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WHY WE MAY BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER 
DEATH. By Charles Edward Jefferson, 
igii. 

THREE LORDS OF DESTINY. By Samuel 
McChord Crothers. 1913. 

IS CONSCIENCE AN EMOTION? By Hast- 
ings Rashdall. 1914. 

THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY: A STUDY 
IN RESPONSIBILITY. By Charles Lewis 
Slattery, D.D. 1915. 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

BOSTON AND NEW YoRK 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 



Eapmonti f . Wtat JHcmortal lettureg 

THE GIFT 
OF IMMORTALITY 

A Study in Responsibility 



BY 

CHARLES LEWIS SLATTERY, D.D. 

M 

RECTOR OF 6RACB CHURCH IN NEW YORK 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

(Xhe itiitetj^itie ^tt^^ Camliritige 

1916 



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COPYRIGHT, X916, BY CHARLES LEWIS SLATTXRY 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Published April iQid 






PREFATORY NOTE 

This volume represents the fourth of the se- 
ries of Raymond F. West Memorial Lectures at 
the Leland Stanford Junior University. These 
lectures were delivered on September 30 and 
October i and 3, 19 15, by Rev. Charles Lewis 
Slattery, D.D., rector of Grace Church in 
New York City, author of The Master of 
the Worlds Life Beyond Life^ The Light 
Within^ etc. The conditions of the lectureship 
are set forth in the following letter from its 
founders : — 

In memory of our beloved son, Raymond 
Frederic West, a student in Leland Stanford 
Junior University, who was drowned in Eel 
River, in California, on January 18, 1906, be- 
fore the completion of his college course, we wish 
to present to the trustees and authorities of the 
Leland Stanford Junior University, at Palo Alto, 
California, the honored Alma Mater of our son, 
the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000), to be 

V 



336138 



PREFATORY NOTE 

held as a fund in perpetual trust, for the estab- 
lishment of a lectureship on a plan similar to the 
Dudleian Lectures and the Ingersoll Lectures at 
Harvard University. 

By this plan, in each collegiate year, or on each 
alternate year, at the discretion of the Board of 
Trustees, from one to three lectures shall be given 
on some phase of this subject; ''Immortality, 
Human Conduct, and Human Destiny." 

Such lectures shall not form a part of the usual 
college or university course, nor shall they be de- 
livered by any professor or instructor in active 
service in the institution. Such lecturer may be 
a clergyman or a layman, a member of any eccle- 
siastical organization, or of none, but he should 
be a man of the highest personal character and 
of superior intellectual endowment. He shall be 
chosen by the Faculty and the Board of Trustees 
of said University in such manner as the Board of 
Trustees may determine, but the appointment 
in any case shall be made at least six months 
before the delivery of said lectures. 

The above sum is to be safely invested, and the 
interest thereof is to be divided, at the discretion 
of the Board of Trustees, into two parts, the one 

vi 



PREFATORY NOTE 

an honorarium to the lecturer, the other for the 
publication of the said lectures or the gratuitous 
distribution of a number of copies of the same 
if published by the author. 

The manuscript of the course of lectures shall 
become the property of the University, and shall 
be published by the University unless some other 
form of publication is more acceptable. 

The course of lectures shall be known as the 
" Raymond F. West Memorial Lectures on Im- 
mortality, Human Conduct, and Human Des- 
tiny." 

F. W. WEST, 
MARY B. WEST. 
Seattle, Wash., 
January i8^ igio. 



CONTENTS 

I. The Responsibility of the Indi- 
vidual TO Immortality • . • X 

II. The Responsibility of the World 

TO Immortality 7^ 

III. The Responsibility op God for 

Immortality . • • • • . .156 



. J ' .* * 






THE GIFT 
OF IMMORTALITY 



I 



THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDI- 
VIDUAL TO IMMORTALITY 



' There are three roads by which one 
may approach the belief in immortality. 
The first is the road of argument. We 
are all convinced that thus far, in a sense 
which can be scientifically measured, 
the world has not discovered an infalli- 
ble proof of immortal life. We cannot 
place immortality among such estab- 
lished scientific facts as gravitation. It 
belongs to another stratum of human 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

convictions. We must always have a 
large element of faith in order to rely 
upon the expectation of immortality. 
But faith is not irrational : reasons for our 
faith ought to be encouraged. There- 
fore, though we cannot prove immor- 
tality in any scientific or mathematical 
fashion, we may reason out its exceed- 
ing probability. We may, indeed, make 
it seem so probable that for our practi- 
cal reason we may call it proved. The 
road which we travel in this process is 
the road of argument. 

