A NATION IN THE LOOM.
The Scandinavian Fibre in Our Social Fabric.
REV. R. A. JERNBERG
At his Inauguration as Professor in the Danish-Norwegian
Department on Mrs. D. K. Pearsons’ Professorship
Endowment in the Chicago Theological
By President H. C. SIMMONS.
PUBLISHED BY VOTE OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
P. F. Pettibone & Co., Printers,
SERVICES OF INAUGURATION.
The services of the inauguration of Professors R. A. Jernberg and W. B. Chamberlain took place on Monday evening, April 15, 1895, in the First Congregational Church, Chicago, Ill. The President of the Seminary, Rev. Franklin W. Fisk, D.D., LL.D., presided.
The Program was as follows:
1. Organ Voluntary, “Benediction.”
2. Te Deum in B minor, Solos, Quartet and Chorus.
3. Invocation and Reading of Scripture, by Rev. G. S. F. Savage, D.D.
4. Hymn, “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.”
5. Declaration of Faith, by Professor Jernberg.
6. Charge to Professor Jernberg, by President H. C. Simmons.
7. Inaugural Prayer, by Professor G. N. Boardman, D.D., LL.D.
8. Address, by Professor Jernberg.
9. Hymn, “America.”
10. Declaration of Faith, by Professor Chamberlain.
11. Charge to Professor Chamberlain, by Rev. James Gibson Johnson, D.D.
12. Inaugural Prayer, by President Franklin W. Fisk, D.D., LL.D.
13. Address, by Professor Chamberlain.
14. Anthem, “Send out Thy Light.”
16. Postlude, “Prelude and Fugue.”
It is with pleasure I am permitted to give to you to-night a few words of what is technically called a “charge.”
Perhaps more than any other I am responsible for setting in motion the forces that caused you to come to this seminary for your last year’s course of theological training, and begin while yet a theological student the work of instruction in the department over which to-night you are inaugurated a professor in this Seminary.
Two summers we had you in North Dakota, while yet a student in theology, and we feel a little proud that our young State proves so good a place to discover and develop the qualities that make a good professor in a Theological Seminary. You are the second we have fitted for such a position, as Professor Gillette of Hartford was called directly from a North Dakota pastorate at Grand Forks. We feel like saying to our friends: Send us the men for our churches and we will send you back professors for your Theological Seminaries, Presidents for colleges, State Superintendents for the Home Missionary Society, and for our Sunday School Society; for we have furnished men for all these positions.
Having discovered you, I have always felt a deep interest in you and in the work to which you have been called. The people whom you represent, and for whom this department is founded, are a most interesting people, and destined to have a very great influence upon the future of our great Northwestern States. In North Dakota, seventy per cent[Pg 6] of our people are of Scandinavian origin. In Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, and on to the Pacific Ocean, these sturdy people from the north of Europe, of Protestant faith, of industrious and frugal life, form a large element in the population. Strong in body, accustomed to hardships, readily falling into our American ways of thought and life, they make the very best of American citizens. Through our public schools and other influences these people are becoming one with us in all that makes citizenship. Thousands of them are beginning to feel that our American churches are sure to gather in their young people, if they are kept in line with religious work. They feel that there is something lacking in the Old Country churches. The life and movement is different. They attend our Sunday Schools and our evening meetings. They sing our songs; and their young people mingle with ours in the Y. P. S. C. E.
In one of our North Dakota towns where this work had been going on in connection with one of our churches, a former pastor of the English Lutheran Church in Fargo visited these people, and told them that they must withdraw their children from our Sunday School, and withdraw from our evening service and hold one of their own in English. While they obeyed him for a little while, in less than a month the children were back in our Sunday School, and the people back to our service.
