When during the late autumn of 1898 Dr. Abraham Kuyper was giving, in Princeton Seminary and other places, his "Stone Lectures" on Calvinism, it seemed to us of the younger generation, who had become his disciples through his works published in his native tongue—as if another Moses was rehearsing from some American Gerizim, and, this time in a world language, what Calvinism and Calvinists had done in former ages. He stood before us as a modern Rembrandt's master surgeon, laying bare before his delighted class, the great ligaments and nerve centers of Calvinism as a life-and-world-view.
And particularly in his closing lecture on "Calvinism and the Future," he looked to us as one of the great governors of the ancient Greek games, handing out relay torches, that what he had kindled with sacred fire, might be carried forward by runner after runner, each in the appointed place of his duty, that the world might be illumined to its uttermost reaches, by the light they carried with consecrated hand and never-tiring feet.
What was the program he entrusted to us in these days? The first three of its points were worded as follows:
(1) That Calvinism be no longer ignored where it once existed, but be strengthened where its influence still continued;
(2) That it should again be studied in order that the world might come to know it;
(3) That its principles should be developed once more in accordance to the needs of our time, and consistently applied to the different domains of life.
Having been requested to do so by the publisher of this new edition of the "Stone Lectures," we shall endeavor to record what has been done during the last three decades, as to the working out of this program.
Calvinism should no longer be ignored where still existing—but rather strengthened where its influence continues to manifest itself—that was the first point which Dr. Kuyper placed before us. Evidently he had our own America in his mind, in part at least. For in his paraphrase he mentioned particularly our national Day of Thanksgiving, and the opening with prayer of our Congress. "Even your common school system," we read, "inasmuch as it is blessed with the reading of Scripture and opening prayer, points, though with decreasing distinctiveness, to like Calvinistic origin."
In so far as the United States are concerned, it looks at times as if there has been regression instead of advance. Our Common or Public School, instead of continuing to be blessed with Bible reading, as Dr. Kuyper puts it, finds that the reading of the Bible during school hours, without comment, in some States, is frowned on or forbidden, as being of sectarian nature. The curious fact is patent that while such organizations as the National Reform Association are battling to place the Bible in the schools of the nation (an Association, by the way, fathered and fostered by strict Calvinists: Covenanters), there are others who claim to be champions of the same faith, who oppose this on various grounds. Even prayer for the Public Schools as an institution, is discouraged, and from some pulpits seems never to be heard. Evidently the view which Dr. Kuyper set forth to his American audiences, the common school system, "blessed with reading of Scripture and opening prayer," has been repudiated openly by some who stand squarely for Calvinism in its theological sense—to the outsider no doubt a curious phenomenon. Nor has it been found possible in Reformed circles within the United States to organize a "Bond" or Alliance of Calvinists, a "Calvinistic Confederation" as proposed and outlined at a meeting in London, July 19, 1928 (Banner, August 24, 1928), with not less than nine American Calvinists nominated as prime movers, and "requested to organize committees and sub-committees." On the basis of the absolute authority of the inspired and infallible Word of God as the sole rule of faith and practice, the purpose of the Confederation was stated to be:
(1) To bring Calvinists of all nations into closer contact with one another for the glory of God and mutual edification;
(2) To propagate these basic principles by publishing and re-publishing Calvinistic literature;
(3) To organize national and international conferences for consultation and discussion;
(4) To publish its own magazine;
(5) To assist one another in the furtherance of these principles;
(6) To find financial means for the carrying on of this program.
This may well be considered a solid basis and worthwhile program, but to date this proposed Alliance has not yet been organized in the United States. And a "Calvinistic Propaganda Club," with headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., whose Constitution was ratified in January, 1915, seems to have died at its birth, although its purpose was indeed worth-while enough: "the inculcation of the principle of the Sovereignty of God, as revealed in God's Word, and as applying to every sphere of life."
Indeed, though as we shall see later, there is another side to this, at times and in some ways we might speak of a retreat of Calvinistic forces in the United States. The overtures of church union between some of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of our land rather tend to relegate specifically Calvinistic tenets to the rear instead of putting them on the foreground. And when, in 1921, Dr. B. B. Warfield had died, the Continent commented on his death as the passing of the last of the high Calvinists!.
