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Title: A Christmas Gift - To the American Home and the Youth of America
Author: Gravengaard, N. P.
Language: English
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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.

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A CHRISTMAS GIFT

    TO THE AMERICAN HOME
    AND THE YOUTH OF AMERICA

    BY

    N. P. GRAVENGAARD

    _Former President Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of
    America. Author of "Eternal Life and Everlasting
    Joy" and "Lectures."_

    TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY
    G. S. STRANDVOLD

[Illustration: ARTI et VERITATI]

    BOSTON
    RICHARD G. BADGER
    THE GORHAM PRESS



    COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY RICHARD G. BADGER

    All Rights Reserved


    Made in the United States of America

    The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.



INTRODUCTION


THE present volume is a translation from the Danish language of one of
Rev. Mr. Gravengaard's books which in its original form has attained
a success among Danes in the United States and Americans of Danish
descent which is quite unprecedented in the annals of Danish immigrant
literature, secular and religious. The book has passed through two
large editions and has even found wide reading in far-off Denmark.

The work of rendering this volume into English has been a source of
unlimited joy because of the clarity of the author's message; the form
in which he has clothed his thoughts, and the immediate humanistic
touch evident from beginning to end. It is the hope of the translator
that an equal measure of satisfaction and delight may accrue to the
public who now for the first time may enjoy the opportunity of becoming
familiar with Mr. Gravengaard's writings in the language of the United
States.

                                                    THE TRANSLATOR



CONTENTS


                                                      PAGE
    CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS                                   9
        1. The Christmas Angels: Dost Thou Remember?     9
        2. Room for Jesus                               10
        3. Well-Springs of Joy                          13
        4. To Join in the Song                          15
        5. The Joy of Understanding                     18
        6. The Faith of a Little Child                  21
    THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR                           24
        1. To See Like the Angels                       24
        2. The Hidden Life                              28
    THE WORTH OF YOUR SOUL                              32
    THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN SHALL BE REVEALED              36
    NOT IN WORD, NEITHER IN TONGUE                      39
    SEEST THOU THIS WOMAN?                              42
    WHAT ABOUT THE DEVIL?                               45
    TWO EPISODES OF THE CIVIL WAR                       49
        1. Looting Those Who Fell                       49
        2. Removed Because of Mischief                  51
    YOUR WORDS                                          55
    BEHIND THE SHIELD                                   59
    LOVE ME--AND TELL ME SO!                            66
    TO BEAR BURDENS                                     71
    BE STEADFAST IN PRAYER                              74
        1. A Gain and a Protection                      74
        2. What Mother Taught Me                        75
        3. The Evening-Prayer: A Protection             77
        4. The Morning-Prayer: A Gain                   80
    ZACCHÆUS                                            84
        1. To Be Home By Oneself                        84
        2. All Forgiven--Nothing in Vain                87
        3. During the Following Days                    89
    THE MARCH OF EVENTS                                 92
    THE LITTLE WHILE                                    97
    THE MIRACLE IN OUR AGE                             105
        1. The Miracle and Nature                      106
        2. The Miracle and the Church of the Lord      111
    AMERICA--YOU ARE THE HOPE OF THE WORLD TO-DAY      119



RELIGIOUS THOUGHTS FOR EVERYBODY



A CHRISTMAS GIFT



CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS


1. _The Christmas Angel's: Dost thou remember?_

I WAS sitting in my study. Darkness was gathering, and it was Christmas
Eve. Then it was as though a kind and soothing voice whispered into my
ear: Dost thou remember Christmas Eve at home?

Do I?--Indeed, I remember it as it were but yesterday. I remember so
plainly how we, all finely dressed, gathered at the long table. There
father was sitting at one end reading aloud from the old hymn book
while we all listened, our hands folded.

At the other end of the table grandmother was sitting, and I next to
her, for I was "Grandma's boy." The old brass spectacles were sitting
astride the very tip of her nose so that I could not quite grasp
whether she peered through them or merely glanced above them.

When father had finished reading, grandmother spoke up--she wanted us
to sing now this Christmas carol, now that; she had sung on Christmas
Eve for so many, many years that she could lead us in singing them. Her
voice--well, it was old, for she was past eighty, but if you say it
wasn't fine, then you surely are no good as a judge of grandmother's
voice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mother--do I remember her? Indeed, I never forget her. Gentle and quiet
she sat at the table, slightly pale, her cheeks somewhat haggard. Her
mother-eye wandered from one to the other, resting on each of us with
a wealth of love. It was a strange look that came from those eyes
surrounded by dark edges--it was so filled with love and wistfulness.

Then came that Christmas when her chair stood vacant. O, yes, I
remember her so plainly. It was quite near Christmas when she closed
her eyes, and her last words to us were: "_Follow Jesus!_"

Yes, I remember it all, but--O, wait just a little--it was only
that--if tonight you visit those dear ones at home, tell them then that
I remember it all. And tell them that we also--despite the struggle
for money and the increasing lack of veneration for ancient Christian
festivals--tell them that we also celebrate Christmas both in our home
and in the church.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus I sent my Christmas greetings carried on the wings of the angel.


2. _Room for Jesus_

(LUC. 2, 7)

"There was no room in the inn."

No, neither was there room in the golden regal halls in Jerusalem nor
in the palace of the high priest. Therefore the angels--those heavenly
messengers--came to neither the inn nor Jerusalem. It is not with the
angels as with the invader's hordes in Belgium--they do not intrude
upon foreign soil, sword in hand. They are the messengers of peace, and
visit only those who have room for Jesus.

And here we behold first of all the shepherds on the field near
Bethlehem. In their hearts there was _room_ for Jesus; the sweet music
from Heaven above found the _way open_ to these men.

They had been sitting out there watching how old and young flocked to
the City of David to register on the tax list. It must have been a sore
trial for them to think how God's people had come under a foreign yoke:
Wasn't, then, all hope dead? Were not the living conditions of Israel
so desperate; the people themselves so harassed that it must needs be
impossible for God to fulfill His promises from the ancient days of
yore? They bent their heads, sighing heavily.

But the sigh soared upward.

Thus they sat in the stillness of the night, bent under the sufferings
of the age, as in former days Israel sat at the rivers of Babylon:
Nobody dared play the harp! Nay--who would really be able to let the
harp chords burst out in a song of joy--under _such conditions_? That
would have been almost levity.

But the sigh had ascended up high, and the Angel stood before them
saying: I can! I can make the harp play a song of joy. I come from the
mansions of Heaven with a cheering message: "Fear not, for behold, I
bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For
unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord----"

And then the first of all jubilant Christmas hymns was borne upon the
pure lips of angels and carried all over the earth. That was the sweet
_music from Heaven_ which shall never die.

It shall sound for all those who sit in misery, or who sigh because of
their poverty--for those who think that their life has become so turned
upside down that nothing can ever be righted again--for those who sigh:
No, under such circumstances we cannot sing the cheery songs. To all
these it shall be said: _It is not impossible, at all!_ It doesn't
matter so much how your living conditions are, difficult or easy, dark
or bright, nor how disrupted your life may be. What does matter, is
whether or not you have room for Jesus.

You say: Alas--if He only would, but----

Remember, my dear, that at one time He was satisfied with a _manger_
and with a _cross_. While on the cross He said to a miserable
malefactor: "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." And on another
occasion He said to a woman taken in adultery: "Neither do I condemn
thee: go, and sin no more!"

_Fear not!_

That was the first tone in the music from Heaven, and it was meant
for _you_, also. Indeed, He will abide with you, too, when you will
give Him room in your heart. Also you He will save into His heavenly
realm. But, then tell me: Isn't there, even considering your wants and
circumstances, every reason why you should sing a Christmas hymn with
joy in your heart?

It was not levity that made the angels sing jubilantly that Christmas
Eve: _They had beheld that which had been prepared for mankind through
the love of God our Father_. Therefore, they could sing the jubilant
songs.

So, try then to look beyond all the _despair_ down here. Try to raise
your eyes to the bright Heavens--to that which has been prepared
for you through the love of God our Father. If it does happen,
nevertheless, that once in a while you bend your head _downward_, then
let the sigh soar _upward_--for it may thus happen that angels will
visit you.

Therefore it shall be proclaimed loudly by the church of Jesus
Christ--from the city on the mountain throughout all the lands of the
earth--to all those who have room for Jesus: _Fear not! It is never
so dark in your life that there is no room for the joyful songs of
Christmas!_


3. _Well-Springs of Joy_

Well-springs of joy!

It does sound a bit strange that _a babe on the knee of a virgin_ might
be the well-spring of joy. Ordinarily, it is a well-spring of worry and
tears when a virgin sits with her babe on her knee--worry and tears for
herself and for those who are related to her. But here we behold a
virgin who herself has sung the joyful hymn of praise because she had
been found deserving of such grace.

Well-springs of joy it was to Mary and to the aged Elizabeth from the
very beginning--and now the Christmas Angel announces that it is "for
all the people."

But, someone may say to us: Yes, we know that the _shepherds_ were
happy and that joy reigned in the _inn_, and we also realize that you
speak of Christmas joy, etc., but when you say that this story about
the Child in the Manger is a well-spring of joy--then, really, you go
a little bit too far, and such exaggerations hurt your own cause. It
isn't sensible to make it out quite as strong as that. Behold that
highly praised Child Jesus nailed to the cross as a condemned criminal,
His mother standing at the foot of the cross--and then tell us: Isn't
it true that this Child, like so many, many others, made joy change
into sorrow? Wouldn't any mother's heart break when she had to witness
her son die the death of a condemned criminal? Even though no sin was
found in Him, then you must admit that in this position he was a well
of sorrow and weeping rather than of joy.

We answer: We know very well that His mother and His disciples
mourned and wept--they could not do otherwise in that hour. But the
_well-spring_ of this sorrow and weeping was not in the crucified
Christ. Even in this hour He is the well-spring of joy, for then He
nailed our debt of sin to the cross. Then He redeemed us from the power
of sin and death and the devil. It was for our sake that He allowed
Himself to be nailed fast onto the cross. It was thus magnificently
revealed here that the Child praised while sitting on the virgin's
knee, had proved to be our faithful friend in life and death, when
He became a man. Therefore, He is, also, in this the darkest hour of
His earthly life, a well-spring of joy, and if we are to weep when we
gather about the Christmas Child as the Crucified One in the church of
the Lord--then it shall be out of the joy of our hearts.

The Christmas Child is the only one, born of woman, of whom it can
be said that He has been a well-spring of joy. And that He has been
throughout the life of mankind--from that very moment when in the
Garden of Eden He was spoken of as the conqueror of the serpent. But He
is also the only one who

    "makes all earth feel joyful."


4. _To Join in the Song_

"The angels join the singing."

Well, it is easy enough for them to sing when we give the tone, for
it is never too high for them. It is different when we are to join
when they lead the singing. Sometimes it is a little bit hard for us
children of dust--but we must learn it.

They sang that Christmas Eve: "Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good will toward men!"

The first part of it is easy for you to sing, for "the glory of
Christmas is God's above the highest sky." That's quite simple.

But when the angels then sing: "On earth peace, good will toward men!"
you stop short; you cannot sing that. The tone is too high for you.
When you look at your own life, it seems to be burdened much more with
strife and worry and trouble than lightened by peace. And what do the
heavenly hosts mean when they sing about good will toward yourself--O,
well, it isn't much!

Then if you look beyond the narrow confines of your own life and behold
the church of the Lord, where peace should be far more firmly rooted,
then--what then? "The eye sees strife and only strife," and the people
_speak_ about peace and tremble in the thunder of cannon. They _bleed_
and _scream pitifully_ on the battlefield because of their wounds--and
at home under the pressure of military budgets.

No, you cannot join in the singing!

But how, then, could the angels sing as they did that Christmas night?
Was not the world filled with war and disturbances in those days, too?
Was not the world full of souls in quest of lost peace? Yes, even so!
And the angels saw it. But _they saw something more_.

Amidst all the restlessness of a disturbed world they saw a little
Child on His mother's knee. In this child's eyes the sacred peace of
Heaven was reflected. So that was at least one human soul in all the
millions of mankind where perfect peace reigned on earth.

Toward this, the only one, the angels looked.

When, then, you seek peace on earth, look not in the direction of the
world, of the struggling masses, but look toward Jesus--not as He was
that night on His mother's knee in the inn near Bethlehem--for He is
there no more, but as He is in His church, in His word, and in His
institutions. His church on earth is that mother's knee upon which you
shall find Him, and where you, in a world filled with war and strife,
shall find peace and repose for your own soul.

The angels made no attempt whatever to penetrate into the strife of
the world or to unravel its troubles. Neither shall you so do. On the
other hand, they tried to look into the eye of the Saviour, and there
they beheld Peace--a heavenly Peace which they had not seen on earth
since that evening hour when Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden
of Eden, and when one of their own kind was placed on guard with a
flaming sword at the portals of Paradise. Then night fell upon earth.
But Christmas Eve the new day began to arise from out of the darkness.
Then they saw again a human being in the depth of whose soul reigned
the Peace of Heaven, and therefore they bore their good will.

_The peace and the good will, then, was in this one man_, and through
Him born into the millions of mankind. The angels had seen this one,
and therefore they could sing as they did.

Perhaps you say: Well, I can understand plainly enough why God the
Father and the holy angels should bear Him good will. But were I to
join in the singing, I must needs be convinced that the Father would
also bear me good will. That is what I need to be convinced about.
But here I stand telling myself: The best acts in my life, the purest
thoughts in my soul, are darkened by sin. What then?

Yes, that is true.

But, then, tell me: Have you not at times felt the nearness of Jesus?
Was not He your soul's refuge in the darkness? Was not He like a
luminous star in your life? Was He not yours--conceived within you in
the sacred moment of baptism, born into the world with pangs within
your soul--perhaps in the darkness of night? But then the Father in
Heaven does bear you good will. He does not look at the darkness of sin
within you--that, He knows, will be vanquished by the light of His son,
but He looks at His only begotten Son who is the luminous star of your
life--the only one, but splendid and bright.

Then you own in Him the Peace of Heaven and the good will of God our
Father--and then you can _join in the singing_.


5. _The Joy of Understanding_

(JOHN 1, 1-14)

Who among us does not remember Christmas at home?--In my own childhood
home there was no Christmas tree, but a remarkably impressive solemnity
reigned above and upon all during Christmas. Sometimes I still wish
that I might become a child once more and celebrate Christmas at home
again, with father and mother, grandmother and all those dear ones.
That cannot be done, however, for all these beloved ones are having
Christmas in the mansions of Heaven--and I am no longer a child. But
about these Christmas memories, I want to say: "God, let me never,
never forget them!"

That was the joy without clearly conscious reasons. One was glad just
because it was Christmas, but was unable to go into any further details
about the reasons.

But now I am a child no more!--Are we as "grown-ups" to be satisfied
with the memory of our childhood Christmas, and by witnessing the
pleasure of the children--share a little of that Christmas sentiment
which envelops all?

Undoubtedly, many people will answer: Yes, that is all. Christmas
really is meant only for the children. Since we became experienced men
and women who have become acquainted with the vexations and worries of
life, we cannot thoroughly enjoy Christmas. To us, the law of life has
been proclaimed in the words: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken."

In the hard, wearying, suffering and struggling life of the world,
the unconscious joy, that is, the joy that knows of no reason, is not
enough. There is a craving for a joy that knows and understands the
spirit of Christmas if one is to be completely glad--that is true!

But what does the Gospel say:

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace
and truth."

That means, that the only begotten Son of God, who was with God and
who was Himself God, has descended and taken up his abode among
us---not only among the children! No, indeed, also among grown-up and
experienced men and women who must shoulder the burdens and heat of the
day.

The Christmas message is the message that tells us that _Jesus Christ,
with Heavenly power and with Heavenly love_, has taken up his abode
among all working, struggling and suffering people upon earth--not like
a haughty, indifferent onlooker at your work, your exertions, your
struggle as we might imagine the son of the big manufacturer going
into the shop looking at the toiling, perspiring workers with haughty,
indifferent scorn and with a shrug of the shoulder.

No, _Jesus Christ entered the life of mankind as a benevolent and
powerful participant in it_, so that you, when you look at your work
and wonder whether you will be able to finish it--at your suffering and
wonder whether you can keep on suffering--never shall reckon with your
own strength alone, but must include Jesus therein. He has gone into
your suffering, has taken up your fight and your work for the purpose
of suffering, fighting and working with you and becoming your Saviour.

Therefore, He says: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest." That means: _All you men and women
who labor and are heavy laden_.

But when I can grasp a little of this, then I enjoy Christmas--not
because of the memory of vanished days, but because of the
understanding of the fact that Christmas is meant just for me who have
experienced how much there is _to labor for, to fight against, and to
be saved from_, and how sorely I stand in need of a heavenly support of
strength and love, in my daily work and in my daily struggles.

Therefore, I now say: Christmas is meant for all us grown-up men and
women who take life seriously and who know what are its conditions. We
cannot dispense with Christmas, at all. We offer God our praise and our
gratitude for Christmas, and we do so _with the joy of understanding_.


6. _The Faith of a Little Child_

On the west front lay a 17-year-old boy a few days before Christmas,
1915. He had voluntarily enlisted under the flag of Great Britain, and
was yearning to storm forward in the ranks of his comrades--forward to
victory. And he _had_ been in the front rank. Now he lay wounded and
bleeding on the battlefield.

