Leighton Parks.

Moral leadership, and other sermons online

. (page 5 of 7)
Online LibraryLeighton ParksMoral leadership, and other sermons → online text (page 5 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

draw you away when your work is done?
Suppose your long continuance means a
burden upon those you love, would it be
a calamity if this year that burden were
lifted from them? Suppose your soul
[ 109 ]


has reached the receptive stage when
the revelation of the new life can best
come to you, will you then ask that it
may not come, that the Son of man, the
Friend that from time to time you have
seen, the Master who falteringly you have
served, will not give you the great gift?
If it should be to you such an experience
as came to those men on the Resurrec-
tion Day, when walking to Emmaus
they communed with their Friend and
He revealed to them the mystery of the
past life — would it be a calamity if the
great mystery should be made known?
If it should come to you and me this
year that like Peter we saw the Divine
Life on the shore and cried, *'It is the
Lord," and cast ourselves into the sea,
if there He met us with forgiveness and
the revelation of new usefulness in the
eternal life, would it be a calamity?
''There is a time to be born and there
is a time to die."

[ 110 1


What shall be our conclusion of the
whole matter? I do not know how better
to express the serious yet hopeful spirit
with which we ought to enter again into
a new year than in the sublime prayer
of Bishop Jeremy Taylor, put into the
Visitation of the Sick in our Book of
Common Prayer, though it had no place
in the English Book. "O God, whose
days are without end, and whose mercies
cannot be numbered; make us, we be-
seech thee, deeply sensible of the short-
ness and uncertainty of human life, and
let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness
and righteousness, all the days of our
lives; that, when we shall have served
thee in our generation, we may be gath-
ered unto our fathers, having the testi-
mony of a good conscience; in the com-
munion of the Catholic Church; in the
confidence of a certain faith; in the com-
fort of a reasonable, religious and holy
hope; in favor with thee, our God, and
[ 111]


in perfect charity with the world. All
this we ask through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen."

[ 112]


"He brought him to an inn." — St. Luke 10 : 34.

This is a line in a story which ever^^
Christian and many who do not call them-
selves Christians know by heart — the
story of the Good Samaritan. In it Jesus
answers the question of the lawyer: "Who
is my neighbor? " The lawyer had a long
history back of him. He knew there was
an obligation inherent in human nature
to help your neighbor. The man who
falls by your side you must lift up. The
brother that is wounded you must tend
or revenge. The member of the tribe or
the clan, all who belong to the same na-
tion, all who worship God in a certain way
have a claim upon you. The human
claim because they are nigh and there-
[ 113 ]


fore they must be helped. But it was
evident that Jesus had something differ-
ent in mind when he quoted: "Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself," and the
lawyer said, not for one moment denying
the principle but seeking for the applica-
tion: '*Yes, but who is my neighbor?"
Jesus' answer, in the fewest words, is this :
**The man who needs you is your neigh-
bor." And we might say that the prog-
ress of the social life of mankind can be
measured by the radius that extends from
the heart of a man to the circumference
of his beneficence. How large is your
life.^ That radius will give you your
stature. How large is the Church or the
State or the Christian world? Measure
it by that line. Year by year the line
lengthens and the great circle of Chris-
tian beneficence is enlarged.

This was the characteristic of the Chris-
tian Church at the beginning. They
went forth repeating the old words of
[ 114]


Proverbs with a new meaning: "He that
giveth unto the poor lendeth unto the
Lord, and look what he layeth out it shall
be paid him again." Yes, and those
other words of which we have no record
in the Gospel, which have been saved to
us, as it were by chance, the words of the
Lord Jesus: "It is more blessed to give
than to receive." That was the spirit
and the test of true membership in the
Christian Church — the helping of every
life that needed help, claiming it, whether
it were Jew or Gentile, barbarian or
Scythian, bond or free, as neighbor to the
man who was the brother of Jesus Christ.
That also was the predominating
thought all through the Middle Ages. I
suppose it would be no exaggeration to
say that no story that was ever told had
such an influence on the practical life of
Western Europe as this story of the Good
Samaritan, for all over Europe the weary
traveller found some door that opened to
f 115 1


him when the evening fell, — the door of
the monastery ; whether he walked across
the deserts of Egypt or was lost in the
snows of the high Alps — wherever man
was in need the door was open and he
was taken in because he was neighbor to
Jesus Christ.

