Methodist Episcopal Church. Board of Education.

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national self-respect, repeat words of wisdom, and create a new political and civil
enthusiasm. And all this is important because of the swelling tide of immi-
gration.

Do not be discouraged because of immigration. A very large part of it
represents the very doctrine for which our nation stands. These foreigners come
to us for liberty. Many of them read our tablets and at once recognize the
names of noble men we carve in marble or cast in bronze.

Will you permit a brief chapter of personal reminiscence? I was at City
Point in March, 1865, just at the close of the war, in the service of the Christian
G>mmission, and on a visit to General Grant, whom I had known with some
degree of intimacy at Galena, where I was in charge of the church which Obtain
Grant and his family regularly attended, and to whom with his fellow soldiers I
was permitted in 1861 to deliver the farewell address on the occasion of their
departure from Galena for the front

On Saturday, March 25, 1865, I received from General Rawlins an invita-
tion to accompany him and General Grant as they called on President Lincoln
on his steamer, The River Queen, at City Point And on the same day I was
invited to accompany President Lincoln and General Grant on their Sunday trip
up the James River. For good and sufficient reasons I was compelled to decline
both invitations. But on Monday morning, March 27, at City Point, I saw a
large part of Sheridan's force cross the pontoon over the Appomattox at Point
of Rocks.

I then called at General Grant's headquarters, where I found both President
Lincoln and General Grant The general introduced me to President Lincoln,
and I had the opportunity of looking at close range into the face of the dis-
tinguished war president He looked old and weary — his eyelids heavy and
drooping, his mouth large and homely — his eyes with a look of languor. General
Crook just then came in, and the president, his face brightening into a mis-
chievous smile, rallied Crook, telling the company Mr. Stanton's jokes at Crook's
expense to the effect that his sweetheart had betrayed him into rebel hands — ^for
Crook had just been released by the Confederates.

Mr. Lincoln then made a sort of apology for having gone up the James River
to review the troops on Sabbath, and General Grant stated that in Galena be
never missed the Sunday morning church services. Both men seemed anxious
to have it understood that they revered the Sabbath day. It was a worthy and
beautiful tribute to the day, to the divine command concerning it, and it will be
well for the republic if this emphasis shall everywhere be made in our land.

It was but a few weeks later that I walked in the great procession in
Chicago, through the city hall and looked again on the hero's face as he lay
silent in death. And now the noble figure of Abraham Lincoln, transfigured and
glorified in the heavens of our national memory and imagination, rises to the
loftiest height, and is radiant with a glory distinctly and forever his own.



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The Christian Student 25

What I most covet in connection with the memory of Abraham Lincohi is
that the greatness, the wholesomeness, the straightforwardness, and nobility of
his personality may inspire the American youth of today to emulate his genuine-
ness of character, that like him, they may be thoroughly honest and courageous
in fulfilling any and every mission in life to which they may be called.



College Ethics

Professor Huxley used to say that there might be worlds in which two and
two are five. I do not believe the proposition. Nor do you believe it Nor
can you believe it We cannot believe otherwise than that two and two are
difiFerent from five in all worlds and in all eternities. If, anywhere in time or
space, two and two are five, then the five is not our five, or the twos are not
our twos. Call the sum what you may — five, four, or zero — Omnipotence cannot
change the fact that two and two are two and two.

There are some things that are true today and false tomorrow. It may be
true today that the wind blows east, and false tomorrow ; but there is some truth
that does not depend on which way the wind blows. Down at noon is up at
midnight, but there are some things that do not go round with the world. Two
and two are four — at noon and at midnight, by the east wind and by the north
wind, in the metropolis and in the wilderness, on the solid earth and in the voids
of space. We do not need the telescope, microscope, or spectroscope to reveal
this truth, for long after the microscope ceases to subdivide the invisible mole-
cules, br the telescope to break up the irresolvable nebulae, or the spectroscope
to draw its telltale lines, within the within and beyond the beyond, two and two
are two and two. The magnificent arch of human knowledge falls in one hope-
less mass of ruins when you remove the keystone of necessary truth. Some
truth is local and temporal; but other truth is as wide as the tmiverse and as
lasting as eternity.

