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´╗┐Title: The Crucifixion of Philip Strong
Author: Sheldon, Charles Monroe, 1857-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Crucifixion of Philip Strong" ***

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THE CRUCIFIXION OF PHILIP STRONG

BY

REV. CHARLES M. SHELDON

AUTHOR OF

"In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?" "His Brother's Keeper," "Robert
Hardy's Seven Days," etc.

NEW YORK AND LONDON

STREET & SMITH, PUBLISHERS

Copyright 1899

By STREET & SMITH



THE CRUCIFIXION OF PHILIP STRONG.



CHAPTER I.


Philip Strong could not decide what was best to do.

The postman that evening had brought him two letters and he had just
finished reading them. He sat with his hands clasped over his knee,
leaning back in his chair and looking out through his study window. He
was evidently thinking very hard and the two letters were the cause of
it.

Finally he rose, went to his study door and called down the stairs,
"Sarah, I wish you would come up here. I want your help."

"All right, Philip, I'll be up in a minute," responded a voice from
below, and very soon the minister's wife came upstairs into her
husband's study.

"What's the matter?" she said, as she came into the room. "It must be
something very serious, for you don't call me up here unless you are in
great distress. You remember the last time you called me, you had shut
the tassel of your dressing-gown under the lid of your writing desk and
I had to cut you loose. You aren't fast anywhere now, are you?"

Philip smiled quaintly. "Yes, I am. I'm in a strait betwixt two. Let me
read these letters and you will see." So he began at once, and we will
copy the letters, omitting dates.

CALVARY CHURCH, MILTON.

REV. PHILIP STRONG.

DEAR SIR:--At a meeting of the Milton Calvary Church, held last week, it
was voted unanimously to extend you a call to become pastor of this
church at a salary of two thousand dollars a year. We trust that you
will find it in accordance with the will of the Head of the Church to
accept this decision on the part of Calvary Church and become its
pastor. The church is in good condition and has the hearty support of
most of the leading families in the town. It is the strongest in
membership and financially of the seven principal churches here. We
await your reply, confidently hoping you will decide to come to us. We
have been without a settled pastor now for nearly a year, since the
death of Dr. Brown, and we have united upon you as the person most
eminently fitted to fill the pulpit of Calvary Church. The grace of our
Lord be with you. In behalf of the Church,

WILLIAM WINTER,
_Chairman of the Board of Trustees_.

"What do you think of that, Sarah?" asked Philip Strong, as he finished
the letter.

"Two thousand dollars is twice as much as you are getting now, Philip."

"What, you mercenary little creature, do you think of the salary first?"

"If I did not think of it once in a while, I doubt if you would have a
decent meal or a good suit of clothes," replied the minister's wife,
looking at him with a smile.

"Oh, well, that may be, Sarah. But let me read you the other letter," he
went on without discussing the salary matter.

CHAPEL HILL, CHURCH, ELMDALE

REV. PHILIP STRONG,

DEAR BROTHER:--At a meeting of the Elmdale Chapel Hill Church, held last
week Thursday, it was unanimously voted to extend you a call to become
pastor of the church at a salary of $2,000 a year, with two months'
vacation, to be selected at your own convenience. The Chapel Hill Church
is in a prosperous condition, and many of the members recall your career
in the college with much pleasure. This is an especially strong centre
for church work, the proximity of the boys' academy and the university
making the situation one of great power to a man who thoroughly
understands and enjoys young men as we know you do. We most earnestly
hope you will consider this call, not as purely formal, but as from the
hearts of the people. We are, very cordially yours,

In behalf of the Church,
PROFESSOR WELLMAN,
_Chairman of the Board of Trustees_.

"What do you think of that?" asked the minister again.

"The salary is just the same, isn't it?"

"Now, Sarah," said the minister, "if I didn't know
what a generous, unselfish heart you really have, I should get vexed at
you for talking about the salary as if that was the most important
thing."

"The salary is very important, though. But you know, Philip, I would be
as willing as you are to live on no salary if the grocer and butcher
would continue to feed us for nothing. I wish from the bottom of my
heart that we could live without money."

"It is a bother, isn't it?" replied Philip, so gravely that his wife
laughed heartily at his tone.

"Well, the question is, what to do with the letters," resumed the
minister.

"Which of the two churches do you prefer?" asked his wife.

"I would rather go to the Chapel Hill Church as far as my preference is
concerned."

"Then why not accept their call, if that is the way you feel?"

"Because, while I should like to go to Elmdale, I feel as if I ought to
go to Milton."

"Now, Philip, I don't see why, in a choice of this kind, you don't do as
you feel inclined to do, and accept the call that pleases you most. Why
should ministers be doing what they ought instead of what they like? You
never please yourself."

"Well, Sarah," replied Philip, good-naturedly, "this is the way of it.
The church in Elmdale is in a University town. The atmosphere of the
place is scholastic. You know I passed four years of student life there.
With the exception of the schools, there are not a thousand people in
the village, a quiet, sleepy, dull, retired, studious place. I love the
memory of it. I could go there as the pastor of the Elmdale church and
preach to an audience of college boys eight months in the year and to
about eighty refined, scholarly people the rest of the time. I could
indulge my taste for reading and writing and enjoy a quiet pastorate
there to the end of my days."

"Then, Philip, I don't see why you don't reply to their call and tell
them you will accept; and we will move at once to Elmdale, and live and
die there. It is a beautiful place, and I am sure we could live very
comfortably on the salary and the vacation. There is no vacation
mentioned in the other call."

"But, on the other hand," continued the minister, almost as if he were
alone and arguing with himself, and had not heard his wife's words, "on
the other hand, there is Milton, a manufacturing town of fifty thousand
people, mostly operatives. It is the centre of much that belongs to the
stirring life of the times in which we live. The labor question is there
in the lives of those operatives. There are seven churches of different
denominations, to the best of my knowledge, all striving after
popularity and power. There is much hard, stern work to be done in
Milton, by the true Church of Christ, to apply His teachings to men's
needs, and somehow I cannot help hearing a voice say, 'Philip Strong, go
to Milton and work for Christ. Abandon your dream of a parish where you
may indulge your love of scholarship in the quiet atmosphere of a
University town, and plunge into the hard, disagreeable, but necessary
work of this age, in the atmosphere of physical labor, where great
questions are being discussed, and the masses are engrossed in the
terrible struggle for liberty and home, where physical life thrusts
itself out into society, trampling down the spiritual and intellectual,
and demanding of the Church and the preacher the fighting powers of
giants of God to restore in men's souls a more just proportion of the
value of the life of man on earth.'

"So, you see, Sarah," the minister went on after a little pause, "I want
to go to Elmdale, but the Lord probably wants me to go to Milton."

Mrs. Strong was silent. She had the utmost faith in her husband that he
would do exactly what he knew he ought to do, when once he decided what
it was. Philip Strong was also silent a moment. At last he said, "Don't
you think so, Sarah?"

"I don't see how we can always tell exactly what the Lord wants us to
do. How can you tell that He doesn't want you to go to Elmdale? Are
there not great opportunities to influence young student life in a
University town? Will not some one go to Elmdale and become pastor of
that church?"

"No doubt there is a necessary work to be done there. The only question
is, am I the one to do it, or is the call to Milton more imperative? The
more I think of it, the more I am convinced that I must go to Milton."

"Then," said the minister's wife, rising suddenly and speaking with a
mock seriousness that her husband fully understood, "I don't see why you
called me up here to decide what you had evidently settled before you
called me. Do you consider that fair treatment, sir? It will serve you
right if those biscuits I put in the oven when you called me are fallen
as completely as Babylon. And I will make you eat half a dozen of them,
sir, to punish you. We cannot afford to waste anything these times."

"What," cried Philip, slyly, "not on $2,000 a year! But I'll eat the
biscuits. They can't possibly be any worse than those we had a week
after we were married--the ones we bought from the bakery, you
remember," Philip added, hastily.

"You saved yourself just in time, then," replied the minister's wife.
She came close up to the desk and in a different tone, said, "Philip,
you know I believe in you, don't you?"

"Yes," said Philip simply; "I am sure you do. I am impulsive and
impractical, but heart and soul, and body and mind, I simply want to do
the will of God. Is it not so?"

"I know it is," she said, "and if you go to Milton it will be because
you want to do His will more than to please yourself."

"Yes. Then shall I answer the letter to-night?"

"Yes, if you have decided, with my help, of course."

"Of course, you foolish creature, you know I could not settle it without
you. And as for the biscuits--"

"As for the biscuits," said the minister's wife, "they will be settled
without me, too, if I don't go down and see to them." She hurried
downstairs and Philip Strong, with a smile and a sigh, took up his pen
and wrote replies to the two calls he had received, refusing the call to
Elmdale and accepting the one to Milton. And so the strange story of a
great-hearted man really began.

When he had finished writing these two letters, he wrote another, which
throws so much light on his character and his purpose in going to
Milton, that we will insert that in this story, as being necessary to
its full understanding. This is the letter:--

MY DEAR ALFRED:--Two years ago, when we left the Seminary, you remember
we promised each other, in case either of us left his present parish, he
would let the other know at once. I did not suppose, when I came, that I
should leave so soon, but I have just written a letter which means the
beginning of a new life to me. The Calvary Church in Milton has given me
a call, and I have accepted it. Two months ago my church here
practically went out of existence, through a union with the other church
on the street. The history of that movement is too long for me to relate
here, but since it took place I have been preaching as a supply, pending
the final settlement of affairs, and so I was at liberty to accept a
call elsewhere. I must confess the call from Milton was a surprise to
me. I have never been there (you know I do not believe in candidating
for a place), and so I suppose their church committee came up here to
listen to me. Two years ago nothing would have induced me to go to
Milton. Today it seems perfectly clear that the Lord says to me "Go."
You know my natural inclination is toward a quiet, scholarly pastorate.
Well, Milton is, as you know, a noisy, dirty, manufacturing town, full
of working men, cursed with saloons, and black with coal smoke and
unwashed humanity. The church is quite strong in membership. The Year
Book gives it five hundred members last year, and it is composed almost
entirely of the leading families in the place. What I can do in such a
church remains to be seen. My predecessor there, Dr. Brown, was a
profound sermonizer, and generally liked, I believe. He was a man of the
old school, and made no attempt, I understand, to bring the church into
contact with the masses. You will say that such a church is a poor place
in which to attempt a different work. I do not necessarily think so. The
Church of Christ is, in itself, I believe, a powerful engine to set in
motion against all evil. I have great faith in the membership of almost
any church in this country to accomplish wonderful things for humanity.
And I am going to Milton with that faith very strong in me. I feel as if
a very great work could be done there. Think of it, Alfred! A town of
fifty thousand working men, half of them foreigners, a town with more
than sixty saloons in full blast, a town with seven churches of many
different denominations all situated on one street, and that street the
most fashionable in the place, a town where the police records show an
amount of crime and depravity almost unparalleled in municipal
annals--surely such a place presents an opportunity for the true Church
of Christ to do some splendid work. I hope I do not over-estimate the
needs of the place. I have known the general condition of things in
Milton ever since you and I did our summer work in the neighboring town
of Clifton. If ever there was missionary ground in America, it is there.
I cannot understand just why the call comes to me to go to a place and
take up work that, in many ways, is so distasteful to me. In one sense I
shrink from it with a sensitiveness which no one except my wife and you
could understand. You know what an almost ridiculous excess of
sensibility I have. It seems sometimes impossible for me to do the work
that the active ministry of this age demands of a man. It almost kills
me to know that I am criticised for all that I say and do. And yet I
know that the ministry will always be the target for criticism. I have
an almost morbid shrinking from the thought that people do not like me,
that I am not loved by everybody, and yet I know that if I speak the
truth in my preaching and speak it without regard to consequences some
one is sure to become offended, and in the end dislike me. I think God
never made a man with so intense a craving for the love of his
fellow-men as I possess. And yet I am conscious that I cannot make
myself understood by very many people. They will always say, "How cold
and unapproachable he is." When in reality I love them with yearnings of
heart. Now, then, I am going to Milton with all this complex thought of
myself, and yet, dear chum, there is not the least doubt after all that
I ought to go. I hope that in the rush of the work there I shall be able
to forget myself. And then the work will stand out prominent as it
ought. With all my doubts of myself, I never question the wisdom of
entering the ministry. I have a very positive assurance as I work that I
am doing what I ought to do. And what can a man ask more? I am not
dissatisfied with the ministry, only with my own action within it. It is
the noblest of all professions; I feel proud of it every day. Only, it
is so great that it makes a man feel small when he steps inside.

Well, my wife is calling me down to tea. Let me know what you do. We
shall move to Milton next week, probably, so, if you write, direct
there. As ever, your old chum,     PHILIP STRONG.

It was characteristic of Philip that in this letter he said nothing
about his call to Elmdale, and did not tell his college chum what salary
was offered him by the church at Milton. As a matter of fact he really
forgot all about everything, except the one important event of his
decision to go to Milton. He regarded it, and rightly so, as the most
serious step of his life; and while he had apparently decided the matter
very quickly, it was, in reality, the result of a deep conviction that
he ought to go. He was in the habit of making his decisions rapidly.
This habit sometimes led him into embarrassing mistakes, and once in a
great while resulted in humiliating reversals of opinion, so that people
who did not know him thought he was fickle and changeable. In the
present case, Philip acted with his customary quickness, and knew very
well that his action was unalterable.



CHAPTER II.


Within a week, Philip Strong had moved to Milton, as the church wished
him to occupy the pulpit at once. The parsonage was a well-planned house
next the church, and his wife soon made everything look very homelike.
The first Sunday evening after Philip preached in Milton, for the first
time, he chatted with his wife over the events of the day as they sat
before a cheerful open fire in the large grate. It was late in the fall
and the nights were sharp and frosty.

"Are you tired to-night, Philip?" asked his wife.

"Yes, the day has been rather trying. Did you think I was nervous? Did I
preach well?" Philip was not vain in the least. He simply put the
question to satisfy his own exacting demand on himself in preaching. And
there was not a person in the world to whom he would have put such a
question except his wife.

"No, I thought you did splendidly. I felt proud of you. You made some
queer gestures, and once you put one of your hands in your pocket. But
your sermons were both strong and effective; I am sure the people were
impressed. It was very still at both services."

Philip was silent a moment. And his wife went on.

"I am sure we shall like it here, Philip; what do you think?"

"I cannot tell yet. There is very much to do."

"How do you like the church building?"

"It is an easy audience room for my voice. I don't like the arrangement
of the choir over the front door. I think the choir ought to be down on
the platform in front of the people, by the side of the minister."

"That's one of your hobbies, Philip. But the singing was good, didn't
you think so?"

"Yes, the choir is a good one. The congregation didn't seem to sing
much, and I believe in Congregational singing, even when there is a
choir. But we can bring that about in time, I think."

"Now, Philip," said his wife, in some alarm, "you are not going to
meddle with the singing, are you? It will get you into trouble. There is
a musical committee in the church, and such committees are very
sensitive about any interference."

"Well," said Philip, rousing up a little, "the singing is a very
important part of the service. And it seems to me I ought to have
something important to say about it. But you need not fear, Sarah. I'm
not going to try to change everything all at once."

His wife looked at him a little anxiously. She had perfect faith in
Philip's honesty of purpose, but she sometimes had a fear of his
impetuous desire to reform the world. After a little pause she spoke
again, changing the subject.

"What did you think of the congregation, Philip?"

"I enjoyed it. I thought it was very attentive. There was a larger
number out this evening than I had expected."

"Did you like the looks of the people?"

"They were all very nicely dressed."

"Now, Philip, you know that isn't what I mean. Did you like the people's
faces?"

"You know I like all sorts and conditions of men."

"Yes, but there are audiences, and audiences. Do you think you will
enjoy preaching to this one in Calvary Church?"

"I think I shall," replied Philip, but he said it in a tone that might
have meant a great deal more. Again there was silence, and again the
minister's wife was the first to break it.

"There was a place in your sermon to-night, Philip, where you appeared
the least bit embarrassed; as you seem sometimes at home, when you have
some writing or some newspaper article on your mind, and some one
suddenly interrupts you with a question a good way from your thoughts.
What was the matter? Did you forget a point?"

"No, I'll tell you. From where I stand on the pulpit platform, I can see
through one of the windows over the front door. There is a large
electric lamp burning outside, and the light fell directly on the
sidewalk, across the street. From time to time groups of people went
through that band of light. Of course I could not see their faces very
well, but I soon found out that they were mostly the young men and women
operatives of the mills. They were out strolling through the street,
which, I am told, is a favorite promenade with them. I should think as
many as two hundred passed by the church while I was preaching. Well,
after awhile I began to ask myself whether there was any possible way of
getting those young people to come into the church instead of strolling
past? And then I looked at the people in front of me, and saw how
different they were from those outside, and wondered if it wouldn't be
better to close up the church and go and preach on the street where the
people are. And so, carrying on all that questioning with myself, while
I tried to preach, causing a little 'embarrassment,' as you kindly call
it, in the sermon."

"I should think so! But how do you know, Philip, that those people
outside were in any need of your preaching?"

Philip appeared surprised at the question. He looked at his wife, and
her face was serious.

"Why, doesn't everybody need preaching? They may not stand in need of my
preaching, perhaps, but they ought to have some preaching. And I cannot
help thinking of what is the duty of the church in this place to the
great crowd outside. Something ought to be done."

"Philip, I am sure your work here will be blessed, don't you think so?"

"I know it will," replied Philip, with the assurance of a very positive
but spiritually-minded man. He never thought his Master was honored by
asking him for small things, or doubting the power of Christianity to do
great things.

And always when he said "I," he simply meant, not Philip Strong, but
Christ in Philip Strong. To deny the power and worth of that incarnation
was, to his mind, not humility, but treason.

The Sunday following, Philip made this announcement to the people:--

"Beginning with next Sunday morning, I shall give the first of a series
of monthly talks on Christ and Modern Society. It will be my object in
these talks to suppose Christ Himself as the one speaking to modern
society on its sins, its needs, its opportunities, its responsibilities,
its every-day life. I shall try to be entirely loving and just and
courageous in giving what I believe Christ Himself would give you, if He
were the pastor of Calvary Church in Milton to-day. So, during these
talks, I wish you would, with me, try to see if you think Christ would
actually say what I shall say in His place. If Christ were in Milton
to-day, I believe He would speak to us about a good many things in
Milton, and He would speak very plainly, and in many cases He might seem
to be severe. But it would be for our good. Of course I am but human in
my weakness. I shall make mistakes. I shall probably say things Christ
would not say. But always going to the source of all true help, the
Spirit of Truth, I shall, as best a man may, speak as I truly believe
Christ would if he were your pastor. These talks will be given on the
first Sunday of every month. I cannot announce the subjects, for they
will be chosen as the opportunities arise."

During the week Philip spent several hours of each day in learning the
facts concerning the town. One of the first things he did was to buy an
accurate map of the place. He hung it up on the wall of his study, and
in after days found occasion to make good use of it. He spent his
afternoons walking over the town. He noted with special interest and
earnestness the great brick mills by the river, five enormous structures
with immense chimneys, out of which poured great volumes of smoke.
Something about the mills fascinated him. They seemed like monsters of
some sort, grim, unfeeling, but terrible. As one walked by them he
seemed to feel the throbbing of the hearts of live creatures. The
unpainted tenements, ugly in their unfailing similarity, affected Philip
with a sense of almost anger. He had a keen and truthful taste in
matters of architecture, and those boxes of houses offended every
artistic and home-like feeling in him. Coming home one day past the
tenements he found himself in an unknown street, and for the curiosity
of it he undertook to count the saloons on the street in one block.
There were over twelve. There was a policeman on the corner as Philip
reached the crossing, and he inquired of the officer if he could tell
him who owned the property in the block containing the saloons.

"I believe most of the houses belong to Mr. Winter, sir."

"Mr. William Winter?" asked Philip.

"Yes, I think that's his name. He is the largest owner in the Ocean Mill
yonder."

Philip thanked the man and went on toward home. "William Winter!" he
exclaimed. "Is it possible that man will accept a revenue from the
renting of his property to these vestibules of hell? That man! One of
the leading members in my church! Chairman of the board of trustees and
a leading citizen of the place! It does not seem possible!"

But before the week was out Philip had discovered facts that made his
heart burn with shame and his mind rouse with indignation. Property in
the town which was being used for saloons, gambling-houses, and dens of
wickedness, was owned in large part by several of the most prominent
members of his church. There was no doubt of the fact. Philip, whose
very nature was frankness itself, resolved to go to these men and have a
plain talk with them about it. It seemed to him like a monstrous evil
that a Christian believer, a church-member, should be renting his
property to these dens of vice, and taking the money. He called on Mr.
Winter; but he was out of town and would not be back until Saturday
night. He went to see another member who was a large owner in one of the
mills, and a heavy property owner. It was not a pleasant thing to do,
but Philip boldly stated the precise reason for his call, and asked his
member if it was true that he rented several houses in a certain block
where saloons and gambling-houses were numerous. The man looked at
Philip, turned red, and finally said it was a fact, but none of Philip's
business.

"My dear brother," said Philip, with a sad but winning smile, "you
cannot imagine what it costs me to come to you about this matter. In one
sense, it may seem to you like an impertinent meddling in your business.
In another sense, it is only what I ought to do as pastor of a church
which is dearer to me than my life. And I have come to you as a brother
in Christ to ask you if it seems to you like a thing which Christ would
approve that you, His disciple, should allow the property which has come
into your hands that you may use it for His glory and the building up of
His kingdom, to be used by the agents of the devil while you reap the
financial benefit. Is it right, my brother?"

The man to whom the question was put made the usual excuses, that if he
did not rent to these people, other men would, that there was no call
for the property by other parties, and if it were not rented to
objectionable people it would lie empty at a dead loss, and so forth. To
all of which Philip opposed the plain will of God, that all a man has
should be used in clean and honest ways, and He could never sanction the
getting of money through such immoral channels. The man was finally
induced to acknowledge that it was not just the right thing to do, and
especially for a church-member. But, when Philip pressed him to give up
the whole iniquitous revenue, and clear himself of all connection with
it, the property owner looked aghast.

"Why, Mr. Strong, do you know what you ask? Two-thirds of the most
regular part of my income is derived from these rents. It is out of the
question for me to give them up. You are too nice in the matter. All the
property owners in Milton do the same thing. There isn't a man of any
means in the church who isn't deriving some revenue from this source.
Why, a large part of your salary is paid from these very rents. You will
get into trouble if you try to meddle in this matter. I don't take
offense. I think you have done your duty. And I confess it doesn't seem
exactly the thing. But, as society is organized, I don't see as we can
change the matter. Better not try to do anything about it, Mr. Strong.
The church likes you, and will stand by in giving you a handsome
support; but men are very touchy when their private business is meddled
with."

Philip sat listening to this speech, and his face grew whiter and he
clenched his hands tighter as the man went on. When he had finished,
Philip spoke in a low voice:

"Mr. Bentley, you do not know me, if you think any fear of the
consequences will prevent my speaking to the members of my church on any
matter where it seems to me I ought to speak. In this particular matter,
I believe it is not only my right, but my duty to speak. I would be
shamed before my Lord and Master if I did not declare His will in regard
to the uses of property. This question passes over from one of private
business, with which I have no right to meddle, into the domain of
public safety, where I have a right to demand that places which are
fatal to the life and morals of the young men and women of the town,
shall not be encouraged and allowed to subsist through the use of
property owned and controlled by men of influence in the community, and
especially by the members of Christ's body. My brother," Philip went on,
after a painful pause, "before God, in whose presence we shall stand at
last, am I not right in my view of this matter? Would not Christ say to
you just what I am now saying?"

Mr. Bentley shrugged his shoulders and said something about not trying
to mix up business and religion. Philip sat looking at the man, reading
him through and through, his heart almost bursting in him at the thought
of what a man would do for the sake of money. At last he saw that he
would gain nothing by prolonging the argument. He rose, and with the
same sweet frankness which characterized his opening of the subject, he
said, "Brother, I wish to tell you that it is my intention to speak of
this matter next Sunday, in the first of my talks on Christ and Modern
Society. I believe it is something he would talk about in public, and I
will speak of it as I think he would."

"You must do your duty, of course, Mr. Strong," replied Mr. Bentley,
somewhat coldly; and Philip went out, feeling as if he had grappled with
his first dragon in Milton, and found him to be a very ugly one and hard
to kill. What hurt him as much as the lack of spiritual fineness of
apprehension of evil in his church-member, was the knowledge that, as
Mr. Bentley so coarsely put it, his salary was largely paid out of the
rentals of those vile abodes. He grew sick at heart as he dwelt upon the
disagreeable fact; and as he came back to the parsonage and went up to
his cosey study, he groaned to think that it was possible through the
price that men paid for souls.

"And this, because society is as it is!" he exclaimed, as he buried his
face in his hands and leaned his elbows on his desk, while his cheeks
flushed and his heart quivered at the thought of the filth and vileness
the money had seen and heard which paid for the very desk at which he
wrote his sermons.

But Philip Strong was not one to give way at the first feeling of
seeming defeat. He did not too harshly condemn his members. He wondered
at their lack of spiritual life; but, to his credit be it said, he did
not harshly condemn. Only, as Sunday approached, he grew more clear in
his own mind as to his duty in the matter. Expediency whispered to him,
"Better wait. You have only just come here. The people like you now. It
will only cause unpleasant feelings and do no good for you to launch out
into a crusade against this thing right now. There are so many of your
members involved that it will certainly alienate their support, and
possibly lead to your being compelled to lose your place as pastor, if
it do not drive away the most influential members."

To all this plea of expediency Philip replied, "Get thee behind me,
Satan!" He said with himself, he might as well let the people know what
he was at the very first. It was not necessary that he should be their
pastor, if they would none of him. It was necessary that he preach the
truth boldly. The one question he asked himself was, "Would Jesus
Christ, if he were pastor of Cavalry[sic] Church in Milton to-day, speak
of the matter next Sunday, and speak regardless of all consequences?"
Philip asked the question honestly; and, after long prayer and much
communion with the Divine, he said, "Yes, I believe he would." It is
possible that he might have gained by waiting or by working with his
members in private. Another man might have pursued that method, and
still have been a courageous, true minister. But this is the story of
Philip Strong, not of another man, and this is what he did.

When Sunday morning came, he went into his pulpit with the one thought
in mind, that he would simply and frankly, in his presentation of the
subject, use the language and the spirit of his Master. He had seen
other property owners during the week, and his interviews were nearly
all similar to the one with Mr. Bentley. He had not been able to see Mr.
William Winter, the chairman of the trustees, as he had not returned
home until very late Saturday night. Philip saw him come into the church
that morning, just as the choir rose to sing the anthem. He was a large,
fine-looking man. Philip admired his physical appearance as he marched
down the aisle to his pew, which was the third from the front, directly
before the pulpit.

When the hymn had been sung, the offering taken, the prayer made, Philip
stepped out at one side of the pulpit and reminded the congregation
that, according to his announcement of a week before, he would give the
first of his series of monthly talks on Christ and Modern Society. His
subject this morning, he said, was "The Right and Wrong Uses of
Property."

He started out with the statement, which he claimed was verified
everywhere in the word of God, that all property that men acquire is
really only in the nature of trust funds, which the property holder is
in duty bound to use as a steward. The gold is God's. The silver is
God's. The cattle on a thousand hills. All land and water privileges and
wealth of the earth and of the seas belong primarily to the Lord of all
the earth. When any of this property comes within the control of a man,
he is not at liberty to use it as if it were his own, and his alone, but
as God would have him use it, to better the condition of life, and make
men and communities happier and more useful.

From this statement Philip went on to speak of the common idea which men
had, that wealth and houses and lands were their own, to do with as they
pleased; and he showed what misery and trouble had always flowed out of
this great falsehood, and how nations and individuals were to-day in the
greatest distress, because of the wrong uses to which God's property was
put by men who had control of it. It was easy then to narrow the
argument to the condition of affairs in Milton. As he stepped from the
general to the particular, and began to speak of the rental of saloons
and houses of gambling from property owners in Milton, and then
characterized such a use of God's property as wrong and unchristian, it
was curious to note the effect on the congregation. Men who had been
listening complacently to Philip's eloquent but quiet statements, as
long as he confined himself to distant historical facts, suddenly became
aware that the tall, palefaced, resolute and loving young preacher up
there was talking right at them; and more than one mill-owner, merchant,
real estate dealer, and even professional man, writhed inwardlly[sic],
and nervously shifted in his cushioned pew, as Philip spoke in the
plainest terms of the terrible example set the world by the use of
property for purposes which were destructive to all true society, and a
shame to civilization and Christianity. Philip controlled his voice and
his manner admirably, but he drove the truth home and spared not. His
voice at no time rose above a quiet conversational tone, but it was
clear and distinct. The audience sat hushed in the spell of a genuine
sensation, which deepened when, at the close of a tremendous sentence,
which swept through the church like a red-hot flame, Mr. Winter suddenly
arose in his pew, passed out into the aisle, and marched deliberately
down and out of the door. Philip saw him and knew the reason, but
marched straight on with his message, and no one, not even his anxious
wife, who endured martyrdom for him that morning, could detect any
disturbance in Philip from the mill-owner's contemptuous withdrawal.

When Philip closed with a prayer of tender appeal that the Spirit of
Truth would make all hearts to behold the truth as one soul, the
audience remained seated longer than usual, still under the influence of
the subject and the morning's sensational service. All through the day
Philip felt a certain strain on him, which did not subside even when the
evening service was over. Some of the members, notably several of the
mothers, thanked him, with tears in their eyes, for his morning message.
Very few of the men talked with him. Mr. Winter did not come out to the
evening service, although he was one of the very few men members who
were invariably present. Philip noted his absence, but preached with his
usual enthusiasm. He thought a larger number of strangers was present
than he had seen the Sunday before. He was very tired when the day was
over.

The next morning, as he was getting ready to go out for a visit to one
of the mills, the bell rang. He was near the door and opened it. There
stood Mr. Winter. "I would like to see you a few moments, Mr. Strong, if
you can spare the time," said the mill-owner, without offering to take
the hand Philip extended.

"Certainly. Will you come up to my study?" asked Philip, quietly.

The two men went upstairs, and Philip shut the door, as he motioned Mr.
Winter to a seat, and then sat down opposite.



CHAPTER III.


"I have come to see you about your sermon of yesterday morning," began
Mr. Winter, abruptly. "I consider what you said was a direct insult to
me personally."

"Suppose I should say it was not so intended," replied Philip, with a
good-natured smile.

"Then I should say you lied!" replied Mr. Winter, sharply.

Philip sat very still. And the two men eyed each other in silence for a
moment. The minister reached out his hand, and laid it on the other's
arm, saying as he did so, "My brother, you certainly did not come into
my house to accuse me unjustly of wronging you? I am willing to talk the
matter over in a friendly spirit, but I will not listen to personal
abuse."

There was something in the tone and manner of this declaration that
subdued the mill-owner a little. He was an older man than Philip by
twenty years, but a man of quick and ungoverned temper. He had come to
see the minister while in a heat of passion, and the way Philip received
him, the calmness and dignity of his attitude, thwarted his purpose. He
wanted to find a man ready to quarrel. Instead he found a man ready to
talk reason. Mr. Winter replied, after a pause, during which he
controlled himself by a great effort:

"I consider that you purposely selected me as guilty of conduct unworthy
a church-member and a Christian, and made me the target of your remarks
yesterday. And I wish to say that such preaching will never do in
Calvary Church while I am one of its members."

"Of course you refer to the matter of renting your property to saloon
men and to halls for gambling and other evil uses," said Philip,
bluntly. "Are you the only member of Calvary Church who lets his
property for such purposes?"

"It is not a preacher's business to pry into the affairs of his
church-members!" replied Mr. Winter, growing more excited again. "That
is what I object to."

"In the first place, Mr. Winter," said Philip, steadily, "let us settle
the right and wrongs of the whole business. Is it right for a Christian
man, a church-member, to rent his property for saloons and vicious
resorts, where human life is ruined?"

"That is not the question."

"What is?" Philip asked, with his eyes wide open to the other's face.

Mr. Winter answered sullenly: "The question is whether our business
affairs, those of other men with me, are to be dragged into the Sunday
church-services, and made the occasion of personal attacks upon us. I
for one will not sit and listen to any such preaching."

"But aside from the matter of private business, Mr. Winter, let us
settle whether what you and others are doing is right. Will you let the
other matter rest a moment, and tell me what is the duty of a Christian
in the use of his property?"

"It is my property, and if I or my agent choose to rent it to another
man in a legal, business way, that is my affair. I do not recognize that
you have anything to do with it."

"Not if I am convinced that you are doing what is harmful to the
community and to the church?"

"You have no business to meddle in our private affairs!" replied Mr.
Winter, angrily. "And if you intend to pursue that method of preaching,
I shall withdraw my support, and most of the influential, paying members
will follow my example."

It was a cowardly threat on the part of the excited mill-owner, and it
roused Philip more than if he had been physically slapped in the face.
If there was anything in all the world that stirred Philip to his
oceanic depths of feeling, it was an intimation that he was in the
ministry for pay or the salary, and so must be afraid of losing the
support of those members who were able to pay largely. He clenched his
fingers around the arms of his study-chair until his nails bent on the
hard wood. His scorn and indignation burned in his face, although his
voice was calm enough.

"Mr. Winter, this whole affair is a matter of the most profound
principle with me. As long as I live I shall believe that a Christian
man has no more right to rent his property for a saloon than he has to
run a saloon himself. And as long as I live I shall also believe that it
is a minister's duty to preach to his church plainly upon matters which
bear upon the right and wrong of life, no matter what is involved in
those matters. Are money and houses and lands of such a character that
the use of them has no bearing on moral questions, and they are
therefore to be left out of the preaching material of the pulpit? It is
my conviction that many men of property in this age are coming to regard
their business as separate and removed from God and all relation to Him.
The business men of to-day do not regard their property as God's. They
always speak of it as theirs. And they resent any 'interference,' as you
call it, on the part of the pulpit. Nevertheless, I say it plainly, I
regard the renting of these houses by you, and other business men in the
church, to the whisky men and the corrupters of youth as wholly wrong,
and so wrong that the Christian minister who would keep silent when he
knew the facts would be guilty of unspeakable cowardice and disloyalty
to his Lord. As to your threat of withdrawal of support, sir, do you
suppose I would be in the ministry if I were afraid of the rich men in
my congregation? It shows that you are not yet acquainted with me. It
would not hurt you to know me better!"

All the time Philip was talking, his manner was that of dignified
indignation. His anger was never coarse or vulgar. But when he was
roused as he was now he spoke with a total disregard for all coming
consequences. For the time being he felt as perhaps one of the old
Hebrew prophets used to feel when the flame of inspired wrath burned up
in the soul of the messenger of God.

The man who sat opposite was compelled to keep silent until Philip had
said what he had to say. It was impossible for him to interrupt. Also it
was out of the question that a man like Mr. Winter should understand a
nature like that of Philip Strong. The mill-owner sprang to his feet as
soon as Philip finished. He was white to the lips with passion, and so
excited that his hands trembled and his voice shook as he replied to
Philip:

"You shall answer for these insults, sir. I withdraw my church pledge,
and you will see whether the business men in the church will sustain
such preaching." And Mr. Winter flung himself out of the study and
downstairs, forgetting to take his hat, which he had carried up with
him. Philip caught it up and went downstairs with it, reaching him just
as he was going out of the front door. He said simply, "You forgot your
hat, sir." Mr. Winter took it without a word and went out, slamming the
door hard behind him.

Philip turned around, and there stood his wife. Her face was very
anxious.