Another road by which we may ap- 
proach the belief in immortality is im- 
agination. This is the road on which 
great poets fare. The poets from time 
to time have dared to lift the veil, and, 
by ecstatic vision, have described what 
they have felt to be the truth about the 

2 



f RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

life beyond our present stage. John of 
Patmos, Bernard of Cluny, Dante of 
Florence, John Henry Newman, and 
many another have left the world their 
inspiring record. They attempt no argu- 
ment, they scarcely ask assent to their 
words. They tell, in picturesque and 
figurative language, what they see and 
feel; and there they leave their account 
of the immortal life. It is the road of 
imagination. 

The third road by which we may ap- 
proach the belief in immortality is the 
road of practical experience. Here the 
life beyond death is assumed to be what 
the theologians and poets declare it to 
be. The supreme question is, What 
efTect does a conviction of immortality 
have upon this life which we are now 
living? The moment we set foot upon 

3 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

this road we know that it is no highway 
through the clouds; it is hard and firm, 
a dusty and noisy thoroughfare, with 
which we have daily familiarity. We 
may discover at length that to live as if 
there were immortal life stretching out 
before us is to give a new sense of cer- 
tainty to all our convictions and hopes. 
In case the hypothesis, when put to the 
practical test, should prove to have a 
beneficial effect upon us, we should have 
this practical reason for trusting the hy- 
pothesis to be true. Thus, in a way, 
we should be gaining material for both 
the philosopher and the poet, though 
we ourselves be plodding along in the 
paths of everyday life. ' 

It is this third road — the road of 
practical experience — which I purpose 
to travel in these lectures. I ask you to 

4 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

reflect upon the responsibilit}^ which a 
belief in immortality throws back upon 
our present life, here and now; first, 
upon our lives as individuals; then, upon 
our corporate life in human society; and, 
finally, upon our lives as related to God. 

II 

The first question to ask is whether 
it is more than a pious fancy that belief 
in immortality has any effect upon our 
earthly life. The preliminary consider- 
ation is whether the people who think 
that they believe in immortality really 
believe in it. I have not the least doubt 
that a host of people who would say in- 
stantly that of course they believed in 
a life after death, do not really believe 
in it at all. That is, they are so absorbed 
in the busy lives which they are lead- 

S 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

ing, and thus far they have been so free 
from dangerous illness and from blind- 
ing bereavement, that they have not 
really faced the subject It has been 
lying among the remote dreams of hu- 
manity, like Church unity and perma- 
nent peace for the world, which make 
no demands on one's immediate faith. 
As they expect to get on very well 
without the assurance of Church unity 
or universal peace, so they are not truly 
depending upon immortality: they are 
content, as they often say, to live one 
life at a time. 

Now, when a man really believes in 
immortality, his belief is of such a na- 
ture that he does not wait to be asked 
whether he believes in a future life; he 
proclaims it. He may proclaim it in 
words, after the manner of other enthu- 

6 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL ' 

siasts; or he may, because of the depth 
of his feeling, say little about it, and 
leave the belief to be proclaimed in 
deeds. The late F. W. H. Myers, through 
interest in psychic research, became 
convinced, in what he thought a scien- 
tific way, that life goes on after death. 
It was not with him a hope, a trust, a 
faith; it was what he believed to be full 
evidence tested by the senses. With the 
manner by which he gained this assur- 
ance I have now nothing to do. You 
may think that he was grossly self- 
deceived. All I insist upon is that you 
grant that in Myers you have an exam- 
ple of a man who had suddenly awaked 
to a genuine conviction of immortality. 
Now, what difference did this convic- 
tion make ? Let his friend William 
James give the answer: " Myers's char- 

7 



s 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

acter . . . grew stronger in every par- 
ticular. . . . Brought up on literature 
and sentiment, something of a court- 
ier, passionate, disdainful, and impatient 
naturally, he was made over again from 
the day when he took up psychical re- 
search seriously. He became learned 
in science, circumspect, democratic in 
sympathy, endlessly patient, and above 
all, happy. The fortitude of his last 
hours touched the heroic, so completely 
were the atrocious sufferings of his body 
cast into insignificance by his interest 
in the cause he lived for. When a man's 
pursuit gradually makes his face shine 
and grow handsome, you may be sure 
it is a worthy one. • . . Myers kept 
growing ever handsomer and stronger- 
looking." This is an illustration of what 
must happen to every man when, for 

8 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

one reason or another, he passes from 
no faith, or a conventional faith, in im- 
mortality, into a robust and vital faith. 
It makes a difference in this life. 