And there are other parts of our globe in which Calvinistic traces apparently have not been deepened, but rather effaced. In Ireland, for instance, the number of Protestants (and that includes Presbyterians, Calvinists), has been decreasing in recent years at an alarming rate. From 1911 to 1929 the number of
Protestants in the Irish Free State decreased 32.5 per cent, while during that same period the Roman Catholics increased 2.2 per cent. At the same time the Catholic Irish gained tremendously in number and influence in Scotland, at one time the stronghold of Calvinism. In 1924 the number of Irish children born in Glasgow amounted to 29 per cent of the total of births in that industrial city.
To mention the country of John Knox once more: at the formation of the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, in 1929, the great Calvinistic truths of the common ancestral Creed certainly were not emphasized, and the union of the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Methodists in Canada in 1925 was distinctly at the sacrifice of the out-and-out Calvinism of the Westminster Confessional writings.
We are under the impression that Presbyterian Church-life in Australia is very much of the same type as that of Scotland. There is on the one hand laudable zeal to spread the Gospel—work being done by the Australians in the New Hebrides and in Korea and in other lands—while Scotch missionaries labor almost everywhere. Many are its capable, zealous, broad-minded workers. But we have reasons to fear that acceptance of certain positions of Higher Criticism and New Theology has been honeycombing church-life and hamstringing personal gospel zeal.
But while all this appears to be true, there is, as we stated above, another side to be mentioned, and of an encouraging type.
In Scotland, just named, there are still groups of stalwart Dissenters, loyally devoted to the Westminster Creed.
A hopeful sign of the times in Great Britain is the activity of the Sovereign Grace Union, under the able and forceful leadership of the Rev. Henry Atherton of London, standing foursquare for the doctrines of free grace of Calvin and Calvinism, specifying as one of its objectives "the positive spiritual principles of the glorious Reformation." Under auspices of this Union, many sound books appear right along.
In Belgium, the Reformed Churches are growing constantly. For the first time since centuries a "Classis" of such churches assembled in Antwerp, November, 1930.
In France we noticed that Pres. Gaston Doumergue (1924-1931) was not ashamed of his Calvinistic ancestry, and his successor Doumer is also said to belong to the Reformed Church. The professors Lecerf and Doumergue proclaim the Reformed Faith and defend Calvinism in a noble manner. While the author of these lines was in historic Geneva, Feb., 1930, he learned to his joy that young preachers of both the French and German parts of Switzerland were enthusiastically active in lifting up anew the old banners of Calvinism.
As to Germany, there appears to be a revival of interest in Calvinism, as revealed by Dr. Kolfhaus and others connected with the Reformed Alliance and by those of the "Christian Political Party" organized in 1925 in Wurtemberg.
In so far as the Netherlands are concerned, it is amazing to see what activity is displayed by many of the younger element as well as by the stalwarts of the older group, to make Calvinism a force in different spheres of life. "Pro Rege" is still being proclaimed by many, handicapped as they may be in some respects by forces and circumstances beyond their control. But in courts of justice, in places of responsibility, in Parliament, in journalism, in philanthropy, but especially in educational enterprises, they are indeed endeavoring to "leaven" their nation.
In Canada, to come closer home, the "continuing" Presbyterian Church, is recovering from the effects of the Union named above, in a most encouraging way. And in general, in some parts of the Dominion the stamp of Scotch Calvinism is plainly seen to this day.
And as to our own United States, discouraging as some phenomena seem to be, and, we fear, are in reality, there are other things which proclaim that all is not lost. To prove this, let us quote from a volume which appeared in 1927.
We refer to "America Comes of Age," by the French scholar—a Romanist at that—Andre Siegfried. In what has been called "the most uncannily penetrating commentary on America," we come across such sentences as the following: "America is not only Protestant in her religious and social development but essentially Calvinistic (p. 33). "All the original Puritan characteristics still survive after three centuries among the Protestants, the lineal descendants of the Puritans, among most of the social reformers" (p. 37). "The Fundamentalists are the spiritual descendants of Cromwell" (p. 44). Again, Siegfried speaks of "The recent revival of Calvinism," as "a sign to retain its supremacy in order to safeguard the national customs from foreign influence" (p. 54).