"Tell me all about it, Philip," she said. Sunday evening they had talked
over the fact of Mr. Winter's walking out of the church during the
service, and had anticipated some trouble. Philip related the facts of
Mr. Winter's visit, telling his wife some things the mill-owner had
said.

"What did you say, Philip, to make him so angry? Did you give him a
piece of your mind?"

"I gave him the whole of it," replied Philip, somewhat grimly--"at least
all of it on that particular subject that he could stand."

"Oh, dear! It seems too bad to have this trouble come so soon! What will
Mr. Winter do? He is very wealthy and influential. Do you think--are you
sure that in this matter you have done just right, just for the best,
Philip? It is going to be very unpleasant for you."

"Well, Sarah, I would not do differently from what I have done. What
have I done? I have simply preached God's truth, as I plainly see it, to
my church. And if I do not do that, what business have I in the ministry
at all? I regret this personal encounter with Mr. Winter; but I don't
see how I could avoid it."

"Did you lose your temper?"

"No."

"There was some very loud talking. I could hear it away out in the
kitchen."

"Well, you know, Sarah, the more indignant I get the less inclined I
feel to 'holler.' It was Mr. Winter you heard. He was very much excited
when he came, and nothing that I could conscientiously say would have
made any difference with him."

"Did you ask him to pray over the matter with you?"

"No. I do not think he was in a praying mood."

"Were you?"

Philip hesitated a moment, and then replied seriously: "Yes, I truly
believe I was--that is, I should not have been ashamed at any part of
the interview to put myself into loving communion with my Heavenly
Father."

Mrs. Strong still looked disturbed and anxious. She was going over in
her mind the probable result of Mr. Winter's antagonism to the minister.
It looked to her like a very serious thing. Philip was inclined to treat
the affair with calm philosophy, based on the knowledge that his
conscience was clear of all fault in the matter.

"What do you suppose Mr. Winter will do?" Mrs. Strong asked.

"He threatened to withdraw his financial support, and said other paying
members would do the same."

"Do you think they will?"

"I don't know. I shouldn't wonder if they do."

"What will you do then? It will be dreadful to have a disturbance in the
church of this kind, Philip; it will ruin your prospects here. You will
not be able to work under all that friction."

And the minister's wife suddenly broke down and had a good cry; while
Philip comforted her, first by saying two or three funny things, and
secondly by asserting, with a positive cheerfulness which was peculiar
to him when he was hard pressed, that, even if the church withdrew all
support, he (Philip) could probably get a job somewhere on a railroad,
or in a hotel, where there was always a demand for porters who could
walk up several flights of stairs with a good-sized trunk.

"Sometimes I almost think I missed my calling," said Philip, purposely
talking about himself in order to make his wife come to the defense. "I
ought to have been a locomotive fireman."

"The idea, Philip Strong! A man who has the gift of reaching people with
preaching the way you do!"

"The way I reach Mr. Winter, for example!"

"Yes," said his wife, "the way you reach him. Why, the very fact that
you made such a man angry is pretty good proof that you reached him.
Such men are not touched by any ordinary preaching."

"So you really think I have a little gift at preaching?" asked Philip,
slyly.

"A little gift! It is a great deal more than a little, Philip."

"Aren't you a little prejudiced, Sarah?"

"No, sir. I am the severest critic you ever have in the congregation. If
you only knew how nervous you sometimes make me!--when you get started
on some exciting passage and make a gesture that would throw a stone
image into a fit, and then begin to speak of something in a different
way, like another person, and the first I know I am caught up and hurled
into the subject, and forget all about you."

"Thank you," said Philip.

"What for?" asked his wife, laughing. "For forgetting you?"

"I would rather be forgotten by you than remembered by any one else,"
replied Philip, gallantly. "And you are such a delightful little
flatterer that I feel courage for anything that may happen."

"It's not flattery; it's truth, Philip. I do believe in you and your
work; and I am only anxious that you should succeed here. I can't bear
to think of trouble in the church. It would almost kill me to go through
such times as we sometimes read about."

"We must leave results to God. I am sure we are not responsible for more
than our utmost doing and living of necessary truth." Philip spoke
courageously.

"Then you don't feel disheartened by this morning's work?"

"No, I don't know that I do. I'm very sensitive, and I feel hurt at Mr.
Winter's threat of withdrawing his support; but I don't feel
disheartened for the work. Why should I? Am I not doing my best?"

"I believe you are. Only, dear Philip, be wise. Do not try to reform
everything in a week, or expect people to grow their wings before they
have started even pin-feathers. It isn't natural."

"Well, I won't," replied Philip, with a laugh. "Better trim your wings,
Sarah; they're dragging on the floor."

He hunted up his hat, which was one of the things Philip could never
find twice in the same place, kissed his wife, and went out to make the
visit at the mill which he was getting ready to make when Mr. Winter
called.

To his surprise, when he went down through the business part of the
town, he discovered that his sermon of Sunday had roused almost every
one. People were talking about it on the street--an almost unheard-of
thing in Milton. When the evening paper came out it described in
sensational paragraphs the Reverend Mr. Strong's attack on the wealthy
sinners of his own church, and went on to say that the church "was very
much wrought up over the sermon, and would probably make it
uncomfortable for the reverend gentleman." Philip wondered, as he read,
at the unusual stir made because a preacher of Christ had denounced an
undoubted evil.

"Is it, then," he asked himself, "such a remarkable piece of news that a
minister of the gospel has preached from his own pulpit against what is
without question an unchristian use of property? What is the meaning of
the church in society unless it is just that? Is it possible that the
public is so little accustomed to hear anything on this subject that
when they do hear it it is in the nature of sensational news?"

He pondered over these questions as he quietly but rapidly went along
with his work. He was conscious as the days went on that trouble was
brewing for him. This hurt him in a way hard to explain; but his
sensitive spirit felt the cut like a lash on a sore place.

When Sunday came he went into his pulpit and faced the largest audience
he had yet seen in Calvary Church. As is often the case, people who had
heard of his previous sermon on Sunday thought he would preach another
like it again. Instead of that he preached a sermon on the love of God
for the world. In one way the large audience was disappointed. It had
come to have its love of sensation fed, and Philip had not given it
anything of the kind. In another way it was profoundly moved by the
power and sweetness of Philip's unfolding of the great subject. Men who
had not been inside of a church for years went away thoughtfully
impressed with the old truth of God's love, and asked themselves what
they had done to deserve it--the very thing that Philip wanted them to
ask. The property owners in the church who had felt offended by Philip's
sermon of the Sunday before went away from the service acknowledging
that the new pastor was an eloquent preacher and a man of large gifts.
In the evening Philip preached again from the same theme, using it in an
entirely different way. His audience nearly filled the church, and was
evidently deeply impressed.

In spite of all this, Philip felt that a certain element in the church
had arrayed itself against him. Mr. Winter did not appear at either
service. There were certain other absences on the part of men who had
been constant attendants on the Sunday services. He felt, without
hearing it, that a great deal was being said in opposition to him; but,
with the burden of it beginning to wear a little on him, he saw nothing
better to do than to go on with his work as if nothing unusual had taken
place.



CHAPTER IV.


Pursuing the plan he had originally mapped out when he came to Milton,
he spent much of his time in the afternoons studying the social and
civic life of the town. As the first Sunday of the next month drew near,
when he was to speak again on the attitude of Christ to some aspect of
modern society, he determined to select the saloon as one of the
prominent features of modern life that would naturally be noticed by
Christ, and doubtless be denounced by him as a great evil.

In his study of the saloon question he did a thing which he had never
done before, and then only after very much deliberation and prayer. He
went into the saloons themselves on different occasions. He had never
done such a thing before. He wanted to know from actual knowledge what
sort of places the saloons were. What he saw after a dozen visits to as
many different groggeries added fuel to the flame of indignation that
burned already hot in him. The sight of the vast army of men turning
into beasts in these dens created in him a loathing and a hatred of the
whole iniquitous institution that language failed to express. He
wondered with unspeakable astonishment in his soul that a civilized
community in the nineteenth century would tolerate for one moment the
public sale of an article that led, on the confession of society
itself, to countless crimes against the law of the land and of God. His
indignant astonishment deepened yet more, if that were possible, when he
found that the license of five hundred dollars a year for each saloon
was used by the town to support the public school system. That, to
Philip's mind, was an awful sarcasm on Christian civilization. It seemed
to him like selling a man poison according to law, and then taking the
money from the sale to help the widow to purchase mourning. It was full
as ghastly as that would be.

He went to see some of the other ministers, hoping to unite them in a
combined attack on the saloon power. It seemed to him that, if the
Church as a whole entered the crusade against the saloon, it could be
driven out even from Milton, where it had been so long established. To
his surprise he found the other churches unwilling to unite in a public
battle against the whisky men. Several of the ministers openly defended
license as the only practicable method of dealing with the saloon. All
of them confessed it was evil, and only evil, but under the
circumstances thought it would do little good to agitate the subject.
Philip came away from several interviews with the ministers, sad and
sick at heart.

He approached several of the prominent men in the town, hoping to enlist
some of them in the fight against the rum power. Here he met with an
unexpected opposition, coming in a form he had not anticipated. One
prominent citizen said:

"Mr. Strong, you will ruin your chances here if you attack the saloons
in this savage manner; and I'll tell you why: The whisky men hold a
tremendous influence in Milton in the matter of political power. The
city election comes off the middle of next month. The men up for office
are dependent for election on the votes of the saloon men and their
following. You will cut your head off sure if you come out against them
in public. Why, there's Mr. ----, and so on (he named half a dozen men)
in your church who are up for office in the coming election. They can't
be elected without the votes of the rummies, and they know it. Better
steer clear of it, Mr. Strong. The saloon has been a regular thing in
Milton for over fifty years; it is as much a part of the town as the
churches or schools; and I tell you it is a power!"

"What!" cried Philip, in unbounded astonishment, "do you tell me, you, a
leading citizen of this town of 50,000 infinite souls, that the saloon
power has its grip to this extent on the civic and social life of the
place, and you are willing to sit down and let this devil of crime and
ruin throttle you, and not raise a finger to expel the monster? Is it
possible! It is not Christian America that such a state of affairs in
our political life should be endured!"

"Nevertheless," replied the business man, "these are the facts. And you
will simply dash your own life out against a wall of solid rock if you
try to fight this evil. You have my warning."

"May I not also have your help!" cried Philip, hungry of soul for
companionship in the struggle which he saw was coming.

"It would ruin my business to come out against the saloon," replied the
man, frankly.

"And what is that?" cried Philip, earnestly. "It has already ruined far
more than ought to be dear to you. Man, man, what are money and business
compared with your own flesh and blood? Do you know where your own son
was two nights ago? In one of the vilest of the vile holes in this city,
where you, a father, license to another man to destroy the life of your
own child! I saw him there myself; and my heart ached for him and you.
It is the necessary truth. Will you not join with me to wipe out this
curse in society?"

The merchant trembled and his lips quivered at mention of his son, but
he replied:

"I cannot do what you want, Mr. Strong. But you can count on my sympathy
if you make the fight." Philip finally went away, his soul tossed on a
wave of mountain proportions, and growing more and more crested with
foam and wrath as the first Sunday of the month drew near, and he
realized that the battle was one that he must wage single-handed in a
town of fifty thousand people.

He was not so destitute of support as he thought. There were many
mothers' hearts in Milton that had ached and prayed in agony long years
that the Almighty would come with his power and sweep the curse away.
But Philip had not been long enough in Milton to know the entire
sentiment of the people. He had so far touched only the Church, through
its representative pulpits, and a few of the leading business men, and
the result had been almost to convince him that very little help could be
expected from the public generally. He was appalled to find out what a
tremendous hold the whisky men had on the business and politics of the
place. It was a revelation to him of their power. The whole thing seemed
to him like a travesty of free government, and a terrible commentary on
the boasted Christianity of the century.

So when he walked into the pulpit the first Sunday of the month he felt
his message burning in his heart and on his lips as never before. It
seemed beyond all question that if Christ was pastor of Calvary Church
he would speak out in plain denunciation of the whisky power. And so,
after the opening part of the service, Philip rose to speak, facing an
immense audience that overflowed the galleries and invaded the choir and
even sat upon the pulpit platform. Such a crowd had never been seen in
Calvary Church before.

Philip had not announced his subject, but there was an expectation on
the part of many that he was going to denounce the saloon. In the two
months that he had been preaching in Milton he had attracted great
attention. His audience this morning represented a great many different
kinds of people. Some came out of curiosity. Others came because the
crowd was going that way. So it happened that Philip faced a truly
representative audience of Milton people. As his eye swept over the
house he saw four of the six members of his church who were up for
office at the coming election in two weeks.

For an hour Philip spoke as he had never spoken in all his life before.
His subject, the cause it represented, the immense audience, the entire
occasion caught him up in a genuine burst of eloquent fury, and his
sermon swept through the house like a prairie fire driven by a high
gale. At the close, he spoke of the power of the Church compared with
the saloon, and showed how easily it could win the victory against any
kind of evil if it were only united and determined.

"Men and women of Milton, fathers, mothers and citizens," he said, "this
evil is one which cannot be driven out unless the Christian people of
this place unite to condemn it and fight it, regardless of results. It
is too firmly established. It has its clutch on business, the municipal
life, and even the Church itself. It is a fact that the Church in Milton
have been afraid to take the right stand in this matter. Members of the
churches have become involved in the terrible entanglement of the
long-established rum-power, until to-day you witness a condition of
affairs which ought to stir the righteous indignation of every citizen
and father. What is it you are enduring? An institution which blasts
with its poisonous breath every soul that enters it, which ruins young
manhood, which kills more citizens in times of peace than the most
bloody war ever slew in times of revolution; an institution that has not
one good thing to commend it; an institution that is established for the
open and declared purpose of getting money from the people by the sale
of stuff that creates criminals; an institution that robs the honest
workingman of his savings, and looks with indifference on the tears of
the wife, the sobs of the mother; an institution that never gives one
cent of its enormous wealth to build churches, colleges, or homes for
the needy; an institution that has the brand of the murderer, the
harlot, the gambler burned into it with a brand of the Devil's own
forging in the furnace of his hottest hell--this institution so rules
and governs this town of Milton to-day that honest citizens tremble
before it, business men dare not oppose it for fear of losing money,
church-members fawn before it in order to gain place in politics, and
ministers of the gospel confront its hideous influence and say nothing!
It is high time we faced this monster of iniquity and drove it out of
the stronghold it has occupied so long.

"I wish you could have gone with me this past week and witnessed some of
the sights I have seen. No! I retract that statement. I would not wish
that any father or mother had had the heartache that I have felt as I
contemplated the ruins of young lives crumbling into the decay of
premature debility, mocking the manhood that God gave them, in the
intoxicating curse of debauchery. What have I seen? Oh ye fathers! O ye
mothers! Do you know what is going on in this place of sixty saloons
licensed by your own act and made legal by your own will? You, madam,
and you, sir, who have covenanted together in the fellowship and
discipleship of the purest institution of God on earth, who have sat
here in front of this pulpit and partaken of the emblems which remind
you of your Redeemer, where are your sons, your brothers, your lovers,
your friends? They are not here this morning. The Church does not have
any hold on them. They are growing up to disregard the duties of good
citizenship. They are walking down the broad avenue of destruction, and
what is this town doing to prevent it? I have seen young men from what
are called the best homes in this town reel in and out of gilded temples
of evil, oaths on their lips and passion in their looks, and the cry of
my soul has gone up to Almighty God that the Church and the Home might
combine their mighty force to drive the whisky demon out of our
municipal life so that we might feel the curse of it again nevermore.

"I speak to you to-day in the name of my Lord and Master. It is
impossible for me to believe that if that Christ of God were standing
here this morning he would advise the licensing of this corruption as
the most feasible or expedient method of dealing with it. I cannot
imagine him using the argument that the saloon must be licensed for the
revenue that may be gained from it to support the school system. I
cannot imagine Christ taking any other position before the whisky power
than that of uncompromising condemnation. He would say it was evil and
only evil, and therefore to be opposed by every legal and moral
restriction that society could rear against it. In his name, speaking
as I believe he would speak if he were here this moment, I solemnly
declare the necessity on the part of every disciple of Christ in every
church in Milton of placing himself decidedly and persistently and at
once in open battle against the saloon until it is destroyed, until its
power in business, politics, and society is a thing of the past, until
we have rid ourselves of the foul vapor which has so many years trailed
its slimy folds through our homes and our schools.

"Citizens, Christians, church-members, I call on you to-day to take up
arms against the common foe of that we hold dear in church, home, and
state. I know there are honest business men who have long writhed in
secret at the ignominy of the halter about their necks by which they
have been led. There are citizens who have the best interests of the
community at heart who have hung their heads in shame of American
politics, seeing this brutal whisky element dictating the government of
the towns, and parcelling out their patronage and managing their funds
and enormous stealings of the people's money. I know there are
church-members who have felt in their hearts the deep shame of bowing
the knee to this rum god in order to make advancement in political life.
And I call on all these to-day to rise with me and begin a fight against
the entire saloon business and whisky rule in Milton until by the help
of the Lord of hosts we have gotten us the victory. Men, women,
brothers, sisters in the great family of God on earth, will you sit
tamely down and worship the great beast of this country! Will you not
rather gird your swords upon your thighs and go out to battle against
this blasphemous Philistine who has defied the armies of the living God?
I have spoken my message. Let us ask the wisdom and power of the Divine
to help us."

Philip's prayer was almost painful in its intensity of feeling and
expression. The audience sat in deathly silence, and when he pronounced
the amen of the benediction it was several moments before any one
stirred to leave the church.

Philip went home completely exhausted. He had put into his sermon all of
himself and had called up all his reserve power--a thing he was not
often guilty of doing, and for which he condemned himself on this
occasion. But it was past, and he could not recall it. He was not
concerned as to the results of his sermon. He had long believed that if
he spoke the message God gave him he was not to grow anxious over the
outcome of it.

But the people of Milton were deeply stirred by the address. They were
not in the habit of hearing that kind of preaching. And what was more,
the whisky element was roused. It was not in the habit of having its
authority attacked in that bold, almost savage manner. For years its
sway had been undisturbed. It had insolently established itself in power
until even these citizens who knew its thoroughly evil character were
deceived into the belief that nothing better than licensing it was
possible. The idea that the saloon could be banished, removed, driven
out altogether, had never before been advocated in Milton. The
conviction that whether it could be it ought to be suppressed had never
gained ground with any number of people. They had endured it as a
necessary evil. Philip's sermon, therefore, fell something like a bomb
into the whisky camp. Before night the report of the sermon had spread
all over the town. The saloon men were enraged. Ordinarily they would
have paid no attention to anything a church or a preacher might say or
do. But Philip spoke from the pulpit of the largest church in Milton.
The whisky men knew that if the large churches should all unite to fight
them they would make it very uncomfortable for them and in the end
probably drive them out. Philip went home that Sunday night after the
evening service with several bitter enemies. The whisky men contributed
one element. Some of his own church-members made up another. He had
struck again at the same sore spot which he had wounded the month
before. In his attack on the saloon as an institution he had again
necessarily condemned all those members of his church who rented
property to the whisky element. Again, as a month ago, these property
holders went from the hearing of the sermon angry that they as well as
the saloon power were under indictment.

As Philip entered on the week's work after that eventful sermon he began
to feel the pressure of public feeling against him. He began to realize
the bitterness of championing a just cause alone. He felt the burden of
the community's sin in the matter, and more than once he felt obliged to
come in from his parish work and go up into his study there to commune
with his Father. He was growing old very fast in these first few weeks
in his new parish.

Tuesday evening of that week Philip had been writing a little while in
his study, where he had gone immediately after supper. It was nearly
eight o'clock when he happened to remember that he had promised a sick
child in the home of one of his parishioners that he would come and see
him that very day.

He came downstairs, put on his hat and overcoat, and told his wife where
he was going.

"It's not far. I shall be back in about half an hour, Sarah."

He went out, and his wife held the door open until he was down the
steps. She was just on the point of shutting the door as he started down
the sidewalk when a sharp report rang out close by. She screamed and
flung the door open again, as by the light of the street lamp she saw
Philip stagger and then leap into the street toward an elm-tree which
grew almost opposite the parsonage. When he was about in the middle of
the street she was horrified to see a man step out boldly from behind
the tree, raise a gun, and deliberately fire at Philip again. This time
Philip fell and did not rise. His tall form lay where the rays of the
street lamp shone on it and he had fallen so that as his arms stretched
out there he made the figure of a huge and prostrate cross.



CHAPTER V.


As people waked up in Milton the Wednesday morning after the shooting of
Philip Strong they grew conscious of the fact, as the news came to their
knowledge, that they had been nursing for fifty years one of the most
brutal and cowardly institutions on earth, and licensing it to do the
very thing which at last it had done. For the time being Milton suffered
a genuine shock. Long pent-up feeling against the whisky power burst
out, and public sentiment for once condemned the source of the cowardly
attempt to murder.

Various rumors were flying about. It was said that Mr. Strong had been
stabbed in the back while out making parish calls in company with his
wife, and that she had been wounded by a pistol-shot herself. It was
also said that he had been shot through the heart and instantly killed.
But all these confused reports were finally set at rest when those
calling at the parsonage brought away the exact truth.

The first shot fired by the man from behind the tree struck Philip in
the knee, but the ball glanced off. He felt the blow and staggered, but
his next impulse was to rush in the direction of the sound and disarm
his assailant. That was the reason he had leaped into the street. But
the second shot was better aimed and the bullet crashed into his upper
arm and shoulder, shattering the bone and producing an exceedingly
painful though not fatal wound.

The shock caused Philip to fall, and he fainted away, but not before the
face of the man who had shot him was clearly stamped on his mind. He
knew that he was one of the saloon proprietors whose establishment
Philip had visited the week before. He was a man with a harelip, and
there was no mistaking his countenance.

When the people of Milton learned that Philip was not fatally wounded
their excitement cooled a little. A wave of indignation, however, swept
over the town when it was learned that the would-be murderer was
recognized by the minister, and it was rumored that he had openly
threatened that he would "fix the cursed preacher so that he would not
be able to preach again."

Philip, however, felt more full of fight against the rum-devil than
ever. As he lay on the bed the morning after, the shooting he had
nothing to regret or fear. The surgeon had been called at once, as soon
as his wife and the alarmed neighbors had been able to carry him into
the parsonage. The ball had been removed and the wounds dressed. By noon
he had recovered somewhat from the effects of the operation and was
resting, although very weak from the shock and suffering considerable
pain.

"What is that stain on the floor, Sarah?" he asked as his wife came in
with some article for his comfort. Philip lay where he could see into
the other room.

"It is your blood, Philip," replied his wife, with a shudder. "It
dripped like a stream from your shoulder as we carried you in last
night. O Philip, it is dreadful! It seems to me like an awful nightmare.
Let us move away from this terrible place. You will be killed if we stay
here!"

"There isn't much danger if the rest of 'em are as poor shots as this
fellow," replied Philip. "Now, little woman," he went on cheerfully,
"don't worry. I don't believe they'll try it again."

Mrs. Strong controlled herself. She did not want to break down while
Philip was in his present condition.

"You must not talk," she said as she smoothed his hair back from the
pale forehead.

"That's pretty hard on a preacher, don't you think, Sarah? My occupation
is gone if I can't talk."

"Then I'll talk for two. They say that most women can do that."

"Will you preach for me next Sunday?"

"What, and make myself a target for saloon-keepers? No, thank you. I
have half a mind to forbid you ever preaching again. It will be the
death of you."

"It is the life of me, Sarah. I would not ask anything better than to
die with the armor on, fighting evil. Well, all right. I won't talk any
more. I suppose there's no objection to my thinking a little?"

"Thinking is the worst thing you can do. You just want to lie there and
do nothing but get well."

"All right. I'll quit everything except eating and sleeping. Put up a
little placard on the head of the bed saying, 'Biggest curiosity in
Milton! A live minister who has stopped thinking and talking! Admission
ten cents. Proceeds to be devoted to teach saloon-keepers how to shoot
straight.'" Philip was still somewhat under the influence of the
doctor's anaesthetic, and as he faintly murmured this absurd sentence he
fell into a slumber which lasted several hours, from which he awoke very
feeble, and realizing that he would be confined to the house some time,
but feeling in good spirits and thankful out of the depths of his
vigorous nature that he was still spared to do God's will on earth.

The next day he felt strong enough to receive a few visitors. Among them
was the chief of police, who came to inquire concerning the identity of
the man who had done the shooting. Philip showed some reluctance to
witness against his enemy. It was only when he remembered that he owed a
duty to society as well as to himself that he described the man and
related minutely the entire affair exactly as it occurred.

"Is the man in town?" asked Philip. "Has he not fled?"

"I think I know where he is," replied the officer. "He's in hiding, but
I can find him. In fact, we have been hunting for him since the
shooting. He is wanted on several other charges."

Philip was pondering something in silence. At last he said:

"When you have arrested him I wish you would bring him here if it can be
done without violating any ordinance or statute."

The officer stared at the request, and the minister's wife exclaimed:
"Philip, you will not have that man come into the house! Besides, you
are not well enough to endure a meeting with the wretch!"

"Sarah, I have a good reason for it. Really, I am well enough. You will
bring him, won't you? I do not wish to make any mistake in the matter.
Before the man is really confined under a criminal charge of attempt to
murder I would like to confront him here. There can be no objection to
that, can there?"

The officer finally promised that, if he could do so without attracting
too much attention, he would comply with the request. It was a thing he
had never done before; he was not quite easy in his mind about it.
Nevertheless, Philip exercised a winning influence over all sorts and
conditions of men, and he felt quite sure that, if the officer could
arrest his man quietly, he would bring him to the parsonage.

This was Thursday night. The next evening, just after dark, the bell
rang, and one of the church members who had been staying with Mr. Strong
during the day went to the door. There stood two men. One of them was
the chief of police. He inquired how the minister was, and said that he
had a man with him whom the minister was anxious to see.

Philip heard them talking, and guessed who they were. He sent his wife
out to have the men come in. The officer with his man came into the
bedroom where Philip lay, still weak and suffering, but at his request
propped up a little with pillows.

"Well, Mr. Strong, I have got the man, and here he is." said the
officer, wondering what Philip could want of him. "I ran him down in the
'crow's nest' below the mills, and we popped him into a hack and drove
right up here with him. And a pretty sweet specimen he is, I can tell
you! Take off your hat and let the gentleman have another look at the
brave chap who fired at him in ambush!"

The officer spoke almost brutally, forgetting for a moment that the
prisoner's hands were manacled; remembering it the next instant, he
pulled off the man's hat, while Philip looked calmly at the features.
Yes, it was the same hideous, brutal face, with the hare-lip, which had
shone up in the rays of the street-lamp that night; there was no
mistaking it for any other.

"Why did you want to kill me?" asked Philip, after a significant pause.
"I never did you any harm."

"I would like to kill all the cursed preachers," replied the man,
hoarsely.

"You confess, then, that you are the man who fired at me, do you?"

"I don't confess anything. What are you talking to me for? Take me to
the lock-up if you're going to!" the man exclaimed fiercely, turning to
the officer.

"Philip!" cried his wife, turning to him with a gesture of appeal, "send
them away. It will do no good to talk to this man."

Philip raised his hand in a gesture toward the man that made every one
in the room feel a little awed. The officer in speaking of it afterward
said: "I tell you, boys I never felt quite the same, except once, when
the old Catholic priest stepped up on the platform with old man Gower
time he was hanged at Millville. Somehow then I felt as if, when the
priest raised his hand and began to pray, maybe we might all be glad to
have some one pray for us if we get into a tight place."

Philip spoke directly to the man, whose look fell beneath that of the
minister.

"You know well enough that you are the man who shot me Tuesday night. I
know you are the man, for I saw your face very plainly by the light of
the street-lamp. Now, all that I wanted to see you here for before you
were taken to jail was to let you know that I do not bear any hatred
toward you. The thing you have done is against the law of God and man.
The injury you have inflicted upon me is very slight compared with that
against your own soul. Oh, my brother man, why should you try to harm me
because I denounced your business? Do you not know in your heart of
hearts that the saloon is so evil in its effects that a man who loves
his home and his country must speak out against it? And yet I love you;
that is possible because you are human. Oh, my Father!" Philip
continued, changing his appeal to the man, by an almost natural manner,
into a petition to the Infinite, "make this soul, dear to thee, to
behold thy love for him, and make him see that it is not against me, a
mere man, that he has sinned, but against thyself--against thy purity
and holiness and affection. Oh, my God, thou who didst come in the
likeness of sinful man to seek and save that which was lost, stretch out
the arms of thy salvation now to this child and save him from himself,
from his own disbelief, his hatred of me, or of what I have said. Thou
art all-merciful and all-loving. We leave all souls of men in the
protecting, enfolding embrace of thy boundless compassion and infinite
mercy."

There was a moment of entire quiet in the room, and then Philip said
faintly: "Sarah, I cannot say more. Only tell the man I bear him no
hatred, and commend him to the love of God."

Mrs. Strong was alarmed at Philip's appearance. The scene had been too
much for his strength. She hastily commanded the officer to take his
prisoner away, and with the help of her friend cared for the minister,
who, after the first faintness, rallied, and then gradually sank into
sleep that proved more refreshing than any he had yet enjoyed since the
night of the shooting.

The next day found Philip improving more rapidly than Mrs. Strong had
thought possible. She forbade him the sight of all callers, however, and
insisted that he must keep quiet. His wounds were healing
satisfactorily, and when the surgeon called he expressed himself much
pleased with his patient's appearance.

"Say, doctor, do you really think it would set me back any to think a
little?"

"No. I never heard of thinking hurting people; I have generally
considered it a healthy habit."

"The reason I asked," continued Philip, gravely, "was because my wife
absolutely forbade it, and I was wondering how long I could keep it up
and fool anybody."

"That's a specimen of his stubbornness, doctor," said the minister's
wife, smiling. "Why, only a few minutes before you came in he was
insisting that he could preach to-morrow. Think of it!--a man with a
shattered shoulder, who would have to stand on one leg and do all his
gesturing with his left hand; a man who can't preach without the use of
seven or eight arms, and as many pockets, and has to walk up and down
the platform like a lion when he gets started on his delivery! And yet
he wants to preach to-morrow! He's that stubborn that I don't know as I
can keep him at home. You would better leave some powders to put him to
sleep, and we will keep him in a state of unconsciousness until Monday
morning."

"Now, doctor, just listen to me a while. Mrs. Strong is talking for two
women, as she agreed to do, and that puts me in a hard position. But I
want to know how soon I can get to work again."

"You will have to lie there a month," said the doctor, bluntly.

"Impossible! I never lied that time in my life!" said Philip, soberly.

"It would serve him right to perform a surgical operation on him for
that, wouldn't it, Mrs. Strong?" the surgeon appealed to her.

"I think he deserves the worst you can do, doctor."

"But say, dear people, I can't stay here a month. I must be about my
Master's business. What will the church do for supplies?"

"Don't worry, Philip. The church will take care of that."

But Philip was already eager to get to work. Only the assurance of the
surgeon that he might possibly get out a little over three weeks
satisfied him. Sunday came and passed. Some one from a neighboring town
who happened to be visiting in Milton occupied the pulpit, and Philip
had a quiet, restful day. He started in the week determined to beat the
doctor's time for recovery; and, having a remarkably strong constitution
and a tremendous will, he bade fair to be limping about the house in two
weeks. His shoulder wound healed very fast. His knee bothered him, and
it seemed likely that he would go lame for a long time. But he was not
concerned about that if only he could go about in any sort of fashion
once more.

Wednesday of that week he was surprised by an unexpected manner by an
event which did more than anything else to hasten his recovery. He was
still confined to bed downstairs when in the afternoon the bell rang,
and Mrs. Strong went to the door supposing it was one of the church
people come to inquire about the minister. She found instead Alfred
Burke, Philip's old college chum and Seminary classmate. Mrs. Strong
welcomed him heartily, and in answer to his eager inquiry concerning
Philip's condition she brought him into the room, knowing her patient
quite well and feeling sure the sight of his old chum would do him more
good than harm. The first thing Alfred said was:

"Old man, I hardly expected to see you again this side of heaven. How
does it happen that you are alive here after all the times the papers
have had you killed?"

"Bad marksmanship, principally. I used to think I was a big man. But
after the shooting I came to the conclusion that I must be rather
small."

"Your heart is so big it's a wonder to me that you weren't shot through
it, no matter where you were hit. But I tell you it seems good to see
you in the flesh once more."

"Why didn't you come and preach for me last Sunday?" asked Philip,
quizzically.

"Why, haven't you heard? I did not get news of the affair until last
Saturday in my Western parish, and I was just in the throes of packing
up to come on to Elmdale."

"Elmdale?"

"Yes, I've had a call there. So we shall be neighbors. Mrs. Burke is up
there now getting the house straightened out, and I came right down
here."

"So you are pastor of the Chapel Hill Church? It's a splendid opening
for a young preacher. Congratulations, Alfred."

"Thank you, Philip. By the way, I saw by the paper that you had declined
a call to Elmdale, so I suppose they pitched on me for a second choice.
You never wrote me of their call to you," he said, a little
reproachfully.

"It didn't occur to me," replied Philip, truthfully. "But how are you
going to like it? Isn't it rather a dull old place?"

"Yes, I suspect it is, compared with Milton. I suppose you couldn't live
without the excitement of dodging assassins and murderers every time you
go out to prayer meeting or make parish calls. How do you like your work
so far?"

"There is plenty of it," answered Philip, gravely. "A minister must be
made of cast-iron and fire-brick in order to stand the wear and tear of
these times in which we live. I'd like a week to trade ideas with you
and talk over the work, Alfred."

"You'd get the worst of the bargain."

"I don't know about that. I'm not doing any thinking lately. But now, as
we're going to be only fifty miles apart, what's to hinder an exchange
once in a while?"

"I'm agreeable to that," replied Philip's chum; "on condition, however,
that you furnish me with a gun and pay all surgeons' bills when I occupy
your pulpit."

"Done," said Philip, with a grin; and just then Mrs. Strong forbade any
more talk. Alfred stayed until the evening train, and when he left he
stooped down and kissed Philip's cheek. "It's a custom we learned when
in the German universities together that summer after college, you
know," he explained with the slightest possible blush, when Mrs. Strong
came in and caught him in the act. It seemed to her, however, like an
affecting thing that two big, grown-up men like her husband and his old
chum showed such tender affection for each other. The love of men for
men in the strong friendship of school and college life is one of the
marks of human divinity.



CHAPTER VI.


In spite of his determination to get out and occupy his pulpit the first
Sunday of the next month, Philip was reluctantly obliged to let five
Sundays go by before he was able to preach. During those six weeks his
attention was called to a subject which he felt ought to be made the
theme of one of his talks on Christ and Modern Society. The leisure
which he had for reading opened his eyes to the fact that Sunday in
Milton was terribly desecrated. Shops of all kinds stood wide open.
Excursion trains ran into the large city forty miles away, two theatres
were always running with some variety show, and the saloons, in
violation of an ordinance forbidding it, unblushingly flung their doors
open and did more business on that day than any other. As Philip read
the papers, he noticed that every Monday morning the police court was
more crowded with "drunks" and "disorderlies" than on any other day in
the week, and the plain cause of it was the abuse of the day before. In
the summer time baseball games were played in Milton on Sunday. In the
fall and winter very many people spent their evenings in card-playing or
aimlessly strolling up and down the main street. These facts came to
Philip's knowledge gradually, and he was not long in making up his mind
that Christ would not keep silent before the facts. So he carefully
prepared a plain statement of his belief in Christ's standing on the
modern use of Sunday, and as on the other occasions when he had spoken
the first Sunday in the month, he cast out of his reckoning all thought
of the consequences. His one purpose was to do just as, in his thought
of Christ, He would do with that subject.