These people like the freedom and simplicity of our Congregational Churches. As earnest Christians to-day the world over care less and less to be known as followers of John Robinson, or John Calvin, or John Wesley, or John Knox, however glorious and worthy of honor are these men, but rather to be known as disciples of Jesus Christ, so these people will care less and less to be known by the name of the great and intrepid reformer of the 16th century, but rather by that name above every name, which makes us all brethren, marching under one banner and bent on executing[Pg 7] the commission the Master left us,—to conquer the world for Him.
My brother: From this great northern belt of states, where these your people live, if I mistake not, are to come the strongest type of men into the great centers of life of this nation. By their sturdy manhood they are to give a vigor and moral tone that is needed in these great centers of power. If you will train and send out from this Seminary preachers of the Gospel of Christ among these people, who shall hold up the Gospel in its simplicity and yet in demonstration of the Spirit and with power from God, you will not only do a work for your countrymen that will be welcomed by them, and will result in bringing them and us nearer together as a people, but a work for our country that needs more than ever to be done now. You will help to make the nation’s life throb with the pulsations of a faith in God that is seen to be the foundation of a great brotherhood gathered out of these different nationalities, and made one by the breaking down of dividing barriers. This, if I mistake not, is the mission of your department in this Seminary: Not to give these people a new Gospel—they have the same Gospel with us—but to bring them into fellowship and co-operative work with us in making the moral force of their life felt with ours, in keeping this nation in the way of righteousness, and of faith in God. This department in this Seminary may yet become in its influence upon the religious life of the Northwest, second to none in the results achieved. North Dakota perhaps stands first to-day of all the States, in its successful fight in overthrowing the power of the open saloon; and this has been achieved largely by the power of the Scandinavian vote which is on the side of law and order.
Our fathers coming over the sea left behind them in large measure the forms of church life of the old countries from which they came, but they kept their faith in God.[Pg 8] They shaped for themselves the forms of worship as they thought best adapted for the conditions of their new life. They drew them fresh from the Divine Word. They have built up for themselves and for us a church life and a national life, that have grown together into the life we now have. Shall we not expect that coming into our political and social life, these Scandinavian peoples will also readily assimilate our methods of religious worship and work? It is ours at least to place before them an open door and invite them into that liberty, that equality, that fraternity in Christian life and doctrine, which as a people it has been our privilege under God not only to proclaim, but I trust also in some degree to make real. May the blessing of God be with you in this work and upon the Seminary of which you now become an installed professor.
A NATION IN THE LOOM.
THE SCANDINAVIAN FIBRE IN OUR SOCIAL FABRIC.
The analysis of the elements that enter into the composition of nations, and the effect of their combinations, is one of the most fascinating studies in universal history. The loom of time has been weaving garments for this old world of ours, and the nations of the earth have clothed him with the glory of their sons and daughters, as long as the fibre of their manhood or womanhood could stand the wear. When age and use have worn them thin, and the strength of their fibre has passed away, the cast-off garments have been flung to the rag-man, old Father Time, who has been able sometimes to use the pieces that still were good for some new robe with which to drape the captious old shoulders. This is history. The weaving of these robes must never cease, for the wearing of them uses them up, and their durability always depends on the stuff out of which they are made. The latest piece, which is still in the loom, is the nation into whose texture we are now weaving our lives and characters, and those of some seventy millions more of all kinds of men and women. Since our own go in with the rest, we may be pardoned for the interest which some of us feel in the improvement of the fibre from which the nation is made, and our anxiety that it be of the right kind. Our present inquiry concerns the quality of a part of our social fabric, the Scandinavian element in our population. What has been its use and its influence in the older nations, and by what processes does it find its place in the new?
