BY ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY PH.D.
WHAT IS WORTH WHILE? CULTURE AND REFORM THE VICTORY OF OUR FAITH
This work was begun nearly five years ago. Since then, the whole face of American history has changed. We have had the Spanish-American War, and the opening-up of our new possessions. In this period of time Gladstone, Li Hung Chang, and Queen Victoria have died; there has also occurred the assassination of the Empress of Austria and of President McKinley. There has been the Chinese persecution, the destruction of Galveston by storm and of Martinique by volcanic action. Wireless telegraphy has been discovered, and the source of the spread of certain fevers. In this time have been carried on gigantic engineering undertakings,—the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Trans-Balkan Railroad, the rebuilding of New York. We have also looked upon the consolidation of vast forces of steel, iron, sugar, shipping, and other trusts. We have witnessed an extraordinary growth of universities, libraries, and higher schools,—the widespread increase of commerce, the prosperity of business, the rise in the price of food, and the great coal-strike of 1902. Perhaps never before in the world's history have there been crowded into five years such dramatic occurrences on the world-stage, nor such large opportunities for the individual man or woman.
It is interesting for me to notice that since the first outlines of the book were written, many things then set down as prophecy have now been fulfilled. It was my purpose, in projecting the essays at what seemed to me to be the dawn of a great religious era, to help the onward movement by a few earnest words. History itself has swept the world far beyond one's dreams, and in completing them, I only ask that they may stand a further witness to the overwhelming majesty and influence of the Christian faith.
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
Philadelphia, November 1st, 1902
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. CHORDS OF AWAKENING: THE HIGHER CONQUEST
II. PRELUDE: THE CALL OF JESUS
III. PROCESSIONAL: THE CHURCH OF GOD
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF KINGS OF PRELATES AND EVANGELISTS OF SAGES OF TRADERS OF WORKERS
I. CHORDS OF AWAKENING: THE HIGHER CONQUEST
_The Son of God goes forth to war, A kingly crown to gain: His blood-red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe, Triumphant over pain; Who patient bears his cross below, He follows in His train!
They met the tyrant's brandished steel, The lions gory mane; They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven Through peril, toil, and pain: O God, to us may grace be given To follow in their train!_
The universe is not awry. Fate and man are not altogether at odds. Yet there is a perpetual combat going on between man and nature, and between the power of character and the tyranny of circumstance, death, and sin. The great soul is tossed into the midst of the strife, the longing, and the aspirations of the world. He rises Victor who is triumphant in some great experience of the race.
The first energy is combative: the Warrior is the primitive hero. There are natures to whom mere combat is a joy. Strife is the atmosphere in which they find their finest physical and spiritual development. In the early times, there must have been those who stood apart from their tribesmen in contests of pure athletic skill,—in running, jumping, leaping, wrestling, in laying on thew and thigh with arm, hand, and curled fist in sheer delight of action, and of the display of strength. As foes arose, these athletes of the tribe or clan would be the first to rush forth to slay the wild beast, to brave the sea and storm, or to wreak vengeance on assailing tribes. Their valor was their insignia. Their prowess ranked them. Their exultation was in their freedom and strength.
Such men did not ask a life of ease. Like Tortulf the Forester, they learned "how to strike the foe, to sleep on the bare ground, to bear hunger and toil, summer's heat and winter's frost,—how to fear nothing but ill-fame." They courted danger, and asked only to stand as Victors at the last.
Hence we read of old-world warriors,—of Gog and Magog and the Kings of Bashan; of the sons of Anak; of Hercules, with his lion-skin and club; of Beowulf, who, dragging the sea-monster from her lair, plunged beneath the drift of sea-foam and the flame of dragon-breath, and met the clutch of dragon-teeth. We read of Turpin, Oliver, and Roland,—the sweepers-off of twenty heads at a single blow; of Arthur, who slew Ritho, whose mantle was furred with the beards of kings; of Theodoric and Charlemagne, and of Richard of the Lion-heart.
There are also Victors in the great Quests of the world,—the Argonauts, Helena in search of the Holy Rood, the Knights of the Holy Grail, the Pilgrim Fathers. There are the Victors in the intellectual wrestlings of the world,—the thinkers, poets, sages; the Victors in great sorrows, who conquer the savage pain of heart and desolation of spirit which arise from heroic human grief,—Oedipus and Antigone, Iphigenia, Perseus, Prometheus, King Lear, Samson Agonistes, Job, and David in his penitential psalm. And there are the Victors in the yet deeper strivings of the soul—in its inner battles and spiritual conquests—Milton's Adam, Paracelsus, Dante, the soul in The Palace of Art, Abt Vogler, Isaiah, Teufelsdroeckh, Paul. To read of such men and women is to be thrilled by the Titanic possibilities of the soul of man!
The world has come into other and greater battle-days. This is an era of great spiritual conflicts, and of great triumphs. To-day faith calls the soul of man to arms. It is a clarion to awake, to put on strength, and to go forth to Holy War. If there were no fighting work in the Christian life, much of the intense energy and interest of the race would be unaroused. There are apathetic natures who do not want to undertake the difficult,—sluggish souls who would rather not stir from their present position. And there are cowards who run to cover. But there is in all strong natures the primitive combative instinct,—the let-us-see-which-is-the-stronger, which delights in contests, which is undismayed by opposition, and which grows firmer through the warfare of the soul.
It is this phase of the Christian life which is most needed to-day,—the warrior-spirit, the all-conquering soul. In entering the Christian life, one must put out of his heart the expectation that it is to be an easy life, or one removed from toil and danger. It is preeminently the adventurous life of the world,—that in which the most happens, as well as that in which the spiritual possibilities are the greatest. It is a life full of splendor, of excitement, of trial, of tests of courage and endurance, and is meant to appeal to those who are the very bravest and the best.
There are two forms of conquest to which the soul of man is called—the inner and the outer. The inner is the conquest of the evil within his own nature; the outer is the struggle against the evil forces of the world—the constructive task of building up, under warring conditions, the spiritual kingdom of God.
The real world is far more subtle than we as yet understand. When we dive down into the deep, sky and air and houses disappear. We enter a new world—the under-world of water, and things that glide and swim; of sea-grasses and currents; of flowing waves that lap about the body with a cool chill; of palpitating color, that, at great depths, becomes a sort of darkness; of sea-beds of shell and sand, and bits of scattered wreckage; of ooze and tangled sea-plants, dusky shapes, and fan-like fins.
Or if we look upward we reach an over-world, where moons and suns are circling in the heights. What draws them together? What keeps a subtle distance between them, which they never cross? How do they, age after age, run a predestined course? We drop a stone. What binds it earthward? Under our feet run magnetic currents that flow from pole to pole. In the clouds above, there are electric vibrations which cannot be described in exact terms.
Thus also, in spiritual experiences, there are currents which we cannot measure or describe. The psychic world is the final world, though its towers and pinnacles no eye hath seen. If we try to shut out for an hour the outer world, and descend into the soul-world of the life of man, we find ourselves in a new environment, and with an outlook over new forms and powers. We find ourselves in a world of images and attractions, of impulses and desires, of instincts and attainments. It is not only a world of separate and individual souls, but each soul is as a thousand; for within each man there is an inner host contending for mastery, and everywhere is the uproar of battle and of spiritual strife.
What is the Self that abides in each man? Is it not the consciousness of existence, together with a consciousness of the power of choice? Our individuality lies in the fact that we can decide, choose, and rule among the various contestant impulses of our souls. Herein is the possibility of victory and also the possibility of defeat.
Looking inward, we find that Self began when man began. We inherit our dispositions from Adam, as well as from our parents and a long ancestral line. When the first men and women were created, forces were set in action which have resulted in this Me that to-day thinks and wills and loves. Heredity includes savagery and culture, health and disease, empire and serfdom, hope and despair. Each man can say: "In me rise impulses that ran riot in the veins of Anak, that belonged to Libyan slaves and to the Ptolemaic line. I am Aryan and Semite, Roman and Teuton: alike I have known the galley and the palm-set court of kings. Under a thousand shifting generations, there was rising the combination that I to-day am. In me culminates, for my life's day, human history until now."
Individuality is thus a unique selection and arrangement of what has been, touched with something—a degree of life—that has not been before. To rise above heredity is to rise above the downward drag of all the years. It is not escaping the special sin of one ancestor, but the sin of all ancestors. This is the first problem that is set before each man: to rise above his race—to be the culmination of virtue until now.
The second problem is not greater, but different. It is to mould environment to spiritual uses. The conditions of this struggle and the opportunities of this conquest are the content of this book. It is meant to deal with the more heroic aspects of the Christian life.
What is environment? Is it the material horizon that bounds us? If so, where does it end? Our first environment is a crib, a room, our mother's eyes. Sensations of hunger, heat, and motion beat upon the baby-brain; there is a vague murmur of sound in the baby-ears. Yet it is this babe who, in after days, has all the universe for his soul's demesne! His environment stretches out to towns and rivers, shore and sea. Looking upward into space, he can view a star whose distance is a thousand times ten thousand miles. Beyond the path of his feet or of his sight, there is the path of thought, which leads him into new countries, new climes, new years! His meditations are upon ages gone; his work competes with that of the dead. In his reveries and imaginings, he can transport himself anywhither, and can commune with any friend or god. Hence to be master of one's environment is really to have the universe within one's grasp.
We are too much afraid of customs and traditions. We are put into our times, not that the times may mould us, but that we may mould the times! Ways? Customs? They exist to be changed! The tempora and the mores should be plastic to our touch. The times are never level with our best. Our souls are higher than the Zeitgeist. Why should we cringe before an inferior essence or command? But society seals our lips: we walk about with frozen tongues.