The people in Milton thought that the first Sunday Philip appeared in
his pulpit he would naturally denounce the saloon again. But when he
finally recovered sufficiently to preach, he determined that for a while
he would say nothing in the way of sermons against the whiskey evil. He
had a great horror of seeming to ride a hobby, of being a man of one
idea and making people tired of him because he harped on one string. He
had uttered his denunciation, and he would wait a little before he
spoke again. The whiskey power was not the only bad thing in Milton
that needed to be attacked. There were other things which must be said.
And so Philip limped into his pulpit the third Sunday of the month and
preached on a general theme, to the disappointment of a great crowd,
almost as large as the last one he had faced. And yet his very
appearance was a sermon in itself against the institution he had held up
to public condemnation on that occasion. His knee wound proved very
stubborn, and he limped badly. That in itself spoke eloquently of the
dastardly attempt on his life. His face was pale, and he had grown thin.
His shoulder was stiff and the enforced quietness of his delivery
contrasted strangely with his customary fiery appearance on the platform.
Altogether that first Sunday of his reappearance in his pulpit was a
stronger sermon against the saloon than anything he could have spoken or
written.

When the first Sunday in the next month came on, Philip was more like
his old self. He had gathered strength enough to go around two Sunday
afternoons and note for himself the desecration of the day as it went on
recklessly. As he saw it all, it seemed to him that the church in Milton
was practically doing nothing to stop the evil. All the ministers
complained of the difficulty of getting an evening congregation. Yet
hundreds of young people walked past all the churches every Sunday
night, bent on pleasure, going to the theatres or concerts or parties,
which seemed to have no trouble in attracting the crowd. Especially was
this true of the foreign population, the working element connected with
the mills. It was a common occurrence for dog fights, cock fights, and
shooting matches of various kinds to be going on in the tenement
district on Sunday, and the police seemed powerless or careless in the
matter.

All this burned into Philip like molten metal, and when he faced his
people on the Sunday which was becoming a noted Sunday for them, he
quivered with the earnestness and thrill which always came to a
sensitive man when he feels sure he has a sermon which must be preached
and a message which the people must hear for their lives.

He took for a text Christ's words, "The Sabbath was made for man," and at
once defined its meaning as a special day.

"The true meaning of our modern Sunday may be summed up in two
words--Rest and Worship. Under the head of Rest may be gathered whatever
is needful for the proper and healthful recuperation of one's physical
and mental powers, always regarding, not simply our own ease and
comfort, but also the same right to rest on the part of the remainder of
the community. Under the head of Worship may be gathered all those facts
which, either through distinct religious service or work or thought tend
to bring men into closer and dearer relation to spiritual life, to teach
men larger, sweeter truths of existence and of God, and leave them
better fitted to take up the duties of every-day business.

"Now, it is plain to me that if Christ were here to-day, and pastor of
Calvary Church, he would feel compelled to say some very plain words
about the desecration of Sunday in Milton. Take for example the opening
of the fruit stands and cigar stores and meat markets every Sunday
morning. What is the one reason why these places are open this very
minute while I am speaking? There is only one reason--so that the owners
of the places may sell their goods and make money. They are not
satisfied with what they can make six days in the week. Their greed
seizes on the one day which ought to be used for the rest and worship
men need, and turns that also into a day of merchandise. Do we need any
other fact to convince us of the terrible selfishness of the human heart?

"Or take the case of the saloons. What right have they to open their
doors in direct contradiction to the town ordinance forbidding it? And
yet this ordinance is held by them in such contempt that this very
morning as I came to this church I passed more than half a dozen of
these sections of hell, wide open to any poor sinning soul that might be
enticed therein. Citizens of Milton, where does the responsibility rest
for this violation of law? Does it rest with the churches and the
preachers to see that the few Sunday laws we have are enforced by them,
while the business men and the police lazily dodge the issue and care
not how the matter goes, saying it is none of their business?

"But suppose you say the saloons are beyond your power. That does not
release you from doing what is in your power, easily, to prevent this
day from being trampled under foot and made like every other day in its
scramble after money and pleasure. Who own these fruit stands and cigar
stores and meat markets, and who patronize them? Is it not true that
church members encourage all these places by purchasing of them on the
Lord's Day? I have been told by one of these fruit dealers with whom I
have talked lately that among his best customers on Sunday are some of
the most respected members of this church. It has also been told me that
in the summer time the heaviest patronage of the Sunday ice-cream
business is from the church members of Milton. Of what value is it that
we place on our ordinance rules forbidding the sale of these things
covered by the law? How far are we responsible by our example for
encouraging the breaking of the day on the part of those who would find
it unprofitable to keep their business going if we did not purchase of
them on this day?

"It is possible there are very many persons here in this house this
morning who are ready to exclaim: 'This is intolerable bigotry and
puritanical narrowness! This is not the attitude Christ would take on
this question. He was too large-minded. He was too far advanced in
thought to make the day to mean anything of that sort.'

"But let us consider what is meant by the Sunday of our modern life as
Christ would view it. There is no disputing the fact that the age is
material, mercantile, money-making. For six eager, rushing days it is
absorbed in the pursuit of money or fame or pleasure. Then God
strikes the note of his silence in among the clashing sounds of earth's
Babel and calls mankind to make a day unlike the other days. It is his
merciful thoughtfulness for the race which has created this special day
for men. Is it too much to ask that on this one day men think of
something else besides politics, stocks, business, amusement? Is God
grudging the man the pleasure of life when here He gives the man six
days for labor and then asks for only one day specially set apart for
him? The objection to very many things commonly mentioned by the pulpit
as harmful to Sunday is not an objection necessarily based on the
harmfulness of the things themselves, but upon the fact that these
things are repetitions of the working day, and so are distracting to the
observance of the Sunday as a day of rest and worship, undisturbed by
the things that have already for six days crowded the thought of men.
Let me illustrate.

"Take for example the case of the Sunday paper, as it pours into Milton
every Sunday morning on the special newspaper train. Now, there may not
be anything in the contents of the Sunday papers that is any worse than
can be found in any weekday edition. Granted, for the sake of the
illustration, that the matter found in the Sunday paper is just like
that in the Saturday issue--politics, locals, fashion, personals,
dramatic and sporting news, literary articles by well-known writers, a
serial story, police record, crime, accident, fatality, etc., anywhere
from twenty to forty pages--an amount of reading matter that will take
the average man a whole forenoon to read. I say, granted all this vast
quantity of material is harmless in itself to moral life, yet here is
the reason why it seems to me Christ would, as I am doing now, advise
this church and the people of Milton to avoid reading the Sunday paper,
because it forces upon the thought of the community the very same things
which have been crowding in upon it all the week, and in doing this
necessarily distracts the man, and makes the elevation of his spiritual
nature exceedingly doubtful or difficult. I defy any preacher in this
town to make much impression on the average man who has come to church
saturated through and through with forty pages of Sunday newspaper; that
is, supposing the man who has read that much is in a frame of mind to go
to church. But that is not the point. It is not a question of press
versus pulpit. The press and the pulpit are units of our modern life
which ought to work hand in hand. And the mere matter of church
attendance might not count, if it was a question with the average man
whether he would go to church and hear a dull sermon or stay at home and
read an interesting newspaper. That is not the point. The point is
whether the day of rest and worship shall be like every other day;
whether we shall let our minds go right on as they have been going, to
the choking up of avenues of spiritual growth and religious service. Is
it right for us to allow in Milton the occurrence of baseball games and
Sunday racing and evening theatres? How far is all this demoralizing to
our better life? What would Christ say, do you think? Even supposing he
would advise this church to take and read the big Sunday daily sent in
on the special Sunday train, that keeps a small army of men at work and
away from all Sunday privileges; even supposing he would say it was all
right to sell fruit and cigars and meat on Sunday, and perfectly proper
for church members to buy those things on that day, what would Christ
say was the real meaning and purpose of this day in the thought of the
Divine Creator when he made the day for man?

"I cannot conceive that he would say anything else than this to the
people of this town and this church: He would say it was our duty to
make this day different from all other days in the two particulars of
rest and worship. He would say that we owe it to the Father of our souls
in common gratitude for his mighty love toward us that we spend the day
in ways pleasing to him. He would say that the wonderful civilization of
our times should study how to make this day a true rest day to the
workingman of the world, and that all unnecessary carrying of passengers
or merchandise should stop, so as to give all men, if possible, every
seven days, one whole day of rest and communion with something better
than the things that perish with the using. He would say that the Church
and the church-member and the Christian everywhere should do all in his
power to make the day a glad, powerful, useful, restful, anticipated
twenty-four hours, looked forward to with pleasant longing by little
children and laboring men and railroad men and street-car men as the one
day of all the week, the happiest and best because different in its use.
And so different that when Monday's toil begins the man feels refreshed
in body and in soul because he has paused a little while in the mad
whirl of his struggle for bread or fame, and has fellow-shipped with
heavenly things, and heard something diviner than the Jangling discords
of this narrow, selfish earth.

"If this thought of Sunday is bigotry or narrowness, then I stand
convicted as a bigot living outside of the nineteenth century. But I am
not concerned about that. What I am concerned about is Christ's thought
of this day. If I understand his spirit right I believe he would say
what I have said. He would say that it is not a right use of this day
for the men and women of this generation to buy and sell merchandise, to
attend or countenance places or spectacles of amusement, to engage in
card parties at their homes, to fill their thoughts full of the ordinary
affairs of business or the events of the world. He would say that it was
the Christian's duty and privilege in this age to elevate the uses of
this day so that everything done and said should tend to lift the race
higher, and make it better acquainted with the nature of God and its own
eternal destiny. If Christ would not take that view of this great
question, then I have totally misconceived and misunderstood his
character. 'The Sabbath was made for man.' It was made for him that he
might make of it a shining jewel in the string of pearls which should
adorn all the days of the week, every day speaking of divine things to
the man, but Sunday opening up the beauty and grandeur of the eternal
life a little wider yet.

"This, dear friends all, has been my message to you this morning. May
God forgive whatever has been spoken contrary to the heart and spirit of
our dear Lord."

If Philip's sermon two months before made him enemies, this sermon
made even more. He had unconsciously this time struck two of his members
very hard. One of them was part owner in a meat market which his partner
kept open on Sunday. The other leased one of the parks where the
baseball games had been played. Other persons in the congregation felt
more or less hurt by the plain way Philip had spoken, especially the
members who took and read the Sunday paper. They went away feeling that,
while much that he said was true, there was too much strictness in the
minister's view of the whole subject. This feeling grew as days went on.
People said Philip did not know all the facts in regard to people's
business and the complications which necessitated Sunday work, and so
forth.

These were the beginnings of troublesome times for Philip. The trial of
the saloon-keeper was coming on in a few days, and Philip would be
called to witness in the case. He dreaded it with a nervous dread
peculiar to his sensitive temper. Nevertheless, he went on with his
church work, studying the problem of the town, endearing himself to very
many in and out of his church by his manly, courageous life, and feeling
the heart-ache grow in him as the sin burden of the place weighed
heavier on him. Those were days when Philip did much praying, and his
regular preaching, which grew in power with the common people, told the
story of his night vigils with the Christ he adored.

It was at this particular time that a special event occurred which put
its mark on Philip's work in Milton and became a part of its web and
woof--a thing hard to tell, but necessary to relate as best one may.

He came home late one evening from church meeting, letting himself into
the parsonage with his night-key, and, not seeing his wife in the
sitting-room, where she was in the habit of reading and sewing, he walked
on into the small sewing-room, where she sometimes sat at special work,
thinking to find her there. She was not there, and Philip opened the
kitchen door and inquired of the servant, who sat there reading, where
his wife was.

"I think she went upstairs a little while ago," was the reply.

Philip went at once upstairs into his study, and, to his alarm, found
that his wife had fainted. She lay on the floor in front of his desk. As
Philip stooped to raise her he noticed two pieces of paper, one of them
addressed to "The Preacher," and the other to "The Preacher's Wife."
They were anonymous scrawls, threatening the lives of the minister and
his wife. On his desk, driven deep into the wood, was a large knife.
Then, said Philip with a prayer: "Verily, an enemy hath done this."



CHAPTER VII.


The anonymous letters, or rather scrawls, which Philip found by the side
of his unconscious wife as he stooped to raise her up, read as follows:

"PREACHER: Better pack up and leave. Milton is not big enough to hold
you alive. Take warning in time."

"PREACHER'S WIFE: As long as you stay in Milton there is danger of two
funerals. Dynamite kills women as well as men."

Philip sat by the study lounge holding these scrawls in his hand as his
wife recovered from her fainting fit after he had applied restoratives.
His heart was filled with horror at the thought of the complete
cowardice which could threaten the life of an innocent woman. There was
with it all a feeling of intense contempt of such childish, dime-novel
methods of intimidation as that of sticking a knife into the study desk.
If it had not been for its effect on his wife, Philip would have laughed
at the whole thing. As it was, he was surprised and alarmed that she had
fainted--a thing he had never known her to do; and as soon as she was
able to speak he listened anxiously to her story.

"It must have been an hour after you had gone, Philip, that I thought I
heard a noise upstairs, and thinking perhaps you had left one of your
windows down at the top and the curtain was flapping, I went right up,
and the minute I stepped into the room I had the feeling that some one
was there."

"Didn't you carry up a light?"

"No. The lamp was burning at the end of the upper hall, and so I never
thought of needing more. Well, as I moved over toward the window, still
feeling that strange, unaccountable knowledge of some one there, a man
stepped out from behind your desk, walked right up to me and held out
those letters in one hand, while with the other he threw the light from
a small bull's-eye or burglar's lantern upon them."

Philip listened in amazement.

"Sarah, you must have dreamed all that! It isn't likely that any man
would do such a thing!"

"Philip, I did not dream. I was terribly wide-awake, and so scared that
I couldn't even scream. My tongue seemed to be entirely useless. But I
felt compelled to read what was written, and the man held the papers
there until the words seemed to burn my eyes. He then walked over to the
desk, and with one blow drove the knife down into the wood, and then I
fainted away, and that is all I can remember."

"And what became of the man?" asked Philip, still inclined to think
that his wife had in some way fallen asleep and dreamed at least a part
of this strange scene, perhaps before she went up to the study and
discovered the letters.

"I don't know; maybe he is in the house yet. Philip, I am almost dead for
fear--not for myself, but for your life."

"I never had any fear of anonymous letters or of threats," replied
Philip, contemptuously eyeing the knife, which was still sticking in
the desk. "Evidently the saloon men think I am a child to be frightened
with these bugaboos, which have figured in every sensational story since
the time of Captain Kidd."

"Then you think this is the work of the saloon men?"

"Who else can it be? We have no other enemies of this sort in Milton."

"But they will kill you! Oh, Philip, I cannot bear the thought of living
here in this way. Let us leave this dreadful place!"

"Little woman," said Philip, while he bravely drove away any slight
anxiety he may have had for himself, "don't you think it would be
cowardly to run away so soon?"

"Wouldn't it be better to run away so soon than to be killed? Is there
any bravery in staying in a place where you are likely to be murdered by
some coward?"

"I don't think I shall be," said Philip, confidently. "And I don't want
you to be afraid. They will not dare to harm you."

"No, Philip!" exclaimed his wife, eagerly; "you must not be mistaken. I
did not faint away to-night because I was afraid for myself. Surely I
have no fear there. It was the thought of the peril in which you
stand daily as you go out among these men, and as you go back and forth
to your meetings in the dark. I am growing nervous and anxious ever
since the shooting; and when I was startled by the man here to-night I
was so weak that I fainted. But I am sure that they do not care to harm
me; you are the object of their hatred. If they strike any one it will
be you. That is the reason I want you to leave this place. Say you will,
Philip. Surely there are other churches where you could preach as you
want to, and still not be in such constant danger."

It required all of Philip's wisdom and love and consciousness of his
immediate duty to answer his wife's appeal and say no to it. It was one
of the severest struggles he ever had. There was to be taken into the
account not only his own safety, but that of his wife as well. For,
think what he would, he could not shake off the feeling that a man so
cowardly as to resort to the assassination of a man would not be over
particular even if it should chance to be a woman. Philip was man enough
to be entirely unshaken by anonymous threats. A thousand a day would not
have unnerved him in the least. He would have writhed under the sense of
the great sin which they revealed, but that is all the effect they would
have had.

When it came to his wife, however, that was another question. For a
moment he felt like sending in his resignation and moving out of Milton
as soon as possible. But he finally decided that he ought to remain; and
Mrs. Strong did not oppose his decision when once he had declared his
resolve. She knew Philip must do what to him was the will of his Master,
and with that finally she was content.

She had overcome her nervousness and dread now that Philip's courageous
presence strengthened her, and she began to tell him that he had better
hunt for the man who had appeared so mysteriously in the study.

"I haven't convinced myself yet that there is any man. Confess, Sarah,
that you dreamed all that."

"I did not," replied his wife, a little indignantly. "Do you think I
wrote those letters and stuck that knife into the desk myself?"

"Of course not. But how could a man get into the study and neither you
nor the girl know it."

"I did hear a noise, and that is what started me upstairs. And he may be
in the house yet. I shall not rest easy until you look into all the
closets and down cellar and everywhere."

So Philip, to quiet his wife, searched the house thoroughly, but found
nothing. The servant and the minister's wife followed along at a
respectful distance behind Philip, one armed with the poker and the
other with a fire-shovel, while he pulled open closet doors with
reckless disregard of any possible man hiding within, and pretended to
look into the most unlikely places for him, joking all the while to
reassure his trembling followers.

They found one of the windows in Philip's study partly open. But that
did not prove anything, although a man might have crawled in and out
again through that window from an ell of the parsonage, the roof of
which ran near enough to the window so that an active person could gain
entrance that way. The whole affair remained more or less a mystery to
Philip. However, the letters and the knife were real. He took them down
town next day to the office of the evening paper, and asked the editor
to publish the letters and describe the knife. It was too good a piece
of news to omit, and Milton people were treated to a genuine sensation
when the article came out. Philip's object in giving the incident
publicity was to show the community what a murderous element it was
fostering in the saloon power. Those threats and the knife preached a
sermon to the thoughtful people of Milton, and citizens who had never
asked the question before began to ask now: "Are we to endure this
saloon monster much longer?"

As for Philip, he went his way the same as ever. Some of his friends and
church members even advised him to carry a revolver and be careful about
going out alone at night. Philip laughed at the idea of a revolver and
said: "If the saloon men want to get rid of me without the trouble of
shooting me themselves they had better make me a present of a
silver-mounted pistol; then I would manage the shooting myself. And as
for being careful about going out evenings, what is this town thinking
of, that it will continue to license and legalize an institution that
makes its honest citizens advise new-comers to stay at home for fear of
assassination? No. I shall go about my work just as if I lived in the
most law-abiding community in America. And if I am murdered by
the whiskey men, I want the people of Milton to understand that the
citizens are as much to blame for the murder as the saloon men. For a
community that will license such a curse ought to bear the shame of the
legitimate fruits of it."

The trial of the man with the hare-lip had been postponed for some legal
reason, and Philip felt relieved somewhat. He dreaded the ordeal of the
court scene. And one or two visits made at the jail had not been helpful
to him. The man had refused each time to see the minister, and he had
gone away feeling hungry in his soul for the man's redemption, and
realizing something of the spirit of Christ when he was compelled to cry
out: "They will not come unto me that they might have eternal life."
That always seemed to Philip the most awful feature of the history of
Christ--that the very people he loved and yearned after spit upon him
and finally broke his heart with their hatred.

He continued his study of the problem of the town, believing that every
place has certain peculiar local characteristics which every church and
preacher ought to study. He was struck by the aspect of the lower part
of the town, where nearly all the poorer people lived. He went down
there and studied the situation thoroughly. It did not take a very great
amount of thinking to convince him that the church power in Milton was
not properly distributed. The seven largest churches in the place were
all on one street, well up in the wealthy residence portion, and not
more than two or three blocks apart. Down in the tenement district there
was not a single church building, and only one or two weak mission
schools which did not touch the problem of the district at all. The
distance from this poor part of the town to the churches was fully a
mile, a distance that certainly stood as a geographical obstacle to the
church attendance of the neighborhood, even supposing the people were
eager to go to the large churches, which was not at all the fact.
Indeed, Philip soon discovered that the people were indifferent in the
matter. The churches on the fashionable street in town meant less than
nothing to them. They never would go to them, and there was little hope
that anything the pastor or members could do would draw the people that
distance to come within church influence. The fact of the matter was,
the seven churches of different denominations in Milton had no living
connection whatever with nearly one-half the population, and that the
most needy half, of the place.

The longer Philip studied the situation, the more un-Christian it looked
to him, and the more he longed to change it. He went over the ground
again and again very carefully. He talked with the different ministers,
and the most advanced Christians in his own church. There was a variety
of opinion as to what might be done, but no one was ready for the
radical move which Philip advocated when he came to speak on the subject
the first Sunday of the month.



CHAPTER VIII.


The first Sunday was beginning to be more or less dreaded or anticipated
by Calvary Church people. They were learning to expect something
radical, sweeping, almost revolutionary in Philip's utterances on Christ
and Modern Society. Some agreed with him as far as he had gone. Very
many had been hurt at his plainness of speech. This was especially true
of the property owners and the fashionable part of the membership. Yet
there was a fascination about Philip's preaching that prevented, so far,
any very serious outbreak or dissension in the church. He was a
recognized leader. In his presentation of truth he was large-minded. He
had the faculty of holding men's respect. There was no mistaking the
situation, however. Mr. Winter, with others, was working against him.
Philip was vaguely conscious of much that did not work out into open,
apparent fact. Nevertheless, when he came up on the first Sunday of the
next month and began to announce his subject, he found an audience that
crowded the house to the doors, and among them were scattered numbers of
men from the working-men's district with whom Philip had talked while
down there. It was, as before, an inspiring congregation, and Philip
faced it feeling sure in his heart that he had a great subject to
unfold, and a message to deliver to the Church of Christ such as he could
not but believe Christ would most certainly present if he were living
to-day in Milton.

He began by describing the exact condition of affairs in Milton. To
assist this description he had brought with him into the church his map
of the town.

"Look now," he said, pointing out the different localities, "at B
street, where we now are. Here are seven of the largest churches of the
place on this street. The entire distance between the first of these
church buildings and the last one is a little over a mile. Three of
these churches are only two blocks apart. Then consider the character of
the residences and people in the vicinity of this street. It is what is
called desirable; that is, the homes are the very finest, and the people
almost without exception are refined, respectable, well educated, and
Christian in training. All the wealth of the town centres about B
street. All the society life extends out from it on each side. It is
considered the most fashionable street for drives and promenades. It is
well lighted, well paved, well kept. The people who come out of the
houses on B street are always well dressed. The people who go into these
seven churches are, as a rule, well-dressed and comfortable looking.
Mind you," continued Philip, raising his hand with a significant
gesture, "I do not want to have you think that I consider good clothes
and comfortable looks as unchristian or anything against the people who
present such an appearance. Far from it. I simply mention this fact to
make the contrast I am going to show you all the plainer. For let us
leave B street now and go down into the flats by the river, where nearly
all the mill people have their homes. I wish you would note first the
distance from B street and the churches to this tenement district. It is
nine blocks--that is, a little over a mile. To the edge of the tenement
houses farthest from our own church building it is a mile and
three-quarters. And within that entire district, measuring nearly two by
three miles, there is not a church building. There are two feeble
mission-schools, which are held in plain, unattractive halls, where
every Sunday a handful of children meet; but nothing practically is
being done by the Church of Christ in this place to give the people in
that part of the town the privileges and power of the life of Christ,
the life more abundantly. The houses down there are of the cheapest
description. The people who come out of them are far from well-dressed.
The streets and alleys are dirty and ill-smelling. And no one cares to
promenade for pleasure up and down the sidewalks in that neighborhood.
It is not a safe place to go to at night. The most frequent disturbances
come from that part of the town. All the hard characters find refuge
there. And let me say that I am not now speaking of the working people.
They are almost without exception law-abiding. But in every town like
ours the floating population of vice and crime seeks naturally that part
of a town where the poorest houses are, and the most saloons, and the
greatest darkness, both physically and moral.

"If there is a part of this town which needs lifting up and cleaning and
healing and inspiring by the presence of the Church of Christ, it is
right there where there is no church. The people on B street and for six
or eight blocks each side know the gospel. They have large numbers of
books and papers and much Christian literature. They have been taught
the Bible truths; they are familiar with them. Of what value is it then
to continue to support on this short street, so near together, seven
churches of as many different denominations which have for their members
the respectable, moral people of the town? I do not mean to say that the
well-to-do, respectable people do not need the influence of the church
and the preaching of the gospel. But they can get these privileges
without such a fearful waste of material and power. If we had only three
or four churches on this street they would be enough. We are wasting
our Christianity with the present arrangement. We are giving the rich
and the educated and well-to-do people seven times as much church as we
are giving the poor, the ignorant, and the struggling workers in the
tenement district. There is no question, there can be no question, that
all this is wrong. It is opposed to every principle that Christ
advocated. And in the face of these plain facts, which no one can
dispute, there is a duty before these churches on this street which
cannot be evaded without denying the very purpose of a church. It is
that duty which I am now going to urge upon this Calvary Church.

"It has been said by some of the ministers and members of the churches
that we might combine in an effort and build a large and commodious
mission in the tenement district. But that, to my mind, would not settle
the problem at all, as it should be settled. It is an easy and a lazy
thing for church-members to put their hands in their pockets and say to
a few other church-members, 'We will help build a mission, if you will
run it after it is up; we will attend our church up-town here, while the
mission is worked for the poor people down there.' That is not what will
meet the needs of the situation. What that part of Milton needs is the
Church of Christ in its members--the whole Church, on the largest
possible scale. What I am now going to propose, therefore, is something
which I believe Christ would advocate, if not in the exact manner I
shall explain, at least in the same spirit."

Philip paused a moment and looked over the congregation earnestly. The
expectation of the people was roused almost to the point of a sensation
as he went on.

"I have consulted competent authorities, and they say that our church
building here could be moved from its present foundation without serious
damage to the structure. A part of it would have to be torn down to
assist the moving, but it could easily be replaced. The expense would
not be more than we could readily meet. We are out of debt, and the
property is free from incumbrance. What I propose, therefore, is a very
simple thing--that we move our church edifice down into the heart of the
tenement district, where we can buy a suitable lot for a comparatively
small sum, and at once begin the work of a Christian Church in the very
neighborhood where such work is most needed.

"There are certain objections to this plan. I think they can be met by
the exercise of the Christ spirit of sacrifice and love. A great many
members will not be able to go that distance to attend service, any more
than the people there at present can well come up here. But there are
six churches left on B street. What is to hinder any Christian member
of Calvary Church from working and fellowshiping with those churches,
if he cannot put in his service in the tenement district? None of these
churches are crowded; they will welcome the advent of more members. But
the main strength of the plan which I propose lies in the fact that if
it be done, it will be a live illustration of the eagerness of the
Church to reach and save men. The very sight of our church moving down
off from this street to the lower part of town will be an object lesson
to the people, and the Church will at once begin to mean something to
them. Once established there, we can work from it as a centre. The
distance ought to be no discouragement to any healthy person. There is
not a young woman in this church who is in the habit of dancing, who
does not make twice as many steps during an evening dancing party as
would be necessary to take her to the tenement district and back again.
Surely, any Christian church-member is as willing to endure fatigue, and
sacrifice, and to give as much time to help make men and women better,
as he is to have a good time himself. Think for a moment what this move
which I propose would mean to the life of this town, and to our Christian
growth. At present we go to church. We listen to a good choir, we go
home again, we have a pleasant Sunday-school, we are all comfortable and
well clothed here; we enjoy our services, we are not disturbed by the
sight of disagreeable or uncongenial people. But is that Christianity?
Where do the service and the self-denial and the working for men's souls
come in? Ah, my dear brothers and sisters, what is this church really
doing for the salvation of men in this place? Is it Christianity to
have a comfortable church and go to it once or twice a week to enjoy
nice music and listen to preaching, and then go home to a good dinner,
and that is about all? What have we sacrificed? What have we denied
ourselves? What have we done to show the poor or the sinful that we
care anything for their souls, or that Christianity is anything but a
comfortable, select religion for those who can afford the good things of
the world? What has the church in Milton done to make the working-man
here feel that it is an institution that throbs with the brotherhood of
man? But suppose we actually move our church down there and then go
there ourselves weekdays and Sundays to work for the uplift of immortal
beings. Shall we not then have the satisfaction of knowing that we are
at least trying to do something more than enjoy our church all by
ourselves? Shall we not be able to hope that we have at least attempted
to obey the spirit of our sacrificing Lord, who commanded His disciples
to go and disciple the nations? It seems to me that the plan is a
Christian plan. If the churches in this neighborhood were not so
numerous, if the circumstances were different, it might not be wise or
necessary to do what I propose. But as the facts are, I solemnly believe
that this church has an opportunity before it to show Milton and the
other churches and the world, that it is willing to do an unusual thing
that it has within it the spirit of complete willingness to reach and
lift up mankind in the way that will do it best and most speedily. If
individuals are commanded to sacrifice and endure for Christ's sake and
the kingdom's, I do not know why organizations should not do the same.
And in this instance something on a large scale, something that
represents large sacrifice, something that will convince the people of
the love of man for man, is the only thing that will strike deep enough
into the problem of the tenement district in Milton to begin to solve it
in any satisfactory or Christian way.

"I do not expect the church to act on my plan without due deliberation.
I have arrived at my own conclusions after a careful going over the
entire ground. And in the sight of all the need and degradation of the
people, and in the light of all that Christ has made clear to be our
duty as His disciples, it seems to me there is but one path open to us.
If we neglect to follow him as he beckons us, I believe we shall neglect
the one opportunity of Calvary Church to put itself in the position of
the Church of the crucified Lamb of God, who did not please Himself, who
came to minister to others, who would certainly approve of any steps His
Church on earth in this age might honestly make to reach men and love
them, and become to them the helper and savior and life-giver which the
great Head of the Church truly intended we should be. I leave this plan,
which I have proposed, before you, for your Christian thought and
prayer. And may the Holy Spirit guide us all into all the truth. Amen."

If Philip had deliberately planned to create a sensation, he could not
have done anything more radical to bring it about. If he had stood on
the platform and fired a gun into the audience, it would not have
startled the members of Calvary Church more than this calm proposal to
them that they move their building a mile away from its aristocratic
surroundings. Nothing that he had said in his previous sermons had
provoked such a spirit of opposition. This time the church was roused.
Feelings of astonishment, indignation, and alarm agitated the members of
Calvary Church. Some of them gathered about Philip at the close of the
service.

"It will not be possible to do this thing you propose, Brother Strong,"
said one of the deacons, a leading member and a man who had defended
Philip once or twice against public criticism.

"Why not?" asked Philip, simply. He was exhausted with his effort that
morning, but felt that a crisis of some sort had been precipitated by
his message, and so he welcomed this show of interest which his sermon
had aroused.

"The church will not agree to such a thing."

"A number of them favor the step," replied Philip, who had talked over
the matter fully with many in the church.

"A majority will vote against it."

"Yes, an overwhelming majority!" said one man. "I know a good many who
would not be able to go that distance to attend church, and they
certainly would not join any other church on the street. I know for one
I wouldn't."

"Not if you thought Christ's kingdom in this town would be advanced by
it?" asked Philip, turning to this man with a directness that was almost
bluntness.

"I don't see as that would be a test of my Christianity."

"That is not the question," said one of the trustees, who had the
reputation of being a very shrewd business man. "The question is
concerning the feasibility of moving this property a mile into the
poorest part of the town and then maintaining it there. In my opinion,
it cannot be done. The expenses of the organization cannot be kept up.
We should lose some of our best financial supporters. Mr. Strong's
spirit and purpose spring from a good motive, no doubt, but viewed from
a business point of view, the church in that locality would not be a
success. To my mind it would be a very unwise thing to do. It would
practically destroy our organization here and not really establish
anything there."

"I do not believe we can tell until we try," said Philip. "I certainly
do not wish the church to destroy itself foolishly. But I do feel that
we ought to do something very positive and very large to define our
attitude as saviors in this community. And moving the house, as I
propose, has the advantage of being a definite, practical step in the
direction of a Christlike use of our powers as a church."

There was more talk of the same sort, but it was plainly felt by Philip
that the plan he had proposed was distasteful to the greater part of the
church, and if the matter came to a vote it would be defeated. He talked
the plan over with his trustees as he had already done before he spoke
in public. Four of them were decided in their objection to the plan.
Only one fully sustained Philip. During the week he succeeded in finding
out that from his membership of five hundred, less than forty persons
were willing to stand by him in so radical a movement. And yet the more
Philip studied the problem of the town, the more he was persuaded that
the only way for the church to make any impression on the tenement
district was to put itself directly in touch with the neighborhood. To
accomplish that necessity, Philip was not stubborn. He was ready to
adopt any plan that would actually do something, but he grew more eager
every day that he spent in the study of the town to have the church feel
its opportunity and make Christ a reality to those most in need of Him.

It was at this time that Philip was surprised one evening by a call from
one of the working-men who had been present and heard his sermon on
moving the church into the tenement district.

"I came to see you particularly, Mr. Strong, about getting you to come
down to our hall some evening next week and give us a talk on some
subject connected with the signs of the times."

"I'll come if you think I can do any good in that way," replied Philip,
hesitating a little.

"I believe you can. The men are beginning to take to you, and while they
won't come up to church, they will turn out to hear you down there."

"All right. When do you want me to come?"

"Say next Tuesday. You know where the hall is?"

Philip nodded. He had been by it in his walks through that part of
Milton.

The spokesman for the workmen expressed his thanks and arose to go, but
Philip asked him to stay a few moments. He wanted to know at first hand
what the man's representative fellows would do if the church should at
any time decide to act after Philip's plan.

"Well, to tell the truth, Mr. Strong, I don't believe very many of them
would join any church."

"That is not the question. Would they feel the church any more there
than where it is now?"

"Yes, I honestly think they would. They would come out to hear you."

"Well, that would be something, to be sure," replied Philip, smiling.
"But as to the wisdom of my plan--how does it strike you on the whole?"

"I would like to see it done. I don't believe I shall, though."

"Why?"

"Your church won't agree to it."

"Maybe they will in time."

"I hope they will. And yet let me tell you, Mr. Strong, if you succeeded
in getting your church and people to come into the tenement district, you
would find plenty of people there who wouldn't go hear you."

"I suppose that is so. But oh, that we might do something!" Philip
clasped his hand over his knee and gazed earnestly at the man opposite.
The man returned the gaze almost as earnestly. It was the
personification of the Church confronting the laboring man, each in a
certain way asking the other, "What will the Church do?" And it was a
noticeable fact that the minister's look revealed more doubt and anxiety
than the other man's look, which contained more or less of indifference
and distrust. Philip sighed, and his visitor soon after took his leave.

So it came about that Philip Strong plunged into a work which from the
time he stepped into the dingy little hall and faced the crowd peculiar
to it, had a growing influence on all his strange career, grew in
strangeness rapidly as days came on.

He was invited again and again to address the men in that part of
Milton. They were almost all of them mill-employes. They had a simple
organization for debate and discussion of questions of the day.
Gradually the crowds increased as Philip continued to come, and
developed a series of talks on Christian Socialism. There was standing
room only. He was beginning to know a number of the men and a strong
affection was growing up in their hearts for him.