The battle was over; the stars shone, and he was thinking: Wonder, if I
shall lie here and die!

Memories stormed upon him. His mother had said: "God be always with
you, my lad!" and the old minister had said: "Remember there is always
a window open upward!"

Upward--upward to God! Was it not as though the twinkling stars were
smiling at him--calling him, as it were?

Yes, they summoned him upward.

O, how that wound pained him! Wonder if the ambulance isn't coming
soon? He could hear the cries of the other wounded; perhaps that was
when they were lifted up from the ground. Would no one find him? He
could not stir, could not call--could only gaze at the distant stars.

Was there room for him up there? Yes, for he was sure death was
approaching. "Mother," he whispered, "mother--O God--take my soul--now,
just before Christmas--for the sake of Jesus Christ!"

The angels came, and they carried him to heaven. His prayer had been
heard up there. His child's soul was carried upward to God.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the famous French preacher, Adolphe Monod, was asked what had been
the cause of his greatest gratitude, he said: "_I thank God that He
hath given me the faith of a little child._"

The main thing for him was not that God had given him a great task as
a preacher and a theologian, but that He had given him the faith of
a little child. That means: The faith that accepts the grace of God
_without making objections_!--

O, thou great and rich and powerful people: Lay aside all thy bustle,
all thy doubts, and all thy suspicion toward God--lay it aside, all
of it, and accept the joyful tidings of Christmas with the faith of a
little child--without making objections. Then thou wilt be glad.

The well known French writer, Larradan, whose pen formerly had written
nothing but scorn against faith, during the war implored his people to
return to the Christian faith as the only firm and saving foothold. He
writes:

"I laughed at faith and thought myself cocksure. Now I no longer
rejoice at my scornful laughter, for I see France bleeding and weeping.
I stood at the wayside and saw the soldiers. They went out to meet
death--rejoicing. I asked: What makes you so calm? And they began
praying to God saying: 'We believe in God!' I counted the sacrifices
of our people, and noticed that they bore them praying. Then it became
clear to me that there was something comforting and sustaining in
recognizing an eternal home-country, when that of the earth is glowing
in the fire of hatred. This feeling is science--the science of the
child.... A nation must despair if it does not believe that the torment
of the earth can be exchanged for the joy of Heaven.... France was
great in the days of yore. But that was a France which had faith.
How about France in our own age? It is torn to pieces with want and
suffering. It is a France that believes no longer. Will her future
brighten? At the hand of God--only at the hand of God.--France, O,
France, revert to the faith, to thy most beauteous days! To go away
from God is to perish!..."

_I thank God that He hath given me the faith of a little child!



THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW YEAR


1. _To See Like the Angels_

THE striking feature of the way in which angels see does not consist in
their seeing everything, both good and evil, in this world, in a rosy
hue, in heavenly glory so that they really do not see the evil as it
is--but in this that they see particularly what is good and seek that
by preference--let their eye dwell upon, rest thereon, with pleasure.
Therefore we can sing:

    To us He also smiles
    With Heaven's light in His eyes.

It is otherwise with that human being who is depraved by nature. His
eye seeks, with a certain predilection, whatever is wrong in his
fellow-beings, dwells upon it with mischievous joy. It is an innate
fault which makes it difficult for us humans to embrace one another, to
smile at one another, in the manner of angels.

Suppose that we in the new year make a serious attempt to look at each
other as the angels look--seeking what is good in our fellow-beings.
With an earnest will we can accomplish much, especially when we are
sustained by prayer.

Let us begin at home!

Perhaps it is long since you, man, have embraced your wife and
given her a real _smile_. When she was your bride--in the years of
youth--that was your greatest joy, but as the years went by you found
this fault and that with her, and then--why, then you ceased embracing
her and smiling at her. It wasn't quite as bright in your home as
before. She became more and more reticent; her rippling laughter--like
that of a child--was heard no more. Her cheerful songs were silent. She
became rather morose and querulous. A woman cannot thrive where home is
without smiles and love. You accepted the slow changes as it behooves
a man of staid dignity--life teaches so much, also compromise with
ideals, and the realization that the bright expectations of youth come
to naught.

But, now suppose that it wasn't Life, but you _yourself_ that were
to blame? Suppose the change arose from the fact that you had been
inconsiderate to your wife. Your eye had detected her faults and
shortcomings rather than her good points? Try, man, during the new
year to look at her as the angels look at us! Let your eye, diligently
and willingly, seek what is good in her, dwell upon it, be jealous of
it--give her all the appreciation she deserves for making the home
cosy and comfortable. Try it with an earnest effort and a sincere
prayer--then you will once more feel like embracing her and smiling at
her as you did when she was the bride of your youth. It might happen
that you would reap a _hundredfold_ before the year ebbs out. It will
be brighter and more snug in your house--and it will feel so good to be
at home.

Or you, wife and mother, beginning to bend down and "feel old"
although you are just beyond thirty. Perhaps you tell yourself: O,
had I only thought then that he was as he is--but I did not know. And
the children, yes--God knows, they are like him--naughty and hard to
manage. Instead of staying at home to help a little with the children
in the evening--he just simply skips out.----

Hush--wait a while!

In what way did you tell him this when you asked him last to stay at
home? Did you throw your arms around his neck--did you _smile_ at him,
saying: My dear, stay home with us tonight?

It's no use, you say--but "it's no use" is, absolutely, a term which
cannot be found in the vocabulary of Christians nor in the life of
Christians--nor in yours if you are a Christian woman. It helps very
much to do what is good while praying--perhaps not _when you_ want it,
perhaps not the way you want it. But it will surely help if during the
new year you look for just that in your husband which you loved when
you were young--if you let your eye dwell upon it, cling firmly to it
in your thoughts, carry it into your prayer--embrace him and smile at
him as in the bygone days of youth.

Where love has been sown, the harvest is as dependable as is that of
the wheat in the field--it is only in some cases that it proves a
failure. And even though yours might seem to be just such a case where
your love did not sustain him--then the love which you have sown will
sustain you and your little ones--and in the course of the year your
home will reap at least thirtyfold.

We always gain by sowing love--also in cases where we must needs
acknowledge that our love, like the seed that fell by the wayside,
bears no fruit in those upon whom it descended. But in the large
majority of homes the seeds of love will fall into fertile ground, and
bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty and some a hundred.

When only we have learned how to embrace the dear ones at home and
to smile as the angels smile, then we will also be able to smile at
others--but first at home.

And a year in which we have tried with earnest diligence to learn the
art of seeing what is good in life, to dwell upon it and to smile at
our fellow-beings--as the angels smile--is a good year, rich in the
grace and blessings from above.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had just officiated at the funeral of a woman, the mother of many
children, when a man said to me, "Well, now she's got a velvet-lined
coffin, but while she lived she was hardly able to get a calico dress."
And that was not because of poverty.

What if her husband had given her a velvet dress while she was living!
Then she would have taken pleasure in it, and he would have received
her gratitude. The beautiful casket she could not enjoy--and could give
him no thanks for it.

But _you_ don't behave like that, do you?

       *       *       *       *       *

On another occasion I heard the widow ask one of the pall-bearers when
we turned away from the grave: "How did you like that sermon?" The
following day I met her son-in-law and was told that she had not liked
it at all. Among other things he remarked: "She simply wanted you to
put some feathers in her crown, but there wasn't any room for them."
And I agreed with him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In both instances man and wife lived together until parted by death.
But love had died--happiness vanished.

Speak to each other the kindly words--scatter flowers on each other's
way throughout the year, then Love groweth, and happiness in the home
increases in intensity. Then you can truly sing:

    Home, home, sweet, sweet home,
    There's no place like home--
    O, there's no place like home.


2. _The Hidden Life_

(MAT. 6, 5-7)

The inscription on the tombstone erected on the grave of the great
French philosopher, Descartes (died 1650), reads: "_He has lived well
who was hidden well_," or, "_He is happy whose life is hidden_."

In this lies the thought that happiness depends upon the hidden
life--that this is something good which affords one a refuge.

Nowadays, the prevailing impression is that happiness is contingent
upon _life in public view_; that happiness consists in the ability
to attain a prominent position, in being admired, gaining wealth and
winning fame. This is an absolute delusion.

Andrew Carnegie, the late multi-millionaire, said: "I have tried to
make money by leading an incessantly busy life--but it did not make me
happy. Now I have tried to give money away to public institutions--and
still I found no happiness in that"; this is an impressive testimony
from a prominent and honest man, showing that happiness has nothing to
do with life in the public view.

It is this Jesus says to the Pharisees: You stake all upon _leading
your life in public view_, in the synagogues and in the streets, to
gain the admiration of men. For this reason you have forgotten to seek
the good refuge with God, to lead a hidden life with God, full of
prayer. Therefore, your public life is devoid of blessing to the people
and without joy to yourselves. _You have no reward, and no happiness._

"Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy
Father which is in secret." You shall seek the hidden corners of your
own heart and there speak with your Father about that life which stirs
in there, unseen by the world. Then you will soon realize the necessity
of hiding with God the Father and of living your life with Him hidden
away from the world. That is the condition for your becoming a happy
man or a happy woman, and it will contribute to the bliss of that part
of your life which must be lived before the public.

Therefore, this shall be my New Year's wish for you, that you _during
the coming year may find the happiness which lies in the hidden life of
prayer, with God_.

Many married people seem to think that their matrimonial happiness
depends on swell homes and association with those more prosperous
families known as "society"--"Keeping up with the Joneses." This is
wrong. Attempts of that kind often lead to the utter destruction
of happiness. It is true that a nice home and a pleasing circle of
acquaintances are worth much, but marital happiness does not depend
upon them. It springs from that life which man and wife live together
unseen by the eyes of the world.

The happiest moments in the life of a wife are not those in which her
husband stands upon the stage of the world, the object of praise and
admiration--as the man _to whom the laurel wreath is given_; nor, in
the life of the man, when his wife is considered _a celebrated grand
lady_. No, the sublimest happiness in married life is due to those
hours when man and wife sit cheerfully at home, hand in hand, talking
about the grace of God and about their mutual love.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many young people think that happiness and joy depend upon the number
of dances they are able to attend, or upon exterior circumstances. It
is not their fault that they are neither happy nor glad. It is due to
the environment, living conditions, to those with whom they associate.
And while all this may be of importance it is, profoundly seen, a
delusion, nevertheless. It is true, also, in the case of the young
man and the young woman that their happiness essentially depends upon
their hidden life. If that is a life of impure thoughts, of sinful
cravings--then happiness will be meagre, no matter how favorable the
environment may be. There will be no calm and deep-seated joy, no real
happiness. If, on the other hand, that hidden life means a life of pure
thoughts and noble ambition, a life in God, then it will mean happiness
even though the environment may be unfavorable.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a law in the life of mankind that happiness depends upon the
manner in which the hidden life is lived. By creating this law, God has
given rich and poor an equal chance of happiness, and has shown Himself
as the friend of the poor.

       *       *       *       *       *

King Charles IX of France once asked the Italian poet, Tasso: "Who,
think you, is the happiest?"

Without a moment of hesitation, the poet answered:

"God."

"Yes, yes, very well," the king said, "but then next to God?"

"The one who resembles Him most," was the answer.



THE WORTH OF YOUR SOUL


"FOR what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose
his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mat.
16, 26.)

The first thought is that of _the infinite worth of the soul_.

In one scale of the balance Jesus places all the world with its gold
and gems, its art and science, its limitless values of woods and
prairie soil--and in the other, a human soul. And then He says: Behold
all this splendor! Look at it all, thou yearning child of man! It is
not equal to the worth of your soul.

Everything great and beautiful in life originates in the human soul.
Through that, all noble thoughts and great ideas have come into being.
Every work of art was formed in a human soul before it was painted upon
the canvas, chiseled in marble, or written in a book. It is the stamp
of the human soul that lends value to the work.

Revere that _mark of the soul_ wherever you recognize it! But have
reverence, above all, for the _soul_ itself. That has the worth of
infinity. To "lose your soul" is to suffer everlasting damage which
cannot be repaired or substituted by values of the world.

The other thought is that about _exchange for your soul_.

Wherever that precious soul is demanded of you, you can give nothing
else in _exchange_. There is nothing in the whole, wide world that has
value enough as exchange for a human soul. Neither is there anything
whose value can equal that of the mark of your soul upon your work.

If you owe your neighbor ten bushels of wheat, you may pay him back
by giving him twenty bushels of corn or cash in exchange, and he will
realize that he is paid in full. But this cannot be done where rests
upon you the giving of your soul.

This first of all you must consider in your relation to God who gave
you your soul. He will demand it from you when your earthly life has
ended. If your soul then is seen to have suffered corruption, it is
not fit to enter into eternal life, and you have nothing else to give
God in its place. It avails you nothing that you say: "O, Lord, I know
that I have been so occupied with worldly things that I have not taken
care of my soul, as I should have done. But, in this way I have made
$10,000 which I now donate to missionary work."--My dear, that cannot
compensate for the wrong that has been inflicted upon your soul.

David understood this. Therefore he said to God: "For thou desirest
not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt
offering." But God delights in a prayer like this: "Have mercy upon me,
O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of
thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from
mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!" There is a human soul in
this prayer--it is true that it is a suffering soul--but it is there.

Thus God demands that your soul be in your _prayer_, your _praise_, and
your _worship_, and there is nothing else that can take its place.

The worship of the Pharisee was perfect, from the point of form.
Everything was done according to rules and regulations. But it was
_soulless_. Therefore, Jesus condemns it. But where He hears the prayer
or sees the tears of repentant sinners, He stands still. There he
stoops, and in their wailing and stammering worship He beholds a human
soul that has suffered wrongs--one, perhaps, which is deeply tainted.
But the soul is there, and it has worth to Him. He can heal all the
wounds of the soul. And where the wounds of the soul are being healed,
worship takes place. But, then, the human soul must take part.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is true, also, in worldly things. Where your soul is demanded of
you, you can give nothing else in barter for it.

You may give your wife food and shelter, dresses and footwear, but
that is not enough. She has a right to your soul. Golden rings and
splendid dresses cannot take its place. But if you do give her your
soul--in smiling joy or in a burst of weeping--she will cling unto you
with everlasting rejoicing in her heart. In this devotion she will
recognize infinite worth.

Or your children! You may give them a good education, may even leave
them a substantial legacy. But what God above all else demands of you,
is that you give them your soul--a father's soul and a mother's soul,
which they can learn to honor and to love. To give them a substantial
legacy as an equivalent to this spiritual partnership is to give them
stones where bread is wanted.

       *       *       *       *       *

Remember, then, your soul's infinite worth--remember that wherever
it be demanded of you, in your relations to God or men: You can give
nothing in its place.

There is nothing in this world which is valuable enough to take the
place of the human soul.



THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN SHALL BE REVEALED

(MAT. 10, 26)


"FOR there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid,
that shall not be known."

No one sees it, thinks the burglar when in the hours of the night he
breaks into a house. It is hidden by darkness.

No one sees it, think the adulterer and the adulteress when they
satisfy their sinful lust. It is hidden to others. It is their secret.

No one sees it, and no one will know about it, the young man thinks
when, covered by darkness, he sneaks into the saloon.

_Yes, God sees it!_--Yes, God! But, to be sure, He doesn't tell the
neighbors about it the next morning. No, to be sure! But, nevertheless,
it will be brought forward in the light of the day--all these secrets
of darkness.

If that consciousness could but be vivid and strong within us--how many
criminals would then keep away from the paths of evil!

And how many secrets of darkness would be revealed to God through
repentant confessions--and be _forgiven_ instead of _concealed_ in the
innermost chambers of the heart like a guilty secret--a guilty secret
only to be covered by a new transgression.

"The Lord discovereth deep things out of the darkness, and bringeth out
to light the shadow of death," says Job (12, 22).

When Judas had agreed to betray Jesus, he concealed that evil secret
in the innermost chamber of his heart. But Jesus saw it in there. He
saw that this secret of darkness would push Judas into the darkness
without--down to despair--to perdition.

Therefore Jesus made an attempt to bring out that secret from the
darkness when they sat together at the Easter meal. That is my
understanding of Jesus' pointing out Judas as the traitor. It is as
though he would say to him: O, listen, Judas, let us bring that dark
secret out into the light so that it may be forgiven! But Judas arose
and went away. He wanted to keep the evil secret to himself.

Happy he or she who asks Jesus to bring forth the evil secrets from the
heart so that they may be repented and forgiven--so that their power
may be crushed! Then, on the great day they shall be revealed as having
been _repented of_ and _forgiven_--to the glory of the Lord who has
released us from the fetters of the evil secrets.

But it is not only the evil secrets that are to be revealed in the
light of the day. _All_ secrets are to be revealed.

Does man possess other secrets than those of the darkness? Will there
not be very little to bring forth in the way of good secrets from the
recesses of the heart?

No, thank God, there will be thousands of them.

All those loving thoughts which you conceived in secret, and which you
never found a chance to express--they shall be revealed on that great
day.