Each asks himself at some time: How shall I become one of the Victors of the race? Is it in me? Mankind is weighted by every previous sin. Where am I free? How am I free? Can I do as I choose? Or are there bourns of conduct beyond which I can never go? Am I foreordained to sin? Do the stars in their courses lay limitations on free will?
There are in man two forces working: a human longing after God, and, in response, God inly working in the soul. The Victor is he who, in his own life, unites these two things: a great longing after the god-like, which makes him yearn for virtue,—and the divine power within him, through which and by which he is triumphant over time and death and sin.
Whatever our trials, sorrows, or temptations, joy and courage are ever meant to be in the ascendant; life, however it may break in storms upon us, is not meant to beat down our souls. Unless we are triumphant, we are not wholly useful or well trained. Will and heart together work for victory.
As there flashes and thrills through all nature a subtle electric vibration which is the supreme form of physical energy, so there runs through the history of mankind a current of spiritual inspiration and power. To possess this magnetism of soul, this heroism of life, this flame-like flower of character, is to be Victor in the great combats of the race. It is the spirit of courage, energy, and love. Nothing is too hard for it, nothing too distasteful, nothing too insignificant. Through all the course of duty it spurs one to do one's best. Its essence is to overcome. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit, wherein is freedom, power, and rest. To its final triumph all things are accessory. To joy, all powers converge.
II. PRELUDE: THE CALL OF JESUS
I heard the voice of Jesus say Come unto Me and rest; Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast. I came to Jesus as I was, Weary and worn and sad; I found in Him a resting-place, And He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say Behold I freely give The living water; thirsty one, Stoop down and drink, and live. I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say I am this dark world's light; Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright. I looked to Jesus, and I found In Him my star, my sun; And in that light of life I'll walk, Till travelling days are done.
It is a world of voices in which we live. We are daily visited by appeals which are ministering to our growth and progress, or which are tending to our spiritual downfall. There are the voices of nature, in sky, and sea, and storm; the voices of childhood and of early youth; the voices of playfellows and companions,—voices long stilled, it may be, in death; the voices of lover and beloved; the voices of ambition, of sorrow, of aspiration, and of joy.
But among all these many voices, there is one which is most inspiring and supreme. When the Vorspiel to Parsifal breaks upon the ear it is as if all other music were inadequate and incomplete—as if a voice called from the confines of eternity, in the infinite spaces where no time is, and rolled onward to the far-off ages when time shall be no more. Even so, high and clear above the voices of the world, deeper and tenderer than any other word or tone, comes the voice of Jesus to the soul of man.
Look, if you will, upon the World of Souls, many-tiered and vast, stretching from day's end to day's end,—a world of hunger and of anger, of toiling and of striving, of clamor and of triumph,—a dim, upheaving mass, which from century to century wakes, and breathes, and sleeps again! Years roll on, tides flow, but there is no cessation of the march of years, and no whisper of a natural change. Is it not a strange thing that one voice, and only one, should have really won the hearing of the race? What is this voice of Jesus, so enduring, matchless, and supreme? What does it promise, for the help or hope of man?
There are some who say that Jesus has held the attention and allegiance of the race by an appeal to the religious instinct; that all men naturally seek God, and long to know Him. But if we try to define the religious instinct, we shall find it a hard task. What might be called a religious instinct leads to human sacrifice upon the Aztec altar; directs the Hindu to cast the new-born child in the stream, the friend to sacrifice his best friend to a pagan deity.
There are others who say that Christ appeals to the gentler instincts of man,—to his unselfishness, his meekness and compassion. Yet some of the most admirable Christians have been ambitious and aggressive. Others say, He appeals to our need of help. But self-reliance is a Christian trait. Others say, He appeals to our sense of sin—our need of pardon. But many a Christian goes through life like a happy child, scarcely conscious at any time of deep guilt, and never overwhelmed by intense conviction or despair.
The truth seems to be that Christ appeals to our whole selves. He calls us by an attraction which is unique. In the universe there exists a force which we must recognize—though we do not yet in the least understand it—which is gradually drawing the race Christward. The law of spiritual gravitation is, that by all the changing impulses of our nature we are drawn upward unto Him. Spohr's lovely anthem voices this cry of the soul:
"_As pants the hart for cooling streams, When heated in the chase, So longs my soul, O God, for Thee, And Thy refreshing grace.
"For Thee, my God, the living God, My thirsty soul doth pine; Oh! when shall I behold Thy face, Thou Majesty divine_?"
1. Jesus calls us by the mystery of life. There are hours of silence and meditation when the great thought I am beats in upon the soul. But what am I? Whence came I? A heap of atoms in some strange human semblance—is that all? And so many other heaps of atoms have already been, and passed away! Blown hither and thither—where? The universe reels with change. Star-dust and earth-dust are alike in ceaseless whirl. Little it profits to build the spire, the sea-wall, the dome, the bridge, the myriad-roofed town. A new era shall dawn upon them, and they shall fall away.
Not only that, but each man who lives to-day has less possible material dominion than he had who preceded him. Only so many square feet of earth, and now there are more to walk upon them! The ground we tread was once trodden by the feet of those long dead. I am taking up their room, and in due time I must myself depart, that there may be footway for those who are to come after me. Only the under-sod is really mine—the little earth-barrow to which I go.
There is no question more baffling than this simple, ever-recurring one: What am I? If I should decide what I am to-day, I discover that yesterday I was quite a different person. To-day I may be six feet in height, and climb the Alps; yesterday I lay helpless in swaddling clothes. Yesterday I was a thing of laughter and frolic; to-day I am grave, and brush away tears. As a babe, was I still I? What is Myself? When did I come to Myself? How far can I extend Myself? My feet are here, but in a moment my spirit can flee to Xanadu and Zanzibar. There is no spot in the universe where I may not go. Where, then, are the limits of Myself?
Personality is never for a single moment fixed: it is as changing and evanescent as a cloud. We are whirlwind spirits, swept through time and space, bearing within our souls hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, which are never twice the same. Every aspect of the universe leaves new impressions on us, and our wills, in their world-sweep, daily desire different things.
Incompleteness lies on life—restlessness is in the heart. True love has no final habitation on earth; there is no abiding-place for our deepest affection, our most tender yearning. It is curious how deeply one may love, and yet feel that there is something more. In all our journeys, skyward and sunward, we never reach the End of All.
Over against this vague and changing self, there stands out the figure of the changeless Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. In Him we find the environment of all our lives, and the sum of all our dreams.
2. Jesus calls us by our earth-born cares. In Mendelssohn's Elijah, there is a voice which sings: "O rest in the Lord!" This angel's message is the voice of Jesus to the human race.
The voice of Jesus calls us to awake to toil. We sometimes forget this, and imagine that if we follow Jesus, we shall never have anything to do. Christ does not still the machinery of the world, nor shut the mine, nor take away the sowing and the reaping. The call of Jesus is not a call to rest from work, but to rest in work. The rest we receive is that of sympathy, of inspiration, of efficiency. Christ really increases the toil-capacity of man. Man can do more work, harder work, and always better work, because of the faith that is in him. What makes the confusion and fatigue of life is, that men are everywhere scrambling for themselves, and trying to manage their own undertakings, instead of falling into harmony with God, and through Him, with all that is. What wears the soul out is not the work of life itself—it is its drudgery, its monotony, its blind vagueness, its apparent purposelessness. We do not wish to scatter our lives and spend our years in nothingness.
Christ comes into the world and says: Over-fatigue is abnormal. There is not enough work in the universe to tire every one all out. There is just enough for each one to do happily, and to do well. I am come as the great industrial organizer. My mission is not to take away toil, but to redistribute it. My industrial plan is the largest of history—it is also the most simple. I look down over the world, as a master upon his men. My work is not to found an earthly kingdom, as some have thought; it is not primarily to set up industrial establishments, or syndicates, or ways of transport and trade. My work is to build up in the universe a spiritual kingdom of energy, power, and progress. To this kingdom all material things are accessory. In My hand are all abilities, as well as all knowledge. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without My notice. Not a lily blooms without My delight. Not a brick is laid, not a stone is set, not an axe is swung, except beneath My eye. I provide for My own. To each man I assign his work, his task. If he takes upon him only what I give him to do, he will never be under-paid, or over-tired.
Hence the first step towards an industrial millennium is to arise and do what Jesus bids. Heaven is heaven because no one is unruly there, or idle, or lazy, or vicious, or morose. Each soul is at true and happy work. Each energy is absorbed; each hour is alive with interest, and there are no oppressive thoughts or ways.
If each heart and soul responded to the call of Jesus, there would be a new heaven and a new earth—a Utopia such as More never dreamed of, nor Plato, nor Bellamy, nor Campanella in his City of the Sun. Each hand would be at its own work; each eye would be upon its own task; each foot would be in the right path. All the fear, the weariness, the squalor, and the unrest of life would be done away. The life of each man would be a life of contentment, and of economic advance.
3. Jesus calls us by the scourging of our sins. Flagellation is not of the body—it is of the soul. Remorse is as a scorpion-whip, and memory beats us with many stripes. The first sin that besets us is forgetfulness of God. Apathy creeps over the spirit, and sloth winds itself about our deeds. Nothing is more pathetic than the decline of the merely forgetful soul. "Be sleepless in the things of the spirit," says Pythagoras, "for sleep in them is akin to death."
