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SERMON TO PREACH Sermons by Twenty-one Ministers

Edited, with an Introduction, by

Dr. Charles Steele

New York and London Harper 7 Brothers Publishers

tie 7

IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH COPYRIGHT, 1927, BY HARPER & BROTHERS PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. K-B

Contents

PREFACE INTRODUCTION

THE First AND FINAL TRUTH I John 4:8-10. Rom. 8:38, 39 by Joseph Fort Newton

THE TRIUNE ENTIRETY OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION

John 14:6 by Gaius Glenn Atkins

Can I BELieve In Gop? John 14:1 ° by William Pierson Merrill

Curist, Priest AND VICTIM by William Cardinal O’Connell

Tue Perrect SALVATION II Cor. 1:10 by Merton S. Rice

Wuat Is a REuicious Lire? by John Haynes Holmes

Twin PERILS Proverbs 16:18; 29:25 by Daniel A. Poling

“TAM A HEBREW” Jonah 1:9 by Leon Harrison

THE CURSE OF CYNICISM Psalms 1:1 by Harry Emerson Fosdick

THE Onz-TuHInc Man John 9:25 by Frederick F. Shannon

CREATIVE FREEDOM Rom. 6:14 by Lynn Harold Hough

THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER Hebrews 13:8 by Burris A. Jenkins

106

118

134

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164

CONTENTS

Is Jesus Gop? John 1:1 by James I. Vance

Tue GREATEST STORY Ever ToLp Luke 2:18 by James E. Freeman

INCONTESTABLE Fact AND INDISPENSABLE TRUTH i Cor, 15:74 by Warren A. Candler

THE INSPIRATIONAL LIFE John 20:22. Acts 1:8 by A. Z. Conrad

WuatT Is RELIGION? St. Augustine by James M. Gillis

‘‘BEHOLD, THE Man!” John 19:5 by Charles Edward Jefferson

““Tue Gops YE Have CHOSEN” Judges 10:14 by Robert Freeman

AWARE OF THE ETERNAL AGCtS'17 :23 by William L. Stidger

Tue Cay To UNITY John 17:20-23 by Charles H. Brent

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399

PREFACE

Early in the year the Church Advertising Depart- ment of the International Advertising Association suggested to the clergymen of America that on a given Sunday in Lent, 1927, they take as their theme “IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH,” and then to discuss it with the utmost frankness. ‘There is no doubt that thousands of pastors acted upon this suggestion. In one city alone, over fifty did so.

This event attracted nation-wide attention because of the publicity given to it by the Associated and _ United Press and by the feature stories printed in local newspapers.

Several of the sermons in this volume were preached on this occasion, and they are included in this series because of the great interest which they created. Other notable leaders in the religious life of our country were invited to write sermons on the same subject, especially for this volume, it being understood that they were to speak with freedom the Truth as they saw it.

And so, we have in this book the viewpoint of Protestant, Catholic and Jew, of liberal and con- servative; but, we believe, each expressing the deep conviction of his mind and heart as to what is the one supreme message for the times in which we live—and let it be added, for the hour in which that particular sermon would be preached.

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INTRODUCTION

There is always a moment of suspense when the prisoner at the bar is asked by the presiding Judge if he has anything to say before sentence shall be pro- nounced; or when, at that particular moment in the marriage ceremony, the officiating clergyman solemnly raises the question as to whether anyone present knows of any reason why those about to be “joined to- gether” should not become man and wife.

These are moments when final words must be spoken; or else, in some particulars, at least, the be- lated protestants must thereafter “hold their peace.”

There is no doubt that under these circumstances, the principals in court room and chapel experience mingling emotions. What these are can scarcely be imagined. They would vary as widely as there are personalities involved.

It is possible that when some of the preachers were asked to write a sermon for this book which would express the “one sermon message’’ as they believe it today, they honestly hesitated, because they had never thought of “final words.” It may have seemed too much like being trapped, like the prisoner at the bar who was asked to make a defense of his conduct, or perhaps they had in the past advocated certain doc- trines which were, in part at least, incompatible with

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INTRODUCTION

their present-day beliefs, so that they could not be “Joined together.” Or, what might be even worse, they might in the future change their minds because they had received further light, and then they would be confronted with the ‘final words” of a previous period.