Sometimes this faith may be none the 
less real even when it is not conspicu- 
ously dwelt upon: it may be subcon- 
scious, the inheritance of one's ancestry 
and early teaching. It may be assumed 
in the same silent way in which we as- 
sume our power to breathe. This is the 
sort of faith in immortality which we 
find in reverent childhood. Last winter 
two children were sent from a home 
where their father lay dead, that they 
might be spared association with death 
and remember their father only alive. 
On the way to the country home which 
was to receive them, they stopped to 
buy flowers. These they sent back; and 

9 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

in each box were sealed envelopes con- 
taining obviously quite long letters ad- 
dressed: *'To Father from Mary. Not 
to be opened "; " To Father from John- 
Not to be opened." There they had 
doubtless written their love with the 
childlike faith that in some way their 
father would know. This is a faith in 
immortality quite unlike the faith which 
Myers acquired; but it has the same 
depth of conviction, the same power to 
issue in actual life, here and now. 

In distinction from this assumption 
of the fact of immortality is the hypoth- 
esis of Immanuel Kant. Kant, with his 
cold reason, could find no adequate 
proof of immortality. But he announced 
in his " Critique of Practical Reason " 
that immortality is "the practically nec- 
essary condition of a duration adequate 

ID 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

to the complete fulfilment of the moral 
law"; therefore he would live as if 
he were immortal. For one with rigid 
habits this hypothesis of Kant's might 
perhaps issue in a character free of 
blemishes. But you cannot imagine any 
character so inspired as having any en- 
thusiasm or dash. You could be sure 
that Dr. Kant would take his afternoon 
walk at exactly the same hour every 
afternoon, with the watchful Lampe 
and the umbrella following after; you 
could be sure that he would make due 
and generous provision for those de- 
pendent upon him; but you would not 
expect Konigsberg to be thrilled with 
the news that Dr. Kant had ever gone 
out of his way to do an unexpected deed 
of heroism or kindness. There are many 
excellent people, not at all in the rank of 

II 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

Kant, having no tinge of philosophical 
analysis, who are holding what they 
believe their faith in immortality sim- 
ply as an hypothesis. It has not gripped 
them. They amiably and earnestly try 
to live in such a way that if immortal- 
ity should turn out to be true they would 
not be hopelessly discredited after the 
dark corner was turned. Immortality 
is only a serious speculation. 

On the threshold of this discussion, 
therefore, it is important to make sure 
that the belief in immortality of which 
we are thinking is a thorough-going 
conviction, not an ethereal mist float- 
ing on the surface of our minds. Before 
a man can expect this belief to influ- 
ence his life he must inquire sternly 
whether he sincerely is relying upon a 
future beyond death. Has he, for ex- 

12 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

ample, the same degree of certainty 
which a man has who believes that he 
has had communication with persons 
whose bodies are dead? Has he, by 
any means whatever, reached a conclu- 
sion as definite as that which Myers at- 
tained? It is with the assumption that 
there are men in the world who have 
this utter persuasion that we may in- 
vestigate the present results of a belief 
in the immortal life. 

Ill 

In the remainder of this lecture I shall 
describe four ways in which a belief in 
immortality affects the earthly life of an 
individual. The results are such results 
as can be studied in the lives of those 
whose faith in a continued existence 
has, for any reason, become sharp and 

13 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

intense. They are such results, further, 
as might serve to test the faith which a 
man thinks he possesses. 

First of all, a man expecting an in- 
definite length of life beyond death 
takes himself in hand to conquer the 
temptations which beset him, to eradi- 
cate his faults, to cultivate his virtues. 
The one word which best describes 
this attitude towards life is self-control. 

If a man is tolerably sure in his own 
mind that death ends all, he is apt to 
let certain parts of his life slip away 
from his spiritual grasp. He may out- 
wardly submit to all the conventions of 
decency, because such submission is 
the easiest and most comfortable means 
of meeting the days as they pass. In- 
wardly, however, he is prone to say to 
himself that, since this life is all, he 

H 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

would wisely get out of it anything 
which ministers to his immediate pleas- 
ure. Such a man may appear to be a 
good citizen, but he is not a man with 
a keen moral sense, and he has inher- 
ently no ideals. 

