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Leighton Parks.

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should approach these wonderful stories
of our Master's life. We need not con-
demn them and say they are not true,
[80]



MORAL PRIVILEGE

but if anyone says to me, "I cannot feel
that I am reading now actual facts that
took place," then I should ask that man
to consider this question which is the
root of the whole matter. What is the
object of the gospel? It is to show us
Jesus Christ. It was inevitable that the
man who attempted this great task should
represent Jesus in life, and in a world very
different from the world we know. There-
fore, let us ask ourselves not whether
they were right in their view of the world,
but whether they were right in their be-
lief in Jesus Christ. For if we can get
that, if any one of these young people
can be drawn to that Life all the rest will
fall into its proper place.

What is that Life? It is the life of
the Son of God, the free man in this uni-
verse unappalled by any storm that arises
on the sea, unshaken by any sickness,
accident or death that comes to man. Is
it strange that in the attempt to tell the
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MORAL PRIVILEGE

story of such a Life as that, so different
from anything they had ever seen, it
should have seemed to these men, Uving
in the first century, that what we call
*' miracles" would be the natural expres-
sion of such a life? It was a life at home
with God. If you and I were at home
with God as Jesus was, would there be
worked in your life and mine the miracle
of transfiguration? I do not know what
would happen. I know that Mark tried
to tell and failed to tell what happened
on the Mount, but he said: **He seemed
to talk with the great prophet and with
the greatest lawgiver. It seemed as if he
was talking about his death at Jerusalem
and instead of being sad and broken his
very face shone and his garments were
all turned white, and a voice said: *It is
my Son.' " What do I care what the
color of the garment was? What do I
care if it was the silver mist on the
mountain top touched by the early morn-
[ 82]



MORAL PRIVILEGE

ing light that made the garment seem
** whiter than any fuller on earth could
white it" — while indeed the seamless robe
retained the same sombre hue which it
had w^hen Mary or the other loving women
wove it for Jesus' use. I know that that
is the Life in which God is well pleased.
I know that if I could only get a little
nearer to my God some sort of trans-
figuration would take place even in me ! I
know it was a Life that walked from the
very first conscious moment, gradually
understanding His mission to the end,
joyful in His faith in the Cross. You and
I talk about the necessity of faith in the
Cross for ourselves. Think of Jesus' faith
in the Cross ! He was convinced that the
remedy for all the ills of the world was in
self-sacrifice, that if He once was lifted
up on the Cross He would draw all men
to Him, that no one could resist the ap-
peal of dying love. Ah, if I could have
that faith in the Cross, if I could feel that
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MORAL PRIVILEGE

the object of life is not to have more
money, not to have fame, is not to be
comfortable, but is to draw my brothers
and my sisters to me that I may draw
them to God, would not that be the essen-
tial thing, would not that be the begin-
ning of a new social order, where rich and
poor, wise and foolish might live together
in peace, and the will of God be done?

It is the story of a Life that walked
every day in the assurance of eternal life.
If now I cannot find the thread that leads
me through the labyrinth that is de-
scribed by Mark and Matthew and Luke
and John in the resurrection morning, if
I cannot follow it all out, what difference
does it make if the assurance of eternal
life through Him has come to me? I
know that my Redeemer is alive and that
I shall see God.

These are the things we ought to tell,
these are the things we ought to ask the
young to feel and try to incorporate in
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MORAL PRIVILEGE

life. I believe there would be a great
response if the Church were wise enough
and strong enough and holy enough to
remit the sin of doubt, that we might
have faith in Jesus Christ. If Paul were
living to-day I believe he would write, in
the spirit in which he wrote Romans:
"Let not him that believeth not in mir-
acles despise him that believeth in them:
and let not him that believeth in miracles
judge him that believeth not in them for
God hath received him." *

* See Romans 14 : 3.



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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.'*

—II Cor. 9 : 15.

