Francis Greenwood Peabody.

Sunday evenings in the college chapel; sermons to young men online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryFrancis Greenwood PeabodySunday evenings in the college chapel; sermons to young men → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A List of t
Are "

The G(
The CI

This book may be kept


OCT 2ft

APH 3 1931



R, a W-:4 1

iSp ivmtif

.p, r



First Series. Short Addresses to Young Men
on Personal Religion.

Second Series.



Boston and New York

^uuDap v^^tiuuff^ in tl)e
College Cl)apel

^untiap Cbeninp in tfje
College Cljapel










rm 'N^w Y{»K I




^ 1937 L


Published October iqii




To C. W. E.

Severest critic, best of listeners,
qukstioning all things with perennial youth,
Quick to detect when faulty logic errs,
Yet quicker to discern each note of truth ;
Men call you unimpassioned, cold, and stern,
The last survivor of the Puritan,
They little know the sympathies that burn
For every worthy cause or troubled man.
Straight to its mark your candid counsel flies,
Its shaft of judgment tipped with kind desire,
And those it pierces still unwounded rise,
Chastened but strong, and purified by fire.

Along the coast where we have lived together.
There comes at evening-time, in summer weather,
A hush of Nature, when the sighing firs
Cease their complaining, and no land-breeze stirs
The drowsy ocean; while the burnished bay
Mirrors the splendor of the dying day.


And many an angry gale of doubts and fears,
The hostile breezes slacken and then cease;
The harbor-lights are lit, of love and peace ;
And life's calm evening settles over you
As sunset gathers over Asticou.


The prolonged vitality of three little books of
Chapel Addresses {^''Mornings in the College
Chapel,'' i8g6; " After7ioojis in the College Chapel,''
i8g8 ; ^^ Mornings in the College Chapel, Second
Series," iQOy) tempts me to add a concludiiig volume
to the series. Daily Mor7iing Prayer with a five-
mimite talk, Thursday Afternoon Vesper Service
with a ten-minute address, and Sunday Evening
Service with a full-sized sermon, made the weekly
routine of worship during the twenty happy years of
my administration in the College Chapel ; a?td the
volumes of which this is the last are my testimony
of gratitude for an opportunity such as few preachers
have ever been permitted to share. The cofiiinual
challenge of a completely voluntary system of wor-
, ship, the offering to religion of a fair chance — and
7iothing more — among the competing interests of
Ufiiversity life, and, more than all, the perennial
romance and surprise of religious experience as it is
met, and ofteJi rediscovered, by young men in the
course of their education, — their self-assurance and
selfabasefnent, their confidence a7id diffidence, their
doubts a7id dreams, — all these incide7its which create
the at7no sphere of a U7iiversity, give to preaching a
peculiar exhilaration. " After all," Phillips Brooks
said one Simday evening after one of his most irre-
sistible of sermons ^ " this is the greatest of preach-


In sifting out the present collection from the ser-
mons of twenty years, I have repeatedly recalled
atiother remark of this unapproachable master.
Speaking in our Preachers' Room just before one
of his visits to England, he said : "/ have been
trying to pick out some sermons to use over there,
but I fmd on looking thejn over that I have otily
one sermon.^' What seemed at the ?noment nothijig
more than playful self -depreciation was in one
se?ise profoundly true. Even his marvelous versatil-
ity of method and inexhaustible wealth of illustra-
tion did not disguise from him the fundamental
unity of his message to the world. An observant
hearer once said that Phillips Brooks never preached
without using the word ''''Richness.'^ The profusion
and ificrement of powers and resources to be attained
by the human soul through communion with the
living God was his constant theme. He could not
preach without preachi7ig his whole gospel. The
text of all his sermons might have been the sublime
promise .• *' / am come that they might have life, and
that they might have it more abunda?itly.''