Then when the Reformation came men
began to ask themselves a great many
questions, and among others whether this
whole system of beneficence on the part
of the Christian Church had not produced
the disease that it undertook to cure.
Certainly it had come to pass that in
England, Germany, France, and Italy the
highways were filled with sturdy beggars,
and the monasteries were filled with lazy,
inefficient men, and that was one of the
things that the Reformation immediately
started to clean up. As a result of it
those of you who travel from one country
to another in Europe know that the high-
ways to-day are filled with beggars who
[ 116]


are the children of the recipients of the
charity of the monastery and that in the
Protestant countries those beggars have
largely been driven from the road.

Yes, but a thing that was forgotten in
all this discussion was this: that the
Catholic Church never undertook to cure
poverty. It accepted the words of our
Saviour as if they were the expression of
God's eternal will: ''The poor ye have
always with you, and whensoever ye will
ye may do them good." They accepted
that as the normal condition of human
society, and did what they could to re-
lieve the present poverty that was at
their door.

Now there has come an entirely new
conception of the meaning of human life,
and the State has taken over this problem
of poverty and is attempting to deal v/ith
it in a scientific, that is, in an intelligent
way. For there has arisen of late, very
late, a new vision of human society in
f 117 1


which degrading poverty shall be abol-
ished. I do not see how any man or
woman who calls himself a Christian can
fail to thrill at the thought of such a so-
ciety as that — degrading poverty ban-
ished — no little child's flesh and bones
ground up in the machinery of a mill ! No
young girl just blossoming into woman-
hood sweated until the blood comes out
of her pores! No young man crushed
and beaten down by a greater power when
he is trying to lift himself a little in the
world. x\ll the foul tenements done away
with, and something approaching eco-
nomic equality reigning in democracy!
For it is felt now, as never before, that a
democracy that has accomplished some-
thing of legal and political equality must
take another step toward the approxima-
tion to economic equality.

This great vision and the hope that
has come w ith it is attracting the noble-
hearted youth in every country of West-
[ 118 1


ern Europe and in these United States
under the general head of SociaHsm.

Now if by SociaHsm is meant what the
word Hterally means, brotherhood, then
every Christian man and woman must
be a SociaHst; he cannot be indifferent
to this hope for the abohtion of degrad-
ing poverty. But it does not rest in a
great hope, it is organizing itself into
different companies to accompHsh the de-
sired end by certain specific means. For
instance, the Single Tax that will divert
the unearned increment into the treasury
of the state, a system of taxation that
will bear heavily upon the very rich and
allow those of moderate means almost
entirely to escape! Or the taking over
of all industries by the central gov-
ernment and distributing the product
amongst the people pro rata. Do you
not see, then, the difficulty in which the
minister finds himself when he is asked
to turn from a great and noble vision to
[ 119]


express an opinion upon political plans
for the accomplishment of that vision?
If he does not express his approval and
call himself a Socialist in the narrow
sense in which the word is being used
now, then he may expect to be denounced
by certain bishops, by not a few of his
brethren, and above all by the news-
papers, who will accuse him of flattering
the rich, because he cannot give his un-
qualified approval to these schemes, be-
lieving that any one of them would
make the disease ultimately infinitely
greater than it is to-day. But I am not
to be deflected from my purpose by any
such fear as that when I say that the
Christian Church has a definite work to
do in this matter which is quite inde-
pendent of the political schemes that are
on foot for its accomplishment. And
here let me say, before I leave it, that we
might well learn a lesson from the his-
tory of our country.