That was just before the time the trouble at the mills broke out. He had
just come back from the hall where he had now been going every Thursday
evening, and where he had spoken on his favorite theme, "the meaning and
responsibility of power, both financial and mental." He had treated the
subject from the Christian point of view entirely. He had several times
roused his rude audience to enthusiasm. Moved by his theme and his
surroundings, he had denounced, with even more than usual vigor, those
men of ease and wealth who did nothing with their money to help their
brothers. He had mentioned, as he went along, what great responsibility
any great power puts on a man, and had dealt in a broad way with the
whole subject of power in men as a thing to be used, and always used for
the common good.

He did not recall his exact statements, but felt a little uneasy as he
walked home, for fear he might possibly have influenced his particular
audience against the rich as a class. He had not intended anything of
the kind, but had a vague idea that possibly he ought to have guarded
some words or sentences more carefully.

He had gone up into his study to finish some work, when the bell rang
sharply, and he came down to open the door just as Mrs. Strong came in
from the other room, where she had been giving directions to the girl,
who had gone upstairs through the kitchen.

The minister and his wife opened the door together, and one of the
neighbors rushed into the hall so excited he could hardly speak.

"Oh, Mr. Strong, won't you go right down to Mr. Winter's house? You
have more influence with those men than any one around here!"

"What men?"

"The men who are going to kill him if some one doesn't stop it!"

"What!" cried Philip, turning pale, not from fear, but from
self-reproach to think he might have made a mistake. "Who is trying to
kill him--the mill-men?"

"Yes! No! I do not, cannot tell. But he is in great danger, and you are
the only man in this town who can help to save him. Come!"

Philip turned to his wife. "Sarah, it is my duty. If anything should
happen to me you know my soul will meet yours at the gates of Paradise."

He kissed her, and rushed out into the night.



CHAPTER IX.


When Philip reached the residence of Mr. Winter, he found himself at
once in the midst of a mob of howling, angry men, who surged over the
lawn and tramped the light snow that was falling into a muddy mass over
the walks and up the veranda steps. A large electric lamp out in the
street in front of the house threw a light over the strange scene.

Philip wedged his way in among the men, crying out his name, and asking
for room to be made so that he could see Mr. Winter. The crowd, under
the impulse which sometimes moves excited bodies of men, yielded to his
request. There were cries of, "Let him have a minister if he wants one!"
"Room here for the priest!" "Give the preacher a chance to do some
praying where it's needed mighty bad!" and so on. Philip found a way
opened for him as he struggled toward the house, and he hurried forward
fearing some great trouble, but hardly prepared for what he saw when he
finally reached the steps of the veranda.

Half a dozen men had the mill-owner in their grasp, having evidently
dragged him out of his dining-room. His coat was half torn off, as if
there had been a struggle. Marks of bloody fingers stained his collar.
His face was white, and his eyes filled with the fear of death.
Within, upon the floor, lay his wife, who had fainted. A son and a
daughter, his two grown-up children, clung terrified to one of the
servants, who kneeled half fainting herself by the side of the
mill-owner's wife. A table overturned and fragments of a late dinner
scattered over the sideboard and on the floor, a broken plate, the print
of a muddy foot on the white tiling before the open fire,--the whole
picture flashed upon Philip like a scene out of the French Revolution,
and he almost rubbed his eyes to know if he was awake and in America in
the nineteenth century. He was intensely practical, however, and the
nature of his duty never for a moment escaped him. He at once advanced
and said calmly:--

"What does all this mean? Why this attack on Mr. Winter?"

The moment Mr. Winter saw Philip and heard his voice he cried out,
trembling: "Is that you, Mr. Strong? Thank God! Save me! They are going
to kill me!"

"Who talks of killing, or taking human life contrary to law!" exclaimed
Philip, coming up closer and placing his hand on Mr. Winter's arm. "Men,
what are you doing?"

For a moment the crowd fell back a little from the mill-owner, and one
of the men who had been foremost in the attack replied with some
respect, although in a sullen manner, "Mr. Strong, this is not a case
for your interference. This man has caused the death of one of his
employees and he deserves hanging."

"And hanging he will get!" yelled another. A great cry arose. In the
midst of it all Mr. Winter shrieked out his innocence. "It is all a
mistake! They do not know! Mr. Strong, tell them they do not know!"

The crowd closed around Mr. Winter again. Philip knew enough about men
to know that the mill-owner was in genuine danger. Most of his
assailants were the foreign element in the mills. Many of them were
under the influence of liquor. The situation was critical. Mr. Winter
clung to Philip with the frantic clutch of a man who sees only one way
of escape, and clings to that with mad eagerness. Philip turned around
and faced the mob. He raised his voice, hoping to gain a hearing and
reason with it. But he might as well have raised his voice against a
tornado. Some one threw a handful of mud and snow toward the prisoner.
In an instant every hand reached for the nearest missile, and a shower
of stones, muddy snow-balls and limbs torn from the trees on the lawn
was rained upon the house. Most of the windows in the lower story were
broken. All this time Philip was eagerly remonstrating with the few men
who had their hands on Mr. Winter. He thought if he could only plead
with them to let the man go he could slip with him around the end of the
veranda through a side door and take him through the house to a place of
safety. He also knew that every minute was precious, as the police might
arrive at any moment and change the situation.

But in spite of his pleas, the mill-owner was gradually pushed and
dragged down off the veranda toward the gate. The men tried to get
Philip out of the way.

"We don't want to harm you, sir. Better get out of danger," said the
same man who had spoken before.

Philip for answer threw one arm about Mr. Winter, saying: "If you kill
him, you will kill me with him. You shall never do this great sin
against an innocent man. In the name of God, I call on every soul here
to----"

But his words were drowned in the noise that followed. The mob was
insane with fury. Twice Mr. Winter was dragged off his feet by those
down on the walk. Twice Philip raised him to his feet, feeling sure that
if the crowd once threw him down they would trample him to death. Once
some one threw a rope over the wretched man's head. Both he and Mr.
Winter were struck again and again. Their clothes were torn into
tatters. Mr. Winter was faint and reeling. Only his great terror made
his clutch on Philip like that of a drowning man.

At last the crowd had dragged the two outside the gate into the street.
Here they paused awhile and Philip again spoke to the mob:

"Men, made in God's image, listen to me! Do not take innocent life. If
you kill him, you kill me also. For I will never leave his side alive,
and I will not permit such murder if I can prevent it."

"Kill them both--the bloody coward and the priest!" yelled a voice.
"They both belong to the same church."

"Yes, hang 'em! hang 'em both!" A tempest of cries went up. Philip
towered up like a giant. In the light of the street lamp he looked out
over the great sea of passionate, brutal faces, crazed with drink and
riot, and a great wave of compassionate feeling swept over him. Those
nearest never forgot that look. It was Christlike in its yearning love
for lost children. His lips moved in prayer.

And just then the outer circle of the crowd seemed agitated. It had
surged up nearer the light with the evident intention of hanging the
mill-owner on one of the cross pieces of a telegraph pole near by. The
rope had again been thrown over his head. Philip stood with one arm
about Mr. Winter, and with the other hand stretched out in entreaty,
when he heard a pistol-shot, then another. The entire police department
had been summoned, and had finally arrived. There was a skirmishing
rattle of shots. But the crowd began to scatter in the neighborhood of
the police force. Then those nearer Philip began to run as best they
could away from the officers. Philip and the mill-owner were dragged
along with the rest in the growing confusion, until, watching his
opportunity, Philip pulled Mr. Winter behind one of the large poles by
which the lights of the street were suspended.

Here, sheltered a little, but struck by many a blow, Philip managed to
shield with his own body the man who only a little while before had come
into his own house and called him a liar, and threatened to withdraw his
church support, because of the preaching of Christ's principles.

When finally the officers reached the two men Mr. Winter was nearly dead
from the fright. Philip was badly bruised, but not seriously, and he
helped Mr. Winter back to the house, while a few of the police remained
on guard the rest of the night. It was while recovering from the effects
of the night's attack that Philip little by little learned of the facts
that led up to the assault.

There had been a growing feeling of discontent in all the mills, and it
had finally taken shape in the Ocean Mill, which was largely owned and
controlled by Mr. Winter. The discontent arose from a new scale of wages
submitted by the company. It was not satisfactory to the men, and the
afternoon of that evening on which Philip had gone down to the hall a
committee of the mill men had waited on Mr. Winter, and after a long
conference had gone away without getting any satisfaction. They could
not agree on the proposition made by the company and by their own labor
organization. Later in the day one of the committee, under instructions,
went to see Mr. Winter alone, and came away from the interview very much
excited and angry. He spent the first part of the evening in a saloon,
where he related a part of his interview with the mill-owner, and said
that he had finally kicked him out of the office. Still later in the
evening he told several of the men that he was going to see Mr. Winter
again, knowing that on certain evenings he was in the habit of staying
down at the mill office until nearly half-past nine for special
business. The mills were undergoing repairs, and Mr. Winter was away
from home more than usual.

That was the last that any one saw of the man until, about ten o'clock,
some one going home past the mill office heard a man groaning at the foot
of a new excavation at the end of the building, and climbing down
discovered the man who had been to see Mr. Winter twice that afternoon.
He had a terrible gash in his head, and lived only a few minutes after
he was discovered. To the half-dozen men who stood over him in the
saloon, where he had been carried, he had murmured the name of "Mr.
Winter," and had then expired.

A very little adds fuel to the brain of men already heated with rum and
hatred. The rumor spread like lightning that the wealthy mill-owner had
killed one of the employees who had gone to see him peaceably and
arrange matters for the men. He had thrown him out of the office into
one of the new mill excavations and left him there to die like a dog in
a ditch. So the story ran all through the tenement district, and in an
incredibly swift time the worst elements in Milton were surging toward
Mr. Winter's house with murder in their hearts, and the means of
accomplishing it in their hands.

Mr. Winter had finished his work at the office and gone home to sit down
to a late lunch, as his custom was, when he was interrupted by the mob.
The rest of the incident is connected with what has been told. The crowd
seized him with little ceremony, and it was only Philip's timely arrival
and his saving of minutes until the police arrived, that prevented a
lynching in Milton that night. As it was, Mr. Winter received a scare
from which it took a long time to recover. He dreaded to go out alone at
night. He kept on guard a special watchman, and lived in more or less
terror even then. It was satisfactorily proved in a few days that the
man who had gone to see Mr. Winter had never reached the office door.
But, coming around the corner of the building where the new work was
being done, he had fallen off the stone work, striking on a rock in such
a way as to produce a fatal wound. This tempered the feeling of the
workmen toward Mr. Winter; but a wide-spread unrest and discontent had
seized on every man employed in the mills, and as the winter drew on,
affairs reached a crisis.

The difference between the mills and the men over the scale of wages
could not be settled. The men began to talk about a strike. Philip heard
of it, and at once, with his usual frankness and boldness, spoke with
downright plainness to the men against it. That was at the little hall a
week after the attempt on Mr. Winter's life. Philip's part in that
night's event had added to his reputation and his popularity with the
men. They admired his courage and his grit. Most of them were ashamed of
the whole affair, especially after they had sobered down and it had been
proved that Mr. Winter had not touched the man. So Philip was welcomed
with applause as he came out on the little platform and looked over the
crowded room, seeing many faces there that had glared at him in the mob
a week before. And yet his heart told him he loved these men, and his
reason told him that it was the sinner and the unconverted that God
loved. It was a terrible responsibility to have such men count him
popular, and he prayed that wisdom might be given him in the approaching
crisis, especially as he seemed to have some real influence.

He had not spoken ten words when some one by the door cried, "Come
outside! Big crowd out here want to get in." It was moonlight and not
very cold, so every one moved out of the hall, and Philip mounted the
steps of a storehouse near by and spoke to a crowd that filled up the
street in front and for a long distance right and left. His speech was
very brief, but it was fortified with telling figures, and at the close
he stood and answered a perfect torrent of questions. His main counsel
was against a strike in the present situation. He had made himself
familiar with the facts on both sides. Strikes, he argued, except in
very rare cases, were demoralizing--an unhealthy, disastrous method of
getting justice done. "Why, just look at that strike in Preston,
England, among the cotton spinners. There were only 660 operatives, but
that strike, before it ended, threw out of employment over 7,800 weavers
and other workmen who had nothing whatever to do with the quarrel of the
660 men. In the recent strike in the cotton trade in Lancashire, at the
end of the first twelve weeks the operatives had lost in wages alone
$4,500,000. Four strikes that occurred in England between 1870 and 1880,
involved a loss in wages of more than $25,000,000. In 22,000 strikes
investigated lately by the National Bureau of Labor, it is estimated
that the employees lost about $51,800,000, while the employers lost only
$30,700,000. Out of 353 strikes in England between 1870 and 1880, 191
were lost by the strikers, 71 were gained, and 91 com-promised; but in
the strikes that were successful, it took several years to regain in
wages the amount lost by the enforced idleness of the men."

There were enough hard-thinking, sensible men in the audience that night
to see the force of his argument. The majority, however, were in favor
of a general strike to gain their point in regard to the scale of wages.
When Philip went home he carried with him the conviction that a general
strike in the mills was pending. In spite of the fact that it was the
worst possible season of the year for such action, and in spite of the
fact that the difference demanded by the men was a trifle, compared with
their loss of wages the very first day of idleness, there was a
determination among the leaders that the fifteen thousand men in the
mills should all go out in the course of a few days if the demands of
the men in the Ocean Mill were not granted.

What was the surprise of every one in Milton, therefore, the very next
day, when it was announced that every mill in the great system had shut
down, and not a man of the fifteen thousand laborers who marched to the
buildings in the early gray of the winter morning found entrance.
Statements were posted up on the doors that the mills were shut down
until further notice. The mill-owners had stolen a march on the
employees, and the big strike was on; but it had been started by
Capital, not by Labor, and Labor went to its tenement or congregated in
the saloon, sullen and gloomy; and, as days went by and the mills showed
no signs of opening, the great army of the unemployed walked the
streets of Milton in growing discontent and fast accumulating debt and
poverty.

Meanwhile the trial of the man arrested for shooting Philip came on, and
Philip and his wife both appeared as witnesses in the case. The man was
convicted and sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment. It has nothing
special to do with the history of Philip Strong, but may be of interest
to the reader to know that in two years' time he was pardoned out and
returned to Milton to open his old saloon, where he actually told more
than once the story of his attempt on the preacher's life.

There came also during those stormy times in Milton the trial of several
of the men who were arrested for the assault on Mr. Winter. Philip was
also summoned as a witness in these cases. As always, he frankly
testified to what he knew and saw. Several of the accused were
convicted, and sentenced to short terms. But the mill-owner, probably
fearing revenge on the part of the men, did not push the matter, and
most of the cases went by default for lack of prosecution.

Mr. Winter's manner toward Philip underwent a change after that
memorable evening when the minister stood by him at the peril of his own
life. There was a feeling of genuine respect, mingled with fear, in his
deportment toward Philip. To say that they were warm friends would be
saying too much. Men as widely different as the minister and the wealthy
mill-man do not come together on that sacred ground of friendship, even
when one is indebted to the other for his life. A man may save another
from hanging and still be unable to save him from selfishness. And Mr.
Winter went his way and Philip went his, on a different basis so far as
common greeting went, but no nearer in the real thing, which makes
heart-to-heart communion impossible. For the time being, Mr. Winter's
hostility was submerged under his indebtedness to Philip. He returned to
his own place in the church and contributed to the financial support.



CHAPTER X.


One day at the close of a month, Philip came into the cosey parsonage,
and, instead of going right up to his study as his habit was when his
outside work was done for the day, he threw himself down on a couch by
the open fire. His wife was at work in the other room, but she came in,
and, seeing him lying there, inquired what was the matter.

"Nothing, Sarah, with me. Only I'm sick at heart with the sight and
knowledge of all this wicked town's sin and misery."

"Do you have to carry it all on your shoulders, Philip?"

"Yes," replied Philip, almost fiercely. It was not that either. Only,
his reply was like a great sob of conviction that he must bear something
of these burdens. He could not help it.

Mrs. Strong did not say anything for a moment. Then,

"Don't you think you take it too seriously, Philip?"

"What?"

"Other people's wrongs. You are not responsible."

"Am I not? I am my brother's keeper. What quantity of guilt may I not
carry into the eternal kingdom if I do not do what I can to save him!
Oh, how can men be so selfish? Yet I am only one person. I cannot
prevent all this suffering alone."

"Of course you cannot, Philip. You wrong yourself to take yourself to
task so severely for the sins of others. But what has stirred you up so
this time?" Mrs. Strong understood Philip well enough to know that some
particular case had roused his feeling. He seldom yielded to such
despondency without some immediate practical reason.

Philip sat up on the couch and clasped his hands over his knee with the
eager earnestness that characterized him, when he was roused.

"Sarah, this town slumbers on the smoking crest of a volcano. There are
more than fifteen thousand people here in Milton out of work. A great
many of them are honest, temperate people who have saved up a little.
But it is nearly gone. The mills are shut down, and, on the authority of
men that ought to know, shut down for all winter. The same condition of
affairs is true in a more or less degree in the entire State and
throughout the country and even the world. People are suffering to-day
in this town for food and clothing and fuel through no fault of their
own. The same thing is true of thousands and even hundreds of thousands
all over the world. It is an age that calls for heroes, martyrs,
servants, saviors. And right here in this town, where distress walks the
streets and actual want already has its clutch on many a poor devil,
society goes on giving its expensive parties and living in its little
round of selfish pleasure just as if the volcano was a downy little bed
of roses for it to go to sleep in whenever it wearies of the pleasure
and wishes to retire to happy dreams. Oh, but the bubble will burst one
of these days, and then----"

Philip swept his hand upward with a fine gesture, and sunk back upon the
couch, groaning.

"Don't you exaggerate?" The minister's wife put the question gently.

"Not a bit! Not a bit! All true. I am not one of the French Revolution
fellows, always lugging in blood and destruction, and prophesying ruin
to the nation and the world if it doesn't gee and haw the way I tell it
to. But I tell you, Sarah, it takes no prophet to see that a man who is
hungry and out of work is a dangerous man to have around. And it takes
no extraordinary-sized heart to swell a little with righteous wrath when
in such times as these people go right on with their useless luxuries of
living, and spend as much on a single evening's entertainment as would
provide a comfortable living for a whole month to some deserving
family."

"How do you know they do?"

"Well, I'll tell you. I've figured it out. I will leave it to any one of
good judgment that any one of these projected parties mentioned here in
the evening paper," Philip smoothed the paper on the head of the
couch--"any one of them will cost in the neighborhood of one hundred to
one hundred and fifty dollars. Look here! Here's the Goldens'
party--members of Calvary Church. They will spend at least twenty-five
to thirty dollars in flowers; and refreshments will cost fifty more; and
music another twenty-five; and incidentals twenty-five extra--and so on.
Is that right, Sarah, these times, and as people ought to live now?"

"But some one gets the benefit of all this money spent. Surely that is a
help to some of the working people."

"Yes, but how many people are helped by such expenditures? Only a select
few, and they are the very ones who are least in need of it. I say that
Christian people and members of churches have no right to indulge their
selfish pleasures to this extent in these ways. I know that Christ would
not approve of it."

"You think he would not, Philip."

"No, I know he would not. There is not a particle of doubt in my mind
about it. What right has a disciple of Jesus Christ to spend for the
gratification of his physical aesthetic pleasures money which ought to
be feeding the hungry bodies of men or providing some useful necessary
labor for their activity?--I mean, of course, the gratification of those
senses which a man can live without. In this age of the world society
ought to dispense with some of its accustomed pleasures and deny itself
for the sake of the great suffering, needy world. Instead of that, the
members of the very Church of Christ on earth spend more in a single
evening's entertainment for people who don't need it than they give to
the salvation of men in a whole year. I protest out of the soul that God
gave me against such wicked selfishness. And I will protest if society
spurn me from it as a bigot, a puritan, and a boor. For society in
Christian America is not Christian in this matter--no, not after the
Christianity of Christ!"

"What can you do about it, Philip?" His wife asked the question sadly.
She had grown old fast since coming to Milton. And a presentiment of
evil would, in spite of her naturally cheery disposition, cling to her
whenever she considered Philip and his work.

"I can preach on it, and I will."

"Be wise, Philip. You tread on difficult ground when you enter society's
realm."

"Well, dear, I will be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove,
although I must confess I never knew just exactly how much that verse
meant. But preach on it I must and will."

And when the first Sunday of the month came, Philip did preach on it, to
the dismay of several members of his church who were in the habit of
giving entertainments and card parties on a somewhat elaborate scale.

He had never preached on the subject of amusements, and he stated that
he wished it to be plainly understood that he was not preaching on the
subject now. It was a question which went deeper than that, and took
hold of the very first principles of human society. A single passage in
the sermon will show the drift of it all.

"We have reached a time in the history of the world when it is the
Christian duty of every man who calls himself a disciple of the Master
to live on a simpler, less extravagant basis. The world has been living
beyond its means. Modern civilization has been exorbitant in its
demands. And every dollar foolishly spent to-day means suffering for
some one who ought to be relieved by that money wisely expended. An
entertainment given by people of means to other people of means in these
hard times, in which money is lavished on flowers, food and dress, is,
in my opinion, an act of which Christ would not approve. I do not mean
to say that he would object to the pleasure which flowers, food and
dress will give. But he would say that it is an unnecessary enjoyment
and expense at this particular crisis through which we are passing. He
would say that money and time should be given where people more in need
of them might have the benefit. He would say that when a town is in the
situation of ours today it is not a time for any selfish use for any
material blessing. Unless I mistake the spirit of the modern Christ, if
he were here he would preach to the whole world the necessity of a far
simpler, less expensive style of living, and, above all, actual
self-denial on the part of society for the Brotherhood of man. What is
society doing now? What sacrifice is it making? When it gives a charity
ball, does it not spend twice as much in getting up the entertainment to
please itself as it makes for the poor in whose behalf the ball is
given? Do you think I am severe? Ask yourself, O member of Calvary
Church, what has been the extent of your sacrifice for the world this
year before you condemn me for being too strict or particular. It is
because we live in such times that the law of service presses upon us
with greater insistence than ever. And now more than during any of the
ages gone, Christ's words ring in our ears with twenty centuries of
reverberation, 'Whosoever will not deny himself and take up his cross,
he cannot be my disciple.'"

Of all the sermons on Christ and Modern Society which Philip had thus
far preached, none had hit so hard or was applied so personally as this.
The Goldens went home from the service in a towering rage. "That settles
Calvary Church for me," said Mrs. Golden, as she flung herself out of
the building after the service was over. "I consider that the most
insulting sermon I ever heard from any minister. It is simply
outlandish; and how the church can endure such preaching much longer is
a wonder to me. I don't go near it again while Mr. Strong is the
minister!" Philip did not know it yet, but he was destined to find out
that society carries a tremendous power in its use of the word
"outlandish," applied either to persons or things.

When the evening service was over, Philip, as his habit was, lay down on
the couch in front of the open fire until the day's excitement had
subsided a little. It was almost the only evening in the week when he
gave himself up to complete rest of mind and body.

He had been lying there about a quarter of an hour when Mrs. Strong, who
had been moving a plant back from one of the front windows and had been
obliged to raise a curtain, stepped back into the room with an
exclamation.

"Philip! There is some one walking back and forth in front of the house!
I have heard the steps ever since we came home. And just now I saw a man
stop and look in here. Who can it be?"

"Maybe it's the man with the burglar's lantern come back to get his
knife," said Philip, who had always made a little fun of that incident
as his wife had told it. However, he rose and went over to the window.
Sure enough, there was a man out on the sidewalk looking straight at the
house. He was standing perfectly still.

Philip and his wife stood by the window looking at the figure outside,
and, as it did not move away, at last Philip grew a little impatient and
went to the door to open it and ask the man what he meant by staring
into people's houses in that fashion.

"Now, do be careful, won't you?" entreated his wife, anxiously.

"Yes, I presume it is some tramp or other wanting food. There's no
danger, I know."

He flung the door wide open and called out in his clear, hearty voice:

"Anything you want, friend? Come up and ring the bell if you want to get
in and know us, instead of standing there on the walk catching cold and
making us wonder who you are."

In response to this frank and informal invitation the figure came
forward and slowly mounted the steps of the porch. As the face came into
view more clearly, Philip started and fell back a little.

It was not because the face was that of an enemy, nor because it was
repulsive, nor because he recognized an old acquaintance. It was a face
he had never to his knowledge seen before. Yet the impulse to start back
before it seemed to spring from the recollection of just such a
countenance moving over his spirit when he was in prayer or in trouble.
It all passed in a second's time and then he confronted the man as a
complete stranger.

There was nothing remarkable about him. He was poorly dressed and
carried a small bundle. He looked cold and tired. Philip, who never
could resist the mute appeal of distress in any form, reached out his
hand and said kindly, "Come in, my brother, you look cold and weary.
Come in and sit down before the fire, and we'll have a bite of lunch. I
was just beginning to think of having something to eat, myself."

Philip's wife looked a little remonstrance, but Philip did not see it,
and wheeling an easy chair before the fire he made the man sit down, and
pulling up a rocker he placed himself opposite.

The stranger seemed a little surprised at the action of the minister,
but made no resistance. He took off his hat and disclosed a head of hair
white as snow, and said, in a voice that sounded singularly sweet and
true:

"You do me much honor, sir. The fire feels good this chilly evening, and
the food will be very acceptable. And I have no doubt you have a good
warm bed that I could occupy for the night."

Philip stared hard at his unexpected guest, and his wife who had started
out of the room to get the lunch, shook her head vigorously as she stood
behind the visitor, as a sign that her husband should refuse such a
strange request. He was taken aback a little, and he looked puzzled. The
words were uttered in the utmost simplicity.

"Why, yes, we can arrange that all right," he said. "There is a spare
room, and--excuse me a moment while I go and help to get our lunch."
Philip's wife was telegraphing to him to come into the other room and he
obediently got up and went.

"Now, Philip," she whispered when they were out in the dining-room, "you
know that is a risky thing to do. You are all the time inviting all
kinds of characters in here. We can't keep this man all night. Who ever
heard of such a thing as a perfect stranger coming out with a request
like that? I believe the man is crazy. It certainly will not do to let
him stay here all night."

Philip looked puzzled.

"I declare it is strange! He doesn't appear like an ordinary tramp. But
somehow I don't think he's crazy. Why shouldn't we let him have the bed
in the room off the east parlor. I can light the fire in the stove there
and make him comfortable."

"But we don't know who he is. You let your sympathies run away with your
judgment."

"Well, little woman, let me go in and talk with him a while. You get the
lunch, and we'll see about the rest afterward."

So he went back and sat down again. He was hardly seated when his
visitor said:

"If your wife objects to my staying here to-night, of course, I don't
wish to. I don't feel comfortable to remain where I'm not welcome."

"Oh, you're perfectly welcome," said Philip, hastily, with some
embarrassment, while his strange visitor went on:

"I'm not crazy, only a little odd, you know. Perfectly harmless. It will
be perfectly safe for you to keep me over night."

The man spread his thin hands out before the fire, while Philip sat and
watched him with a certain fascination new to his interest in all sorts
and conditions of men.

Mrs. Strong brought in a substantial lunch of cold meat, bread and
butter, milk and fruit, and then placed it on a table in front of the
open fire, where he and his remarkable guest ate like hungry men.

It was after this lunch had been eaten and the table removed that a
scene occurred which would be incredible if its reality and truthfulness
did not compel us to record it as a part of the life of Philip Strong.
No one will wish to deny the power and significance of this event as it
is unfolded in the movement of this story.



CHAPTER XI


"I heard your sermon this morning,' said Philip's guest while Mrs.
Strong was removing the small table to the dining-room.

"Did you?" asked Philip, because he could not think of anything wiser to
say.

"Yes," said the strange visitor, simply. He was so silent after saying
this one word that Philip did what he never was in the habit of doing.
He always shrank back sensitively from asking for an opinion of his
preaching from any one except his wife. But now he could not help
saying:

"What did you think of it?"

"It was one of the best sermons I ever heard. But somehow it did not
sound sincere."

"What!" exclaimed Philip, almost angrily. If there was one thing he felt
sure about, it was the sincerity of his preaching. Then he checked his
feeling, as he thought how foolish it would be to get angry at a passing
tramp, who was probably a little out of his mind. Yet the man's remark
had a strange power over him. He tried to shake it off as he looked
harder at him. The man looked over at Philip and repeated gravely,
shaking his head, "Not sincere."

Mrs. Strong came back into the room, and Philip motioned her to sit down
near him while he said, "And what makes you think I was not sincere?"

"You said the age in which we lived demanded that people live in a far
simpler, less extravagant style."

"Yes, that is what I said. I believe it, too," replied Philip, clasping
his hands over his knee and gazing at his singular guest with
earnestness. The man's thick, white hair glistened in the open firelight
like spun glass.

"And you said that Christ would not approve of people spending money for
flowers, food and dress on those who did not need it, when it could more
wisely be expended for the benefit of those who were in want."

"Yes; those were not my exact words, but that was my idea."

"Your idea. Just so. And yet we have had here in this little lunch, or,
as you called it, a 'bite of something,' three different kinds of meat,
two kinds of bread, hothouse grapes, and the richest kind of milk."

The man said all this in the quietest, calmest manner possible; and
Philip stared at him, more assured than ever that he was a little crazy.
Mrs. Strong looked amused, and said, "You seemed to enjoy the lunch
pretty well." The man had eaten with a zest that was redeemed from
greediness only by a delicacy of manner that no tramp ever possessed.

"My dear madam," said the man, "perhaps this was a case where the food
was given to one who stood really in need of it."

Philip started as if he had suddenly caught a meaning from the man's
words which he had not before heard in them.

"Do you think it was an extravagant lunch, then?" he asked with a very
slight laugh.

The man looked straight at Philip, and replied slowly, "Yes, for the
times in which we live!"

A sudden silence fell on the group of three in the parlor of the
parsonage, lighted up by the soft glow of the coal fire. No one except a
person thoroughly familiar with the real character of Philip Strong
could have told why that silence fell on him instead of a careless laugh
at the crazy remark of a half-witted stranger tramp. Just how long the
silence lasted, he did not know. Only, when it was broken he found
himself saying:

"Man, who are you? Where are you from? And what is your name?"

His guest turned his head a little, and replied, "When you called me in
here you stretched out your hand and called me 'Brother.' Just now you
called me by the great term, 'Man.' These are my names; you may call me
'Brother Man.'"

"Well, then, 'Brother Man,'" said Philip, smiling a little to think of
the very strangeness of the whole affair, "your reason for thinking I
was not sincere in my sermon this morning was because of the extravagant
lunch this evening?"

"Not altogether. There are other reasons." The man suddenly bowed his
head between his hands, and Philip's wife whispered to him, "Philip,
what is the use of talking with a crazy man? You are tired, and it is
time to put out the lights and go to bed. Get him out of the house now
as soon as you can."

The stranger raised his head and went on talking just as if he had not
broken off abruptly.

"Other reasons. In your sermon you tell the people they ought to live
less luxuriously. You point them to the situation in this town, where
thousands of men are out of work. You call attention to the great
poverty and distress all over the world, and you say the times demand
that people live far simpler, less extravagant lives. And yet here you
live yourself like a prince. Like a prince," he repeated, after a
peculiar gesture, which seemed to include not only what was in the room
but all that was in the house.

Philip glanced at his wife as people do when they suspect a third person
being out of his mind, and saw that her expression was very much like
his own feeling, although not exactly. Then they both glanced around the
room.

It certainly did look luxurious, even if not princely. The parsonage was
an old mansion which had once belonged to a wealthy but eccentric sea
captain. He had built to please himself, something after the colonial
fashion; and large square rooms, generous fireplaces with quaint
mantels, and tiling, and hardwood floors gave the house an appearance of
solid comfort that approached luxury. The church in Milton had purchased
the property from the heirs, who had become involved in ruinous
speculation and parted with the house for a sum little representing its
real worth. It had been changed a little, and modernized, although the
old fireplaces still remained; and one spare room, an annex to the house
proper, had been added recently. There was an air of decided comfort
bordering on luxury in the different pieces of furniture and the whole
appearance of the room.

"You understand," said Philip, as his glance traveled back to his
visitor, "that this house is not mine. It belongs to my church. It is
the parsonage, and I am simply living in it as the minister."

"Yes, I understand. You, a minister, are living in this princely house
while other people have not where to lay their heads."

Again Philip felt the same temptation to anger steal into him, and again
he checked himself at the thought: "The man is certainly insane. The
whole thing is simply absurd. I will get rid of him. And yet----"

He could not shake off a strange and powerful impression which the
stranger's words had made upon him. Crazy or not, the man had hinted at
the possibility of an insincerity on his part, which made him restless.
He determined to question him and see if he really would develop a
streak of insanity that would justify him in getting rid of him for the
night.

"Brother Man," he said, using the term his guest had given him, "do you
think I am living to[sic] extravagantly to live as I do?"

"Yes, in these times and after such a sermon."

"What would you have me do?" Philip asked the question half seriously,
half amused at himself for asking advice from such a source.

"Do as you preach that others ought to."

Again that silence fell over the room. And again Philip felt the same
impression of power in the strange man's words.

The "Brother Man," as he wished to be called, bowed his head between his
hands again; and Mrs. Strong whispered to her husband: "Now it is
certainly worse than foolish to keep this up any longer. The man is
evidently insane. We cannot keep him here all night. He will certainly
do something terrible. Get rid of him, Philip. This may be a trick on
the part of the whiskey men."

Never in all his life had Philip been so puzzled to know what to do with
a human being. Here was one, the strangest he had ever met, who had come
into his house; it is true he had been invited, but once within he had
invited himself to stay all night, and then had accused his entertainer
of living too extravagantly and called him an insincere preacher. Add to
all this the singular fact that he had declared his name to be "Brother
Man," and that he spoke with a calmness that was the very incarnation of
peace, and Philip's wonder reached its limit.

In response to his wife's appeal Philip rose abruptly and went to the
front door; he opened it, and a whirl of snow danced in. The wind had
changed, and the moan of a coming heavy storm was in the air.

The moment that he opened the door his strange guest also rose, and
putting on his hat he said, as he moved slowly toward the hall, "I must
be going. I thank you for your hospitality, madam."

Philip stood holding the door partly open. He was perplexed to know just
what to do or say.

"Where will you stay to-night? Where is your home?"

"My home is with my friends," replied the man. He laid his hand on the
door, opened it, and had stepped one foot out on the porch, when Philip,
seized with an impulse, laid his hand on his arm, gently but strongly
pulled him back into the hall, shut the door, and placed his back
against it.

"You cannot go out into this storm until I know whether you have a place
to go to for the night."

The man hesitated curiously, shuffled his feet on the mat, put his hand
up to his face, and passed it across his eyes with a gesture of great
weariness. There was a look of loneliness and of unknown sorrow about
his whole figure that touched Philip's keenly sensitive spirit
irresistibly. If the man was a little out of his right mind, he was
probably harmless. They could not turn him out into the night if he had
nowhere to go.

"Brother Man," said Philip, gently, "would you like to stay here
to-night? Have you anywhere else to stay?"

"You are afraid I will do harm. But no. See. Let us sit down."

He laid his hat on the table, resumed his seat and asked Philip for a
Bible. Philip handed him one. He opened it and read a chapter from the
Prophet Isaiah, and then; sitting in the chair, bowing his head between
his hands, he offered a prayer of such wonderful beauty and spiritual
refinement of expression that Mr. and Mrs. Strong listened with awed
astonishment.

When he had uttered the amen Mrs. Strong whispered to Philip, "Surely we
cannot shut him out with the storm. We will give him the spare room."

Philip said not a word. He at once built up a fire in the room, and in a
few moments invited the man into it.

"Brother Man," he said simply, "stay here as if this was your own house.
You are welcome for the night."