Sin lifts bars against success: the root of failure lies in irreligion. Pride, conceit, disobedience, malice, evil-speaking, covetousness, idolatry, vice, oppression, injustice, and lack of truth and honor fight more strongly against one's career than any other foe. No sin is without its lash; no experience of evil but has its rebound. To expect a higher moral insight in middle age because of a larger experience of sin in youth, is as reasonable as to look for sanity of judgment in middle age because in youth a man had fits!
Looking at ourselves in a mirror, do we not sometimes think how we would fashion ourselves if we could create a new self, in the image of some ideal which is before us? Would we not make ourselves wholly beautiful if we could make ourselves?
Even so, looking out upon our own spirits, do we not some day rouse to the distortion and deformity of sin? Do we wish to retain these grimacing phases of ourselves? Do we not yearn eagerly for the dignity and beauty of high virtue? Do we not long for the graces and perfections which make up a radiant and happy life? If we could be born again, would we not be born a more spiritual being?
It is to this new birth that Jesus calls our souls. All around the babe, hid in its mother's womb, there lies a world of which it has neither sight nor knowledge. The fact that the babe is ignorant does not change the fact that the world is there. So about our souls there lies the invisible world of God, which, until born of the Spirit, we do not see or understand. It is a world in which God is everywhere; in which there is no First Cause, except God; in which there is no will, except the will of God; in which there is no true and perfect love, except from God; no truth, except revealed by God; no power, except from Him.
Conversion is the outlook over a world which is arranged, not for our own glory, but for the good of God's creatures; in which what we do is necessary, fundamental, permanent—not because we ourselves have done it well, nor, in truth, because we have done it at all—but because what we have done is a part of the universe which God is building. We change from a self-centre to a God-centre; from the thought of whether the world applauds to whether God approves; from the thought of keeping our own life to the thought of preserving our own integrity; from isolation from all other souls to a sympathy with them, an understanding of their needs, and a desire to help their lives. It is a turning from a delight in sin, or an indifference to sin, or merely a moral aversion to it, to a deep-rooted hatred of every thought and act of sin, to penitence, and to an earnest desire to pattern after God.
4. Jesus calls us by our sorrows, Jesus calls us by our dreams. He thrills us by each high aim that life inspires. His voice is one of understanding, of tenderness, of human appeal. How could we love Jesus if He did not sympathize with our ideals? But here is a Divine One in whose sight we are not visionary; who lovingly guards our least hope; who welcomes our faintest spiritual insight; who takes an interest in our social plans, and points out to us the great kingdom that is to be. Christ lays hold of the divine that is in us, and will not let us go.
5. Jesus calls us by our latent gifts and powers. Which of us has ever exhausted his possibilities? Which of us is all that he might be?
It is an impressive thought, that nothing in the universe ever gets used up. It changes form, motion, semblance,—but the force, the energy, neither wastes nor dies away. Air—it is as fresh as the air that blew over the Pharaohs. Sun—it is as undimmed as the sun that looked down on the completion of Cheops. Earth—it is as unworn as the earth that was trodden by the cavemen.
No generation can ever bequeath to us a single new material atom. The race is ever in old clothes. Nor can we hand down to others one atom which was not long ere we were born. Yet the vitality of the universe is being constantly increased, and this increase is also permanent. God has a great deal more to work with now than a thousand years ago.
For not all energy is material. With each birth there comes a new force into the world, and its influence never dies. The body is born of ages past, of the material stores of centuries; but the soul, in its living, thinking, working power, is a new phase of energy added to the energy of the race.
This fact confers on each individual man a strange impressiveness and power. It gives a new significance to the fact that I am. I am something different from what has been, or ever shall be. In the great whirling myriads, I am distinguished and apart. I am an appreciable factor in universal development and a being of elemental power. By every true thought of mine the race becomes wiser. By every right deed, its inheritance of tradition is uplifted; by every high affection, its horizon of love is enlarged. We can bequeath to others this new spiritual energy of our lives.
This thought gives us a new zest for life. There is an appetite which is of the soul. It is this wish for growth, for the development of our powers, for a larger life for ourselves and for those who shall come after us.
Is there any one who wishes to stay always where he is to-day?—to be always what he is this morning? Beyond the hill-top lies our dream. Not all the voices that call men from place to place are audible ones. We hear whispers from a far-off leader; we are beckoned by an unseen guide. Out of ancestry, tradition, talent, and training each departs to his own way.
What calls is not largeness of place—it is largeness of ideal. To each of us, thinking of this one and that one who has taken a large part in the shaping of the world, there comes a feeling: Beside all these I am in a narrow way! What can I think that shall be worth the consideration of the race? What can I do that shall be a stepping-stone to progress? What can I hope that shall unseal other eyes to the universal glory, comfort others in the universal pain? We say: I do not want to be mewed up here, while others are out where thrones and empires are sweeping by! I do not want to parse verbs, add fractions, and mark ledgers, while others are the poets, the singers, the statesmen, the rulers, and the wealth-controllers of the world! We wish to step out of the trivial experience into that which is significant. Each day brings uneasiness of soul. "Man's unhappiness," says Carlyle, "as I construe it, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the finite." Says Tennyson:
"It is not death for which we pant, But life, more life, and fuller, that we want."
These aspirations are prophetic. Does a clod-hopper dream? We move toward our desires. The wish for growth is but the call of Jesus to our souls. We sometimes hear of the "limitations of life." What are they? Who set them? Man himself, not God. The call of Jesus urges the soul of man to possibilities which are infinite.
A large life is the fulfilment of God's ideal of our lives—the life which, from all eternity, He has looked upon as possible for us. Could any career be grander than the one that God has planned for us? God does not think petty thoughts: He longs for grandeur for us all.
6. Jesus calls us by the spirit of the times. There is a growing recognition of the affinity between God and the human soul. Religion has changed in spirit as well as in form. It used to be considered a tract in one's experience, and now it is perceived to be all of life—its impetus, its central moving force, the reason for being, activity, development, for ethical conduct, and for unselfish and joyous helpfulness. Religion is more and more perceived to be, not a thing of feeble sentiment, of restraint, of exaction, of meek subordination and resignation, but the unfolding of the free human spirit to the realization of its highest possibilities and its allegiance to that which is eternal and supreme. The nineteenth century closes with the thinker who is also a man of meditation and devotion. We offer to Heaven the incense of aspiration, hope, research, talent, and imagination.
The chief thing toward which we are moving is, I believe, the Enthronement of the Christ. Christ has always been, in the hearts of the few, enthroned and enshrined. Even in the dark years of mediaeval superstition and unrest, there were the cloistered ones who maintained traditions of faith and did works of mercy, as there were knightly ones who upheld the ministry of chivalry, and followed, though afar, the tender shining of the Holy Grail. But now all the signs point to a great and general recognition of the Christ—Christ to be lifted high on the hands of the nations, to His throne above the stars!
A new spiritual note is to be heard in modern subjects of study, is noticeable in all paths of intellectual prestige. History is no more looked upon as the story of the trophies of warriors, conquerors, and kings. History, rising out of dim mists, is seen to be the marching and the countermarching of nations in the throes of progress and of social change. It is not the story of princes alone, but of peasants as well; the result of myriads of small, obscure lives; of changing conditions; of the movements of great economic, psychologic, and spiritual forces. Looking backward over the moving processional of the nations of the earth, we may see how, without rest, without pause, through countless ages, the myriad legions of men have been passing across the scene of life—passing, and fading away!
"All that tread The globe are but a handful of the tribes That slumber in its bosom."
Empires have risen, and empires have decayed; dynasties have been buried, and long lines of kings, wrapping stately robes about them, have lain down to die. Thrones have been overturned, armies and navies have been mustered and scattered, land and sea have been peopled and made desolate, as the thronging tribes and races have lived their little life and passed away. Babylon and Assyria, India and Arabia, Egypt and Persia, Rome and Greece,—each of these has had its lands and conquests, its song and story, its wars and tumults, its wrath and praise. Under all the tides of conquest and endeavor but one fact shines supreme: the steady progress of the Cross.
One principle of growth and development is being slowly revealed,—an approach to symmetry and civic form, which is seen in freedom, justice, popular education, the rise of masses, the power of public opinion, and a general regard for life, health, peace, national prosperity, and the individual weal. The day has passed when men merely lived, slept, ate, fought; they are now involved in an intricate and progressive civilization. Sociology, ethics, and politics are newly blazed pathways for its development, its guidance, and its ideals. We are moving on to new dreams of patriotism, of statesmanship, and of civil rule.
Literature, instead of being considered as merely an expression of the primitive experiences of a race in its sagas, glees, ballads, dramas, and larger works and songs, is more and more revealing itself as an appeal to the Highest in the supreme moments of life. It is the unfolding panorama of the concepts of the soul in regard to duty, conduct, love, and hope. Literature asks: What do I live for? as well as, How shall I speak forth beauty? How ought the soul of man to act in an emergency? What is the best solution of the great human problems of duty, love, and fate? The voices of Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Browning sweep the soul upward to spiritual heights, and answer some of the deepest questionings of the soul of man. And hence literature is no longer merely a thing of vocabulary, of phrase, of rhythm, of assonance, of alliteration, or of metrical and philosophical form. It is a revelation of the progress of the soul, of its standards, of its triumphs, its defeats, and its desires. It is the unfolding of one's intellectual helplessness before the unmoved, calm passing of years; of one's emotional inadequacy without God for adjudicator. It is a direct search for God. One finds wrapped within it the mystery, aspiration, and spiritual passion of the soul.