The world was old and had worn out many nations, when out of the north, liberated from the snow and ice of Ultima Thule, there came the Norseman like the very whirlwind from his frozen home. He was like naught that the world had seen in all the ages before his time. His joy and happiness he found in battle, his sweetest pleasure in a violent death, for only through this portal could he hope to enter the company of heroes who dwelt with Odin in the glory of Valhalla, and there continue the joys of earth in daily battles and nightly feasting. “Is there any people,” says Taine, “Hindu, Persian, Greek or Gaelic which has founded so tragic a conception of life? Is there any which has filled its infantine mind with such gloomy dreams? Is there any which has so entirely banished the sweetness from enjoyment, the softness from pleasure. Energy, tenacious and mournful energy, such was their chosen condition.” The individuality of that vigorous race stamped its mark upon every nation which it conquered, and upon every institution which it touched. Scarcely a nation in the Europe of that time but felt their influence, and scarcely one on the continent to-day who is not indebted to them. But the influence which the Scandinavians had upon the Anglo-Saxon race can be traced more clearly still than its effect upon continental nations. The name of England or Englaland came from the North, from the province of Angeln, which was a part of Denmark until our own times. The Angles gave to the land their language also, which was further strengthened by a later infusion of the Danish tongue; so that wherever the English language shall be spoken until the end of time, there will men mould their thoughts in the forms which the Vikings used, and express the keenest feelings of their inmost hearts in the vigorous speech which the Norsemen taught us, years before the Norman conquest.
Having put the impress of his personality so indelibly upon English life, it goes without saying that the Norseman’s influence reached America with the first Englishman who landed here, if, indeed, it had not been here already since the days of Eric the Red among the Iroquois Indians. But contenting ourselves with the established testimony of history, there are still surprises in store for us. Not many of those who trace their descent back to the Pilgrim Fathers would think perhaps of ascribing to their Scandinavian origin any share of the character which made these pioneers the moulding and determining force of this country’s history. But a single witness will establish such a claim. John Fiske in his “Discovery of America” says: “The descendants of these Northmen (who came to England) formed a very large proportion of the population of the East Anglian counties, and consequently of the men who founded New England. The East Anglian counties have been conspicuous for resistance to tyranny and for freedom of thought.” In another place he says, “While every one of the forty counties of England was represented in the great Puritan exodus, the East Anglian counties contributed to it far more than all the rest. Perhaps it would not be far out of the way to say, that two-thirds of the American people who can trace their ancestry to New England, might follow it back to the East Anglian shires of the mother country.” So far John Fiske. But having done that, it might be possible for these same excellent people, if the record could only be found, to trace their descent back from the East Anglian counties to the mountains and plains of the Scandinavian peninsulas.
We may observe then that the difference of race is not so great as we sometimes think. What wonder is it that the Scandinavian immigrant assimilates so readily with the native population in this country as he does. Has he not come to his kith and kin, to share with them in the fruitage[Pg 12] of the early sowing and careful planting of his fathers, which has found its fullest and freest development in the United States? Not that the seed has died or been destroyed over there in its native soil. The Scandinavian who comes here does not pose as the victim of oppression and persecution at home. Unlike most of the immigrants of his class, he is used to having a voice in the affairs of his country. He usually elects his own representative to the legislature, he manages the affairs of his district, town or city with a liberty almost as great as our own. Gladstone calls the constitution of Norway the most liberal in all the world. The burdens of public responsibility which come to the Scandinavian on his arrival to America are not new therefore, and to his honor be it said that he appreciates their importance quite as much as many of those who are born here. He soon learns to think of this country as his own. In the hour of peril when this nation called upon its sons to save its life, the Norsemen who had made their homes here responded as freely to the call as those who knew no other land, and gave their lives for their adopted country as cheerfully as these.
In speaking of the development of the Scandinavians in the United States, it must be evident, therefore, that the premises from which we start are very different from those in the case of almost any other foreigners among us; for the development of the qualities which many of them bring from their native lands would mean anything but the peace, prosperity or happiness of this. But the Scandinavian, however crude or untutored he may appear, is recognized even by those who love him least as having in him the elements that are the terror of evil doers. When the anarchists of Haymarket fame were on trial for their lives in this city, their counsel requested that no Scandinavian should be accepted on the jury, saying, that he would challenge every talesman of Norse blood on the ground of his[Pg 13] nationality. The Scandinavians everywhere felt complimented by the challenge, and the lawyer was certainly correct in his estimate of them.