I am fully aware that there are ex- 
ceptions to this rule. A man like 
Henry Sidgwick can announce that he 
has no thought whatever of living be- 
yond the grave and yet maintain the 
most rigid control of all his higher in- 
stincts. This is partly because of intel- 
lectual training, partly because Sidg- 
wick was a guide of youth to whom 
he felt deep responsibility. Able as he 
himself felt to stand up against the nar- 
rowness of his hope, he dreaded for 
humanity any collapse of a belief in 
immortality. He did not believe the 

IS 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

world could hold together without a 
conviction of continuing life. This he- 
roic mastery, without hope, may also 
be achieved by a form of Stoicism, which 
will probably never fail strong but nega- 
tive personalities. William Ernest Hen- 
ley could sing, not cheerfully but cour- 
ageously: — 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the Horror of the Shade, 

And yet the menace of the years 
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate 

How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate : 
I am the captain of my soul. 

There are others who, through simi- 
lar Stoicism, have been able to keep 
themselves in order without the great 
vision of the future, but they are rare 

i6 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

spirits, and, as these verses show, they 
do not find their task exhilarating. 

One can but depend on one's own 
observation for drawing general conclu- 
sions, and I am obliged to say that from 
such study as I have been able to give 
to humanity, face to face, I am quite 
certain that a man who has no depend- 
ence on the future life, either consciously 
or subconsciously, is not likely to cul- 
tivate his own self-mastery. He drifts; 
he minimizes consequences because all 
consequences are soon over; he feels 
no eternal principles. There are excep- 
tions. But the exceptions only serve to 
prove the rule. 

Now, what difference does it make 
when a man becomes thoroughly aware 
that the barrier called death is not a wall 
but a door ? He may still lose command 

17 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

of himself, he may still let his charac- 
ter drift to the tangled undergrowth by 
the side of the stream; but he cannot do 
so complacently. A man who could en- 
dure the thought of making a mess of 
threescore and ten years would be 
aghast at the thought of having his life 
confusion for eternity. A man awake to 
the permanence of character knows that 
sooner or later he must catch up the 
threads that have been allowed to un- 
wind. William James has taught us, in 
his vivid way, that just as it is harder to 
wind a ball of string than to let it un- 
wind, so it is harder to get control of 
one's self than to let one's self go to the 
winds. The unwinding of a week may 
take years to wind again. William James 
has also taught us that the body does not 
forget. Everything we do leaves its 

i8 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

traces. He speaks of a stream starting 
its course on the side of a mountain. 
After a rain the water flows down along 
the course of least resistance, and digs 
for itself a tiny channel. At the next rain, 
when the waters flow, they follow this 
little track, only digging it deeper; and 
so, month by month, the stream is bound 
to go in the path habit has made for it, 
and only the most serious eflfort of man 
can divert it from this course. So our 
insignificant impulses start their way 
through our bodies, and wear first a 
faint path, and then, little by little, form 
a deep bed through which all subse- 
quent impulses must, but for almost 
superhuman effort, find their way. If 
the right course is taken, fine habits are 
formed, and all is well; if the wrong 
course, evil habits gain control, and all 

19 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

is failure. If death ends all, the poor 
victim can bear the prospect; but if 
death does not end all, he is over- 
whelmed with the effort which he sees 
that some time he must exert. Whatever 
he may imagine the medium .through 
which life is to be continued, whether 
a body similar to our material body, or 
a body so far spiritualized that it may 
scarcely be called a body, he is con- 
vinced that the law which the psy- 
chologist clearly defines for this life 
must, if there is a life beyond this, be 
true also for that life. 

Essentially all convictions about the 
future life agree in the belief that charac- 
ter is the same five minutes after death 
that it was five minutes before death. We 
reach the next stage of life exactly where 
we left it here. Death does not mean 

20 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

a huge leap, up or down. The happy 
blessing is that a man is as good as he 
is; the dismaying curse is that he is as 
bad as he is. There may be surprises 
for the self-forgetful and the meek, and 
also for the self-satisfied and the proud ; 
but facts and attainments are not spir- 
ited away or metamorphosed by any 
heavenly alchemy. "Inasmuch as ye 
did it," is the judgment of the Perfect 
One: He expects men to be what they 
are. Just there is their glory or their 
shame. The progress seems infinite in 
possibility, but life so far as we know it 
does not lead us to think that we may 
leap across any wide gulfs. Hence, if 
we look forward to the life beyond this, 
we cannot be indifferent to the contri- 
bution which our life here will surely 
make to the life there. If we die with 