Science, no longer a dry assembling of facts and figures, is an increasing revelation of the imagination, the exactness, the thoroughness, and the great progressive plans of God. Evolution has become a spiritual formula. The scientist looks out over the earth and sky and sun and star. Against his little years are meted out vast prehistoric spans; against his mastery of a few forms of life, stands Life itself. Back of all, there looms up the great Figure of the Originator of life, and of the forms of life; the Maker and Ruler of them all. Each scientific fact helps exegesis and evidence. Each new aspiration after truth becomes a form of prayer.
Yes, the whole world is being subtly and powerfully drawn to the worship of the Christ. Never before was there so deep, genuine, and widespread a Revival of Religion. It has not come heralded with great outcries, with flame and wind, and revolution and upheaval; it has come as the great changes that are most permanent come, in stillness and strength. Throughout the world there is being turned to the service of religion the highest training, the most intellectual power. Wars are being wrought for freedom; the Church and the university are joining hands; the rich and the poor are drawing near together for mutual help and understanding; industry is growing to be, not only a crude force, brutal and disregarding, but a high ministry to human needs; the home is becoming more and more the guardian of faith and the shrine of peace; business houses are taking upon them a religious significance; commerce and trade are perceiving ethical duties. Armies are marching in the name of Jehovah, and a great poet has this one message: "Lest we forget!"
7. Jesus calls us by the future of the race. Life proceeds to life. Eternity is what is just before. Immortality is a native concept for the soul. Beyond this hampered half-existence, the soul demands life, freedom, growth, and power.
We stand between two worlds. Behind us is the engulfed Past, wherein generations vanish, as the wake of ships at sea. Before us is the Future, in the dawn-mist of hovering glory, and surprise. Looking out over eternity, that billowy expanse, do we not see rising, clear though shadowy, a vast Permanence, Completion, Realization, in which the soul of man shall have endless progress and delight? This is the Promise held out by all the ages, and the future toward which all the thoughts and dreams of man converge. It is glorious to be a living soul, and to know that this great race—life is yet to be!
At the threshold of each new century stands Jesus, star-encircled, with a voice above the ages and a crown above the spheres,—Jesus, saying, FOLLOW ME!
III. PROCESSIONAL: THE CHURCH OF GOD
_The Church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation By water and the Word: From heaven He came and sought her To be His Holy Bride; With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.
Though with a scornful wonder Men see her sore opprest, By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distrest; Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up, "How long?" And soon the night of weeping Shall be the morn of song.
'Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace for evermore; Till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest._
SAMUEL JOHN STONE
The subject that is being carefully considered by many thinking men and women to-day is this: the place and prospects of the Christian Church. All about us we hear the cry that the Church is declining, and may eventually pass away; that it does not gain new members in proportion to its need, nor hold the attention and allegiance of those already enrolled. Are these things true? If so, how may better things be brought to pass? To share in the civilization that has come from nineteen hundred years of the work of the Church, and to be unwilling to lift a pound's weight of the present burden, in order to pass on to others our precious heritage, is certainly a selfish and unworthy course. It is better to ask, What is my work in the upbuilding of the Church? What can I do to further the Royal Progress of the Church of God?
The root-failure of the organized Church to-day is its failure to share in the growing life of the world. A growing life is one that is full of new ideas, new experiences, new emotions, a new outlook over life—that works in new ways, and that is full of seething and tumultuous energy, enthusiasm, and hope. If we look out over the colleges, business enterprises, periodicals, agriculture, manufacturing, and shipping of the world, we find everywhere one story—growth, impetus, courage, resources, vigorous and bounding life. Beside these things the average church services to-day are both stupid and poky. The forces of religion are neither guided nor wielded well. There is in most churches, however we may dislike to own the fact, a decrease of interest and proportionate membership, a waning prestige, a general air of discouragement, and a tale of baffled efforts and of disappointed hopes.
The Church—and by this word I here mean the organized body of both clergymen and laymen—is meant to be the supreme spiritual leader of the world. It is meant to possess vigor, decision, insight, hope, and intellectual power. But before it can accomplish its high and holy work, a great reconstruction must begin. To help in this reconstruction, to aid in vivifying, cooerdinating, and ruling the varied processes of organized religion, is your work and mine.
1. The Church must rouse to a sense of its noble duties and exalted powers. We underrate the Church. We are looking elsewhere for our highest ideals, instead of claiming from the Church that spiritual guidance and inspiration which should be its right to give. One of the things that is a monumental astonishment to me, is that when we need supplication, intercession, prayer for the averting of great personal or national calamity, we flee to the Church, but we seldom think of the Church when we need brains!
The Church should lead, and not follow, the great dreams of the world. In the midst of our new national life we are sending all over the country for the best-trained help and thought in every department of government influence and control. Our problems of the day are preeminently spiritual ones. Colonial control is not a question of material ascendancy—it is a rule over the minds, hearts, and ideals of men. Its moral significance is patent. We are called upon, not only to import provisions, clothing, and household and industrial goods into our new possessions; we are called upon to develop a higher sense of honor, truth, honesty, and every-day morality. Scholars, working-men, business men, farmers, and merchants are being consulted in regard to different phases of our national advance, and every idea which their insight and experience furnish is seized upon. But who is consulting the Church in these concerns, except in reference to mere technical points? Who is looking to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual standards of the Church for guidance? We are to-day ruled spiritually, as well as intellectually, by laymen, and in a way which is quite outside the organized work of the Church.
2. The Church needs a more business-like organization and way of work. It needs a more military spirit and discipline. The Church is diffuse and loosely strung. There are in the United States alone about two hundred and fifty-six kinds of religious bodies. There is no centralized interest or work; there is no economic adjustment of funds; there is no internal agreement as to practical methods. The result is a most wasteful expenditure of force. Movements are not only duplicated, but reproduced a hundred times in miniature, in one denomination after another; special talent is restricted to a narrow field; buildings and church-plants are multiplied, but lie largely disused; sects and communities are at loggerheads on unessential points; all this—and the world is not being saved! The Church fails to see openings for aggressive work; it fails to seize strategic points; it does not carry a well-knit local organization, with a husbanding of economic force; it does not front the world in dead-earnest; it is not proud and honorable in meeting its local debts; it loses progressive force, from lack of knowledge as to how to judge men, and train them, and set them to work.
It also lacks greatly in office-force and in supplies. The gospel itself is without price, but in the nature of things it cannot be proclaimed, nor church-work efficiently carried on, without financial outlay. There should be a more adequate equipment for this work. All other enterprises need, without question, stationery, stenographers, literature for distribution, office-rooms, office-hours, and a general arrangement looking toward enlargement and progress. A busy pastor should have an office-equipment just as much as a business man, and it should be supported, as a business office is, out of the funds of the business organization, i.e. the local church.
There should be, first of all, a united spirit, and a general reorganization throughout the whole of evangelical Christendom, not necessarily destroying denominational lines, with a view to quick mobilization of energy in any direction most needed. What would a general do, who, in looking over his troops, should find two hundred and fifty-six provincial armies, not at ease or at peace with each other, and yet expected to make war upon a common foe? Shall we not endeavor to share in some broadly planned, magnificently executed scheme of world-advance?
The Church has reached a point where a vast constructive work is to be done. Its scattered parts must be knit into a powerful and aggressive whole, to turn a solid front upon the evil of the world. The times are ripe for a successor of Peter the Hermit, of Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli, Savonarola, Whitefield, Finney, Moody. Whether a great preacher, theologian, or evangelist, he will certainly be a business man, a man of vast energy and executive capacity, who shall perform this miracle of organization of which many dream, and who shall set the progress of the Church for a full century to come!
This united spirit should prevail, not only through the smaller bodies, but between the Roman Catholic and Protestant communions. There has been a distinct division between these two bodies, much mutual suspicion, jealousy, and antagonism: it is only quite lately that Protestant and Catholic leaders have been willing to work amicably together for great common causes.
A new situation has arisen. In our new possessions we are confronted with a large population who, whatever may be the reason, are unquestionably not, as a whole, progressive, enlightened, educated, or highly moral. The problem now is, not for Catholic and Protestant to waste energy and spiritual strength in contending for mastery over each other, but for them to unite in changing and bettering the condition of our island peoples. What is past is past. Our present duty is to bring peace, industry, intelligence, high ideals, and spiritual living to our new countrymen. This is a work to fill the hands and heart of both churches, and perhaps, in a common task, each may learn to understand and regard the other as those should understand and regard each other who have one Lord, one hope, one heaven.
3. The Church needs stronger and more gifted leaders. In every business or intellectual enterprise to-day, there is an effort to place at the head of each organization the most powerful and resourceful man whose services can be obtained. Nothing in this age works, or is expected to work, without the leadership of brains. A primary step, in a far-reaching ecclesiastical policy, is to endeavor to draw into both ministry and membership the most active and intellectual class. All earnest souls can work, but not all can work equally effectively. Particularly in the ministry, north, south, east, and west, men are needed who are really men. This does not necessarily mean the men with the longest string of academic degrees, the men who can write the best poems or make the best speeches on public occasions; it means the thinking men who are brave, talented, spiritual, and warm-hearted.
In the Report of one of the missionary Boards, I have recently read the following stirring words. They refer to the work of missionaries in the far north, one of whom has lately travelled a thousand miles over the snow in a dog-sled: "He who follows that mining crowd must be more than the minister, who would do well for towns in the west or elsewhere in Alaska. He must be a man who, when night overtakes him, will be thankful if he can find a bunk and a plate in a miner's cabin; he must travel much, and therefore cannot be cumbered with extra trappings—must dress as the miners do, and accept their food and fare. He must be no less in earnest in his search for souls than they in search for gold. He must be so 'furnished' that, without recourse to books or study-table, he can minister acceptably to men who under the guise of a miner's garb hide the social and mental culture of life in Eastern colleges and professional days."
