David Hummell Greer.

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

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Jews, "Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my
day, and he saAV it and was glad." IS'ot merely
that He existed before Abraham : that is true ; but
that He existed in Abraham, that the moral and
spiritual beauty, that the moral and spiritual
power which struggled out in Abraham toward
expression long before, is the same moral and
spiritual beauty, bloom, power, which in all its
fullness in Jesus Christ is seen, which existed before
Abraham and since Abraham ; which, as the mani-
festation of God in all human life on earth, then,
now, always, can say of itself, "/«m."

That is what Saint John elsewhere declares,
when, in speaking of Jesus Christ upon one occa-
sion, he says, " That was the true light which lighteth
every man that cometh into the world." Every
man, in other words, has Jesus Christ within him,
feebly to be sure, and poorly, with much to obscure
and hinder the manifestation of Him. And yet it
is Jesus Christ. Just as the little ray of light that
struggles in through yonder crack in the door, or
through these painted windows, upon our faces
here, is the same light Avhose golden garment
wraps the earth in all its beauty to-day, whose
arrows ])ierce the air, whose colors paint the cloud,
whose beauties adorn the micbiight sky, and which


in the sun itseK so fully and brightly shines that
if Ave look directly at it or upon it our eyes are
dazzled by it. Even so is the light, the moral and
spiritual light, which struggles through the little
cracks and windows in every human heart and
soul, and which is never extinguished there, the
same moral and spiritual light which, in all its
beauty and splendor, in Jesus Christ is seen.
Hence it was that Saint Paul, like his comrade
apostle Saint John, after giving such a picture,
such a vivid and graphic picture of the glory of
Jesus Christ, a glory so great, so bright, so over-
whelmingly bright that it has dazzled the gaze of
the world, which apart from all the creeds, has
seemed to make men feel as they looked upon Him
that they saw Him to be the image of the Invisible
God ; could write to the people then, and say, " This
Jesus Christ is in you ! "

So does Saint Paul teach, so does Saint John
teach, so does the Bible teach, so does the Chris-
tian religion teach, " Jesus Christ is in you ! " This
then is the truth which in the text we find.

What does it signify ? What is its practical
value ? It gives a new name and a new meaning
to human life, or rather to that principle of right-
eousness which struggles in human life. It takes


all the righteousness which in the world we find,
no matter where we find it, in Greece or Eome or
Egypt or Babylon or Palestine or Jerusalem or
New York, no matter where we find it, then, there,
here, and puts the name and stamp of Jesus Christ
upon it. Wherever in all this world men are fight-
ing hard against evil forces, struggling, wrestling
Avith them, trying to overcome them, there is the
wilderness where Jesus Christ is fighting. "Wher-
ever men are trying hard to be patient in trial,
patient in sorrow, in suffering, in loss, trying to be
submissive and to drink some bitter cup, there is
the Gethsemane where Jesus Christ is patient, and
saying, " Thy will be done." Wherever men are
dying for principle and truth, sacrificing them-
selves for the good of their fellow men ; or where,
with clouds and darkness gathered round about
them, unable to see, to understand, they are trusting
still in God, there is the Calvary Avhere Jesus Christ
is crucified, and the cross on Avhich lie dies ! Wher-
ever in this world Ave see, no matter Avhat men call
it, nobleness and truth, purity of heart, moral and
spiritual courage, honor, manhood, righteousness ; it
is all one honor, one manhood, one righteousness ;
Jesus Christ is Avhat it means, and Jesus Christ is
the name of it.