In the North, in Massachusetts, as late as 1921, a lecturer who had mocked the Bible was condemned under the Blasphemy Act: "The religion of Christ is the prevailing religion of this country and this State" (p. 57).
In the South the hold which the Calvinistic conception of religion still has on the masses, is amazing. At the well known Scopes trial in Tennessee the Attorney General sternly rebuked a lawyer: "I find it necessary to advise you, in order to govern your conduct, that this is a God-fearing country" (p. 63).
For that matter, not alone in Tennessee and Mississippi laws were passed in recent years to safeguard orthodox conceptions of Creation, but also in the State of Oregon, which "represents the centre of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism in the Northwest" (p. 64).
Finally, we read in Siegfried's book (p. 56), that when President Wilson in 1917 had printed on the title of New Testaments given to our soldiers: "This is the Word of God; I request that you read it," the public did not feel that he had exceeded in the least his role as the head of a Christian government."
We cannot refrain, in connection with President Wilson, to mention the name of his fellow-elder, and Secretary of State, the Presbyterian lay-preacher W. J. Bryan, for decades the acknowledged leader, and twice or thrice the candidate for the U. S. presidency of one of the major parties of our country, whose amazing popularity is explained, in part at least, on the ground of the respect entertained for his pronounced religious convictions. Nor has he stood alone. A large number of Cabinet officers in recent years as well as some of our presidents, were acknowledged church leaders, even as the great majority of the members of our Congress are confessing members of various religious communions, while religious influence is marked in Washington. Siegfried is right we trust; though we dare not speak of deepening work, alas, and while discouraging phenomena increased in recent years: "America is not only Protestant in her religious and social development, but essentially Calvinistic."
There are two countries to be named in which Dr. Kuyper's program, as embodied in its first article, appears to have made considerable headway. The first of these lands is Hungary, in which new emphasis has been laid in recent years on the Reformed Creed and Presbyterian church government, while the Calvinist, Regent Nicholas von Horthy, has remained at the head of the "kingdom" since 1920. And the second country we have in mind here is the Union of South Africa in which, July 4, 1929, a Calvinistic Alliance was established, now representing fairly well, the different Dutch church-groups of the land—a "Bond" formed on purpose to make Calvinistic principles amount to something in the Union in which, as stated in the preamble, there has been considerable departure, in different domains, from the Old Calvinistic pathway. We hope that the publication of The Old Paths, a monthly, since January, 1931, published "in the interests of the Dutch Reformed Church of Ceylon—to maintain its doctrine, discipline, and liturgy," is an encouraging sign of revived interest coming from that beautiful island.
It was from the side of one of the Reformed Churches of South Africa, that an appeal reached the General Synod of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands,
August, 1930, to take steps to investigate the possibility, manner, and make-up of an Ecumenical Council or World Synod of Reformed Churches. If this matter is to be carried out in any practical manner, let us hope that its influence will lead to the realization of what Dr. Kuyper placed as No. 1 on his program of action as outlined above.
As we take up the second part of Dr. Kuyper's program—that Calvinism might again be studied, that the world might come to know it, we are able to record several encouraging facts. Calvinism has been studied during the last three decades. At times by its foes, something which we pass by as irrelevant. But also by its friends, or those who became its friends as they got "Under the spell of Calvin." We may indeed speak of a revival of interest in Calvinism. Prof. Grosheide (Reformatie, March 13, 1931), attributes this in part to the fact that our age has become weary of analysis and is beginning to long for synthesis. Tired of unsatisfactory dualism, it looks for some system that has unity in it—something which Calvinism offers.