"Yes, heartily welcome," said Philip's wife, as if to make amends for
any doubts she had felt before.

For reply the "Brother Man" raised his hand almost as if in benediction.
And they left him to his rest.



CHAPTER XII.


In the morning Philip knocked at his guest's door to waken him for
breakfast. Not a sound could be heard within. He waited a little while
and then knocked again. It was as still as before. He opened the door
softly and looked in.

To his amazement there was no one there. The bed was made up neatly,
everything in the room was in its place, but the strange being who had
called himself "Brother Man" was gone.

Philip exclaimed, and his wife came in.

"So our queer guest has flown! He must have been very still about it; I
heard no noise. Where do you suppose he is? And who do you suppose he
is?"

"Are you sure there ever was such a person, Philip? Don't you think you
dreamed all that about the 'Brother Man'?" Mrs. Strong had not quite
forgiven Philip for his sceptical questioning of the reality of the man
with the lantern who had driven the knife into the desk.

"Yes, it's your turn now, Sarah. Well, if our Brother Man was a dream he
was the most curious dream this family ever had. And if he was crazy he
was the most remarkable insane person I ever saw."

"Of course he was crazy. All that he said about our living so
extravagantly."

"Do you think he was crazy in that particular?" asked Philip, in a
strange voice. His wife noticed it at the time, but its true
significance did not become real to her until afterward. He went to the
front door and found it was unlocked. Evidently the guest had gone out
that way. The heavy storm of the night had covered up any possible signs
of footsteps. It was still snowing furiously.

He went into his study for the forenoon as usual, but he did very little
writing. His wife could hear him pacing the floor restlessly.

About ten o'clock he came downstairs and declared his intention of going
out into the storm to see if he couldn't settle down to work better.

He went out and did not return until the middle of the afternoon. Mrs.
Strong was a little alarmed.

"Where have you been all this time, Philip?--in this terrible storm,
too! You are a monument of snow. Stand out here in the kitchen while I
sweep you off."

Philip obediently stood still while his wife walked around him with a
broom, and good-naturedly submitted to being swept down, "as if I were
being worked into shape for a snow man," he said.

"Where have you been? Give an account of yourself."

"I have been seeing how some other people live. Sarah, the Brother Man
was not so very crazy, after all. He has more than half converted me."

"Did you find out anything about him?"

"Yes, several of the older citizens here recognized my description of
him. They say he is harmless and has quite a history; was once a wealthy
mill-owner in Clinton. He wanders about the country, living with any one
who will take him in. It is a queer case; I must find out more about
him. But I'm hungry; can I have a bite of something?"

"Haven't you had dinner?"

"No; haven't had time."

"Where have you been?"

"Among the tenements."

"How are the people getting on there?"

"I cannot tell. It almost chokes me to eat when I think of it."

"Now, Philip, what makes you take it so seriously? How can you help all
that suffering? You are not to blame for it?"

"Maybe I am for a part of it. But whether I am or not, there the
suffering is. And I don't know as we ought to ask who is to blame in
such cases. At any rate, supposing the fathers and mothers in the
tenements are to blame themselves by their own sinfulness, does that
make innocent children and helpless babes any warmer or better clothed
and fed? Sarah, I have seen things in these four hours' time that make
me want to join the bomb-throwers of Europe almost."

Mrs. Strong came up behind his chair as he sat at the table eating, and
placed her hand on his brow. She grew more anxious every day over his
growing personal feeling for others. It seemed to her it was becoming a
passion with him, wearing him out, and she feared its results as winter
deepened and the strike in the mills remained unbroken.

"You cannot do more than one man, Philip." she said with a sigh.

"No, but if I can only make the church see its duty at this time and act
the Christlike way a great many persons will be saved." He dropped his
knife and fork, wheeled around abruptly in his chair, and faced her with
the question, "Would you give up this home and be content to live in a
simpler fashion than we have been used to since we came here?"

"Yes," replied his wife, quietly, "I will go anywhere and suffer
anything with you. What is it you are thinking of now?"

"I need a little more time. There is a crisis near at hand in my thought
of what Christ would require of me. My dear, I am sure we shall be led
by the spirit of Truth to do what is necessary and for the better saving
of men."

He kissed his wife tenderly and went upstairs again to his work. All
through the rest of the afternoon and in the evening, as he shaped his
church and pulpit work, the words of the "Brother Man" rang in his ears,
and the situation at the tenements rose in the successive panoramas
before his eyes. As the storm increased in fury with the coming
darkness, he felt that it was typical in a certain sense of his own
condition. He abandoned the work he had been doing at his desk, and,
kneeling down at his couch, he prayed. Mrs. Strong, coming up to the
study to see how his work was getting on, found him kneeling there and
went and kneeled beside him, while together they sought the light
through the storm.

So the weeks went by and the first Sunday of the next month found
Philip's Christ message even more direct and personal than any he had
brought to his people before. He had spent much of the time going into
the working-men's houses. The tenement district was becoming familiar
territory to him now. He had settled finally what his own action ought
to be. In that action his wife fully concurred. And the members of
Calvary Church, coming in that Sunday morning, were astonished at the
message of their pastor as he spoke to them from the standpoint of
modern Christ.

"I said a month ago that the age in which we live demands a simpler,
less extravagant style of living. I did not mean by that to condemn the
beauties of art or the marvels of science or the products of
civilization. I merely emphasized what I believe is a mighty but
neglected truth in our modern civilization--that if we would win men to
Christ we must adopt more of his spirit of simple and consecrated
self-denial. I wish it to be distinctly understood as I go on that I do
not condemn any man simply because he is rich or lives in a luxurious
house, enjoying every comfort of modern civilization, every delicacy of
the season, and all physical desires. What I do wish distinctly
understood is the belief which has been burned deep into me ever since
coming to this town, that if the members of this church wish to honor
the Head of the Church and bring men to believe him and save them in
this life and the next, they must be willing to do far more than they
have yet done to make use of the physical comforts and luxuries of their
homes for the blessing and Christianizing of this community. In this
particular I have myself failed to set you an example. The fact that I
have so failed is my only reason for making this matter public this
morning.

"The situation in Milton to-day is exceedingly serious. I do not need to
prove it to you by figures. If any business man will go through the
tenements he will acknowledge my statements. If any woman will contrast
those dens with her own home, she will, if Christ is a power in her
heart, stand in horror before such a travesty on the sacred thought of
honor. The destitution of the neighborhood is alarming. The number of
men out of work is dangerous. The complete removal of all sympathy
between the Church up here on this street, and the tenement district is
sadder than death. O my beloved!"--Philip stretched out his arms and
uttered a cry that rang in the ears of those who heard it and remained
with some of them a memory for years--"these things ought not so to be!
Where is the Christ spirit with us? Have we not sat in our comfortable
houses and eaten our pleasant food and dressed in the finest clothing
and gone to amusements and entertainments without number, while God's
poor have shivered on the streets, and his sinful ones have sneered at
Christianity as they have walked by our church doors?

"It is true we have given money to charitable causes. It is true the
town council has organized a bureau for the care and maintenance of
those in want. It is true members of Calvary Church, with other churches
at this time, have done something to relieve the immediate distress of
the town. But how much have we given of ourselves to those in need? Do
we reflect that to reach souls and win them, to bring back humanity to
God and the Christ, the Christian must do something different from the
giving of money now and then? He must give a part of himself. That was
my reason for urging you to move this church building away from this
street into the tenement district, that we might give ourselves to the
people there. The idea is the same in what I now propose. But you will
pardon me if first of all I announce my own action, which I believe is
demanded by the times and would be approved by our Lord."

Philip stepped up nearer the front of the platform and spoke with an
added earnestness and power which thrilled every hearer. A part of the
great conflict through which he had gone that past month shone out in
his pale face and found partial utterance in his impassioned speech,
especially as he drew near the end. The very abruptness of his
proposition smote the people into breathless attention.

"The parsonage in which I am living is a large, even a luxurious
dwelling. It has nine large rooms. You are familiar with its
furnishings. The salary this church pays me is $2,000 a year, a sum
which more than provides for my necessary wants. What I have decided to
do is this: I wish this church to reduce this salary one-half and take
the other thousand dollars to the fitting up the parsonage for a refuge
for homeless children, or for some such purpose which will commend
itself to your best judgment. There is money enough in this church alone
to maintain such an institution handsomely, and not a single member of
Calvary suffer any hardship whatever. I will move into a house nearer
the lower part of the town, where I can more easily reach after the
people and live more among them. That is what I propose for myself. It
is not because I believe the rich and the educated do not need the
gospel or the church. The rich and the poor both need the life more
abundantly. But I am firmly convinced that as matters now are, the
church membership through pulpit and pew must give itself more than in
the later ages of the world it has done for the sake of winning men. The
form of self-denial must take a definite, physical, genuinely
sacrificing shape. The Church must get back to the apostolic times in
some particulars and an adaptation of community of goods and a sharing
of certain aspects of civilization must mark the church membership of
the coming twentieth century. An object lesson in self-denial large
enough for men to see, a self-denial that actually gives up luxuries,
money, and even pleasures--this is the only kind that will make much
impression on the people. I believe if Christ was on earth he would
again call for this expression of loyalty to him. He would again say,
'So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath,
he cannot be my disciple?'

"All this is what I call on the members of this church to do. Do I say
that you ought to abandon your own houses and live somewhere else? No. I
can decide only for myself in a matter of that kind. But this much I do.
Give yourselves in some genuine way to save this town from its evil
wretchedness. It is not so much your money as your own soul that the
sickness of the world needs. This plan has occurred to me. Why could not
every family in this church become a savior to some other family,
interest itself in the other, know the extent of its wants as far as
possible, go to it in person, let the Christian home come into actual
touch with the unchristian, in short, become a natural savior to one
family. There are dozens of families in this church that could do that.
It would take money. It would take time. It would mean real self-denial.
It would call for all your Christian grace and courage. But what does
all this church membership and church life mean if not just such
sacrifice? We cannot give anything to this age of more value than our
own selves. The world of sin and want and despair and disbelief is not
hungering for money or mission-schools or charity balls or state
institutions for the relief of distress, but for live, pulsing, loving
Christian men and women, who reach out live, warm hands, who are willing
to go and give themselves, who will abandon, if necessary, if Christ
calls for it, the luxuries they have these many years enjoyed in order
that the bewildered, disheartened, discontented, unhappy, sinful
creatures of earth may actually learn of the love of God through the
love of man. And that is the only way the world ever has learned of the
love of God. Humanity brought that love to the heart of the race, and it
will continue so to do until this earth's tragedy is all played and the
last light put out. Members of Calvary Church, I call on you in Christ's
name this day to do something for your Master that will really show the
world that you are what you say you are when you claim to be a disciple
of that One who, although he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor,
giving up all heaven's glory in exchange for all earth's misery, the end
of which was a cruel and bloody crucifixion. Are we Christ's disciples
unless we are willing to follow him in this particular? We are not our
own. We are bought with a price."

When that Sunday service closed, Calvary Church was stirred to its
depths. There were more excited people talking together all over the
church than Philip had ever seen before. He greeted several strangers as
usual and was talking with one of them, when one of the trustees came up
and said the Board would like to meet him, if convenient for him, as
soon as he was at liberty.

Philip accordingly waited in one of the Sunday-school class-rooms with
the trustees, who had met immediately after the sermon, and decided to
have an instant conference with the pastor.



CHAPTER XIII.


The door of the class-room was closed and Philip and the trustees were
together. There was a moment of embarrassing silence and then the
spokesman for the Board, a nervous little man, said:

"Mr. Strong, we hardly know just what to say to this proposition of
yours this morning about going out of the parsonage and turning it into
an orphan asylum. But it is certainly a very remarkable proposition and
we felt as if we ought to meet you at once and talk it over."

"It's simply impossible," spoke up one of the trustees. "In the first
place, it is impracticable as a business proposition."

"Do you think so?" asked Philip, quietly.

"It is out of the question!" said the first speaker, excitedly. "The
church will never listen to it in the world. For my part, if Brother
Strong wishes to----"

At that moment the sexton knocked at the door and said a man was outside
very anxious to see the minister and have him come down to his house.
There had been an accident, or a fight, or something. Some one was dying
and wanted Mr. Strong at once. So Philip hastily excused himself and
went out, leaving the trustees together.

The door was hardly shut again when the speaker who had been interrupted
jumped to his feet and exclaimed:

"As I was saying, for my part, if Brother Strong wishes to indulge in
this eccentric action he will not have the sanction of my vote in the
matter! It certainly is an entirely unheard-of and uncalled-for
proposition."

"Mr. Strong has, no doubt, a generous motive in this proposed action,"
said a third member of the Board; "but the church certainly will not
approve any such step as the giving up of the parsonage. He exaggerates
the need of such a sacrifice. I think we ought to reason him out of the
idea."

"We called Mr. Strong to the pastorate of Calvary Church," said another;
"and it seems to me he came under the conditions granted in our call.
For the church to allow such an absurd thing as the giving up of the
parsonage to this proposed outside work would be a very unwise move."

"Yes, and more than that," said the first speaker, "I want to say very
frankly that I am growing tired of the way things have gone since Mr.
Strong came to us. What business has Calvary Church with all these
outside matters, these labor troubles and unemployed men and all the
other matters that have been made the subject of preaching lately? I
want a minister who looks after his own parish. Mr. Strong does not call
on his own people; he has not been inside my house but once since he
came to Milton. Brethren, there is a growing feeling of discontent over
this matter."

There was a short pause and then one of the members said:

"Surely, if Mr. Strong feels dissatisfied with his surroundings in the
parsonage or feels as if his work lay in another direction, he is at
liberty to choose another parish. But he is the finest pulpit-minister
we ever had, and no one doubts his entire sincerity. He is a remarkable
man in many respects."

"Yes, but sincerity may be a very awkward thing if carried too far. And
in this matter of the parsonage I don't see how the trustees can allow
it. Why, what would the other churches think of it? Calvary Church
cannot allow anything of the kind, for the sake of its reputation. But I
would like to hear Mr. Winter's opinion; he has not spoken yet."

The rest turned to the mill-owner, who as chairman of the Board usually
had much to say, and was regarded as a shrewd and careful business
adviser. In the excitement of the occasion and discussion the usual
formalities of a regular Board-meeting had been ignored.

Mr. Winter was evidently embarrassed. He had listened to the discussion
of the minister with his head bent down and his thoughts in a whirl of
emotion both for and against the pastor. His naturally inclined business
habits contended against the proposition to give up the parsonage; his
feelings of gratitude to the minister for his personal help the night of
the attack by the mob rose up to defend him. There was with it all an
under-current of self-administered rebuke that the pastor had set the
whole church an example of usefulness. He wondered how many of the
members would voluntarily give up half their incomes for the good of
humanity. He wondered in a confused way how much he would give up
himself. Philip's sermon had made a real impression on him.

"There is one point we have not discussed yet," he said at last. "And
that is Mr. Strong's offer of half his salary to carry on the work of a
children's refuge or something of that kind."

"How can we accept such an offer? Calvary Church has always believed in
paying its minister a good salary, and paying it promptly; and we want
our minister to live decently and be able to appear as he should among
the best people," replied the nervous little man who had been first to
speak.

"Still, we cannot deny that it is a very generous thing for Mr. Strong
to do. He certainly is entitled to credit for his unselfish proposal; no
one can charge him with being worldly-minded," said Mr. Winter, feeling
a new interest in the subject as he found himself defending the minister.

"Are you in favor of allowing him to do what he proposes in the matter
of the parsonage?" asked another.

"I don't see that we can hinder Mr. Strong from living anywhere he
pleases if he wants to. The church cannot compel him to live in the
parsonage."

"No, but it can choose not to have such a minister!" exclaimed the first
speaker again, excitedly; "and I for one am most decidedly opposed to
the whole thing. I do not see how the church can allow it and maintain
its self-respect."

"Do you think the church is ready to tell Mr. Strong that his services
are not wanted any longer?" asked Mr. Winter coldly.

"I am, for one of the members, and I know others who feel as I do if
matters go on in this way much longer. I tell you, Brother Winter,
Calvary Church is very near a crisis. Look at the Goldens and the
Malverns and the Albergs. They are all leaving us; and the plain reason
is the nature of the preaching. Why, you know yourself, Brother Winter,
that never has the pulpit of Calvary Church heard such preaching on
people's private affairs."

Mr. Winter colored and replied angrily, "What has that to do with this
present matter? If the minister wants to live in a simpler style I
don't see what business we have to try to stop it. As to the disposition
of the parsonage, that is a matter of business which rests with the
church to arrange."

The nervous, irritable little man who had spoken oftenest rose to his
feet and exclaimed, "You can count me out of all this, then! I wash my
hands of the whole affair!" and he went out of the room, leaving the
rest of the Board somewhat surprised at his sudden departure.

They remained about a quarter of an hour longer, discussing the matter,
and finally, at Mr. Winter's suggestion, a committee was appointed to go
and see the minister the next evening and see if he could not be
persuaded to modify or change his proposition made in the morning
sermon. The rest of the trustees insisted that Mr. Winter himself should
act as chairman of the committee, and after some remonstrance he
finally, with great reluctance, agreed to do so.

So Philip next evening, as he sat in his study mapping out the week's
work and wondering a little what the church would do in the face of his
proposal, received the committee, welcoming them in his bright, hearty
manner. He had been notified on Sunday evening of the approaching
conference. The committee consisted of Mr. Winter and two other
members of the Board.

Mr. Winter opened the conversation with considerable embarrassment and
an evident reluctance for his share in the matter.

"Mr. Strong, we have come, as you are aware, to talk over your
proposition of yesterday morning concerning the parsonage. It was a
great surprise to us all."

Philip smiled a little. "Mrs. Strong says I act too much on impulse, and
do not prepare people enough for my statements. But one of the greatest
men I ever knew used to say that an impulse was a good thing to obey
instantly if there was no doubt of its being a right one."

"And do you consider this proposed move of yours a right one, Mr.
Strong?" asked Mr. Winter.

"I do," replied Philip, with quiet emphasis. "I do not regret making it,
and I believe it is my duty to abide by my original decision."

"Do you mean that you intend actually to move out of this parsonage?"
asked one of the other members of the committee.

"Yes." Philip said it so quietly and yet so decidedly that the men were
silent a moment. Then Mr. Winter said:

"Mr. Strong, this matter is likely to cause trouble in the church, and
we might as well understand it frankly. The trustees believe that as the
parsonage belongs to the church property, and was built for the
minister, he ought to live in it. The church will not understand your
desire to move out."

"Do you understand it, Mr. Winter?" Philip put the question point blank.

"No, I don't know that I do, wholly." Mr. Winter colored and replied in
a hesitating manner.

"I gave my reasons yesterday morning. I do not know that I can make them
plainer. The truth is I cannot go on preaching to my people about living
on a simpler basis while I continue to live in surroundings that on the
face of them contradict my own convictions. In other words, I am living
beyond my necessities here. I have lived all my life surrounded by the
luxuries of civilization. If now I desire to give these benefits to
those who have never enjoyed them, or to know from nearer contact
something of the bitter struggle of the poor, why should I be hindered
from putting that desire into practical form?"

"The question is, Mr. Strong," said one of the other trustees, "whether
this is the best way to get at it. We do not question your sincerity
nor doubt your honesty; but will your leaving the parsonage and living
in a less expensive house on half your present salary help your church
work or reach more people and save more souls?"

"I am glad you put it that way," exclaimed Philip, eagerly turning to
the speaker. "That is just it. Will my proposed move result in bringing
the church and the minister into closer and more vital relations with
the people most in need of spiritual and physical uplifting? Out of the
depths of my nature I believe it will. The chasm between the Church and
the people in these days must be bridged by the spirit of sacrifice in
material things. It is in vain for us to preach spiritual truths unless
we live physical truths. What the world is looking for to-day is object
lessons in self-denial on the part of Christian people."

For a moment no one spoke. Then Mr. Winter said:

"About your proposal that this house be turned into a refuge or home for
homeless children, Mr. Strong, do you consider that idea practicable? Is
it business? Is it possible?"

"I believe it is, very decidedly. The number of homeless and vagrant
children at present in Milton would astonish you. This house could be
put into beautiful shape as a detention house until homes could be found
for the children in Christian families."

"It would take a great deal of money to manage it."

"Yes," replied Philip, with a sadness which had its cause deep within
him, "it would cost something. But can the world be saved cheaply? Does
not every soul saved cost an immense sum, if not of money at least of an
equivalent? Is it possible for us to get at the heart of the great
social problem without feeling the need of using all our powers to solve
it rightly?"

Mr. Winter shook his head. He did not understand the minister. His action
and his words were both foreign to the mill-owner's regular business
habits of thought and performance.

"What will you do, Mr. Strong, if the church refuses to listen to this
proposed plan of yours?"

"I suppose," answered Philip, after a little pause, "the church will not
object to my living in another house at my own charges?"

"They have no right to compel you to live here." Mr. Winter turned to
the other members of the committee. "I said so at our previous meeting.
Gentlemen, am I not right in that?"

"It is not a question of our compelling Mr. Strong to live here," said
one of the others. "It is a question of the church's expecting him to do
so. It is the parsonage and the church home for the minister. In my
opinion it will cause trouble if Mr. Strong moves out. People will not
understand it."

"That is my belief, too, Mr. Strong," said Mr. Winter. "It would be
better for you to modify or change, or better still, to abandon this
plan. It will not be understood and will cause trouble."

"Suppose the church should rent the parsonage then," suggested Philip;
"it would then be getting a revenue from the property. That, with the
thousand dollars on my salary, could be wisely and generously used to
relieve much suffering in Milton this winter. The church could easily
rent the house."

That was true, as the parsonage stood on one of the most desirable parts
of B street, and would command good rental.

"Then you persist in this plan of yours, do you, Mr. Strong?" asked the
third member of the committee, who had for the most part been silent.

"Yes, I consider that under the circumstances, local and universal, it
is my duty. Where I propose to go is a house which I can get for eight
dollars a month. It is near the tenement district, and not so far from
the church and this neighborhood that I need be isolated too much from
my church family."

Mr. Winter looked serious and perplexed. The other trustees looked
dissatisfied. It was evident they regarded the whole thing with disfavor.

Mr. Winter rose abruptly. He could not avoid a feeling of anger, in
spite of his obligation to the minister. He also had a vivid
recollection of his former interview with the pastor in that study. And
yet he struggled with the vague resistance against the feeling that
Philip was proposing to do a thing that could result in only one way--of
suffering for himself. With all the rest went a suppressed but conscious
emotion of wonder that a man would of his own free will give up a
luxurious home for the sake of any one.

"The matter of reduction of salary, Mr. Strong, will have to come before
the church. The trustees cannot vote to accept your proposal. I am very
much mistaken if the members of Calvary Church will not oppose the
reduction. You can see how it would place us in an unfavorable light."

"Not necessarily, Mr. Winter," said Philip, eagerly. "If the church will
simply regard it as my own great desire and as one of the ways by which
we may help forward our work in Milton, I am very sure we need have no
fear of being put in a false light. The church does not propose this
reduction. It comes from me, and in a time of peculiar emergency, both
financial and social. It is a thing which has been done several times by
other ministers."

"That may be. Still, I am positive that Calvary Church will regard it as
unnecessary and will oppose it."

"It will not make any difference, practically," replied Philip, with a
smile. "I can easily dispose of a thousand dollars where it is needed by
others more than by me. But I would prefer that the church would
actually pay out the money to them, rather than myself."

Mr. Winter and the other trustees looked at Philip in wonder; and with a
few words of farewell they left the parsonage.



CHAPTER XIV.


The following week Calvary Church held a meeting. It was one of the most
stormiest meetings ever held by the members. In that meeting Mr. Winter
again, to the surprise of nearly all, advised caution, and defended the
minister's action up to a certain point. The result was a condition of
waiting and expectancy, rather than downright condemnation of the
proposed action on Philip's part. It would be presenting the church in
a false light to picture it as entirely opposed, up to this date, to
Philip's preaching and ideas of Christian living. He had built up a
strong buttress of admiring and believing members in the church. This
stood, with Mr. Winter's influence, as a breakwater against the tidal
wave of opposition now beginning to pour in upon him. There was an
element in Calvary Church conservative to a degree, and yet strong in
its growing belief that Christian action and Church work in the world
had reached a certain crisis, which would result either in the death or
life of the Church in America. Philip's preaching had strengthened this
feeling. His last move had startled this element, and it wished to wait
for developments. The proposal of some that the minister be requested to
resign was finally overruled, and it was decided not to oppose his
desertion of the parsonage, while the matter of reduction of salary was
voted upon in the negative.

But feeling was roused to a high pitch. Many of the members declared
their intention of refusing to attend services. Some said they would not
pay their pledges any longer. A prevailing minority, however, ruled in
favor of Philip, and the action of the meeting was formally sent him by
the clerk.

Meanwhile Philip moved out of the parsonage into his new quarters. The
daily paper, which had given a sensational account of his sermon, laying
most stress upon his voluntary proposition referring to his salary, now
came out with a column and a half devoted to his carrying out of his
determination to abandon the parsonage and get nearer the people in the
tenements. The article was widely copied and variously commented upon.
In Milton his action was condemned by many, defended by some. Very few
seemed to understand his exact motive. The majority took it as an
eccentric move, and expressed regret in one form and another that a man
of such marked intellectual power as Mr. Strong seemed to possess lacked
balance and good judgment. Some called him a crank. The people in the
tenement district were too much absorbed in their sufferings and
selfishness to show any demonstration. It remained to be seen whether
they would be any better touched by him in his new home.

So matters stood when the first Sunday of a new month came, and Mr.
Strong again stood before his church with his Christ message. It had
been a wearing month to him. Gradually there had been growing upon him a
sense of almost isolation in his pulpit work. He wondered if he had
interpreted Christ aright. He probed deeper and deeper into the springs
of action that moved the historical Jesus, and again and again put that
resplendently calm, majestic, suffering personality into his own pulpit
in Milton, and then stood off, as it were, to watch what he would, in
all human probability, say. He reviewed all his own sayings on those
first Sundays and tried to tax himself with utmost severity for any
denial of his Master or any false presentation of his spirit; and as he
went over the ground he was almost overwhelmed to think how little had
been really accomplished. This time he came before the church with the
experience of nearly three weeks' hand-to-hand work among the people for
whose sake he had moved out of the parsonage. As usual an immense
congregation thronged the church.

"The question has come to me lately in different forms," began Philip,
"as to what is church work. I am aware that my attitude on the question
is not shared by many of the members of this church and other churches.
Nevertheless, I stand here to-day, as I have stood on these Sundays, to
declare to you what in deepest humility would seem to me to be the
attitude of Christ in the matter before us.

"What is a church? It is a body of disciples professing to acknowledge
Christ as Master. What does He want such a body to do? Whatever will
most effectively make God's kingdom come on earth, and His will be done
as in heaven. What is the most necessary work of this church in Milton?
It is to go out and seek and save the lost. It is to take up its cross
and follow the Master. And as I see Him to-day he beckons this church to
follow Him into the tenements and slums of this town and be Christs to
those who do not know Him. As I see Him He stands beckoning with pierced
palms in the direction of suffering and disease and ignorance and vice
and paganism, saying: 'Here is where the work of Calvary Church lies.'
I do not believe the work of this church consists in having so many
meetings and socials and pleasant gatherings and delightful occasions
among its own members; but the real work of this church consists in
getting out of its own little circle in which it has been so many years
moving, and going, in any way most effective to the world's wounded, to
bind up the hurt and be a savior to the lost. If we do not understand
this to be the true meaning of church work, then I believe we miss its
whole meaning. Church work in Milton to-day does not consist in doing
simply what your fathers did before you. It means helping to make a
cleaner town, the purification of our municipal life, the actual
planning and accomplishment of means to relieve physical distress, a
thorough understanding of the problem of labor and capital; in brief,
church work to-day in this town is whatever is most needed to be done to
prove to this town that we are what we profess ourselves to
be--disciples of Jesus Christ. That is the reason I give more time to
the tenement district problem than to calling on families that are well,
and in possession of great comforts and privileges. That is the reason I
call on this church to do Christ's work in His name and give itself to
save that part of our town."

This is but the briefest of the sketches of Philip's sermon. It was a
part of himself, his experience, his heart belief. He poured it out on
the vast audience with little saving of his vitality. And that Sunday he
went home at night exhausted, with a feeling of weariness partly due to
his work during the week among the people. The calls upon his time and
strength had been incessant, and he did not know where or when to stop.

It was three weeks after this sermon on church work that Philip was
again surprised by his strange visitor of a month before. He had been
out making some visits in company with his wife. When they came back to
the house, there sat the Brother Man on the door-step.

At sight of him, Philip felt that same thrill of expectancy which had
passed over him at his former appearance.

The old man stood up and took off his hat. He looked very tired and
sorrowful. But there breathed from his entire bearing the element of a
perfect peace.

"Brother Man," said Philip, cheerily, "come in and rest yourself."

"Can you keep me over night?"

The question was put wistfully. Philip was struck by the difference
between this almost shrinking request and the self-invitation of a month
before.

"Yes, indeed! We have one spare room for you. You are welcome. Come in."

So they went in, and after tea the two sat down together while Mrs.
Strong was busy in the kitchen. A part of this conversation was
afterward related by the minister to his wife; a part of it he afterward
said was unreportable----the manner of tone, the inflection, the gesture
of his remarkable guest no man could reproduce.

"You have moved since I saw you last," said the visitor.

"Yes," replied Philip. "You did not expect me to act on your advice so
soon?"

"My advice?" The question came in a hesitating tone. "Did I advise you
to move? Ah, yes, I remember!" A light like supremest reason flashed
over the man's face, and then died out. "Yes, yes; you are beginning to
live on your simpler basis. You are doing as you preach. That must feel
good."

"Yes," replied Philip, "it does feel good. Do you think, Brother Man,
that this will help to solve the problem?"

"What problem?"

"Why, the problem of the church and the people--winning them, saving
them."

"Are your church members moving out of their elegant houses and coming
down here to live?" The old man asked the question in utmost simplicity.

"No; I did not ask them."

"You ought to."

"What! Do you believe my people ought literally to leave their
possessions and live among the people?"

Philip could not help asking the question, and all the time he was
conscious of a strange absurdity mingled with an unaccountable respect
for his visitor, and his opinion.

"Yes," came the reply, with the calmness of light. "Christ would demand
it if he were pastor of Calvary Church in this age. The church members,
the Christians in this century, must renounce all that they have, or
they cannot be his disciples."

Philip sat profoundly silent. The words spoken so quietly by this
creature tossed upon his own soul like a vessel in a tempest. He dared
not say anything for a moment. The Brother Man looked over and said at
last: "What have you been preaching about since you came here?"

"A great many things."

"What are some of the things you have preached about?"

"Well," Philip clasped his hands over his knees; "I have preached about
the right and wrong uses of property, the evil of the saloon, the Sunday
as a day of rest and worship, the necessity of moving our church
building down into this neighborhood, the need of living on a simpler
basis, and, lastly, the true work of a church in these days."

"Has your church done what you have wished?"

"No," replied Philip, with a sigh.

"Will it do what you preach ought to be done?"

"I do not know."

"Why don't you resign?"

The question came with perfect simplicity, but it smote Philip almost
like a blow. It was spoken with calmness that hardly rose above a
whisper, but it seemed to the listener almost like a shout. The thought
of giving up his work simply because his church had not yet done what he
wished, or because some of his people did not like him, was the last
thing a man of his nature would do. He looked again at the man and said:

"Would you resign if you were in my place?"

"No." It was so quietly spoken that Philip almost doubted if his visitor
had replied. Then he said: "What has been done with the parsonage?"

"It is empty. The church is waiting to rent it to some one who expects
to move to Milton soon."

"Are you sorry you came here?"

"No; I am happy in my work."

"Do you have enough to eat and wear?"

"Yes, indeed. The thousand dollars which the church refused to take off
my salary goes to help where most needed; the rest is more than enough
for us."

"Does your wife think so?" The question from any one else had been
impertinent. From this man it was not.

"Let us call her in and ask her," replied Philip, with a smile.

"Sarah, the Brother Man wants to know if you have enough to live on."

Sarah came in and sat down. It was dark. The year was turning into the
softer months of spring, and all the out-door world had been a
benediction that evening if the sorrow and poverty and sin of the
tenement district so near had not pervaded the very walls and atmosphere
of the entire place. The minister's wife answered bravely: "Yes, we
have food and clothing and life's necessaries. But, oh, Philip! this
life is wearing you out. Yes, Brother Man." she continued, while a tear
rolled over her cheek, "the minister is giving his life blood for these
people, and they do not care. It is a vain sacrifice." She had spoken as
frankly as if the old man had been her father. There was a something in
him which called out such confidence.

Mr. Strong soothed his wife, clasping her to him tenderly. "There,
Sarah, you are nervous and tired. I am a little discouraged, but strong
and hearty for the work. Brother Man, you must not think we regret your
advice. We have been blessed by following it."

And then their remarkable guest stretched out his arms through the
gathering gloom in the room and seemed to bless them. Later in the
evening he again called for a Bible, and offered a prayer of wondrous
sweetness. He was shown to his plainly-furnished room. He looked around
and smiled.

"This is like my old home," he said; "a palace, where the poor die of
hunger."

Philip started at the odd remark, then recollected that the old man had
once been wealthy, and sometimes in his half-dazed condition Philip
thought probable he confounded the humblest surroundings with his once
luxurious home. He lingered a moment, and the man said, as if speaking
to himself: "If they do not renounce all they have, they cannot be my
disciples."

"Good-night, Brother Man." cried Philip, as he went out.

"Good-night, Christ's man," replied his guest. And Philip went to his
rest that night, great questions throbbing in him, and the demands of
the Master more distinctly brought to his attention than ever.

Again, as before when he rose in the morning, he found that his visitor
was gone. His eccentric movements accounted his sudden disappearances,
but they were disappointed. They wanted to see their guest again and
question him about his history. They promised themselves he would do so
next time.

The following Sunday Philip preached one of those sermons which come to
a man once or twice in a whole ministry. It was the last Sunday of the
month, and not a special occasion. But there had surged into his thought
the meaning of the Christian life with such uncontrollable power that
his sermon reached hearts never before touched. He remained at the close
of the service to talk with several young men, who seemed moved as never
before. After they had gone away he went into his own room back of the
platform to get something he had left there, and to his surprise found
the church sexton kneeling down by one of the chairs. As the minister
came in the man rose and turned toward him.

"Mr. Strong, I want to be a Christian. I want to join the church and
lead a different life."

Philip clasped his hand, while tears rolled over the man's face. He
stayed and talked with him, and prayed with him, and when he finally
went home the minister was convinced it was as strong and true a
conversion as he had ever seen. He at once related the story to his
wife, who had gone on before to get dinner.

"Why, Philip," she exclaimed, when he said the sexton wanted to be
baptized and unite with the church at the next communion, "Calvary
Church will never allow him to unite with us!"

"Why not?" asked Philip, in amazement.

"Because he is a negro," replied his wife.

Philip stood a moment in silence with his hat in his hand, looking at
his wife as she spoke.



CHAPTER XV.


"Well," said Philip, slowly, as he seemed to grasp the meaning of his
wife's words, "to tell the truth, I never thought of that!" He sat down
and looked troubled. "Do you think, Sarah, that because he is a negro
the church will refuse to receive him to membership? It would not be
Christian to refuse him."

"There are other things that are Christian which the Church of Christ on
earth does not do, Philip,["] replied his wife, almost bitterly. "But
whatever else Calvary Church may do or not do, I am very certain it will
never consent to admit to membership a black man."