All the heavy sighs and all the burning prayers which have issued
forth from the depths of the heart in secret, shall be made known in
the light. And they are countless. Generation after generation has
witnessed parents praying for their children--O, could we but realize
a small part of all that which has been fought for and prayed for in
secret! Then we would be surprised to know that someone had _thought so
lovingly, had prayed so fervently, and struggled so earnestly for our
sake--in secret_.

All these good and pure secrets shall be revealed on the great day.

How radiantly they will testify that the human heart has not been
merely the battlefield of the secrets of darkness, as some seem to
believe.

And together with all the evil secrets, repented of and forgiven, they
shall glorify our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who endowed us with
the gift of _wanting to_ think lovingly, pray fervently, and struggle
earnestly in secret.



NOT IN WORD, NEITHER IN TONGUE


"MY little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth" (I. John 3, 18).

Five little girls stood in a garden telling each other how dearly each
one of them loved her mother. The words became more and more emphatic
until finally Bertha--the eldest of them--poking her nose upward, said
decisively: "I love my mamma so much that I could die for her sake."
And thus everyone was brought to silence.

But on a bench a little farther away in the garden Bertha's aunt sat
sewing; she overheard it all, and then said: "It is strange that a
little girl who loves her mother so much that she would be willing to
die for her, does not love her enough to wash dishes for her. I heard
this noon, Bertha, that you didn't want to do the dishes for your
mamma!"

It is strange, indeed!

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth."

       *       *       *       *       *

The young man says to his bride: "I love you, darling, so much that
I could carry you on my hands all through life!"--A year after the
wedding it may happen that he cannot carry up a bucket of coal from the
basement for her.

That's strange, too.

The young woman says to her fiancé: "I love you so much that I could
die for you!"--But if it is a question of that new Easter bonnet, she
cannot save a dollar out of regard for her husband's pocketbook: She
doesn't love him that much.

You do not love each other enough to _sacrifice_ for each other's
sake--or to be a bit _patient_ with each other--or to _cut down a
little_ your own personal demands out of regard for each other.
Therefore we have so many divorces.

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth."

       *       *       *       *       *

Charles Dickens tells in one of his books of two sisters who are
discussing how intently they wish to do something really great and
good. Under the petty circumstances at home they couldn't get the
chance. But if they might be sent out as missionaries among the
heathens--O, how they would toil just to help those poor people! It
didn't matter that perhaps they would have to suffer the pangs of
hunger and persecution--if they only could show people their love.

Just then their old grandmother who was sick abed in the next room,
said: "O, girls, won't one of you come and scratch my back?"

"You can do that," the one said. "No, you'd better do it," said the
other. "It's always up to me--you might do it once in a while!"

That was the end of the glory--and of the love. On distant shores;
under other circumstances they would do deeds of love. But in that
everyday life where God had placed them, it wasn't quite as easy as all
that to show their love.

We can all catch ourselves in similar shortcomings. We would like to
be charitable on a grand scale if we were _elsewhere_ or _differently
situated_; but in everyday life--it is so prosaic just to help an old
mother, or a grandfather, or some sick and poor person. And yet it is
that which submits us to the crucial test.

"My little children, let us love not in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth."



SEEST THOU THIS WOMAN?

(LU. 7, 44)


SIMEON is a benevolent Pharisee, deferential toward Jesus, but icy and
dignified.

The woman is a sinner, a former prostitute with whom Simeon is
disgusted; yes, he sees her, all right! He knows her!

It is as when I ask someone: Do you know the ocean? and he then
answers: I should say so! I have been standing in the downs watching
the waves; I have seen them soaring to the height of houses while the
wind whipped their foam into my eyes. Yes, I have seen the ocean--I
know it, all right!

Then I answer: Pardon me, my dear--but if that is all you have seen,
you do not know the ocean. You have not _seen_ it while it lay calm
and glittering and smooth like a mirror in the sunshine, nor have you
_noticed_ it when its surface was all alive with ripples, and when it
roared with that hollow sound that betrays the presence of violent
undertows far beneath the surface.

Thus with Simeon. That which he had seen and heard of this woman, had
been brought to him, like the wind-swept foam of the sea, in the storm
of evil tongues, and then he says: I should think I know her, indeed! I
know to what kind she belongs. I see her--a low-down, vulgar and lewd
woman!

But the undertow in the depth of her soul he had not seen; the heaving
sighs from within he had not heard. He did not know how often she had
been tossing restlessly upon her couch in moaning and anguish, nor how
firmly she had been clutched by the wound-inflicting bonds of vice, nor
how strongly she had tugged at them in order that she might set herself
free.

And that was not the only thing Simeon did not see. The wind-swept foam
had veiled his eye so he could not see what was really good in her at
that moment despite her appearance stamped with sin. _There were bitter
tears of repentance. There was warmth of heart. There was love for
Jesus._

Seest thou this woman? Seest thou this man?

How do you look at the people among whom you live? Do you notice only
the uncouth exterior? Do you listen only to that which is carried to
you by the wind of the evil tongues? Or do you listen to the undertow
in the depths of the heart, to the heaving sighs, the hollow roaring
from within?

The famous Italian sculptor, Michelangelo, once stood before a large
coarsely chiseled slab of stone which he surveyed carefully, and with
increasing pleasure, from all angles. "There is nothing extraordinary
about this stone," a friend remarked, "what peculiarity do you notice?"

"What do I notice?" Michelangelo answered, "I see an angel within this
stone, and I must release it."

It may be that our Lord Jesus did not exactly see an angel within this
woman--nor does He see one in you and in me--but beneath the rough
surface He saw a human soul created in the image of His Heavenly Father
and after His likeness, and He said: I will release it!

       *       *       *       *       *

_By looking at the undertow in the depths of the soul and by listening
to the heaving sighs from within, you will be enabled to look at your
fellow-beings with ever-increasing interest and--delight!



WHAT ABOUT THE DEVIL?


WHAT about the devil?--That is an exceedingly difficult problem to the
wiseacres of this world.

Recently a learned professor proclaimed from his speaker's chair that
no single individual, no organization of any kind, could rid the world
of the devil, but Time would--Time would most certainly get him away.
And the assemblage applauded enthusiastically from out the joy of
their hearts. Most likely they did not stop to think at that moment
that Time would undo them long before it could ever undo the devil.
That may, however, be excused, for learned people often are somewhat
thoughtless--and all these were scholars.

Or was the charity of the auditors so far-seeing that it rejoiced in
behalf of generations yet unborn? Well, who knows--for that kind of
people also possess a heart.

Be that as it may.

But, concerning the devil--whether a devil actually exists or merely
is a creature of imagination; whether he is a really dangerous foe or
simply a phantom from the days of yore--I must try to make clear to
myself, and you must do likewise.

It doesn't appear to be so difficult, after all, when the matter is
approached without any frills and furbelows. I look at it this way:
I have been baptized to renounce the devil, all his works and all
his ways. That was told me at the moment of my baptism. I affirmed
it in order to be incorporated into the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ
demands of me that I renounce the devil if I am to be His disciple. If,
then, no devil existed, He who is Himself the Truth and the Lord of
the Kingdom of Truth, at the outset must expect of me that I affirm a
lie--He whose own lips never knew untruth and deceit, would ask that I
in order to become a part of His Kingdom, renounce a devil who does not
exist: That would not only be senseless: It is impossible! When my Lord
and Saviour tells me to renounce the devil, then I do believe a devil
exists, and that my own welfare now and hereafter makes it necessary
that I keep away from him.

_In this matter, the word of my Lord sufficeth for me!_

It is my faith in this which relieves me of many of those speculative
difficulties which entangle so many others. I must choose between the
word of my Lord and the speculative mind of man. To me the choice
offers no difficulties at all. I choose the word of my Lord--no matter
whether or not the scornful laughter sounds derisively from the other
side. And let me say it once more: The word of my Lord sufficeth.

When, then, I meet some of those people who claim there is no devil;
that all talk about the devil is a relic of ancient superstition, I
simply say: You must excuse me, but in this matter I abide by the
word of the Lord. I cannot ignore His word and accept yours, and,
furthermore, I have _no reason whatever_ for doing so; I have never
yet found that I could not depend upon His word.

And if I then consider the ways of the world, as they are--then I
most certainly am not tempted to abandon the covenant of my baptism.
The works of the devil are apparent to all: Murder, adultery, theft,
robbery, fraud, deceit, drunkenness, etc. Many may say that these are
the doings of evil people, but if we look a little closer at these evil
people we will find that back of it all is one whose thralls these poor
creatures are.

If I try to look into the spiritual anguish of these pitiful
individuals, I am not tempted to give up my belief in the devil. To
be sure, I do not behold him physically, but I see his works. To me
it seems to be as when I see a building is being erected. I ask: Who
is building this place? I am told: It is Mr. Smith who builds this
place, and we are his laborers. I do not see Mr. Smith himself, but
I notice that his work goes on, and I do not doubt that he exists. I
see his laborers working, some sing and joke while others are sullen
and indifferent just because it happens that they have entered into an
agreement which for the time being makes them realize their obligations
to Mr. Smith. If the latter could only find a way to wriggle out of
that relationship, they would feel unspeakably relieved to do so.

Thus I see the works of the devil in the life of man, and by seeing
them I find no reason to doubt his existence. The evil people are
his laborers. They work in order to complete his job--some singing
and joking, others under compulsion. It is clear that especially the
latter are the slaves of the devil. By looking into the spiritual life
of these miserable ones I find confirmation of the word of my Lord
that there is a devil that must needs be renounced if we are to live
contentedly. It is from him our generation needs relief, and not from
all that ancient gossip about him.

I said a little while ago that the word of the Lord sufficeth for me in
this matter, and that is true. It does not correspond with the theories
of the wiseacres, but with Life itself. From the learned infidels the
cry is sounded: It isn't true. But from the depths of real human life
we hear the sigh: _We are sorely troubled by the devil!



TWO EPISODES OF THE CIVIL WAR

1. _Looting Those Who Fell_


THE battle was over. Darkness expanded its misty veil over the
battle-field. Victory had been won by neither army, but there were left
a large number of dead and wounded.

The ambulances were sent out with help for those who fell in the fight.
Where moans were heard, they went, raised the wounded limb a trifle,
asked sympathetic questions and bandaged the wound as well as could be
done in a hurry; then the wounded were taken to the field hospital.

But if one looked more carefully, other figures were discernible; half
hidden by the darkness they sneaked about among the wounded and dead.

Who were they?

It didn't look as though they heeded the moans of the dying, nor did
they raise them to carry them off to the field hospital. What were they
doing, then?

_They were plundering those who fell_, taking from them their little
articles of value: A hideous thing, truly a deed of darkness! Who would
have believed that anyone could have the heart to plunder the dying.

You and I would not do such a thing. We become intensely indignant and
disgusted when told of such heartlessness. "God, I thank thee, that I
am not as the other men are, extortioners----"

No, on that battlefield where the wounded lie, having been hit by
shells and maimed by swords, we do not go in order to plunder and loot.
That is true enough.

But--alas, there is a "but" about it.

The world is a huge battlefield. Right and left we see about us the
_wounded_ who are moaning and suffering from pain; they are sighing for
just a little aid, a kind word, a gentle smile. They need succor--they
need being taken to the hospital. They still have a remnant of the
sense of honor left. There is a possibility that they may right
themselves; that they may be able to qualify as good fighters in the
next skirmish--perhaps to conquer where now they have suffered defeat.
_But_ instead of the gentle smile, the kind word, and the little
aid--we took away from them whatever was left and let them lie where
they were. We deprived them of the last remnant of honor, extinguished
the last faint glimmer of hope. The bruised reed was broken. The
smoking flax was quenched.

On Life's vast battlefield you and I may, after all, have taken part
in the plundering of the wounded; or we may have gone by just like the
priest and the Levite. At least we have not always done as did the
Samaritan: Bound up their wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and brought
them to an inn!

Old Dr. Bengel says: "I am kept constantly busy by reading proof upon
myself."

Let us do likewise. Then we will be better and better enabled to heed
the moans of the wounded on the vast battlefield of Life, and to bring
them to the inn, to the church of the Lord where there is healing for
all wounds. This is our task toward the wounded, and it was that which
was in the mind of Jesus when He said:

"Go, and do thou likewise!"


2. _Removed Because of Mischief_

During the Civil War it became necessary to remove one of the officers
serving under General Sherman; "Removed because of mischief" was the
way it was entered upon the record.

General O. O. Howard succeeded him in command and continued to have
charge of the unit until the end of the war.

Then the army arrived at Washington, where a parade was to be held
followed by disbanding.

The day before the parade General Sherman said to Howard:

"The political leaders demand of me that the officer whose place you
took, resume his charge tomorrow and ride at the head of his unit in
the parade, and I wish you would help me out of this predicament."

"But it is my unit now, General," Howard said, "and it is but fair that
I ride at its head tomorrow."

"Yes, of course," General Sherman answered, "but--are you a Christian,
Howard?"

"What do you mean by that?" Howard asked astonished.

"I mean that you can bear that disappointment and let him have the
honor. You are a Christian," Sherman added; "well--what do you say?"

Like a brave officer, jealous of his honor, Howard had anticipated this
day with delight, but, after hesitating a moment, he said:

"Yes, looked at from that point of view, only one answer is possible:
Let him ride at the head of his old unit tomorrow!"

"All right then," said Sherman, "but you will report at headquarters
tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock."

The next morning at the appointed hour Howard reported that everything
was arranged. The officer who had been removed because of mischief had
resumed his old post.

"Very well," Sherman answered, "then you ride by my side today."

"I have no right to do that," Howard replied.

"It is an order," Sherman answered smilingly.

Thus O. O. Howard rode beside General Sherman at the head of the entire
army in the parade at Washington--he who had renounced glory and right
for the benefit of one who had forfeited both, so that the latter might
_be honored_.

"Removed because of mischief." That might have been written upon the
brow of Adam when the portals of Paradise were closed behind him.
Removed from the living God because of mischief--that _was_ the legend
above the whole story of mankind until the fullness of time.

Removed because of mischief--from one another, from the respect of
fellow-beings, from honor and enviable positions among men: That was
the legend above the lives of so many--of him who had stolen money from
his master's till; of him who had suffered a moral lapse, etc.

But into the life of him who has been removed from God because of
mischief one came and said: It is my will that you resume your old
place of the child in the arms of his Father. It is my will that you
take part in the ride into the new Jerusalem. I will share my rights
with you and give you my glory. Yes, thus speaks the Son of the King of
Heaven in His church upon earth.

This I have done for thee, Jesus says. But then, when you go among
those people who have been removed because of mischief from good
positions or from the respect of their fellow-beings: How much of your
glory and rights can you give to them?

_You are a Christian._

We ask, almost as surprised as O. O. Howard: What do you mean by that,
Lord? Too often, we ourselves think too little of it. But Jesus sayeth:
Remember that you are a Christian when you associate with those who
have lost the respect of their fellow-beings. As a Christian you must
be able to sacrifice a little of your honor and your rights for their
sake.

To be a Christian is not merely to be a child and to rest upon the arm
of the Father. _It is to make real the love of the Father, in the steps
of Jesus Christ, among those who have fallen by the wayside._

_You are a Christian._

_Are you?_

And one thing more. Howard did not lose anything by relinquishing his
glory and rights like a Christian. Far from it! He gained by it. He was
placed beside the supreme commander at the head of the entire army.
Thus with us.

When Jesus demands of us that we as _Christians_ shall bring
sacrifices, then it is not for the purpose of causing us any _loss_,
or to make us _advance_ something for which we will not be reimbursed,
but simply to enable us to receive more from Him. Such advances He
changes into an income for us. We will receive a hundredfold. We will
be qualified to be at the front, and by His side we approach the goal.



YOUR WORDS

(MAT. 12, 37)


"FOR by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt
be condemned."

Isn't this a strange way of speaking?

If Jesus had said: "By thy works thou shalt be justified, and by thy
works thou shalt be condemned", then I would have immediately conceded
that this was good common sense. Actions are something tangible,
something you can get the actual "feel" of, but words--why, they often
are nothing but hot air.

Still Jesus says: "By thy words shalt thou be justified, and by thy
words thou shalt be condemned"--so, I must accept that.

When, then, I think of the words I have spoken, at home, in the church,
in the midst of the congregation, I cannot conceal _to_ myself the fact
that there were many empty words among them. Not only that--there were
also some mean words, and when they are to be measured by Him who never
sinned, and whose lips never knew deceit, then I must tell myself:
There is enough right here to condemn you! And I am possessed with
_fear_ and worry because of my own words.

If I revert to the good words I may have spoken, it isn't much better.
And still, I cannot say but that I doubtless have spoken some good
words, and that they may have been of benefit to some. I am quite
certain that I often have spoken good words at sick-beds, in the homes
and in the church--words that were willingly listened to just because
they were good words, that really did comfort those who were sick and
had sorrowful souls--words that were something more than sounding brass
or a tinkling cymbal--words that were inspired and filled with the
warmth of my heart--words in which I myself rejoiced sincerely, and for
which I could never sufficiently thank God that He gave me the grace to
utter them.

But, yet--in spite of all this--it does seem to me that when my words
are to be judged by Him who always spake the pure, the powerful, the
pungent, and the perfect word--then mine will be found wanting. In
other words: I _doubt_ that those words of mine were so faultless
that He who is Himself faultless, would consider me justified by my
words. No, to the contrary--I must tell myself: Thou art weighed in the
balance and found wanting!