In a much more superficial and obvious way this
little book turns out to contain but one sermon.
When its contents were preached, they seemed to
deal with many subjects ; but now that they are
collected they look like frag77ie7its of a message which
was 7iever fully given. To interpret to young men
the story of their own experience, a7id then to set this
limited experience in its place among the spiritual
problems of the modern world, ~^ this must always

be the aim of University preacJwig ; and it prescribes
a form of treatment which is inevitably somewhat
fixed. Not to begin with the special problems of edu-
catioJi is to fail of co?itact with the academic mi?id ;
fiot to 7?iake connect io7i betweefi this experience of
education and the great trunk-lines of human pro-
gress and desire is to remain academic^ provi?icial,
and side-tracked, as though one's train of thought
had no terfninal at tide-water. Here, at least, is the
reason — even though it be not an excuse — for a
uniformity of type which, 07i looking over these ser-
mons, I have found rather disconcerting.

Some of the following ser77ions are expansions or
variations of themes briefly stated in short talks at
Morning Prayers : and for the sake of curious stu-
de7its of homiletics who may care to trace the devel-
op77ie7it — or dilutio7i — of an idea, J have in such
i7istances made a reference to earlier volumes in this
series. Finally, a7id in order to i7idicate the histori-
cal traditio7i of Puritan piety which Harvard Uni-
versity i7iherits and cherishes, I have set at the end
of this volu77ie a sermon preached at the 2^oth an-
niversary of the founding of the College.

Cambridge, September, 191 1.




I. The Great Waste-Product i

II. The Revealing of the Heart .... 19

III. Work and Revelation 35

IV. The Opening Doors 57

V. The Prodigality of Providence .... 74

VI. The Comfort of the Truth 90

VII. The Wedding-Garment 106

VIII. The Shallows and the Deep 124

IX. The Writing on the Corner-Stone . . 142

X. Discipline 160

XI. The Parable of the Vacuum 176

XII. Pilate. A Sermon on Palm Sunday . . 197

XIII. The Power of the Endless Life. A Ser-

mon on Easter Sunday 215

XIV. The Christian Doctrine of Social Ser-

vice 233

XV. The Signs of the Times 252

XVI. A Broad Place. A sermon at the two
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of
the founding of Harvard College. . 273

)untiap €\3eninsfi in tfje
College Cfjapel


Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be
lost. — /oAn VI, 12.

[NE of the most striking characteris-
tics of modern business is the new
importance given to the prevention of
waste. Along with the prodigious increase of
production procured by new inventions, new
processes, and new machinery, a further
source of profit has been found in utihzing
material which was once thrown away ; and
in many forms of industry these waste-pro-
ducts, or by-products, which were once
merely slag or refuse, have become as valu-
able as the product originally sought. In the
close competitions of modern business it may
almost be said that the difference between

S>unliap (Ebeninfffi in tlit College Cl)apel

profit and loss is not infrequently determined
by the utilization of waste. A company is or-
ganized, for example, to make illuminating
gas, and the manufacture is obstructed by a de-
posit of coal-tar. When, however, this waste-
product is applied to industry, it is discovered
that Its use in the processes of dyeing is as
profitable as the gas of which it was once the
refuse. In the same way a packing house, in
addition to the meats it cures, finds a new
source of profit in utilizing every scrap of
waste, for lard, or cottolene, or glue ; or a com-
pany organized to refine oil enormously in-
creases its income by adding to its primary
intention the sale of by-products, such as
naphtha, benzine, or paraffine. Rags, cinders,
parings, husks, seaweed, — all have become
worth saving. Fuel, manure, paper, cloth, —
all may be made of waste.

The same discovery of unutilized values is
illustrated on the largest scale in the national
enterprise known as the Conservation Move-
ment. Rivers have been for centuries running
to waste, deserts have been left unpopulated,
waterfalls have spent themselves in wearing
away rocks, forests have been devastated by
fire or reckless cutting ; until at last the enor-

§>ttnt[ap (Etjeninfffi tn tbc Collcffe €I)apel

mous dimensions of this wastefulness have
been realized, and the nation, with new fore-
sight, proceeds to tame its rivers, to irrigate
its deserts, to transform its water-power into
light, and to save for posterity its outraged
forests. When the historian of the future nar-
rates the events of the present generation it
is not improbable that this conservation of the
nation's wealth may seem the achievement
most worth recording. Thousands of millions
of dollars are being saved from total loss to
enrich hundreds of millions of citizens as yet