[ 120 1


There was a great vision fifty years
ago of the abohtion of human slavery,
and there were good and wise men — they
were better than they were wise — men
with burning hearts, such, for instance,
as Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner
and Thaddeus Stevens and Horace
Greeley — every one of those men felt that
immediate emancipation was the only
solution of the problem that beset us.
But the wisest man in the nineteenth
century was Abraham Lincoln, and he
knew that the most important thing for
slave as well as owner was that the Union
should be preserved: "Preserve the
Union, the nation and its great ideal, and
slavery is bound to wither away." So I
say about this movement for the aboli-
tion of degrading poverty. I love it, I
would do the little I can to bring it to pass,
but I know that if we do not guard the
national prosperity degrading poverty will
not merely continue, but it will spread.
f 121 1


There has been built up in this land
since the close of the Civil War such
prosperity as the world had never seen.
How has it been done? Some man tells
me it has been done by fraud, and I do
not doubt that there have been great
fortunes the foundations of which were
laid in fraud. Another says that it
has been done by the crushing of the
weak competitor. I know of individual
cases where that has been done, result-
ing in great prosperity for the oppressor.
Yes, but when we drop our voices and
quiet down a little, is there any sane
man or woman who believes that this is
a full explanation of the prosperity with
which this land has been blessed for the
last fifty years .'^ We know that these
things are the exceptions and that while
they are very dreadful and ought to be
dealt with by the firm hand of govern-
ment, nevertheless we know that we are
not a nation of thieves or thugs or frauds.
[ 122 ]


It has been the energy, the intelligence,
the solemn consecration day after day to
duty, co-operating with the unexampled
gifts of God's bounty, that have built up
the great prosperity of these United

Now, prosperity is a palace of crystal,
and it can easily be destroyed. But when
it is once destroyed it cannot easily be
built up again, and that, it seems to me,
is what is forgotten by many warm-
hearted men and women, by many poli-
ticians and statesmen — that it is our
duty to conserve the prosperity of this
nation, while keeping in mind the splen-
did vision of the gradual and ultimate
abolition of degrading poverty.*

Now let us get a little nearer to our
text: What is the opportunity for you
and me to do what no state has ever

* No one, I hope, will so misunderstand this as to
suppose I mean to identify "prosperity" with its
antithesis "Corporate privilege. Prosperity means
Commonwealth — that in which all share.

f 123 1


done, or ever can do, for the state can
only deal with man in the mass, it can
only make the conditions somewhat differ-
ent. It is just as if Pontius Pilate had
built a new macadam road from Jeru-
salem to Jericho, and never taken one
look at the individual man who was
lying wounded by the wayside. Wliat
would the new^ macadam road do for
him? Now that is what it seems to me
the Church ought, first of all, to be con-
sidering — not how all the conditions of
life are to be changed, not how mankind
is to be benefited in the mass, but what
is to be done about the individual man
who lies at the roadside which we are

Well, there is the first difficulty. We
are not travelling the road where the
needy man lies. This Good Samaritan in
the story was journeying from Jerusalem
to Jericho; why I do not know. Per-
haps he was going to collect rents, per-
[ 124 1


haps he was going to buy oil, I do not
know what his business was. He prob-
ably was engaged in some business that
carried him along the road from Jerusalem
to Jericho.

Now one word about that. This had
once been one of the most fashionable
roads in the world. Jericho was the re-
sort of rich people who built their villas
there, as you do at Bar Harbor or New-
port or Tuxedo, — or whatever place you
please in our modern life. Cleopatra had
a villa at Jericho. You may imagine the
social thrill of people in society when they
heard that Cleopatra was in residence!
It was once a great fashionable resort,
and as a result the litters and companies
of fashionable people went up and down
this road just as modern vehicles go up
and down Fifth Avenue to-day. Then
the trade routes changed, and instead of
the great highway from Arabia being the
important thing it was the road that led
[ 125 ]


southwest to Egypt, or northwest to
Csesarea, or northeast to the Lake of
Gahlee, to get into communication with
the great Eastern world. Well, the route
of trade had changed, and fashion had
changed with it, and therefore this was a
deserted road filled with bandits.

