David Hummell Greer.

Visions : Sunday morning sermons at St. Bartholomew's, New York online

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shadow of death, presuming upon the mercy of
God, and hoping that His angels will somehow
bear him up, and keep him from being hurt, as he
plunges into that dark and unknown depth !

Ah, yes, all the way through life, in all the
stations of life we are tempted by it ; to cast our-
selves down, to do the thing that is not quite right ;
tampering with the moneys given to us in trust ;
jeopardizing the talents given to us in trust; im-
periling the lives given to us in trust; hazarding
the souls given to us in trust, presuming upon some
special protection or immunity that will be vouch-
safed to us, to keep us from being hurt by that
which has so often, and so fatally, so many others

Then the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding
high mountain and showeth Him all the kingdoms
of the world, and the glory of them— what a sight
it must have been ! — and saith, " All these things


will I give Thee if Thou wilt worship me ! " AYas
it a real mountain ? Was it a real devil ? Was it
a real world whose glory he showed Ilim ? Again
I say I do not know. But it is a marvelous picture,
vividl}^, strikingly portrayed ; and the temptation
which it depicts, — who of us has not felt it ? Who
of us has not yielded to it at times, and tried to win
some glory, some success in life by worshipping the
devil and doing homage to Satan ? Who of us at
times, for the sake of some worldly end, some
worldly honor, some worldly popularit}^ and grati-
fication has not taken counsel, not with the highest
and best in him but with the basest and worst, not
with the voice of God in him but with the voice of
the devil? The glory of the world: how bright,
how beautiful, ho^v alluring it is ! IIow^ it fascinates
the heart ! We w^ould all like if we could to subdue
the world and make its treasures ours. We Avould
all like if we could to win the world and make its
honors ours. Jesus Christ had the power to do it.
Jesus Christ, I believe, Avas temj)ted to do it, in
a way that seemed to Him wrong; in a way
that did not seem to be the way of God. " Go,
with thy great, marvelous power ; build thy king-
dom up ; gird thee with thy sword upon thy thigh ;
ride on in thy majesty and thy right hand shall


teach thee terrible things ! " Capable of building
up His kingdom on the earth by sheer force and
power, He will build it up in truth and love ; and at
Avhatsoever cost by being true Himself.

" Get thee behind me, Satan, thou adversary of
God ! " Then the angels came and ministered unto
Him ; love, joy, peace, patience, faith, hope ; and
have ministered ever since unto the hearts in which
He dwells.

The God of the Wilderness, with our tangled,
tried, and tempted human life gathered and clus-
tered around Him : Most wonderful picture of God ;
most human picture of God ; most helpful picture
of God ! That is the picture of God we need,
fighting our battles here in the wilderness; of a
God Who knows Avhat the wilderness is and will
help us to fight. And when in the wilderness we
faint, and fall, and yield to temptation in it, the
God. of the wilderness knows how hard is the fight,
and will pity and pardon and lift us up again.

Wonderful picture of God ! Helpful picture of
God ! May it help us in the wilderness to fight our
wilderness fight ; and, like Jesus Christ, at last to
win our victories in it !


Having made 'known lonto us the mystery of his
will : That i7i the disjpensation of the fulness of
times he might gather together in one all things in
Christy hoth lohich are in heaven^ and which are on
earth ; even in him. — Ephesians i. 9, 10.



That is a magnificent dream. Is it anything
more ? Will it ever be realized ? Will it ever
come to pass ? Will the time ever come Avhen the
ascendency in this world of Jesus Christ shall be
universal and complete ? Christian people believe
that it will, and from that faith derive the couragfe
for their work. But when will it come ? And
how ? What are the signs of its coming ? Are
there any signs just now of its coming ? If there
are, what are they ? Let me try to answer these
questions, and show you how I think this world will
at last become a Christian world, not merely in
name but in fact, and all things in it be gathered
up into Jesus Christ.