But what is the great waste-product ? That
question was, in part, answered some years
ago by the leading political economist of
Great Britain, in an address to the Coopera-
tive Congress at Ipswich. The assemblage
represented more than a million of the work-
ing people of England ; and their vast organ-
ization, expending many millions of pounds
each year, was the direct descendant of the
simple scheme of mutual aid devised in 1844
by twenty-eight poor weavers of Rochdale.
Speaking to these plain working-people. Pro-
fessor Marshall said that they "had utilized
the great waste-product." It was, as he ex-


l|)ttnUap C^beninfffi in tl)e College CI)apel

plained, the capacity for business sagacity and
management which great numbers of people
might possess without its ever being discov-
ered and set to work. The Cooperative System
had promoted the discovery of this unsuspected
force of initiative, thrift, foresight, fraternal-
ism, and leadership. Men might enter the ser-
vice of some modest rural Society, where the
principles of the organization gave them a
chance to rise, until the same persons who be-
gan in the ranks might come to very large re-
sponsibilities and prove themselves competent
to conduct vast business affairs with astonish-
ing success. To demonstrate the existence of
such capacity among plain people and to put
it to use, should be regarded, this teacher
said, as " the greatest achievement of wage-
earners in the history of the world." The
great waste-product, that is to say, is not tar,
or rags, or hide, but human character, — the
unutilized intelligence, ambition, or skill,
which many a man may possess without
knowing it, and which, if it can be found and
used, may be the most profitable of invest-

Here is a test of wisdom which often meets
an employer. If a manufacturer were asked

^untiap (Ebcmnfffi in t[)e College CI)apeI

on what single item of cost his profits chiefly
depended, he would be likely to reply that
it was not so much on the wage-scale, or the
price of material, or the cost of plant, as on
the maintenance of a continuous maximum
of production. Intermittency, periodicity, a
shifting market, an insufficient supply of
labor, strikes and rumors of strikes, — these
risks which reduce production are the con-
stant dread of employers. But how shall one
secure this maximum of production ? Can ma-
chinery be made so perfect that the human fac-
tor in production may be ignored ? Is it pru-
dent to regard the loyalty and capacity of the
wage-earners as a valueless waste-product ?
Cannot a corporation be as sagacious as a Co-
operative Store ? Most employers persistently
believe that the appeal to thrift, economy, or
fidelity will meet no response from their em-
ployed ; that business is a vast machine, in
which the working-man has become a wheel
interlocking with the rest ; and it must be
admitted that a dehumanized, anonymous,
mechanical industrialism is the most alarming
characteristic of the present time. Precisely
here, however, is the opportunity for wisdom.
The humanization of industry is the next


^untiap CEtjeniufffi in t\}t Colltffe Chapel

step in economic progress. Administrators
of business who are devising ways of utilizing
initiative, intelligence, and efficiency, and
who give to these contributions to production
their just reward, are not only finding a new
source of profit, but are insuring themselves
against strikes, class-hatred, and revolution.
To neglect the great waste-product may
mean, not only commercial loss, but suspi-
cion, conflict, and disaster. To utilize the
great waste-product may mean, not only com-
mercial advantage, but humanity, fraternity,
and peace.

These lessons of commercial and economic
experience are, however, but suggestions of a
much more serious and personal problem. The
principle of conservation, which has been so
lavishly applied to our national resources, and
which is now an accepted principle in business
affairs, has hardly been approached in the
much more vital concerns of the physical, or
moral, or religious life. We have learned to
save our forests, but we still waste our nerves.
We make the desert blossom into fertility, but
we permit thousands of children to lose the
bloom of life by premature labor and unwhole-
some homes. The same person may with infi«

^unUap Cbrninfffi in tbc College CbaptI

nite care breed his cattle, and then make the
great venture of marriage with no foresight
beyond a passing fancy or a commercial gain.
We teach our farmers to raise hundreds of
bushels from land which had been thought
hopelessly sterile, but we permit thousands of
young people to grow up without trade or dis-
cipline, like abandoned and untilled soil, and
in the end to be unemployed because they are
unemployable. We train our dogs in special
types of color or shape, of scent or speed,
but we train our children in a rigid uniformity
of lessons and examinations, which levels tal-
ent with dulness and leaves the unusual mind
quite undiscovered even by itself. For centu-
ries infinite pains have been taken to produce
the best horses, or cows, or chickens, while it
has remained for this generation to make the
first approach to a science of eugenics, or the
producing of healthy children and of sound
family stocks.