All of these things are highly probable, for, however firmly one may accept certain teachings or conclusions on any subject, time always changes one’s opinions with reference to their details or application, even though the major premise may still be accepted.

How many of the contributors to this volume passed through this process of thinking nobody knows. This much is certain—not any of the writers felt that he needed to present an entirely new truth, as though all that he had said in the past were inadequate. Un- questionably, in most cases, the sermons prepared for this volume express the mature thought and convic- tion of the writers, which have been spoken many times, and in different forms. Back of them are the very lives, the heart struggles, the deepest emotions of those who wrote them.

In some instances the sermons contributed were preached just at the time when they were asked for and when they seemed to be the most important things to be said at that particular moment,—they were nat- urally the only sermons which their makers would preach at that time because the occasion demanded it. This may account for the apparent lack of a “full and

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INTRODUCTION

complete gospel” which some critics might expect from the minister who had only one more sermon to preach. It was not expected that each writer would present an entire system of theology or a complete code of ethics.

A striking illustration of this is found in the sermon preached by Bishop Brent at Lausanne, which is in- cluded in the book. He was elected President of the World Conference on Faith and Order. On such an occasion there could be only one theme in his mind— “The Call to Unity.” That, therefore, became the supreme subject that he must preach about if he had only one more sermon to preach.

Under all of these circumstances, it is remarkable that the twenty-one sermons in this book should be so unified and cohesive. While no particular topics were assigned to the writers, except the general theme of the book, they seemed, collectively, to have brought out the great, outstanding doctrines of the Church.

Bishop Freeman devotes his entire address to the story of the birth of Jesus, while Bishop Candler em- phasizes the resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Vance makes a strong appeal for the divinity of Jesus, while Dr. Jefferson challenges us with the text “Behold, the Man!” Dr. Atkins speaks of the ““Triune Entirety of the Christian Revelation,” founding his discussion on the text “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” whereas Dr. Jenkins emphasizes ‘Jesus Christ—The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever.” Appropriate is Dr. Stidger’s address “‘Aware of the Eternal,’’ show-

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INTRODUCTION

ing that we are living every minute within sight of the immortals.

“Christ, Priest and Victim,” the stately address from Cardinal O’Connell, “The Perfect Salvation’ by Dr. Rice, “The Inspiration of Life’ by Dr. Conrad, “The First and Final Truth” by Dr. Newton, and “Can I believe in God?” by Dr. Merrill, ground one in the great fundamentals of Religion.

“What is Religion?” by Dr. Gillis, and “What is a Religious Life?” by Dr. Holmes make stimulating reading to every seeker after the truth.

Then follow the challenging addresses by Dr. Free- man on “The Gods Ye Have Chosen,” “The One- Thing Man” by Shannon, “The Curse of Cynicism” by Dr. Fosdick, “Twin Perils’ by Dr. Poling, and “Creative Freedom” by Dr. Hough, dealing with the more practical phases of life.

The strong presentation of Judaism by Rabbi Harrison, under the title “I am a Hebrew,” gives one a broader conception of the basis of neighboring religions, and entirely appropriate is Bishop Brent’s “The Call to Unity,” with which the book closes.

Every contributor to this volume is a modernist in the sense that he is face to face with present-day prob- lems. These he is trying to interpret in a place of leadership in the nation. More and more are the clergy being recognized as prophets and_ teachers, largely because men are acknowledging that the great questions of the day are fundamentally religious.

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INTRODUCTION

The messages in this book will guide those who are seeking to know the great underlying truths which give religion permanence, character and power. With- out these it would become an empty vessel, disappoint- ing those who would drink at the fountain of life.

CHARLES STELZLE.

X1il

If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach

Che First and Final Cruth

By JosrpH Fort Newton, D.D., MEMORIAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, OVERBROOK, PHILADELPHIA

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

—I JOHN IV— 8-10

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

—ROM. VIIL— 38, 39 VERY preacher has but one sermon to preach, no matter how many subjects he may select or how many titles he may use. It is the story of his own heart, the truth made real in his own experience and vivid in his vision, and he can tell no other triumphantly. Whatever text he may take, whatever art of exposi- tion he may employ, he is ever telling the one truth HE has learned by living; the “one beauty he was sent to seek.” By as much as he tells the truth of which he is utterly persuaded, by so much, and no more, does he persuade his fellow-souls. If I were preaching for the last time—as indeed I may be, since no one can tell what a day may bring forth—I should try to tell, however falteringly, but

]

IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

with every art of expression and every resource of insight at my command, the one truth most worth telling, or such part of it as life and love and death, and beauty and pity and pain have taught me to see in the dim country of this world. So my subject is the first Truth and the final Reality, the source, sanction and satisfaction of our mortal needs and immortal longings: the truth about God, by whose grace we have life and by whose inspiration we have understanding; the Truth that makes all other truth true.

