Leighton Parks.

Moral leadership, and other sermons online

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child of man is the child of the living
God. "When I have reached you I will
go to Spain."

Whether he ever went to Spain or not
w^e do not know. We used to be told
that he landed at Barcelona and climbed
the plateau of Catalonia. We used to be
told that he landed at Marseilles and
went over that road that some of you
have flown over in your motors. Vienne,
Aries, Avignon, Lyons, Paris — yes, over
the English Channel till he came to the
little huts that now make Canterbury, to
the mud hovels that now make London,
to the city in the north where Constan-
tine was to be born — York. "No," the
scholar says; "this is not history, this is
myth." Likely that is true; but myth
is the poetic expression of plain prose
truth, and this is: that whether Paul ever
saw Spain or Gaul or Britain or not, his
spirit went to the utmost bounds of the
habitable world. He did indeed travel
f 164 1


across France and make his influence felt
in England. He came across in the May-
flower, he landed on the bleak New Eng-
land shore, he touched at this Dutch
colony, he went to the Western Reserve,
he passed over the Alleghany Mountains,
he crossed the Mississippi, he trekked
over the great American desert, he came
to the gardens of California and to the
glaciers of Alaska. To-day he is in Japan
and China and the Philippines, and in the
far-off islands of the Southern Sea. "It
pleased God to separate me from my
mother's womb, and call me by his grace,
and to reveal his Son in me that I might
preach Him among the heathen."

To justify foreign missions is like at-
tempting to justify the Evolution of life.
It is inevitable, it will go on whether you
and I co-operate or not. This impulse
has been felt by men who had health, and
they have built hospitals to give health
to others; by those who had education,
f 165 1


they have endowed schools and colleges;
by women who had refinement, and they
gave it to their downtrodden sisters.
Those who have received Christ feel
that they must make His glory known
upon earth; His saving health among
all nations. The Predestination of the
heathen, by heredity, by sickness, igno-
rance, brutality, and fear is being coun-
teracted by the Election of privilege.
"Where sin did abound grace did much
more abound."

Only if we co-operate can we have the
right understanding of the significance
of life. "It pleased God," that is, for
reasons that I cannot understand, I have
been separated and you have been sepa-
rated, while all those millions in Africa,
in India, in China, in Japan, in the islands
of the sea, while all those millions are
grovelling in fear before the powers of
this universe, or living in apathetic indif-
ference to spiritual things, we have been
[ 166 ]


separated into the freedom of the chil-
dren of God. *'It pleased God,'* that is,
for some reason that I cannot understand,
that I and those to whom I speak have
been separated from the life of suffering
and poverty that now afflicts thousands of
our brothers and sisters in this very city
in which we Hve. '* It pleased God," that
is, for some reason that I do not under-
stand, to separate you and me and bring
us into a life of larger enlightenment
through education, to bring us into a
sweeter and lovelier life of social refine-
ment, to give us the knowledge of his Son.
Now what is it all for? Is it because
I am a favorite, you are the favorites of
God who, like a doting father, gives the
child everything it wants without any
regard to the influence upon its character?
Not at all; all this Election which you and
I enjoy has a purpose — that in us some-
thing of Jesus' life might appear, and
when that does appear there can be no
f 167 1


line drawn beyond which we will not go.
We must go, for wherever there is a child
of man there is a child of God.

The ruin of life is to receive good things
and keep them; the glory of life is like
the glory of Niagara, where not one drop
of water will be held back — where every
drop of water adds to the beauty and
power of the great cataract. Let the
water be held back and the land will be
destroyed, let it go over the fall in per-
fect faith and it will become the glory
and the power of the land. So may it be
with you and me — hold back your life
and you lose it, give your life and He
who gave it will receive it.

[ 168



"Greet the church that is in their house."

— Romans 16 : 5.

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were the
wandering Jews of the apostohc days.
They had Hved in Rome till the decree
of the Emperor Claudius banished them.
Then they settled in Corinth, and when
Paul came there he boarded with them-
Later they removed to Ephesus, and it
was in their house that the little company
of Christians gathered. Now they have
returned to Rome, and it is to the church
in their house that Paul sends the greet-
ings in our text.