Thus I find myself placed between _fear_ and _doubt_--fear because of
my evil words, and doubt about the faultlessness of my good words.

What shall I do, then? Shall I timidly withdraw from the words of the
Lord: "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou
shalt be condemned"?--Shall I attempt to forget them, imagine that they
were not meant for me, have no bearing upon me--or shall I try to avoid
them as some fearfully avoid cemeteries at the midnight hour?

No, I cannot do that!

I must have these strange words clear in my mind. I must work them
through. To stand between fear and doubt, timidly withdrawing from
the words of my Lord! No, that cannot be possible. Where shall I seek
refuge? Where shall I seek that explanation which reconciles me with
the word of the Lord, and which brings peace into my soul?

I will seek refuge in the pledge of my baptism--as so many others have
done in the hour of worry and distress. I let it pass upon my lips,
and the word is: "I _renounce_ the devil and all his works and all his
ways." But to renounce means that I break off from, separate myself
from, and become a foe of, the evil one and all that is evil--also my
own words. But can He, the fair judge, condemn me for that which I
disavow and separate myself from, what I personally oppose?

No, it is impossible! That cannot be!

This gives me surcease. The fear of my evil words must vanish, and,
thus unburdened, I go on.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.... I
believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by
the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell; the third day
He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven and sitteth on
the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come
to judge the quick and the dead.... I believe in the Holy Ghost; the
holy Christian church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of
sins; the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

The word of the Apostles' Creed is the word of faith. And what did I
say? I _believe_! It may be feebly, alas, but nevertheless--with all
its frailty the heart embraces the word of faith, and doubt vanishes
before this word.

Almost astonished I ask myself: Is it possible? Is it possible that I
who found myself placed between fear and doubt, conquer both by the
word of faith?

That word of faith has thus passed upon my lips, not like a sounding
brass or a tinkling cymbal, but as a _truth of the heart_. It was not
a hollow saying, it was not a faulty word, and yet it was my own. It
was given to me in the early morn of my life as a gift from God in
my baptism. Now it asserts itself in spite of all the evil, empty
and faulty words I have spoken--reaches to the Lord Himself as an
expression of the innermost life of my heart, and the answer of the
Lord to this word is: By thy words shalt thou be justified!

Thus, through the words of the Lord I gained peace in my soul, and my
heart bursts out its "Praised be God!"



BEHIND THE SHIELD

(EPH. 6, 16)


PAUL is imprisoned at Rome and is writing to "the saints which are
at Ephesus." He beholds Christian life as one immense struggle--not
against flesh and blood, that is, against the depraved elements in the
life of mankind and the evil tendencies in man; no, back of flesh and
blood are principalities and powers, a host of spirits trained in the
wiles and the cunning of the devil, and exercising a tremendous power
in the world, through evil persons.

Against these gigantic powers we must needs fight, and we must vanquish
them. But we cannot do so by our own power. We must be "girt about with
truth," must be clothed in "the whole armour of God." This is not an
armour that can be forged from the steel within ourselves--although we
say that with all due deference to bravery, shrewdness and wisdom; but
in the great struggle against the powers of darkness we must be girt
with something stronger. Fortified with _our own_, we sustain wounds,
but win no victory. The armour of God gives victory, but protects
against wounds if we know how to use it rightly.

But when Paul describes the whole armour of God, he strongly emphasizes
a particular part of it, for he says: "Above all, taking the shield[A]
of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of
the wicked." Thus it is a question of making proper use of the shield
rather than of the sword. The church of the Lord has hitherto laid
stress on the use of the sword, and therefore the result of the fight
has often been a number of wounded souls, for the sword wounds, while
the shield protects.

It is said of our heathen forefathers that they knew how to _fight_
as well as how to _rest_ behind the shield. They knew how to grasp
all the hostile arrows in their shield while they fought; when they
had fought themselves weary or spent all their arrows, while the foe
still had plenty of deadly arrows to hurl against them, they knew the
art of taking a rest behind their shield in the midst of the shower of
arrows. Covered by the shield they gathered strength for the purpose
of resuming the fight with axes and spears while the enemy uselessly
wasted his supply of arrows.

I wish sincerely that we possessed somewhat more of this ability of our
forefathers to use the shield, to _fight and to rest behind the shield
of faith, spiritually speaking_. That would make it possible for us to
give battle the thunder of which would resound in the remotest corners
of the earth, as in days of yore the song and the hammer strokes of
our forefathers were heard in distant countries. Then we would not use
our fighting ability to plunder foreign shores, but to lead the fight
against the spiritual powers of evil--to be in the front ranks during
the fight that shall be fought from the sea to the ends of the earth,
in which thousands must bleed because they have not learned how to use
the shield of faith.

_We shall make a stand against the wiles of the devil!_

If I am not very much mistaken by the signs of the age, the attacks on
the church of the Lord will during the present century become still
more marked by diabolical cunning and cleverness than ever before.
_The arrows_ will be sharpened with all the shrewdness of science,
directed against us with cunning, glowing with a devilish hatred
against everything that is of heavenly birth, and aims at heavenly
goals. Indecent jokes, cutting scorn and cleverly formulated inquiries
will constitute a cloud of arrows which will darken the sun to many.
They will be hurled against us through the means of literature and
science, with violent haughtiness, with fierce hatred. And we--we have
not that unconquerable courage which enables us to say with the hero of
Thermopylae: "So much the better--then we fight in the shade!"

How shall we approach the struggle of the twentieth century?

Someone may say: We shall sharpen our arrows, make them pointed, and
send them forth with shrewdness and wisdom. We shall use our common
sense, meet the opponents on the battlefield of thought and cleverness,
show them what is unenduring in the chimera of the atheists and what
is depraved in the life without God. In the church of the Lord we have
men who are not inferior to our opponents in respect to cleverness and
wisdom--indeed, we have, praised be God!

But it does seem to me that many a valiant fighter will succumb in this
kind of a struggle, and many plain-thinking Christians may flee, as
did the Philistines in ancient days when their giant had fallen. All
honor to those who defend and promote the Kingdom of God by thought, by
reasoning and by wisdom! But along that way we do not accomplish much
more than to humbly admit that

    "Stood we alone in our own might,
     Our striving would be losing."

More and more the shibboleth must be: "Above all, taking the shield
of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of
the wicked." Learn how to fight, covered by the shield! That means:
All your struggle must be based upon the words of faith, all your
arguments must take these as their point of departure instead of using
human sagacity and the tricks of interpretation; then you will be
unconquerable. And if it does happen that you become weary in the fight
against the wiles of the devil, or that your arrows are all spent while
the foe has plenty, then do as our fathers did: Take a rest behind the
shield! Cover yourself completely with the words of faith, then no
hostile dart will reach you, far less wound you. On the contrary--you
rest and gather strength while the foe exhausts himself uselessly, and
"all the fiery darts of the wicked are quenched."

This method of fighting is especially adapted to the people, and it
is _the age of the people_, also in the church of our Lord. The future
does not require a great chieftain with a host of good-for-nothings
behind him, but an army whose every individual is trained in the use of
the shield of faith.

When Mr. Moeller-Anderson, a Dane with a warm and faithful heart, a
Dane whose quiet ways his compatriots abroad do not forget--in the
summer of 1888 made regular sailing trips from Copenhagen to Sweden
for the sake of his health, it happened one day aboard the vessel
that some scoffers wished to have fun with him. They may have thought
that it would be an easy matter to subdue him. They, therefore,
started a conversation with him, but soon their speech changed to
scoffing and witty questions, daring attacks upon Christianity. Then
Mr. Moeller-Anderson replied: "I don't know how that all may be, and
I cannot answer you, but if you wish to know what my faith is, then
I will confess my faith through the Apostles' Creed before you right
here!"

_The scoffers had nothing more to say!_

What had Mr. Moeller-Anderson done which made them silent? Had he told
them a striking joke which could not be commented upon, or had he
stated a cleverly formulated truth which they could not resist? No,
he rested behind the shield and the scoffers realized that _he was
protected_.

You Christian man and woman from the everyday walks of life--when you
meet the scoffers, then don't try to find clever thoughts with which
to defend Christianity, as though that were your way to victory. In
that case it would merely become a question as to which side was
supported by the greatest wisdom, the most cleverly pointed shrewdness.
The great struggle of the world is the _struggle of faith_, and it
must by no means be changed into a chaos of personal trickery and
clever stratagems. Above all, grasp the shield of faith instead of
resorting to your own wisdom and cleverness. Say your creed plainly
and simply, you mother of a child, you master of the home, you young
man and woman among your chums, when you meet the devil and his wiles
in the form of clever questions formulated so as to entangle you in
self-contradictions--catch you in the net of words as formerly the
Pharisees and the Herodians tried to catch Jesus asking: Is it lawful
to give tribute unto Cæsar?

You often hear it said: You claim that God loveth mankind: But why,
then, does _He_ let some suffer in all eternity? Or, you claim that
you have a good Father in Heaven who can do everything: How is it,
then, that He lets His children suffer distress on earth? etc.--Say it
plainly and simply: Well, I can't answer questions like these, for I do
not see through all these things, but if you want to know what my faith
is regarding salvation, then I will confess my creed right here before
you! That's to rest behind the shield, and you will feel how blissful
that is compared with the fight by wisdom and reasoning in which there
is the fear of being wounded and vanquished, and of rendering harm unto
Christianity by attempting an unsuccessful defence.

_Behind the shield of faith: there is victory both when you fight and
when you rest!_

Paul was not afraid of fighting. Neither must we be. But that fight
which gives victory without wounds, without one painful sensation to
limit the joy of victory, must be directed from a _covered position_.
And the agility necessary to enable one to seek cover behind the
shield of faith is obtained only by _daily training_. Therefore, train
yourself every morning to protect yourself by the words of faith before
going to your work and fight your fight; and in the evening when you
lie down to rest, you must train yourself so that in fight as well as
during the lull, you can be covered by the shield of faith; then you
will conquer the wiles of the devil, and his fiery darts will not wound
you.

Thus I consider it essential for the church of the Lord in the
twentieth century that it learns how to use the shield rightly whether
in fight or at rest. The _struggle_ of the church will then result in a
greater victory and in fewer wounds than during the last century, and
its _rest_ will become increasingly beneficent and strengthening while
its restlessness will become less nervous and less strength-consuming.

Wonder if the time has not come when the church, driven by inner
friction and by enemies from without, will listen readily to the
apostolic warning: "Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye
shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

I look forward to the day when the Apostles' Creed becomes the
_universal slogan_ for all Christian organizations. Then the church of
the Lord will march forward to victory.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] The Apostles' Creed.



LOVE ME--AND TELL ME SO


AN English bishop was traveling in India to inspect the mission work,
and when his journey was completed, a farewell gathering was held
in his honor. On this occasion the bishop spoke on the words: "Love
me--and tell me so!"

He had often asked himself whether his congregation at home really
loved him. He thought it did; but sometimes he couldn't help wishing:
If they only would say so! Now he wished to say, by way of a parting
greeting, to the Christians: Love your ministers, and let them know
that you do! They need your love, and they need to be told that you
actually do love them.

This little speech reached England before the bishop arrived there.
When, upon reaching home, his congregation received him with a banquet.
On the wall of the hall, just opposite the main entrance door, was an
inscription in large letters ornamented by leaves and flowers: "We love
you, and we are saying so." That was the first thing the bishop saw,
and he rejoiced.

Love me, and tell me so! That's the cry from thousands of souls
yearning for love, and where the cry finds an answer the heart
rejoices. Where no answer comes, life will be utterly miserable.

Once upon a time a wealthy woman met a poor orphan who looked
imploringly at her. "What do you want me to give you?" she asked. "O,
just like me a little bit!" the orphan answered.

O, just love me just a little bit!

I have seen that prayer where one should least expect it--I have read
it in the eyes of a mother when they rested upon her grown-up daughter.
She had indeed grown, was taller even than her mother. And then she
had received an _education_--mother surely could be proud of such a
big and fine girl who had learned so much! But a mother's heart finds
no sustenance in mere pride. It required delight in the daughter--and
there is delight only in love. But the girl went about so _fine_ and
_big_ and _cold_ while the mother, even as the poor orphan, implored,
O, love me just a little bit!

All you nice and big children: Remember that mother and father need
your love! Love them--and tell them that you do! You can tell them in a
number of ways, and it will be rewarded, for in love there is a world
of joy.

Love me--and tell me so! O, love me just a little bit!

I have read that prayer in the eyes of a wife: Her husband was a man
in whom she surely could take delight. He was efficient; everybody
admired him, women especially, and he seemed to like everybody. Indeed,
she could be proud of such a husband! There were plenty of women who
envied her and wished themselves in her place. And--how beautifully he
could speak of domestic love--women were deeply touched, and their eyes
moistened when he did so. O, if they only had such a husband--but such
a one had not fallen to their lot!

He had plenty of smiles and kind words and love for everybody
else--only not for his wife who sat at home. Hard-hearted, frigid and
haughty he passed her by when she sat with the baby on her knee, with
despair penetrating all her features, and the one prayer was flaming in
her eye: O, love me just a little bit--just a little bit, O, please do!

Love me--and tell me so! O, love me just a little bit! That has
been written in the eye of ever so many poor and forlorn human
beings--especially among those who seemed to have become sadly
superfluous in the busy life of the world. Now and then I have heard
just such people say, with a strange mingling of wistfulness and joy
vibrating in their voice: To think that the minister would call upon
me! Nobody else ever comes here. Nobody cares about me any more!

Thus many a man or woman has been placed in that miserable kind of
solitude in the midst of throbbing life. Nobody cares about me. Love
me--and tell me so! O, love me just a little bit, please! That's the
cry from the depth of their hearts, but it is uttered as though in some
limitless desert: No answering sound is heard--there is no sign that
anyone cares for them. This is heartrending.

Yes, that is true. But if these lines of mine might reach some such
poor soul, then I would say: It isn't quite as bad as this. Let your
yearning for love soar upward to that God who listens to the sighs of
the heart of dust, and then you will hear the response: I love you--and
I tell you that I do. I have told you so through my only begotten Son:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life."

_This has been said to mankind plainly enough._ And these plain words
are not merely written in the leaves of the Book of Books. They are
inscribed in the very life of mankind with the blood of the only
begotten Son.

Such words are not merely for the happy world surrounding you. It means
_you_--just exactly you who are yearning for love: For your sake these
words have been spoken.

But we who are more fortunately situated--we who enjoy the love of
God and of our fellow-beings, and who, in return, love those in our
homes, in our circle of acquaintances and in the church--let us tell
one another about it in a good and nice way. So much joy of love is
lost--just because it finds no expression. For this reason so many
gradually come to doubt that they really are being loved.

The congregation wrote it on the wall of the festival hall, ornamented
with leaves and flowers. It went out of its way to say it in just such
a way as to make its old bishop feel deeply delighted.

It pays to exert yourself in this way.

Let it be written with large letters between minister and congregation,
between man and wife, between parents and children--yes, let it be
written with large letters--and wind about them the leaves of the
forest, the flowers of the field--everywhere: We love you, and we tell
you so! Then our lives will become rich with the joy of love.



TO BEAR BURDENS

(GAL. 6, 2)


"BEAR ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ," Paul
says.

"No, thank you!" you say, "I have quite enough in taking care of my own
burdens. If I am to be troubled with those of others in addition, life
will be intolerable."

Nevertheless--do you think Paul speaks aimlessly? Or isn't it rather
the case that there is something of _relief_ in bearing burdens for
others--something of a _gain_?

Think of a wheat field: One straw stands close beside the other.
The wind-storm sweeps the field. The wheat bends down in billowy
undulations under the heavy pressure of the wind, but rights itself
stronger than ever before. The close-standing straws bore the pressure
together. Then the wheat is harvested. A few straws are left standing.
The wind again sweeps across the field, the lonely straws bend down to
the soil--and lie there. They are broken. Singly, they could not resist
the pressure of the storm.

Thus in the life of mankind. Great burdens can be shouldered with ease
when shouldered in common while the smaller burdens may crush and
destroy those who stand all alone.

There is relief in bearing burdens for others.

But you ask: Dare I, a single individual, try to shoulder the burdens
in my home, in the church? Suppose that in one or more instances I were
the only one to do so. The others left it all to me, although they had
the same obligations that I have--what then? Will I accomplish anything
but being crushed under the weight of the burdens?

How about Jesus Christ when He, _all alone_, bore the sin of mankind?
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities, as the prophet had foreseen.

But when He who was so strong, was wounded and crushed under the
weight of the burdens--what will happen to me, then, when I shoulder
the burdens of others? I cannot do so cheerfully and courageously and
expect a satisfactory result. Rather I must flee timidly away from the
burdens by recalling what happened to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, if that was all that may be said about Jesus that He was "wounded
and bruised" when He, out of the depths of His love, shouldered our
burdens, then no doubt you are right. Then there is no prospect that
you will do better.

But that isn't all.

After having been wounded and bruised under the weight of the burdens,
bent to the ground, indeed, bent in death, He arose with the mark of
victory upon His brow, and with _peace_ and _healing_ for us.

Yea, _peace and healing_!