Such a truth is forever untellable, but we must for- ever be trying to tell it, since nothing else or less will patistyy vthe little, inhnite soul) (ot! many untihjat last, or soon or late, if faith and hope and love have made us worthy, we see the white truth which human words discolor. To that end I take two texts, written by the two master mystics of our faith, knowing full well that they transcend my power of interpretation, the one an exposition of the other; the first an affirma- tion—nay more, a revelation—so stupendous that it transfigures life and death and all that lies between and beyond, lifting the clouds from all our souls and setting us free alike from ‘an old dark backward and abysm of time’ and our fear of the Night and the Morrow; the second an anthem, a symphony, moving now with the lilt of a lyric, and now with the majestic ‘sweep of an oratorio, ending in a Hallelujah Chorus. Such light shines, such music sings at the heart of our faith!

2

THE FIRST AND FINAL TRUTH

I

Surely, of all words ever uttered upon our earth, there are none greater than the words of St. John, in their profound significance and their satisfying sim- plicity: ‘God is Love.” These words, with their con- text, tell us the three things we most want to know, and the first is that God does exist, not as a figment of faith, still less as a dream, a guess, or a shadow cast upon the curtain of our hopes and fears, but as the one Reality in all, above all, beyond all, inde- pendent of our little minds and the inspiration and consolation of these our days and years. Aye, God is at once the meaning of the universe, to which all facts contribute—dark facts, bright facts, gray facts —and the hope of humanity; and to know Him, as Dante said, is to learn how to make our lives eternal. But even the reality of God is not enough until we know what He is, what is His spirit, charac- ter, and purpose.

Every man is aware that he is every moment de- pendent upon a Power other and greater than himself, by what name soever he may call it—Fate, Force, Destiny, God. The real crux of the question is not -as to the reality of such a Power, but as to the nature and character of Him “in whose great hand we stand.” To know that God is love, meaning by love no soft sentiment, but a creative passion, a moral principle, a spiritual fellowship, is to know the meaning and glory of life and “the benediction in which all things move.”

S

IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

Once we are persuaded of that truth, the rest is only a detail of interpretation, since we have found that in God and in ourselves which enables us to endure and triumph over anything that life or death can do to us; which Royce said is the real meaning and value of faith. By such faith we learn that there is tender- ness behind the hardness of life, meaning in its mys- tery, purpose in its often strange medley, and prophecy in its fleeting, fading beauty.

Today men try wistfully to grasp such a faith and fail, because they reverse the order of things, forget- ting that spiritual faith and victory have their source not in human aspiration but in Divine inspiration. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son”; which is a simple and vivid way of saying that religion has its origin in the Divine initiative, not in human invention, as so many fear in our day. If man seeks God it is because God first seeks man, haunts him, waylays him with every kind of strategy, and He will not tire nor tarry till He wins him, however far-wandering. No argument is needed; the facts prove it. Man would not imagine, much less need, religious faith if the object of it did not exist; there would be nothing to suggest it, nothing to sustain it. There will be no pause of mind, nor power of victory, until we return to the true order of experience: God first, God last, the source and ful- filment of our faith.

Alas, in our day we are obsessed with introspection, seeking amid the phantoms of the mind for a subjec-

4

THE FIRST AND FINAL TRUTH

tive salvation, as if trying to lift ourselves by our own shoe-strings: hence the tiresome egotism of an ingrow- ing religion, now so much in vogue. What we need, as much for our sanity of mind as for our health of heart, is an emancipating rediscovery of the obvious fact that our life is from above downward, and that our help and hope are in God. It was such an experi- ence that lifted St. Paul out of a hard legal literalism into the light, liberty and power of the Gospel and set him singing. If we add this anthem to the words of St. John, together they make “one music as before, but vaster,”’ until it fills the earth and the sky:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

II

If we analyze that anthem for a moment, we dis- cover that the first separating, desolating fact that the Apostle faces, is Death. Until we make terms with the shadow that waits for every man, master its men- ace, and defeat its despair, we can have no security, no serenity. Mere stoic submission is better than re- bellion, and better still the rich, warm, loving act of acceptance of human destiny—an act not simply of the mind but of the complete being—which Shake- speare puts into the magical utterance of Edgar in King Lear:

5

IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

We must endure Our going hence even as our coming hither; Ripeness is all.