21 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

a bad temper unconquered, we shall 
have to possess the ugly thing there ; or 
else begin by the same painful disci- 
pline as is required here to rid ourselves 
of it there. If we die with sour envy 
embedded in our character, with indi- 
rectness or cheating, there will they all 
be glaring at us to be endured or to be 
fought. It is this solemn assurance that 
everything here counts for a very long 
time, far beyond the span of an earthly 
career, which makes immortality, once 
believed in, enormously compelling. A 
man in his senses cannot be convinced 
of immortality without instantly deter- 
mining to stiffen his course, to check 
the bad, to cherish the good, to be his 
best. He may stumble and fall, again 
and again, but he must grow towards 
the destiny which awaits him. 

22 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

Among the incentives which impel 
us to take immortality seriously into our 
everyday life is the discovery that the 
so-called moral law is not an arbitrary 
device imposed upon us from a remote 
and unsympathetic government, but is 
the result of human experience inter- 
preted by a divine clearness. The laws 
of God are often difficult, but they are 
for human happiness in its ultimate 
reaches. We discover that the prodigal 
sons, bewitched with the attractions of 
certain far countries, always long, when 
they come to themselves, to return 
home. Righteousness is in some way 
indissolubly connected with the satis- 
fying element in life. Our habits can- 
not run riot, and make maturity or old 
age anything but a hideous nightmare. 
We sometimes hear people say that 

23 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

they think immortality undesirable: so 
far from believing in it, they would not 
for the world believe in it if they could. 
Back of this cynical scorn lies an in- 
sight into the eternal values. To make 
anything of even this life, we must toil 
like galley-slaves. The effort to eradi- 
cate our meanness and our baseness is 
almost impossible; the permanent de- 
sire to do exactly the right and the true 
is still far off among the shadows. If 
death were all, we could be content to 
fail. But to think of a future prolonged 
in failure is unbearable. We must in 
some age, near or remote, begin to get 
on the right track. There is little reason 
to suppose, from what we already have 
learned of life, that a postponed begin- 
ning is ever easier because it is post- 
poned. With the spaces shining before 

24 



^RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

us, we know that we are discreet if we 
put off the effort not a single day. If we 
win any battle here, that battle is won 
for ever; and we are ready for new vic- 
tories. Other battles will seem similar, 
but they are never the same. If we do 
well in any stage of life, whether that 
stage be a year or the whole of this 
earthly existence, the next stage is in- 
evitably easier. We cannot contemplate 
immortality without at least a vigorous 
impulse towards self-control. 

Another incentive to take immortal- 
ity seriously is associated with what we 
are accustomed to speak of as the larger 
hope. I shall have occasion to refer to 
this hope again: here I wish to apply 
it to our individual behaviour. By the 
larger hope we mean the confidence 
which many people have that at length, 

25 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

whether in time or in eternity, every 
man shall be saved to the beauty and 
goodness of life. We are inclined to 
state the hope with a logical intimation: 
if, we say, God has made us and has put 
us in a world which is often sorrowful 
and dangerous, He will feel responsible 
for our mishaps and sins, and will so 
contrive the future that we shall all 
come out into his marvellous light. I am 
not now discussing whether there is any 
foundation for such a hope. The only 
point I wish to make is that if we accept 
the larger hope it brings responsibility 
down upon us individually. We cannot 
speak of God's responsibility for the souls 
which He has made until we try to im- 
agine how it will be possible for any 
personality which has failed here to be- 
gin to start right in some future age. As 

26 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

a filthy vagabond cannot be made happy 
by being thrust into a metropolitan art- 
gallery which delights the lover of pic- 
tures, or into a library which delights 
the scholar, or into a palace which 
makes the congenial environment of a 
king, so neither can a coarse and vul- 
gar worldling be made happy by throw- 
ing him into a group of saints who talk 
perpetually of worship and love and 
service. It is something in the man him- 
self which must be changed: it is not so 
much the material for happiness as the 
capacity to enjoy happiness which he 
must win. Accordingly, if a miscreant, 
having come to the end of an ill-spent 
life, is defiantly charging God to remem- 
ber that, having created him. He owes 
to him as good a future as to the no- 
blest, God may grant him his demand; 