For instance: What is, is; a thing cannot be, and not be, at the same instant;
here is not there, and there is not here; now is not then, and then is not now;
this is not that, and that is not this — ^these are truths that do not rise and fall
with the thermometer, point right and left with the weather vane, or move to
and fro with the currents of history, whether this history be terrestrial or
celestial, temporal or eternal.' We cannot escape the conclusion — ^nay, the con-
viction — ^that some truth is necessarily the truth, and that necessary truth is
etemaL This conviction is the very shadow of our intellectual constitution, and
the shadow is as much a fact as the substance.

But what shall we say of that which we sometimes call contingent truth?
Given the air, the coal, and a certain temperature, and there will be fire. Given
the eahh and an unsupported body, and there will be a fall. The truth of the
burning coal or the falling stone is contingent It may be that the coal will
bum, and it may be that it will not burn. It may be that the stone will fall,
and it may be that it will not fall But the contingency of the burning coal or
the falling stone depends not on the law of combustion or gravitation but on the
conditions to which the coal and the stone are subjected. The truth in these
cases is contingent, not upon the law, but upon the concurrent circumstances.
Under the same conditions, the coal will always bum, and the stone will always
fall The conditions are variable, but the law is unchangeable. When the condi-



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26 The Christian Student

tions concur the coal will bum and the stone will fall, in all parts of the anirerse
and in all stages of its history.

Now, it is convenient to regard all the laws of the tiniyerse, material or
spiritual, as the expression of God's will Since God is a Being of infinite per-
fection, his will is continuous and ever the same. His laws being the manifesta-
tion of his will are, therefore, "the same yesterday, today, and forever." The
contingency of uncertain truth depends, therefore, upon the accident of condi-
tion. Given the condition, and contingent truth is as eternal as necessary truth.
If the conditions concur, stones will fall and coal will bum, as long as two and
two remain four. The will of God is eternal, and is not contingent on the
accidents of condition. That necessary truth should be other than it is, is incon-
ceivable; ^d whether inconceivable or not, it is no less impossible that the will
of God should waver. Such is the eternity of truth— of all truth ; for at the last,
all truth, whether necessary or contingent, finds its home in the bosom of God.

Such are two of the eternal verities. Two other of the eternal verities are
the rightness of right and the wrongness of wrong. Right is right, and wrong
is wrong, on both sides of the ocean ; at the poles or at the equator ; in the open
sunlight or in the cavernous darkness; on the n«>on or on the comets. Right
was right when the morning stars sang together; it is right at the present epoch
in the march of the eternities; and it will be right when the stars shall cease to
shine. The rightness of right antedates all conditions; it overtowers all condi-
tions; it will survive all conditions. The rightness of any particular act is
contingent The rightness of right is eternal.

Moreover, any given act, if right once, will be right forever. By an act I
do not mean merely the visible part of a volition, but the invisible as welE I
mean all that constitutes it an act If right once, it is eternally right; if wrong
once, it is eternally wrong. Mark, I now speak of the entire act, and not the
overt or visible part The visible part of an act may be right today and wrong
tomorrow. For instance: You bind a man hand and foot, and deprive him of
his liberty. Is it right or wrong? That depends on whether he has a right to
his liberty. If he be a raving maniac, terrorizing the people, it is your duty to
bind him, for in that condition he has no right to his liberty. If he be a
peaceable man in the lawful pursuit of his work, it is wrong, for in that case
he has a right to his liberty. The one act, which includes both the visible and
the invisible part, is eternally wrong; the other, eternally right Let us not
confuse the outward or visible part of the act with the inner or invisible part
The visible part is not the act at all; it is but the sign of the act The real act
is invisible. What I wish to emphasize is that the rightness or wrongness of
a real act is not contingent on time or place. Rightness and wrongness are
independent of circumstances and are eternal. The standard by which an act is
measured — I mean the real act — is the unchangeable will of God, and an act
that once squares to the standard will always square to it, for the standard does
not change.