Thus does the truth contained in the text take
the story of Jesus Christ and spread it over the
workl, making it the AvorkUs story, the world's
great drama, with Jesus Christ appearing again on
the stage of human life, our human life to-day, our
struggling human life, struggling toward the truth,
struggling toward the right, and giving thus to our
struggling life its meaning and its name. Jesus
Christ its meaning, Jesus Christ its name. It gives
a new meaning to us. — It gives a new purpose to
us, something to live for. Yes, men and women,
something to live for. In all places, in all circum-
stances, in winter days and summer days, in frost
and cold and heat, in the city and in the country,
dwelling in the forest or dwelling by the sea ; or
Avhatsoever happens of sorroAV or joy, of sunshine
or cloud, of brightness or of darkness ; something
to live for, ahvays to live for, always worth while
to live for ; a motive to inspire us and a goal at
which to aim. And that is to develop and to bring
out more and more, wheresoever placed, the Jesus
Christ within us ; and thus to feature more and
more His image in ourselves. Then do we find,
all of us and always something to pursue. Then
do we find our trade, our calling, our business,
our real and true business in life. That is where


your business is, the business of you men. It
is not down-town or perhaps up-town, where
your stores and shops and offices and banks are,
and where you are trying so hard to get on
and to make money. That is not your real and
true business. Xor is it my real and true busi-
ness to preach and make sermons and to look after
Saint Bartholomew's Parish and Saint Bartholo-
mew's Parish House. We have another business
than that, greater and more important. And
whether we work in stores or factories or shops
or offices or banks, whether Ave preach in pulpits,
whether we sing in choirs, or simply manage our
home affairs, our home concerns and duties and
social undertakings and functions and engagements,
it is all the same business, Ave are all in it together,
Ave are all partners in it, — the business of bring-
ing out more and more, Avherever placed, the Jesus
Christ within us, thus causing more and more Jesus
Christ to appear, not as a fact in history Avhich
happened long ago, but as a fact in us, and Avhich
is happening now.

That is our chief business in life. That is our
principal purpose in life. That is our poAver in life.
That is our usefulness in life. That is the Avay in
Avhich Ave do the greatest good in life ; not through


our intellectual gifts, not through our physical gifts
of endowment or possession, but through ourselves,
or through the Jesus Christ developed within our-
selves. A long and great and illustrious career
came to a close the other day in Hawarden Castle
in Wales ; and the whole English E"ation, the whole
British Empire, the whole civilized world moved
and stirred by a common impulse, is paying now, its
mournful yet grateful tribute to him. And to
whom is it paying the tribute? 'Not to the bril-
liant statesman who, for more than half a century,
has been such a conspicuous figure and factor in
A^ational and International affairs. IS^ot to the
gifted orator whose voice could so easily charm, as
it has so often charmed, and swayed and moved
the people, with " th' applause of listening senates
to command." Kot to the acute dialectician, the
versatile genius, the thinker, the student, the
scholar, the great forensic debater, the great Par-
liamentary leader, but to Gladstone, the Man, the
Christian man, whom, now that he is gone both
friends and foes alike — for many foes he had, im-
placable and bitter — are uniting to honor. AVho,
in the course of a long and varied career, tried
steadfastly more and more to feature in himself the
image of Jesus Christ, making that from first to


last his principal purpose in life, the secret of his
power then, and of his inliuence forever: Glad-
stone, the man, the Christian Man !

Jesus Christ in you, giving to you your meaning,
giving to you your purpose, giving to you your
power, giving to you your hope. For what must be
the end of such a life ? Must it go out and perish ?
That is not the story. That is not the end of the
story, or not at least the end of the story of the
life of Jesus Christ. That life goes on and up ; it
rises and ascends, it must. How otherwise, simply
as a literary picture, could any one portray it ?
It passes on into a greatness, a brightness, a glory,
so great and bright that we cannot with our
vision follow it, into something so great and
bright that Ave are not able to picture or to dream
it. But it rises, goes on, ascends, — that is the
story. That is the end of it. Make that story
yours, men and women ; try to, honestly, sin-
cerely try to, as far as now you can, follow it and
trace it, finding in it your meaning, finding in it
your purpose. Then will the end of that story be
the end of your story. With a great and growing
conviction will you know that your story will have
no end. Passing out of sight, yet not passing away,
rising, ascending, going on into something else and


more, that the heart of man hath not conceived,
nor the eye of man seen, but singing, sounding in
you now, as the hope of glory in you.