That was the last, the ultimate result. And it is the law in His church
that wherever we shoulder one another's burdens, we shall find peace
and healing.

We may be wounded, indeed crushed, under the heavy pressure of those
burdens. We may be bent down into the dust, but that is not the last,
the ultimate result.

It is peace and healing.

Thus it is not only a _relief_ to bear one another's burdens; it is
the highway to peace and healing. We can extract this blessed fruit
from out of the burdens. How splendid to be able to bear the burdens of
everyday life with and for one another and to gain peace and healing
for those who are timid and bruised. _This is the last and final result
of bearing one another's burden in the name of Jesus.



BE STEADFAST IN PRAYER!


1. _A Gain and a Protection_

O PRAY for me!

That is one of the cries that frequently come to us from the sick and
the dying--sometimes because they have not themselves learned how to
pray in the days that passed, but always with the consciousness that
prayer is _needed_.

_Pray!_ sayeth our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is _helpful_ to pray. And
on the background of nearly two thousand years of actual experience His
church responds: Indeed, it is helpful to pray!

"Ask, and it shall be given you ... for everyone that asketh
receiveth.... Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread,
will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a
serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your
children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good
things to them that ask him?" (Mat. 7, 7, etc.)

The prayer is a _gain_ to us since we have such a generous Father who
will not refuse us anything good, and who has it in His power to give
us all.

But the prayer also is a _protection_. "Watch and pray, that ye enter
not into temptation" (Mat. 26, 41). The ability to be absorbed in
prayer is a protection against temptations, and in the prayer strength
and fortitude are secured with which to resist the temptations.

In complete realization of this the Apostles continuously implore us to
pray.

Make the prayer a regular and constant feature of your daily life.
Don't let it be a matter of chance whether you offer a prayer or not.
Don't let every insignificant hindrance prevent you from saying your
prayer. Many of the ancient leaders in the church of the Lord set aside
several hours a day, parts of their most propitious working time, for
praying--and considered that a gain. Thus Luther often devoted three or
four hours a day to constant prayer. You may not accomplish anything
like that, but you are able, nevertheless, to give the prayer a fixed
and constant place on your schedule for every day, and then you will
experience that it is a gain and a protection; for "prayer brings down
from Heaven the peace of God; it brings down the strength to love and
revere Him; it brings down from Above relief in the hour of distress,
and it brings infinite comfort at the moment of death."


2. _What Mother Taught Me_

A chaplain at one of our insane asylums related the following:

One day when he had been preaching a sermon to these poor, insane
people among whom only a few were able to make out what he said, one
of them came to him and announced: "I, too, can pray!" The chaplain
stopped surprised, because the man was completely an idiot. He had
forgotten everything--his name, his age, his home; about these things
he could give no information whatever. Somewhat doubtfully, the
chaplain asked him: "What can you pray?"

The poor fellow righted himself a little and answered: "What mother
taught me"; he then folded his hands and spoke the following verse with
perfect ease, and without mistakes:

    Lord Jesus, who dost love me,
    O, spread thy wings above me,
    And shield me from alarm.

Everything was forgotten. Not one event in his life was he able to
recall in his memory. Everything had been left out of his soul, out of
his memory--only not that one prayer his mother had taught him.

I have myself had a somewhat similar experience. It was a Dane who
was not wholly demented--rather what is known in the vernacular as
"crazy"--and a little more. He never did any harm, and for that reason
he was sent to the poor-house instead of to an insane asylum. Whenever
he found an opportunity, he made his escape, and once in a while he
came to my home--once at eventide and he was then allowed to stay
overnight. In the evening he sat plucking at his clothes just like
a child, and he then said: "I'm clean enough, all right." A little
later he said: "I ain't forgotten how to pray--want to hear me?" Then
he folded his hands and spoke two little verses of the kind a mother
teaches her very young child. These he could remember. It was the same
thing over again: What mother taught me.

Remember this, you Christian mothers!


3. _The Evening Prayer: A Protection_

Above all, it is important to give the evening prayer a fixed and
permanent place in the daily schedule of our life. When we intend to
pray for something, the time at which it is done may be relatively
immaterial, but if we think of the prayer as a _protection_, the
evening prayer goes before anything else.

And why?

Because it requires the peaceful quiet of eventide--and the same thing
is true about all kinds of silly fun and of evil. In point of time,
the evening prayer meets with the tempting voices of wickedness that
sound with the greatest irresistance in the darkness. A decisive battle
thus takes place between the tempting voices of wickedness and the
evening prayer--a battle about time; it is a Whether--Or, for to divide
the time in twain in this matter is impossible. It is not possible to
devote one evening hour to wickedness, and the other to prayer. Then,
if the evening prayer is given a regular place in one's everyday life,
it is a protection against the temptations.

Therefore the evening prayer should be a part of the child's life even
'way back in the days of the cradle. And therefore we praise the fact
that the evening prayer is just that prayer which it is easiest for a
mother to make a part of the everyday life of the child; this is not
a mere accident, but is due to that grace of God which descends upon
Christian mothers. Say the evening prayer with your child, and for your
child, every evening when you tuck him or her into bed--do it even
before the babbling voice of the child is able to say the words after
you--and do never miss an evening!

The evening prayer which has thus been implanted in the heart of the
child because of the privilege and the intense love granted to the
mother-heart, and which is to be protected by that same love throughout
the years to come, will prove to be a real protection to the child
during its earliest youth, which is just the very time when it stands
most in need of _protection_ because the tempting voices of wickedness
resound with the greatest power in its own breast. For that reason the
time of youth is that period of our life when we stand most in need of
the evening prayer.

Loving parents often are somewhat worried when they discuss the day
that the children must go _out into the world_. Now and then a tear
drops from the mother's eye when she thinks that her half-grown boy
or girl soon must leave home. It is not because of worry for their
future, economically speaking, nor always because of the thought of
separation--but it is the fear; How will they come out? Will they
listen to the voices of wickedness, find evil associates, forget both
God and their parents so that they rather seek the _saloon and the
dance hall_ than the home of their childhood? Of course, you may say:
It won't be as bad as that! And, praised be God--these things do not
happen in a great many instances. But the danger is there, and the
temptations are ever present--and many a young man and woman who during
childhood were the very joy and pride of their parents, succumb to the
temptations and suffer during their youth such defeat that recovery is
possible only much later in life or--never:

     You suffer for that through many years which only was
     briefest delight----

But to comfort such parents let me say: Let the evening prayer find a
fixed and permanent place in the life of the child from the very days
of the cradle--then you have built a fortification about it which will
guard and protect it at all times because it has become an essential
part of itself. The evening prayer of its mother is the last thing the
child ever forgets--that which it is most difficult to part with. It
does not yield to a little push or two, but will powerfully assert its
right to occupy the seat of honor in the heart, and it will insist that
the quiet hours of eventide belong to it by right. And even though the
child throw its mother's evening prayer overboard in order better to
heed the tempting voices of wickedness, he or she will be conscious
of restlessness and uneasiness in the depths of the heart, until that
demand is met which the evening prayer makes. Yes, even though the
child may time and again scoff haughtily at the evening prayer and thus
apparently get far enough to push it away with all the silly "nerve"
of the age of adolescence and to conquer it--that time will come, is
sure to come, when the memory of it and the memory of mother awakens in
the child's heart and revives in loving remembrance so that the evening
prayer resumes its permanent place in the life of the child. The memory
of mother will be a treasure to the child who only then realizes that
the evening prayer proved a protection against the plentifulness of
temptations. She will receive the gratitude shown her with child-like
reverence, because she implanted the evening prayer in the heart of
the child. That was one of the mother's deeds of love that became the
greatest blessing throughout the storm-tossed time of youth. When
everything else sinks into forgetfulness, it will still be remembered
"what mother taught me"!


4. _The Morning Prayer: A Gain_

It is a little more difficult to give the morning prayer a fixed place
in our life than the evening prayer, because in the morning we feel
strengthened by sleep and are in a hurry to get to our work. But if we
thus seem to think that we cannot find time to say a morning prayer,
let us remember the old proverb: "In prayer is no delay," and if there
are other reasons--petty things that have hindered us--then let us
summon our will and say to ourselves: _I want to!_ The morning prayer
is henceforth to have a fixed place in my everyday life and in my home,
and I think everything will go well: In prayer is no delay.

Just as the evening prayer because of the significance of time is
particularly adapted as a _protection_ against temptation, so the
morning prayer for a corresponding reason is especially fit to prove a
_gain_ to us.

When we arise in the morning, the day is facing us, and it is of
importance that we approach our work with willingness and high
hopes--whether the work be that of the intellectual or the manual
laborer. But, how often is it not the case that we approach our work
slovenly and sourly--with the consequence that we feel it a burden and
a difficulty. We do not discover that rest and that joy in the work
which God bestowed upon it. The work becomes nothing but unwillingly
done toil, and the day seems long and weary.

By way of suggesting a preventive I know of nothing better than to
start the day with a morning prayer. It stimulates the willingness to
work, to begin the day by thanking God for the night that has vanished,
and to pray for blessing upon the work of the coming day. It imparts
joy of living. It makes it easier to discover the rest and the delight
in work, no matter how exerting that may be.

How often is it not the case that the man who is ready to go to his
work, gets up silently and grouchingly, washes himself and sits down
at the table: Breakfast is not yet ready, and his wife gets for this
reason some nagging reproaches. At last the meal is served. Silently
the man partakes of his breakfast, takes his hat and his dinnerpail,
remarks sulkily that now he is going--and goes. Such a start promises a
cheerless day for both man and wife. He goes to his shop or field with
head bent low and his mind heavy while his wife takes up her duties at
home--without cheer.

How different would not the _day_ and the _work_ be for the man and
wife if they could unite in a little morning prayer and part with the
words of the poet upon their lips:

    Then gladly we go
    Each to his work
    Relying upon God's grace.
    Thus gaining strength
    To be of use, as God wills
    In the very best way we know.

And that applies to all of us.

We all need to be told that we should go to our work with more
gladness, rely more upon the grace of God, get more and more strength
and joy wherewith to do our work so as to please God. To this end, the
morning prayer is an incentive, and that is why I consider it a _gain_.

Just as the time of youth is the period when we stand most in need of
the evening prayer because the temptations then are the strongest and
meet with least resistance on our part, so we need the morning prayer
the most at the time of maturity because it then is of particular
importance that we

    ----gain strength
    To be of use, as God wills,
    In the very best way we know.

This does not mean that there is any time in our lives that we do not
need the evening prayer as well as the morning prayer. Indeed, we
need both throughout our entire life, for we are always in want of
protection against temptations, always in need of gaining increasing
joy of living and happiness. Therefore, let us give both a fixed and
permanent place in our everyday life and thus try to become "steadfast
in prayer."

And in that steadfast prayer _the Apostles' Creed_ and _the Lord's
Prayer_ must be absorbed as an inseparable part.



ZACCHÆUS


1. _To Be Home By Oneself_

"AND, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among
the publicans, and he was rich."

Consequently he must have been a happy man, many would think, for
the conditions of happiness are riches and prominent positions. But
Zacchæus was no happy man.

He may, of course, have experienced a certain degree of delight or
happiness while he was so busily occupied in making money and in
forging ahead until he reached the very top of the publicans' ladder;
now, however, when he had accomplished all that--he was not happy, at
all.

How could that be?

I believe at that time perhaps he _had lived his life outside himself,
as it were, and been wholly absorbed by his official duties_. But now
that he found time to be home by himself, and to be occupied with the
inner world of his soul, he heard in there an accusing voice which told
him: _You are a sinful man, Zacchæus!_ And the man who is sinful, is
not happy.

What should he do?

He might devote himself once more to the _mania for gathering wealth_,
might thrust himself energetically back into the work. Or he might
devote himself to the merry _life of society_--seek pleasures, the
remedy which the world offers to those who are afflicted with wounded
souls. But in both cases he would once more be forced to live his life
outside himself. He did not like that. It would be too much like taking
flight from oneself.

But there was a third way--_that of the repenting sinner_. He chose
that. People referred to him by calling him a _sinful man_, and
sighingly he had to admit that the people were right. He understood
that now since he was home by himself--O, could but his sin be stricken
out!

Now there was this Man, Jesus of Nazareth! Wasn't He the same one whom
John the Baptist had spoken of as the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world? And was not He the same one who had said to a
poor fellow sick of the palsy: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be
forgiven thee!" If he might only see Him!

Suddenly streets resounded with the cry: Jesus of Nazareth is coming!
Zacchæus got busy, ran on ahead and climbed unto a tree. Hidden by the
dense leafage there, he would have a chance of seeing Jesus--why, He
is coming right there--He actually stops at the tree, looks up, sees
him, and says: "Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for today I must
abide by thy house!" And he made haste, and came down, and received Him
joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying that He was
gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. But Zacchæus stood, and
said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the
poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I
restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him: This day is salvation
come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the
Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

He was son of Abraham!

       *       *       *       *       *

As Abraham had learned how to be home by himself and to say, "I am
but dust and ashes"--thus Zacchæus had come home to himself when he
realized that he was a sinner. And as Abraham was willing to sacrifice
his son, his heart's treasure, thus Zacchæus had come to the point
where he was willing to sacrifice half of what was his--that dear, dear
property which his heart had loved so fervently and to which it had
been attached for many years. That had been the most precious treasure
of his heart.

_To be home by oneself humbles._ _To live outside oneself makes
haughty_, and God is displeased with those who are haughty while He
bestows His grace on those who are humble.

       *       *       *       *       *

"For today I must abide by thy house," Jesus says.

Why? Because Zacchæus could be found at home. Jesus always knocks on
the doors of those hearts where He knows He finds someone at home. He
must abide there.

To the men of our own age the danger of living outside themselves
in their work and business, is great. Our age suffers from a tension
which was not known in bygone days. If a man is to surge ahead, he
must let his business absorb his entire strength. Therefore, it is so
difficult for Jesus to find men at home when He knocks at the door of
their heart, and therefore so few men are to be found in the church on
the Lord's day. Women are not in the same measure tempted to live their
lives outside themselves.

But Zacchæus stands like one who admonishes the man of our age: _Try
to be at home by yourself, in your own soul. That is the road you must
wander if you are to find happiness._


2. _All Forgiven--Nothing In Vain_

"This day is salvation come to this house." To Zacchæus this means:
_Your sin has been forgiven--all has been stricken out_.

Rev. Mr. Funcke relates how he on a certain occasion called upon Dr.
Kögel in Berlin--a man who was paralyzed and unable to move. He pitied
Dr. Kögel--regretted that this man, formerly so stately and erect,
should sit thus crouching, but Dr. Kögel said: "Rejoice with me--God
hath forgiven all my sins!"

In a cemetery in Southern Germany there are two tombstones with strange
inscriptions; one reads: _Forgiven!_ and the other, _In Vain!_

Beneath the former rests the dust of a woman who through her
extraordinary beauty fascinated a number of admirers. They seduced
her, made her run away from her husband and children, and when once she
had entered the life of immorality, she went swiftly down the grade.
She developed into a criminal and was imprisoned. In the penitentiary
she came home by herself, and here Jesus found her. When she left the
institution, she went back to her husband and children and proved a
blessing to her home; as a humble, Christian woman she did not spare
herself for the sake of those whom she loved. But when death drew near,
she asked them to inscribe upon her tombstone that one word, Forgiven!
This word was a world to her, was everything. Her sin forgiven by God,
forgiven by mankind.

Yes, when _everything is forgiven_ we can rejoice at being home by
ourselves. But we need still one thing more before our joy is perfect.
We want to be told _that we have not lived in vain_.

Zacchæus knows how to appreciate salvation. In proof of his gratitude
he gives half of his goods to the poor. It is more blessed to give than
to receive. Formerly he had felt a certain joy whenever he could add a
sum of a hundred to his fortune--but how paltry that joy was compared
to the joy of giving! That could not possibly have been done in vain.

Jesus said to His disciples: And whosoever shall give to drink unto
one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, verily I say unto
you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. No offering of thanks for
salvation is in vain. It brings bliss. It will get its reward--from
the greatest offer of thanks which we can afford to give, down to the
smallest--a kind word, a friendly clasping of hands, a cup of cold
water. Nothing of all this shall be in vain. But he who lives outside
himself, absorbed by the cravings for ever more riches, lives in vain
even though he may become a millionaire.

Are you not in need of having written above all of your life and all
your doings that one great word, _Forgiven!_ And are you not in need
of being assured that you have not _lived in vain_? You may not have
been able to bring the magnificent sacrifices which the world lauds
in the newspaper columns, and you may easily be led into the belief
that you have lived in vain; but then you shall know that the Lord who
is the King of Kings and the Judge of all and everything, will reward
also that which looks insignificant and small in the eyes of the world.
Nothing of that which you do as His disciple, is done in vain.

Above the life of the children of the world one might place the
inscription: _Nothing forgiven--everything in vain!_ Above the lives of
Christians: _Everything forgiven--nothing in vain_.

Isn't that so, then: Christians have glorious days!

_What terms do you choose?_


3. _During the Following Days_

It was a day of joy to Zacchæus when Jesus entered his house. But how
were the following days?