It is far from that land of frost and snow to the beautiful island of Porto Rico, washed by tropical seas, through the streets of whose capital there passes every day the carriage of the Governor, with its white-covered upholstery and its livery of white. But I add this word: The missionary sent to Porto Rico, be he Catholic or Protestant, must be a man who can stand among statesmen and society men and women, as well as one who can live and work among the humblest folk who lodge in leaf-thatched huts along the roadside or far on lonely hills. Representative men of ability, health, culture, and courage are being chosen to carry on governmental work: it is idle to send provincial men to the Church. What is locally true of the Church in Porto Rico is fundamentally true all over the world, at home and abroad. Each ministerial post to-day requires an imperial man. Not every post requires the same sort of man, either in regard to general heredity or education. Men are needed of the Peter-type, of the John-type, of the Paul-type; it suffices that, they be men of unusual power, and well fitted to their individual work.
4. The Church needs a better system for the proper placing of men. No phase of the world's work can be carried on merely and simply because a man is pious. In every phase of life, there is a constant shifting of men according to temperament, ability, and general influence and power. In the Church we must have a quick and decisive recognition of a man's ability, and he must be set where that talent can work easily and effectively. Churches are not all alike. There are no two alike. When we think of it, what a ghoulish business "candidating" is! No scheme for the right placing of men can be devised which does not place a great deal of power in the hand of a few leading men. This power may be abused, but ought not to be, if it were really looked upon as under divine direction and inspiration. Cannot a great leader be inspired to the choice of a man, as well as a great author to the choice of a word, a rhyme? Comparatively few men thoroughly understand how to rate other men, and to these few men, as in all other great enterprises, must be given the power and authority to select and adjust. By this I do not mean that a set of ecclesiastics will alone be adequate. Ecclesiastical vision, like all other highly specialized vision, is partial, and does not always see quite straight. There should also be called into play the business ability and discernment of men of large business interests or administrative gifts. Sooner or later the various religious organizations will have to meet, in some better way than any thus far formulated, this growing need.
5. We need a release of pressure on the abler men. Many a minister to-day is a sort of community lackey. What other men are frankly too busy to do, he is supposed to be cheerfully ready to do. The list of odd jobs which fall to his lot would be ridiculous, were not their influence upon his life and work so retrogressive and so sad. He lives to serve others, but this vow of service is greatly imposed upon. If he is to lead in intellectual and spiritual matters, he must be given fewer errands to run, the financial burden of his church must be taken absolutely from his shoulders, he must have a suitable salary, and his time must be at least as carefully guarded as that of the average man. Some calls he is bound to obey, at whatever cost of time or strength,—illness, certain public duties, and real spiritual needs,—but his life must not be at the mercy of cranks, or of idle persons' whims.
6. We need a reorganization of preaching traditions. It is a tradition that a minister must, in general, preach two set sermons every week, give one informal week-day lecture, and be prepared to deliver, at any moment, funeral addresses, anniversary speeches, "remarks," or to perform other utterly impossible intellectual feats. Anyone who writes, or who speaks in public, knows that the preparation of a half-hour address which is worth anything requires a great deal of time. It cannot ordinarily be "tossed off," and help men's souls. Only an occasional inspiration, the result of a lifetime of thought and experience, is born in this sudden way. Usually excellence is the result of long and careful labor. The way to help this would seem to be a constant interchange of preachers, not only in one denomination, but among the various denominations, so that a really fine sermon would be heard by many people, and fewer sermons would require to be written. This is easily done in a large city or its vicinity. What congregations need most is not altogether formal sermons, but thoughtful, helpful talks containing a fresh, uplifting, and spiritual outlook over life, with a practical bearing on the occasions and duties of life. The work of both Frederick Robertson and Horace Bushnell has this direct and vital tone.
Ministers must study more. If they are freed from many tasks now put upon them, it is not unreasonable to ask that this time be put on more careful thinking. Too many a minister of to-day is, intellectually, something of a flibbertigibbet. His sermons do not take hold, because they have not the roots to take hold with. How many ministers possess, for instance, a scholarly knowledge of human nature or of the deeper aspects of redemption? Yet these things he ought to know. There is a large amount of intensely interesting, though spiritually undigested, material for a minister in a book like William James's Varieties of Religious Experience.
7. Greater care must be taken of the rural church. Any one interested in a great ecclesiastical polity must surely recognize the ultimate possibilities of our rural regions. Here are growing up the leading men and women of to-morrow. Ideals and inspirations set upon their hearts will bear fruit a thousand-fold. Hence there should be a definite arrangement by which a certain portion of the preaching time of the really able preachers shall be placed each year in some small and remote place. Several scattered country churches might unite for these services. Let such a man also make helpful suggestions for neighborhood social and intellectual life. While he is in the village, let the country pastor go to town, browse in libraries, art-collections, hear music, and get a general quickening of interest and inspiration. Let each compare notes with the other. They will both gain by this interchange.
8. There is too little recognition of individual talent in the Church. Too few workers are set at work which they know how to do, and the untaught rush at tasks which angels fear to touch. We have myriads of Sabbath-school teachers, but how many men or women really know how to teach a little child? The man is asked to speak or pray in prayer-meeting, who cannot possibly do it well, but no notice is taken of the fact that he thoroughly understands public accounts. A man is asked to subscribe ten dollars to a church affair, who cannot afford it, but his spiritual insight might save the impending church quarrel. People come and go in the churches, and many, I am convinced, drift away because they are never asked for anything but money for the support and interest of the Church. In no other sort of organization is this true. Even in the summer camp or mountain hotel or Atlantic liner, when any pastime or entertainment is suggested, the first thing to discover is, What can each one do? One, who has the gift of organization and management, "gets it up"; one sings; one reads or recites; one writes a bright bit of verse; another smooths out rising jealousies, or bridges, by a little tact, the abyss of caste. Why do we hide so many pretty talents under a bushel, when the church-door swings behind us? Why do we substitute such strange and foolish tasks, particularly for women? What would leading lawyers and doctors do, I wonder, if they were asked, as busy women often have been, to spend a precious morning in a church-room sorting cast-off clothes?
In every church, large or small, there are both men and women who are talented in a special way; who could bring gifts of training and experience to bear upon the problems and opportunities of the Church. Tell me, in prayer or speech-making, formal or social occasion, pastor or people, do we often bring our very deepest, tenderest, most inspiring emotional or intellectual life? It is not a whit more spiritual to be stupid than to be bright. This is what our church-meetings should be—not a formal and very dull round of prayers and set remarks, more or less pointless; they ought to be a yielding-up of our heart's best life to others.
9. We need, as a Church, a deeper spiritual life. We need the Power of the Holy Ghost. In spite of all the sorrow of the world, sorrow both of a personal nature and that which touches whole communities, there is only one real burden upon the heart of earnest men and women: it is our own inadequate representation of Christianity,—the disheartening difference between what we practise and what we profess. When the Church of God is in reality a powerful and hard-working body of sincere, honest, and loving people, the world will soon be saved!
By the question, Why join the Church?—I do not mean alone, Why add my name to a church-roll? I mean, Why give myself, my powers, my education, my love, my loyalty, to advance the progress of the Church?
There is nothing we resent more than a waste of ourselves. To attract our service, there must be in the Church an inner vitality, a moving and spiritual fire.
1. The Church embodies the spiritual dreams of the world. Man does not live by bread alone; he lives by imagination, and by religious powers. In the Church of God, the spiritual imagination of man reached its highest field of energy, and has brought forth its most triumphant works. The great art of the world has centred about the Christian Church—its architecture and much of its noblest speech. Imagine a world in which every work which was inspired by the Church, or by the concepts of religion embodied in it, should be left out. What would we then lack? We would lack the greatest works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Francesca, Botticelli, Murillo; we would not see the cathedrals of Milan, Strasburg, or Cologne; we would never read the poems of Caedmon, Milton, or Dante. The hamlet would be without a spire; philanthropy would be almost unknown; there would be neither night-watch nor morning-watch of united prayer. We should have no processional of millions churchward on the Lord's Day, no hymns to stir our souls to joy and praise, no anthems or oratorios, no ministers, no ecclesiastical courts and assemblies, no church conventions, no church-schools, religious societies, nor religious press. All these works and institutions proclaim the glory of belief, and hand down the religious traditions and the spiritual aspirations of the generations of men. Shall we let others share in the mystery and triumph while we stand apart, silent, unapproving, and alone?
The dreams of the Church are high and holy. There is the dream of Freedom, of the Freedom of the Soul. It is an inspiring thought this, the essential democracy of the race. We do not find intellectual equality of souls. We see each man or woman differently circumstanced, differently gifted, differently trained. Yet each may say, I am spiritually free! To me also is given the opportunity of development, of majesty of character, of high service. The soul is the thrall of none; nothing can bind it to spiritual serfdom.
Next, there is the dream of Allegiance. Some one has well said: "Wouldst thou live a great life? Ally thyself with a great cause." Allegiance is devotion of the whole of ourselves to a leader, a cause. We can no more go through the world without allying ourselves to something than we can go through it and live nowhere. If the object of our allegiance be a high one, if the ideal be a grand one, our lives are in a constant process of development toward that height, that grandeur. Each act of faith becomes an impetus to progress. We are daily enriched by the experience of mere obedience. To obey and follow are acts in the universal process.