First, let me try to show you how the human
mind to-day, apart from religion, seems to be work-
ing in that direction. If you have observed with
any closeness the trend of modern thought, you will
of course have noticed that it is a tendency toward
unity of conception ; that it has been characterized,
in other words, by the effort to discover some unit-
ing bond or principle in things, and thus to bring if



possible oneness out of diversity. It is through the
exercising- of that tendency that many of those
phenomena in the material workl, which seemed at
first to have no mutual connection, have been re-
solved at last into some common source, and have
been shown to be united by some common law.
That is what has given — that tendency of the
modern mind to resolve the many into the one —
that is what has given the physical sciences to us ;
Astronomy, Botany, Geology, and all the ph^^sical
sciences. That is the way in which those sciences
have come. In spite of the great number of the
heavenly bodies, and of the great and vast dis-
tances, almost immeasurable between them, there is
something nevertheless, so it has been found, which
they have in common ; and the science of Astron-
omy has come. In spite of the great number of
terrestrial plants, and the great variet}^, almost in-
finite, among them, there is something nevertheless,
so it has been found, which they have in common ;
and the science of Botany has come.

So throughout all the different spheres and
departments of the physical world, the human
mind has been steadily and slowly moving on to-
ward unity of conception, has been characterized
more and more by the tendency to bring together


many things and divers things into one. Xor has
it been contented to stop even there, but has gone
on further to find, or to try at least to find, not
only how all the heavenly bodies are related to one
another, not only ho^Y all the plants and trees are
related to one another, and all the rocks, and all
the animals are related to one another, but hoAV all
the phenomena of the universe itself are related to
one another, and all the kingdoms in it are related
to one another ; the mineral kingdom to the vege-
table kingdom, the vegetable kingdom to the ani-
mal kingdom, the animal kingdom to the human
kingdom — how all the phenomena of the universe
itself, including even man, are related to one an-

That is what the theory of Evolution means.
That is why that theory is such an appealing theory
to the minds of men to-day ; not because it has
been verified and proved, and beyond all question
established ; for it has not been. But simply be-
cause it gives such satisfaction to that strong innate
tendency of the human mind to-day to bring to-
gether many things, all things, and to gather them
up into one.

JS'ow, that same tendency to find, or to try at
least to find, some principle of unity in the midst of

2r4 THE VISION OF social unity.

a vast diversity, has been asserting itself of late,
not only in connection with the phenomena of the
material world, but in connection with the phenom-
ena of the social Avorld as well; in connection
with human life. Hence we see to-day that people
are trying to ascertain by patient search and study,
not only the true history of the past, but the true
philosophy of the history of the past, the true
principle of philosophic unity running through the
histor}^ of the past. The}^ are trying not only to
ascertain what is the true history of Greece and
Rome and Egypt and Germany and the Anglo-
Saxon world, but hoAY to bring all those histories
together, to gather them up into one, to make their
history one, connected and united, one form, one
life, one growth, one social life and growth. And
here it is that we meet the Evolutionist again, who
tells us that the unifying principle in the material
world is the same unifying principle Avhich we see
in the social world ; that the social world has been
evolved just like the physical world ; that it has
been from the beginning marked by a struggle for
existence, in which the weakest members have
perished and succumbed, and only the strongest
have survived.
What that means when translated into plain


English is Selfishness. By Selfishness, it is said,
the social world to-day has come to be what it
is, everybody trying to do the most he can for him-
self, and considering others only Avhen he finds that
that is for himself the prudent com'se to take.

Now, however right and good that principle of
Selfishness may be when applied to the animal
world and all the worlds inferior to man, it is not
right and good when applied to the human world,
and can never give unity to our social life. For
Selfishness in the social world is not a uniting, but
dividing term. The men who are united only by the
bond of a common selfish interest are not united at
all. Or they are united only as the European nations
to-day are united in a peace, which can only be main-
tained by large and threatening standing armies in
every one of those nations, and Avhich at any moment
may be sharply broken, when any nation feels that it
is strong enough to break it ; then all the nations
will be at each other's throats again. The ultimate
tendency of the principle of Selfishness is not to
unite men more and more, but to crush and over-
come them, to weed them out, to eliminate them,
and more and more destroy them, until at last —
this is its ultimate tendency — until at last only one
strongest man survives.