It is of God's Christmas gift that we
would think this Christmas morning.
"Unspeakable" means that which we
cannot fully explain. I think that all
the Christmas gifts that are flooding the
world to-day are the manifestation of the
greatest law of life, which is that the
spiritual must be manifested in the
material; that the inward and spiritual
grace must show itself in an outward and
visible sign; that God must be seen in
human flesh. For that is what it all
means. Many do not understand the un-
speakable gift, but we are not content to
love our friends, we want to give some
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

outward and visible sign of that love
— we want to send our love in some-
thing that can be seen and touched. So
God wanted to send His love to you and
me to see and touch and hear. So I in-
terpret all this Christmas season as the
unconscious manifestation of the great
spiritual law of life.

It was seen in the joy of the children
last Sunday afternoon who gathered about
the Christmas tree and sang their hymns
of praise to the Babe that was born of
Mary. It was seen on Tuesday in the
little children in the Kindergarten in the
Parish House, many of them of Jewish
faith, singing with joy because of the glory
of Christmas. It is seen down on Ellis
Island among the little children of the
immigrants, to whom our children sent
their gifts to be placed on the Christmas
tree, that these little ones might have as
their first taste of the Promised Land the
joy of the Christmas season. Yes, it was
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

in the heart of that kind Jewish friend of
ours who gave a dinner at the Parish
House that others might feel with him
the joy that he could not understand of
the Christmas season. You see it in the
steps and faces of the people you pass on
the streets, like that man whom I saw on
Broadway who suddenly broke into a
dancing step, and, catching my eye,
turned very red and said: "I can't help
it. When I see the holly I've got to
skip!" That is the feeling all over the
world to-day, because we are subject to
the great spiritual law that the love un-
seen must be manifested in some gift.

But you and I have come together as
Christian people, presently, I hope, all of
us, to partake of the Lord's Supper —
God's great Christmas feast, and so we
want to take one moment of our service
and try to make plain to ourselves some-
thing of what the unspeakable gift means.
We cannot tell all of it, but I think we
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

can tell to one another more than the
children know, and more than those who
do not know Jesus can know.

First of all, then, it is the gift of peace
on earth. God sends the Prince of Peace
to be the leader of humanity, in order
that war may cease and peace may reign,
in order that hatred may be killed and
love may flourish, in order that men may
seek no longer to conquer but to save one
another. Now I know what some of you
w411 say: "How can we talk of God's
gift of peace to the world when after two
thousand years of the reign of Christ the
world is what it is to-day — southeastern
Europe lying in a deathlike swoon be-
cause its very blood has been drained by
war. All Europe an armed camp, the
newspapers of France and Germany and
Italy and England calling on this coun-
try to invade Mexico, to put down the
bandit war. How can you say that God
has given peace to the world when things
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

are as they are?" Well, my friends, I do
not say that we have accepted God's gift,
I only say He has offered it, and this I
say, that the horror that we have to-day
of war is the proof that we feel how un-
natural it is, how inhuman it is, how far
from the will of God. That is something
to have gained. If peace does not at the
moment reign, shall we lose heart .^ Not
at all, we are like men and women sailing
across the sea; they have been in the
midst of a great storm and the winds have
howled and their hearts have failed them
for fear, and one w^ho knows the signs of
the times says: "The storm has passed."
And yet there are the great billows still
rising up, yes, but there has been to him
who can read the signs of the times the
vision of the day that is on its way. The
storm has really passed, the day of peace
is coming. So the pious heart echoes the
saying of the Psalmist, for: "Though
the stormy wind ariseth which lifteth up
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

the waves thereof , yet he maketh the storm
to cease so that the waves thereof are
still." Yes, the vision is the thing. For
what is a vision but seeing afar off the will
of God — the will of God which He ful-
fiUeth as surely as the sinking sun must
rise? How long ago all that was seen by
the great seer whose words I will read
you! "Daniel spake and said, I saw in
my vision by night . . . and I beheld
even till the beast was slain. ... As con-
cerning the rest of the beasts, they had
their dominion taken away : yet their lives
were prolonged for a season and time . . .
and, behold one like the Son of man. . . .
And there was given him dominion, and
glory, and a kingdom ... his dominion
is an everlasting dominion, which shall
not pass away, and his kingdom that
which shall not be destroyed."* The life
of this fierce beast has been prolonged, but
the Human Spirit shall at last prevail.