27 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

but the first truth which will be borne 
in upon the man's awaking intelligence 
will be that the demand is not so much 
upon God as upon him. He himself 
must change. If he has allowed his 
habits to harden on the wrong side, he 
must sooner or later take up the grim 
task of changing those bad habits into 
good habits. To put off the day of be- 
ginning to do this is only by so far to 
increase the difficulty. To say that God 
must bring us all out into the heavenly 
places of life is in a measure to limit 
our freedom. These people who have 
been defying law all their lives will be 
forced to submit patiently, as if they 
were children just beginning to walk, 
to the law of the privilege which they 
charge upon God as their right. If 
God grants it, they will find the disci- 

28 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

pline goading them on to choose the 
paths which hitherto they have de- 
spised. And when their imagination has 
gone thus far, they will cry out that, 
since immortality of a saving sort is 
surely before them, they will begin now 
to make ready for it. They may fail; 
but, if they are sane, they will try to 
begin. 

The first result of a vital faith in im- 
mortality is that the believer will, be- 
cause of his belief, assume a tighter 
control of his daily life. Seeing that 
this earthly life is only a fragment of a 
very long life, he will determine to get 
on as far as may be before this first 
chapter closes. 



29 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

IV 

Another result of a firm belief in im- 
mortality is courage to meet the hard 
places in life, because, in spite of their 
cruel torture for the time being, they are 
seen to have a meaning for a life extended 
beyond the life which we now live. We 
gain this courage first from certain ex- 
periences within the limits of this life. 
For example, a youth may pass through 
a long illness which brings him close 
to death. He may be in pain for weeks. 
At the time the whole experience seems 
altogether grievous; but as the invalid 
passes into the hope and joy of conva- 
lescence, he begins to survey life as he 
never examined it before: he contem- 
plates its dignity and its value. With 
gratitude to the Giver of life and health 

30 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

he determines to do something serious 
and worthy with the years before him; 
and thus he enters upon a career which 
proves to be full of satisfying ideals and 
accomplishment. As he thinks what he 
might have been had no such tragedy 
fallen across his path, he blesses the 
evil day when he lay low with a dread 
sickness. That harsh experience has 
come to mean something for the glory 
of life, a glory it could not otherwise 
have had. Or, again, the father of a 
family may find his business crumbling 
about his head; and in the blackness of 
his despair he goes home to tell his 
rather worldly and selfish family that 
they will have to give up all the luxu- 
ries and conveniences of life. Where- 
upon, instead of meeting reproach, he 
finds a love and a sympathy which he 

31 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

never suspected. These pampered chil- 
dren rise up to help him bear his bur- 
den. They all together enter the valley 
of poverty; but out of that poverty both 
he and his children gain a happiness 
and a worth which the days of pros- 
perity never could have given. For 
months he may curse the bitterness of 
his fate; and only after many readjust- 
ments does he awake as from a dream 
to appreciate how fortunate he and his 
have been to have had a crushing mis- 
fortune. These are types of the experi- 
ences which can in an earthly period 
demonstrate that at least some of the 
hard places have a meaning beyond 
their vexing pain. 

But there are other experiences which 
cannot be explained on earth. The little 
child, endowed with what seems bud- 

32 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

ding genius and a generous opportu- 
nity, dies: his life is snuffed out in an 
evening twilight, and this world seems 
to those who knew and loved him un- 
utterably poor for ever. This world can 
give no meaning to that experience. 
Again, of two people bound together 
by a beautiful love through the years, 
one passes through death into the un- 
seen; and for the survivor is a loneli- 
ness worse than death. This world can 
only say that separation is inevitable; 
it has no solution for the bleak fact. 
Once more, there are invalids chained 
to beds of pain with the physician's 
verdict that they never can be well. 
They lack neither courage nor ambi- 
tion: they are able to fire with purpose 
those who, in their strength, stand near 
them; but for their own individual lives 

33 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

there is in this world no meaning in 
their woe: they wait only for release 
and forgetfulness. Finally, there are 
the miserably poor, who never have a 
chance in this world: among them are 
certain alert persons who rise out of 
poverty to seize upon some mammoth 
opportunity, and through the discipline 
which poverty has given them they are 
strong enough to lead the world in their 
department of activity. But these con- 
spicuous fruits of poverty are excep- 
tions. What are we to say of the poor 
who remain poor, whose grinding strug- 
gle leaves them lustreless and heavy, 
incapable of any but the gross enjoy- 
ments of life ? They die, and those who 
behold, and who know, can only say 
frankly that they are glad for them that 
they are dead. This world, let us con- 

34 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

fess, has no solution for the mystery of 
degrading poverty. 