Now something of the same sort has
happened on this island on which we
live. In the early days there were gar-
dens running down to the Battery and to
the East River and North River, and
arbors in which people were sitting and
conversing with their friends. It was
the fashionable resort of the early Dutch
society, but it is so no longer. The roads
are now running north and south along
this island, and the consequence is that
from east to west the roads are largely
deserted by those people to whom I am
speaking this morning. You don't jour-
ney that way, you journey north and
south, therefore if this story of the Good
[ 126 ]


Samaritan interests you, you must make
it your business to journey along the un-
fashionable road, and then you will see
what that man saw, the human life

To lay aside all figures of speech, you
would see, first of all, a little child, a little
boy or girl, just old enough to be out on
the street, probably filthily dirty, pas-
sionate, untrained, undisciplined, yes and
sometimes with the marks of brutal scars
upon its face or little arms. That is
what you would see. Or you would see
a boy or girl at the critical age of twelve
or thirteen, and there is nothing for them
to do but to run in the streets with all
the dangers to soul and body. And you
would see girls of sixteen or seventeen,
just ready to blossom into womanhood,
but ignorant, destined to remain in the
lower places in the great economic life of
the city; no real education, no training,
no great hope, lacking in refinement, imi-
[ 127]


tating the worst of all fashions in dress
and gesture, a life that is wounded far
more deeply than it knows. And you
w^ould see a man, a young man, tired at
the end of the day's work. He has been
lifting one of those great steel beams that
it will make your back ache to see, if you
stop for a moment when they are lifting
them. He has been driving a team of
horses for eight hours over these slippery
streets — can you think of what that
means, eight hours driving a team over
these streets? He has been in the police
force, or is a fireman, an engineer on one
of the great locomotives. He has no-
where to go except the saloon, and that
is always open. These are some of the
things that if you journeyed you would
see, and which I am trying, without your
journeying, to enable you with the eye
of the imagination to see.

What are you going to do about it.^
Well, I must tell you and bring it all to
[ 128 1


an end, though I have not properly be-
gun. What can you do? Well, natu-
rally what this man did. He was a busy
man, he could not stop indefinitely, he
rendered first aid to the injured, and then
took the man to the inn and paid his
way, and (having had some experience,
I suppose, in charitable work) he an-
ticipated a deficit, and said: "If there
is anything lacking, I will pay it when
I come again." Large-hearted, sensible
man, he picks up the wounded man and
carries him to the inn.

Well, we have an Inn — it is not so large
as the Biltmore, but I venture to say
that it takes more people through its doors
in the course of a week than the Biltmore
does. It gives those poor little children
of whom I spoke a taste of the joy
that is the birthright of every child.
We give to them, the joy that comes
from unaccustomed cleanliness; joy that
comes from learning self-control; that
[ 129 ]


joy which comes from finding that all life,
as in the Kindergarten, if we had ears
to hear, is moving to harmony. We
take those boys and those girls and give
them what they have a right to — play —
which the streets of this city cannot
allow them to have. We provide for
them to play, we teach them how to play.
We tell the girls how to use their hands
and be happy. We tell the boys how to
use their bodies and be sweet and clean
and pure. We teach them to play.
Men and women play with them — they
are happy as they ought to be. We teach
those girls something, teach them to use
the needle, we lift them from the lowest
ranks in the economic scale, and they
become expert stenographers and secre-
taries, and are given places of trust — all
because some one took them to that Inn.
And we provide for those men, tired and
weary at the end of the day's work, some
place where the respectable man can meet
[ 130 1


his friends, talk and smoke, read the
magazines, play cards and billiards, and
go home strengthened and refreshed.