If, on the other hand, we ally ourselves to that which is lower than ourselves, by the very act we are dragged down. No one can remain upon even his own level, who is in obedience and devotion to that which is below him. Allegiance to a Higher is one of the trumpet-calls of the world. It has been the rally of all armies, of all legions, of all crusades. The great commander is, by his very position, a grouper of other men, the ruler of their thoughts, their deeds, their dreams. His power to call and to sway is beyond his own ideas of it. How otherwise could it be that out of one century one heart calls to another—out of one age, proceeds the answer to the cry of ages gone?
The lover of music to-day allies himself to Bach, to Haydn, to Mozart, to Wagner, by his appreciation, his sympathy, his understanding of what they have done. He acknowledges their control of his musical self by his efforts to interpret their work to others, and to create new works which shall be inspired by their ideals. Thus he acknowledges their control of his own powers. Such control over the spirit of man is that of the Church over the social body; it stirs the spiritual aspiration of man, it directs his ambition. It fixes upon a standard, the Cross; upon a Hero, the Christ, and reaches unto all the world its arm of power, drawing unto itself the loyalty, the faith, the affection, and the royal service of successive generations of mankind.
The dream of Redemption. It is not technical creeds for which the Church as a whole stands, but for certain vital principles which concern the life of the soul, and its relation to God and man. Virtue has always been a dream of the heart. But how inaccessible is virtue, with a past of unforgiven sin! The height of our ideal of redemption is conditioned upon the depth of our realization of sin. To the shallow, redemption is an easy-going process, a way of healing the scratches which the world makes. To the deep and serious-minded, redemption involves the regeneration of the race. Only the ransomed can truly work, love, or praise!
There is one sorrow which God never calls us to—the sorrow of a wasted life. By redemption, the Church reveals not only a saving from rebellion, unbelief, and crime, but redemption from sloth, from indifference, from lack of purpose, and from low aims. Redemption looms up as the great economic force of Time—that which inspires and preserves our powers, directs our energies, creates opportunity, brings to pass our most high and holy desires, and fills life with satisfying and abiding things.
Beauty, harmony, and affection are the natural laws of the moral world. There is no despair where there has been no disobedience. Christus Salvator stands out before the world in majesty and power. Virtue is enthroned in a universe which is beneficent.
The dream of Fellowship. The Church is the great social body. We can never live our best life in the world, and stand outside the Church. There is something vital in personal contact, and in social affiliation. It strengthens the best and otherwise most complete work. The Christian Church is a body of allies, whose work is the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. We do not realize how great a bond this is. We have our own church centre, our own denomination, our own local interests. But by and by a great occasion arises—a revival which sweeps the country, a reunion of two long-divided parties, an Ecumenical Council, a Chinese persecution—and suddenly there arises before the mind's eye a glimpse of that Church which girdles the world, whose emissaries are in every country, whose voices speak in every tongue. We perceive that everywhere are
"Swelling hills and spacious plains Besprent from shore to shore with steeple-towers, And spires whose silent finger points to heaven."
Says Wordsworth also:
"They dreamt not of a perishable home, Who thus could build."
Many an ideal state has been thought out, in which fellowship should be the root of social progress. But in what state is the proffered fellowship like that of the communion of saints? Each has his share of work and dreams; each has his endowment of talent and of opportunity; each has his aspirations and supreme hope. The joys of one are the joys of all. The sorrows of one are the sorrows of all. The triumphs of one are the triumphs of all. The World-burden is the task set to be removed. The World-upbuilding in love, joy, peace, and truth is the final endeavor. This community of interest is the strongest coalition the world has yet known.
There are those who say, I prefer to worship by myself! One might as well say, I prefer to fight in battle by myself! There is a time for personal worship, and there is a time for social worship. Alone, the heart meets God. Alone, its prayers for individual needs and longings are offered up. Alone, it asks for blessings on the individual life and work. But the personal life is only a fragmentary part of the life universal. Above the ages rings an Over-song of praise. From shrines and cathedrals, from chapels, churches, tents, and caves, there arises, day after day, this incense of united prayer, from a vast and heaven-uplifted throng! Each of us would say, Canopied under world-skies, I, too, would join this chorus of adoring love!
The dream of Permanence. The immortality of the Church is akin to the immortality of the soul. It is a connection which is never severed. When we enter the visible body of the Church on earth, we connect ourselves with the invisible hosts of the Church on high. We enter a company which shall never be disbanded nor dismayed. Something subtle and eternal seems to lay hold of our spirits, and to lift them even to God's Throne. For this Time has been, and for this Time now is: to present spotless before Him the innumerable company of the redeemed, the lion-hearted who, armed by faith and shod with fire, in robes of azure and with songs of praise, shall stand before Him even for evermore!
2. The Church is the centre of a great circle of remembrance. One of Constable's famous paintings represents the Cathedral of Salisbury outlined against a storm-swept sky, with a lovely rainbow arched beyond it. So stands the Church athwart the landscape of our lives. In each community the church is like a living thing! How every stone grows significant and dear! How the lights and shadows of its arches, the dim, faint-tinted windows, the carvings and tracings, the atmosphere and coloring, all sink into the heart, and make a background for memories that never pass away! Who ever forgets the tones of the old organ, the voice of the choir, the accent, look, and bearing of one's early pastor, the rustle of the leaves without the window, the rush of the fresh summer air, the soft falling of the rain?
The path to the church is worn by the feet of generations. Thither the aged go up, and thither the laughing, romping children. Weary men and women bear their burdens thither; triumphant souls bring shining faces and uplifted brows; love and dreams cluster round the church, and the life of the soul, silent and hidden, is subtly acted upon by persuasions and convictions that rule the heart amid the fiercest storms and temptations of the world. The church is a sanctuary and shield; it is an emblem of strength and peace. Three angels stand before its altar: Life, Love, Death! Hither is brought the babe for the christening, hither comes the wedding procession, and here are laid, with farewell tears, the quiet dead. Day by day within that church, as one grows to manhood and womanhood, one enters into race-experiences, and feels, however vaguely, that the Holy Spirit abides within them all.
3. The Church affords the best outlet for moral activity. Where shall we put our moral powers? In what work shall they centre? From what point shall they diverge? Scattered action is irresolute; it is the centripetal powers that count.
The Church stands ready to engage, to the full, the moral powers of man. It can rightly distribute the spiritual vitality of the world. It rouses the moral emotions and affections, and gives scope for contrition, adoration, and thanksgiving,—the Trisagion of the heart.
In the press and stir of life we sometimes forget that the highest emotions of which we are capable are those of joy, praise, and prayer. Joy is a heavenward uplift of life—deep happiness of spirit. Praise is an appreciation of the greatness and mercy of the Infinite. Worship is the outpouring of the whole nature, an ascription of blessing, glory, honor, and power and majesty to God. It flows from the religious imagination, and is the supreme offering of the intellectual as well as of the emotional life.
The Church is a body ministrant: it has received the accolade of spiritual service. It stands among the world's forces, as one of giving, not of gain. It holds within its scope both a teaching and a training power. It is the school of the soul, the illuminator of the meaning and discipline of life. Abelard is said to have attracted thirty thousand students to Paris by his teaching. But the Church to-day calls into its assemblies fully one-third of the millions of the world. They are held by its tenets, guided by its ideals, thrilled by its hopes, and set to its works of charity and mercy. The highest philanthropy is but a scientific renewal and adaptation of work which has had its start, primarily, in the Christian Church. Wealth is its vicegerent, and from the adherents to the Church fall largely the contributions to great philanthropic causes.
Take the work of Missions alone: Has there ever before been a body which attempted to bring the whole world into its fellowship, to make known everywhere its ideals, and to share with all living a spiritual inheritance? "The Evangelization of the World by this Generation" is one of the most sublime thoughts which has come to the race.
4. There is a large amount of ability in the world which the Church needs, but which has not yet been thoroughly enlisted in church service. Take business energy, executive ability. It is a common saying, that business men are not interested in the Church, and do not work well in it. Why? Because there is not yet in the Church enough of the active and economic spirit to make a business man feel at home in it, or approve of its ways of work.
This weak spot in the Church, which business men mock at, or fret at, exactly reveals the work that is waiting for business men to do. Business to-day takes intellectual grasp and insight—promptness, energy, enterprise, and common-sense. These qualities are needed at once in the conduct of the Church.
A second class greatly needed by the Church is the university-bred. Many college graduates are church-members—some are even active workers. But until lately the universities as a whole have stood rather indifferently apart from the Church. They have somewhat indulgently regarded it as one more historic institution for preserving myth and legend. To them the Christ-life has meant little more than the Beowa-myth, the Arthur-saga, the Nibelungen cycle, the Homeric stories, the Thor-and-Odin tales! Druids, fire-worshippers, moon-dancers, and Christian communicants have been comparatively studied, with a view to understanding the race-progress in rite and religious form.
This spirit is changing. The most remarkable aspect of the intellectual life of to-day is the rise of faith in the universities. Like the incoming of a great tidal wave at sea is the wave of spiritual insight and religious aspiration that is rolling over the colleges of our land.
The whole intellectual structure of the Church is approaching reconstruction—its doctrines, creeds, tenets. This reconstruction cannot possibly be effected by schools of theology alone. At every point the theologian needs assistance from the man of science. Philosophy, psychology, ethics, history, literature, sociology, language, natural science, and archaeology are all bound up in an old creed and must be looked into, ere a new statement can take form. Their data must be known at first-hand. Hence there is no intellectual specialty which may not be made invaluable to the Church.
Too often religion has been a matter of hearsay or dogma. A bitter conflict has always raged between theology and the latest word of science. The Church cannot afford to be without the scientific thinkers of the race. The time has come when there is everywhere heard the call of Jesus to men of mind.