A still stranger fact about human waste is
this, — that it is most reckless and prodigal
in those concerns which are most vital and
permanent. In the care of the body conserva-
tion has been to some extent achieved. The
solemn truths of heredity, and the extraordi-

^untiap €t)cnins:fi in t\)t College Cbapel

nary capacity of physical life to mould and
transform its tendencies, are at least recog-
nized as science, even if not applied in prac-
tice. When, however, we turn to the interests
of human life which are unseen and eternal,
the great waste-product seems to be not only
unutilized, but hardly suspected. Sensible
people have learned enough of eugenics to
check or mitigate many physical disasters ;
worldly-wise people have learned to save their
money and to guard their health ; business
people have discovered that a penny saved is
a penny earned and have organized on an
enormous scale for the prevention of waste ;
working-people have learned, often by bitter
experience, that overwork is wasteful extrava-
gance, and are demanding legislation and reg-
ulation to conserve their ability to earn. But
how is it with the moral and intellectual life,
for the sake of which — it may be supposed —
health and money are accumulated and prized ?
No one can observe the signs of the time with-
out being struck by the enormous capacity for
spiritual efficiency of whose existence even its
possessors are often altogether unaware. The
English Chancellor of the Exchequer has
lately called attention to the waste of power

S>untiaj) ^ijcninfffi in tl)c CoUep CI)apel

involved in the training of the rich. They re-
ceive, he said, the best that money can buy ;
their bodies and brains are disciplined ; and
then " they devote themselves to a life of idle-
ness." It is "a stupid waste of first-class ma-
terial." Instead of contributing to the work
of the world, they " kill their time by tearing
along roads at perilous speed, or do nothing
at enormous expense."

The same story might be told, in somewhat
different language, of many American lives.
A youth, for instance, of sound inheritances
and wholesome tastes, comes to his manhood
with a fund of health, friends, education, and
money, and enters the life of the modern
world. What potential leadership and service-
ableness are put into his hands ! What a chance
is his to guide, to serve, to lift, to redeem I In
the great crisis of our civil war men no older
than he, and of no better stuff, found them-
selves suddenly colonels or generals, with the
fate of an army committed to them ; and the
new and not less ominous conflicts of indus-
trial and social life are now waiting for just
such disciplined and generous men to take
command. Now watch this youth as the
world's work and play lay hold on him and he


becomes immersed in the routine and fri-
volity of life, Money and sport, getting and
spending, office and club, overwhelm his ideal-
ism and sweep him into the current of com-
monplace, until he sinks into the monotonous
ocean of mediocrity'. Nothing that is base or
discreditable need be reported of this submerg-
ence of a soul. The man may emerge at last
a respectable, comfortable, portly citizen, to
be described in the commercial phrase of our
obituaries as " successfid." But what a waste
has there been of the finest stuff ; what pre-
cious by-products have remained unutilized ;
what undiscovered strength of character and
unsuspected resources of nobility and wisdom,
have been drowned by the rising tide of pros-
perity or indolence ! Does it need a bloody
war to reveal the heroic traits which exist in
young men to-day as surely as they were latent
in the young men of 1861, or shall some new
science of spiritual conserv^ation rescue from
waste the undiscovered character which is
needed for works of peace not less than for
deeds of war }

Or a girl finds herself swept into the re-
volving circle of social obligations, until her
days and nights are exhausted by the give

SnnUap C»fnmfB m t\)t Colltfff €t)cqjfl

and take, the shuffling and winning, of the
social game. It may be a harmless part she
plays, it may even be a frivolity appropri-
ate to her age, yet she becomes more and
more aware of unsatisfied ideals, and unful-
filled consecration. A disturbing sense of
waste invades her self-centred carelessness,
and reveals to her the insidious approach of
selfishness, despondency, and despair. "Oh,
for some imperative call," she cries, " of duty
or desire, of ser\-ice or sacrifice, which may
rescue me from this progressive paralysis of
my own soul, and give me, not merely a pleas-
ant use of half my life, but the full use of
powers and gifts of which I am dimly and oc-
casionally aware ! "