But something more is both a possibility and a privi- lege, if we have the heart for adventure and know how to win it; such a yea-saying to the sum of things as Keats called “the very thing wherein consists Poetry,” and he might have added Religion.

The spiritual history of Keats is a perfect example, if we take the wonderful two months following his letter to his brother, February 18th, 1819, until May. It began with a sonnet in which we hear a laugh of cynical despair, bitter and brittle, at “‘an eternal fierce destruction” in nature, life feeding on life in earth and sea and sky. The looming menace of dark death, a mockery to the love he desired, the poetry he dreamed, the fame he coveted, the beauty he adored, jarred him to the depths; as if it divided divinity with God. But in those two months of silence he won his way to victory, and death is no longer a darkness which blots out the soul, but the ecstasy and crown of life; “eloquent, just and mighty Death,” as Whit- man saw it. And with his spiritual victory, his genius bloomed in a perfection of form and a richnéss of serene and triumphant vision by virtue of which he belongs with Shakespeare, and the masters and deliv- erers of the soul.

Then St. Paul adds the words, “nor life,” its un- toward vicissitude, its persecution of events, its buffet- ings of circumstance, which often enough seem to belie

6

THE FIRST AND FINAL TRUTH

God and make Him little more than a figment of fancy. It is His love of us that holds through the night and the storm, and never lets go, though sorrow be added to sorrow, and disaster follows fast, and follows faster. Across the ages we hear St. Paul sing- ing songs in the night, counting it both an honor and a joy to suffer stripes, imprisonment, shipwreck, and at last death, for the sake of One who suffered more for him, even the shame of the Cross, its mockings and its muddy brutality. The words following, “nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,” tell us of do- minions of superstition and hierarchies of fear under which men lived in the days of St. Paul, more real than the earth itself, but now, happily, melted into thin air, leaving hardly a memory of their terror or a trace of their torment.

More real to us is the tyranny of Time and Space, “nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,” both of which have been extended to dis- tances and dimensions so appalling as to affright and dismay the soul. Men of science reckon the size of the universe, as now unveiled, in light-year measure- ments, and the age of man upon the earth in eons that make us dizzy, until our tiny lives, so brief and broken, seem as insignificant as the life of a mote in the eve- ning air. Indeed, one of the amazing facts in the history of the modern soul is the spiritual inferiority complex in man in face of the physical order, as we have seen it grow from the time when Tennyson wrote “Vastness’ to our year of grace, if we may still use

7

IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

that word. Faith, once so mighty, has become timid, abashed, apologetic and on the defensive, as if suf- focated by sheer size, and bludgeoned by mere bulk! Why should it be so, unless it be that we have lost the key and clue to the meaning of life, allowing the victories of the mind to end in spiritual obfuscation?

For surely the facts and forces of science are plastic enough, and may be justly given an idealistic interpre- tation as mechanistic; far more justly so, because it was the mind of man, toiling under the little gray skull-cap of the brain, that measured those depths and explored those distances. It makes one think how Jesus chided his disciples for their fear when a whiff of wind rocked the boat: “Why are you afraid like that? Where is your faith?’ Where is our religion, if its creative faith cannot subdue the new material universe, as uncurtained by science, to spiritual mean- ings, and find God not in the stars or space supremely, but in realities as real as pig-iron and potash which we know best through something in ourselves—also a fact in the universe and a part of it—which has never accepted utter identification with outer force and brute fact? Wherefore the history of love, and the prophecy of ethical passion? These, too, are facts, no less than salts and acids!

Nor Dante, nor Milton, nor any other singer, rises so high as St. Paul does when, in ending his cata- logue of the antagonists of faith, he strikes out the sweeping, shining phrase, “Nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.”