I know that some one will say: *'Why
aren't you doing a greater religious work? "
We are! It is the last thing we can talk
about, but it is being done. Many of
these people are not susceptible to direct,
dogmatic religious education, but there is
not one of them that is not susceptible
to the influence of Jesus Christ the Divine
Man. Think of the hundreds that we
gather into the Sunday-schools (there
were two hundred boys and girls who got
up and went to the early Communion on
Christmas Day). We have got those
boys and girls welded into societies, in
order that they may be kept in touch
with the Church during those critical
years that pass after Confirmation, and
before they themselves are mothers and
fathers, with the responsibility of the
children lying heavy upon their souls.
[ 131 ]


Well, that is being done in your great

Some people seem to think that they
have imitated the good Samaritan when
they have taken some one to the inn.
They have imitated the beast on whom
the poor wounded traveller was placed!
You have not only to take the man to the
Inn, but you must provide for his being
taken care of, and for a possible deficit.
Two pence does not seem much. It rep-
resented the cost of a man's living for
two days, and the promise to pay more if
he had to stay longer than two days. If
I were asked what represents one penny
in the Parish House, I should say, speak-
ing generally, that from this congregation
we must have seventy-five dollars for
every day that we keep the Inn open. So
any one who wants to imitate the good
Samaritan can give one hundred and
fifty dollars, the equivalent of twopence.
There are people here who can no more
[ 132]


give one penny, that is, seventy -five dol-
lars, than they can give seven hundred
and fifty dollars. There are people who
could give seven hundred and fifty dollars,
who could give fifteen hundred dollars and
more, and at the end of the year not have
had to deny themselves a single thing.

That is our Inn. But I have not told
you a tithe of what it is doing. In count-
less ways it is helping the individual
children, — boys and girls, and men and
women to help themselves, while the
state is discussing how best to elevate the
mass. They are Jews, and Catholics, Prot-
estants and Agnostics — our neighbors.*

* Since this sermon was preached, I have heard of a
girl — not depraved, but wayward and foolish — who
was taken to the Children's Court. The Judge la-
mented that there was no place in this city where such
a girl could go to be out of temptation and be given a
healthy interest in life. "The Churches," he is re-
ported to have said, "have houses for their own people,
but there is no Church that seems to care for a girl like
this," and somebody in the court-room said: "Your
Honor, St. Bartholomew's Parish House never asks
of any child whether it be Jew or Gentile, Catholic or

[ 133]


Who is the Good Samaritan? It was
Jesus' portrait of Himself. He let no
race prejudice, he let no ecclesiastical or-
thodoxy, he let nothing stand in the way
of helping the man who needed him be-
cause that man was nigh to him, being
his own brother, being the child of his
own Father. In the Good Samaritan is
summed up the eternal truth of the life
of Jesus Christ in regard to the poverty
of the world: ''Who though he was rich
yet for our sakes became poor."

[ 134


"The same day went Jesus out of the house, and
sat by the sea side.

"And great multitudes were gathered together unto
him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the
whole multitude stood on the shore.

"And he spake many things unto them in parables,
saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

"And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side,
and the fowls came and devoured them up:

"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not
much earth: and forthwith they spnmg up, because
they had no deepness of earth:

"And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and
because they had no root they withered away.

"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung
up, and choked them:

"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth
fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirty-

"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

—St. Matthew 13 : 1.

This was the subject of our study in the

Sunday-school last Sunday, and I have

already said to the teachers somewhat

f 135 1


of what I shall say to you. It seems to
me an appropriate subject for our con-
sideration as we draw near once more
to the time of Confirmation.

First of all, I will ask you to note this
fact: The parable marks a distinct
change in our Saviour's method of teach-
ing. Up to this time He had spoken
plainly, as in the Sermon on the Mount,
but now for some reason He abandons
that method of teaching and undertakes
to preach by telling stories, by parables,
by romances that have enchanted the
world. How are we to explain this.^

Perhaps some one who has not really
entered into the spirit of the Master will
say: '*This is an example of a genius
finding himself, finding the true vehicle
for the expression of the artistic tempera-
ment; as Giotto found it in architecture,
as Shakespeare found it in the drama,
Jesus finds it in the parable." No doubt
there is truth in this. He was indeed a
[ 136 ]


genius of whom we are thinking. He
was indeed a great artist. He created
the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, the
Prodigal Son, the Rich Fool — creations
that can never die. But we misunder-
stand the Master altogether if we dwell
unduly upon the artistic aspect of His
nature. He was a plain, simple, moral

1 2 3 5 7

Online LibraryLeighton ParksMoral leadership, and other sermons → online text (page 5 of 7)