Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/588

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

independent. Though in the Church heart and soul, he was not a blind partisan, but saw the evils that were near, and the good that was beyond. Liberal in his ideas and catholic in his sympathies, he was unsparing in his condemnation of the selfish worldliness that he encountered in his own sect, and cordially responsive to all the noble work of the age whether within or without the pale of ecclesiasticism.

There were a simplicity, modesty, and intense earnestness in this man's nature, such as are but rarely observed. Though gifted as a preacher and capable of brilliant mental work, he never courted popularity, nor sought conspicuous positions. Often solicited to enter the higher sphere of churchly recognition and influence, he steadily resisted these importunities, preferring obscurity, and quiet, unobtrusive labor among the common people that had not been spoiled by affluence. He was very radical in his convictions in regard to ministerial duty, as may be gathered from various passages of his correspondence. In a private letter written from Boston, in 1869, he speaks very plainly: "This morning I preached in an old wealthy and dead church. To preach to such a people is like preaching to a field of old stumps and about as hopeful. . . . I thank God that we are not rich, and that our lot is not, and has not been, cast with the rich. I tell you the rich can hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, whether they be clergy or laity. . . . I feel that we are all relying too much on money—great stone churches, fine houses, large salaries, etc., which have brought the Church to the level of the world. I see the rich, full of pride, taken up with vanity, soul all gone, thinking their gain is godliness, no sympathy, no true riches of any kind."

Again he breaks out: "I am more and more convinced that a hired ministry is a great evil. To preach honestly under such circumstances almost kills me; to preach tenderly is almost Impossible. To take pay for preaching is base and unmanly; I feel it more and more every day. To be in the position of a divine teacher and not preach according to my conscience is impossible, and so, what with one thing and another, the difficulty of doing one's duty—the sense of begging or being a hireling—almost drives me out of the ministry. I ask myself: Is this all that eighteen hundred years can accomplish for man by the Church, and in the Church? Italy could not be worse off without her Church. How is it with the United States?"

In regard to science Mr. Perinchief was large-minded and sympathetic, although his acquisitions in this direction were of course slender. Neither his early education in the parish-school at Bermuda, nor his subsequent training at Amenia Trinity College and the New York Theological Seminary, could have been well adapted to inform him of the great truths of modem science, or to create any special interest in this line of study. But the instincts of his liberal intelligence were true to the spirit of improvement and progress, and, as his mind widened by observation and reflection, he saw clearly enough that science is to be the great renovating agency of modern times. In this relation his biographer remarks: "The scientists who wrote on evolution, as well as those who uttered striking thoughts in theology, literature, art, philosophy, or statesmanship, he devoured with equal gusto; and, discriminating between facts demonstrated to be true and those purely theoretical, he was always ready with a criticism or decided opinion on the merits of what he read. He accordingly saw nothing in science to cause alarm, but welcomed it as a grand agency of human amelioration, in emancipating men from superstition, and in making those great conquests of Nature that have been so powerful in elevating mankind from barbarism and carrying on the work of civilization. Nor could he understand how a deeper knowledge of the method and mysteries of Nature can have any other effect than to exalt and purify the conception that man forms of the Creator and Ruler of all things. His faith was not of a kind to be disturbed by any progress of knowledge. He therefore held all true men of science who dedicated themselves to the elucidation of the works of God as promoters of religion in its best and highest sense. He cheered on the labor of scientists, commending their single-minded and unswerving devotion to the pursuit of truth, not in any skeptical spirit, but as a simple dictate of Christian principle."