The most serious charge that can be brought against the Scandinavians in this country as a class is, that they are behind the times. Since the days of Gustavus Adolphus and his work for the Reformation the northern nations have had little influence upon the life of Europe. Charles XII. of Sweden for a time disturbed the peace of Russia, and Napoleon managed to mix up the Scandinavian countries in his difficulties with England, but with these exceptions no great interest has been felt for the world outside by the people of the North. While the great world south of him was moving forward through revolutions of governments and of thought, the Scandinavian sat still at home, pondering the question how the stones around him might be made bread. In the onward march of the world he was almost forgotten up there in the frozen north, and in his isolation his ideas and his interests narrowed down to the affairs of his own little circle, which to him became of supreme importance. Class distinctions, almost as severely marked as by the Hindu caste system, gradually divided each little community, and they still remain in a great measure, in spite of the modern renaissance which the Scandinavian countries have experienced during the present century. In religious affairs there has been until recently a regime as autocratic almost as that of the Czar. All Scandinavians since 1550 until the latter half of this century were by reason of their nativity members of the Lutheran church. When one ventures to separate himself from that church he voluntarily ostracises himself from the society in which he has had a standing hitherto, and is made to feel that his religious views are revolutionary and anarchistic, refusing obedience to appointed authority in spiritual things. This pressure unquestionably hinders[Pg 14] the work of the reformed churches in Scandinavia no less perhaps than the intolerant dogmatism of the State Church, which unblushingly arrogates to itself the monopoly of Christian truth and the right to teach it. These characteristics have been intensified and stereotyped by the isolation of the people, so that the work of bringing those who come to this country into sympathy with the social and religious ideas of life here must of necessity be a work of time and of patient education.
One of the difficulties, perhaps the greatest, in the way of such endeavors is the common practice of all our foreigners to colonize, both in the city and in the country, thus creating for themselves an environment which perpetuates indefinitely the alien characteristics peculiar to them. The foreigner remains a foreigner still. He has simply transplanted the environment in which he was born, minus some of its burdens, from the Old World to the New, and he may continue the remainder of his life in the midst of these surroundings as much an alien, right here in Chicago, as if he had never crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He looks with distrust and with contempt upon the institutions of this land because he does not understand them, and he is suspicious of every stranger who is hostis (an enemy) until he knows him.
The foreign settlements in the country districts are, if possible, still more unaffected by the influence of their larger environment than the foreign colonies in the cities. In many portions of our land it is possible to travel for miles through a foreign country, as far as population is concerned, and not seldom is the second generation as thoroughly foreign as their parents, so that an American may need an interpreter at every house if he intends to transact business there. Under such conditions it is very evident that the moral, intellectual, or religious development of these communities would be the work of ages, if dependent upon[Pg 15] the forces within themselves. The cultivating power must come from without and be shot through and through them, so that the individuals and the families in them may somehow come under the influence of that larger environment lying outside of their immediate colony, or the years will only perpetuate the conditions which in our day have become not only interesting but very serious social problems for Americans to solve.
Such an outside penetrating power is the American public school. Here is an institution which, whatever else it does not do, certainly fosters a spirit of patriotism and of loyalty to the flag that floats above it. No other land can be as dear to the children educated here as this land; no language will be more thoroughly theirs than the language of their books and teachers; and thus it will be found that in any foreign community where the children attend the public schools, American ideas and standards of life are permeating it with a power which must eventually change it into an American community.
So well is this understood by those who are the guides and teachers of certain foreign nationalities among us, and who would, if they could, keep them forever intact from the influence of American life, that they spare no pains to shield them from it, and withdraw their children and youth from the teaching of the public school, putting them into schools of their own where their foreign ideas and their foreign tongues may be perpetuated in the next generation. This is the meaning of Protestant parochial schools, no matter what other explanation of them is offered.