AVhat is the glory ? Will it be the glory of a
fully developed intellectual life, when we shall see
and know as we are seen and known, apprehend-
ing truth, not in its fragmentariness but in its en-
tireness ? Will it be the glory of the moral life,
where we can do what now we wish to do but are
not able to do ? Will it be the glory of the spirit-
ual life, where all the thoughts and feelings by
sweetest music stirred, shall come out into ex-
pression ?

" Life's helm rocks to the windward and lea,
And Time is as wind, and as waves are we ;
And song is as foam that the sea winds free.
Though the thought at its heart may be deep as the sea."

Where those deep thoughts and feelings touched
and awakened by music shall come out, and we shall
sing a new song ? Will it be the glory of the fully
developed social life, where the hindered fellowships
and broken friendships shall all be gathered up and
united? I do not know; you do not know; but
something very bright and beautiful will it be;
singing, sounding in you now, as the hope of glory
in you.


The son of man goeth as it is written of him.
St. Matthew xxvi. 24.



Do these words of Jesus Christ imply a want of
knowledge upon His part, of the divine destiny that
awaits him ? Possibly not ; but they do seem to
imply that such knowledge is neither necessary nor
desirable. It is quite enough to knoAv, so He seems
to say, that there is in the book of God for Him,
something written down, which He is interpreting
and fulfilling, and that the Son of inan goeth :
How ? Where ? As it is written of him.

That was enough for Him. That is enough for
us ; and not only enough, but best. It is of that
this morning that I wish to speak — The Fulfilling
of God's Scripture Concerning Us. In order, how-
ever, that we may appreciate that, and the signifi-
cance of it, let me first speak of something else.

What is it that gives to our human life its chief
inspiration and value ? Not any outward circum-
stance, or state or occasion or condition, though
these things of course are important factors in it.
But there is something more important, more vitally
important. It is I think the consciousness upon
tlie part of human life of something to live for,



something worth while to live for, that is always
worth while to live for, and for which we can go
on with an ever-increasing zest of keenest delight,
to live. Whatever takes away that consciousness
from life, that sense of purpose from it, makes the
life less vital. Whatever gives or imparts that con-
sciousness to life, that sense of purpose to it, makes
the life more vital.

Is there anything that is taking aAvay that con-
sciousness from our life to-day, that sense of pur-
pose from it ? Yes, I think there is. What is it ?
Oiir prosjyeHty is taking it away. Does that seem
like a strange statement to make ? Perhaps it
does. And yet, if we reflect upon it for a little
while, we shall find I think that it is true — that the
tendency of a prosperous life, considered by itself,
with nothing else in it to counteract that tendency,
is toward a purposeless life ; its prosjDerity neutral-
izing its purpose, by consummating its purpose, or
if not by consummating it, by dissipating it, militat-
ing against the singleness of its energy, and weak-
ening more or less its propelling force by scattering
its aim !

Take the case, for example, of some one prosper-
ous man. It is not hard for some of you to take
such a case. He was not always prosperous. There


was a time when he was not prosperous. He had
his way to make in the world, by toil, and effort,
and purpose ; by persistent effort and purpose, say-
ing to himself resolutely, " This one thing I do, and
must do, in order to get on." And now he has
" got " on. And the things which once he tried so
hard to reach and gain, he has in a measure gained.
What is the result ? Having gained in a measure
the things, he has lost in a measure the purpose by
which he gained the things. He does not feel it
now as he felt it then. He does not have it now as
he had it then. And with perhaps the same strong
ambition in it — though that I think is doubtful —
there is not the same sharp and severe necessity in
it. That part of his purpose is gone. That part of
^ his purpose was a very important part, a very essen-

/^ tial part ; its quickening force and nerve vitalizing
X) . . . .
it, vitalizing him ; keeping it alive when otherwise

it would have died ; keeping him alive when other-
wise he would have died, and enabling him thus to
become at last the prosperous man that he is.

And having in that way, by that necessitous pur-
pose, become a prosperous man, he is not now in
tliat way, and that necessitous purpose is not in
him now. His prosperousness has destroj^ed it, or
at all events impaired it and made it feeble in him.




