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Christ in America's Life

By N.K. Griggs

      Carnegie Hall, Thursday Night, October 14.

               God fashions history. The records of the past disclose him. His handiwork is seen in all. Rulers and peoples are his chessmen. If pawns or rooks, or queens or kings, they move across the board at master will. Alike, though knowing not, they buttress ends divine.

               To reveal a faith, lived Abram; to upbuild a nation, Moses; to restore a worship, Cyrus; to diffuse a language, Alexander; to prepare the world for Christ, all. To preserve religion, came Jew; to release bondsman, Persian; to exalt reason, Greek; to enthrone justice, Roman; to conserve the world for Christ, all.

               This nation was born unto purpose. Its course was compassed for destiny. Its mission was founding of liberty--liberty the truest, the purest, the noblest yet given to earth. And the stress of its years was means unto growth; for trial is parent to wisdom, sorrow the way to perfection.

               So, profit arose from America's woes. Those years, so tense, were formative only. They fed unto growth; they grounded a character. They led unto strength; they rounded a character. Each tug at the rope meant brawn. Each strain of the sail meant course. Each surge in the heart meant soul. By [218] very repression came hate of repression. And, over that ocean of error, the power of God was moving. Deep in that vortex of tumult the spirit of justice was forming. And out of that maelstrom of passion the vision of freedom was rising. Then, at the last, stood forth a republic, a republic the truest, the purest, the noblest yet given to earth. Aye, stood forth a republic, so strong it dared to be kind; so brave it   
      N. K. GRIGGS.
      dared to do right; so wise it dared to decree, What the soul of each man counsels him, that let him do.

               This land is Christian. Its story is imbound with Christ. His word inspired its founding. It took, for creed, his Golden Rule. It traced upon each lintel, What ye would that man should do to you, do even so to him.

               And, by force of that rule alone, this nation sprang and grew and dared and won; this nation lives and loves and cheers and rules. And, through that force, that giant force, this nation still shall be guide to the earth, be star unto hope, be harbinger unto dawn, be light at the manger of liberty.

               And that rule of love, of good in advance, of helping unsought, of doing unpaid, is the key to America's thought, the power begetful of action. For that rule has motived the nation, has edged the nation's desires. That rule, in whole, is the spirit of God, is right in epitome, is Christ in America's life; in a word, Christianity. And these, in part, are its deeds:

               It has loved kindness. It has guarded the wildwood nest; pleaded for the life of the bird; brightened the eyes of the cur; rested the ox of the market; halted the wearying horse; thundered in the ears of the brutal, Brutality here shall end.

               It has loved the marriage vow. It has sealed it at altar of troth; prayed it as lasting as life; held it the stay of the State; claimed it the blessing of earth; mourned it when knowing it rent; argued with man, bowed unto God, for the end of the curse of divorce.

               It has loved the fireside. It has made the father more thoughtful, more helpful, more kind; the mother more patient, more tender, more sweet. It has whispered the son, of truth, of justice, of honor; the daughter, of home, of duty, of service. It has filled the heart, it has lit the soul, with a holy and radiant joy.

               It has loved mercy. It has taken the babe to its bosom; gathered the waifs from the byways; offered a hand to the fallen; builded the home of the friendless; lightened the lot of the aged; hastened to haunts of the fevers; hurried in wake of the battles; furnished a bed to the dying; succored the lands of the smitten; proven an angel of mercy, God's angel of mercy, to the uttermost ends of the earth.

               It has hated injustice. It has frowned on the ways of the rude, frowned on the ways of the strong. It has stood as the foeman of greed, stood as the foeman of wrong. It has counseled for fairness to heathen, though knowing of heathendom hate. It has caused the return unto China, wondering China, of million of Boxer indemnity. It has forced the full payment for booty of war, though the owner, the Spaniard, had forfeited all.

               It has hated slavery. It had taught the beauty of freedom. It had written this thought, with blood, in America's charter of liberty. It had vowed, in its heart, this blessing was birthright of all. It had sworn, by itself, this birthright forever should be. Yet strained were its words, and idle and vain; for many were shackled, many were slaves. It urged by its vow; it drove by its oath. Then struggle for freedom came on.

      Hearts were in passion, souls were in dread;
      Homes were forsaken, prayers were unsaid;
      Great were the leaders, grand were the led;
      Wild were the battles, piled were the dead.

      Then came the end. When, lo! though shattered were hopes, and bleeding were hearts, and empty were sleeves, the nation arose unto newness of life, full-born unto freedom, the joy of the earth, the anointed of God.

               It has hated intemperance. It saw it [219] destroy brawn, debase brain; ensnare mind, enslave will; inspire grief, invent pain; invoke want, invite shame; inflame thought, incite lust; contrive hate, conserve crime; despise faith, despoil hope; assail worth, assault truth; defile youth, debauch age; defy earth, deny God. It saw the monster entrenched in saloon. It said, in its wrath, that stronghold must go. It rushed to attack. It forced the fight. The end appears, looms clear unto sight. That end is victory, victory for right. Already the saloon has gone from a half of America's soil. And, even this hour, the armies of Christ are singing "Te Deums" in a fullness of joy of their ultimate triumph. "He hath put down the mighty."

               It has loved America. It sent to her shores the noblest; brought to her aid the wisest; won to her cause the bravest; gave to her care the fairest. It fashioned her form in wisdom; rounded her lines to beauty; strengthened her hold for service; compassed her course for freedom. It moulded her being; bent unto infant in cradle; sung unto children of mercy; brought unto father his duty; showed unto mother her glory; taught unto leader of service; pointed the nation to God.

               It has loved humanity. It has winged afar its brotherly creed. For this, Europe knows little of thrall. The gates of Japan swing inward. Russia grants favor of Duma. China arouses from stupor. Tyranny topples in Persia. Turkey throws sop unto freedom. There came a cry from suffering Cuba.

               Christianity hearkened that cry; then called, "To arms!" The nation obeyed. The strife done, the wolves were gone, the carnage was past. And hope's sun, that beautiful sun, shone full upon Cuban Isle; while joy, the joy of tyranny ended, filled all the isle with song. Aye, Christianity, America's Golden Rule, has loved the whole of humanity, has wrought for the weal of the earth, has changed the world.

               And Christianity still shall live. It was not born of earth. It came from God. Its years are God's. No doubts may bar its way. No sneers may end its sway. Its strength is love divine. Its love is strength supreme. It moves, and creeds are ground to powder. It frowns, and dogma holds its silence. It smiles, and all, in love, are brethren. And not before, since Calvary's shame, were Christian thoughts and wills so blent, as now, in quest for Christian good, in zest for Christian service.

               But the Master's cause has much to do, much to dare, much to win. Triumph it must, triumph it will, since right is might, since Christ is God. And yet for this the earth must toil with earth, and man must strive with man, and soul must plead with soul. So unto each the order goes, as it went to the one of the cloud, "Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

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