The Scandinavians do not fall under censure in this matter. They have not as a rule set up their own schools in competition with the public school, but they have schools of a higher grade. Most of these were first established to furnish ministers for their own churches. Gradually, however, they have come to feel the pressure of their larger[Pg 16] environment, so that their curriculum is now usually arranged with a view to giving all the inhabitants of the entire community the benefit of their instruction. Thus in the Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., representatives of seven different nationalities were in attendance last year; while the Swedish college in Rock Island, Ill., had fifty-one Americans, fifteen Germans, two Persians and two Hebrews among their five hundred students. The Luther College in Decorah, Ia, claims to send more young men to the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for postgraduate study than any other western college. Several of these Scandinavian schools have come to see that they must adapt themselves more and more to the demands upon them from the entire community, and open the doors to all applicants for an education without regard to nationality. The principal of one of these schools writes: “Our school is not a Scandinavian, but an American institution of learning in the fullest sense of that word.” Perhaps in no other sphere is the development of the Scandinavians into Americans better illustrated than in this evolution of their higher schools, for this tendency is not sporadic, but general; and when we remember that there are fifty-one such institutions in the Northwest, with five thousand young men and women studying in them, we begin to realize their importance, with their tendency towards a universal and liberal education, as factors in the development of the Scandinavians in this country.
It has already been intimated that this evolution of the Scandinavian schools has been compelled by their environment in American communities more than by any inherent desire of their own. One of these influences has been the attractions which American schools and colleges in the Northwest have especially offered to the Scandinavian young people. The University of Minnesota for example, offers an attractive course in Scandinavian literature under a very[Pg 17] capable teacher in that department, and some effort in the same direction is made by the Chicago University. Carleton College has taken a still more decided step by establishing a complete Scandinavian department for the benefit of the young people of that race who may prefer to attend a purely American institution.
Another influence which is permeating the densest Scandinavian communities and is reaching the most isolated families is exerted by the Scandinavian press. The importance of this factor will be understood, at least in part, when we know how generally the Scandinavians are a reading people. According to our last census there are 933,349 of them in the United States who were born across the sea. The one hundred and twenty-seven newspapers published for their benefit here, have a circulation of 885,549. That is to say, if the immigrants were the only subscribers to these papers, every one of them with the exception of about 50,000 would be a subscriber to a newspaper in his own tongue; and it may be added that these 50,000 really represent the children for whom almost nothing seems to be done in this particular. Papers like the Youth’s Companion and St. Nicholas are almost unknown to the Scandinavian children in America, but thus is the second generation woven into our social fabric. It is evident, of course, that these one hundred and twenty-seven Scandinavian newspapers are read by as many of those who are born here, as by those of the other class, for it is usually estimated by newspaper men that every copy of a weekly paper is read on the average by five persons. No less than 4,427,740 Scandinavians, therefore, in this country would be constant readers of their own papers. As there are only half as many persons here who are able to read the Scandinavian languages, it may be concluded that this entire people is keeping abreast with the history of the great world outside their own immediate circle, however narrow and contracted that may be.
Studying a little closer the influences exerted by the Scandinavian newspapers, we find that they are naturally published in the centers of that population. Twenty-four of them are published in Chicago with a circulation of 307,675, and twenty-six in the twin cities of Minnesota with a circulation of 222,050. About half of the Scandinavian newspapers, therefore, are published in the three cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Chicago, and the readers of these papers, certainly not less than 1,000,000 people, must come to feel the throb of life in these great American cities. We have seen that it is possible to find communities in the city as foreign in life and thought as those beyond the sea, and if the influences that are scattered from the centers of our population receive their inspiration from such surroundings, then the newspapers cannot, from an American point of view, be a very helpful factor in our problem; but the inspiration of the newspapers does not come from that source. Their editors, with very rare exceptions, are men in hearty sympathy with American institutions, and in fullest touch with nearly every phase of American life.
