatched out an egg from which issued a number of little gods, and the little gods made the world. Something like that has been our past philosophy. A great First Cause in the remote past set secondary causes at work, and we stand only in the presence of secondary causes. But Herbert Spencer, the typical agnostic evolutionist, affirms that we are ever in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed. True, Herbert Spencer says that He is the Unknown; but the theist who believes with Matthew Arnold that this Infinite and Eternal Energy is an energy that makes for righteousness in human history, and the Christian theist who believes that this Infinite and Eternal Energy has manifested Himself in Jesus Christ, and has purpose and will and love and intelligence, believes no less certainly than Herbert Spencer that we are ever in His presence. There is no chasm of six thousand years between the evolutionist and his Creator. The evolutionist lives in the creative days and sees the creative processes taking place before him.
1 Copyright, 1897, by Lyman Abbot. By permission of Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
2 This is the object of evolution, though incidental to it are other results, such as moral development or degeneracy.
3 Dr. Doremus has kindly furnished me with the following accurate account of this most interesting illustration of the process of “Creation by Evolution.” It is an illustration which amounts to demonstration to any one who has ever seen it. Olive oil (colored red that it might be better seen) was poured on water. If floated on the denser liquid. Another portion of the oil was poured in alcohol. It sank in this lighter fluid.
A third portion of the oil was poured into a carefully prepared mixture of water and alcohol, having exactly the same specific gravity as the oil. The oil assumed the shape of a perfect sphere. The earth is round, the sun, moon, and planets are round, every star that decorates the heavens is round; hence they were once liquid, or are now fluid.
A glass axis inserted through the centre of the sphere of oil was slowly revolved. The globe flattened at its poles and dilated at its equator. Our earth has this shape. The globe of oil was revolved more rapidly. It then flattened to a greater extent, or was more oblate, like the planet Jupiter, when the difference between its polar and equatorial diameters is 5000 miles. Its oblateness can be seen with a powerful telescope.
Our earth revolves at its equator at the rate of 1000 miles per hour, Jupiter over 26,000 miles per hour. Jupiter has the density of water, while our earth is five times as dense; — these two causes account for the difference in figures or shapes of these planets.
On turning the oil globe more rapidly, it formed a ring like the rings of Saturn. When the speed of revolution was still more increased the ring broke into many spheres, some large, others small; each of these revolved on its axis, around the common centre. The sun turns from west to east; Mercury, nestling closest to our peerless parent, turns from west to east on its axis and around the central sun; so also Venus, the Earth, Mars, the small planets between Mars and Jupiter (over 200 in number), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and the remotest Neptune, all revolve in this same direction, and in the same plane. According to Herschel, Struve, Argelander, and other astronomers, our sun with his princely retinue of planets, satellites, and fiery comets is flying through space towards the star π in the constellation Hercules, with the velocity of half a million miles per diem. Maedler has proved that our whole galaxy of stars is revolving in a mighty circle, the star Alcyone, of the Pleiades, being nearest the central point. “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades?” (Job xxxviii. 31.) Eighteen million two hundred thousand years must elapse to complete one revolution around this distant centre. In this grand circular movement are minor rotations (like eddies in a stream of water) of double, triple, and multiple stars, joining in the mazy celestial dance.
Dr. Lee, of the Lowell Observatory, while in Mexico discovered, since the 1st of last January, 300,000 double and triple stars in the southern heavens. Thousands of other stellar universes revolve in a manner similar to our own galaxy of suns. Some of the nebulæ have the shape of a ring, others are oval (because of being seen at an angle.) Some have a dumb-bell shape, which can be imitated by revolving the oil-globe in the mixture of alcohol and water, when the axis is not exactly in the centre of the oil-sphere. Herschel asserted that some of the nebulæ are so remote that their light (with its velocity of over 186,000 miles per second) has been 3,000,000 of years in reaching our eyes.