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ing themselves in one church, to be known by whatever name might best represent the whole. Under the necessities of political administration the civic unit is changing from the township to the district. Towns combine, for example, to elect a representative to the State Legislature, or to the General Court. Why should not church organization yield to the same general necessity? Let a convenient centre be chosen, and let three or four of the surrounding churches unite to form one church, choose a pastor, elect one or more assistants, and a sufficient number of deaconesses, and distribute the work in the different parts of the common field according to the immediate necessity. There would be occasions when the whole church or congregation would meet together, not always perhaps at the centre, but worship would be maintained at the customary places on each Sabbath, and the activities of the church would permeate the whole region. Every family could be visited, the religion of the home reëstablished where it had fallen away, and the children of isolated families connected by study with the Sabbath-school. Neighborhoods which had become separated from the general community, and had begun to relapse into barbarism, could be in part restored and reclaimed. And the general interests of the community, which are constantly overlooked in their detail, could be cared for so far as they come under the province of the church. The aggregate expense would not be increased. The whole amount raised would be somewhat differently distributed, the salary of the pastor being somewhat in advance of the salaries paid by each individual church. A strong, able man could be secured as the head. He would be the pastor, or, as Dr. Dunning calls him, the bishop. He would be the preacher, though he could not, of course, preach on every Sabbath in each, part of the field. But the work would go on all round through his assistants, according to his plan. His presence would everywhere be felt. And the inspiration from the whole work would quicken the workers in every part. A natural and healthful competition would arise between the different parts. And if it should be found that a larger sum was necessary to carry on this enlarged plan, we are sure that the money could easily be raised because of the greater numbers interested, and because of the greater enthusiasm awakened.
Comparing such a scheme as this with any proposed union in a given village or town of the two or three churches of separate denominations, it is evident that the plan is, at present, far more practicable. Whatever may be the prospects of church unity, the churches are as yet in no sense prepared for organic unity, or even for such a federation as will allow some one man to serve as leader of the whole.
What are the objections to the scheme? So far as we can see, there are but two. In some localities there would be a physical difficulty. The churches might be too scattered to allow of a working organization, or some natural barrier might intervene between them. But in the great majority of cases the sole difficulty would lie in the disposition of the churches. The natural or the unnatural spirit of independence, local pride, the conservatism of method, the inertia of declining strength, the unwillingness to give up name, or traditions, or organization for the gain from the common life, — all these would be powerful obstacles. But the enumeration of them only serves to emphasize the present necessity. The problem of the country church is fast resolving itself into this alternative. Either the smaller churches must abide in their separate and dependent weakness, accepting a lower standard in the pulpit and a reduced vitality in the whole organization, or they must merge themselves through convenient groups into a common organization of larger plan and scope, able to secure a competent leader and a sufficient equipment, and thus lift themselves in their new unity to the grade of a city church. We believe that this is the only choice now before the smaller country churches. And it is their cloice. Still something may be done to help them in their decision. A hearty public sentiment in the churches in favor of greater centralization in the local group would do much. A courageous experiment in some favorable locality would do more. And, above all, if some man with the genius for organization should arise, who should be intrusted with the duty, even in a single State, of leading the churches out into this larger way, the end would be accomplished.
LETTERS AND LIFE.
This Department of the “Review” is under the editorial care of Professor
A. S. HARDY.
LIFE FROM A BERLIN POINT OF VIEW NEVER, perhaps, since the time when the Orontes flowed into the Tiber has such a stream of influence poured in upon a nation as that which our nation is now receiving from Germany. This influence comes, in fact, in two streams. First, there is the steady flow of immi- ; gration, which has made New York the third German city of the world, and has reached the West and Northwest in force. Secondly, there is a stream that flows directly from the universities of Germany to our own. The professors in our Eastern colleges who have not studied in Germany are getting so rare that it will soon be an easy task to count them.
American manners and thought are being so much moulded and shaped by this double influence that we cannot but be interested in looking at its source. We have a lively practical interest in the manners and thought of the German Fatherland. France or Russia we examine with the interest which attaches to all ethnological study. The condition of Germany is as interesting to us as was the condition of Ucalegon's house to
Æneas. Germany is proximus to us in spite of the Atlantic. We are interested to see what is going on in its schools and churches, and what the people who do not go to the churches are thinking about.
One very important factor in the make-up of the Germany of to-day, as compared with the Germany of eighteen years ago, is a new Berlin of more than double the size of the old one, with a population of a million and three quarters. This is a wonderful growth for old Europe, and could hardly have been predicted even when the victories of 1870 made Berlin the capital of a new Germany. A good deal might well be expected of that sturdy stock which created Berlin and its surroundings out of the unpromising, sandy Mark Brandenburg. Perhaps no later growth need be so surprising as that up to the first hundred thousand. Berliners are excited over this rapid growth, and are aspiring higher. As Paris is growing comparatively slowly, the hope is expressed that Berlin may soon outstrip it in the race. At the grand entertainment lately given to the visiting rifle corps, one of the speakers said : “Berlin has already dethroned Paris, and is becoming the centre of Europe.” But for the most part one does not say “is becoming” but “ is become.”
This growth has stirred some of that local jealousy which has rent Germany in the past. Already one hears the cry, “ All roads lead to Berlin.” People outside of Prussia declare that if one wishes to travel anywhere he might as well begin by going to Berlin, because there he can get return tickets at ridiculously low rates. But it is a good honest growth, caused for the most part by the working of natural causes, which, to be sure, worked to a higher degree than one would have predicted. With or without factitious efforts at growth, Berlin will soon be (if it is not so already) to Germany what Paris has so long been to France. A comparison with the city of Rome in its relations to the Roman Empire would be too venturesome until we have better security for the durability of the German Empire than the mere fact of its having already lasted twenty years.