* Daniel 7.
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

God's great Christmas gift is peace to
the earth, and when the world will re-
ceive it then peace shall abide. Here
may I turn aside for a moment and say
a word concerning peace in this land of
ours? If we could put aside our party
prejudices, and like those statesmen, Mr.
Taft and Mr. Choate, rise from party
platform into an atmosphere of patri-
otism, we should give thanks to God
to-day that the President of the United
States has not invaded Mexico. Had
there been in the White House a weak
man, long before this he would have been
pushed across the Rio Grande, and had
there been in the White House an impul-
sive man, long ago he would have let
loose the dogs of war. Whether the
policy of the President, so different from
that to which the world is accustomed,
can succeed, I do not know; but even if
it should fail in the end, it is something
that we have a Christmas undisturbed
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

by the shouts of war; for had it not been
that that man loved peace some of you
would see the Christmas that you saw in
the early '60's, when every gift was dyed
in blood.

And now, for we may not take long
in our Christmas meditation, turn from
the country to ourselves. What is God's
Christmas gift to you and me.'^ How can
it be better described than in the words
of Mary's hymn, the Magnificat : **He
that is mighty hath magnified me." The
mighty God has given you and me some-
thing of His dignity, something of His
power, something of His glory. God has
come into human life and every one, as
Paul says, in whose heart Christ has been
bom, may sing with Mary: "He that is
mighty hath magnified me." My poor,
insignificant fife has something of the
glory of God. That is God's gift to you.
That is what He is telling you through all
this Christmas story — that He is dwelling
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

in you, that you are the sons and daugh-
ters of the Hving God.

Holy is His name. The best gift is not
the power of God, it is not the glory of
God, it is something of the goodness of
God. If you have been in this past year,
my poor brother, intemperate, now He
w ill magnify you into self-control. If you
have been mean, He will magnify you into
generosity. If you have been untruthful.
He will magnify you into great courage.
If you have been forgetful, dull and
stupid in the midst of the glory of life,
He will magnify you so that you will be
strong and helpful and w^ise and good.
There is nothing you can w^ant that God
does not want to give you.

Holy is His name. He may not give
you health. He may not give you long
life. He may not give you fame, but He
will give you goodness. He will give you
goodness and all the rest is as nothing.
He that does the will of God abides for-
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GOD'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

ever. God's Christmas gift is the digni-
fying of human Hfe, and the opening
through the humble pathway of duty a
glory that it is beyond our power to
conceive.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeak-
able gift.



[96]



VI

EXPECTATION

"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day
nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

—St. Matthew 25 : 13.

"When the Son of man cometh," —
that was an expression famihar to the
Jews, and it meant the end of an era,
when all the familiar things should pass
away; when the sun and the moon and
the stars and the earth should be gone, —
then the Son of man would come. They
interpreted it as the last great event
in the history of God's dealing with the
world. But you and I find it a little
difficult to sympathize with their point
of view, for living in the twentieth cen-
tury we are convinced that the sun and
the moon and the stars and the earth are
[97]



EXPECTATION

destined to remain for unimaginable ages,
therefore we do not quite understand the
force of the expression, "the Son of man
will come."

I think that something has taken place
in our religious life analogous to that
which has taken place in our study of
the earth itself. There was a time when
in the teaching of geology emphasis was
laid upon the cataclysms that had shaken
the solid earth, but to-day that has given
place to the thought of the slow evolution
of the different strata of which the earth
is composed. Something of the same
sort has come in our religious thought.
We have come to think of the coming of
the Son of man not as a sudden cataclysm
but as a slow process — the diffusion of
that spirit of Divine Humanity which
was revealed in Jesus Christ. And we
think that we have a justification for that
thought in the Gospels themselves, for
while undoubtedly Matthew and Mark
[ 98 ]