The papers among the Scandinavians, to a far greater extent than among the Americans, are the guides and teachers of their constituency in nearly all concerns of life. In matters political, social and financial, they receive their inspiration largely from their better American contemporaries, thus bringing their readers under the best influences of the American press. In religious matters, however, this is not so, for here the spirit of the Church holds sway. This is, of course, to be expected in the religious journals of the Lutheran Church, in which the impression is generally made, that the borders of the Kingdom of God upon the earth do not extend much beyond the lines of Lutheran faith for any man, and certainly not for a Scandinavian. But the secular papers also feel the power of the Church, and are practically controlled by her spirit. Her schools and [Pg 19]seminaries find generous space and frequent mention in their columns, while those outside of her domain are quietly ignored. The health and movements of her ministers and laymen are supposed to be items of general interest to their readers, while those who have ventured to formally leave the communion of the Church have thereby sold their birthright and forfeited all further recognition. To their excuse it may be said that in these respects the newspapers only reflect the sentiments of the great majority of their readers, and for doing this newspapers usually have no apologies to make in any tongue.
The situation as here described may serve to show the importance of an independent press, a journalism completely free from the least suspicion of spiritual tyranny. There are such journals among the Scandinavians. One or two of them are towers of strength, but the greater number are feebly supported by a few dissenters sprinkled over this entire land. And yet their influence is not unimportant. In the minds of their readers they open windows that have grown dim by the dust of ages; from the musty chambers they clear the cobwebs that no breath of air has disturbed before. They give new visions of a life much richer than that of the Fathers, and in this work they join from a Christian standpoint the stream of thought and aspiration in Scandinavian literature, which for the last century has broken away from the narrow bounds which hitherto held it; but mostly in channels realistic, un-Christian and often infidel.
The work which these papers are doing should be encouraged more than it is, for it means the emancipation of a race, and a larger life for our republic.
It remains to speak of another factor in the process of weaving the Scandinavian fibre into our social fabric. That is the Church. The only Church which until recently has had the moulding and determining influence on the [Pg 20]Scandinavian people is the Lutheran. For three hundred and fifty years or more she has held undisputed sway over their spiritual and intellectual life. The result fills one with sadness. In England and America men have generally come to believe the Church of Christ the most potent power for the help and uplift of every man who comes under its influence. In Scandinavia they have come to think that before a man can be lifted out of his narrow, selfish and often stupid views of life, he must come out from the Church, for it is her influence that is crushing all higher life out of the people. This explains the exodus from the Church, on the one hand, of the men who are the intellectual leaders of the North to-day, the writers of its literature, and who go into infidelity; on the other hand of those who still believe that in Christ alone is life, but failing to find it in the forms and ceremonies of a lifeless church come out from it, and are like sheep having no shepherd, though looking for the true fold of Christ. The first class, the literati, have frankly and almost unanimously bidden Christianity farewell. Thinking the whole of it as hollow and emasculated as the only representative of it familiar to them, they have no use for it themselves, and only warnings against it for others. Apart from this hostility to the Church their endeavors seem to be on the side of good. In books and lectures they labor enthusiastically for the social and intellectual elevation of the people. The second class, those who for conscience sake have separated themselves, the dissenters, have naturally no sympathy with this intellectual movement. They look with distrust upon an education with Christ left out of it. While, therefore, they have broken with the Church because of her lack of life, they are no less suspicious of the schools, for learning to them means only the hindrance and death of spiritual life. They do not want their preachers to be taught by men, but only by the Holy Spirit. All other learning is vain and puffeth up. This [Pg 21]prejudice against an educated ministry is greatly hindering the growth of the free church work in Denmark and Norway, and among these nationalities here. In Sweden, however, this feeling is rapidly disappearing before the influence of educated leaders and excellent free church seminaries.