When we think of the countless churches
in Rome to-day, of St. John Lateran and
of St. Peter's the mother church of the
[ 169]


Western world, we have an illustration
of the parable of the mustard seed. How
small the beginning and how great the
growth! But this very greatness is con-
fusing. The very idea of the Church has
been affected by it. The Church seems
to consist of Popes and Cardinals, of
Bishops and dignitaries of various sorts.
The mayors of the palace have usurped
the place of the king! And even in the
less elaborate Protestant Churches the
first significance of the Church has been
obscured. We give the house the name
of the family — we speak of St. Barthol-
omew's Church and there comes to mind
this beloved building with its stately
fagade, its glorious doors, its golden
chancel, its inspiring "Christ in Glory.'*
We hear the roll of the great organ, we
listen to the uplifting anthem, we re-
member, perhaps, some word of exhorta-
tion or rebuke or comfort — and forget
the Church that is in this house — the
[ 170 ]


blessed company of faithful people. You
are the Church in this house, and it is to
you I bring to-day my greetings.

Ten years ago to-day I became your
Rector, '*in weakness and in fear and in
much trembhng." I came hoping for a
useful ministry but with no expectation
of happiness. I have had great happi-
ness, and I hope I have done some good.

My first word of greeting then must
be one of sincere gratitude to my Bishop
for unshaken support and friendship — so
chary of advice, so willing to listen and
to counsel. To the Wardens and Ves-
try for co-operation in every good work,
unmarred by self-will or slackness. To
those good men and women who have
carried on the various activities of
the Parish, welcoming me when I came
among them; uncomplaining when it
might seem they were forgotten. To my
brethren of the Clergy who have given
me loyal support, to all my fellow work-
f 171 1


ers in the Parish, to the teachers in the
Sunday-school, who have submitted to
hard conditions in their zeal for the good
work. To my friend the Choirmaster
and to all who under his direction have
made the music of the Church the glory
of our services. And to the Rector's
secretary, who has been hands and eyes
and memory to me. Last, but not least,
to the children who have given me their
loving friendship. His heart would be
hard who did not rejoice to have a little
child — born long after he began his min-
istry here — break away from his nurse in
the street, and calHng loudly on him by
name (to the amusement of the passers-
by), demand with shining eyes: "What
do you think I've got at home.^" and to
the futile suggestion that it might be a
monkey or a bunny, rapturously exclaim :
''A baby sister!" To have a little child
feel that such a confidence could be made
is cause for thankfulness to any minister.
[ 172 1


I should not be justified in telling such a
simple tale as that and others like it
were it not that I feel strongly and would
have you feel the truth expressed in the
sententious words of the old Hebrew
Midrash: *' Where there are no little ones,
there no disciples ; and where no disciples,
there no sages; and where no sages, there
no elders; where no elders, there no
prophets; and where no prophets, there
does God not cause His Shekhinah {i. e..
His glory) to rest."

Thus much of the past and of myself
you will allow me to say, and more I will
not ask, though before I leave the past
I will recall some statistics which, if they
have no spiritual significance, may serve
to show something of the extent of your
parochial activity.

In the past ten years there have been

1,520 baptisms, 1,254 persons confirmed,

940 marriages, and 849 burials. For all

purposes there has been expended the

[ 173]


sum of about $2,587,800. These statistics
are given not for boasting but to obtain
something by which to measure the pres-
ent prosperity of the parish, not in com-
parison with the past but with the antici-
pated future. I might say in passing
that I think the most significant thing in
this large gift is that (speaking roughly)
there has been used for the support of
the Parish Church less than $600,000,
while about $2,000,000 has been given

If the Church be not the building but
the people, the future will be dependent,
as the past has been, upon the love of
and the faith in and the hope for the
institution which is the outward sign —
the body — of spiritual life.

Ten years from now some other man
will stand in this place. If he finds a
Church weaker than this is to-day he will
seek for a reason. Some of you who are
here will tell him this: ** When the former
[ 174 1


Rector asked us to build a Chapel, which
among other things would serve as a
children's Church, there was an immedi-
ate and generous response, and the re-
sult justified his expectation. There
were special services for the children, the
Sunday-school for the children of the
congregation steadily increased in size,
and they felt that the Church was theirs,
and they began to love it. The organiza-
tion of the Junior Auxihary brought the
children together and impressed upon
them the privilege and duty of extending
the Kingdom of God. The children be-
gan to believe in the Church, and the pas-
toral ministration to children, to a certain
extent by the Rector, but still more by
the Assistant Minister, made the children
feel that the Church believed in them,
and a hope of usefulness arose in them."
But if your new Rector then asks:
^''Why, then, is the Parish not in the
flourishing state it was ten years ago.^"
[ 175 ]


you will not know what to answer. I
will try to answer for you. I will leave
the form of "imaginary conversation''
with which you are perhaps too familiar,
and deal in a plain way with some of the
parochial problems that already exist,
and will grow more intricate in the future.
As I look back over the past ten years
it almost seems as if we were living in
another city, and these changes will not
grow less as time goes on.