Germany, still the great leader in scientific and philosophical thinking at least of the Old World, set the pace in this study of Calvinism. It was initiated by Ernst Troeltsch, born in 1865, successively connected with the Universities of Goettingen, Bonn, and Heidelberg. In his Die Soziallehren der Christlichen Kirchen and Gruppen, writing on the tremendous calling of the Church not alone to summon men to communion with God, but also to permeate human life and society with the principles of the Gospel, he showed that Calvinism had understood this calling best and endeavored to put it into practice, even though in trying to do so it was compelled to bring about a compromise between Church and world.
Writing of Germany, in connection with this revived interest in Calvinism, we naturally think of the work of Prof. Karl Barth. In Holland his work was introduced by Dr. Wilhelm Kolfhaus, of Vlotho, himself an able champion of Calvinism in the columns of the Kirchenzeitung of his group of Reformed churches, while for America Prof. A. S. Zerbe rendered fine service.
Dr. Karl Barth, in his The Word of God and the Word of Man, encouraged a number of us by the statement: "We must learn again to reverence Calvin because he is ours. We must return to a more frequent use of the Heidelberg Catechism because this time honored treasure is ours. Predestination; the autonomy of the Ten Commandments; church discipline; these are doctrines we must preach because they are part and parcel of the history which is ours."
Some have hailed Barth as "Calvin redivivus." It is evident that Barthianism emphasizes God as Creator and the Christian Religion as a supernatural transcendental order, through the revelation in Christ Jesus. This is to be duly appreciated in an age which has sadly neglected to lay stress on these fundamentals. But as one keen author, Dr. A. S. Zerbe, puts it in his, The Karl Barth Theology or the New Transcendentalism (1930), "these and related positions, though well taken, are in our judgment maintained with questionable unity and consistency, and with so many departures from classic Lutheran and Reformed confessions, that among European theologians there is almost a general shaking of the head about Barthianism." In Germany we, moreover, find H. Bauke, in 1922 publishing a book on the Problem of the Theology of Calvin, even as some years before him Karl Holl wrote on Johannes Calvin (1909). The next year Prof. Emil Knodt published his important work on Die Bedeutung Calvins and des Calvinismus für die Protestantische Welt (1910), while at present, from the press of Chr. Kaiser at Munich is appearing a new edition of Calvin's Opera Selecta. The opening, in 1927, of a new Theological School at Elberfeld, is an encouraging sign of revived interest in Calvinism. During 1930 not less than 114 Reformed churches in Germany contributed regularly toward the support of this institution, called into being to maintain the Reformed Confession.
Passing by Holland, about which we shall speak later, we note that in Scotland Professor W. Hastie in 1904 discussed Calvinism in his The Theology of the Reformed Church in its Fundamental Principles, while Mitchell Hunter in 1920 published: The Teaching of Calvin: a Modern Interpretation.
The next year there appeared an abbreviated edition of the Institutes, under the title: Instruction in Christianity, by John Calvin, in simple modern English, by J. P. Wiles, with a preface by H. T. Chilvers. A rather remarkable fact should be recorded that more than one writer, such as Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, has tried to bring out that the Calvinistic theory of predestination and its implications as they wend their way through various Protestant movements, is a major cause, if not the major cause of capitalism. Calvinism influences men to look on their secular calling as a religious duty, thrift as a virtue, and waste and idleness as a sin. The conservative conclusion that may be drawn is, "that the Calvinistic denominations in general are representative middle-class churches, whose rise and development as religious groups were conditioned by the economic interests of the bourgeoisie, and the economic rise of its members as a middle and capitalistic trade class was strongly influenced by the faith of Geneva," (The Social Sources of Denominationalism, by H. R. Niebuhr, p. 80). Cf. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Chapter I.
In so far as America is concerned there is scarcely a book on religion and church history published in recent years that does not in some way touch on Calvinism. References to it abound. Occasionally evaluations of it appear. In A Guide to the Study of the Christian Religion, edited by G. B. Smith, published in 1916, by the University of Chicago Press, and of decidedly liberal character, we read, as to an estimate of the value of Calvinism for early Protestantism: "The following points are of particular significance: Its inner religious significance; its services to intelligence, morality and civil life; its doctrinal constructiveness; its relation to the spirit of liberty and the impulse to progress" (p. 395).