Some things are wrong because they are forbidden; other things are for-
bidden because they are wrong. It is wrong for a merchant to bring laces into
a United States port without paying the duty, simply because it is contrary to
law. If there were no law. against such free importation, it would not be wrong;
just as in the absence of any law to the contrary it is not wrong to bring in
foreign microscopes for scientific purposes without paying a duty. In the one
case it is wrong, wholly because it is forbidden by law; in the other case it is



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TKe Cfiristian Student 27

not wrong, simply because it is not contrary to law. In either case the outward
act, aside from the law concerning it, is a question of expediency and not of
ethics; and its rightness or wrongness depends upon the will of the people
concerning it, which, tolike the will of God, is changeable. Such an act may,
therefore, be right today and wrong tomorrow.

Some things are wrong, then, simply because they are forbidden. Not so
with other things. It is wrong to commit deliberate murder. The law of the
land says so. That in itself would make it wrong while the law lasts. But if
the law were abrogated, murder would still be wrong. Murder — ^I do not mean
what is technically homicide or manslaughter, but real murder — ^is not a question
of expediency, but of ethics. It is not a question of locality; it pertains to the
entire universe. It is not a question of any particular time; it belongs to
eternity. It was wrong to commit murder before there was any law on the
subject It will be equally wrong after all human laws shall have perished. It
was wrong, even before the divine law concerning it was published. True, it is
forbidden among the Ten G)mmandments. But it is not wrong, simply because
it is forbidden ; it is forbidden because it is wrong. It was wrong before Mount
Sinai smoked and trembled; and it will be wrong when Mount Sinai and the
earth and the visible universe shall have passed away.

There is such a thing as local etiquette, but there is no such thing as local
ethics. What is proper in one place may be improper in another. What is
good taste in one community may be poor taste in another. Etiquette is more
or less a question of locality or environment; but ethics knows neither time,
place, nor circumstance. What is proper in the courtroom may be improper in
church, but what is right in one is right in the other.

Expediency may be local; but ethics, never. It may be expedient to erect
a water mill by a running stream, rather than on a hilltop; but whether by the
stream or on the highland, the mill must grind an honest grist It may be
expedient to erect a windmill where the wind blows, rather than where it is
always a dead calm, but whether in the wind or in the calm, the miller must not
measure ten feet with a nine-foot pole. Expediency changes with the current
It goes north when the current is north, and south when the current is south.
But ethics holds steadfastly to its course, whichever way the current flows.
Expediency is the gnomon on the revolving earth, which points now to the
zenith and now to nadir; ethics is the fixed axis of the earth which moves
always parallel to itself, and points to the invisible pole of the heavens.

If what I have said be true, then my very theme is a contradiction and an
absurdity. G)llege ethics! We do not speak of college axioms, for an axiom
is an axiom in college or out of it We do not speak of the college multiplica-
tion table, for five times five are twenty-five in bank as well as in the shades
of the academy. We do not speak of college gravitation, for a student falling
from the college tower will strike the ground as hard as will the citizen who
falls from the courthouse spire. Gravitation does not inquire whether it is the
college tower or the town standpipe. It simply inquires— how high is the fall?
And if the distance be pne hundred and forty-four feet, it agrees to deliver its
passenger to the ground with a velocity of ninety-six feet a second, whether he
be student or whether he be citizen.

College ethics ? G>llege right angles 1 G>llege parallel lines ! G)llege heat,
light, and electricity 1 The college North Star!



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28 The Christian Student

Why, then, have I selected a theme which carries tipon its face it own
absurdity?

I have chosen this illogical combination from the fact that there is a senti-
ment extensively prevalent among our colleges that the combination is not
illogical, but that there is such a thing as college ethics differing from the
ethics of the counting room, the market place, the street, or the home.

