Francis Greenwood Peabody.

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Perfecting of the Promise





March 1, 1914, Commemorating the Ninth Anniversary of the Death
of Jane Lathrop Stanford



Founders* Day, March 9, 1914






Na. Date.

1. The Leland Stanford Junior University. A

pamphlet of information (No date)

2. Address of Jane Lathrop Stanford to the Board

of Trustees February 1 1, 1897

3. Address of Jane Lathrop Stanford to the Board

of Trustees June i, 1897

4. Address of Jane Lathrop Stanford to the Board

of Trustees May 31, 1899

5. Address of Jane Lathrop Stanford to the Board

of Trustees October 3. 1902

6. Address on "The Right of Free Speech," by Jane

La'throp Stanford to the Board of Trustees April 25, 1903

7. Petition filed in proceedings to establish and con-

strue University Trusts June 16, 1903

8. Decree in proceeding to establish and construe

University Trusts July 3, 1903

9. Inaugural address of Jane Lathrop Stanford as

President of the Board of Trustees July 6, 1903

10. Organization of the Faculty of the University. .. .March 31, 1904

11. Report of the Organization Committee of the

Trustees upon the Organization of the Uni-
versity Faculty March 31, 1904

12. First Annual Report of the President December 31, 1905

13. Second Annual Report of the President April 30, 1906

14. Third Annual Report of the President December 31, 1906

15. Fourth Annual Report of the President December 31, 1907

16. Trustees' Manual November i, 1908

17. Fifth Annual Report of the President December 31, 1908

18. Sixth Annual Report of the President December 31, 1909

19. Seventh Annual Report of the President December 31, 1910

20. Eighth Annual Report of the President December 31, 1911

21. Ninth Annual Report of the President December 31, 1912

22. Addresses of Timothy Hopkins, Emmet Rixford

and David Starr Jordan at the Dedication of

the Lane Medical Library Building January i, 1913

23. Tenth Annual Report of the President July 31, 1913

24. Addresses at the Installation of John Casper

Branner, LL.D., as President of the Uni-
versity October i, 1913

25. The Perfecting of the Promise, a sermon by Rev.

Francis G. Peabody, D. D., March i, 1914,
commemorating the ninth anniversary of the
death of Jane Lathrop Stanford; The Found-
ers of the University, an address by Hon.
William W. Morrow, LL. D., Founders'
Day, March 9, 1914 July 31, 1914





March I, 1914, Commemorating the Ninth Anniversary of the Death
of Jane Lathrop Stanford



Founders' Day, March 9, 1914





The anniversary of the death of Jane Lathrop Stanford, on Febru-
ary 28, 1905, was observed on Sunday, March i, 1914, by a service in
the Memorial Church, at which the Rev. Dr. Francis G. Peabody, special
preacher at the university, delivered ihe followinq- sermon ou "The Per-
fecting' of the I'romise":

"These all, having- obtained a good rejiort ihrcnigh faith, received not
the promise : God having jirovided some better thing- for us, that they
without us should not be made perfect." — Hebrews XT. 39-40.

This splendid chapter on the heroes of Faith, after describing the
great procession of witnesses from the days of Abel and Abraham to
the days of David and the Prophets, ends wdth what may be called a
Philosophy of History, a Law of Evolution, which links the Present
with the Past. There is, acc(n-ding- to this jirofound and original
thinker, a relation of reciprocity between successive g-enerations. a
mutual dependence, which makes the Present a fidfilhnent of the Past,
and the Past an anticipation of the Present. On the one hand, the
present looks back to the past, and out of all its achievenients and
distinctions recalls as most creative and redemptive the ventures of
its faith. By faith Abraham went out, not knowing wdiither he went.
By faith Moses forsook Egypt as seeing Him who is invisible. By
faith kingdoms were subdued, righteousness was wrought, weakness
was made strong and armies were turned to flight, ^^'hat seemed at
the time a national migration, or a revolt from Pharaoh, or a war
with the Philistines, disclosed itself to the pliilosophic historian as a
victory of faith, a ventm-e into the unknown, an invasion of political
or economic life by s]iiritual power. That was what gave dignity
and significance to the history of Israel. These all had obtained
their good report through faith.

That is one side of the doctrine of reciprocity. But the other is
set forth with equal clearness. "These all," the Chapter proceeds,
"though they were thus witnesses of faith, received not the promise,
God having provided better things for us that they without us should


4 lA'laiid Stanford Junior l^nivcrsily

not be made ])crfcct." The perfectini^ of their faith, in other \vr)rds.
was to be made in the fideHty of their descendants. The promise of
the Past had to be kept by the service of the Present. Good as were
the things which the Elders might do, God had provided better things
for lis, in the justifying and ampHfying of their faith. Without us
their sacrifices and conflicts were but intimations and prophecies of
what might be. The past needs the present as much as the present
needs the past. It is all one world, where each gallant deed of the
past becomes by degrees detached from its immediate circumstances,
and recognized as a venture of faith ; and w'here again each honorable
service of the present interprets and fulfills the imperfect efforts of the
past. This is the spiritual heredity which gives to human victory its
moral continuity. The evolution of society unfolds before the stu-
dents' mind as an organic and interdependent life.