Considerable literature on Calvin and Calvinism appeared in the year 1909, which marked the four hundredth anniversary of the Reformer's birth, such as: John Calvin, Theologian, Preacher, Educator,
Statesman, by Dr. Phillip Vollmer, with Dr. J. I. Good and Dr. W. H. Roberts as contributors. That same year there was published a notable work edited by Professor W. P. Armstrong: Calvin and the Reformation," four studies by Emil Doumergue (on "Calvin Epigone or Creator"), A. Lang, H. Bavinck ("Calvin and Common Grace"), and B. B. Warfield, (Pub., Revell, of New York). The last named author himself was in his days a valiant champion of Calvinism, loyal to it in all its bearings, and scholarly in his writings on it. In commemoration of the quadri-centennial of the birth of Calvin he wrote three addresses: "John Calvin the Theologian," "The Theology of Calvin," and "Present-day Attitude to Calvinism." They were published by the Presb. Board of Publication under the title: "Calvin as a Theologian and Calvinism Today." In 1931 there was issued by the Oxford University Press, a notable volume: Calvin and Calvinism, by B. B. Warfield. It contains seven chapters, entitled: "John Calvin, the Man and his Work; his Doctrine of the Knowledge of God; Doctrine of God; of the Trinity, of the Creation, and finally a lecture on "Calvinism," and one on the "Literary History of Calvin's Institutes." This work of 428 pages—prepared for the press by John E. Meeter—contains many references to the works of Dutch authors, among them Kuyper and Bavinck, thus serving as a link between the Old World and the New, of the literature on the subject considered in this book. Sorry to say, after Prof. Warfield's demise, Princeton Seminary, with which he was connected so long, Princeton once considered the Gibraltar of American
Calvinism, in recent years was the storm center of much controversy, while the organizing of a rival Seminary, Westminster, inevitably brought about a division of the orthodox forces. From the side of the men in authority at Princeton, however, we are assured that the Seminary's historic position will not be altered, and in such professors as Vos, Zwemer, and Kuizenga, it has scholars heartily loyal to Calvinism, while we feel sure that the men backing the new Seminary, such as Dr. Machen, stand foursquare for the old Westminster confession.
Men connected with the Southern Presbyterian Church have also rendered valuable service to Calvinism. Of these we name F. R. Beattie and S. L. Morris. The remarkable fact needs to be named, too, that a Methodist Professor, G. Harkness, in his "John Calvin, the Man and His Ethics" (1931), speaks of Calvin as a rugged figure he has come to study with a growing sense of comradeship ... to lift from his shoulders some of the opprobrium which has settled there through the centuries (p. 259).
Needless to say, the publication of some of the works of Dr. A. Kuyper, coming from the W. B. Eerdmans press, has been helpful in acquainting the American public with the principles for which our Grand Old Man stood so valiantly all his days. As such we mention Dr. G. H. Hospers' The Reformed Principle of Authority (1924), Dr. Q. Breen's John Calvin, a Study in French Humanism (1931), and the Reformed Confession Explained (1929) by the writer of this article. In this connection we also name J. C.
Monsma's What Calvinism Has Done for America (1919), Dr. R. Bronkema's Essence of Puritanism (1929), Dr. H. Kuiper's Calvin and Common Grace (1928), Dr. W. Burggraaff's The Rise and Development of Liberal Theology in America (1928), and Dr. Y. P. De Jong's De Leer der Verzoening in de Amerikaansche Theologie (1913).
Dr. Kuyper's own work on Common Grace and his Pro Rege have hitherto not been translated into the language of our land. Sorry to say, however, his Encyclopedia in so far as put into English has been a drug on the market, nor has that "on the Holy Spirit," no matter how valuable, proven to be a success as a publishing venture.
But there are other countries in which evidences appeared of a revival of interest in Calvinism. Professor Nohatec of the University of Vienna is a student of Calvinism, who occupies his place with honor and success.
In France, too, Calvinism continues to be studied.