"But here[sic] are so few negroes in Milton that they have no church. I
cannot counsel him to unite with his own people. Calvary Church must
admit him!" Philip spoke with the quiet determination which always
marked his convictions when they were settled.

"But suppose the committee refuses to report his name favorably to the
church--what then?" Mrs. Strong spoke with a gleam of hope in her heart
that Philip would be roused to indignation that he would resign and
leave Milton.

Philip did not reply at once. He was having an inward struggle with his
sensitiveness and his interpretation of his Christ. At last he said:

"I don't know, Sarah. I shall do what I think He would. What I shall do
afterward will also depend on what Christ would do. I cannot decide it
yet. I have great faith in the Church on earth."

"And yet what has it done for you so far, Philip? The business men
still own and rent the saloons and gambling houses. The money spent by
the church is all out of proportion to its wealth. Here you give away
half your salary to build up the kingdom of God, and more than a dozen
men in Calvary who are worth fifty and a hundred thousand dollars give
less than a hundredth part of their income to Christian work in
connection with the church. It makes my blood boil, Philip, to see how
you are throwing your life away in these miserable tenements, and
wasting your appeals on a church that plainly does not intend to do,
does not want to do, as Christ would have it. And I don't believe it
ever will."

"I'm not so sure of that, Sarah," replied Philip, cheerfully. "I believe
I shall win them yet. The only thing that sometimes troubles me is, Am I
doing just as Christ would do? Am I saying what He would say in this age
of the world? There is one thing of which I am certain--I am trying to
do just as I believe He would. The mistakes I make are those which
spring from my failure to interpret His action right. And yet I do feel
deep in me that if He was pastor of this church to-day, He would do most
of the things I have done; He would preach most of the truths I have
proclaimed. Don't you think so, Sarah?"

"I don't know, Philip. Yes, I think in most things you have made an
honest attempt to interpret Him."

"And in the matter of the sexton, Sarah, wouldn't Christ tell Calvary
Church that it should admit him to its membership? Would He make any
distinction of persons? If the man is a Christian, thoroughly converted,
and wants to be baptized and unite with Christ's body on earth, would
Christ, as pastor, refuse him admission?"

"There is a great deal of race prejudice among the people. If you press
the matter, Philip, I feel sure it will meet with great opposition."

"That is not the question with me. Would Christ tell Calvary Church that
the man ought to be admitted? That is the question. I believe He
would," added Philip, with his sudden grasp of practical action. And
Mrs. Strong knew that settled it with her husband.

It was the custom in Calvary Church for the church committee on new
names for membership to meet at the minister's house on the Monday
evening preceding the preparatory service. At that service all names
presented by the committee were formally acted upon by the church. The
committee's action was generally considered final, and the voting was in
accordance with the committee's report.

So when the committee came in that evening following the Sunday that had
witnessed the conversion of the sexton, Philip had ready a list of
names, including several young men. It was a very precious list to him.
It seemed almost for the first time since he came to Milton as if the
growing opposition to him was about to be checked, and finally submerged
beneath a power of the Holy Spirit, which it was Philip's daily prayer
might come and do the work which he alone could not do. That was one
reason he had borne the feeling against himself so calmly.

Philip read the list over to the committee, saying something briefly
about nearly all the applicants for membership and expressing his joy
that the young men especially were coming into the church family. When
he reached the sexton's name he related, simply, the scene with him
after the morning service.

There was an awkward pause then. The committee was plainly astonished.
Finally one said: "Brother Strong, I'm afraid the church will object
to receiving the sexton. What is his name?"

"Henry Roland."

"Why, he has been sexton of Calvary Church for ten years," said another,
an older member of the committee, Deacon Stearns by name. "He has been
an honest, capable man. I never heard any complaint of him. He has
always minded his own business. However, I don't know how the church
will take it to consider him as an applicant for membership."

"Why, brethren, how can it take it in any except the Christian way?"
said Philip, eagerly. "Here is a man who gives evidence of being born
again. He cannot be present to-night when the other applicants come in
later, owing to work he must do, but I can say for him that he gave all
evidence of a most sincere and thorough conversion; he wishes to be
baptized; he wants to unite with the church. He is of more than average
intelligence. He is not a person to thrust himself into places where
people do not wish him--a temperate, industrious, modest, quiet workman,
a Christian believer asking us to receive him at the communion table of
our Lord. There is no church for his own people here. On what possible
pretext can the church refuse to admit him?"

"You do not know some of the members of Calvary Church, Mr. Strong, if
you ask such a question. There is a very strong prejudice against the
negro in many families. This prejudice is especially strong just at this
time, owing to several acts of depredation committed by the negroes
living down near the railroad tracks. I don't believe it would be wise
to present this name just now." Deacon Stearns appeared to speak for the
committee, all of whom murmured assent in one form or another.

"And yet," said Philip, roused to a sudden heat of indignation; "and
yet what is Calvary Church doing to help to make those men down by the
railroad tracks any better? Are we concerned about them at all except
when our coal or wood or clothing are stolen, or some one is held up
down there? And when one of them knocks at the door of the church, can
we calmly and coldly shut it in his face, simply because God made it a
different color from ours?" Philip stopped and then finished by saying
very quietly: "Brethren, do you think Christ would receive this man into
the church?"

There was no reply for a moment. Then Deacon Stearns answered: "Brother
Strong, we have to deal with humanity as it is. You cannot make people
all over. This prejudice exists and sometimes we may have to respect it
in order to avoid greater trouble. I know families in the church who
will certainly withdraw if the sexton is voted in as a member. And
still," said the old deacon, with a sigh, "I believe Christ would
receive him into His Church."

Before much more could be said, the different applicants came, and as
the custom was, after a brief talk with them about their purpose in
uniting with the church, and their discipleship, they withdrew and the
committee formally acted on the names for presentation to the church.
The name of Henry Roland, the sexton, was finally reported unfavorably,
three of the committee voting against it, Deacon Stearns at last voting
with the minister to present the sexton's name with the others.

"Now, brethren," said Philip, with a sad smile, as they rose to go, "you
know I have always been very frank in all our relations together. And I
am going to present the sexton's name to the church Thursday night and
let the church vote on it in spite of the action here to-night. You know
we have only recommending power. The church is the final authority. And
it may accept or reject any names we present. I cannot rest satisfied
until we know the verdict of the church in the matter."

"Brother Strong," said one of the committee, who had been opposed to the
sexton, "you are right as to the extent of our authority. But there is
no question in my mind as to the outcome of the matter. It is a question
of expediency. I do not have any feeling against the sexton. But I think it
would be very unwise to receive him into membership, and I do not
believe the church will receive him. If you present the name, you do so
on your own responsibility."

"With mine," said Deacon Stearns. He was the last to shake hands with
the minister, and his warm, strong grasp gave Philip a sense of
fellowship that thrilled him with a sense of courage and companionship
very much needed. He at once went up to his study after the committee
was gone. Mrs. Strong, coming up to see him later, found him as she
often did now, on his knees in prayer. Ah, thou follower of Jesus in
this century, what but thy prayers shall strengthen thy soul in the
strange days to come?

Thursday evening was stormy. A heavy rain had set in before dark and a
high wind blew great sheets of water through the streets and rattled
loose boards and shingles about the tenements. Philip would not let his
wife go out; it was too stormy. So he went his way alone, somewhat
sorrowful at heart as he contemplated the prospect of a small attendance
on what he had planned should be an important occasion.

However, some of the best members of the church were out. The very ones
that were in sympathy with Philip and his methods were in the majority
of those present, and that led to an unexpected result when the names of
the applicants for membership came before the church for action.

Philip read the list approved by the committee, and then very simply but
powerfully told the sexton's story and the refusal of the committee to
recommend him for membership.

"Now, I do not see how we can shut this disciple of Jesus out of His
Church," concluded Philip. "And I wish to present him to this church for
its action. He is a Christian; he needs our help and our fellowship;
and, as Christian believers, as disciples of the Man of all the race, as
those who believe that there is to be no distinction of souls hereafter
that shall separate them by prejudice, I hope you will vote to receive
this brother in Christ to our membership."

The voting on new members was done by ballot. When the ballots were all
in and counted it was announced that all whose names were presented were
unanimously elected except that of the sexton. There were twelve votes
against him, but twenty-six for him, and Philip declared that, according
to the constitution of the church, he was duly elected. The meeting then
went on in the usual manner characteristic of preparatory service. The
sexton had been present in the back part of the room, and at the close
of the meeting, after all the rest had gone, he and Philip had a long
talk together. When Philip reached home he and Sarah had another long
talk on the same subject. What that was we cannot tell until we come to
record the events of the Communion Sunday, a day that stood out in
Philip's memory like one of the bleeding palms of his Master, pierced
with sorrow but eloquent with sacrifice.



CHAPTER XVI.


The day was beautiful, and the church as usual crowded to the doors.
There was a feeling of hardly concealed excitement on the part of
Calvary Church. The action of Thursday night had been sharply
criticised. Very many thought Philip had gone beyond his right in
bringing such an important subject before so small a meeting of the
members; and the prospect of the approaching baptism and communion of
the sexton had drawn in a crowd of people who ordinarily stayed away
from that service.

Philip generally had no preaching on Communion Sunday. This morning he
remained on the platform after the opening exercises, and, in a
stillness which was almost painful in its intensity, he began to speak
in a low but clear and impressive voice.

"Fellow-disciples of the Church of Christ on earth, we meet to celebrate
the memory of that greatest of all beings, who, on the eve of His own
greatest agony, prayed that His disciples might all be one. In that
prayer He said nothing about color or race or difference of speech or
social surroundings. His prayer was that His disciples might all be
one--one in their aims, in their purposes, their sympathy, their faith,
their hope, their love.

"An event has happened in this church very recently which makes it
necessary for me to say these words. The Holy Spirit came into this room
last Sunday and touched the hearts of several young men, who gave
themselves then and here to the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the men was one
of another race from the Anglo-Saxon. He was a black man. His heart was
melted by the same love, his mind illuminated by the same truth; he
desired to make confession of his belief, be baptized according to the
commands of Jesus, and unite with this church as a humble disciple of
the lowly Nazarene. His name was presented with the rest at the regular
committee meeting last Monday, and that committee, by a vote of three to
two, refused to present his name with recommendations for membership. On
my own responsibility at the preparatory service Thursday night I asked
the church to act upon this disciple's name. There was a legal quorum of
the church present. By a vote of 26 to 12 the applicant for membership
was received according to the rules of this church.

"But after that meeting the man came to me and said that he was
unwilling to unite with the church, knowing that some objected to his
membership. It was a natural feeling for him to have. We had a long talk
over the matter. Since then I have learned that if a larger
representation of members had been present at the preparatory meeting,
there is a possibility that the number voting against receiving the
applicant would have been much larger than those who voted for him.

"Under all these circumstances I have deemed it my duty to say what I
have thus far said, and to ask the church to take the action I now
propose. We are met here this morning in full membership. Here is a soul
just led out of the darkness by the spirit of truth. He is one known to
many of you as an honest, worthy man, for many years faithful in the
discharge of his duties in this house. There is no Christian reason why
he should be denied fellowship around this table. I wish, therefore, to
ask the members of the church to vote again on the acceptance or
rejection of Henry Roland, disciple of Jesus, who has asked for
permission to this body of Christ in His name. Will all those in favor
of thus receiving our brother into the great family of faith signify it
by raising the right hand?"

For a moment not a person in the church stirred. Every one seemed
smitten into astonished inaction by the sudden proposal of the minister.
Then hands began to go up. Philip counted them, his heart beating with
anguish as he foresaw the coming result. He waited a minute, it seemed
to many like several minutes, and then said: "All those opposed to the
admission of the applicant signify it by the same sign."

Again there was the same significant, reluctant pause; then half a dozen
hands went up in front of the church. Instantly, from almost every part
of the house, hands went up in numbers that almost doubled those who had
voted in favor of admission. From the gallery on the sides, where
several of Philip's work-men friends sat, a hiss arose. It was slight,
but heard by the entire congregation. Philip glanced up there and it
instantly ceased.

Without another word he stepped down from the platform and began to read
the list of those who had been received into church membership. He had
almost reached the end of it when a person whose name was called last
rose from his seat near the front, where all the newly received members
were in the habit of sitting together, and, turning partly around so as
to face the congregation and still address Philip, he said:

"Mr. Strong, I do not feel as if after what has taken place here this
morning that I could unite with this church. This man who has been
excluded from church membership is the son of a woman born into slavery
on the estate of one of my relatives. That slave woman once nursed her
master through a terrible illness and saved his life. This man, her son,
was then a little child. But in the strange changes that have gone on
since the war, the son of the old master has been reduced to poverty and
obliged to work for a living. He is now in this town. He is this very
day lying upon a sick bed in the tenement district. And this black man
has for several weeks out of his small earnings helped the son of his
mother's master and cared for him through his illness with all the
devotion of a friend.

"I have only lately learned these facts. But, knowing them as I do, and
believing that he is as worthy to sit about this table as any Christian
here, I cannot reconcile the rejection with my own purpose to unite
here. I therefore desire to withdraw my application for membership here.
Mr. Strong, I desire to be baptized and partake of the communion as a
disciple of Christ, simply, not as a member of Calvary Church. Can I do
so?"

Philip replied in a choking voice: "You can." The man sat down. It was
not the place for any demonstration, but again from the gallery came a
slight but distinct note of applause. As before, it instantly subsided
as Philip looked up. For a moment every one held his breath and waited
for the minister's action. Philip's face was pale and stern. What his
sensitive nature suffered in that moment no one ever knew, not even his
wife, who almost started from her seat, fearing that he was about to
faint. For a moment there was a hesitation about Philip's manner so
unusual with him that some thought he was going to leave the church. But
he quickly called on his will to assert its power, and, taking up the
regular communion service, he calmly took charge of it as if nothing out
of the way had occurred. He did not even allude to the morning's
incident in his prayers. Whatever else the people might think of Philip,
they certainly could find no fault with his self-possession. His conduct
of the service on that memorable Sunday was admirable.

When it was over he was surrounded by different ones who had taken part
either for or against the sexton. There was much said about the matter.
But all the arguments and excuses and comments on the affair could not
remove the heart-ache from Philip. He could not reconcile the action of
the church with the spirit of the church's Master, Jesus; and when he
finally reached home and calmly reviewed the events of the morning, he
was more and more grieved for the church and for his Master. It seemed
to him that a great mistake had been made, and that Calvary Church had
disgraced the name of Christianity.

As he had been in the habit of doing since he moved into the
neighborhood of the tenements, Philip went out in the afternoon to visit
the sick and the sorrowful. The shutting down of the mills had resulted
in an immense amount of suffering and trouble. As spring came on some
few of the mills had opened, and men had found work in them at a
reduction of wages. The entire history of the enforced idleness of
thousands of men in Milton during that eventful winter would make a
large volume of thrilling narrative. Philip's story but touches on this
other. He had grown rapidly familiar with the different phases of life
which loafed and idled and drank itself away during that period of
inaction. Hundreds of men had drifted away to other places in search of
work. Almost as many more had taken to the road to swell the
ever-increasing number of professional tramps, and, in time, to develop
into petty thieves and criminals. But those who remained had a desperate
struggle with poverty. Philip grew sick at heart as he went among the
people and saw the complete helplessness, the utter estrangement of
sympathy and community of feeling between the church people and these
representatives of the physical labor of the world. Every time he went
out to do his visiting this feeling deepened in him. This Sunday
afternoon in particular it seemed to him as if the depression and
discouragement of the tenement district weighed on him like a great
burden, bearing him down to the earth with sorrow and heart-ache.

He had been in the habit of going out to Communion Sunday with the
emblems of Christ to observe the rite by the bedsides of the aged or
ill, or those who could not get out to church. He carried with him this
time a basket containing a part of the communion service. After going to
the homes of one or two invalid church-members, he thought of the person
who had been mentioned by the man in the morning as living in the
tenement district and in a critical condition. He had secured his
address, and after a little inquiry he soon found himself in a part of
the tenements near to him.

He climbed up three flights of stairs and knocked at the door. It was
opened by the sexton. He greeted Philip with glad surprise.

The minister smiled sadly.

"So, my brother, it is true you are serving your Master here? My heart
is grieved at the action of the church this morning."

"Don't say anything, Mr. Strong. You did all you could. But you are just
in time to see him." The sexton pointed into a small back room. "He is
going fast. I didn't suppose he was so near. I would have asked you to
come, but I didn't think he was failing so."

Philip followed the sexton into the room. The son of the old
slave-master was sinking rapidly. He was conscious, however, and at
Philip's quiet question concerning his peace with God, a smile passed
over his face and he moved his lips. Philip understood him. A sudden
thought occurred to Philip. He opened the basket, took out the bread and
wine, set them on the small table, and said:

"Disciple of Jesus, would you like to partake of the blessed communion
once more before you see the King in His glory?"

The gleam of satisfaction in the man's eyes told Philip enough. The
sexton said in a low voice: "He belonged to the Southern Episcopal
Church in Virginia." Something in the wistful look of the sexton gave
Philip an inspiration for what followed.

"Brother," he said, turning to the sexton, "what is to hinder your
baptism and partaking of the communion? Yes, this is Christ's Church
wherever His true disciples are."

Then the sexton brought a basin of water; and as he kneeled down by the
side of the bed, Philip baptized him with the words: "I baptize thee,
Henry, my brother, disciple of Jesus, into the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Ghost! Amen."

"Amen," murmured the man on the bed.

Then Philip, still standing as he was, bowed his head, saying: "Blessed
Lord Jesus, accept these children of Thine, bless this new disciple, and
unite our hearts in love for Thee and Thy kingdom as we remember Thee
now in this service."

He took the bread and said: "'Take, eat. This is my body, broken for
you.' In the name of the Master who said these words, eat, remembering
His love for us."

The dying man could not lift his hand to take the bread from the plate.
Philip gently placed a crumb between his lips. The sexton, still
kneeling, partook, and, bowing his head between his hands, sobbed.
Philip poured out the wine and said: "In the name of the Lord Jesus,
this cup is the new testament in His blood shed for all mankind for the
remission of sins." He carried the cup to the lips of the man and then
gave to the sexton. The smile on the dying man's face died. The gray
shadow of the last enemy was projected into the room from the setting
sun of death's approaching twilight. The son of the old slave-master was
going to meet the mother of the man who was born into the darkness of
slavery, but born again into the light of God. Perhaps, perhaps, he
thought, who knows but the first news he would bring to her would be the
news of that communion? Certain it is that his hand moved vaguely over
the blanket. It slipped over the edge of the bed and fell upon the bowed
head of the sexton and remained there as if in benediction. And so the
shadow deepened, and at last it was like unto nothing else known to the
sons of men on earth, and the spirit leaped out of its clay tenement
with the breath of the communion wine still on the lips of the frail,
perishable body.

Philip reverently raised the arm and laid it on the bed. The sexton
rose, and, while the tears rolled over his face, he gazed long into the
countenance of the son of his old master. No division of race now. No
false and selfish prejudice here. Come! Let the neighbors of the dead
come in to do the last sad offices to the casket. For the soul of this
disciple is in the mansions of glory, and it shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more, neither shall the darkness of death ever again
smite it; for it shall live forever in the light of that Lamb of God who
gave Himself for the remission of sins and the life everlasting.

Philip did what he could on such an occasion. It was not an unusual
event altogether; he had prayed by many a poor creature in the clutch of
the last enemy, and he was familiar with his face in the tenements. But
this particular scene had a meaning and left an impression different
from any he had known before. When finally he was at liberty to go home
for a little rest before the evening service, he found himself more than
usually tired and sorrowful. Mrs. Strong noticed it as he came in. She
made him lie down and urged him to give up his evening service.

"No, no, Sarah! I can't do that! I am prepared; I must preach! I'll get
a nap and then I'll feel better," he said.

Mrs. Strong shook her head, but Philip was determined. He slept a
little, ate a little lunch, and when the time of service came, he went
up to the church again. As his habit was, just before the hour of
beginning, he went into the little room at the side of the platform to
pray by himself. When he came out and began the service, no one could
have told from his manner that he was suffering physically. Even Mrs.
Strong, who was watching him anxiously, felt relieved to see how quiet
and composed he was.

He had commenced his sermon and had been preaching with great eloquence
for ten minutes, when he felt a strange dizziness and a pain in his
side, that made him catch his breath and clutch the side of the pulpit
to keep from falling. It passed away and he went on. It was only a
slight hesitation, and no one remarked anything out of the way. For five
minutes he spoke with increasing power and feeling. The church was
filled. It was very quiet. Suddenly, without any warning, he threw up
his arms, uttered a cry of half-suppressed agony, and then fell over
backward. A thrill of excitement ran through the audience. For a moment
no one moved; then every one rose. The men in the front pews rushed up
to the platform. Mrs. Strong was already there. Philip's head was
raised. Philip's old friend, the surgeon, was in the crowd, and he at
once examined him. He was not dead, and the doctor at once directed the
proper movement for his removal from the church. As he was being carried
out into the air he revived and was able to speak.

"Take me home," he whispered to his wife, who hung over him in a terror
as great as her love for him at that moment. A carriage was called and
he was taken home. The doctor remained until Philip was fully conscious.

"It was very warm and I was very tired, and I fainted, eh, doctor? First
time I ever did such a thing in my life. I am ashamed; I spoiled the
service." Philip uttered this slowly and feebly, when at last he had
recovered enough to knew where he was.

The doctor looked at him suspiciously. "You never fainted before, eh?
Well, if I were you I would take care not to faint again. Take good care
of him, Mrs. Strong. He needs rest. Milton could spare a dozen bad men
like me better than one like the Dominie."

"Doctor!" cried Mrs. Strong, in sudden fear, "what is the matter? Is
this serious?"

"Not at all. But men like your husband are in need of watching. Take
good care of him."

"Good care of him! Doctor, he will not mind me! I wanted him to stay at
home to-night, but he wouldn't."

"Then put a chain and padlock on him, and hold him in!" growled the
surgeon. He prescribed a medicine and went away assuring Mrs. Strong
that Philip would feel much better in the morning.

The surgeon's prediction came true. Philip found himself weak the next
day, but able to get about. In reply to numerous calls of inquiry for
the minister, Mrs. Strong was able to report that he was much better.
About eleven o'clock, when the postman called, Philip was in his study
lying on his lounge.

His wife brought up two letters. One of them was from his old chum; he
read that first. He then laid it down and opened the other.

At that moment Mrs. Strong was called downstairs by a ring at the door.
When she had answered it she came upstairs again.

As she came into the room, she was surprised at the queer look on
Philip's face. Without a word he handed her the letter he had just
opened, and with the same look, watched her face as she read it.



CHAPTER XVII.


The letter which Philip had received, and which his wife now read, was
as follows:

REV. PHILIP STRONG,

Pastor Calvary Church, Milton:

DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:--The Seminary at Fairview has long been
contemplating the addition to its professorship of a chair of Sociology.
The lack of funds and the absolute necessity of sufficient endowment for
such a chair have made it impossible hitherto for the trustees to make
any definite move in this direction. A recent legacy, of which you have
doubtless heard, has made the founding of this new professorship
possible. And now the trustees by unanimous vote, have united upon you
as the man best fitted to fill this chair of Sociology. We have heard of
your work in Milton and know of it personally. We are assured you are
the man for this place. We therefore tender you most heartily the
position of Professor of Sociology at Fairview Seminary at a salary of
twenty-five hundred dollars a year and a preliminary year's absence,
either abroad or in this country, before you begin actual labors with
the Seminary.

With this formal call on the part of the trustees goes the most earnest
desire on the part of all the professors of the Seminary who remember
you in your marked undergraduate success as a student here. You will
meet with the most loving welcome, and the Seminary will be greatly
strengthened by your presence in this new department.

We are, in behalf of the Seminary,

Very cordially yours, THE TRUSTEES.

Here followed their names, familiar to both Philip and his wife.

There was a moment of astonished silence and then Sarah said:--

"Well, Philip, that's what I call the finger of Providence!"

"Do you call it the finger of Providence because it points the way you
want to go?" asked Philip, with a smile. But his face instantly grew
sober. He was evidently very much excited by the call to Fairview. It
had come at a time when he was in a condition to be very much moved by
it.

"Yes, Philip," replied his wife, as she smoothed back his hair from his
forehead, "it is very plain to me that you have done all that any one
can do here in Milton, and this call comes just in time. You are worn
out. The church is opposed to your methods. You need a rest and a
change. And besides, this is the very work that you have always had a
liking for."

Philip said nothing for a moment. His mind was in a whirl of emotion.
Finally he said, "Yes, I would enjoy such a professorship. It is a very
tempting call. I feel drawn towards it. And yet----" he hesitated--"I
don't know that I ought to leave Milton just now."

Mrs. Strong was provoked. "Philip Strong, you have lived this kind of
life long enough! All your efforts in Calvary Church are wasted. What
good have all your sermons done? It is all a vain sacrifice, and the end
will be defeat and misery for you. Add to all this the fact that this
new work will call for the best and most Christian labor, and that some
good Christian man will take it if you don't--and I don't see, Philip,
how you can possibly think of such a thing as refusing this
opportunity."

"It certainly is a splendid opportunity," murmured Philip. "I wonder why
they happened to pitch on me for the place!"

"That's easy enough. Every one knows that you could fill that chair
better than almost any other man in the country."

"Do you mean by 'every one' a little woman by the name of Sarah?" asked
Philip, with a brief return of his teasing habit.

"No, sir, I mean all the professors and people in Fairview and all the
thinking people of Milton and every one who knows you, Philip. Every one
knows that whatever else you lack, it isn't brains."

"I'd like to borrow a few just now, though, for I seem to have lost most
of mine. Lend me yours, won't you, Sarah, until I settle this question
of the call?"

"No, sir, if you can't settle a plain question like this with all your
own brains you couldn't do any better with the addition of the little I
have."

"Then do you really think, do you, Sarah, that I ought to accept this as
the leading of the Spirit of God, and follow without hesitation."

Mrs. Strong replied with almost tearful earnestness:

"Philip, it seems to me like the leading of his hand. Surely you have
shown your willingness and your courage and your sacrifice by your work
here. But your methods are distasteful, and your preaching has so far
roused only antagonism. Oh, I dread the thought of this life for you
another day. It looks to me like a suicidal policy, with nothing to show
for it when you have gone through with it."

Philip spread the letter out on the couch and his face grew more and
more thoughtful as he gazed into the face of his wife, and his mind went
over the ground of his church experience. If, only, he was, perhaps,
thinking, if only the good God had not given him so sensitive and
fine-tempered a spirit of conscientiousness. He almost envied men of
coarse, blunt feelings, of common ideals of duty and service.

His wife watched him anxiously. She knew it was a crisis with him. At
last he said:--

"Well, Sarah, I don't know but you're right. The spirit is willing, but
the flesh is weak. The professorship would be free from the incessant
worry and anxiety of a parish, and then I might be just as useful in the
Seminary as I am here--who knows?"

"Who knows, indeed!" exclaimed Sarah, joyfully; at the same time she was
almost crying. She picked up the letter and called Philip's attention to
the clause which granted him a year abroad in case he accepted. "Think
of that, Philip! Your dream of foreign travel can come true now."

"That is," Philip looked out of the window over the dingy roof of a shed
near by to the gloomy tenements, "that is, supposing I decide to
accept."

"Supposing! But you almost same as said----Oh, Philip, say you will! Be
reasonable! This is the opportunity of a lifetime!"

"That's true," replied Philip.

"You may not have another such chance as this as long as you live. You
are young now and with every prospect of success in work of this kind.
It is new work, of the kind you like. You will have leisure and means to
carry on important experiments, and influence for life young men
entering the ministry. Surely, Philip, there is as great opportunity for
usefulness and sacrifice there as anywhere. It must be that the will of
God is in this. It comes without any seeking on your part."

"Yes, indeed!" Philip spoke with the only touch of pride he ever
exhibited. It was pride in the knowledge that he was absolutely free
from self-glory or self-seeking.

"Then say you will accept. Say you will, Philip!"

The appeal, coming from the person dearest to him in all the world,
moved Philip profoundly. He took the letter from her hand, read it over
carefully, and again laid it down on the couch. Then he said:--

"Sarah, I must pray over it. I need a little time. You will have
reason----" Philip paused, as his habit sometimes was, and at that
moment the bell rang and Mrs. Strong went downstairs. As she went along
she felt almost persuaded that Philip would yield. Something of his tone
seemed to imply that the struggle in his mind was nearly ended.

The callers at the door were three men who had been to see Philip
several times to talk with him about the mill troubles and the labor
conflict in general. They wanted to see Philip. Mrs. Strong was anxious
about the condition of Philip's health. She asked the men to come in,
and went upstairs again.

"Can you see them? Are you strong enough?" she asked.

"Yes, tell them to come up. I am comfortable now."

Philip was resting easily, and after a careful look at him, Mrs. Strong
went downstairs.

To her surprise, two of the men had gone. The one who remained explained
that he thought three persons would excite or tire the minister more
than one; he had stayed and would not trouble Philip very long. But the
business on which he came was of such an important nature that he felt
obliged to see the minister if he could do so without danger to him.

So the man went up and Philip greeted him with his usual heartiness,
excusing himself for not rising. The man took a chair, moved up near the
couch, and sat down. He seemed a good deal excited, but in a suppressed
and cautious way.

"I came to see you, Mr. Strong, to tell you about a thing you ought to
know. There is danger of your life here."

"Where?" asked Philip, calmly.

"Here, in this neighborhood."

"Well?" Philip waited for more explanation.

"I didn't want to tell your wife, for fear of scaring her, but I thought
you ought to know, Mr. Strong, and then you could take steps to protect
yourself or get away."

"Go on; tell me the worst," said Philip, quietly, as the man paused.

"Well," the man went on in a low tone, "two others and me overheard a
talk last night by the men who run the Star Saloon and den down by the
Falls. They have a plan to waylay you, rob you and injure you, sir--and
do it in such a way as to make it seem a common hold-up. They seemed to
know about your habit of going around through the alleys and
cross-streets of the tenements. We heard enough to make us sure they
really and truly meant to deal foully by you the first good chance, and
we thought best to put you on your guard. The rummies are down on you,
Mr. Strong, you have been so outspoken against them; and your lecture in
the hall last week has made them mad, I tell you. They hate you worse
than poison, for that's the article they seem to sell and make a living
out of."

Philip had the week before addressed a large meeting of working-men, and
in the course of his speech he had called attention to the saloon as one
of the greatest foes of the wage-earner.

"Is that all?" Philip asked.

"All, man alive!--isn't it enough? What more do you hanker after?"

"Of course I don't 'hanker after' being held up or attacked, but these
men are mistaken if they think to frighten me."

"They mean more than frighten, Mr. Strong. They mean business."

"Why don't you have them arrested, then, for conspiracy? If you
overheard their talk they are guilty and could be convicted."

"Not in Milton, Mr. Strong. Besides, there was no name mentioned. And
the talk was scattering-like. They are shrewd devils. But we could tell
they meant you plain enough--not to prove anything in court, though."

"And you came to warn me? That was kind of you, my brother!" Philip
spoke with the winsome affection for men that made his hold on common
people like the grappling vine with loving tendrils.

"Yes, Mr. Strong, and I tell you the rummies will almost hold a
prayer-meeting when you leave Milton. And they mean to make you trouble
enough until you do leave. If I was you," the man paused, curiously--"if
I was you, I'd get up and leave this God-forsaken town, Mr. Strong."

"You would?" Philip glanced at the letter which still lay upon the couch
beside him. "Suppose I should say I had about made up my mind to do just
that thing?"

"Oh, no, Mr. Strong, you don't mean that!" The man made a gesture toward
Philip that revealed a world of longing and of hunger for fellowship
that made Philip's heart throb with a feeling of intense joy, mingled
with an ache of pain. The man at once repressed his emotion. It had been
like a lightning flash out of a summer cloud.

"Yes," said Philip, as if continuing, "I have been thinking of leaving
Milton."

"That might be best. You're in danger here. No telling when some harm
may come to you."

"Well, I'm thinking I might as well leave. My work here has been a
failure, anyway."

"What! A failure? Mr. Strong, you don't know the facts. There has never
been a minister in Milton who did so much for the poor and the
working-man as yourself! Let me tell you," the man continued, with an
earnestness that concealed an emotion he was trying to subdue, "Mr.
Strong, if you were to leave Milton now, it would be a greater loss to
the common people than you can imagine. You may not know it, but your
influence among us is very great. I have lived in Milton as boy and man
for thirty years, and I never knew so many laboring-men attend church
and the lectures in the hall as during the few months you have been
here. Your work here has not been a failure; it has been a great
success."

A tear stole out of Philip's eye and rolled down and fell with a warm
splash on the letter which lay beside him. If a $2,500 call could be
drowned by one tear, that professorship in Sociology in Fairview
Seminary was in danger.

"So you think the people in this neighborhood would miss me a little?"
he asked almost as modestly as if he were asking a great favor.

"Would they, Mr. Strong! You will never know what you have done for
them. If the mill-men were to hear of your leaving they would come down
here in a body and almost compel you to stay. I cannot bear to think of
your going. And yet the danger you are in, the whiskey men----"

Philip roused himself up, interrupting his visitor. The old-time flash
of righteous indignation shot out of his eyes as he exclaimed: "I am
more than half-minded to stay on that account! The rummies would think
they had beaten me out if I left!"

"Oh, Mr. Strong, I can't tell you how glad we would be if you would only
stay! And yet----"

"And yet," replied Philip, with a sad smile, "there are many things to
take into the account. I thank you out of my heart for the love you have
shown me. It means more than words can express." And Philip leaned back
with a wearied look on his face, which, nevertheless, revealed his deep
satisfaction at the thought of such friendship as this man had for him.

He was getting exhausted with the interview, following so soon on his
illness of the night before. The visitor was quick to notice it, and
after a warm clasp of hands he went away. Philip, lying there alone
while his wife was busy downstairs, lived an age in a few minutes. All
his life so far in Milton, the events of his preaching and his
experiences in the church, his contact with the workmen, his evident
influence over them, the thought of what they would feel in case he left
Milton to accept this new work, the dissatisfaction at the thought of an
unaccomplished work abandoned, the thought of the exultation of the
whiskey men--all this and much more surged in and out of his mind and
heart like heavy tides of a heaving ocean as it rushes into some deep
fissure and then flows back again with noise and power. He struggled up
into a sitting position, and with pain of body almost fell from the
couch upon his knees, and with his face bowed upon the letter, which he
spread out before him with both hands, he sobbed out a yearning cry to
his Master for light in his darkness.

It came as he kneeled down; and it did not seem to him at all strange or
absurd that as he kneeled, there came to his thought a picture of the
Brother Man. And he could almost hear the Brother Man say: "Your work is
in Milton, in Calvary Church yet. Except a man shall renounce all that
he hath he cannot be His disciple." It mattered not to Philip that the
answer to his prayer came in this particular way. He was not
superstitious or morbid, or given to yielding to impulse or fancy. He
lay down upon the couch again and knew in his heart that he was at peace
with God and his own conscience in deciding to stay with Calvary Church
and refuse the call to Fairview.



CHAPTER XVIII.


When, a few minutes later, Mrs. Strong came up, Philip told her exactly
how he had decided.

"I cannot leave these poor fellows in the tenements yet; my work is just
beginning to count with them. And the church, oh, Sarah, I love it, for
it has such possibilities and it must yield in time; and then the
whiskey men--I cannot bear to have them think me beaten, driven out,
defeated. And in addition to all the rest, I have a feeling that God has
a wonderful blessing in store for me and the church very soon; and I
cannot banish the feeling that if I should accept the call to Fairview,
I should always be haunted by that ghost of Duty murdered and run away
from which would make me unhappy in all my future work. Dear little
woman," Philip went on, as he drew his wife's head down and kissed her
tenderly, while tears of disappointment fell from her--"little woman,
you know you are the dearest of all earthly beings to me. And my soul
tells me the reason you loved me enough to share earth's troubles with
me was that you knew I could not be a coward in the face of my duty, my
conscience, and my God. Is it not so?"