Undoubtedly there were days when the old greediness tempted him again.
When the people of Israel in a miraculous way had been helped across
the Red Sea, they were saved from the armed hosts of the Egyptians,
but not from their plagues. The Egyptian soldiers had been drowned in
the waves of the Red Sea, but the Egyptian temptations accompanied
Israel across the sea and made the wanderings in the desert beset
with hardships and difficulties. Indeed, they often, in their worldly
hearts, reverted to the thought: _Would it not, after all, have been
better to return and to partake of the plentiful provisions of Egypt
than to fight their way laboriously onward to the promised land?_

Likewise the tempter undoubtedly has often whispered to Zacchæus:
After all, wouldn't it have been wiser to _gather money than to give
it away_ as an offering in return for salvation? But then Zacchæus in
his mind reverted to that great day when Jesus for the first time was a
guest in his house, and his thoughts have lived that day over and over
again--No, never was I as happy as on the day when I gave half of my
goods to the poor, and never have I been able to make as many people
happy as on that day. The offering had not been given in vain. So the
old greediness had to yield to the benevolent impulse.

But that very same thought may come to you and me: Wouldn't it, after
all, be wiser to get a lot of money together than to give it away in
the name of the Lord to mission work, to churches and schools, to the
poor, the sick and the suffering?

No! And once again: No! For that person in whose heart greediness has
triumphed, has lived in vain even though he may have gathered thousands
of dollars. He has contributed to the increase of the _lifeless capital
of mankind, but not to its joy of living, to its happiness_. But he
or she who brings offerings in the name of Jesus, increases the joy
of living and happiness of mankind by just that much. Perhaps he has
struggled along laboriously to reach the promised land of joy and
happiness. His life has attained a meaning both to himself and to
others--and he has not lived in vain.



THE MARCH OF EVENTS

(LU. 24, 29)


"ABIDE with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent."

Thus the two disciples spoke to Jesus in the afternoon of Easter Sunday
when they were at the village called Emmaus. The march of events on
Good Friday had excited them greatly: Should really the powers of
evil vanquish even Him of whom they had expected that He would redeem
Israel? This thought was so utterly distressing. And what would happen
to themselves? For also within their hearts evil had a firm hold, and
they were not able to conquer it.

Thinking along these lines the two disciples walked toward Emmaus.
It was as though the heart would be crushed under the weight of the
events, but then Jesus came, and He told them that the march of events
was not a series of sad and distressing _chances_. It behooved Christ
to suffer and then to assume His glory. This was felt as a relief.

Was this, too, _planned_ by the God of Israel?

They were not quite able to comprehend it. Neither did they know who
was speaking to them; but when they were at Emmaus and He made as if to
go on, they implored Him: "Abide with us; for it is toward evening,
and the day is far spent!" It was such a comfort to listen to His
words. In them was that healing power which crushed hearts needed--O,
would He but tarry with them!

So He went inside with them, and when He broke the bread, their eyes
were opened, and they saw it was Jesus Himself--that very same Jesus
whom they had believed perished under the burden of the events of Good
Friday.

Then they did rejoice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yes, Lord, abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far
spent!

Let us first of all think of our own _life-day_. None of us knows how
nigh is the evening. We may be near the final hour, both you and I,
even though our hair as yet has no silver tinge. And if we, with this
possibility in view, review the march of events in our own lives, we
see much which we would like to change--if we but could. How often have
not the powers of evil been victorious in our lives, as they were on
that Good Friday! That thought grips the heart wistfully. And a little
way ahead: That dark power death--"the difficult death" as a modern
writer has said. O, how intensely we wish that so many things could be
thought over and lived over once more!

But when we thus review the march of events in our own life, we sigh:
"Hearest thou also us, thou Son of Grace!" For the only one who can
relieve our suffering is Jesus Christ; His abiding by us as the _Son
of Grace_ is the great surcease, for He comes from Heaven with grace
enough with which to cover all our shortcomings, all our sins, and with
healing for all those wounds which have been inflicted upon us in the
course of the march of events. It is, indeed, a blessing to know that
just what we are yearning for from the very depth of our soul is what
He rejoices most in giving us. We shall not pray in vain.

But it was not only what we had thought and what we had done. There was
so much in the march of events which was sad and incomprehensible. Was
that an evil power which from without, by chance, disrupted our life?
Was it a series of happenings without aim, without meaning? In that
case we stand in need of listening to the words of Jesus: It behooves
you to suffer this, and then to enter into My glory. The saddest events
in our earthly life are like dark viaducts which lead us forward to
glory. They, too, lead us to salvation. It is relieving when this
becomes quite clear to us. We feel like the disciples when listening
to the words of the Lord: There is comfort and healing in them. And
then we can rejoice even though it is toward evening. We have no fear,
we shudder not, at the thought that _the end of the day_ is drawing
nigh--for that draws us closer to the glory, and death will be the last
dark passage through which we must wend our way.

But if we look round about us it seems to me that it is toward evening
for _this world_. The end of the long day of the life of the world is
drawing nigh, and by the words of the Lord we know that the march of
events in the last days will not be cheerful for the Christians. The
powers of evil shall arise against the Lord and His church, just as
they did during that Easter week, and they will unite in one final
outburst of desperate strength for the purpose of conquering. Then
it will be seen decisively once more that the church is fighting
principalities and powers, the masters of the world, and the spiritual
hosts under the sky. The bow will be bent for this final struggle--and
the world already now is singing a hymn of victory.

What shall we do?

We can change the march of events as little as could those early
disciples. We may try a struggle as did Peter at Gethsemane--may
perhaps even inflict a small wound on someone, but in our use of the
sword there is no prospect of victory. We must have Him with us who
on that Shrove Thursday spoke to the henchmen of wickedness with such
might that they fell to the ground at the very sound of His words.
Therefore, we are in need of praying, Abide with us, Lord, not only as
the Son of Grace, but as the _Lord of Strength_--indeed, as the Lord of
Strength we need Him when we survey the march of events in the world.

As little as at that time is He now powerless. But as it behooved Him
to suffer these things and then enter into glory, so it also behooves
His church during the last ages to bear those sufferings which the
march of events carries in its wake, and then enter into glory; but,
the Lord of Strength will shorten those last days (Mat. 24, 22). Here
it is once more true that these events are not so many sad accidents
and painful happenings of chance without aim or meaning. No, they, too,
must be made to serve the reign of the Lord, and to help the church
on its road to glory. _But only the Lord of Strength is able to make
the events work together in unison, under all circumstances, for the
purpose of our sanctification._ Only He can make dusk of the evening
change into dawn for His church.

Therefore, we pray: "Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the
day is far spent." Yea, abidest thou with us as the _Son of Grace_ and
as _the Lord of Strength_ during the march of events, and assurest thou
us more and more that no one is able to tear us away from thy hand!
Assurest us that even the very darkest, the most distressing events,
whether they affect the individual or the church in general, are merely
dark passages which, through thy strength and grace, shall lead us
forward to peace and joy, to eternal life and everlasting blessedness.
Then we shall rejoice during the march of events.



THE LITTLE WHILE

_Its Significance to the Life of Christians_


IT was during Easter week that Jesus spoke the word about the little
while in which the disciples were not to see Him, and in which they
would be brought to the very brink of despair while the world enjoyed
itself in a fleeting exuberance of victory. The little while with its
deep, its hopeless sorrow lasted for the disciples from Good Friday
until Easter Sunday, and, forsooth, their weeping was heartrending,
their plaints most gripping. Jesus had been taken away from them, and
they did not understand that it behooved Him to suffer this and then to
enter into glory; nor did they realize that they would themselves, in
a little while, be mature, so as to win the world for the Lord who now
had been nailed onto a cross.

Darkness enveloped the earth for three hours so the rays of the sun
were unable to penetrate it; but still denser was the spiritual
darkness which had gathered about the disciples: There was no glimpse
of light, no hope! For He who, as they had hoped, was to have redeemed
Israel, had breathed His last on the cross. The words of the Lord were
literally fulfilled upon them; they wept and lamented. At this moment
they were unable to cling to the promise of the Lord: "I will see you
again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from
you."

But were we able at this moment to see the apostles before us and to
ask them: What do you think of the brief hours of despair in your
lives--and especially of that which was the most sorrowful of all? I am
certain they would answer: It was, indeed, a most significant "little
while," and all the brief moments of despair throughout life have been
so valuable that we could not have done without them. But if this were
so, as far as the apostles were concerned, then it must be the same for
us, and with this in view we will ask:

_What, then, is the meaning of the distressful "little whiles" to the
life of Christians?_ Those dark and burdensome hours when the tears
moisten our eyes; and darkness gathers about our souls; those hours
which we would rather be without but which we can so ill afford to
dispense with. I might answer quite briefly thus: _It is during those
moments that we are moulded by the hands of the Father as the children
of light!_ I know for a certainty that it was during just such moments
that I became a servant of the Lord wishing from out of the depth of
my soul to find the way from the evil world of deceit and darkness
homeward to the eternal abodes of light. Therefore I thank the Lord
also for those dark hours which came into my life, and therefore I by
no means praise that man or woman happy who has known no such moments,
but I do think he or she who has struggled through them to peace and
rejoicing is happy.

In order to understand fully the meaning of the sad moments in the
life of mankind, we will recall a few of the great men of God.

David was named the man according to the heart of God. But was he made
that when he reached the highest pinnacle of his power and glory and
when he with regal strength ruled the subdued neighboring nations?

I hardly think so.

It was rather during those bitter hours when he, weeping and bare-foot,
was forced to flee before his own son, or when he with his heart
writhing in anguish prayed: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and
renew a right spirit within me!" It was during such moments when he
crouched in humiliation that he became disgusted with deceit and
falsity, with the doings of darkness and the evil lust of the flesh.
It was in such moments that he learned how to yearn from the depths
of his heart for life itself: "Where thoughts are pure and deeds are
unblemished."

When Peter had denied his Lord and Saviour thrice in the courtyard of
the high priest and was standing without, bitter and heavy tears rolled
down his cheeks; never in his life had Peter detested that denial
as he did just then. How hideous it looked to him--to have denied
Jesus! Undoubtedly he was thinking by himself: O, could I but find an
opportunity of proclaiming Him once more--then I should do it with all
the strength and sincerity of my heart.

Or Thomas! We know that after hearing the testimony of the resurrection
of Jesus he said: "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the
nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my
hand into His side, I will not believe." Then, when he sees Jesus again
and hears His gently reproachful, "Blessed are they that have not seen,
and yet have believed"--how Thomas must have been disgusted with his
infidelity, and how he must have reproached himself because he had
invited the evil power of doubt and unbelief into his soul. That was to
happen nevermore!

These heavy hours were changed into rejoicing for such men. And it
is the testimony of all men and women who have been blessed by the
special grace of God that such "little whiles" have meant much to
the development of their lives by giving it _direction, depth and
sincerity_.

But how about you? Have you had similar experiences?

Many of you probably will say: We know the hours of distress--we also
know how deeply depressing they may be. Even though we may not have
wept and lamented, like the first disciples, because of the scorn
and ridicule by the world, we often have shed tears that betrayed
the presence of a wounded heart. But we did not go farther in our
understanding of the meaning of the sorrowful moments. We have felt
their pressure, but we have lost sight of their blessedness; we have
been unable to discover the gain which they mean to our lives.

Look to the depths of your own soul and then tell me: Do you not feel
the hidden connection between the sin, as it had attained power in
your soul, and the pressure of the brief, sorrow-laden moments? Have
you not also in such moments felt a truer, a more sincere and deeper
disgust with the evil character of sin, than otherwise? Did not that
wish soar upward from the very bottom of your soul: Would I were
relieved of all that is evil so that I might live with "all my thoughts
pure, and all my deeds unblemished"?

But if you have felt this, then you already are somewhat conscious of
the blessedness of the moments of distress, for that is what is asked
of us first of all. Without disgust with the evil being of sin we
cannot renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways.

But is that all to which the brief, sorrow-laden moments can guide and
help us? No--the faith of the disciples was strengthened during the
little while. It is true that their faith wavered in that while, and
that it looked as though it would collapse, but _this was not the agony
of death, but the pangs of birth_.

Hitherto they had been accustomed to seeing Jesus and then believing
in Him. Now _that_ faith was to be born which would cling to him
through His word without seeing Him. During the little while it looked
as though Jesus had suffered defeat and the world had conquered. But
after the resurrection the disciples saw the meaning of it all: Jesus
had taken death upon Himself not because He was vanquished but because
the Father, in His unfathomable wisdom and His eternal love, had thus
decided it for the purpose of salvation.

They knew now that no matter how discouraging the outlook might be, no
matter how loudly the world might proclaim its victory--His word was
to be depended upon. And firm in this faith they went out to conquer
the world for Jesus Christ after having received the spirit from
Above. Often it looked to them as it did on Good Friday, but instead
of weeping and lamenting they sang hymns of praise to the Lord fully
convinced that He was the strongest. Their faith had been strengthened
so as to bear the resistance of the world, and rejoicing had taken up
its everlasting abode in their hearts. _The little while had been the
hour of birth of the faith which was to conquer all the world, and gain
the eternal state of blessedness._

Thus the little dark moments have a meaning in the lives of Christians,
aside from filling us with detestation of the evil ways of sin. They
must be hours of birth through which our faith shall emerge renewed and
invigorated until it appears as that firm faith which wins the great
victory over the world.

And if there is anything of which we stand in need, in addition to
being filled with horror at the phantoms of deceit, the evil ways of
darkness--it is the firm faith and the eternal joy of blessedness
which give us strength to become more and more the children of God,
immaculate before His face, and by which we can be easily recognized as
children of light in a world darkened by sin.

The world still rejoices and still--after a struggle of almost two
thousand years--thinks it shall conquer the church of the Lord. Now
and then we are told that in another hundred years Christianity will
be something entirely different, adjusted to the trend of thought--or
that it will have lost all its strength. When we face this haughty
scorn of the world, we need the firm belief that although the world
thinks it will triumph, it will still collapse. For the Lord is
Almighty: The great powerful world will never be able to remain longer,
or to progress farther, than He permits.

Then there is the joy which no one can take away from us. It is the
joy of blessedness in which all the sorrows of life vanish, just as
the pangs of birth are lost in the exuberant joy of the thought that
a new human being has been brought into the world. It is with the joy
of blessedness as with maternal love: It is made through travail and
suffering, and no one can take it away from us!

Ah, how it irritated and angered Jews and heathen when they were unable
to deprive the ancient Christians of this joy even in the moment of
death! When Stephen appeared before the council, and his face was like
the face of an angel because the joy of Heaven reposed within his
soul--they cut to the heart and they gnashed with their teeth, cast him
out of the city, and stoned him. But his joy they could not take away
from him: Would that this might abide among us in greater fullness, for
it is that very joy which gives us the touch of gentleness, mildness
and loveliness!

The Christian may say about the "little whiles" that are full of
vexation, what Joseph said to his brethren: "God made everything right
in order to do what He now hath done, and to preserve life." The
"little whiles" may be heavy with trouble and sorrow, but it is an
irremovable truth in the church of the Lord that He changes them into
good purposes in order to preserve our lives.

It must have been difficult for the disciples to understand the Lord's
word about the "little while"--and it is difficult for us amidst
our adversity to absorb thoroughly the fact that God will turn our
sorrow into joy--that, forsooth, sorrow itself is pregnant with joy,
shall become joy, and that these "little whiles" are necessary to
the development and the ripening of the Christian life. It was only
when the disciples had lived through the little while and seen the
Lord once more that they understood His words. So also with us. The
dark "little whiles" in our life are to be read--like the Hebraic
scriptures--backward. Only when we have lived through these dark
moments and when joy has found anew the way to our hearts, are we
beginning to realize their meaning.

_They were hours of redemption and hours of birth._ Through them we
became disgusted with the evil ways of sin to such an extent that the
Son of man found it possible to set us _actually free_. They were the
hours of birth for the world-conquering faith and for the everlasting
joy of blessedness.

_We have seen the Lord again when the hours of sorrow had passed, and
we have felt His presence among us._

God made everything right in order to preserve our life eternal.



THE MIRACLE IN OUR AGE

(ACTS 26, 8)


THE miracle!

Well, who believes in it nowadays? If it had been five hundred years
ago, it might have been different, but in our educated age--no, we know
better now! Science has spoken with the assurance of an expert and
said: No miracles happen! Everything adheres to certain stringent laws;
our researches have proved this, and the miracle has never existed
except in the brains of undeveloped ignorant individuals.

Nevertheless we maintain in the church of the Lord that the miracle
is a fact--as concrete a reality as was--the French revolution. The
miracle does not thrive on the recognition of science, nor does it
collapse before the shots which science fires against it. But when we
maintain this, some people pityingly shrug their shoulders or smile
haughtily while they sneer: How backward you people are! You certainly
are not well posted in regard to the development and the intelligence
of the age.

Let us see if speech of this kind cannot be effectively met so that
we as Christians may retain our faith and still be developed and
intelligent people.


1. _The Miracle and Nature_

If we ask infidel science how everything originated, it answers:
_Through evolution!_ The world has developed during millions of years.
But if we ask further: Whence and from what? You yourselves claim
that _nothing originates in nothing_, then this world must, according
to your own postulates, have originated in something, for your own
fundamental claim is that it cannot have risen out of nothingness.