Besides the monumental work on Calvin and His Labors, and other works on the Genevan Reformer by Professor Doumergue, we may take note of the less known fact that Dr. A. Lecerf, professor of the Free Protestant Theol. Faculty of Paris, and pastor of the Reformed Church, is a factor in stimulating new interest in Calvinism in his country. In January, 1927, a "Societé Calviniste de France" was organized with Prof. Lecerf as president.
In Switzerland, too, the old home of John Calvin, there is a revival of interest in the system we are here discussing. As already alluded to, in that country there are at present a number of young men who feel enthused to come out for the same principles for which the great preacher of Geneva stood in his days.
To return once more to the Netherlands, we should thankfully record the services of the "Calvijn-Fonds," and particularly of the Free University, in stimulating interest in Calvinism. As Dr. K. Dijk, himself an able writer on Calvinism, pointed out March, 1931, in a lecture, a Reformed University, such as was opened in Amsterdam October 20, 1880, is the outcome of the confession that God must be served also with the intellect, also in the domain of science. As opposed to unbelieving science, only that science can find truth as it returns to Him who is the Light of the world, also for the domain of science. Again: a University puts a stamp on the entire nation. Apostasy usually begins in a University. Over against that we must have a fortress to maintain God's truth. Furthermore, the value of such an institution is plain as we note its practical usefulness in the education of preachers, teachers, literary men, and spiritual leaders in all domains.
Thinking of the value of university-trained men, loyal to the Reformed Confession, we mention the Christelijke Encyclopedie under the editorship of Prof. F. W. Grosheide of the Free University. Dr. H. D. Dooyeweerd of the same institution completed a work on the philosophical fundamentals of Calvinistic jurisprudence and political economy. Prof. Van Vollenhoven's "De Beteekenis van het Calvinisme voor de Reformatie der Wijsbegeerte" in Anti-revolutionaire Staatkunde, 1931, also is of considerable significance and value.
Nor are the professors of this Amsterdam institution the only ones in this respect. We mention with great appreciation the name of Prof. Dr. A. Eekhof of the University of Leyden, as a devoted student of Calvinism, who knows how to inspire his students with love for it and its early defenders. In Utrecht we have such men as Professors Noordtzij and Visscher, the last named one now succeeded by Dr. J. Severyn, well known defender of orthodoxy, while connected with the University of Groningen is Prof. Haitjema—openly devoted to Calvinistic principles. Nor are we to omit the mention of the professors of the Theological School of Kampen, and their valuable publications: Professors Bouwman, Hoekstra, Honig, Greydanus, and Ridderbos, and Prof. J. Sebestyen of Budapest, Hungary, besides men connected with the Stellenbosch and Potchefstroom Schools in South Africa, and Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. The "Calvinistische Studenten-beweging," organized in March, 1930, in the Netherlands, is a promising sign of interest in the cause, as well as Dr. A. Sisoo's new Dutch translation of Calvin's Institutes published by Meinema of Delft.
In general, therefore, it can be stated that there has been at least something of a revival of interest in the study of Calvinism. In how far, as Dr. Kuyper put it, "the world may come to know it," is difficult to say. As already stated, the Encyclopedia of Dr. Kuyper, in so far as translated, and his work on the Holy Spirit did not find a ready sale. In how far the contemplated publication of Dr. H. Bavinck's Dogmatics will be a success as a business venture, remains to be seen.
But at least the attempt deserves credit. So does the publication of the various works of the late Prof. Warfield, to which we made reference on page 18. In his book, Is There a Future for Calvinism?, by the Rev. H. T. Chilvers, of the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London (October, 1929), we find the statement: "Yes, there is a future for Calvinism. People are inarticulately longing for a strong centre of authority, a dictatorship, if you will, which they will find in the Sovereignty of God, when it is brought home to them by the power of the inspired Bible in which it is so clearly revealed." Let's hope so, and pray and labor for it. As expressed in an enthusiastically received report, rendered by Dr. Wishart of Pittsburgh, at the meeting of the Western Section of the Alliance of the Reformed Churches, held in Washington, D. C., February, 1931: "Calvinism, with its emphasis on the Sovereignty of God, is a great system of truth... logical, comprehensive, and majestic; most of all, a system that glows with the glory of a majestic Person whose name is Love."
