The Progress Of Christ’s Kingdom In Its Relation To Civilization -- By: Samuel Harris

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:116 (Oct 1872)
Article: The Progress Of Christ’s Kingdom In Its Relation To Civilization
Author: Samuel Harris


The Progress Of Christ’s Kingdom In Its Relation To Civilization

Samuel Harris

We are now to consider the progress of Christ’s kingdom in its relation to civilization. While it modifies civilization and makes it Christian, it is itself modified by civilization.

I. Civilization is not a Product of Christianity, but has an Independent Existence. What is civilization? Man is endowed with a radical impulse to put forth every power in action. This appears in the child as the play-impulse; in the man, it is trained to work. Play is action for the pleasure of the action itself; work is action, not for the pleasure of action, but for an ulterior end. The child lives in the present, with scarcely a reference to the future, following its impulses with little reference to consequences, and acting for the present pleasure of the action. His action is play. In maturity the man acts with reference to the future, foregoing present pleasure for future interests, and concentrating his energies in work, not for the present pleasure of the work, but for the value of the end to be attained. A great part of education consists in training the pupil to concentrate his energies on the attainment of ulterior ends; it is subjecting impulse to reason, transforming play into work. The difference between the savage and the civilized is analogous to that between the child and the well-trained man. The savage acts from impulse, for the pleasure of the action, or, otherwise, only to satisfy some imperative instinct or craving; he lives in the present; his action is the impulsive, unpersevering,

changeful action of a child. Civilization begins in forecast. It is distinguished from barbarism by the habit of acting with reference to ulterior interests as distinguished from present impulse; by the subjection of impulse to reason; by concentration in planned and forecasting work, instead of dissipation in play, or impulsive exertion under the urgency of a present want. This is the source of the strengthening and development of man’s power, the enlargement of his acquisitions, and of his control over the resources and powers of nature, the multiplication of his wants, and therein the development of the man himself, making him many-sided and capable of more varied activities, and of more varied and more refined enjoyment. The twaddle of the new education, that because a child acts joyfully from the play-impulse, therefore education must give to all study the zest of play, would emasculate education, taking out of it that which constitutes its essence as education, and out of civilization that which is its essential distinction from the savage state. Civilization is a thing of degrees; it begins whenever forecast begins to get the supremacy over ...

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