Consider then some of the effects upon
our Church that physical change in the
city has produced.

Rents have increased enormously as
land has become valuable for business
purposes, and with enhanced value have
come heavier taxes. As a consequence
great numbers of young married people
who certainly twenty and perhaps even
ten years ago would have begun home-
making in the city have planted their
homes in the surrounding counties. Here
f 176 1


we may rejoice that the country Church
is coming into its own. Your sons and
daughters are supporting and helping
those Churches, but that means financial
weakness for us.

That would not be so serious if it stood
alone, but the social revolution that has
come in the last twenty years, and grows
every year wider, must profoundly affect
the usefulness of city Churches. The rise
of Park Avenue, destined to be one of the
most imposing streets in the world, is a
significant sign of the times. Here we
have an avenue of apartment houses,
occupied but a few months in the year
because many of the occupants have
country houses. We may retain those
who have association with this Church,
but when they go we cannot expect
people who come to town for the season
to support two Churches.

Then consider the hundreds of people
living in the great hotels. Some of them
[ 177 1


lock their door, leave the key in the office,
and go to Egypt because there is a sudden
cold snap! They may attend a Church
with more or less regularity, but they do
not feel called upon to support it.

I ask myself, then, when death removes
those who for years have loved this
Church, what is to become of it? Placed
as it is, it need never lack a congregation.
That is shown by the crowds who gather
here every Sunday afternoon. Very few
of them are known to me, very few have
any sense of responsibility for the sup-
port of the Church, not many have the
means to support the Church. We are
drawing near, then, to a time when St.
Bartholomew's will have a glorious oppor-
tunity to minister to people of small
means, and will be unable to take advan-
tage of it. No matter how attractive,
how strong, how good the leader of the
congregation may be, he cannot make
this Parish what it has been to the city
f 178 1


and to the country unless there is pre-
pared now an institution greater than
any individual. What Napoleon said of
nations is true of Churches: "Men are
impotent to assure the future: institu-
tions alone fix the destinies of Nations/*

There are three ways of meeting this
situation, and each of them has the ap-
proval of good and wise men. The first
says : *' We must submit to the inevitable.
St. Bartholomew's has had a useful, and
at times brilliant, life of eighty years. It
may continue for twenty years more, not
quite so vigorously, perhaps, but honor-
ably, and then, when it has lived out the
century, let it cease, and let another
Church elsewhere do the work that it
has done. This is sad, but it is sensi-

Another says: "W^e need not contem-
plate dissolution. Do again what we
have done before. Sell this Church and
move to another part of the city, in the
f 179 1


midst of a population which can support
it." But where? A Church in our com-
munion is not free to sell its property and
move where it will. It must have the
consent of the ecclesiastical authority.*
It will ask whither we intend to move.
If it be found the place we choose is al-
ready near a little Church that for years
has been waiting for the population we
now want, the answer may be: "The un-
earned increment belongs to the man who
is on the ground." If that same author-
ity suggest that we undertake mission
work in the Bronx, we should then face
the same problem we have here, with the
loss of association, prestige, and with les-
sened opportunity.

But even if that difficulty were over-
come there are others. To move from
this site means that the Parish House
would be far from its base of supplies,
and it would be difficult to find teachers

* The Bishop and the Standing Committee.
I 180]


and workers willing to come a long dis-

But there is another reason which, if it
does not appeal to all to whom I speak,
nevertheless must be taken into con-
sideration. I mean the change of public
opinion in regard to the duty of the
Churches to the city. Every one will re-
call the protest of the community when
a few years ago it was decided to close
St. John's Chapel. I know too little of
the facts to express an opinion as to the
expediency of that decision, but if pubhc
opinion was mistaken in that particular
instance, it is certainly the conviction of
the community that a Church to do its
best work must minister to congregations
that cannot support it. That has been
the glory of the Roman Catholic Church.
That has caused the city to rejoice in the
determination of the Brick Church to re-
fuse the great price its property would
bring, and remain in the new centre of
I 181 ]


the business world as Trinity Church and
St. Paul's Chapel have done down- town.
If St. Bartholomew's had been trans-
formed from a parish to a metropolitan
Church by me, had it been made known
all over the land during my ministry, I
should be embarrassed in urging the ex-
pectation of the country that we will not
fail in the more difficult but no less im-
portant work that will open before it in
the future.