There is a sentiment too largely prevalent that the college man is a law unto
himself, and that he can do with impunity what would be disgraceful or even
criminal if done by a man who is not so fortunate as to have his name on the
college register. ■ •

Put in plain English, the sentiment which prevails in many colleges is this:
To tell a lie is wrong on the street, but right in college. To cheat is wrong
in the market, but right in college. To use personal violence is wrong in a
saloon, but right in a college. To destroy property is wrong in a cowboy, but
to deface walls or carry off gates and signboards is right in a college student
To boycott is wrong in If eland; wrong even in the business circles of the
civilized world, but right in a college. To yell and screech on the streets is
wrong in a dnmken man and should consign him to a diet of bread and water;
but to make night hideous with unearthly howls is a sign of culture, provided
the howls proceed from the throats of college boys. A street-comer loafer who
guys the passerby is rude and insolent, but a crowd of college boys, hooting at
the pedestrian that comes their way, are only giving vent to an excess of youth-
ful spirit To take a barking dog up a man's stairway, through his attic, and
leave it upon his roof, half frightened to death, and half frightening to death
the immediate neighbors, is wrong in a town boy, but right, even manly and
honorable, in a college boy. To violate the Golden Rule is wrong in a heathen,
but right in a Christian, provided the Christian happen to have his name on the
coUege roll The Golden Rule, so beautifully exemplified by the Divine Teacher,
is binding on the conscience of the pirate upon the high seas ; of the liquor seller,
as the young man appears at the bar for his first drink; of the Indian with his
uplifted tomahawk; of the gambler in his den of infamy; of the libertine in the
presence of his victim; but forsooth, this same Golden Rule was not made to
measure the conscience of a Christian who has matriculated in a Christian
college 1

Have I put the case too strongly? Let us see.

Street lying is wrong. Equally so is college lying. If a man asks me a
proper question to which the answer should be no, and if I say yes in reply,
knowing that I should say no, I have told him a falsehood. It is a falsehood
in the courtroom, and a falsehood in college. If I say yes to my professor,
when I should say no, I tell him a falsehood.

It is useless for me to say that certain college regulations are arbitrary, and
that the authorities have no right to demand the discharge of such arbitrary
requirements. If I have endeavored to leave the impression that I have done
what I have not done, and if I accept the profits of my deception, I have lied.
A lie is not complete until one decides to take permanent advantage of the pro-
ceeds of the untruth. That is the chief difference between an untruth told in a
joke, and a deliberate lie.

Whether, then, the college regulations are arbitrary or not, it is my business
to utter the truth. Even though the regulations bind upon my conscience, still
it is my part to keep to the truth. I have known students whose consciences



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The Christian Student 29

were too tender to permit obedience to certain regulations of the college, but
which were not tender enough to prevent them from prevaricating about the
performance of these so-called unchristian requirements. I do not tmderstand
the kind of conscience that shrinks from performing an act, but that does not
equally shrink from giving out a false impression concerning its performance.
Such a conscience is tender — ^in spots — ^and it selects its own spots. I may
protest, even rebel, against the regulations which bind upon my conscience. I
may decline to answer all questions relating to either arbitrary or immoral
requirements; but if I answer at all, I must abide by the truth. I am willing
to defy arbitrary authority, but I will not defy my conscience. I will take the
consequences with authority, but I will not take the consequences with my
conscience.

I put the question plainly: Have I not described what is, to some extent,
the situation? Is it not a deplorable fact that what many students wink at as
an innocent sale of the truth in college, they would frown upon as a flagrant
breach of the truth on the street?

Again : Cheating in the market is wrong. Equally, then, it is wrong in college.
You sell your neighbor a horse for a hundred dollars. He gives you ten ten-
dollar bills, five of which are counterfeit When you discover the cheat, you
do not rest satisfied until he is lodged behind the prison bars. The college sets
before the student ten questions. The student returns ten answers, five of which
are genuine, and five coimterfeit Will you tell me the difference between the
two cases, aside from the fact that one violates the law of the land and the
other does not? Counterfeiting notes was wrong before there was a human law
forbidding it, and it will be wrong after all counterfeiting laws have been
repealed. Counterfeiting answers to college questions with a purpose of taking
permanent advantage of the deceit, would be no more emphatically wrong if the
statute books were filled with laws against it, and if the penalty were death
itself. Passing counterfeit notes as a joke, with no intention of taking advantage
of the act, but with the full purpose of explaining the joke before damage should
result, though a violation of human law, may not otherwise be wrong, however
improper it may be. Cheating on examination merely as a prank, without the
purpose of benefiting by the cheat, and with a full determination to disclose the
fact before benefit should ensue, however improper and disrespectful it might
be, would not necessarily be wrong. But presenting answers as genuine, which
are counterfeit, with the intention of leaving the impression that they are
genuine, and with a purpose of taking advantage of the deception, is a flagrant
wrong, law or no law, penalty or no penalty.