The answer came in a sob of mingled anguish and happiness:

"Yes, Philip, but it was only for your sake I wanted you to leave this
work. It is killing you. Yet,"--and she lifted her head with a smile
through all the tears--"yet, Philip, 'whither thou goest I will go, and
where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy
God my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried; the
Lord do so to me and more also if aught but death part thee and me.'"

There were people in Milton who could not undersatnd[sic] how a person
of such refined and even naturally expensive and luxurious habits as the
minister's wife possessed could endure the life he had planned for
himself, and his idea of Christian living in general. Philip could have
told them if he had been so minded. And this scene could have revealed
it to any one who knew the minister and his wife as they really were.
That was a sacred scene to husband and wife, something that belonged to
them, one of those things which the world did not know and had no
business to know.

When the first Sunday of another month had come, Mr. Strong felt quite
well again. A rumor of his call to Fairview had gone out, and to the
few intimate friends who asked him about it he did not deny, but he said
little. The time was precious to him. He plunged into the work with an
enthusiasm and a purpose which sprang from his knowledge that he was at
last really gaining some influence in the tenement district.

The condition of affairs in that neighborhood was growing worse instead
of better. The amount of vice, drunkenness, crime and brutality made his
sensitive heart quiver a hundred times a day as he went his way through
it all. His study of the whole question led him to the conviction that
one of the great needs of the place was a new home life for the people.
The tenements were owned and rented by men of wealth and influence. Many
of these men were in the church. Discouraged as he had so often been in
his endeavor to get the moneyed men of the congregation to consecrate
their property to Christian uses, Philip came up to that first Sunday
with a new phase of the same great subject which pressed so hard for
utterance that he could not keep it back.

As he faced the church this morning he faced an audience composed of
very conflicting elements. Representatives of labor were conspicuous in
the galleries. People whom he had assisted at one time and another were
scattered through the house, mostly in the back seats under the choir
gallery. His own membership was represented by men who, while opposed to
his idea of the Christian life and his interpretation of Christ,
nevertheless continued to go and hear him preach. The incident of the
sexton's application for membership and his rejection by vote had also
told somewhat in favor of the minister. Many preachers would have
resigned after such a scene. He had said his say about it, and then
refused to speak or be interviewed by the papers on the subject. What it
cost him in suffering was his own secret. But this morning, as he rose
to give his message in the person of Christ, the thought of the
continued suffering and shame and degradation in the tenement district,
the thought of the great wealth in the possession of the church which
might be used almost to transform the lives of thousands of people, if
the men of riches in Calvary Church would only see the kingdom of God in
its demands on them--this voiced his cry to the people, and gave his
sermon the significance and solemnity of a prophet's inspiration.

"See!" he exclaimed, as he went on after drawing a vivid picture of the
miserable condition of life in the buildings which could not be called
homes, "see what a change could be wrought by the use of a few thousand
dollars down there. And here this morning, in this house, men are
sitting who own very many of those tenements, who are getting the rent
from them every month, who could, without suffering one single sorrow,
without depriving themselves of one necessity or even luxury of life, so
change the surroundings of these people that they would enjoy the
physical life God gave them, and be able to see His love in the lives of
His Disciples. O, my brethren, is not this your opportunity? What is
money compared with humanity? What is the meaning of our discipleship
unless we are using what God has given us to build up His kingdom? The
money represented by this church could rebuild the entire tenement
district. The men who own these buildings," He paused as if he had
suddenly become aware that he might be saying an unwise thing; then,
after a brief hesitation, as if he had satisfied his own doubt, he
repeated, "The men who own these tenements--and members of other
churches besides Calvary are among the owners--are guilty in the sight
of God for allowing human beings made in His image to grow up in such
horrible surroundings when it is in the power of money to stop it.
Therefore, they shall receive greater condemnation at the last, when
Christ sits on the throne of the universe to judge the world. For will
He not say, as He said long years ago, 'I was an hungered and ye gave me
no meat, naked and ye clothed me not, sick and in miserable dwellings
reeking with filth and disease, and ye drew the hire of these places and
visited me not?' For are these men and women and children not our
brethren? Verily, God will require it at our hands, O men of Milton, if,
having the power to use God's property so as to make the world happier
and better, we refused to do so and go our ways careless of our
reponsibility[sic] and selfish in our use of God's money."

Philip closed his sermon with an account of facts concerning the
condition of some of the people he himself had visited. When the service
closed, more than one property owner went away secretly enraged at the
minister's bold, and, as most of them said and thought, "impertinent
meddling in their business." Was he wise? And yet he had been to more
than one of these men in private with the same message. Did he not have
the right to speak in public? Did not Christ do so? Would he not do so
if he were here on earth again? And Philip, seeing the great need,
seeing the mighty power of money, seeing the indifference of these men
to the whole matter, seeing their determination to conduct their
business for the gain of it without regard to the condition of life,
with his heart sore and his soul indignant at the suffering he had
witnessed came into the church and flung his sword of wrath out of its
scabbard, smiting at the very thing dearest of all things to thousands
of church-members to-day--the money, the property, the gain of
acquisition; and he smote, perhaps, with a somewhat unwise energy of
denunciation, yet with his heart crying out for wisdom with every blow
he struck, "Would Christ say it? Would He say it?" And his sensitive,
keenly suffering spirit heard the answer, "Yes, I believe He would."
Back of that answer he did not go in those days so rapidly drawing to
their tremendous close. He bowed the soul of him to his Master and said,
"Thy will be done!"

The week following this Sunday was one of the busiest Philip had known.
With the approach of warmer weather, a great deal of sickness came on.
He was going early and late on errands of mercy to the poor souls all
about his own house. The people knew him now and loved him. He comforted
his spirit with that knowledge as he prayed and worked.

He was going through one of the narrow courts one night on his way home,
with his head bent down and his thoughts on some scene of suffering,
when he was suddenly confronted by a young man who stepped quickly out
from a shadowed corner, threw one arm about Philip's neck and placed his
other hand over his mouth and attempted to throw him over backward.

It was very late, and there was no one in sight. Philip said to himself:
"This is the attack of which I was warned." He was taken altogether by
surprise, but being active and self-possessed, he sharply threw himself
forward, repelling his assailant's attack, and succeeded in pulling the
man's hand away from his mouth. His first second's instinct was to cry
out for help; his next was to keep still. He suddenly felt the other
giving way. The strength seemed to be leaving him. Philip, calling up
some of his knowledge of wrestling gained while in college, threw his
entire weight upon him, and to his surprise the man offered no
resistance. They both fell heavily upon the ground, the man underneath.
He had not spoken and no one had yet appeared. As the man lay there
motionless, Philip rose and stood over him. By the dim light that partly
illuminated the court from a street lamp farther on, he saw that his
assailant was stunned. There was a pump not far away. Philip went over
and brought some water. After a few moments the man recovered
consciousness. He sat up and looked about in a confused manner. Philip
stood near by, looking at him thoughtfully.



CHAPTER XIX.


As the man looked up at Philip in a dazed and uncertain manner, Philip
said slowly:

"You're not hurt badly, I hope. Why did you attack me?"

The man seemed too bewildered to answer. Philip leaned over and put one
arm about him to help him rise. He struggled to his feet, and almost
instantly sat down on the curb at the side of the road, holding his head
between his hands. For a moment Philip hesitated. Then he sat down
beside him, and after finding out that he was not seriously hurt,
succeeded in drawing him into a conversation which grew more and more
remarkable as it went on. As he thought back upon it afterward, Philip
was unable to account exactly for the way in which the confidence
between him and his assailant had been brought about. The incident and
all that flowed out of it had such a bearing on the crucifixion that it
belongs to the whole story.

"Then you say," went on Philip after they had been talking brief in
question and answer for a few minutes, "you say that you meant to rob
me, taking me for another man?"

"Yes, I thought you was the mill-man--what is his name?--Winter."

"Why did you want to rob him?"

The man looked up and said hoarsely, almost savagely, "Because he has
money and I was hungry."

"How long have you been hungry?"

"I have not had anything to eat for almost three days."

"There is food to be had at the Poor Commissioners. Did you know that
fact?"

The man did not answer, and Philip asked him again. The reply came in a
tone of bitter emphasis that made the minister start:

"Yes, I knew it! I would strave[sic] before I would go to the Poor
Commissioners for food."

"Or steal?" asked Philip, gently.

"Yes, or steal. Wouldn't you?"

Philip stared out into the darkness of the court and answered honestly:
"I don't know."

There was a short pause. Then he asked:

"Can't you get work?"

It was a hopeless question to put to a man in a town of over two
thousand idle men. The answer was what he knew it would be:

"Work! Can I pick up a bushel of gold in the street out there? Can a man
get work where there ain't any?"

"What have you been doing?"

"I was fireman in the Lake Mills. Good job. Lost it when they closed
down last winter."

"What have you been doing since?"

"Anything I could get."

"Are you a married man?"

The question affected the other strangely. He trembled all over, put his
head between his knees, and out of his heart's anguish flowed the words,
"I had a wife. She's dead--of consumption. I had a little girl. She's
dead, too. Thank God!" exclaimed the man, with a change from a sob to a
curse. "Thank God!--and curses on all rich men who had it in their power
to prevent the hell on earth for other people, and which they will feel
for themselves in the other world!"

Philip did not say anything for some time. What could any man say to
another at once under such circumstances? Finally he said:

"What will you do with money if I give you some?"

"I don't want your money," replied the man.

"I thought you did a little while ago."

"It was the mill-owner's money I wanted. You're the preacher, ain't you
up at Calvary Church?"

"Yes. How did you know?"

"I've seen you. Heard you preach once. I never thought I should come to
this--holding up a preacher down here!" And the man laughed a hard,
short laugh.

"Then you're not----" Philip hardly knew how to say it. He wanted to say
that the man was not connected in any way with the saloon element;
"you're driven to this desperate course on your own account? The reason
I ask is because I have been threatened by the whiskey men, and at first
I supposed you were one of their men."

"No, sir," was the answer, almost in disgust. "I may be pretty bad, but
I've not got so low as that."

"Then your only motive was hunger?"

"That was all. Enough, ain't it?"

"We can't discuss the matter here," said Philip. He hesitated, rose, and
stood there looking at the man who sat now with his head resting on his
arms, which were folded across his knees. Two or three persons came out
of a street near by and walked past. Philip knew them and said
good-evening. They thought he was helping some drunken man, a thing he
had often done, and they went along without stopping. Again the street
was deserted.

"What will you do now? Where will you go?"

"God knows. I am an outcast on His earth!"

"Have you no home?"

"Home! Yes; the gutter, the street, the bottom of the river."

"My brother!" Philip laid his hand on the man's shoulder, "come home
with me, have something to eat, and stay with me for a while."

The man looked up and stared at Philip through the semi-darkness.

"What, go home with you! That would be a good one after trying to hold
you up! I'll tell you what you ought to do. Take me to the police
station and have me arrested for attempt at highway robbery. Then I'd
get lodgings and victuals for nothing."

Philip smiled slightly. "That would not help matters any. And if you
know me at all, you know I would never do any such thing. Come home with
me. No one, except you and myself and my wife need ever know what has
happened to-night. I have food at my home, and you are hungry. We both
belong to the same Father-God. Why should I not help you if I want to?"

It was all said so calmly, so lovingly, so honestly, that the man
softened under it. A tear rolled over his cheek. He brushed his hand
over his eyes. It had been a long time since any one had called him
"brother."

"Come!" Philip reached out his hand and helped him to rise. The man
staggered, and might have fallen if Philip had not supported him. "I am
faint and dizzy," he said.

"Courage, man! My home is not far off; we shall soon be there." His
companion was silent. As they came up to the door Philip said: "I
haven't asked your name, but it might save a little awkwardness if I
knew it."

"William----" Philip did not hear the last name, it was spoken in such a
low voice.

"Never mind; I'll call you William if it's all the same to you." And he
went into the house with the man, and at once made him feel at home by
means of that simple and yet powerful spirit of brotherhood which was
ready to level all false distinctions, and which possibly saw in
prophetic vision the coming event in his own career when all
distinctions of title and name would be as worthless as dust in the
scales of eternity.

Mrs. Strong at once set food upon the table, and then she and Philip
with true delicacy busied themselves in another room so as not to watch
the hungry man while he ate. When he had satisfied his hunger Philip
showed him the little room where the Brother Man had stayed one night.

"You may make it your own as long as you will," Philip said. "You may
look upon it as simply a part of what has been given us to be used for
the Father's children."

The man seemed dazed by the result of his encounter with the preacher.
He murmured something about thanks. He was evidently very much worn, and
the excitement of the evening had given place to an appearance of
dejection that alarmed Philip. After a few words he went out and left
the man, who said that he felt very drowsy.

"I believe he is going to have a fever or something," Mr. Strong said to
his wife as he joined her in the other room. He related his meeting with
the man, making very light of the attack and indeed excusing it on the
ground of his desperate condition.

"What shall we do with him, Philip?"

"We must keep him here until he finds work. I believe this is one of the
cases that call for personal care. We cannot send him away; his entire
future depends on our treatment of him. But I don't like his looks; I
fear he is going to be a sick man."

His fear was realized. The next morning he found his lodger in the
clutch of fever. Before night he was delirious. The doctor came and
pronounced him dangerously ill. And Philip, with the burden of his work
weighing heavier on him every moment, took up this additional load and
prayed his Lord to give him strength to carry it and save another soul.

It was at the time of this event in Mr. Strong's life that another
occurred which had its special bearing upon the crisis of all his life.

The church was dear to his thought, loved by him with a love that only
very few of the members understood. In spite of his apparent failure to
rouse them to a conception of their duty as he saw it, he was confident
that the spirit of God would accomplish the miracle which he could not
do. Then there were those in Calvary Church who sympathized heartily
with him and were ready to follow his leadership. He was not without
fellowship, and it gave him courage. Add to that the knowledge that he
had gained a place in the affection of the working-people, and that was
another reason why he kept up good heart and did not let his personal
sensitiveness enter too largely into his work. It was of course
impossible for him to hide from himself the fact that very many members
of the church had been offended by much that he had said and done. But
he was the last man in the world to go about his parish trying to find
out the quantity of opposition that existed. His Sunday congregation
crowded the church. He was popular with the masses. Whenever he lectured
among the working-men the hall was filled to overflowing. He would not
acknowledge even to himself that the church could long withstand the
needs of the age and the place. He had an intense faith in it as an
institution. He firmly believed all that it needed was to have the white
light of truth poured continually on the Christ as he would act to-day
and the church would respond, and at last in a mighty tide of love and
sacrifice throw itself into the work the church was made to do.

So he began to plan for a series of Sunday-night services different from
anything Milton had ever known. His life in the tenement district and
his growing knowledge of the labor world had convinced him of the fact
that the church was missing its opportunity in not grappling with the
problem as it existed in Milton. It seemed to him that the first step to
a successful solution of that problem was for the church and the
working-man to get together upon some common platform for a better
understanding. He accordingly planned for a series of Sunday-night
services, in which his one great purpose was to unite the church and the
labor unions in a scheme of mutual helpfulness. His plan was very
simple. He invited into the meeting one or two thoughtful leaders of the
mill-men and asked them to state in the plainest terms the exact
condition of affairs in the labor world from their standpoint. Then he,
for the church, took up their statements, their complaints, or the
reasons for their differences with capital, and answered them from the
Christian standpoint: What would Christ advise under the circumstances?
He had different subjects presented on different evenings. One night it
was reasons why the mill-men were not in the church. Another night it
was the demand of men for better houses, and how to get them. Another
night it was the subject of strikes and the attitude of Christ on wages
and the relative value of the wage-earners' product and the capitalists'
intelligence. At each meeting he allowed one or two of the invited
leaders to take the platform and say very plainly what to his mind was
the cause and what the remedy for the poverty and crime and suffering of
the world. Then he closed the evening's discussion by a calm, clear
statement of what was to him the direct application of Jesus' teaching
to the point at issue.

Finally, as this series drew to a close at the end of the month, a
subject came up which roused intense feeling. It was the subject of
wealth, its power, responsibility, meaning, and Christian use. The
church was jammed in every part of it. The services had been so unusual,
the conduct of them had so often been intensely practical, the points
made had so often told against the existing Church that great mobs of
mill-men filed into the room and for the time took possession of Calvary
Church. For the four Sunday nights of that series Philip faced great
crowds, mostly of grown-up men, crowds that his soul yearned over with
unspeakable emotion, a wonderful audience for Calvary to witness, the
like of which Milton had never seen.



CHAPTER XX.


We cannot do better than give the evening paper account of this last
service in the series. With one or two slight exaggerations the account
was a faithful picture of one of the most remarkable meetings ever held
in Milton. The paper, after speaking of the series as a sensational
departure from the old church methods, went on to say:

"Last night, it will be safe to say that those who were fortunate enough
to secure standing-room in Rev. Philip Strong's church heard and saw
things that no other church in this town ever witnessed.

"In the first place, it was a most astonishing crowd of people. Several
of the church-members were present, but they were in the minority.
They[sic] mill-men swarmed in and took possession. It is not exactly
correct to say that they lounged on the easy-cushioned pews of the
Calvary Church, for there was not room enough to lounge, but they filled
up the sanctuary and seemed to enjoy the comfortable luxury of it.

"The subject of the evening was Wealth, and the President of the Trades
Assembly of Milton made a statement of the view which working-men in
general have of wealth as related to labor of hand or brain. He stated
what to his mind was the reason for the discontent of so many at the
sight of great numbers of rich men in times of suffering, or sickness,
or lack of work. 'Why, just look at the condition of things here and in
every large city all over the world,' he said. 'Men are suffering from
the lack of common necessaries while men of means with money in the bank
continue to live just as luxuriously and spend just as much as they ever
did for things not needful for happiness. It has been in the power of
men of wealth in Milton to prevent almost if not all of the suffering
here last winter and spring. It has been in their power to see that the
tenements were better built and arranged for health and decency. It has
been in their power to do a thousand things that money and money alone
can do, and I believe they will be held to account for not doing some of
those things!'

"At this point some one in the gallery shouted out, 'Hang the
aristocrats!' Instantly Rev. Mr. Strong rose and stepped to the front of
the platform. Raising his long, sinewy arm and stretching out his open
hand in appeal, he said, while the great audience was perfectly quiet,
'I will not allow any such disturbance at this meeting. We are here, not
to denounce people, but to find the truth. Let every fair-minded man
bear that in mind.'

"The preacher sat down, and the audience cheered. Then before the
President of the Assembly could go on, a man rose in the body of the
house and asked if he might say a word.

"Mr. Strong said he might if he would be brief. The man then proceeded
to give a list of people, who, he said, were becoming criminals because
they couldn't get work. After he had spoken a minute Rev. Mr. Strong
asked him to come to the point and show what bearing his facts had on
the subject of the evening. The man seemed to become confused, and
finally his friends or the people near him pulled him down, and the
President of the Trades Assembly resumed the discussion, closing with
the statement that never in the history of the country had there been so
much money in the banks and so little of it in the pockets of the
people; and when that was a fact something was wrong; and it was for the
men who owned the money to right that wrong, for it lay in their power,
not with the poor man.

"He was followed by a very clear and intensely interesting talk by Rev.
Mr. Strong on the Christian teaching concerning the wealth of the world.
Several times he was interrupted by applause, once with hisses, several
times with questions. He was hissed when he spoke of the great
selfishness of labor unions and trades organizations in their attempts
to dictate to other men in the matter of work. With this one exception,
in which the reverend gentleman spoke with his usual frankness, the
audience cheered his presentation of the subject, and was evidently in
perfect sympathy with his views. Short extracts from his talk will show
the drift of his entire belief on this subject:

"'Every dollar that a man has should be spent to the glory of God.

"'The teaching of Christianity about wealth is the same as about
anything else; it all belongs to God, and should be used by the man as
God would use it in the man's place.

"'It is a great mistake which many people make, church-members among the
rest, that the money they get is their own to do with as they please.
Men have no right to use anything as they please unless God pleases so
too.

"'The accumulation of vast sums of money by individuals or classes of
men has always been a bad thing for society. A few very rich men and a
great number of very poor men is what gave the world the French
Revolution and the guillotine.

"'There are certain conditions true of society at certain times when it
is the Christian duty of the rich to use every cent they possess to
relieve the need of society. Such a condition faces us to-day.

"'The foolish and unnecessary expenditures of society on its trivial
pleasures at a time when men and women are out of work and children are
crying for food is a cruel and unchristian waste of opportunity.

"'If Christ were here to-day I believe he would tell the rich men of
Milton that every cent they have belongs to Almighty God, and they are
only trustees of his property.

"'This is the only true use of wealth: that the man who has it recognize
its power and privilege to make others happy, not provide himself
luxury.

"'The church that thinks more of fine architecture and paid choirs than
of opening its doors to the people that they may hear the gospel, is a
church that is mortgaged for all it is worth to the devil, who will
foreclose at the first opportunity.

"'The first duty of every man who has money is to ask himself, What
would Christ have me do with it? The second duty is to go and do it,
after hearing the answer.

"'If the money owned by church-members were all spent to the glory of
God there would be fewer hundred-thousand-dollar churches built and more
model tenements.

"'If Christ had been a millionaire he would have used his money to build
up character in other people, rather than build a magnificent
brown-stone palace for himself. But we cannot imagine Christ as a
millionaire.

"'It is just as true now as when Paul said it nearly twenty centuries
ago: "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil;" it is the curse
of our civilization, the greatest god of the human race to-day.

"'Our civilization is only partly Christian. For Christian civilization
means more comforts; ours means more wants.

"'If a man's pocket-book is not converted with his soul the man will not
get into heaven with it.

"'There are certain things that money alone can secure; but among those
things it cannot buy is character.

"'All wealth, from the Christian standpoint, is in the nature of trust
funds, to be so used as the administrator, God, shall direct. No man
owns the money for himself. The gold is God's, the silver is God's! That
is the plain and repeated teaching of the Bible.

"'It is not wrong for a man to make money. It is wrong for him to use it
selfishly or foolishly.

"'The consecrated wealth of the men of Milton could provide work for
every idle man in town. The Christian use of the wealth of the world
would make impossible the cry for bread.

"'Most of the evils of our present condition flow out of the love of
money. The almighty dollar is the God of Protestant America.

"'If men loved men as eagerly as they love money the millennium would be
just around the corner.

"'Wealth is a curse unless the owner of it blesses the world with it.

"'If any man hath the world's goods, and seeth his brother have need,
and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in
him?

"'Christian Socialism teaches a man to bear other people's burdens. The
very first principle of Christian Socialism is unselfishness.

"'We shall never see a better condition of affairs in this country until
the men of wealth realize their responsibility and privilege.

"'Christ never said anything against the poor. He did speak some
tremendous warnings in the face of the selfish rich.

"'The only safe thing for a man of wealth to do is to ask himself, What
would Christ do with my money if he had it?

"'Everything a man has is God's. On that profound principle the whole of
human life should rest. We are not our own; we have been bought with a
price.'

"It would be impossible to describe the effect of the Rev. Mr. Strong's
talk upon the audience. Once the applause was so long continued that it
was a full minute before he could go on. When he finally closed with a
tremendous appeal to the wealth of Milton to use its power for the good
of the place, for the tearing down and remodeling of the tenements, for
the solution of the problem of no work for thousands of desperate men,
the audience rose to its feet and cheered again and again.

"At the close of the meeting the minister was surrounded by a crowd of
men, and an after meeting was held, at which steps were taken to form a
committee composed of prominent church people and labor leaders to work,
if possible, together toward a common end.

"It was rumored yesterday that several of the leading-members of Calvary
Church are very much dissatisfied with the way things have been going
during these Sunday-evening meetings, and are likely to withdraw if they
continue. They say that Mr. Strong's utterances are socialistic and tend
to inflame the minds of the people to acts of violence. Since the attack
on Mr. Winter nearly every mill-owner in town goes armed and takes extra
precautions. Mr. Strong was much pleased with the result of the
Sunday-night meetings and said they had done much to bridge the gulf
between the church and the people. He refused to credit the talk about
disaffection in Calvary Church."

In another column of this same paper were five separate accounts of the
desperate condition of affairs in the town. The midnight hold-up attacks
were growing in frequency and in boldness. Along with all the rest, the
sickness in the tenement district had assumed the nature of an epidemic
of fever, clearly caused by the lack of sanitary regulations, imperfect
drainage, and crowding of families. Clearly the condition of matters was
growing serious.

At this time the minsters[sic] of different churches in Milton held a
meeting to determine on a course of action that would relieve some of
the distress. Various plans were submitted. Some proposed districting
the town to ascertain the number of needly[sic] families. Others
proposed a union of benevolent offerings to be given the poor. Another
group suggested something else. To Philip's mind not one of the plans
submitted went to the root of the matter. He was not popular with the
other ministers. Most of them thought he was sensational. However, he
made a plea for his own plan, which was radical and as he believed went
to the real heart of the subject. He proposed that every church in town,
regardless of its denomination, give itself in its pastor and members to
the practical solution of the social troubles by personal contact with
the suffering and sickness in the district; that the churches all throw
open their doors every day in the week, weekdays as well as Sundays, for
the discussion and agitation of the whole matter; that the country and
the State be petitioned to take speedy action toward providing necessary
labor for the unemployed; and that the churches cut down all unnecessary
expenses of paid choirs, do away with pew rents, urge wealthy members to
consecrate their riches to the solving of the problem, and in every way,
by personal sacrifice and common union, let the churches of Milton as a
unit work and pray and sacrifice to make themselves felt as a real power
on the side of the people in their present great need. It was Christian
America, but Philip's plan was not adopted. It was discussed with some
warmth, but declared to be visionary, impracticable, unnecessary, not
for the church to undertake, beyond its function, etc. Philip was
disappointed, but he kept his temper.

"Well, brethren," he said, "what can we do to help the solution of these
questions? Is the church of America to have no share in the greatest
problem of human life that agitates the world to-day? Is it not true
that the people in this town regard the Church as an insignificant
organization, unable to help at the very point of human crisis, and the
preachers as a lot weak, impractical men, with no knowledge of the real
state of affairs? Are we not divided over our denominational differences
when we ought to be united in one common work for the saving of the
whole man? I do not have any faith in the plan proposed to give our
benevolence or to district the town and visit the poor. All those things
are well enough in their place. But matters are in such shape here now
and all over the country that we must do something larger than that. We
must do as Christ would do if He were here. What would He do? Would He
give anything less than His whole life to it? Would He not give Himself?
The Church as an institution is facing the greatest opportunity it ever
saw. If we do not seize it on the largest possible scale we shall
miserably fail of doing our duty."

When the meeting adjourned Philip was aware he had simply put himself
out of touch with the majority present. They did not, they could not,
look upon the Church as he did. A committee was appointed to investigate
the matter and propose a plan of action at the next meeting in two
weeks. And Philip went home almost bitterly smiling at the little
bulwark which Milton churches proposed to rear against the tide of
poverty and crime and drunkenness and political demagogy and wealthy
selfishness. To his mind it was a house of paper cards in the face of a
tornado.

Saturday night he was out calling a little while, but he came home
early. It was the first Sunday of the month on the morrow, and he had
not fully prepared his sermon. He was behind with it. As he came in, his
wife met him with a look of news on her face.

"Guess who is here?" she said in a whisper.

"The Brother Man," replied Philip, quickly.

"Yes, but you never can guess what has happened. He is in there with
William. And the Brother Man--Philip, it seems like a chapter out of a
novel--the Brother Man has discovered that William is his only son, who
cursed his father and deserted him when he gave away his property. They
are in there together. I could not keep the Brother Man out."

Philip and Sarah stepped to the door of the little room, which was open,
and looked in.

The Brother Man was kneeling at the side of the bed praying, and his son
was listening, with one hand tight-clasped in his father's, and the
tears rolling over his pale face.



CHAPTER XXI.


When the Brother Man had finished his prayer he rose, and stooping over
his son he kissed him. Then he turned about and faced Philip and Sarah,
who almost felt guilty of intrusion in looking at such a scene. But the
Brother Man wore a radiant look. To Philip's surprise he was not
excited. The same ineffable peace breathed from his entire person. To
that peace was now added a fathomless joy.

"Yes," he said very simply, "I have found my son which was lost. God is
good to me. He is good to all His children. He is the All-Father. He is
Love."

"Did you know your son was here?" Philip asked.

"No, I found him here. You have saved his life. That was doing as He
would."

"It was very little we could do," said Philip, with a sigh. He had seen
so much trouble and suffering that day that his soul was sick within
him. Yet he welcomed this event in his home. It seemed like a little
brightness of heaven on earth.

The sick man was too feeble to talk much. The tears and the hand-clasp
with his father told the story of his reconciliation, of the bursting
out of the old love, which had not been extinguished, only smothered for
a time. Philip thought best that he should not become excited with the
meeting, and in a little while drew the Brother Man out into the other
room.

By this time it was nearly ten o'clock. The old man stood hesitating in
a curious fashion when Philip asked him to be seated. And again, as
before, he asked if he could find a place to stay over night.

"You haven't room to take me in," he said when Philip urged his welcome
upon him.

"Oh, yes, we have. We'll fix a place for you somewhere. Sit right down,
Brother Man."

The old man at once accepted the invitation and sat down. Not a trace of
anxiety or hesitation remained. The peacefulness of his demeanor was
restful to the weary Philip.

"How long has your son," Philip was going to say, "been away from home?"
Then he thought it might offend the old man, or that possibly he might
not wish to talk about it. But he quietly replied:

"I have not seen him for years. He was my youngest son. We quarreled.
All that is past. He did not know that to give up all that one has was
the will of God. Now he knows. When he is well we will go away
together--yes, together." He spread out his palms in his favorite
gesture, with plentiful content in his face and voice.

Philip was on the point of asking his strange guest to tell something of
his history, but his great weariness and the knowledge of the strength
needed for his Sunday work checked the questions that rose for answer.
Mrs. Strong also came in and insisted that he should get the rest he so
much needed. She arranged a sleeping-place on the lounge for the Brother
Man, who, after once more looking in upon his son and assuring himself
that he was resting, finally lay down with a look of great content upon
his beautiful face.

In the morning Philip almost expected to find that his visitor had
mysteriously disappeared, as on the other occasions. And he would not
have been so very much surprised if he had vanished, taking with him in
some strange fashion his newly discovered son. But it was that son who
now kept him there; and in the simplest fashion he stayed on, nursing
the sick man, who recovered very slowly. A month passed by after the
Brother Man had first found the lost at Philip's house, and he was still
a guest there. Within that month great events crowded in upon the
experience of Mr. Strong. To tell them all would be to write another
story. Sometimes into men's lives, under certain conditions of society,
or of men's own mental and spiritual relation to certain causes of
action, time, as reckoned by days or weeks, cuts no figure. A man can
live an eternity in a month. He feels it. It was so with Philip Strong.
We have spoken of the rapidity of his habit in deciding questions of
right or expediency. The same habit of mind caused a possibility in him
of condensed experience. In a few days he reached the conclusion of a
year's thought. That month, while the Brother Man was peacefully
watching by the side of the patient, and relieving Mrs. Strong and a
neighbor who had helped before he came, Philip fought some tremendous
battles with himself, with his thought of the church, and with the world
about. It is necessary to understand something of this in order to
understand something of the meaning of his last Sunday in Milton--a
Sunday that marked an era in the place, from which the people almost
reckoned time itself.

As spring had blossomed into summer and summer ripened into autumn,
every one had predicted better times. But the predictions did not bring
them. The suffering and sickness and helplessness of the tenement
district grew every day more desperate. To Philip it seemed like the
ulcer of Milton. All the surface remedies proposed and adopted by the
city council and the churches and the benevolent societies had not
touched the problem. The mills were going on part time. Thousands of men
yet lingered in the place hoping to get work. Even if the mills had been
running as usual that would not have diminished one particle of the sin
and vice and drunkenness that saturated the place. And as Philip studied
the matter with brain and soul he came to a conclusion regarding the
duty of the church. He did not pretend to go beyond that, but as the
weeks went by and fall came on and another winter stared the people
coldly in the face, he knew that he must speak out what burned in him.

He had been a year in Milton now. Every month of that year had impressed
him with the deep and apparently hopeless chasm that yawned between the
working world and the church. There was no point of contact. One was
suspicious, the other was indifferent. Something was radically wrong,
and something radically positive and Christian must be done to right the
condition that faced the churches of Milton. That was in his soul as he
went his way like one of the old prophets, imbued with the love of God
as he saw it in the heart of Christ. With infinite longing he yearned to
bring the church to a sense of her great power and opportunity. So
matters had finally drawn to a point in the month of November. The
Brother Man had come in October. The sick man recovered slowly. Philip
and his wife found room for the father and son, and shared with them
what comforts they had. It should be said that after moving out of the
parsonage into his house in the tenement district, Philip had more than
given the extra thousand dollars the church insisted on paying him. The
demands on him were so urgent, the perfect impossibility of providing
men with work and so relieving them had been such a bar to giving help
in that direction, that out of sheer necessity, as it seemed to him,
Philip had given fully half of the thousand dollars reserved for his own
salary. His entire expenses were reduced to the smallest possible
amount. Everything above that went where it was absolutely needed. He
was literally sharing what he had with the people who did not have
anything. It seemed to him that he could not consistently do anything
less in view of what he had preached and intended to preach.

One evening in the middle of the month he was invited to a social
gathering at the house of Mr. Winter. The mill-owner had of late been
experiencing a revolution of thought. His attitude toward Philip had
grown more and more friendly. Philip welcomed the rich man's change of
feeling toward him with an honest joy at the thought that the time might
come when he would see his privilege and power, and use both to the
glory of Christ's kingdom. He had more than once helped Philip lately
with sums of money for the relief of destitute cases, and a feeling of
mutual confidence was growing up between the men.

Philip went to the gathering with the feeling that a change of
surroundings would do him good. Mrs. Strong, who for some reason was
detained at home, urged him to go, thinking the social evening spent in
bright and luxurious surroundings would be a rest to him from his
incessant labors in the depressing atmosphere of poverty and disease.

It was a gathering of personal friends of Mr. Winter, including some of
the church people. The moment that Philip stepped into the spacious hall
and caught a glimpse of the furnishings of the rooms beyond, the
contrast between all the comfort and brightness of this house and the
last place he had visited in the tenement district smote him with a
sense of pain. He drove it back and blamed himself with an inward
reproach that he was growing narrow and could think of only one idea.

He could not remember just what brought up the subject, but some one
during the evening, which was passed in conversation and music,
mentioned the rumor going about of increased disturbance in the lower
part of the town, and carelessly wanted to know if the paper did not
exaggerate the facts. Some one turned to Philip and asked him about it
as the one best informed. He had been talking with an intelligent lawyer
who had been reading a popular book which Philip had also reviewed for a
magazine. He was thoroughly enjoying the talk, and for the time being
the human problem which had so long wearied his heart and mind was
forgotten.