That is the tendency of prosperity — toward the
enervating of purpose by the consummating of pur-
pose. That is the penalty Avhich Ave have to pay
for it, which the prosperous man has to pay, which
the prosperous society has to pay, which the pros-
perous age has to pay, which this age has to pay,
Avhich it is paying — the penalty of the impairment
of purpose for the reward of the fulfillment of pur-
pose. And so, the prosperity of this age, in taking
from it its quickening and vitalizing purpose, may
be its adversity !

Then look again, not at some of the older men to-
day, who, because of prosperous develojyment, are
without much purpose in life, but at some of the
younger men to-day, who, because of prosperous in-
heritance^ are without much purpose in life. They
do not have to toil for bread. Therefore they are
apt to conclude, some of them — jumping over a sup-
pressed premise — that they do not have to toil.
And the suppressed premise is this : That wiien-


THAN BREAD; and that only by the SAveat of his
brow, his brain, his intellect, can he escape the
curse in life, and find the blessing in it! It is a


law, like that which holds the stars in their course,
which no man can break with impunity. Some of
the younger men of this generation seem to be
breaking it, but not with impunity. Instead of
working, toiling all the more, with some high pur-
pose, at some high task, for the good of the country,
for the good of the world, because they are so
circumstanced that they can toil all the more, with
such high purpose, at such high task, they are not
toiling much at any particular task, with any partic-
ular purpose, except at the task at which they do
not need to toil !

It is not so with all ; but it is so with a many,
and the tendenc}^ of their prosperous life is toward
a purposeless life.

Is it any better with young women to-day ?
They come out of school, where they had a purpose,
which meant to them so much more than they were
aware of at the time, not only in forming and
developing their minds, but in vitalizing their lives.
Xow they come out of school ; and then what ?
Yes, and then what ? They do not have to toil,
the young women of whom I speak. They do not
have to be breadwinners, the young women of whom
I speak. "What is their purpose in life ? We know
of course what that consummation is which most of


tliem reach and find and are intended to reach and
find, but it is hardly a very dignified or a very
seemly or a very womanly thing for them to be
aiming Avith self-directed purpose and intent toward
that consummation, figuring and finessing always
toward that consummation. Yet what else is there
to do ? I am often asked the question, I am asked
it every Aveek, sometimes every day in the week,
and sometimes a great many times in a day — How is
a young woman to live to-day who has to earn her
bread ? It is not always an easy question to answer.
But there is another question much harder to answer
— How is a young woman to live to-day who does
not have to earn her bread ? What is her purpose ?
If she were poor she would have one ; a hard one
perhaps and difficult to perform, but she would have
one. But she is not poor, and therefore she has

And so, my friends, we see, whether Ave look at
the matter theoretically or Avhether we look at it
practically, that the prosperousness of our modern
life, inherited or acquired, is apt to take aAvay, by
consummating it or by dissipating it, and in either
case by neutralizing it, the sense of purpose from

What is it then that can give this sense of pur-


pose to us, to all of us to-day, and not only give it
but keep it ; the sense of something to live for, of
something worth while to live for, that is always
worth while to live for, for which we can go on,
with ever-increasing zest of keenest joy, to live?
Here it is : " The Son of man goeth as it is written
of him." Here is the sense of purpose, for that Son
of man, for every son of man. It is the sense of a
purpose of God, sending him into the world, send-
ing us into the world, sending everybody into the
Avorld; not for nothing — no, no, that cannot be.
If there be an Infinite Wisdom in the universe,
then are we sent into the world not for nothing but
for something. What is that something? We
do not know. You do not know. I do not know.
There is not anybody who does know. It is not
necessary for him to know. It is not desirable for
him to know. It is desirable for him not to know.
It is enough for him to know, and not only enough
but best, that there is in the book of God for him
something written down, which is to be by him,
through him, in him interpreted and expressed, and
which cannot be in him expressed except as he
does not know what it is ; except as, day after day,
he watches, diligently, sensitively, sympathetically,
watches for it to come. In that way he grows into