8

THE FIRST AND FINAL TRUTH

As some one has said, it is “as if he had got impa- tient of the enumeration of impotencies, and hay- ing named the outside boundaries in space of the created universe, flings, as it were, with one rapid toss, into that large room the whole that it can con- tain, and triumphs over it all,’ through One who, because He is Love, and love never faileth,

“Spurned the tame laws of Time and Space, And brake through all the heavens to our embrace.”

Ill

For it was in the Reason, the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth, wearing our familiar human shape—a babe, a boy, a man—brother to us all living in time by the power of an endless life, winsome withal and sweetly human—aye, more human than any of us, though more divine than all the gods of whom man has ever dreamed: it was in the life of Jesus, in His dark cross outside the city gate, in His victory over death, that St. Paul and his brother mystic found the key to the meaning of life and the clue to the cosmic riddle. Elsewhere, in a singing sentence in which he strikes the same great chord, St. Paul told the source and secret of his faith: ‘““God, who com- mandeth the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Such difference Jesus made and still makes, adding a new dimension to life, revealing that to which men

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IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

entrust their soul here and hereafter; but how can such things be? No one knows; it is at once a fact and a mystery—a life became a religion, a tragedy was transmuted into a theology, and death unfolded into a revelation of one vast life that cannot die. What can words say, except it be that in a life like our own, disinfected of the things that make us hateful to ourselves and others, but duplicate of our weariness and woe, the “Love that moves the sun and all the stars’ found focus and functioned in the life of man, dividing time into before and after, and transfiguring the weary weight of an unintelligible world with won- der, love and joy. Yet how little such words tell, since the truth of which they try to speak eludes even the magic of poetry. None the less it may be known by experience, by the simple of mind, the lowly of heart, and such as walk in the way of love.

Because these things are so; because God is Love, He is known only by love, and faith attains reality only in love. Not by argument, not by philosophy, not by logic linked and strong, useful as these may be after their kind, do we win the first and final Truth that sets us free from fear and dark Fate, but by such love as lived in the life of Jesus, and which He can kindle in our hearts, despite the ages that have come and gone. How simple, yet how profound it is, be- yond our fathoming. The depth and purity of our love is the measure of our knowledge of Him whom to know aright is life eternal. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. God is

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THE FIRST AND FINAL TRUTH

love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” If, once more, we add to the simple, searching words of St. John the anthem of St. Paul, we have the conclusion of the whole matter:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, what- soever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

V1

Che Criune Entirety of the Christian Rebelation

By Garus Guenn ATKINS, D.D., HoYT PROFESSOR OF HOMI- LETICS, AUBURN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

“IT am the way, the truth, and the life.” —JOHN XIV-6

ESUS CHRIST had once in His brief hour between a supper, and a garden called Gethsemane, to say what He could never say again, and if there is any- where a text for a sermon like this it is the text from which Jesus Himself preached the sermon He could preach but once: “I am the Way and the Truth and

the Lite.”

*K * *K

Jesus said these ten words to twelve troubled men in a borrowed room in Herod’s Jerusalem. They had lived with Him for almost three years in wonderful and intimate ways which had been, as all the ways of friends are, both outer and inner. The outer ways had been immemorial footpaths across the Palestinian hills, sun-washed and starlit ways, which the changing seasons bordered with grasses and lilies or barley white to the harvest, or else they had been ways through little villages, neighborly and near, or else highways which traders and Roman cohorts used, or else the

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ENTIRETY OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION

stone paved streets of Jerusalem. And now these outer ways had ended in an upper room.

The inner ways had also been starlit and sun-washed, but with another light. He had led them in paths of duty and understanding, and through old forms to new realities. He had brought them near to one another and strangely near to Him. He had made the unseen as real as the hills above Nazareth. Under His guid- ance love had taken new form and meanings, good- ness had become a luminous ideal and a high com- mand, God a brooding fatherly presence who had a mind even for birds and flowers, and so much the more for His children. He had led them into new understandings of their own natures and to mountain tops of transfigured vision. He had woven associa- tions of power across wind-swept Gennesaret and filled the streets of Capernaum with memories of tender- ness—and now these ways also were to end.