But whatever one may predict for the next century, Berlin is already in a position to send out her influence far and wide through the provinces. It is the best place to watch the pulsations of German life. It is not very difficult, provided one has the gift of the proper style, to write a book of the Max O’Rell type about a people, by selecting a few persons, and making them stand for the whole people. But to be perfectly just to Berlin at the expense of piquancy of description, one must confess that it is a good deal like New York. That is to say, if you go down below the superficial difference of language, you find the resemblances larger than the differences. Three quarters of the men of Berlin look and think and act pretty much as they might have looked and thought and acted if they had seen the light first in New York instead of Berlin. Perhaps it is the persistency of the old Teutonic characteristics that makes us feel in a short time so wonderfully at home in Germany.
And yet in the very important matter of religion there appears to be a difference, perhaps only a difference of degree, but at any rate so great as to seem radical. It may seem like a relapse into piquancy to assert that Berlin is un-Christian. But if in the early Christian centuries so small a proportion of the population of Rome had been found in the churches as is now found in the churches of Berlin, the Christians who did gather would have looked upon the city as not yet Christianized. Eighteen years ago the church attendance was small, and must be relatively smaller now. Statistics can hardly be brought to bear upon this point, for no record of church attendance is kept. But it is a fact that comparatively few churches have been built during the rapid growth of the city. It is reported that when pastors suggest to the government the erection of new churches, the answer is a reference to the empty seats in the churches already on hand.
There are only between thirty and forty large Evangelical churches and a good many chapels, some of them attached to hospitals and schools. It would be misleading as a test of religious interest to compare this number with the number of Protestant churches in New York. The Roman Catholic Church, which cares for such a vast number in New York, has a minor sphere in Berlin. The two large Roman Catholic churches are, to be sure, well filled. But the large class of the poor do not go to the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. They do not go anywhere. Of the Evangelical churches the cathedral is always full. The royal family may sometimes be seen there, and the fine boy choir is always an attraction.
At Trinity Church, Schleiermacher's old church, there is a preacher, Dr. Dryander, on whom the mantle of Schleiermacher seems to have fallen. His words seem to come from the heart and reach the heart. One is fortunate to get standing room in that church. There are three or four others that are fairly well attended, but in most of them bare surfaces send back the preacher's words in an uncheering response. If the preachers depended on the tithes of actual attendants, they would faint. Perhaps an attendance of seventeen persons besides the sextons and the choir in one of the large churches on the Gensdarmes Markt on a rainy Sunday seventeen years ago, may be the low-water mark of church attendance in Berlin. But it will hardly be denied that the churches in general are empty, and that there is lack of electric currents between the pulpit and the pews — we can hardly use the word “congregation.”
In one way pastors are kept busy. A man may not show himself in the church after his confirmation year, and yet when it comes to marriage, few of the better class are willing to take the civil form only. They want the help or sanction of the church. “ Habit links us yet.” Very few Germans are laid away in the grave without the words of life being uttered over them from the pastor's lips.
The following utterance of a good German mother might not be worth quoting but for the probability that she spoke for many mothers. “There is nothing so sweet to a mother as to put her children to bed, and hear them say their evening prayer at her knee. My boy never used to go to bed without his prayer; but of course he grew out of that. They all do.” It was so usual and so expected that she had no appearance of sadness over it. That son was a fine specimen of a man, too, like so many glorious un-Christian Brandenburgers. Perhaps in many cases the last days bring a reversion to the impressions of youth, but in most cases this reversion does not appear. It is a question for Christian casuists to consider, even if they are not obliged to decide it, what is to become of all the good Germans when they die. Will the last unction waft them to heaven? They seem fit for Walhalla.
Will the German heart ever again throb at the reception of the gospel as when it first received it, or later in the time of Luther ?
But if in the matter of religion Germany seems backward, it may seem to make it up in education. In Prussia it is a positive fact, which it often requires time for an American to fairly get before his mind, that there is no illiterate class. Every child is held by the schools from the age of six to fourteen ; and pecuniary and severer penalties hang over parents who may seek to evade the law. Many other states of Germany, particularly Protestant states, follow Prussia in the same line. If there is anything perfectly satisfactory anywhere in the way of common schools, it is to be found in Prussia. Of these and the secondary schools much might be said ; but the university is a more interesting theme.
The University of Berlin has taken its place at the head of the twentyone universities of Germany by the same upward swing which has put the city in its present preëminence. The last university calendar, for 1889-90, gives it 324 instructors and 6,187 matriculated students, with a total of 6,628 entitled to attend lectures. On the 2d of August it celebrated the eightieth anniversary of its foundation by Frederick William III., in troublous times. On this occasion contrasts were noticed between its day of small things and its great present.
The more the city takes on the form of a great metropolis, the more drawing power the university has for both professors and students. It is now in a position to reach out and draw its professors from all the other universities. It is generally understood to be the goal of a German scholar's ambition to become a regular professor at Berlin. Many, lacking the spirit of Cæsar, prefer to be ausserordentlicher professor at Berlin to being regular professor elsewhere. Many make their trial as Privat-Docent here, risking failure in the strong competition. The following table, showing the relation between the number of regular professors and total number of teachers at four well-known universities, may be significant:
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