Now, how are all such experiences 
to be interpreted the moment we are 
convinced that no solution of anything 
is to be weighed till we have imagined 
what is to be the result in a life beyond 
death ? If we find that disasters, tempo- 
rarily disheartening, can in this life find 
an encouraging meaning, it is legitimate 
to assume that forlorn conditions, never 
explained here, can in the life to come 
receive a meaning which can justify 
their austerity. We catch glimpses of 
this outcome when we measure results 
through long ranges of history. When 
America was being colonized, the Span- 
iards fixed upon the luxuriant South, 
and in its ease and warmth their civ- 
ilization perished. The English sent 

35 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

colony after colony to the swamps of 
Virginia and to the rock-bound coasts 
of New England: hardship and death 
dogged them at every step, but out of 
this difficulty arose the civilization of 
the West. In the seventeenth century 
the world was not confident of the re- 
sult of a civilization built upon toil and 
peril; it takes generations and centuries 
to demonstrate such a principle. Thus, 
going only a little farther, we venture 
to push the principle out beyond the 
bounds of time into eternity, assured 
that it will be found as true there as in 
the individual life, and as in the course 
of history. To be confident of immor- 
tality is also to be confident that every 
hard place in life means something, if 
we will bravely accept it. Therefore, 
to believe in immortality is to send^us 

36 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

back to our present experience with 
courage for any fate. To make this 
clear, I intend to speculate upon the 
meaning which may possibly be found 
in another life for the four experiences 
which I have mentioned as insoluble 
this side the grave, — the death of little 
children, the separation in death of lov- 
ers, life-long illness, and hopeless pov- 
erty. It will be only imagination, but 
the imagination will be based upon ex- 
perience which has been realized. 

What shall we say of the death of 
little children? They have missed the 
sunlight and the laughter of earth. How 
can those who love them be reconciled 
to their passing? We cannot tell, but 
it is possible that, entering the new life 
as children, they shall remain the gay 
and innocent children of eternity. Apart 

37 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

from the spirited variety which they 
must contribute to the on-going life, 
there is the possible great reward for 
them individually that they may con- 
tinue to be the care-free, blithe beings 
whom we knew here, only developed 
and perfected into the heavenly child- 
hood. We may think of their loss here 

— for they have missed the joys of 
earth as well as its sorrows and pitfalls 

— as made up to them by a peculiar 
privilege not granted to maturity, and 
for ever preserved. 

Then there is the separation by death 
of those whose lives have been bound 
together in the holy and intimate ties 
of love. What possible interpretation 
can immortality give to such desola- 
tion, and how can it cry out to the 
bereaved soul. Courage! Again we 

38 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

have only imagination to guide us ; but 
earthly conditions give us a valid sug- 
gestion. When a boy is sent to school, 
both he and his parents are overwhelmed 
with that most poignant suffering of 
separation, known as homesickness: 
there is no pain quite like it. Yet love 
dares to maintain the degree of separa- 
tion which the boy's going away to 
school involves. The event proves that 
love was wise in its Spartan discipline; 
for the separation teaches the boy, as 
he could not otherwise learn, what his 
home and his parents are. Viewing 
them from a distance he seems first to 
know them. He comes back upon his 
holiday, if he is a right-minded boy, 
with a new appreciation and reverence 
of his father and his mother. He has a 
knowledge of them which uninterrupted 

39 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

fellowship could not have given him. 
There we have the suggestion of the 
meaning of the separation of death for 
those who love one another. If death 
is the end, the best one can achieve is 
stoical resignation. If death is not all, 
and immortality is in store, then the 
Comforter of humanity may and does 
inspire with courage the baffled and 
desolate survivor, — somewhat as the 
loving father gives consoling strength 
to his homesick boy who writes his 
woe from the far-away school. We be- 
gin, when convinced of immortality, to 
believe that separation must mean some- 
thing. It is not a mere physical neces- 
sity, but a spiritual benefit. May it be, 
we ask, that if we were not separated 
for a time from those we love, we 
should lose something of our full ap- 