Again: To combine against a man in business to his disadvantage is boy-
cotting, and meets the unqualified disapproval of all right-minded men; but to
combine against a student because he does not happen to belong to a particular
set, seems to be easily squared with some standards of college ethics. Such a
combination against the individual student may not be formally and purposely
entered into, except in rare instances, but if the effect be the same as if a prede-
termined combination had been devised, what is the difference? A father once
wrote to me that he would send his children to college when they could be as
good out of a fraternity as in it, and he was right Whatever may be the
good or the evil of college fraternities, the members should jealously strive to
draw no distinctions that will make a student suffer because he sees fit to remain
a barbarian.



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30 The Christian Student

Again : It is wrong to gamble in a saloon over a game of cards. Kyeiyhodf
says so. But gambling at an intercollegiate oratorical, football, baseball, or
rowing contest— -why, what harm can there be in that, provided the gambler be
not a town bafer, but a college student who merely wishes to show his confi-
dence in his college team? ''It is quite the thing, you know."

Down with the gambler, whether he be libertine or academician 1 Down
with him, whether he breathe the atmosphere of college culture^ or the noisome
vapors of the slums 1

Still furthers To pick one's pocket on the street or to break into one's
house and despoil him of his treasure is wrong; but it seems easily squared with
some consciences to rob a grave and lay violent hands on the mortal remains
of one who during life had been cherished more than silver and gold. It is a
crime to plunder a house, but it is simply an outing, a recreation, a professional
feat, or at the worst a youthful indiscretion, to plunder a grave, provided the
plunderer be a student in a respectable medical college. Woe betide him, if he
be an outsider, but hurrah for him, if he be within the charmed circle of college
life!

Oh, ye blinded youth of our American colleges, the crime of plunder, desecra-
tion, and vandalism knows neither latitude nor longitude, neither time nor cir-
cumstance, neither student nor civilian, but it is equally black in the eyes of
God and all good men, whoever the perpetrator or wherever perpetrated 1

Once more: To restrain a man of his liberty without cause, and to add
personal violence to this restraint, is wrong, even among savages; but to tie a
young man to a bedpost, to shave his head, to hang him until he chokes, to put
him in a perspiration and then give him a shower bath of ice water, to put him
in his bed that had been saturated with water, and after all these outrages, to
seal his lips with the threat of worse personal violence or even death — this is
only a huge jokel Such contemptible and criminal proceeding, it seems, is
right or wrong according to the way you spell the word describing it If we
spell it as they do on the streets, m-u-r-d-e-r, it is wrong; but it is all right
and a great joke, if we spell it as they do in some colleges, H-A-Z-E.

I do not claim that all these evils exist in all of our colleges. In some of
them, these and other evils prevail in even a more marked degree than I have
described. In others, they have been reduced to a minimum, and perhaps to
some extent have been exterminated. The object of this address has been
to point out the false standards of conduct that so generally prevail among
college youth, and to insist that there is but one standard for student and
non-student alike.

What is right in college life is right anywhere, and everywhere. What is
wrong everywhere else is wrong in college. The Golden Rule does not bend
around a crooked college act A foot is twelve inches in college and out of it
A pound is sixteen ounces in the store and in the class room. A dollar is a
hundred cents on Christmas day, it is a hundred cents on examination day,



Online LibraryMethodist Episcopal Church. Board of EducationThe Christian student → online text (page 40 of 41)