There was a third feature of Dr. Kuyper's program. It was that its principles should be developed once more in accordance with the needs of our times and consistently applied to different domains of life. We are sure that in regard to this the Reformed leaders in the Netherlands already referred to, as well as elsewhere, are entitled to the most honorable mention. We ought to single out in particular the name of two men in this regard. The first one is that of Dr. H. Henry Meeter, Professor of Calvinism at Calvin College.
He has done a splendid work in publishing his Fundamental Principle of Calvinism. In this he describes three subjects: I. The Calvinistic World-and Life-View; II. The Fundamental Principle; III. The Supreme Importance of this Fundamental Principle.
The second of the men we had in mind, is Dr. Valentine Hepp, Professor of Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam. It is he, as well as Dr. J. Van Lonkhuyzen and the Rev. H. Koffijberg, who wrote time and again about the international character of Calvinism. And Dr. Hepp, in the "Stone Lectures" delivered by him at Princeton, 1913, on Calvinism and the Philosophy of Nature, has rendered very valuable service. As we read his chapters on Calvinism and the Philosophy of Nature, the Principles of the Calvinistic Philosophy of Nature, Calvinism and the Monistic Philosophy of Nature, Calvinism and the Astronomical Conception of the Universe, and Calvinism and Geology, we feel naturally that a number of questions is left unanswered. At the same time a splendid pioneer work has been performed by him, while he brought out that Calvinism has a message for present-day times. Indeed, some valuable elements for the construction of a philosophy of nature have been furnished in the book referred to.
But—much land still remains to be possessed. Calvinism is not a petrified tree, beautiful and hard, such as one finds in Arizona—but fallen, never to rise and live again, but a living organism, a majestic Sequoia gigantea of California, the "Starr King," the "Mother of the Forest" aspiring to the clouds, broad of girth, here and there marred by fire, and denuded of some of its bark, but still fully alive and capable of sheltering multitudes.
Prof. Dr. James Orr, of Glasgow, in his Progress of Dogma, asserted (1901) that the Synod of Dort "left the real antinomies of the Calvinistic system unresolved," and he mentions specifically "the unqualified assertion of a divine Sovereignty unharmonized with love to the world" (Third edition, p. 299). Doubtless, the controversy which in recent years centered around "Common Grace" was in line with the natural developments of Calvinism as a living organism, and in the future as new conditions arise, and new problems have to be faced, this will demand constant, careful, and prayerful augmentation, and possibly here and there consistent modification. And particularly the application of Calvinism to different spheres of life—as proposed by Dr. Kuyper—cannot to this day, at least in so far as America is concerned, boast of marked achievements. But that ought to beckon us on to a vast and tremendous task for future generations of Calvinists. It will be a worthwhile enterprise. Henry Ward Beecher, himself not at all partial to Calvinism, wrote in his days: "I know Calvinism has been called hard—and it is true. Not everything in philosophy or theology can be sweetness in life. There must be granite in the world as well as flour. So there is need for solid substance in the beliefs which make the framework of human characters. There never was a system since the world began which put upon man such motives to holiness or builds batteries which sweep the whole ground of sin with such horrible artillery. They tell us that Calvinism plies men with hammer and chisel. It does, and the result is fundamental marble which endures forever."
In closing, let us not for one moment imagine that the interests of Christianity can be furthered best by hiding our colors or obscuring any fundamental doctrine pertaining to Calvinism. Let us rather devote ourselves to the task of developing and applying it to the praise of our Lord, in loyalty to His Word, and to benefit country and mankind thereby, as well as to be worthy sons of noble sires. We believe that for us of Dutch descent in the New World, it appertains to God's own plan in bringing us and our ancestors to these shores, to be, from generation to generation, the relay torch-bearers about whom we spoke at the beginning of this article. May God give us grace to labor, till:
The ends of all the earth shall hear,
And turn unto the Lord in fear;
For His the Kingdom, His of right,
He rules the nations by His might,
All earth to Him her homage brings,
The Lord of lords, the King of kings.
Grand Rapids, Mich., Aug. 25, 1931.