He was roused out of this to answer the question concerning the real
condition of affairs in the lower part of the town. Instantly his mind
sprang back to that which absorbed it in reality more than anything
else. Before he knew it he had not only answered the particular
question, but had gone on to describe the picture of desperate life in
the tenement district. The buzz of conversation in the other rooms
gradually ceased. The group about the minister grew, as others became
aware that something unusual was going on in that particular room. He
unconsciously grew eloquent and his handsome face lighted up with the
fires that raged deep in him at the thought of diseased and depraved
humanity. He did not know how long he talked. He knew there was a great
hush when he had ended. Then before any one could change the stream of
thought some young woman in the music-room who had not known what was
going on began to sing to a new instrumental variation "Home, Sweet
Home." Coming as it did after Philip's vivid description of the
tenements, it seemed like a sob of despair or a mocking hypocrisy. He
drew back into one of the smaller rooms and began to look over some art
prints on a table. As he stood there, again blaming himself for his
impetuous breach of society etiquette in almost preaching on such an
occasion, Mr. Winter came in and said:

"It does not seem possible that such a state of affairs exists as you
describe, Mr. Strong. Are you sure you do not exaggerate?"

"Exaggerate! Mr. Winter, you have pardoned my little sermon here
to-night, I know. It was forced on me. But----" He choked, and then with
an energy that was all the stronger for being repressed, he said,
turning full toward the mill-owner, "Mr. Winter, will you go with me and
look at things for yourself? In the name of Christ will you see what
humanity is sinning and suffering not more than a mile from this home of
yours?"

Mr. Winter hesitated and then said: "Yes, I'll go. When?"

"Say to-morrow night. Come down to my house early and we will start from
there."

Mr. Winter agreed, and when Philip went home he glowed with hope. If
once he could get people to know for themselves it seemed to him the
rest of his desire for needed co-operation would follow.

When Mr. Winter came down the next evening, Philip asked him to come in
and wait a few minutes, as he was detained in his study-room by a
caller. The mill-owner sat down and visited with Mrs. Strong a little
while. Finally she was called into the other room and Mr. Winter was
left alone. The door into the sick man's room was partly open, and he
could not help hearing the conversation between the Brother Man and his
son. Something that was said made him curious, and when Philip came down
he asked him a question concerning his strange boarder.

"Come in and see him," said Philip.

He brought Mr. Winter into the little room and introduced him to the
patient. He was able to sit up now. At mention of Mr. Winter's name he
flushed and trembled. It then occurred to Philip for the first time that
it was the mill-owner that his assailant that night had intended to
waylay and rob. For a second he was very much embarrassed. Then he
recovered himself, and after a few quiet words with Brother Man he and
Mr. Winter went out of the room to start on their night visit through
the tenements.



CHAPTER XXII.


As they were going out of the house the patient called Philip back. He
went in again and the man said, "Mr. Strong, I wish you would tell Mr.
Winter all about it."

"Would you feel easier?" Philip asked gently.

"Yes."

"All right; I'll tell him--don't worry. Brother Man, take good care of
him. I shall not be back until late." He kissed his wife and joined Mr.
Winter, and together they made the round of the district.

As they were going through the court near by the place where Philip had
been attacked, he told the mill-owner the story. It affected him
greatly; but as they went on through the tenements the sights that met
him there wiped out the recollection of everything else.

It was all familiar to Philip; but it always looked to him just as
terrible. The heartache for humanity was just as deep in him at sight of
suffering and injustice as if it was the first instead of the hundredth
time he had ever seen them. But to the mill-owner the whole thing came
like a revelation. He had not dreamed of such a condition possible.

"How many people are there in our church that know anything about this
plague spot from personal knowledge, Mr. Winter?" Philip asked after
they had been out about two hours.

"I don't know. Very few, I presume."

"And yet they ought to know about it. How else shall all this sin and
misery be done away?"

"I suppose the law could do something," replied Mr. Winter, feebly.

"The law!" Philip said the two words and then stopped. They stumbled
over a heap of refuse thrown out into the doorway of a miserable
structure. "Oh, what this place needs is not law and ordinances and
statutes so much as live, loving Christian men and women who will give
themselves and a large part of their means to cleanse the souls and
bodies and houses of this wretched district. We have reached a crisis in
Milton when Christians must give themselves to humanity! Mr. Winter, I
am going to tell Calvary Church so next Sunday."

Mr. Winter was silent. They had come out of the district and were
walking along together toward the upper part of the city. The houses
kept growing larger and better. Finally they came up to the avenue where
the churches were situated--a broad, clean, well-paved street with
magnificent elms and elegant houses on either side and the seven large,
beautiful church-buildings with their spires pointing upward, almost all
of them visible from where the two men stood. They paused there a
moment. The contrast, the physical contrast was overwhelming to Philip,
and to Mr. Winter, coming from the unusual sights of the lower town, it
must have come with a new meaning.

A door in one of the houses near opened. A group of people passed in.
The glimpse caught by the two men was a glimpse of bright,
flower-decorated rooms, beautiful dresses, glittering jewels, and a
table heaped with luxuries of food. It was the Paradise of Society, the
display of its ease, its soft enjoyment of pretty things, its careless
indifference to humanity's pain in the lower town. The group of
new-comers went in, a strain of music and the echo of a dancing laugh
floated out into the street, and then the door closed.

The two men went on. Philip had his own reason for accompanying the
other home, and Mr. Winter was secretly glad of his presence, for he was
timid at night alone in Milton. He broke a long silence by saying:

"Mr. Strong, if you preach to the people to leave such pleasure as that
we have just glanced at to view or suffer such things as are found in
the tenements, you must expect opposition. I doubt if they will
understand your meaning. I know they will not do any such thing. It is
asking too much."

"And yet the Lord Jesus Christ 'although He was rich, for our sakes
became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be rich.' Mr. Winter,
what this town needs is that kind of Christianity--the kind that will
give up the physical pleasures of life to show the love of Christ to
perishing men. I believe it is just as true now as when Christ lived,
that unless they are willing to renounce all that they have they cannot
be his disciples."

"Do you mean literally, Mr. Strong?" asked the rich man after a little.

"Yes, literally, sometimes. I believe the awful condition of things and
souls we have witnessed to-night will not be any better until many, many
of the professing Christians in this town and in Calvary Church are
willing to leave, actually to leave their beautiful homes and spend the
money they now spend in luxuries for the good of the weak and poor and
sinful."

"Do you think Christ would preach that if he was in Milton?"

"I do. It has been burned into me that He would. I believe He would say
to the members of Calvary Church, 'If any man love houses and money and
society and power and position more than Me, he cannot be My disciple.
If any man renounceth not all that he hath he cannot be My disciple.'
And then he would test the entire church by its willingness to renounce
all these physical things. And if He found the members willing, if He
found that they loved Him more than the money or the power, He might not
demand a literal giving up. But he would say to them, 'Take My money and
My power, for it is all Mine, and use them for the building up of my
kingdom.' He would not then perhaps command them to leave literally
their beautiful surroundings. But, then, in some cases, I believe He
would. Oh, yes!--sacrifice! sacrifice! What does the Church in America
in this age of the world know about it? How much do church-members give
of themselves nowadays to the Master? That is what we need--self, the
souls of men and women, the living sacrifices for these lost children
down yonder! Oh, God!--to think of what Christ gave up! And then to
think of how little His Church is doing to obey His last command to go
and disciple the nations!"

Philip strode through the night almost forgetful of his companion. By
this time they had reached Mr. Winter's house. Very little was said by
the mill-owner. A few brief words of good-night, and Philip started for
home. He went back through the avenue on which the churches stood. When
he reached Calvary Church he went up on the steps, and obeying an
instant impulse he kneeled down on the upper step and prayed. Great sobs
shook him. They were sobs without tears--sobs that were articulate here
and there with groans of anguish and desire. He prayed for his loved
church, for the wretched beings in the hell of torment, without God and
without hope in the world, for the spirit of Christ to come again into
the heart of the church and teach it the meaning and extent of
sacrifice.

When he finally arose and came down the steps it was very late. The
night was cold, but he did not feel it. He went home. He was utterly
exhausted. He felt as if the burden of the place was wearing him out and
crushing him into the earth. He wondered if he was beginning to know
ever so little what a tremendous invitation that was: "Come unto me all
ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." All! The
weary, sinful souls in Milton were more than he could carry. He shrank
back before the amazing spectacle of the mighty Burden-Bearer of the sin
of all the world, and fell down at his feet and breathed out the words,
"My Lord and my God!" before he sank into a heavy sleep.

When the eventful Sunday came he faced the usual immense concourse. He
did not come out of the little room until the last moment. When he
finally appeared his face bore marks of tears. At last they had flowed
as a relief to his burden, and he gave the people his message with a
courage and a peace and a love born of direct communion with the Spirit
of Truth.

As he went on, people began to listen in amazement. He had begun by
giving them a statement of facts concerning the sinful, needy, desperate
condition of life in the place. He then rapidly sketched the contrast
between the surroundings of the Christian and the non-Christian people,
between the working-men and the church-members. He stated what was the
fact in regard to the unemployed and the vicious and the ignorant and
the suffering. And then with his heart flinging itself out among the
people, he spoke the words which aroused the most intense astonishment:

"Disciples of Jesus," he exclaimed, "the time has come when our Master
demands of us some token of our discipleship greater than the giving of
a little money or the giving of a little work and time to the salvation
of the great problem of modern society and of our own city. The time has
come when we must give ourselves. The time has come when we must
renounce, if it is best, if Christ asks it, the things we have so long
counted dear, the money, the luxury, the houses, and go down into the
tenement district to live there and work there with the people. I do not
wish to be misunderstood here. I do not believe our modern civilization
is an absurdity. I do not believe Christ if he were here to-day would
demand of us foolish things. But this I do believe He would
require--ourselves. We must give ourselves in some way that will mean
real, genuine, downright and decided self-sacrifice. If Christ were here
He would say to some of you, as He said to the young man, 'Sell all you
have and give to the poor, and come, follow me.' And if you were
unwilling to do it He would say you could not be His disciples. The test
of discipleship is the same now as then; the price is no less on account
of the lapse of two thousand years. Eternal life is something which has
only one price, and that is the same always.

"What less can we do than give ourselves and all we have to the
salvation of souls in this city? Have we not enjoyed our pleasant things
long enough? What less would Christ demand of the church to-day than the
giving up of its unnecessary luxuries, the consecration of every dollar
to His glory and the throwing of ourselves on the altar of His service?
Members of Calvary Church, I solemnly believe the time has come when it
is our duty to go into the tenement district and redeem it by the power
of personal sacrifice and personal presence. Nothing less will answer.
To accomplish this great task, to bring back to God this great part of
His kingdom, I believe we ought to spend our time, our money, ourselves.
It is a sin for us to live at our pleasant ease, in enjoyment of all
good things, while men and women and children by the thousand are dying,
body and soul, before our very eyes in need of the blessings of
Christian civilization in our power to share with them. We cannot say it
is not our business. We cannot excuse ourselves on the plea of our own
business. This is our first business, to love God and man with all our
might. This problem before us calls for all our Christian discipleship.
Every heart in this church should cry out this day, 'Lord, what wilt
Thou have me to do?' And each soul must follow the commands that he
honestly hears. Out of the depths of the black abyss of human want and
sin and despair and anguish and rebellion in this place and over the
world rings in my ear a cry for help that by the grace of God I truly
believe cannot be answered by the Church of Christ on earth until the
members of that Church are willing in great numbers to give all their
money and all their time and all their homes and all their luxuries and
all their accomplishments and all their artistic tastes and all
themselves to satisfy the needs of the generation as it looks for the
heart of the bleeding Christ in the members of the Church of Christ.
Yea, truly, except a man is willing to renounce all that he hath, he
cannot be His disciple. Does Christ ask any member of Calvary Church to
renounce all and go down into the tenement district to live Christ
there? Yes, all.

"My beloved, if Christ speaks so to you to-day, listen and obey.
Service! Self! That is what He wants. And if He asks for all, when all
is needed, what then? Can we sing that hymn with any Christian honesty
of heart unless we interpret it literally?--

    "'Were the whole realm of nature mine,
        That were an offering far too small;
      Love so amazing, so divine,
        Demands my soul, my life, my all!'"

It would partly describe the effect of this sermon on Calvary Church to
say what was a fact that when Philip ended and then kneeled down by the
side of the desk to pray, the silence was painful and the intense
feeling provoked by his remarkable statements was felt in the appearance
of the audience as it remained seated after the benediction. But the
final result was yet to show itself; that result was not visible in the
Sunday audience.

The next day Philip was unexpectedly summoned out of Milton to the
parish of his old college chum. His old friend was thought to be dying.
He had sent for Philip. Philip, whose affection for him was second only
to that which he gave his wife, went at once. His friend was almost
gone. He rallied when Philip came, and then for two weeks his life
swung back and forth between this world and the next. Philip stayed on
and so was gone one Sunday from his pulpit in Milton. Then the week
following, as Alfred gradually came back from the shore of that other
world, Philip, assured that he would live, returned home.

During that ten days' absence serious events had taken place in Calvary
Church. Philip reached home on Wednesday. He at once went to the house
and greeted his wife and the Brother Man, and William, who was now
sitting up in the large room.

He had not been home more than an hour when the greatest dizziness came
over him. He sat up so much with his chum that he was entirely worn out.
He went upstairs to lie down on his couch in his small study. He
instantly fell asleep and dreamed that he was standing on the platform
of Calvary Church, preaching. It was the first Sunday of a month. He
thought he said something the people did not like. Suddenly a man in the
audience raised a revolver and fired at him. At once, from over the
house, people aimed revolvers at him and began to fire. The noise was
terrible, and in the midst of it he awoke to feel to his amazement that
his wife was kneeling at the side of his couch, sobbing with a heartache
that was terrible to him; he was instantly wide awake and her dear head
clasped in his arms. And when he prayed her to tell him the matter, she
sobbed out the news to him which her faithful, loving heart had
concealed from him while he was at the bedside of his friend. And even
when the news of what the church had done in his absence had come to him
fully through her broken recital of it, he did not realize it until she
placed in his hands the letter which the church had voted to be written,
asking him to resign his pastorate of Calvary Church. Even then he
fingered the envelope in an absent way, and for an instant his eyes left
the bowed form of his wife and looked out beyond the sheds over to the
tenements. Then he opened the letter and read it.



CHAPTER XXIII.


Philip read the letter through without lifting his eyes from the paper
or making any comment. It was as follows:

PHILIP STRONG, Calvary Church, Milton:

As clerk of the church I am instructed to inform you of the action of
the church at a regularly called meeting last Monday night. At that
meeting it was voted by a majority present that you be asked to resign
the pastorate of Calvary Church for the following reasons:

1. There is a very widespread discontent on the part of the
church-membership on account of the use of the church for Sunday
evening discussions of social, political, and economic questions, and
the introduction into the pulpit of persons whose character and standing
are known to be hostile to the church and its teachings.

2. The business men of the church, almost without exception, are
agreed, and so expressed themselves at the meeting, that the sermon of
Sunday before last was exceedingly dangerous in its tone, and liable to
lead to the gravest results in acts of lawlessness and anarchy on the
part of people who are already inflamed to deeds of violence against
property and wealth. Such preaching, in the opinion of the majority of
pew-owners and supporters of Calvary Church, cannot be allowed, or the
church will inevitably lose its standing in society.

3. It is the fixed determination of a majority of the oldest and most
influential members of Calvary Church to withdraw from the organization
all support under the present condition of affairs. The trustees
announced that the pledges for church support had already fallen off
very largely, and last Sunday less than half the regular amount was
received. This was ascribed to the sermon of the first of the month.

4. The vacation of the parsonage and the removal of the minister into
the region of the tenement district has created an intense feeling on
the part of a large number of families who have for years been firm
supporters and friends of the church. They feel that the action was
altogether uncalled for, and they think it has been the means of
disrupting the church and throwing matters into confusion, besides
placing the church in an unfavorable light with the other churches and
the community at large.

5. It was the opinion of a majority of the members present that while
much of the spirit exhibited by yourself was highly commendable, yet in
view of all the facts it would be expedient for the pastoral relation to
be severed. The continuance of that relation seemed to promise only
added disturbance and increased antagonism in the church. It was the
wellnigh unanimous verdict that your plans and methods might succeed to
your better satisfaction with a constituency made up of non-church
people, and that possibly your own inclinations would lead you to take
the step which the church has thought wisest and best for all concerned.

It is my painful duty as the clerk of Calvary Church to write thus
plainly the action of the church and the specific reasons for that
action. A council will be called to review our proceedings and advise
with reference to the same.

In behalf of the church,
-------- ----------, Clerk.

Philip finished the letter and lifted his eyes again. And again he
looked out through the window across the sheds to the roofs of the
tenements. From where he sat he could also see, across the city, up on
the rising ground, the spire of Calvary Church. It rose distinct and
cold against the gray December sky. The air was clear and frosty, the
ground was covered with snow, and the roofs of the tenements showed
black and white patches where the thinner snow had melted. He was silent
so long that his wife became frightened.

"Philip! Philip!" she cried, as she threw her arms about his neck and
drew his head down nearer. "They have broken your heart! They have
killed you! There is no love in the world any more!"

"No! No!" he cried suddenly. "You must not say that! You make me doubt.
There is the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. But, oh, for the
Church! the Church which he loved and for which he gave himself!"

"But it is not the Church of Christ that has done this thing."

"Nevertheless it is the Church in the world," he replied. "Tell me,
Sarah, how this was kept so secret from me."

"You forget. You were so entirely absorbed in the care of Alfred; and
then the church meeting was held with closed doors. Even the papers did
not know the whole truth at once. I kept it from you as long as I could!
Oh! It was cruel, so cruel."

"Little woman," spoke Philip, very gently and calmly, "this is a blow to
me. I did not think the church would do it. I hoped----" he paused and
his voice trembled for a brief moment, then grew quiet again. "I hoped I
was gradually overcoming opposition. It seems I was mistaken. It seems I
did not know the feeling in the church."

He looked out of the window again and was silent. Then he asked, "Are
they all against me? Was there no one to stand up for me?" The question
came with a faint smile that was far more heart-breaking to his wife
than a flood of tears. She burst into a sob.

"Yes, you have friends. Mr. Winter fought for you--and others."

"Mr. Winter!--my old enemy! That was good. And there were others?"

"Yes, quite a number. But nearly all the influential members were
against you. Philip, you have been blind to all this."

"Do you think so?" he asked simply. "Maybe that is so. I have not
thought of people so much as of the work which needed to be done. I have
tried to do as my Master would have me. But I have lacked wisdom, or
tact, or something."

"No, it is not that. Do you want to know what I think?" His wife fondly
stroked the hair back from his forehead, as she sat on the couch by him.

"Yes, little woman, tell me." To his eyes his wife never seemed so
beautiful or dear as now. He knew that they were one in this their hour
of trouble.

"Well, I have learned to believe since you came to Milton that if Jesus
Christ were to live on the earth in this century and become the pastor
of almost any large and wealthy and influential church and preach as He
would have to, the church would treat Him just as Calvary Church has
treated you. The world would crucify Jesus Christ again even after two
thousand years of historical Christianity."

Philip did not speak. He looked out again toward the tenements. The
winter day was drawing to its close. The church spire still stood out
sharp cut against the sky. Finally he turned to his wife, and almost
with a groan he uttered the words: "Sarah, I do not to like to believe
it. The world is full of the love of Christ. It is not the same world as
Calvary saw."

"No. But by what test are nominal Christians and church-members tried
to-day? Is not the church in America and England a church in which the
scribes and pharisees, hypocrites, are just as certainly found as they
were in the old Jewish church? And would not that element crucify Christ
again if He spoke as plainly now as then?"

Again Philip looked out of the window. His whole nature was shaken to
its foundation. Repeatedly he drove back the thought of the church's
possible action in the face of the Christ of this century. As often it
returned and his soul cried out in anguish at the suggestion of the
truth. Even with the letter of Calvary Church before him he was slow to
believe that the Church as a whole or in a majority of cases would
reject the Master.

"I have made mistakes. I have been lacking in tact. I have needlessly
offended the people," he said to his wife, yielding almost for the first
time to a great fear and distrust of himself. For the letter asking his
resignation had shaken him as once he thought impossible. "I have tried
to preach and act as Christ would, but I have failed to interpret him
aright. Is it not so, Sarah?"

His wife was reluctant to speak. But her true heart made answer: "No,
Philip, you have interpreted Him so faithfully. You may have made
mistakes; all ministers do; but I honestly believe you have preached as
Christ would preach against the great selfishness and hypocrisy of this
century. The same thing would have happened to him."

They talked a little longer, and then Philip said: "Let us go down and
see the Brother Man. Somehow I feel like talking with him."

So they went downstairs and into the room where the invalid was sitting
with the old man. William was able to walk about now, and had been
saying that he wanted to hear Philip preach as soon as he could get to
church.

"Well, Brother Man," said Philip, with something like his old heartiness
of manner, "have you heard the news? Othello's occupation's gone."

The Brother Man seemed to know all about it. Whether he had heard of it
through some of the church people or not, Mrs. Strong did not know. He
looked at Mr. Strong calmly. There was a loving sympathy in his voice,
but no trace of compassion or wonder. Evidently he had not been talking
of the subject to any one.

"I knew it would happen," he said. "You have offended the rulers."

"What would you do, Brother Man, in my place? Would you resign?" Philip
thought back to the time when the Brother Man had asked him why he did
not resign.

"Don't they ask you to?"

"Yes."

"Do you think it is the wish of the whole church?"

"No, there are some who want me to stay."

"How do you feel about it?" The Brother Man put the question almost
timidly. Philip replied without hesitation:

"There is only one thing for me to do. It would be impossible for me to
remain after what has been done."

The Brother Man nodded his head as if in approval. He did not seem
disturbed in the least. His demeanor was the most perfect expression of
peace that Philip ever saw.

"We shall have to leave Milton, Brother Man," said Philip, thinking that
possibly he did not understand the meaning of the resignation..

"Yes, we will go away together. Together." The Brother Man looked at his
son and smiled.

"Mr. Strong," said William, "we cannot be a burden on you another day. I
am able to get out now, and I will find work somewhere and provide for
my father and myself. It is terrible to me to think how long we have
been living on your slender means." And William gave the minister a look
of gratitude that made his heart warm again.

"My brother, we will see to that all right. You have been more than
welcome. Just what I shall do, I don't know, but I am sure the way will
be made clear in time, aren't you, Brother Man?"

"Yes, the road to heaven is always clear," he said, almost singing the
words.

"We shall have to leave this house, Brother Man," said Sarah, feeling
with Philip that he did not grasp the meaning of the event.

"Yes, in the Father's house there are many mansions," replied the
Brother Man. Then as Mr. and Mrs. Strong sat there in the gathering
gloom the old man said suddenly, "Let us pray together about it."

He kneeled down and offered the most remarkable prayer that they had
ever heard. It seemed to them that, however the old man's mind might be
affected, the part of him that touched God in the communion of audible
prayer was absolutely free from any weakness or disease. It was a prayer
that laid its healing balm on the soul of Philip and soothed his trouble
into peace. When the old man finished, Philip felt almost cheerful
again. He went out and helped his wife a few minutes in some work about
the kitchen. And after supper he was just getting ready to go out to
inquire after a sick family near by, when there was a knock at the door.

It was a messenger boy with a telegram. Philip opened it almost
mechanically and carrying it to the light read:

"Alfred died at four P. M. Can you come?"

For a second he did not realize the news. Then as it rushed upon him he
staggered and would have fallen if the table had not been so close. A
faintness and a pain seized him and for a minute he thought he was
falling. Then he pulled himself together and called his wife, who was in
the kitchen. She came in at once, noticing the peculiar tone of his
voice.

"Alfred is dead!" He was saying the words quietly as he held out the
telegram.

"Dead! And you left him getting better! How dreadful!"

"Do you think so? He is at rest. I must go up there at once; they expect
me." He still spoke quietly, stilling the tumult of his heart's anguish
for his wife's sake. This man, his old college chum, was very dear to
him. The news was terrible to him.

Nevertheless, he made his preparations to go back to his friend's home.
It is what either would have done in the event of the other's death. And
so he was gone from Milton until after the funeral, and did not return
until Saturday. In those three days of absence Milton was stirred by
events that grew out of the action of the church.



CHAPTER XXIV.


In the first place the minority in the church held a meeting and voted
to ask Philip to remain, pledging him their hearty support in all his
plans and methods. The evening paper, in its report of this meeting,
made the most of the personal remarks that were made, and served up the
whole affair in sensational items that were eagerly read by every one in
Milton.

But the most important gathering of Philip's friends was that of the
mill-men. They met in the hall where he had so often spoken, and being
crowded out of that by the great numbers, they finally secured the use
of the court house. This was crowded with an excited assembly, and in
the course of very many short speeches in which the action of the church
was severely condemned, a resolution was offered and adopted asking Mr.
Strong to remain in Milton and organize an association or something of a
similar order for the purpose of sociological study and agitation,
pledging whatever financial support could be obtained from the
working-people. This also was caught up and magnified in the paper, and
the town was still roused to excitement by all these reports when Philip
returned home late Saturday afternoon, almost reeling with exhaustion,
and his heart torn with the separation from his old chum.

However, he tried to conceal his weariness from Sarah, and partly
succeeded. After supper he went up to his study to prepare for the
Sunday. He had fully made up his mind what he would do, and he wanted to
do it in a manner that would cast no reproach on his ministry, which he
respected with sensitive reverence.

He shut the door and began his preparation by walking up and down, as
his custom was, thinking out the details of the service, his sermon, the
exact wording of certain phrases he wished to make.

He had been walking thus back and forth half a dozen times when he felt
the same acute pain in his side that had seized him when he fainted in
church at the evening service. It passed away and he resumed his work,
thinking it was only a passing disorder. But before he could turn again
in his walk he felt a dizziness that whirled everything in the room
about him. He clutched at a chair and was conscious of having missed it,
and then he fell forward in such a way that he lay partly on the couch
and on the floor, and was unconscious.

How long he had been in this condition he did not know when he came to
himself. He was thankful, when he did recover sufficiently to crawl to
his feet and sit down on the couch, that Sarah had not seen him. He
managed to get over to his desk and begin to write something as he heard
her coming upstairs. He did not intend to deceive her. His thought was
that he would not unnecessarily alarm her. He was very tired. It did not
need much urging to persuade him to get to bed. And so, without saying
anything of his second fainting attack, he went downstairs and was soon
sleeping very heavily.

He awoke Sunday morning feeling strangely calm and refreshed. The
morning prayer with the Brother Man came like a benediction to them all.
Sarah, who had feared for him, owing to the severe strain he had been
enduring, felt relieved as she saw how he appeared. They all prepared to
go to church, the Brother Man and William going out for the first time
since the attack.

We have mentioned Philip's custom of coming into his pulpit from the
little room at the side door of the platform. This morning he went in at
the side door of the church after parting with Sarah and the others. He
let Brother Man and William go on ahead a little, and then drawing his
wife to him he stooped and kissed her. He turned at the top of the short
flight of steps leading up to the side entrance and saw her still
standing in the same place. Then she went around from the little court
to the front of the church, and went in with the great crowd already
beginning to stream toward Calvary Church.

No one ever saw so many people in Calvary Church before. Men sat on the
platform and even in the deep window-seats. The spaces under the large
galleries by the walls were filled mostly with men standing there. The
house was crowded long before the hour of service. There were many
beating, excited hearts in that audience. More than one member felt a
shame at the action which had been taken, and might have wished it
recalled. With the great number of working-men and young people in the
church there was only one feeling; it was a feeling of love for Philip
and of sorrow for what had been done. The fact that he had been away
from the city, that he had not talked over the matter with any one,
owing to his absence, the uncertainty as to how he would receive the
whole thing, what he would say on this first Sunday after the letter had
been written--this attracted a certain number of persons who never go
inside a church except for some extraordinary occasion or in hopes of a
sensation. So the audience that memorable day had some cruel people
present--people who narrowly watch the faces of mourners at funerals to
see what ravages grief has made on the countenance.

The organist played his prelude through and was about to stop, when he
saw from the glass that hung over the keys that Mr. Strong had not yet
appeared. He began again at a certain measure, repeating it, and played
very slowly. By this time the church was entirely filled. There was an
air of expectant waiting as the organ again ceased, and still Philip did
not come out. A great fear came over Mrs. Strong. She had half risen
from her seat near the platform to go up and open the study door, when
it opened and Philip came out.

Whatever his struggle had been in that little room the closest observer
could not detect any trace of tears or sorrow or shame or humiliation.
He was pale, but that was common; otherwise his face wore a firm, noble,
peaceful look. As he gazed over the congregation it fell under the
fascination of his glances. The first words that he spoke in the service
were strong and clear. Never had the people seen so much to admire in
his appearance, and when, after the opening exercises and the regular
order of service, he rose and came out at one side of the desk to speak,
as his custom was, the people were for the time under the magic sway of
his personality, that never stood out so commanding and loving and
true-hearted as then.

He began to speak very quietly and simply, as his fashion was, of the
fact that he had been asked to resign his pastorate of Calvary Church.
He made the statement clearly, with no halting or hesitation or
sentiment of tone or gesture. Then, after saying that there was only one
course open to him under the circumstances, he went on to speak, as he
said he ought to speak, in defense of his interpretation of Christ and
His teaching.

"Members of Calvary Church, I call you to bear witness to-day, that I
have tried to preach to you Christ and Him crucified. I have doubtless
made mistakes; we all make them. I have offended the rich men and the
property-owners in Milton. I could not help it; I was obliged to do so
in order to speak as I this moment solemnly believe my Lord would speak.
I have aroused opposition because I asked men into the church and upon
this platform who do not call themselves Christians, for the purpose of
knowing their reasons for antagonism to the church we love. But the time
has come, O my brothers, when the Church must welcome to its counsels,
in these matters that affect the world's greatest good, all men who have
at heart the fulfilment[sic] of the Christ's teachings.

"But the cause which more than any other has led to the action of this
church has been, I am fully aware, my demand that the church-members of
this city should leave their possessions and go and live with the poor,
wretched, sinful, hopeless people in the lower town, sharing in wise
ways with them of the good things of the world. But why do I speak of
all this in defense of my action or my preaching?"

Suddenly Philip seemed to feel a revulsion of attitude toward the whole
of what he had been saying. It was as if there had instantly swept over
him the knowledge that he could never make the people before him
understand either his motive or his Christ. His speech so far had been
quiet, unimpassioned, deliberate. His whole manner now underwent a swift
change. People in the galleries noticed it, and men leaned out far over
the railing, and more than one closed his hands tight in emotion at the
sight and hearing of the tall figure on the platform.

For the intense love of the people that Philip felt had surged into him
uncontrollably. It swept away all other things. He no longer sought to
justify his ways; he seemed bent on revealing to men the mighty love of
Christ for them and the world. His lip trembled, his voice shook with
the yearning of his soul for the people, and his frame quivered with
longing.

"Yes," he said, "I love you, people of Milton, beloved members of this
church. I would have opened my arms to every child of humanity here and
shown him, if I could, the boundless love of his heavenly Father! But
oh, ye would not! And yet the love of Christ! What a wonderful thing it
is! How much He wished us to enjoy of peace and hope and fellowship and
service! Yes, service--that is what the world needs to-day; service that
is willing to give all--all to Him who gave all to save us! O Christ,
Master, teach us to do Thy will. Make us servants to the poor and sinful
and hopeless. Make Thy Church on earth more like Thyself!"

Those nearest Philip saw him suddenly raise his handkerchief to his
lips, and then, when he took it away, it was stained with blood. But the
people did not see that. And then, and then--a remarkable thing took
place.

On the rear wall of Calvary Church there had been painted, when the
church was built, a Latin cross. This cross had been the source of
almost endless dispute among the church-members. Some said it was
inartistic; others said it was in keeping with the name of the church,
and had a right place there as part of its inner adornment. Once the
dispute had grown so large and serious that the church had voted as to
its removal or retention on the wall. A small majority had voted to
leave it there, and there it remained. It was perfectly white, on a
panel of thin wood, and stood out very conspicuously above the rear of
the platform. It was not directly behind the desk, but several feet at
one side.

Philip had never made any allusion in his sermons to this feature of
Calvary Church's architecture. People had wondered sometimes that with
his imaginative, poetical temperament he never had done so, especially
once when a sermon on the crucifixion had thrilled the people
wonderfully. It might have been his extreme sensitiveness, his shrinking
from anything like cheap sensation.

But now he stepped back--it was not far--and turning partly around, with
one long arm extended toward the cross as if in imagination, he saw the
Christ upon it, he exclaimed, "'Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away
the sin of the world!' Yes--

    "'In the cross of Christ I glory,
        Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
    All the light of sacred story
        Gathers round----'"

His voice suddenly ceased, he threw his arms up, and as he turned a
little forward toward the congregation he was seen to reel and stagger
back against the wall. For one intense tremendous second of time he
stood there with the whole church smitten into a pitying, horrified,
startled, motionless crowd of blanched staring faces, as his tall, dark
figure towered up with outstretched arms, almost covering the very
outlines of the cross, and then he sank down at its foot.

A groan went up from the audience. Several men sprang up the platform
steps. Mrs. Strong was the first person to reach her husband. Two or
three helped to bear him to the front of the platform. Sarah kneeled
down by him. She put her head against his breast. Then she raised her
face and said calmly, "He is dead."

The Brother Man was kneeling on the other side. "No," he said with an
indescribable gesture and untranslatable inflection, "he is not dead. He
is living in the eternal mansions of glory with his Lord!"

But the news was borne from lip to lip, "He is dead!" And that is the
way men speak of the body. And they were right. The body of Philip was
dead. And the Brother Man was right also. For Philip himself was alive
in glory, and as they bore the tabernacle of his flesh out of Calvary
Church that day, that was all they bore. His soul was out of the reach
of humanity's selfishness and humanity's sorrow.

They said that when the funeral of Philip Strong's body was held in
Milton, rugged, unfeeling men were seen to cry like children in the
streets. A great procession, largely made up of the poor and sinful,
followed him to his wintry grave. They lingered long about the spot.
Finally, every one withdrew except Sarah, who refused to be led away by
her friends, and William and the Brother Man. They stood looking down
into the grave.

"He was very young to die so soon," at last Sarah said, with a calmness
that was more terrible than bursts of grief.

"So was Christ," replied Brother Man, simply.

"But, oh, Philip, Philip, my beloved, they killed him!" she cried; and
at last, for she had not wept yet, great tears rolled down into the
grave, and uncontrollable anguish seized her. Brother Man did not
attempt to console or interrupt. He knew she was in the arms of God.
After a long time he said: "Yes, they crucified him. But he is with his
Lord now. Let us be glad for him. Let us leave him with the Eternal
Peace."

. . . . . . . .

When the snow had melted from the hillside and the first arbutus was
beginning to bud and even blossom, one day some men came out to the
grave and put up a plain stone at the head. After the men had done this
work they went away. One of them lingered. He was the wealthy
mill-owner. He stood with his hat in his hand and his head bent down,
his eyes resting on the words carved into the stone. They were these:

PHILIP STRONG.
PASTOR OF CALVARY CHURCH.

"In the cross of Christ I glory,
    Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
    Gathers round----"

Mr. Winter looked at the incomplete line and then, as he turned away and
walked slowly back down into Milton he said, "Yes, it is better so. We
must finish the rest for him."

Ah, Philip Strong! The sacrifice was not in vain! The Resurrection is
not far from the Crucifixion.

. . . . . . . .

Near to its close rolls up the century;
    And still the Church of Christ upon the earth
    Which marks the Christmas of His lowly birth,
Contains the selfish Scribe and Pharisee.
    O Christ of God, exchanging gain for loss,
    Would men still nail thee to the self-same cross?

It is the Christendom of Time, and still
    Wealth and the love of it hold potent sway;
    The heart of man is stubborn to obey,
The Church has yet to do the Master's will.
    O Christ of God, we bow our souls to thee;
    Hasten the dawning of Thy Church to be way!

THE END.



[Transcriber's note: typographic errors in the original are noted within
square brackets.]





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