Now, nowhere is this reciprocity of the Past and Present more
conspicuous or more effective than in a university. The associated
life of teachers and students seems on its surface to be the most fluid
and shifting of relationships. The classes come and go. The staff of
teachers changes from year to year. The stream of academic life
flows by one as he watches it and bears with it all that is familiar,
so that when he returns to a university after a few years of absence,
he walks as a stranger among buildings and methods of instruction,
and youthful faces, which did not, in his day, exist. And yet, below
this superficial changefulness there is a deeper continuity and unity
which makes a university, to one who has lived in it and loved it,
always the same. The eddies and ripples on its surface pass, but it
is the same stream flowing in the same channel, and one may sit on
its bank and dream the same dreams. The family-circle widens as
new classes claim their heritage, but it is the same Alma Alater who
is the parent of all. In fact, it is one of the most curious experiences
in life to discover that the longer one lives the more he loves his uni-
versity. Other bonds of intimacy grow weaker as time and distance
put their strain on one's affections, but this tie of relationship has the
almost unique quality of growing firmer and more compelling with the
passing of the years. The older one grows the more romantic and
poetic seem those vanished days of youth. The university, with all
the external ' changes which make it seem another world, remains to
its oldest srraduates the same centre of loval affection.

The Perfectin,^" of tlie Promise 5

What is the secret of this academic continuity which binds together
the passing generations in undiminished attachment? It is to be
found in that spiritual reciprocity of which the Apostle to the Hebrews
writes. On the one hand is the discovery that the strength of a uni-
versity depends, not on its buildings or its endowments, or even its in-
struction, but on the perpetuation of a tradition, on the inheritance of
a sentiment, on a gradually accumulated and perpetuated ideal of life,
which the new-comer may only dimly appreciate or accept, but which
creates the atmosphere he breathes, sustains him even while he is un-
conscious of its presence, and finally, as it becomes recognized,
strengthens and steadies his whole later life. "A university," one of
the most honored university administrators, President Gilman of
Johns Hopkins, once said, "is a home of idealism. If it were not
that, it would be better that its walls should crumble in a night." I
happen to be associated with a university which has large resources in
its laboratories, libraries, endowments and equipments, and these ma-
terial advantages naturally draw to it many students to whom such
opportunities seem a sufficient persuasion. But they do not become
Harvard men until they enter into quite another region of academic
appreciation. They begin to hear of a Puritan youth, dying of con-
sumption, far from his English home, and bequeathing a few hundred
pounds of his modest estate, and three hundred books, to the little
school which had been set up on the edge of the wilderness, between
the Indians and the sea. Every pound of John Harvard's money was,
so far as we know, soon spent, and every book save one — and that a
valueless treatise on antique theology — was soon destroyed by fire.
Nothing seemed left but a tradition. The pedigree, the physical ap-
pearance, even the signature of John Harvard, have been among the
mysteries of antiquarian research. And yet, on that tradition of a
modest, devout and dying youth, the University is founded ; and as
that tradition fastens on a young man's mind today it lifts him out
of the rut of modern life and sets his feet on the high, firm ground of
moral idealism and self-forgetting service. By faith, he says, John
Harvard went out, not knowing whither he went, seeking a State
which had foundations, whose builder and maker was God. So this
youth begins to breathe the atmosphere which refreshes and exhila-
rates his life. And then there is superadded to that original tradition
the long history of other lives which have given dignity and worth

6 Lelancl Stanford Junior University

to the growing college, and the new student gathers them all together
into his Walhalla of Faith. "And what shall I more say," he repeats
in the New Testament language, "for the time would fail me to tell
of statesmen and orators, of philosophers and poets and ])reachers, of
Adams and Sumner, of Emerson and Longfellow, of Channing and
Brooks; who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness
and turned to flight the armies of evil?" So the new-comer, friendless
and lonesome though he may be, finds himself gradually admitted to
this ennobling companionship and sustained in his steps by this mo-
mentum of an honorable past.

But that is but one-half of this academic continuity. If the past sup-
ports the present, so the present must justify the past. All these achieve-
ments and sacrifices which adorn academic history become fruitless unless
they issue into a more substantial and serviceable life. The duty of each
newly matriculated student carries into it the prophecy and destiny of the
whole organic life. These all receive not the promise, God having pro-
vided better things for us that they without us should not be made per-
fect. A few years ago, when my University was celebrating the two hun-
dred and fiftieth anniversary of its foundation, a procession of undergrad-
uates marched through the streets bearing many flags, and finally came tlu?
freshman class, which had been admitted but a month ago, carrying a
banner with what seemed a most audacious and amusing inscription :
"The University," it read, "has been waiting two hundred and fifty
years for us." And yet, in a profound and searching sense, that boy-
ish boast was true. This was precisely wdiat the long history of the
University had produced. For these the privations of primitive colo-
nists in the wilderness were endured, for these the faith and prayers
of many generations had been ofifered. Without these happy, jesting,
delightful boys the whole great evolution of the University had been
in vain. The whole creation, as Paul said of the world, had waited
for the manifestations of these last sons of God.