It has seemed necessary to point out these two very opposite results of the rule of the Lutheran Church in Scandinavia in order to understand how much she may be relied on as a factor in the development of the Scandinavians in this country, for as she is there so she is here, only modified by the irresistible influence of her environment.
The bane of the spiritual power of the Lutheran Church is this: She exists for herself and not for the people, she is not the means to an end, but is herself the end. She bears testimony to this in her attitude of opposition to every effort made by other Christian Churches to elevate and convert the Scandinavian people. One of her ministers, writing some years ago, and deploring the spiritual condition of his Norwegian countrymen here in Chicago, said, that of the 40,000 of them in the city then, all baptized and by law made members of the Church, not more than 5,000 could be found in her places of worship. Yet he branded every attempt by Christians of other denominations to draw some of the remaining 35,000 away from the saloons, beer gardens and Sunday picnics, where he said large numbers of them were to be found, as base and un-Christian efforts to proselyte, and steal them away from their spiritual mother. This is the spirit of the whole Church. In the first meeting of her united factions in America in 1890, the Norwegian United Church passed some resolutions, especially aimed at our Congregational work, condemning and vigorously protesting against all missionary efforts of other denominations among the Scandinavians.
Lutheran preachers never miss an opportunity to tell us that the education and spiritual training of the foreigners,[Pg 22] is their business and not ours. But, in view of the results of that training in their old home, it seems a question quite fair to ask, if we want them to continue that work here. When our lamented brother, Rev. M. W. Montgomery, turned the search-light of his book “A Wind From the Holy Spirit in Sweden and Norway,” upon the religious conditions in the Church of those countries, and showed to the world what it really was, it caused a commotion in that Church on both sides of the sea, which he hardly had expected. When the light shines in upon a darkness that has not been broken for three hundred years, it wakes to activity many drowsy creatures who vociferously protest against the intrusion. The development of the Scandinavians in this country towards the ideas of our American life have been in spite of the influence of their mother Church, and not because of its help. Serious as this charge may be, it is amply proven by the words and works of their teachers and preachers.
In view of these facts, what is to be the attitude of American Christians towards these people? Must we ask permission from the Lutheran Church, who claims to own them, before we try to save those who are yet in their sins? Shall they perish because they find not the way to God through the portals of this particular church? Need we fear the charge of proselyting, when we labor simply to win men from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light? Our Master’s command was: “Go teach all nations,” and, lest we forget to go, he graciously brings the opportunity right to our doors. Again, it seems as if the great shepherd of the sheep had especially committed to our care that large number of earnest Scandinavian Christians who for conscience sake have separated themselves from the Church of their fathers, and who have no other affiliation. They stand nearest to us in their conceptions of faith and church polity. They themselves have recognized this kinship of spirit by repeated expressions of confidence in us.[Pg 23] Our Seminary is the only one in all the world to whom the Danes and Norwegians of these independent churches on both sides of the sea can go for an educated ministry. The influence of our work for them has long been recognized both by friends and foes as making for a Christianity in closest sympathy with Congregational methods, and for a citizenship in touch with American institutions.
We are not deceived by our desires or our hopes; we have no thought that our labors will overturn nations in a day, nor that on us is laid the task of setting all things right. But having come into the fellowship of the great needs of these people, having seen the possibilities for their development along all the lines of a better and higher life, we rejoice that to us it is given into each of these factors of the school, of the press and of the Church of Christ, to throw the influence of an institution like this not only, but the moral force of the churches behind it as well. Perhaps our share in the shaping and moulding of the people for whom we work may not be large, nor greatly esteemed. But we have the satisfaction of giving expression both in word and deed to the conviction of our hearts, that no other power on earth can lift a people into the fullest and richest experiences of life, political, intellectual, social or spiritual, like the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation unto everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. And He when He is lifted up shall draw all men unto Him.