By Henry Ward Beecher
Henry Ward Beecher used to be an American Congregationalist minister, social reformer, magazine editor and orator. humans flocked to listen to his lecture excursions and preaching, during which - as well as campaigning opposed to slavery and selling women's suffrage - he embraced the idea of evolution at a time whilst many pastors have been violently against it. quantity II of Evolution and faith, released in 1885, years ahead of Beecher's loss of life, is a set of lectures during which he makes use of the insights of evolutionism to probe a variety of elements of Christian lifestyles and doctrine, together with love of God and neighbour. Beecher's robust writing finds the air of secrecy and exuberance which made him the sort of well known speaker in his day and makes this booklet fairly lucrative analyzing for historians of nineteenth-century technological know-how, faith and society.
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Everything else, in his view, is subsidiary to that; and he has thoughts of the tree that are utterly unlike those of either of the preceding. Another man is a landscape gardener; and to him a tree is simply one element in the composition of that noblest sphere of pictorial art where the earth is the canvas and trees and vines are pigments, and the landscape is the picture. But there comes a botanist, who may or may not have sympathy with all these. He studies the inward structure of the root, and its functions; the bark, and its functions.
And so has come to pass a mighty conversion of mere energy or power, that held a ruthless sway and still does in regard to organic matter, a conversion of power to the human will, to do with it as it seemed best. In human society the law of strength in the family very soon centered around about the helpless weakness of infancy; and the cradle, defended by the father and the mother, was as a fortress defended with walls and bulwarks; and strength made itself as weakness for the sake of the weak.
The nature of the controversy between him and his adversaries; his trial by the rules of justice and equity; his death, whether by natural phenomena or in some way involved in a mysterious spirituality; his resurrection; his ascension; his relations to his Father; whether he was a man or a pure God, or a God incarnate. These questions open the widest realm, perhaps, of speculation, in the whole human experience. They take in the nature of the great Creator, and the nature of Christ as a manifestation of God.