What work awaits the university man or woman? It is to help free the Church from traditions and superstitions which scholarship cannot uphold. It is to throw fresh vigor and intellectual vitality into the services of the Church. It is to build up a hymnology which shall be noble and poetic in expression; it is to contribute a great religious literature to the world. It is the work of educated men and women to add their insight, their zeal for truth, their scholarship, their training and ideals to the Christian community: to sweep thought and practice out of ancient ruts, to clarify the spiritual vision of the world, and to present new aspects of truth and new goals of human endeavor! Let Research join hands with Prayer.
A third class which the Church needs to-day is that of the working-man. The hand of the working-man is the hand that has really moulded history. Working-men lead a brave and self-sacrificing life. From their toil come the necessaries and many of the comforts of the race. The man of labor knows the root-problems of the industrial world. While all his industry and skill, all his courage, heroism, and strong-armed life are so largely alienated from the Church, the Church is deprived of one of the fundamental sources of inspiration and growth. The tree of progress can never grow, except it has labor-roots. It is absolutely essential for the health of the Church that every form of human energy be represented.
Suppose that by some great revival a very large number of working men and women could suddenly be added to the membership of the Church. What would happen? Would there not be at once a return to more simplicity of life? There are two currents at work always in society—emulation and sympathy. Rightly used, each is for the social good. If all classes of men and women worked side by side in the Church, many great social differences would become adjusted.
5. It holds sway over the fortunes of the home. Where, outside of the Church, will you find the ideal conception of marriage, and the really united and happy home? The Church makes for domestic happiness, because it goes straight to the roots of life and plants happiness where happiness alone can grow. More and more the Church is lifting the standards of a noble, proud, pure, and rejoicing married life. Its ideal of human love is sacred, because founded on the deeper love of the soul in God. The Church is drawing hosts of young people under the shelter of its teaching, and is placing before men and women ideals which cannot fail to make their mark upon the social standards of the times. It stands for purity, for patience, for tenderness, for the love of little children, for united education and endeavor, for mutual hopes and dreams, for large public service.
6. It is the militant force of time. We speak of the Church militant, and of the Church triumphant. For us, to-day, the Church militant. To-morrow, triumph comes. Armies have been, and armies shall be, but the hosts of this world fight against material foes, and largely for material ends. It is the glory of the Church militant that its conquests are spiritual and its victories are eternal. Its fight is chiefly against the inner, not the outer foe—against sin and wrong-doing, impatience, strife, anger, clamor, meanness, evil-speaking, wrath. It is the foe of tyranny and its heel is upon the head of the oppressor and the avenger. Its banner flies over every country and has been carried through tribulation, through sorrow, through danger, and through death to the remotest parts of the yet-known world. Its troops are legion, marching from the far distances of the past, and extending out to the far confines of the eternal years.
7. It is the ascendant force of the future. Rightly conducted, it will surely absorb the vigor of the world. To stand apart from it is to be out of step with the march of nations. The processional of progress to-day is the processional of the historic influence of the Church. What force has there been in time gone by, which has lived and so greatly grown for nineteen hundred years? Nations have risen, and nations have decayed. States, once prominent, have passed into the oblivion of the years. Plato and Pericles, Socrates and Sophocles, Philip and Alexander, the Caesars, the Georges, and the Louis have passed away. Their politics have passed from our following; their empires are no more. But through these centuries of change, the Church of God has risen stronger, more powerful year by year; stretching its arm out to the uttermost parts of the earth; levying tribute on the islands of the sea; enlisting all ages and conditions, and looking out over coming generations—not as a waning, but as a growing and ever-increasing power. Think you that such a Church can die? Think you that any spiritual power aloof from this Church can be as efficient as if it were allied with it?
These, you say, are the reasons why one's allegiance should be given to the Christian Church. Let us now look back over the processional as it marches across the dim years. Saints, martyrs, confessors, evangelists, and singing children have joined its historic train. Is there any other processional in the world's history which, numbering such millions and millions, began with only one? When the Christ enters the arena of history, He comes as one to lead myriad deep-lived souls! Next, there follow twelve. They, two by two, take up the marching line. Think of their deeds and influence, of their inspiring power! What would have been the record of those obscure fishermen of Galilee and of their simple friends, had they refused to ally themselves with the leader who called for their allegiance and their obedient love?
Next follow the early disciples. Tried by scourging, by stripes, by poverty, by imprisonment, by all manner of danger and trial, they yet remain true. Then follow the prophets, those whose clear vision looks out on things unknown and things unseen. To the prophet is intrusted the ministry of hope and inspiration. Then follow the martyrs who yield life for the cause they profess. In torture at the stake, and on the cross, by fire and by sword, they show forth an unshaken and undying faith. Then follow matrons and virgins, babes and children, reformers and mediaeval saints with a convoy of angels, singing as they march. These are the Church triumphant, the Church above. But to-day we have among us the Church militant—the long processional of congregations, elders, deacons, members, ministers and missionaries, young people, and workers in every phase of enterprise and reform. These all communicant on earth are the Church militant, whose work is to keep alive the traditions of the past and to march onward to an endless victory and to an unceasing praise. Who, looking upon that processional, filing through the ages of the years of man, would say that there may be a parliament of religions? A parliament of boasts and pomps, of good precepts and queries, of misuses and half-truths, of superstitions and infinite idolatries, no doubt; but there is but one religion, though it be perverted in many ways and rightly revealed at divers times; and there is but one God, infinite, true, holy, just, loving, and eternal. Where now are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Bow thy head, O Buddha! and do thou, O Zoroaster! hang thy head. Isis and Osiris grow dim; Jove nods in heaven; the pipe of Pan is dumb; Thor is silent in the northern Aurora; the tree of Igdrasil waves in midnight; Confucius is pale; Muhammad is dust. Darkness is over the skirts of the gods of the past—gloom receives them, Erebus holds outstretched arms. But the Lord God, Jehovah, the Ancient of Days, encanopied in space and glory, leads onward to the end of years His people in a mighty train, to a rule and kingdom which shall know no end. May thou and I, dear friend-soul, in whatsoever land thou be, may thou and I be numbered in that throng!
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF KINGS
[DIE WACHT AM RHEIN]
_Jesus shall reign where'er the sun Doth his successive journeys run; His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
People and realms of every tongue Dwell on His love with sweetest song; And infant voices shall proclaim Their early blessings on His Name.
Blessings abound where'er He reigns; The prisoner leaps to lose his chains, The weary find eternal rest, And all the sons of want are blest.
Let every creature rise and bring Peculiar honors to our King; Angels descend with songs again, And earth repeat the loud Amen_.
The elemental force of some men is appalling. They lift their eyes—thrones tremble; they wave a hand—empires rise or fall. It comes over the heart of many a man at times, Here am I, running my little office, shop, factory, fire-engine, or professional circuit, with no influence that I can see, beyond my borough or my barn-yard. But in the world there are other men, no taller than I, no older than I—men born within a stone's throw of where I was born—whose hand is on the fate of nations, and whose decrees are universal law!
It is deeply impressive, the way in which one man, born not above myriads of his fellows, begins to rise until by and by he stands head and shoulders above his generation! What is the inner vitality which presses him upward? What is this hidden difference in men by which one remains in the by-eddies of life, and another sweeps out on the crest of the rising tide of history?
Much of it is in the man himself. To be kingly is inborn. There is the nature that refuses to be shut up to the petty, that will not content itself with one street or town, that steps out into life from childhood with the step of the conqueror, and walks among us; one who was born a king. To be a king, one must have the powers of organization, combination, discipline, direction, statesmanship. These qualities enlarge as one passes from the particular to the general, from the personal to the range of natural forces, emergencies, and wide pursuits.
Dominion is an inherent right of the soul. In all our hearts, did we but listen and understand, there are adumbrations of kingly ancestors, and the latent stirrings of kingly powers.
Which of us would want to be born at all, if we should be told in advance, You shall never control anything? You shall never have the slightest chance of self-assertion, of impressing your own individuality upon the world? One might as well be born without hands or feet!
Kingship involves ascendancy and authority. Both are truly gained, not by chicanery, but by personal force. There is a natural gift of leadership, which is strengthened by endurance, perseverance, and ceaseless hard work.
Kingship also involves a larger vision. One man looks at his shoe-strings; another man looks at the stars. The first step toward rule is to find a point of view from which one can look widely out over the race. This is the primary value of education: it is not that books are important, but that men are—the men who have swayed history—and books tell of such men. Not the library is inspirational, but the life-spirit of mankind, bound up in even dusty papyrus-rolls, or set on clay-tablets of four thousand years ago. He who would serve his times politically must first understand, so far as may be, all times.
Another basis of supremacy is conviction. Leadership belongs to those who believe. The man who has a definite policy to propose, and a definite way of working for it, soon outstrips the man who is just looking about.
Kingship involves an iron will. An iron will does not imply necessarily ugliness of temper, obstinacy, or pig-headedness. It is simply a straight-forward, dauntless, and invincible way of doing things. What I say, you must do, is back of all successful leadership, whether in the home or in the world-arena. The man who is master of the obedience of his child, or of his fellows, is master of their fate. We are all at the mercy of the strong-willed.
Growth is development in right assertion; it is the assumption of legitimate responsibility and command. To be lowly of heart does not mean to be inefficient; to be humble does not necessarily mean to be obscure. Luther and Lincoln were both of a childlike humility of heart.