The same sense of unutilized resources con-
fronts one in the larger relations of associated
life. The vast work of public charity, for ex-
ample, in which a fortune is sunk each year,
is in most places a monument of extravagance
and recklessness, loosely organized, wastefully
administered, and reducing to permanent
pauperism a considerable proportion of its
recipients. In a well-organized modem State
there would remain, no doubt, suffering and
sickness, old age and death, and these trage-

§)ttntiaj) (Ebeninfffi in tbe College Cfiapel

dies of life would bring with them destitution;
but in such a State there would not be pau-
perism in the sense of a permanently depend-
ent and unemployable class. The poor, as Jesus
Christ said, we have always with us ; but the
pauper, as an English writer has remarked, is
a work of art, the creation of wasteful sym-
pathy and legislative inefficiency.

What is true of public relief is not less evi-
dent in private charity. When Mr. Charles
Booth's monumental study of London first ap-
peared, it seemed to many readers to reach a
very shocking conclusion. One third of the
population, it appeared, were earning incomes
so small and precarious as to leave them below
the margin of self-support. An opposite state-
ment of the same facts may, however, be
equally suggestive. If it be true that one fam-
ily out of three is below the poverty-line, it is
not less true that two families out of three
are above that line, ranging from those who
barely maintain self-support to those who
live in afHuence. In other words, if two such
families could combine to bear the burden of
one less fortunate home — procuring work,
advising in trouble, training children, relieving
temporary distress — the whole vast and por-


S)unKap (Ktjeninfffi in tht College Cbapcl

tentous enterprise of London charity would
cease to exist. The problem remains unsolved
and threatening simply because the capacity
for personal service which already exists in the
prosperous classes has not been recognized
or applied, and because great numbers of
prosperous citizens have not the least idea
that they have a personal duty to do, or give
any portion of their time and means to do it.
If this be true of the huge aggregation of
lives which London holds, it is much more
obvious in the less overwhelming conditions
of smaller towns. Effective relief of the poor
cannot be secured by official bureaus or dele-
gated responsibility. It is a personal, individ-
ualized and continuous task, to be accom-
plished only as the social conscience of the
entire community, which has so long been a
neglected by-product of modern life, is set to
fulfil its proper work of saving persons through
persons, and applying the force of compassion
through the machinery of scientific charity.

When we pass, finally, from physical and
moral illustrations of the waste-product of
humanity, and come to the religious interests
of modern life, the case is the most serious of
all. As one surveys the activities of the re-


S>unliap ©bentufffi in t\)t College CI)apeI

ligious world, he recognizes, with appreciation
and gratitude the enormous volume of zeal,
generosity and consecration which are de-
voted to the maintenance and extension of
the Christian Church ; yet he cannot fail to
see at the same time how vast a force of
spiritual energy and efficiency is left unutil-
ized by prevailing methods, and what a mul-
titude of persons who ought to be contributors
to Christian efficiency are regarded, and
even regard themselves, as waste-products,
inapplicable to the supreme work of human
redemption. To a great and increasing
number of thoughtful persons, the Christian
Church has become little more than a social
organization which is a survival of other
ages, or a social club which is of interest to
its members alone. Such persons go their
way, like the men of the parable, one to his
farm, and another to his merchandise; one to
his golf, and another to his trade-union ; and
leave religion to the sentimentalists, the theo-
logians, and the reactionaries. At such a time,
what is organized Christianity called on to do ?
It is summoned to overhaul its machinery and
ideals, and to take new account of its efficiency
and aims. Are its teachings and methods

^unlia? Cijcninfffi in tl)c College Chapel

utilizing the entire volume of spiritual power
which is at its command? Has it not rejected
resources which are its legitimate possessions ?
Has it not deterred from cooperation rather
than won to loyalty ? Problems of ritual, con-
troversies of creed, rivalries of sects, claims
of authority, exhilarating as these activities
of the Christian Church may be to the ecclesi-
astical mind, are to persons bred in the hab-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryFrancis Greenwood PeabodySunday evenings in the college chapel; sermons to young men → online text (page 1 of 16)