Kot by the principle of Selfishness, or self-inter-
est, however enlightened, can the social world be
united ; and the union which it gives, or the peace
which it gives is an armed peace, which. Selfishness
having made, Selfishness can break. Neither can
that union be found, in commerce or in trade, as
you men of business should know, although some
persons to-day are trying hard to find it in that
manner, thinking that if they can only increase and
multiply the industrial opportunities and commer-
cial and trading facilities of the Avorld, and make
the world more prosperous, that then they will
gather the world together and make the world one.
That, too, is a union which, in its last analysis, rests
on Selfishness, and is therefore not a lasting union,
is not a true union, is not a union at all. For
while men in business and trade seem to be united,
they are in fact very often divided, or they are
united only as long as it is to their interest to be
united, and then no longer united. Everybody in
business is avowedly there for hhnself, helping
others if he can, but not if it hurts himself ; and the
union thus effected is a brittle union, and it may
crack, as very often it does crack, as here and there
it is cracking in our social life to-day, with great
})rotentous lines of threatening cleavage in it.


Xot by the sellish struggle for existence can the
social life be united. Yet in some way it must be
united. The human heart demands it ; the human
mind demands it ; the best modern thought de-
mands it ; the sense of economy, making against
waste, demands it. All other things have been
gathered up into one. How shall the social life be
gathered up into one ? JN^ot by Selfishness, no mat-
ter what euphemistic synonym we interchange it
with, but by Eighteousness. Yes, but what is
Righteousness ? According to Jesus Christ Right-
eousness is just the opposite of Selfishness. Selfish-
ness is the die upon which Righteousness is
stamped ; and just as between the die and the image
stamped upon it we find what may be called " op-
posite resemblances," so does Righteousness answer
to Selfishness by what may be called " opposite re-
semblances." Patient, strong, brave, diligent, in-
dustrious, getting on in life, in the one case for
yourself, only for yourself. Then patient, brave,
diligent, strong, rich, getting on in life, not only for
yourself but for your neighbor too, your neighbor
as yourself. That, says Christ, is Righteousness.
That is the righteous life ; that is the righteous
man. I^ot mereh^ the man who is trying, however
honestly or fairly or uprightly, simply to push him-


self along, but the man who is also trying to push
his neighbor along; cultivated, educated, strong,
not only for himself but for his neighbor too, push-
ing M771 along. That, says Christ, is Righteousness.
That is a righteous man ; that is a right man, the
way in which a man was made and meant to live ;
thus drawing others to him, carying others with
him, taking them along as he takes himself along,
and more and more as he is lifted up, so more and
more lifting others up ; all of them together gath-
ered into one.

That is the law. Yes, the law, ordained of God
for human life on earth, which to human life on
earth its unity can give. That is the law which
in Jesus Christ we see, not only by Him taught,
but also by Him lived, and in the observance of
which this world will become a Christian world at
last, and all things in it be gathered up into Jesus
Christ. And so it is now becoming a Christian
world. There is I knoAV division in it, and strife,
and tumult, and discord. Alas, I know it well ; we
all know it Avell. Political strife, national strife,
social strife, theological strife, ecclesiastical strife ;
and 3^et now as never before in the history of man-
kind do Ave see and find a liuman love and sympa-
thy and ministration in it, Avith an earnestness


never so earnest, with a self-sacrificingness never so
self-sacrificing, with a bountifulness never so
bountiful, with a service never so helpful, so gener-
ous, so great, and of such far-reaching scope, shin-
ing or sounding through it all, the tumult and the

May I illustrate ? I remember once to have
read of a bird of beautiful song which, in the
course of its heavenward flight, was struck by the
gathering storm ; struck, but it was not silenced.
And as the spreading and bulging cloud touched
the edge of the sun, and the twilight gloom and
darkness fell over the face of the earth, and the
flash of the lightning shone, and the voice of the
thunder broke, and the blast of the hurricane bleAv,
and the wind came out of its prison house, and the
tempest bowed the trees, in it all, above it all, some-
how singing through it all, the long-resounding
silvery note of the beautiful song was heard, and
Avhich survived the storm. So through all the
battling strifes of battling creeds and arms, the
tumult and the crash, the moral and mental con-
fusion, the theological bewilderment, the ecclesi-
astical estrangement; 3^es ; in and through it all,
the long-resounding note, vibrating through the
ages, yet coming out to-day with an accent never


SO clear, — " Your neighbor as yourself : your neigh-
bor as yourself " ; the long-resounding note of the
great triumj^hant song of Jesus Christ is heard !