What Christianity has not emphasized in the past, but what it must now begin to emphasize, is the reality of dominion—its value, and its relation to the kingdom of God. For centuries, religion has too often been thought of, too often spoken of, as if it were the last resource of the heart, A brilliant young professor of psychology not long ago referred to religion as something to flee to, by those who were disappointed in love! We have spoken so much of "giving up," that the Christian life has wrongly seemed to mean the giving-up of one's individuality, interests, powers. As well might we expert the deep sea to give up its rolling tides, or the air to give up its four winds, as to expect the heart of man to part with its human hopes!
This is not a right interpretation of life. When Nature plants an oak in the forest, she does not say, Be a lichen, an Eozooen canadense, a small ground-creeping thing! She says, Grow! Become a tall, strong, mountain tree! When we hold our baby in our arms, we do not say, My child, be good for nothing! Neither does God say, Be nothing, do nothing! Just exist as humbly and meekly as you can! He says, "Quit you like men!"
Each of us is born for a sceptre and a crown. It gives a strange new thrill to life, to realize that we may be just as ambitious as we please, that we may long earnestly for high things, and work for them, if our inmost desire is not for self but for God. This new idea of ambition should be at the root of education and of religious teaching. Piety is not a namby-pamby sentiment; it is a great intellectual force. Desire is architectural: our dreams should be of prestige and power. True ambition is the reaching-out of the soul toward preordained things. What else is the meaning of our love for excellence, our insatiable yearning for perfection? "What is excellent," says Emerson, "is permanent." To excel in any work is to combine in that work the most enduring qualities of human labor; to excel in any place is to shine forth with the great qualities of the race. Hence, ambition has a rightful place.
The power of a king is the power of control. All about us are moving the great forces of the universe—physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual. What we can do with them is a test of our power. Life is in many ways a majestic trial of one's power to command.
Three men buy adjoining tracts of land. One man mines coal upon his acres. He amasses wealth and influence because he is in control of the Carboniferous age and the human need of light and heat. The second man tills his ground and raises wheat and corn. He is in command of living nature—of the rotation of seasons, of wind, frost, rain; he uses them to provide food for those that hunger and must be fed. The third man lies under the trees. He digs no mine. He plants and reaps no corn and grain. He simply lies under the trees, gazes into the sky and dreams. Men call him idle, but he is not so. One day he writes a book. It lives a thousand years. His control is over the spirit of man. He has entered into its hopes and sorrows, its aspirations and its dreams.
This story is a Parable of Kings. Such is the power of control that is granted to each new soul. Each child is bequeathed at birth a sceptre and a crown.
The first rule is parental. The primitive monarchy is in the home. A young baby cries. The trained nurse turns on the light, lifts the baby, hushes it, sings to it, rocks it, and stills its weeping by caresses and song. When next the baby is put down to sleep, more cries, more soothing and disturbance, and the setting of a tiny instinct which shall some day be will—the power of control.
The grandmother arrives on the scene. When baby cries, she plants the little one firmly in its crib, turns down the light, pats and soothes the tiny restless hands that fight the air, watches, waits. From the crib come whimpers, angry cries, yells, sobs, baby snarls and sniffles that die away in a sleepy infant growl. Silence, sleep, repose, and the building of life and nerve and muscle in the quiet and the darkness. The baby has been put in harmony with the laws of nature—the invigoration of fresh air, sleep, stillness—and the little one wakens and grows like a fresh, sweet rose. The mother, looking on, learns of the ways of God with men.
Firmness is the true gentleness. There is a form of authority which must be as implacable as the divine decree. Mercy is the requiring of obedience to law; it is not a cajoling training in law-defiance, which shall one day break the mother's heart and upset the social relations of the world.
The next rule is personal: the direction of one's own energy in the way of one's own will. The child moves his hands, his feet; he turns his rattle up and down, and shakes it about. He discovers that he can pull things toward him and push them away; that he can reach things that are higher than his head. He begins to creep. He touches things that are the other side of the world from him, that is, across the room. He plucks fibres from the rug or carpet; swallows straws, buttons, and little strings. He pounds, and sets up vibrations of pleasant noise; he clashes ten-pins, he blows his whistle, squeezes his rubber horse and man, rattles the newspaper, flings about his bottle and his blocks. He feels himself a self-directing power, and at times asserts this power against the will of those who would make him do what he does not want to do. The love of rule is in him, and he lays his little hands on power.
Education determines whether this power shall be for good or for evil. We cannot take away power from any child—he shall move the affairs of nations—but we can direct this love of power, or crush it; strengthen it, or weaken it; turn it toward the highest help of man, or deflect it to tyranny, cruelty, and crime.
Child-training is guidance in the way of God's decrees. It is not the setting of one's own ideas upon a little child; it is not the gratification of one's own love of power; it is not the satisfaction of one's own self-conceit. It is a firm, humble striving to carry on the harmony of the universe: to bring up the child to love order, justice, mercy, and truth.
Education is the teaching of how to direct energy for the universal good. It lays hold of a child and, out of his destructive instincts—the instinct to bang, and pull, and tear to pieces—it develops creative power, the inventive genius that lies hid within him. It takes the pure love of noise, and trains it to pitches, harmonies, intervals, and makes a musician of the boy who used to whack his spoon. It takes the alphabet and the early pothooks, and the boy by and by combines them into literature. The apples and the peaches which he is taught to exchange justly are by and by transmuted into trade and commerce. He brings cargoes from Cuba and Ceylon, trades with Japan and Hawaii, and the Asiatic isles. The energy of block-building is developed into sculpture, architecture, and civil engineering. The stamping of his foot in anger is directed to determination, perseverance, the rule of the brave spirit, the unconquerable will. Nothing is more marvellous than this grave upbuilding.
The next rule is social: the direction of personal energy that shall leave a distinct impress on other lives. It is long before we realize that for each exertion we are responsible; that what we do is held against us in strict account, not only by fate, which builds our destiny for us out of our own deeds, but by every other person with whom we come in contact. Our fellows check off daily against us so much vitality, so much magnanimity, so much idleness, cruelty, spite, goodness, selfishness, meanness, or loving-kindness. Life holds a record of our every deed, and from no least responsibility can we make our escape. We are the prisoners of events which we ourselves have brought about.
The discipline of ethics, of home-training, of the Church, and of religious teaching is addressed fundamentally to this social consciousness of ours, this responsibility which we cannot evade. To bear rule aright is to go forth into the world to build up, in authority, talent, and influence, the kingdom of God.
1. There is the agricultural phase of social rule. A man tills a farm. It has upon it trees, streams, woodland, and meadow-land. He may rule—to what end? If he rules it for his own personal ends—merely to fill his granaries, and lay up gold—he rules it for miserliness, with a sort of thrift that is as passing in inheritance as the flying April rain.
Or he may say: I will keep my land in trust for God. I will hold rain and frost, heat and cold, storm and sun, in fee simple for the race. My grain shall pass out into the world's mart, sent forth with love and prayer. Such a farmer is the incarnation of moral grandeur. Let men laugh, if they will, at his overalls and plough, his wide-brimmed hat, his simple manners, and his homely, racy speech. His feet are by the furrow, but his heart is in heaven, and his treasure is there also. Says the author of Nine Acres on the Hillside, "The agriculturist walks side by side with the Creator."
There is a fine integrity which lies in land. There is a resolution which is concerned with crops. There is a wisdom born of wind and weather. There is a power which comes from the constant revival of life in seed and fruit and flower. This man is King of God's Acres. Let him not despise his kingdom, and may the succession not depart from his house!
2. There is a rule which is industrial. A man is sent into the world to wield a hammer, a saw, and run an engine. If his rule over his hammer is weak, if he does not know how to use it well, if its blow is uncertain and its result unskilled, then he passes from the line of kings, and is subject, instead of in authority, in his own domain. He is captive to a piece of steel or wood. So with every tool of trade. Each man who conquers his tool is a ruler—is in control of elements of human happiness and good. The roof-mender, the furnace-builder, the cloth-weaver, the yarn-spinner, the steel-worker, the miller—do not these all keep the race warmed, and clad, and fed?
3. The next rule is commercial. Trade itself is neither menial nor demeaning. Rightly used, it is a high form of control. People have things to buy and things to sell. The maker is handicapped. He cannot travel elsewhere to dispose of what he has. The buyer is ignorant. He does not know where to go, or cannot go, at first-hand, for the shoes, the hat, the reaper, the bricks, the lumber, the stationery which he must use. There appears upon the scene the man of observation, of investigation, of capital, of shrewdness, of resources. With one hand he gathers the products of the Pacific and of the South Seas. With the other, he takes the output of the Atlantic seaboard, the Gulf States, the Mississippi valley, the northern lakes and hills. He sets up an establishment, he puts forth runners, advertisements, and show-windows. He stocks shelves, decks counters, and employs clerks, packers, salesmen, cash-boys, buyers, and department heads. The man who wants to buy, buys from a man across the sea and yet is served in his own town.
The man of commercial power is a man of world-wide rule. He may lay up in banks a fortune which he intends to try to spend upon himself; or he may say: I am accountable for the pocket-books of the world. I am in authority over them. I open a market, or close it. I buy, dispense, and disperse human labor. I create wants, and I satisfy them. I will establish honest laws of trade. What I do shall be rated as commercial law. What I say shall be quoted as a way of equity and probity. That man is a King of Trade. His throne is set upon hills and seas. His subjects are all men with needs, and all men with products of the land, the coasts, the sea, or brain, or skill. This is the lawful King of Trade. He represents God's mart of exchange. Primarily, goods are not bought and sold in the market. They are first transferred in that man's brain.