A Misplaced Halo -- By: Cephas Brainerd, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 055:220 (Oct 1898)
Article: A Misplaced Halo
Author: Cephas Brainerd, Jr.


A Misplaced Halo

Cephas Brainerd, Jr.

[Additional and pathetic interest is given to the practical views herein expressed, by the death of the talented author on the 24th of July. (See biographical notice.) The corrections, emendations, or additions that authors usually make are therefore necessarily lacking.—Editors.]

There seems to be an unusual interest at present in the question, why men form so small a portion of church attendants.

In my judgment, there is a radical, philosophical error in the estimate of church and clergy and their relation to affairs falsely called secular which prevents, and, so long as it continues, will prevent, hearty sympathy between religious and business circles.

The church is looked upon as a divine and sacred institution, and the clergy as men called of God for a unique service of preeminent and sui generis holiness. Business, men—and by this I mean also laboring and professional men—resent this claim of church and clergy, on grounds which they do not formulate, but which can be so stated as to command respectful consideration. Three of them may be expressed as follows: —

1. The supreme necessity is food, clothing, and shelter. That forces the race into labor as its main purpose in life. So far as the church fails to recognize the severity of the struggle for bread, both in its simple form and as it expands into the struggle for the necessaries of civilized life, and so far as the clergy, as a body or as individuals, fail to recognize that this demand has the right of way in human

activity, and that it substantially exhausts the energies, they are out of sympathy with men at their most sensitive point. This proposition needs no discussion.

2. Business stands beside the family, supreme in sacredness. The saying, so often spoken by professors to theological students, “The pulpit is your throne,” is diametrically wrong. The word “throne” is out of place, but, so far as it is in order, the truth is that secular industry is on the throne, and the clergyman is an attendant; and one great reason for the failure of the church to influence business men, is, that the clergy, backed by a large portion of church members, is claiming to occupy the throne instead of helping it.

The initial command of God to the human race when he started it on its career after the fall, was, “Multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” The transcendent spiritual import of this command seems to have been greatly overlooked. All God’s intercourse with his creatures, including the Incarnation, has been to secure its fulfilment. The f...

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