Look at the Christian Church to-day. What is
it doing? Not putting forward now so much,
though still of course maintaining its doctrines and
its creeds ; yet now as never before reaching out
its helping hand to the human life about it, and
with all the strength it possesses, trying to gather
up that human life about it and to make it one.
Through all the divisions, the discords and the
strifes, the long-resounding note of Jesus Christ is
heard, — " Your neighbor as yourself."

Look at the nation to-day. What is the JSTation
doing? Engaging in a struggle and going to a
conflict which some tried in vain to avert, but
which, having come, we must all support, and can ;
chiefly because in all that dark and stormful sk}^,
that lowering thunder gloom, that vivid lightning
flash, in all that storm and darkness this singular
note is heard, scarcely indeed if ever heard in any
war before, — "Your neighbor as yourself: your
neighbor as yourself ! "

And so, my friends, if you look beneath the sur-
face of things, if you penetrate to the heart of
the storms and strifes, you there may find the signs


of the coming triumph and ascendency of Jesus
Christ; not perhaps of the theological Christ, or
the ecclesiastical Christ, as you and I regard Him,
but the Divine C Insist, with His Divine message
and mission for the Avorld — " Your neighbor as
yourself ! "

And more and more throughout the world,
spreading, growing, singing, that keynote will be
heard. More and more throughout the world that
righteousness Avill be seen, inspiring the world, re-
deeming the world, contributing more and more to
the unity of the world, with all things in it at last
gathered up into Jesus Christ !


These things saith the Amen, the fcdthfid and
true witness, the hecjinning of the ci^eation of God. —
Revelation iii. 14.



This word '' Amen " means as you know verifica-
tion, ratification. In that sense we use it at the
end of a prayer or a Creed, to ratify the prayer or
the Creed, to signify thus in a word that that is
what we believe, what we have just recited, what
we have just repeated ; that that is what we be-
lieve. Using it however in that connection and
sense, we use it as a kind of interjected adverb. In
the text it is used as a noun, as the name or title of
Christ, Who is thus described or portrayed, as the
Person in Whom we find the embodiment of what
we believe, the fulfilment of what we believe, the
consummating finale, the Amen of what we believe.

Let us make that our subject : Jesus Christ as
the Amen of Faith.

First of all, however, I must occupy your atten-
tion for a few moments in trying to explain what I
mean by " faith " or what I think the Christian
religion means. The impression is sometimes
made, even when it is not sought to be made,
that faith is opposed to reason, or reason opposed
to faith; and that if we desire faith, reason will
have to go. ]S'ow, if that be the case, that faith



is opposed to reason, then it is not reason that
Avill have to go; it is faith that will have to
go ; for whenever an issue Avith reason is made,
reason will always, ultimately, win. But that is
not the case. Faith is not opposed to reason. It is
through the exercise of reason, or of reasonable-
ness, that we reach faith.

Suppose, for instance, we should be told that we
must believe Avhat the Bible says, or the Church
says, or the Pope says. We must first somehow be
persuaded and convinced that it is reasonable to be-
lieve what the Bible says, or Avhat the Church says,
or what the Pope says. How otherwise can we, as
reasonable creatures, believe it ? Faith in that case
is not faith ; it is ignorance, credulity, superstition.
But, no ; the antithesis of faith is not reason, the
antithesis of faith is sight ; and the contention of
one who is contending for faith is not with the man
who says " I will believe only what is reasonable " ;
that is right, always right ; his contention is with
the man who says " I will believe only what I can
see''^ ; that is not right. The man who believes
only what he can see is not a right man ; or, using
a more familiar and common term, he is not a right-
eous man ; and, if it be not reasonable not to be
righteous, he is not a reasonable man.