How can that be done.^ How can this
Church be kept here near to the Parish
House, at the door of the Great Terminal,
in the midst of the great hotels, near an
express station of the old and new sub-
ways, at the end of the new avenue of
apartments.^ Only by great gifts from
those who love it and believe in the type
of religion and churchmanship for which
it stands. The day when a Church can
be supported as a club, by entrance
fees and annual dues, is passing away. If
[ 182 ]


disease is to be cured and life preserved
there must be great hospitals independent
of private patients. If the higher edu-
cation is to flourish great universities
must be endowed. We say of this man:
" He did not have to work his way through
college, his father could pay his way."
No one of you paid your way in college.
The richest man's son was a charity
scholar! All enjoyed the benefactions of
men who have given sums great and small
for the perpetuation of their Alma Mater.
So it must be with the Church.

I have felt this ever since I came here,
but I have taken no step toward its
accomplishment, waiting till the laity
should express themselves. This they
have now done. On November 7th last,
the Vestry, without any suggestion from
me, passed the following resolution:

''Resolved: That in the opinion of the
Vestry steps should be immediately taken
to secure an endowment fund for the

[ 183 ]


benefit of St. Bartholomew's Church, and
that the Rector be requested to appoint
a committee of five with power to add
to their number from outside the Vestry
to carry this Resolution into effect."

In compliance with that Resolution
the Rector appointed a committee * who
met to consider this matter, and it is at
their request that I bring it before you
at this time. That you may come to a
right judgment, it is necessary that you
should know what is needed, and how it
is suggested the endowment should be

Leaving aside from our consideration
the Clinic and Pawling, I would remind
you that the current expenses of this
Church, including repairs, are about $60,-
000 a year, and that, as you know, at
least $20,000 a year must be contributed
by the congregation for the Parish House.

* Mr. Henry Lewis Morris, Mr. William D. Sloane,
Dr. E. R. L. Gould, Mr. James W. Lane, and Mr.
Alvin W. Krech.

[ 184 ]


An income of $80,000 requires an endow-
ment of $2,000,000. Great as that is it is
not beyond the powers of this congrega-
tion. A part might be given by large
and immediate gifts. A part could be
paid in five annual payments, following
the successful plan of Yale. A part
could be provided by bequests to be
paid when you are dead.

There is a slang saying that is some-
times used in business ; when a suggestion
is made to a man to buy or sell, he an-
swers: '*I don't see it." It has a deeper
significance than he knows. If we saw,
if we had a vision, we should act.

A part of the vision is so near that
all must see it. The completion of the
Panama Canal will demand a port at
this city the greatest in the world. That
will surely come. It seems not unlikely
that some day the whole island, from the
Battery to Spuyten Duyvil, will be one
great market and workshop. The rich
[ 185]


will be pushed away and we shall have a
great population of working people, men
and women, who must live near their
work. If the Protestant Church follows
the rich the city will be left to the Catholic
Church and the Synagogue. If we be-
lieved that they could minister to the
deepest rehgious needs of the community
we should not attempt to rival them.
They cannot. An ever-increasing num-
ber of Catholics and Jews are abandoning
the religion of their childhood, and unless
there is a Church which can be their
friend and leader they will revert to
heathenism. If we owe anything to the
city, if we owe anything to this Church,
let us do what we can to give the city
the perpetual ministration of the Church.
Every one will admit that the closing of
the Parish House would be a calamity
that Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and
Protestants in this city would deplore.
But not only in this city — all over the
( 186 1


country the loss would be felt. Yes, even
in Europe its example has been recog-
nized. Emile Levasseur, sometime Rec-
tor of the University of Paris, in his ''Im-
pressions of America," refers to your
Parish House as the most notable exam-
ple of the new impulse for the better-
ment of mankind that the Church has
ever shown. Some may think that the
Parish House can continue its beneficent
work should this Church wither away.
No longer than the oak would last after
the root had died — no longer than the
body would continue when the soul had
fled! The Spirit of Christ made that
work possible, and the Spirit of Christ
alone will keep it alive. If we would not
have it become a mere Humanitarian
Institution, if we would have it the right
hand of the Church — the Church must
be kept alive.

In the years to come there will be in
this city great hospitals, built and en-
[ 187]


dowed by those who, ''not ignorant of
misery, have learned to succor others."
Great museums for Art, built and en-
dowed by those who have been wooed
and won by the spirit of beauty. Great
universities endowed by men filled with
a love of learning. Everything that can
minister to the lust of the eye, the lust
of the flesh, and the pride of life will be
here. Can we be content "to go hence
and be no more seen," and leave the city
of our love and of our pride to hear no
more, or only as a faint whisper: "He
that doeth the will of God abideth for-
ever.'^" I know you too well (I know
you better than you know yourselves!)
to doubt your answer — you will provide
for the Church in this house — and the
future will be more glorious than the past.



This book is under no circumstances to be
taken from the Building

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