And they were ending too soon; nothing was fin- ished, either in the lives of the disciples or the enter- prise of Jesus Christ. As the supper drew to an end the men about the table grew deeply troubled; they did not understand the meaning of what they saw and heard, they felt the menace in the dark outside, they were not even sure of themselves. They had always up till then been able to follow and find Him wher- ever He went, and now He told them He was on the eve of a journey He must take alone. And without Him they could see no future nor be sure of any direc-

ion; they knew only a blind pathlessness of life.

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IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

“Lord we know not whither Thou goest ; how know we the way.”

Then Jesus laid bare the three needs of life for them and for us, and offered Himself as the answer: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” Here, then, is the setting of the text. It was addressed to unper- fected discipleships and unfulfilled expectations about to be wrecked, it would seem, upon a cross, and grop- ing helplessness charged with a mighty enterprise, in a word to men like ourselves in a splendid and piteous estate. It offers what humanity most needs, and with- out which humanity is helpless: A Way for practical conduct, the Truth for assurance and understanding, Life in the fullness and glory and endlessness of it; and it offers all these not as ghostly abstractions, but as living realities in the person of Jesus Christ. Here is the heart of the Gospel, and the centuries since have done nothing, save to supply new illustrations of its timeless truth.

I

We need first a way of life.

The word ‘“‘way” is rooted deep in the folk speech of our race. It first meant to carry, but since one carries a load only to bring it where it ought to be “way” became the path the burden-bearer used, then the journey itself and the direction of the journey, and finally, for the genius of language is always a poet to find in simple things a vaster suggestion, it became the very course of life. Thereafter, there was no

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ENTIRETY OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION

limit to the use and application of it, and yet every use of it carries some suggestion of a means to an end, whether it be a ship gathering way as her sails take the wind, or a man’s will riding down all hin- drances, or a way to make a dream come true, or a surgeon’s technique, or an engineer’s device, or the habit of a soul or a state, or the way of all the earth to the dust. Whether, therefore, you take a journey or conceive a plan or would carry your burden bravely to the end, or ask an understanding of the issues of life, or want a road for faith beyond the hills of time, you need a way. > > >

We need very greatly a way of dealing with our- selves. Life is an affair between rival claimants for the throne room of personality. We have, at the best, but a little clear inner space of self-knowledge and established purpose ringed with shadows, haunted by old fears and older instincts. The better part of us holds its own precariously against ways—how impos- sible to escape that word—which undo the bright promise of our humanity and make us of all God’s creatures the strangest and most contradictory.

“We are children of splendor and flame, Of shuddering also and tears,

Magnificent, out of the dust we came > And abject from the spheres.”

What shall we do with ourselves, and what manner of men should we be? What disposal shall we make

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IF I HAD ONLY ONE SERMON TO PREACH

of our powers? What shall rule, and what be subject, in the realm of personality so anarchical at its worst, so capable of splendid order at its best? For what shall we spend ourselves, and in the accumulation of what treasures shall we find our true wealth? The confusion of our own time, with its arresting contra- dictions of force and futility, is deeply rooted in our want of a sure wise way of dealing with ourselves; all confusions begin first of all with those who have lost the way in the labyrinthian turns of their own inner lives. All our ‘restlessness re-echoes an old, old question a little changed but burdened with signifi- cance—‘Lord, we know not whither we are going, how shall we know the way?” and now, as then, Jesus answers: “I am the way.”

Jesus’ way is the supreme way of the conduct of life. He belonged, of course, to His race, His age and His land. He was a village craftsman who put aside His tools for a divine destiny and wore the sim- plicities of His station as a garment. His sandaled feet would be ill-shod for our winter roads, and the loose structure of the society of His time allowed Him a serene aloofness from the cares of this world, which we should find it hard to imitate. The imitation of Christ lies deeper than that. He was no bond servant to sense or things, and His mastery over them was not in the barrenness of circumstance, but in the su- premacy of the spirit. He disassociated once and for all wealth of life from cluttering ownership. He permitted wealth to those who were able to subdue

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it to the uses of the spirit. He forbade it to those for whom it had become a tyranny. His supreme con- cern was not with things, but with the soul.

It is no mere coincidence that soul and life are interchangeable translations of His key word. The soul as He conceived it was no ghostly tenant of a house of clay, but a man’s best and most permanent self, rich in experience, vibrant with holy passion, and so engaged with timeless things as to claim for itself an everlasting inheritance. He made the simplest life ample through the range of its relationships. He saved toil from drudgery by making it a glorious service of God and man. He was always busy but never driven, and in any weariness He knew and sought the unfailing sources of healing rest. A quiet and understanding intimacy with Nature breathes through all His words. He loved all sorts and con- ditions of human folk, and invited himself to be their guest. He took the simple pleasure of life as you take the friendly turns of a road through a lovely country, or rose above them as an aviator draws an arc through the sky.