EXPECTATION

and Luke, what we call the Synoptic
Gospels, are filled with the thought of
the final cataclysm, all that has disap-
peared in the Gospel of John, and there
we have the thought of the coming of
the Spirit of God instead of the sudden
descent of the Son of man through the
clouds of heaven. And yet, in our
thought of nature we cannot altogether
banish the thought of cataclysms. They
are continually recurring, hurricanes and
tidal-waves and earthquakes and vol-
canic eruptions, these things occur again
and again. In the same way individual
life is full of accident and it is when we
think of these great catastrophes of na-
ture, and when we think of the accidents
that are continually befalling individual
men and women, that we are able to put
ourselves back as it were into the first
century and understand something of the
thought in the hearts of the men and
women who heard Jesus Christ say:
[99 ]



r» >•■



EXPECTATION

"Watch, for ye know not when the Son
of man cometh."

These words are at once a warning
and an inspiration. I do not think the
preacher need dwell much upon the
warning. I think that work is being
done by the daily newspapers. Every
day we can read of these accidents which
for the individual mean the passing away
of the sun and the moon and the stars
and the solid earth. For him they may
be blotted out in a moment, in the twin-
kling of an eye. The poor strikers at Calu-
met, — whatever you may think of their
agitation, whether you think it was right
or wrong has nothing to do with it — they
gathered together to forget their grief
and poverty and their rage! to enjoy with
their children a Christmas tree, and in a
moment hundreds of them were trampled
to death in a wild and senseless panic.
A man and his wife cross this great avenue
to dine with friends. When they stood
[ 100 ]



EXPECTATION

on the eastern side of it they had no more
doubt than you and I, who are sitting
here, that years of happiness were be-
fore them, yet before they reached the
western side they had been cut down by
an automobile, and in a moment both
were dead. The sun and the moon and
the stars and the earth for them were no
more. The boy came home from school
a week ago full of health and strength
and joy, and to-day he is dead. The
young fireman goes home to sleep after
hours of fearful toil and in the night the
house is burned and he with it. The girl
goes to her first ball, and in the joy and
excitement of that great experience falls
dead among the dancers. "Watch, for
ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh,"

I think it is well for us from time to
time to think of these things, though I
do not think it is well for us to dwell un-
duly upon them. I think it is well,
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EXPECTATION

from time to time, and especially at such
a time as this, when we come to one of
the milestones on the journey of life,
passing from one year to another, —
though it be an imaginary line in time, it
is a real spiritual experience, — it is well
for us to remember the shortness and
uncertainty of human life, that we may
watch, that we may be alert to a sense
of duty, that we may ask ourselves
whether to-day we ought not to take
that talent out of the napkin in which it
has been so long hid and which from
time to time it may be we have thought
we would take out and invest for God.
We ought to ask ourselves when we are
going to forgive our enemy. We ought
to ask ourselves when we are going to
begin that generous life which sometimes
in a great emotion we have desired and
then have hardened our hearts against.
We ought to ask ourselves when we are
going to leave the sin that doth so easily
f 102 1



EXPECTATION

beset us and begin the life of temper-
ance and purity and truth. We know
not when the Son of man comes, and when
He comes you and I are to give an ac-
count.

Now, I say, it is well from time to
time to pause and think of these certain
facts of life, lest we grow foolish and lose
all sense of the seriousness and dignity
of life. But the famihar adage, **A11
work and no play makes Jack a dull
boy," has its significance in the religious
life. If we think of nothing but duty,
then our life will tend to grow like that
of the Pharisee, until at last we come to
the point where we congratulate God that
He has got some one who will do His
work as well as we do ! Until we come to
think that God owes us something for
what we have done for Him ! Or like the
boy in the hot schoolroom, who hears
the quail whistle in the stubble and longs
to be out in the freedom of the world, we
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EXPECTATION

grow weary of well-doing. Duty is the
foundation and the background of life,
but we must rise above the foundation
and we must come out of the background
into the foreground and that is why I
say these words of our Master are not
simply a warning — they are also an in-
spiration to a life of joy and power.