To this the general answer is that perhaps there was a small beginning,
a protoplasm from which all things grew. But if there has been such
a protoplasm, it certainly is an unprecedented miracle. Never at
any later time has anyone beheld such a protoplasm through which an
entire world arose, and in that case _all existence is based upon a
miracle_. This has only been assigned to as remote a time as possible,
and even though one had not freed himself of the miracle, it was not
irritatingly present as a constant probability in the evolution of the
world. For, to admit that an Almighty God created everything from the
very beginning is synonymous with admitting the fact of the miracle
as a constant probability. It is impossible for us to conceive that
the Almighty at the time of the Creation should have so exhausted His
powers that He now faces His creations as one who is utterly powerless.
If His omnipotence made all things, then He must still be able, through
that very omnipotence, to interfere, to mend and to increase, because
in His wisdom He realizes that it so serves the promotion of his
eternal plans.

Yes, but the _miracle is contrary to nature_, it is said.

Let us see! When Jesus at the marriage at Cana in Galilee turned water
into wine, a miracle happened, and many believed in Him.

_Water into wine!_ Is that really contrary to nature? Is it not the
very same thing that happens in nature every summer when the water
of the soil is absorbed into the tender roots of the vine and passes
through its branches, finally becoming wine in the grapes? The turning
of water into wine is no change which rests upon violation of the laws
of nature. In nature this happens in accordance with those plans which
are the guiding laws of the powers of nature. At Cana in Galilee it
happened in another way, but the same thing was accomplished: Water
became wine! There is unity in the achievement. Is there not also an
inner harmony between the powers working according to plans and laws
in nature, and those which work untrammeled through the miracle? I
think that we here are facing a unity in those powers--a relationship
as intimate as between the Father and His only begotten Son who rests
in His arms. And when we witness other miracles in which this unity
becomes invisible to us, I certainly do not think it is because the
unity is absent, but just because we are too shortsighted to perceive
it. But then the miracle is, after all, not contrary to nature when
looked at profoundly.

But the miracle is in conflict with the _immutable laws_ of nature, it
is said.

Let us mention an instance. I fetch a silver dollar and throw it up in
the air. According to the law of gravity, which is one of the immutable
laws of nature, it falls toward the ground, but by a firm resolve and
by the strength in my arm I may catch it and hold it in the air.

What happens then? Is the law of nature violated, or is it rendered
ineffective? By no means! But another unit of power appears which in
this case is strong enough to hold the dollar in the air in spite of
the fact that the law of nature acts upon it with its power in order to
lead it earthwards. By my firm resolve and by the strength in my arm
something else happens than if I had not interfered.

Yes, you say, such an insignificant thing as a coin anyone may keep in
the air. It is different when we speak about the immense system of the
universe. But--do you know whether or not the entire universe with its
countless astral bodies weigh more in the hands of the Almighty than a
silver dollar in mine? I do not believe it. Then, what you and I may
do on a small scale, God Almighty may do on the larger scale without
annihilating the laws of nature. They act as usual, each according to
its own plan, but God Almighty may interfere and cause that something
else will happen than would otherwise have happened, in spite of the
fact that the laws of nature retain their entire power.

Finally it is said that miracle is contrary to _our experience_.

Let us imagine an old sailor a couple of hundred years ago. Through
more than a generation he had steered his vessel sometimes aided by
wind and currents, sometimes against them. If he were told that a ship
might be steered straight against the wind and the currents without
sails, without cruising, without oar strokes, he would have uttered a
fierce sailors' oath that such a story was a lie--wild imagination!
No, he knew by _experience_ what was the power of the wind and the
currents, and he had been struggling ever so gallantly against those
very powers of the sea--no, no--don't tell me stories like that! You
may be able to find some unexperienced people who will believe tales of
that kind, but I know better.

Meanwhile we all know nowadays that the proud vessels sail steadily
against wind and currents without canvas sails, without cruising
manoeuvres and without oar strokes. What is the reason for this? Are
wind and currents adhering to other laws in our days, or has their
effect been changed? No, not at all! But the old salt thought that his
experience was exhaustive in this special field. It all required a
power which he did not know, and in whose existence he did not believe.

The attitude of the unbelieving science in our age toward the miracle
is exactly like this. It has emitted many a droll sailor's oath to
affirm that the miracle is contrary to its experience--and with the
very same justification as did the sailor. We all need being reminded
that human experience is very, very limited. It embraces such a small
fraction of the universe, and it is not inclined to concede its
limitations. The handicap of science is that of the sailor. In order
to steer his ship right against wind and currents a power was required
which he did not know and in whose existence he would not believe. In
order to let the miracle happen, a power is required of which science,
as such, does not know and in whose existence it refuses to believe.

How many unbelieving physicians have not sworn as drastically as
did the sailor, that they could not share the Christian faith in
resurrection? The physician says like the sailor: I know better--don't
tell me stories! I have seen too often how that pumping machinery
in the human body which is called heart, comes to a stop, and when
the heart ceases beating, the eye is extinguished, and the body
approaches the process of dissolution. Don't tell me anything about the
resurrection of the dead. It is contrary to my experience.--And yet,
all that is required in order to make this possible, is a power which
he does not know, and in whose existence he will not believe.

He who was powerful enough to turn dust into man from the beginning,
certainly is powerful enough to revivify that dust.

The existence of this power is recognized, and has been experienced,
in the church of the Lord. But, here we stop by asserting that _that
miracle in nature means that God works in other ways than those
determined by the plans and laws of nature_. It is the very same power
of God that works through the miracle as through nature restrained by
laws.


2. _The Miracle and the Church of the Lord_

If, then, we leave the sphere of nature for that of the church to seek
an expression of the power which is working here, we find one formed by
Paul the apostle: _The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ_.

But as God's power in nature chiefly acts according to certain laws
and plans, unheeding them only now and then--so does the power of His
Son in the church. It acts regularly, determined by laws and order,
and unrestrained only now and then. In this there is, in both cases, a
very great blessedness to be found. We have been created to abide by
conditions which are determined by well-defined plans and laws, and we
would be seriously troubled by being the objects of merely arbitrary
and unrestrained powers.

When Jesus made bread for the hungry multitude in the desert, it
happened through the free interference of powers--not in accordance
with accepted laws and plans. But now suppose that the farmer were
to expect bread in this manner--that certainly would lead him into
a painful state of doubt: He had not sown his seed in the spring,
for he was sure a miracle would be wrought so that the crop would be
ready by harvest time. Summer elapsed and he looked anxiously for the
miracle which was to bring him the crop. According to the ways of
human thinking it lasted too long before the miracle happened! What
painful restlessness and uncertainty! No, there is greater surety and
satisfaction in the order predicated upon laws, that seedtime and
harvest shall not cease, and that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall
he reap.

But as God thus has endowed nature with His power so as to make it
adopt certain laws with the end in view that man's worldly existence
shall be based thereon, so Christ has endowed His church with the power
of resurrection which works through His institutions according to laws,
and _upon this action, regulated and determined by laws, rests the
existence of Christians_. By doing so He has not, however, exhausted
Himself or confined Himself so as to make it impossible for Him to work
through other methods, but we are restrained even as are those means
through which the power of His resurrection comes to us.

It would be wrong on the part of the farmer to demand that bread should
be made in any other way than that which God has designed for its
production from the soil--and it would be just as wrong on the part of
Christians to demand miracles. We must abide by the church _in which
the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ acts, regulated and
law-restrained, at the baptismal font and communion, upon all those who
will choose the right attitude toward them_.

But has not the miracle, this unrestrained action of the powers,
disappeared from the church? Miracles do not happen nowadays as in the
time of the apostles.

People are often heard to speak like this, and here we must first of
all call attention to the fact that one period in the history of the
church may be profuse in miracles while the other is devoid of them.
It does not go according to our desires and thoughts, but according
to what the Lord in His wisdom deems well for the fulfillment of His
eternal thoughts. Furthermore, our age is not in a very receptive mood
for the "miracle"--it might face _the strange things_ gapingly instead
of believingly accepting the "miracle" as a "miracle" and give God the
glory therefor. Yet I am convinced that the unrestrained interference
of powers has not ceased in our age, but it takes place only according
to the counsel of the Lord, and where receptivity is present. Nowadays,
this applies especially in heathen lands and in secret where the
faithful pray and receive unseen by the eyes of the world.

But, in this connection, I would call attention to the following:
The greatest miracle is not that some sick person may be restored to
health, or freed of some bodily weakness, but that _I, the sinner that
I am, may be resurrected in spirit, soul and body, in accordance with
the eternal thoughts of glory of God_. This miracle is a thousand times
greater than that which took place at the door of the temple when Peter
said to him who was lame from his mother's womb: "Rise up and walk!"
For this does not apply to a certain part of the body nor to certain
bodily weaknesses, but to _the entire being with all its weaknesses_.
This is the greatest miracle of all, and it takes place until the very
end of time within the church of the Lord.

Here we truly have reason for saying: Praise be to God that we are
not expected to look for the unrestrained interference of the powers
for the sake of the restitution of our entire being, but that we can
adhere to the regulated, law-restrained acts of the powers, fully
convinced that the good work which is thus begun shall be completed in
this manner, in spite of the devil and in spite of death.

The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not work here in
the same way as in the case of the resurrection of Lazarus; for there
it acted unrestrainedly and visibly, even to the unbelieving Jewish
people. Here it works invisibly, but none the less tangibly, and a far
greater goal is to be attained. I am not to be resurrected like Lazarus
to once more live under conditions of sin, and to once more face death.
I am to be resurrected from death and from the conditions of sin wholly
prepared to be at home in the halls of Heaven. In order to achieve this
I am not to look for _sensations_ and _movements_ in bluish dimness,
but to adhere faithfully to the regulated, law-restrained acts of the
powers within the church of the Lord.

It is in the faith in this action of the powers that we are, with Paul
the apostle, to look forward to the resurrection of all things. I do
not think that through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
all things are to be restored to the extent, as some have thought, that
even the devil himself is to enter into the kingdom of God and become
a leader of angels as he had been before; nor do I think that the
godless and the infidels will be placed among the Godfearing and the
faithful in the Kingdom of Heaven without repentance and faith. But I
do believe for a certainty that all things are to be restored according
to the eternal design of God in which the power of the resurrection of
Jesus Christ is allowed to act. And for that we are yearning within the
church.

But nature also yearns; that, too, is subject to corruption. That, too,
shall be freed of the thraldom of corruption into the glorious freedom
of the children of God. When the power of the resurrection of Jesus
Christ has penetrated nature, then it will appear as the new earth in
which justice abideth. But just as man must pass through death, through
perdition, humanly seen, so the ancient earth must pass through death
and perdition, and the scripture testifies with equal firmness in the
case of both, that man must die and the earth must perish.

Then the great miracle has happened that everywhere in the life of man
and in nature where the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is
working, the restoration of all things has taken place, and the rest
has been completely segregated from us so that it no longer may tempt
or ensnare us. All bonds have broken. The miracle has been accomplished
in its entire extent in accordance with the counsel of the wisdom of
God--that miracle which was begun when the only begotten Son of God was
conceived by a woman--that miracle which, as far as you are concerned,
took place when He was conceived within you at the sacred moment of
baptism.

It is said about the miracle of Jesus at Cana that it was a _token_,
and that may be said about all the miracles of the Lord. But, of what
are they tokens? Of the fact that His power can conquer everywhere,
_in nature, in the life of mankind, and in the spiritual world_.

Tokens of His mastery of nature were witnessed at the marriage at
Cana where He turned water into wine; when He stilled the storm on
Gennesaret lake; and when He filled the nets of the fishermen: In the
life of mankind when blind became seeing; deaf became hearing; the lame
walked and the dead arose: In the spiritual world when Jesus drove the
evil spirits away from those who had become obsessed by them--indeed,
even the prince of the evil spirits, the devil, was forced to yield
defeated. All these are tokens that the power of Jesus Christ can do
everything, can master anything from the deep of the sea to the highest
arch of the sky, and that it is capable of attaining victory in the
struggle with principalities and powers, with the spiritual hosts of
evil beneath the sky.

But these tokens, furthermore, are _small beginnings of the
restoration_ and when they have been perfected, everywhere and
all-inclusive, then that new Heaven and that new earth where justice
dwelleth, has become a fact.

God is the God of order. Therefore we find plans, system and laws in
nature as well as in the church. It has been given especially to our
own age to realize this so that an expression like "the law of nature
in the spiritual world" has been recognized. Science has perceived this
regulated, law-restrained order of things in nature as keenly as never
before, but, alas, it became dizzy thereat. Otherwise it would have
exclaimed even as Paul did: O, world of wisdom and power! Who would
have known how to plan thus? Who would have the strength to subdue and
master the giant powers?

In the church of the Lord we respond: _God the Almighty Father, the
creator of Heaven and earth!_

       *       *       *       *       *

An atheist was lecturing at a village in England and ended by
self-confidently inviting the audience to take part in a discussion.

Then an old woman, her back bent with the weariness of life and years,
arose, saying:

"Sir, I have a question to ask you?"

"All right, my good woman," the atheist answered, "what is it then?"

"Ten years ago I was left a widow with eight unsupported children.
I had nothing but a Bible, but by following its directions and by
believing in God I have been enabled to support my dear ones and
myself. I am now approaching the grave, but I am perfectly happy, for I
am looking forward to an eternally blessed life with Jesus. _My faith
has done this for me: What has your way of thinking done for you?_"

"Well, well, my good woman," the atheist said, "please, understand me
right--I have no desire to disrupt your happiness, but----"

"O, that wasn't the question at all," the old woman interrupted--"don't
beat about the bush, but tell us: _What has your atheism done for you?_"

Once more the atheist tried to evade the question, but the audience
applauded the old woman so vigorously that he felt it necessary to
withdraw, defeated by a woman who, during a life of hardships, had
experienced the power and the blessedness of Christianity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The late Dr. Ahlfeld in Leipsic once said in his final address to a
class of children about to be confirmed:

"Infidels will shake their heads at your faith. They will speak of
their unbelief as progress. They will tell you that progress has been
made in everything, and they will ask you why you then should abide by
the ancient faith. Then you shall answer: The ancient sun has shone
for thousands of years, and no one can give us one that is better. We
make no progress by rejecting it but by learning how to make better use
of its rays. Thus, also, with Christ. He shines through all ages as
the Sun of mankind. He is the very same today and tomorrow and in all
infinity, and it is not progress to reject Him. We must learn how to
make increasingly better use of the rays of His grace. That, children,
_is our progress_!"



AMERICA--YOU ARE THE HOPE OF THE WORLD TODAY----!

May, 1919

    JOHN 8, 36: If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, ye
    shall be free indeed.

    ACTS 22, 28: But I was free born.


WHEN Paul had been imprisoned at Jerusalem the chief captain ordered
that he is to be scourged in an effort to make him tell the truth. Paul
then asks: "Is it lawful to scourge a man that is a Roman?" The chief
captain asks whether he is a Roman, and Paul says that he is. The chief
captain goes on to say: "With a great sum obtained I this freedom," but
Paul answers: "I was free born." It is a question of the right of free
men in ancient Rome.

Under the ancient Porcian law which was later restored by the
Sempronic, no Roman citizen might be scourged, and anyone who violated
the Roman civil laws, was liable to a punishment which involved the
loss of property and life. Of this, we realize how deeply treasured
civil liberty and rights were in ancient Rome. The right of free men
might not be assailed.

It is about this right that the chief captain says: "With a great sum
obtained I this freedom!" But Paul answers frankly and proudly: "I was
free born!" _It is an heritage from my fathers._

Thus the young generation in America may say: _We were born into
civil liberty_. It is an heritage from the fathers. We have obtained
it at no expense of our own. But the fathers of '76 bought it with
their blood. When they fought under the command of George Washington,
they endangered their very lives in order to win this liberty. Many
sacrificed their lives. Indeed, it was dearly bought! When the
Declaration of Independence was signed, Franklin exclaimed: "Now we all
will have to hang together, otherwise we will hang separately."

But in 1860 the Star Spangled Banner waved above the heads of more
slaves than there were inhabitants in the country at the time of the
signing of the Declaration of Independence. So, for the second time
America was plunged into a struggle for liberty for the purpose of
making the Star Spangled Banner the true flag of the free. The spirit
of '76 could not acquiesce in slavery. And through Abraham Lincoln
it entered into a covenant with _the great, all-embracing and deeply
sympathetic heart_--a heart so great that it could enfold the North and
the South--so sympathetic that it was able to embrace white and colored
people alike, friend as well as foe. This was the great heart that led
America through the days of the Civil War--fortunately for this country.

It was this heart that beat in the breast of Lincoln when he as a
22-year old man down in New Orleans saw how human beings were sold in
the same way as we nowadays sell cattle. Man and wife were sold to
separate buyers and parted never to meet again--parted while they wept
as though the heart should burst. Then young Lincoln raised his hand
toward heaven vowing: "By the eternal God, if ever I get a chance to
hit that thing, I will strike it and strike it hard." This was the
Lincoln who led in the Civil War. The man with the great heart was
equipped as no one else to win the victory, to _maintain the union of
North and South and to gain freedom for the Negroes_. It was he who
said, when victory was an accomplished fact, that he would continue the
fight for the rights of man without hesitation, "with malice toward
none, with charity to all."

But since the days of the Civil War America has gained a wealth which
no other country has ever possessed. You young people are born to claim
that, too.