I i

But is it true that the man who believes only
what he can see is not a righteous man ? Surely it
is. What is it to be a righteous man ? It is, to say
the least, to be an honest man. What is it to be
an honest man? Who is the honest man? Is it
the man who is honest simply because he sees that
honesty, as we commonly say, is the " best policy " ?
'No ; for sometimes it is not just exactly the best
policy; and a little departure from honesty, a
little meandering and prevaricating moral crook-
edness, not too much, but a little, carefully con-
cealed and ambushed, and artfully and ingen-
iously practised, so as not to be found out, is the
" best policy " to pursue, so far as the attainment of
some temporal end is concerned ! If that be the
case, then what becomes of his honesty ? It is gone.
That is its logical and final Amen — vanishment,
disappearance, nothing. And the man who is hon-
est simply because he sees that honesty is as a rule
the best policy to pursue, is not an honest man, is
not a righteous man !

So with the other elements and attributes of right-
eousness; virtuousness, truthfulness, pureness, prob-
ity, courage, honor ; sometimes they pay in worldly
coin and advantage, usually they pay ; but some-
times they do not. And the best way at times of


getting on, with a temporal getting on — as some of
the managing editors of some of our daily papers
are keen enough to see — is to be 7iot truthful, and
not virtuous, and not pure; not in their personal
and domestic relations, perhaps, but as managing
editors. If one is to believe only what he sees, then
that is what he sees, and that is what he is ; that is
the end, the Amen, of his righteous manhood. Or,
as Falstaff puts it, when contemplating the possi-
bility of being seriously hurt in some fight in which
he is about to engage, " AVell, no matter," he says,
" honor pricks me on. But what if honor prick me
off when I come on ? How then ? Can honor set
a leg ? ]^o. Or an arm ? ]^o. Or take away the
OTief of a wound ? Xo. Honor hath no skill in


surgery, then ? Ko. What is Honor ? A word.
What is in that word " Honor " ? Air. Who hath it ?
He that died a AYednesday. Doth he hear it ? Xo.
Doth he feel it ? ]^o. Is it insensible ? Yea, to the
dead. But Avill it not live with the living? No.
Why ? Detraction will not suffer it ; therefore I'll
none of it. Honor's a mere 'scutcheon. And so
ends my catechism."

And so, logically, ends every catechism and every
decalogue, and every moral code, based u])on the
theorv that it is reasonable to believe onlv what


we see. That is its Amen — vanishment, disappear-
ance ; nothing !

If, then, righteousness be reasonable, and if to
live by what we see does not make for righteous-
ness, but against it, then to live by what we see is
not a reasonable way to live. It is reasonable to
live in some other way. That is what faith says.
That is what faith is, that principle in us, that
quality, that instinct — call it what you please, but
it is in us — which predicates and asserts the exist-
ence in the universe of a moral government about
us, unseen, unseeable, but real ; whose moral laws
pervade it, and will ultimately rule and control it,
Avhich makes us feel that we oiight^ though the
whole of the ph^^sical universe with all of its
physical forms and all its physical forces should
vanish and cease to be ; which makes us feel that
we ought — sublimest word and greatest which hu-
man speech can frame — that we ought to obey
those laws. That is faith in its essence, the testi-
mony given by the moral nature of man to the ex-
istence in the universe of a moral government about
him. That is faith. That is what makes him in
fact a moral man, a right man, a righteous man ;
faith — not in what he sees, but in what he does
not see and cannot, which makes him at times go


against what he sees, his temporal ease and peace
and comfort and prosperity and temporal reward ;
Avhich makes him on the earth a right, a righteous
man !

That is the righteousness which in the Bible we
find, which there in so many persons so brightly
shines ; and who are there described at times as wan-
dering about the earth, in deserts, dens, caves, with
trials of cruel mockings, scourgings, woundings,
hurtings, dyings ; tormented, tempted, tortured, not
accepting deliverance, who, through faith, wrought
righteousness on the earth ! That is the righteous-
ness which out of the Bible we find, the righteous-
ness that exalts the individual, that exalts the
nation, that exalts the world at large; the right-

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Online LibraryDavid Hummell GreerVisions : Sunday morning sermons at St. Bartholomew's, New York → online text (page 11 of 12)