Now, the joy of life lies largely in
expectation, that is, in the confidence
that things will happen that will be de-
lightful. The boy or girl gets out of bed
on the morning of a holiday filled with a
great expectation and that expectation
colors all the day and changes the very
events as they come to pass. No doubt
some one will say that is incident to
youth and it is not to be expected that
men and women, who have had some ex-
perience of the hardness of life, shall be
able to look forward with a joyful antici-
pation to the future. I have no doubt,
I know, in some cases that is true.
[ 104 ]



EXPECTATION

There are men and women whose lives
have been very hard. But has it been
so with most of us here this morning —
with you and me? We have had our
sorrows and our failures and our disap-
pointments and our trials, but has life,
on the whole, been such a dreary and un-
profitable thing that we do not care to
prolong it? Not at all, yet we are all in
danger of falling into the habit of think-
ing of the hardships and the failures that
are behind us instead of being alert to the
joys and the beauties that are before us.
Let me illustrate this by a simple
story. A man was walking not long ago
through the pine woods and his mind was
dull and his thoughts were sombre. He
was going over the past — how much he
had lost, how little he had gained, until
he was in danger, at the next step, of
slipping into the slimy bog of self-pity,
when suddenly a turn in the path through
the woods brought him face to face with
[ 105 ]



EXPECTATION

a vision of beauty. On an old pine-tree
was hung a garland — a perfect circle of
gold and brown and crimson. If this
man had been a Greek peasant living two
thousand years ago he would have re-
turned and said that he had seen the
coronet of a dryad in the wood. If he
had been a Hebrew prophet he would
have said that in his hour of despondency
God sent His angel and hung the crown
of glory right in his path. But, being a
man in the twentieth century, after the
first feeling of awe and joy had passed,
curiosity arose and he went to see what
this thing was ; and it was simple enough.
A little vine not larger than my thumb,
had grown up the bole of the tree and
caught by some inequality in the bark
had been turned and then caught again
so that it made a perfect circle and the
glory of the leaves in the autumn frost
had made it a thing of beauty, and its
memory a joy forever. It was not a
[ 106 1



EXPECTATION

dryad, it was not an angel, it was the
spirit of Universal Life, in one moment
become visible. If you and I would
walk through the woods that are before
us expecting God's revelation of good-
ness and strength, this would be a differ-
ent year for every one of us.

"Watch — be on the lookout — for ye
know not when the Son of man will
come,'' not to destroy but to bless. Why
should it not be so.^^ To some of you in
this coming year will come a new and
beautiful life. Some woman will press a
babe to her breast, some man will have
opened before him larger opportunities for
showing what sort of man he is. Some of
us, I hope, will come to change our sense
of value and think that goodness is the best
thing in the world. Some of you will
know something of what it means to be
near to God. The Son of man, the Di-
vine Spirit in human life, will come to
you.

I 107 ]



EXPECTATION

And now we come back to the way in
which we began. Some one will say:
"Yes, but when all this has been said
you are balancing untoward against joy-
ful events and at the end there is to be
one event to us all, every one of us is
going to die!" Yes, but we are not
talking about events; the thing that
gives life value is not an event, it is
personality. The coming of the Son of
man is the coming of God to your life
and mine, in a way that we can see and
touch and in some measure understand.
That is the final meaning of life. Of
course to every one of us the final event
should be the supreme experience in
which the Son of man draws near to the
individual soul. We have forgotten the
word of the sombre but wise preacher:
"There is a time to be born, and there is
a time to die." Untimely birth, whether
it be too soon or too late, is a tragedy
the effects of which are often seen all
f 108 1



EXPECTATION

through Hfe; and untimely death we
speak of when it comes to the young;
but how seldom do we think of the death
unduly delayed as untimely! Suppose
this year is the time for you or me to
die, would it be a calamity? Our times
are in God's hands and while we all have
asked again and again that we might not
die, while again and again we have es-
caped on the sick-bed, on the field of
sport, in perils on the sea and in perils of
the land, now perhaps this year it is
best that we should escape no more.
Suppose your work is done and to put the
brush once more on the picture is to ruin
it, or to drive the chisel once more into
the statue is to crack it, would it not be
well that a wise and loving hand should


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