_Our youth was born to wealth and to inherit the forefathers of '76 as
well as Lincoln, the man with the great heart._

It is, indeed, great to be born to all these things. But it is not
easy. It requires a strong and alert youth to make the right use of
such treasures.

Added to this it must be remembered that America after the Civil War
was reckoned with as one of the Great Powers. When problems of world
significance were to be settled, the question was asked: What does
America say about it?

Came then the great world war. America stayed out as long as possible.
The world began to reckon less with us than before. Germany even
thought she could sneer at us with impunity.

How was that? Was it a matter of distance only? No, in Germany the
belief prevailed _that the spirit of '76, and the heart of Lincoln's
day had died within the bosom of young America_. At all events, it
was not inclusive enough to span the great ocean and to sympathize
with those who were suppressed and suffering yonder. It was with young
America as with the wild animals caught and put into a cage: They
are led into a life of ease and indolence; they lose their strength,
their elasticity and their power of propagation. In brief: _Ease and
indolence kill them!_

Similarly, it was thought _prosperity_ had killed the spirit of '76 and
the all-embracing heart of Lincoln in the youth of America, and under
those circumstances there could be no danger that American youth would
enter the great world war where prosperity and all kinds of comfort and
ease were to be sacrificed and life itself be risked.

Miss Grace C. Bostwick writes in _The Pagan_:

    _O America!_
    They said you were young and crude and extravagant,
    And that your women were too free and open;
    That your children had no respect for age;
    And that you gave no thought to the past.
    They said you had no artistic sense
    And accused you of setting up an altar
    To the almighty Dollar----
    O America!
    And they smiled when your name was mentioned.
    But yesterday
    There marched an army down the street,
    An army of brave-eyed men with boyish mouths,
    Straight-backed and proud in their new-found mission--
    The saving of the world!
    And yesterday ... somewhere ... at sea
    A white face floated
    With empty eyes upturned to an unseeing sky.
    And yesterday ... in a barren field ... a mere boy fell
          from his perilous work on high--
    While great ships heavy with sustenance
    Plow stolidly through the deep ...
    O America!
    You are the Hope of the World today.

Germany had made a miscalculation; the spirit of '76 was not dead in
young America, neither was the great heart of Lincoln. Prosperity had
not been able to kill them. When the suppressed really needed America,
our youth heeded the summons. With firm footsteps, with eyes afire,
they went away into the great fight. I do not know whether they vowed
as did the young Lincoln, but I do know that when they arrived at the
battlefield, they struck, and struck hard--so hard, indeed, that the
tyrant succumbed. And well may we say about that right of free men
which was won by American participation: _It was dearly bought by
you--who never came back_.

It is said that the French government in July, 1918, had decided to
order the evacuation of Paris, but when General Pershing heard this,
he telegraphed a request to postpone the carrying out of the order
until his soldiers had entered into active fighting. Then came the
turning point. Our soldiers brought it about, and victory was won.

But a new element has entered into the history of the war--into the
relations among nations. It is the word of Jesus: "Therefore all
things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them." Never before has this maxim been accepted as the _Golden Rule_
governing international relations. President Wilson has repeated it
time and again, and it characterized our participation in the war, even
to the extent that our country has paid for the damages made to French
soil when our soldiers dug their trenches. And this was but right.
America did not enter the war with the intention of conquering or
destroying one hair-breadth of ground. So we are justified in saying to
Germany: You must pay for what you have destroyed, to the best of your
ability.

"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them!" By this we have arrived at something new. Our participation in
the war constituted a great sacrifice of lives and money without any
expectation of indemnity of any kind. But in this we find something of
the redemption from the _thraldom of greediness_--something of that
freedom to which Jesus will guide mankind. But that freedom is won
only by the aid of the spirit of the Lord. And it seems to me that the
spirit of '76 and the heart of Lincoln have entered into a covenant
with, and have shown a willingness to be guided by, the spirit of the
Lord.

_Where the youth of America marches forward to fight in accordance with
the spirit of '76 and with the great heart of Lincoln, guided by the
spirit of the Lord, it is an unconquerable army and will always carry
home the victory._

With Lincoln we can say: Victory is won, but the fight is to be
continued without hesitation, with malice toward none, with charity to
all.

I believe that America is destined to lead the nations of the world in
the future, but if this is to succeed rightly, then our youth must make
it clear to itself that it faces the choice between _the altar of the
living God and the altar of the almighty Dollar._ _For which of these
will you young people spend your strength? At which of these altars
will you pray and praise?_ The eyes of everyone look toward America as
never before: "O, America! You are the Hope of the World today!" Is
this truth to remain? It depends on you, young men and women--depends
on your choice of altars.

Once upon a time there was a man who was permitted to wish whatever
he wanted, and his wish would be granted. But he was to wish only
once. Finally he made up his mind to wish that everything he touched
would turn to gold. First he touched the door post. It turned to gold.
He rubbed his hands delightedly: What a nice big piece of gold! It
certainly was fine that his wish was as sensible as this! Then he
started to wash himself, but the water turned to gold. That wasn't
quite as delightful, but he let that pass. After that he sat down to
eat, but the food turned to gold. He then realized that the fulfillment
of his highest wish would lead him into certain death.

Likewise there are people in America who wish that everything they
touch turn to gold. The result of everything they do is to be converted
into gold: We name them profiteers. They kneel before the shrine of
the almighty Dollar. But this means certain death to the spirit of '76
and to the deeply sympathetic heart of Lincoln, and the spirit of the
Lord expires through this worship of gold. They think of themselves
only. They are enslaved by the fetters of greediness. They refuse to
do to others what they wish others should do to them. Are they to get
the upper hand? It is for you, young people, to answer! The future of
America lies in your hands. What is your choice?

Professor Georg Fr. Nicolai of the University of Berlin during the war
gave expression to thoughts of such a nature that he was forced to flee
from Germany to Denmark. It was there that he in October, 1918, wrote
as follows:

"There are times in the history of mankind when we dare not put new
wine into old bottles (Mar. 2, 22). We require new wine, new bottles,
new thoughts and new men. In order to give the peoples of the earth
faith, an inner awakening is required. The Bible speaks of it as
repentance.... Less pathetically we moderns refer to it as the new
adjustment. But no matter what name we bestow upon it, it stands to
reason that without an awakening no new life can be produced.... The
process of dissolution is so far advanced that today the Biblical word
has become true: Only he who giveth his life, shall keep it.... A new
spirit must be inculcated in the peoples."

_A new spirit must be inculcated in the peoples!_ That is the decisive
factor for the happiness and the health of the nations in the future.
Political spirit of liberty is not enough. Inspired by that you may
fight and conquer and--set your foot upon the neck of the foe. No,
a new spirit is needed. It is that spirit which, redeeming, speaks
through the words of the Lord: "Whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them!" That's the task that confronts you
young people. It may not possess the tension and the excitement of
the battlefield--it may not, perhaps, let you directly feel that you
are taking part in the solution of the great problems of the world's
history--it is, nevertheless, THE very greatest task of the world. Here
we must be impelled by the spirit of God.

It is related about Samson how "the spirit of the Lord came mightily
upon him." But while the beginning was good, the end was sad, for at
last he was driven only by lust. Therefore he was of little blessing.
He ended by representing mere brute force and no more.

I have seen the glow of the spirit in the eyes of the young when they
went to war. In the beginning they were moved by the spirit of the
Lord. Now the task is to continue in that spirit and thus continuously
to remain "the Hope of the World"--not to end in materialism and as
representing no more than brute force.

America is wealthy enough, strong enough, to attain a leading position
in the ranks of the nations--to enjoy an age of greatness as did
Germany. But in that case the collapse is sure. It is but a short
distance ahead. We will have to face it--as Germany now has faced
defeat.

Germany had been saturated with Darwinism. Looked at from one point of
view, it is an emphasis placed upon brute force and upon the survival
of the fittest. Added to this came the materialism which laid stress
upon the values of what was materialistic and mechanical at the cost
of the soul. The nation grew great and strong. But man became petty
and insignificant. No nation has ever possessed such a wonderful and
perfect mechanical development as that which Germany had reached when
the war broke out. On the strength of that, the dominion of the world
was to be won. But here, too, the words of the Lord apply: "For what
is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul?" (Mat. 16, 26). What profited it Germany that she possessed
her soul-less mechanical attainments, even though they were ever so
wonderful and marvelous? What would it have profited Germany to have
gained the whole world when she would lose her soul thereby? No, then
the great defeat certainly was to be preferred. Through that Germany
may recover her lost soul. If ever any new adjustment was needed, it is
there. A new spirit must be inculcated in the people.

But what would it profit America if she won the rank of a leader among
nations through her strength and wealth? Nothing at all. The great
collapse would be only a short distance ahead. Before or later we
would succumb to it.

Still I believe that America possesses the qualifications for
leadership as no other nation in history does--the leadership of that
new adjustment which the world must needs experience if life shall ever
again become sufferable upon this old earth of ours.

Why is it that America has superior qualifications? Has not England
the very same qualifications? Are not the English the great commercial
nation which embraces the earth with its countless ships? Or
France--that liberty-loving nation with its technically wonderfully
developed language? Now when everything settles down again, will not
these nations be able to assume the leading position in the history of
the world just as well as America?

No.--And I will attempt to explain why they cannot.

America has been created through a mingling of all the peoples of
the world, as it were. It is true that some claim all the rogues
and scoundrels of the Old World came over here--and some of them
undoubtedly did. But it is not they who have built up America and made
her great and strong. Nor is it those people of whom it requires twelve
to make a dozen--for that species generally dies where it was born.

No, they who built America were men and women who possessed the great
_daring_ and that _strength of the will_ which were necessary in order
to carry them across great stretches of water and land, to make them
fell the vast forests and break the prairie soil, and to build their
homes in the woods and upon the prairies. These are the people who
built America--who made the country great and strong and wealthy.

Many have feared that the daring and the strength of will of the
fathers had died. The younger generation had too markedly become a
_candy, kid-glove, silkstockinged youth_. But yonder on the great
battlefield it found an opportunity to show that it still possessed the
daring and the strength of will of the fathers. Once General Pershing
had to retire his troops one mile. It was reported to headquarters, and
the reply came back: "Push your men a little farther back and let them
rest!" But by that time General Pershing already was preparing to storm
forward again. And so unexpectedly swift and vigorous was the attack
that not only was the lost mile regained, but one in addition. It was
the daring of the American soldiers that won in this instance. And,
speaking generally, it must have been the _daring_ and the _strength
of will_ of the American soldier that conquered the _mechanism_ of the
German army.

The daring and the strength of will of the fathers still live on in
the young generation: It is a contribution from all the peoples of the
earth which no other individual nation can boast--and it is one of
these very qualifications which make it possible for America to lead
upon the great stage of history.

But, in this respect it is of still greater importance that America
by receiving this contribution from all the peoples of the earth has
developed a _deep-seated and sincere feeling of community_ with all
nations. Through the Irishmen here, America is in close contact with
Ireland, through the Poles with Poland, through the Bohemians with
Bohemia, through the Danes with Denmark, and so on. This adds to the
qualifications which fit America for assuming the part of the leader
in the progress of the world, and is in itself a qualification which
no other country at any time has ever had, and which no other country
most likely will ever have at any time in the future. There is no
nation in the world which has such a _vivid and natural consciousness
of community_ with as many peoples as has America. And this is of
unprecedented importance. For that nation which is to lead the world
during the period of _readjustment_ which the world so sorely needs,
must do so, not through power and wealth, but through a deep-seated
sympathy and a readiness and ability, born of that sympathy, to lead
the many nations forward to something better--to a higher and nobler
national life so that they will strive to live according to the words
of the Lord: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even
so to them."

But America loses this unique qualification for leadership among the
nations, on the day when the multitudinous languages spoken here die.
Therefore, the great question is whether or not progress in this
respect is to lead into that narrowmindedness which kills the many
tongues. Or, will the development favor a retention of the native
languages of the various nationalities here together with English?
_English is the great common language of America--the principal
language which must be learned by the immigrants._ This is so obviously
a matter of fact that it really should be unnecessary to allude to it.
But, in addition, every nationality should be allowed to retain its
native language in order to ensure for America the preservation of that
deep-seated natural sympathy with the many peoples created by God--"of
one blood all nations of men." The American nation is related to all
other nations. It therefore has the qualification for _understanding
them_ and _for encouraging the feeling of brotherhood_ among them which
no other nation ever has had, and which any other individual nation
most likely never will have.

The history of the world is like one great and magnificent epic. Each
nation constitutes a song in the poem. England has its own song--France
has its own, and so forth. America has its own great hymn, but, in
addition a large number of little songs, each has its own particular
rhythm derived from the manifold living languages spoken here, and they
add _richness_ and _volume_ to the mighty chorus.

Let me use another simile: We all know the Mississippi River. It runs
from a point 'way up in the remote northwest, winds its way east and
south until finally it releases its immense masses of water into the
great sea. How does the river get these immense masses of water? The
answer is that on its way it absorbs one little rivulet after another.
Humming and rippling from cheerful little wells here and there they
come, and every little rivulet, no matter how pitifully small and
insignificant it may look, helps the Mississippi to become the great
river which carries its tremendous volume of water to the sea.

Likewise, the American language is the great river which receives its
cheerful additions from the many smaller living languages. Each springs
from its own particular source, singing its own particular tune, and
each language makes its own little contribution in order to make the
American language powerful and great and to give it that wonderful
volume which enables it to run into the great sea of the life of
nations carrying with it a blessing of wealth like no other language.
And the many individual peoples will, when they hear the English
language spoken from America, feel that it comprises such a strange
richness and volume as they are unable to find elsewhere. Indeed, it is
almost as though they would hear the American people address them in
their own respective language--that "wherein they were born" (Acts 2,
9).

_Ah, you young generation!_ Behold this--and understand it! You are
born not merely into the wealth of your land and to take up the
heritage of your fathers. But you are destined for _a glorious future_,
for a future achievement so great and magnificent that no young
generation in any other country has ever seen the like.

_You, young man, and you, young woman--you have been chosen to draw the
strength and vitality of life from a multitude of small wells within
your own field and to derive such sustenance from them that you can
form your lives beautifully and harmoniously. And you have been chosen,
in the spirit of brotherhood, to lead such a current of pure thoughts
and elevated ideals to all the peoples of the earth in such a manner as
to cause them to wonderingly ask: How is all this? We hear them speak
the American tongue, and yet it is as though we hear them speak to us
in our own language--in that "wherein we were born."_ It sounds just
as home-like and peculiarly attractive as our own--because it has been
enriched by many tongues. And the vital richness and fulness which it
carries to them has gained from the fact that we here have had such a
multitude of wells to draw from.

Therefore we, who are older, bend our knees and pray as did David (Ps.
144, 12): "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth: that
our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of
a palace!"

What we want--is this: Strong erect young men, sons of America, who
perceive, with the clearness of the spirit, the problems of the future
and who, with the red blood of youth coursing in their veins and the
glow of enthusiasm lingering in their eyes, will take up the task of
solving them.

And, moreover: Pure and noble women: David had been looking at the
corner stones that were to support that temple which was to be the
tangible expression of Israel's ideal life, that of community with holy
and just God: How beautiful they would be when they were polished--and
how strong! Indeed, they were able to support that wonderful temple
which was to be built to the glory of God. And then he has been
thinking: O, Lord, give us women like these corner stones! Pure, noble,
and strong women who can be the very foundation of the home-life of
our country--and carry it into the community with God!

Paul the apostle writes in his epistle to the Philippians, 2, 5-11:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in
the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made
Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and
was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man,
He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of
the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name
which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

Jesus Christ won the name which is above every name because He served
mankind as no one else had done, and gave His life for its sake.
Thereby He became the Saviour of men--their great leader who can guide
them into eternal life and blessedness. Thereby He also became _the
Lord_ to the glory of God the Father.

During the war America gave herself to the service of mankind as
did no other nation. Therefore the suppressed looked to America
quietly imploring for aid, and therefore it might be said truthfully,
especially in 1918: "O, America, you are the Hope of the World today!"

Now the question remains: Will America continue to be the great,
unselfish servant among the nations, above all others, leading them
into the riddance of the thraldom of greediness, guided by the spirit
of the Lord? Then--if she does--she will win a name above the names
of all other nations, because she will be the great servant who shows
the way to the highest ideals--to the pure, charitable and peaceful
thoughts among nations in that national and human brotherhood for which
God created them: Of one blood all nations of men.

This I wish with all my heart. But it devolves upon you, young people,
to answer. It devolves upon you to determine whether this will continue
to be true:

"_America! You are the Hope of the World today!_"

_God bless you, America!--God bless you with all your homes and with
all your youth!_

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 20, "heavey" changed to "heavy" (heavy laden, and I will)

Page 34, "wordly" changed to "worldly" (in worldly things)

Page 54, "thnig" changed to "thing" (And one thing more)

Page 106, "mircle" changed to "miracle" (fact of the miracle as)

Page 116, "couquer" changed to "conquer" (power can conquer)

Page 116, "spirtis" changed to "spirits" (of the evil spirits)

Page 116, "principalties" changed to "principalities" (struggle with
principalities)

Page 122, "to" changed to "b

 (be sacrificed and life)





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