it, or it grows into him, becomes embodied in him,
revealed and expressed. Just as the scholar or the
pupil is enabled thus to express, is enabled thus to
embody, the purpose of his teacher. Not by knowing
clearly and at the outset the whole content of the
purpose of his teacher concerning him ; he does not
know that, and cannot, and it would not be good
for him to know it ; but simply by knowing the fact
that the teacher has in his book for him, some-
thing written down, some thought, some knowledge,
some purpose, some ideal purpose ; and then by
watching diligently, sympathetically, for that pur-
pose to come, in the tasks which the teacher assigns
day after day, and so going day after day as it is
written of him.

Well, pupils of God we are, in His school, the
school of that Infinite Wisdom which made and
orders the universe, and enfolds us all in its great
comprehensive embrace ; which, because it is Infi-
nite Wisdom, sends us into the world for some-
thing, Avith something written down in the book of
God concerning us, which we should try to become,
which we can become, not by knowing what it is,
])ut simply by knowing that it is ; and then looking
for it, in all the daily tasks which we take up in
the morning, and follow through the fleeting hours


from breakfast-time to bedtime. That something
for us of God, pure, worthy, good, ideally worthy
and good ; looking for it, sensitively, sympathetic-
ally, thus gradually finding it, revealing it, becom-
ing it, and so going day after day — Where ? How ?
To what ? As it is written of us.

That, we must all admit, is theoretically, the pur-
pose of human life. If it should become in fact
the purpose of human life to-day, what would it do
for human life ? It would, without arresting its
prosperous trend and course, arrest indeed and
check its purposeless trend and course, giving and
imparting to human life to-day the sense of some-
thing to live for, causing it to say or to feel, while
doing many things, yet " This one thing I do " ;
while moving about in many paths, in many differ-
ent ways, yet " This one way I go ; — as it is written
of me." Yes, something worth while to live for,
always worth while to live for, would it give and
impart with the feeling that something better and
more is coming all the time, and then with a deep
and growing wonder we would be always watching
for that something to come. And so going through
the days fulfilling the scripture of God concerning
us, trying to bear our crosses and to stand up under
our burdens, to be patient and brave in the midst


of the irritating and annoying things, to be humble,
unselfish, pure in heart, in the midst of the great,
and prosperous things ; — in all things, that the
scripture of God concerning us might be fulfilled,
and clinging always to that as the one great pur-
pose in life. With many temptations to live a
baser and lower life, and disposed at times to yield,
we would be fortified with the thought ; ho ay then
can the scripture of God concerning us be fulfilled ?
So, like Jesus Christ, might every son of man go
through his days with the consciousness of some-
thing to live for, gathering up all the fragments of
his broken life, and bringing them together in one
unfolding purpose, that is always Avorth while, and
more and more worth while. Thus entering into
life here, thus passing through it here, thus going
from it here, — How? Where? To what? No
matter ! going as it is written of us, and that the
scripture of God concerning us may be fulfilled.




God sjKihe all these tvords, saying^ I am the Lord
thy God, %ohicli have hrought thee out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage. — ExODUS xx.





These words constitute, as you know, the intro-
duction to the Ten Commandments, which God
gave through Moses to the children of Israel at
Sinai. They had been delivered from Egypt, where
they were in bondage ; they had been led out into
the Wilderness, where they were free ; they had
been brought at last to Sinai, where the effort was
made to teach them to obey. Egypt, the Wilder-
ness, Sinai ; Bondage, Freedom, Obedience. That
was the Divine method of development in the case
of the Jewish people. It is, or it seems to be, the
Divine method of development in the case of every
people, and it is of that Divine method of develop-
ment that I purpose this morning to speak.

The movement which originated in the Sixteenth
Centur}^ in Europe, or which if not originating then
Avas made conspicuous then, which then came up to
the surface, Avas a movement toward freedom, to-
ward religious freedom, delivering men and women
from the Ecclesiastical house of bondage. But it

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