He moved through all the light and shadow of the human estate and yet His own inner life was never darkened; He made of the shadows themselves an- other glory. He had a sure mastery over circumstance, fearing nothing save fear and hating nothing but hate. He was always a gentleman, and though He had apparently only the learning of His time and station, His wisdom was as luminous as the summer sunlight

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of Galilee and deep as the sky was high. A way of life like that is the secret of outer force and inner peace. It is established in the great veracities, it has found the springs of the enduring happiness, the sov- ereignty of it reduces competing enterprises and in- terests to their proper proportion, it enforces over all the machinery of life, an unfailing obedience to the will of God.

Our own time needs this way of life beyond our power to say how much we need it. We have en- tangled ourselves in a vast and driving order of our own creation, until our force is spent in serving the wearing endless need of it, and humanity has become too largely a means to an unhuman end. We have the stored wealth of the planet for raw material and the last subtle energy of it for force, and still miss the meaning of the long travail of creation and its singing flight through space, because we have been so strangely slow to subdue the urgencies of the flesh to the necessities of the soul and our wills to the will of God. Jesus of Nazareth laid the arresting touch of a hand still calloused with toil upon the immensities of power and pride with a single question: “What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own life?”’, and taught us even in the hidden places of our own souls the secret of escape and em- powerment, when He said, “I am the way.”

> *K *K

We need ways of living together.

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Jesus began with the individual and his values and duties, for everything begins there and maybe ends there, but the soul is not grown in a vacuum, being the creation of comradeships.

Consider Jesus’ use of singulars and plurals. The Beatitudes are all in the plural, for they involve ex- periences in which a man can never be alone. Those conditions which Jesus undertakes to transmute into blessedness are aspects of the inseparable associations of humanity, creations of the fret and strain of inter- woven life. No one of us ever furnished the entire occasion for his own grief. It needs the seas and winds of humanity to make a tear, as it needs the sea and the wind and the night to make a dewdrop. Meekness is a spiritual gleam against a background of banked pride, and mercy a gift of the merciful spirit to offense and offenders. How shall we make peace unless there be the estranged, or return evil for good unless evil has been offered first? We are all threads in some vast fabric, but the threads are alive and the weaving hurts and the color is not a dye into which we are dipped, but the native hue of our spirits illumining the fabric from within. The whole grave music of the Beatitudes is a call to consider the blessedness of a human estate in which we may suffer and forget ourselves, and contribute to every fellowship patience and courage and overcoming love.

From such beginnings as these, Jesus develops the whole massive social ethic of the Gospels, though to

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call it a social ethic is like finding an equivalent for the haunting motifs of the Unfinished Symphony in the harmonic vibration of wire and catgut. Jesus was not preaching a social Gospel, He was showing en- tangled human folk how to live together and putting “togetherness”’ into His verbs and nouns because men could not live at all and live apart. He uses singulars in His great injunctions because duty is the concern of the individual, but His duties are individual atti- tudes toward social relationships. Qualities which seem as sheerly personal as breath and thought rise out of association with others; though chastity be the very whiteness of a thought, it is the passing look at a woman through which the whiteness shines.

The great Christian attitudes, the force to outlast force with gentleness, wear down oppression with tri- umphant patience and put out a curse with a blessing as rain puts out a forest fire, are social attitudes; a love which knows no limit and refuses any exception at all until it lies about life like circumambient air about the great globe itself, is the imperial Christian positive. The quest for food and drink is a comrade’s quest; we have no more right to say what shall J eat or what shall J drink than to pray My Father which art in heaven. And as His teaching reaches its splendid culmination, He enjoins us to seek the Kingdom of God as though there were no word for the sovereign and interwoven inclusiveness of His way of life, save the one word whose suggestion of common destiny,

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glory and power has always ruled the imaginations of men.

Jesus’ way of living together is as right for the Twentieth Century as for the First Century, as regnant for states meeting as sovereign equals as for a province under the bronze heel of Rome. Wherever