These general indications of the nature and charm of university
life find a most impressive illustration on this Campus ; and I recall
them to you today as we meet for this memorial service. Yesterday
was the ninth anniversary of the death of Mrs. Stanford, and our
service of worship today, in this church, wdiich was the centre of her
afifection and her generosity, would be ill-timed indeed if it did not
express the permanent gratitude felt, not only by this University, but

The Perfecting of the Promise 7

by all who care for the higher education of America. I cannot as a
stranger presume to speak in detail of this indomitable woman ; but it
is possible that the dramatic trials which she encountered and con-
(|uered may impress a stranger cjuite as freely and as keenly as thev
do those to whom the events are familiar. The career of Mrs. Stan-
ford is the most distinguished instance in America of parental affec-
tion dedicated to a great cause; a perfect love which cast out fear; a
charity which endured all things, hoped all things and never failed. I
have spoken of the pathetic figure of young John Harvard dedicating
his scanty means to the education of young men like himself. Rut an
even more appealing and dramatic figure in the history of education
in America is that of a boy of sixteen years, dying in Italy, and giv-
ing his name to a great University on the remote shores of the Pacific.
The stranger may survey with admiration your surroundings, your
landscape, your refinements of architecture, your multiplication of re-
sources, but he is finally arrested and quite overwhelmed by the more
central fact that all this stately organism has at its heart the life oi
a little boy, and the love of two stricken parents. Other institutions
have cherished other ideals which have been wrought into their foun-
dations, and have stamped themselves upon academic life. The most
important university of Europe, for example, that of Berlin, is a mon-
ument of Germany's emancipation, just a century ago, from the sway
of Napoleon, and the prevailing note of appeal to students from year
to year is that of patriotism, the call of the scholar to serve his coun-
try, the application of learning to statesmanship. The University of
Oxford, again, is the direct descendant of the monastic communities
of the Middle Ages, detached from the world in the privilege and lib-
erty of the higher learning, with no obligation of citizenship but to
pray for the souls of their founders ; and this monastic spirit, with its
instincts of a spiritual aristocracy, still prevails among Oxford Dons
who are the successors of the monks and who may still be receiving
a stipend for their prayers, even though in their philosophy or teach-
ing there be not a shred of religion left. One may watch the same
survival of idealism in many American institutions. One New Eng-
land college was primarily founded to teach the Indians, and the spirit
of adventure and courage is still prevalent in the administration and
even in the student life of Dartmouth. Another college cherishes as
its central shrine the monument which marks the spot of a haystack.

8 Tvcland Stanford Junior University

near which three students met and consecrated themselves to the
work of foreign missions, and in whose work the vast enterprise of
the American Board modestly began, and ever since that day the mis-
sionary call to self-forgetting" and happ\' sacrifice has met a glad
response at Williams Colleg'e. But here you strike an even deeper
and more universal note ; the hope of youth and the memories of ag;e ;
the full chord which is sounded in the hariuony of a boy's life and a
parent's love. Under the family system of Japan it became the high-
est privilege of children to reverence the memory of their parents and
to offer prayers at their shrine. It was a noble, but a backward -
looking religion. Here you are initiated into the opposite type of rev-
erence, the offering of parents to the memory of their child — the for-
ward-looking, expectant, fulfillment of the tragically short career, the
immortality, not of the parents' lives which were so soon to end, but of
the son's life which had hardly begun to be.

And that parental love had its natural fruit in a persistent and in-
destructible faith. The time soon came when all that the Uni-
versity had to live on was this faith of Mrs. Stanford. The vicissi-
tudes in which this University was soon involved, the loss of re-
sources which seemed fatal, and the dependence for its very existence
on the unremitting sacrifices of one lonely woman, make up a story
of faith quite worthy to be enrolled in the list of Israelite heroes. By
faith she went on, not knowing wdiither she went. By faith she looked
for a University that had foundations. By faith she chose to suft'er
afifliction with the people of her choice rather than to enjoy pleas-
ures for a season. By faith she obtained promises of help, stopped
the mouths of creditors, quenched the violence of enemies, escaped
the edge of the courts, and finally turned to flight the armies of litiga-
tion. And then she died, in good time, with her faith unshattered by
the disaster which might perhaps have broken her heart. It is not
surprising that the first object which meets the visitor as he ap-
proaches these halls is a statue of Faith, bearing her own cross. There
might have been written under it the great words of the Apostle: "This
is the victory which overcometh the world, even your faith."

Such is the inheritance into which each student enters here, and
which dignifies his daily work and will enrich his later memories, not
with information and acquisition only, but with a sentiment and ideal
worthy of an educated life. That is what rescues a great institution

The Perfecting- of the Promise 9

from the persistent risk of becomin

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Online LibraryFrancis Greenwood PeabodyThe perfecting of the promise; → online text (page 1 of 4)