40 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

preciation of them? Would the future 
life be less complete because we had 
not known them as the boy at school 
learns, with an intenser knowledge, to 
love his father and his mother? There 
is such a defect as taking friendship 
and love too much for granted. It is 
good to lose it for a season that we 
may learn it to be the supreme miracle 
that it is. The separation of death may, 
one thinks, do this very thing: it may 
enhance the joy of mutual love when 
the day of re-possession comes. There 
is sound reason why a man who be- 
lieves in immortality should have high 
courage in the presence even of blind- 
ing bereavement. "Now I recognize,'' 
writes just such a brave sufferer, "that 
the spirit cannot be crushed by circum- 
stances. A flood of joyous and deep 

41 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

realizations have come to me lately. It 
seems almost quite worth while to have 
lived through such agonies to under- 
stand human life and suffering as I can, 
and to have the power to help at times 
the people who turn to me. There is a 
kind of fulness of life in me now which 
is overwhelming: it is not exaltation, 
but a sort of clarity of vision and in- 
tensity of love which heightens life's 
beauty and meaningi" Such moods 
cannot be more than intermittent in 
this life. They are the intimations of 
immortality. " Now we see through a 
glass, darkly; but then face to face." 

We come, next, to the contemplation 
of a life crippled by painful illness and 
so debarred from any active service in 
the world. How shall we persuade the 
hopeless invalid to hope against hope? 

42 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

I am not now thinking of partial in- 
valids, like Robert Louis Stevenson, 
who, in spite of weak bodies, succeed 
in accomplishing the tasks of giants. I 
am thinking of the unknown people 
who are quite beyond work of any sort, 
the people whose only service can be 
to endure without groans and lamen- 
tations. A Christian minister sees in 
the course of twenty years an appalling 
amount of physical suffering. Day after 
day he sees people whom death only 
can release from racking and inces- 
sant pain : they are wholly incapaci- 
tated. As he sees the faces of such peo- 
ple, ordinarily not hard but tender and 
patient, he knows by his Christian be- 
lief in immortality what a vast strength 
of inner character is being stored up 
against that day of release. It is no 

43 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

perfunctory word of cheer which he 
speaks. He is looking at such heroism 
as any soldier might be proud to equal 
on the battlefield. He knows beyond 
peradventure that such gallant bearing 
means a victory which is to become a 
permanent possession. Without immor- 
tality, such courage as this is mockery; 
with immortality, it is sublime: there 
is the most ardent reason for it. Not an 
atom of it is lost. 

And there is the oppression of pov- 
erty. How shall one be courageous 
under its strain ? Poverty is quite likely 
so far to subdue a man's spirit that he 
believes himself a failure. Everything 
to which he has turned his hand has 
failed to give him what, by any ordi- 
nary estimate, would be called a living. 
He has scarcely been able to keep soul 

44 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

and body together. But there are men 
who are poor in just this way who have 
not lost their interest in life. How can 
they avoid scoffing and murmuring ex- 
cept by seeing another world before 
them! They know that their courage 
is not lost. If death were the end, it 
would be lost; but since they are con- 
vinced that death is not the end, they 
are sure that their brave conquest of 
untoward circumstances will count. 
Lazarus shall yet be in Abraham's 
bosom, not by a mere turning of the 
tables, but by the inherent right of a 
hard lot courageously endured. In this 
life the son of a manufacturer is often 
trained to succeed his father in leader- 
ship by being sent to work in the lowest 
and most disagreeable departments of 
the mill, there to learn the business 

45 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

from the beginning. It may be that in 
the new life, having begun at the bot- 
tom in this, and not having shirked, the 
brave poor man will be fitted to go for- 
ward to successes, which the man, suc- 
cessful here, will never attain. Once 
more immortality permits us to believe 
that every experience has its possible 
meaning and can be made to count to- 
wards the future. 

It must be granted that all these rea- 
sons for courage in the hard places of 
life must be expressed through imagi- 
nary outcomes. But immortality can so 
far inspire a rational hope that it be- 
lieves these imaginary outcomes insuf- 
ficiently described. When we are sure 
of immortality we are not afraid of any 
condition : we know that no sign of 
courage, active or passive, will fail of 

46 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

its exact reward. Everything that hap- 
pens to us, to the very gate of death, 
can by a brave man be turned to ac- 
count for the glorious future which 
awaits his coming. Our best imagin- 
ings fall short. We may dream, so fire 
our courage, and then expect something 
better than our wildest dreams. This is 
not superficial optimism made in soft 
and luxurious homes; it is the fierce 
confidence bred in places where one 
would expect to find only weeping and 
groaning and cursing. It is not joy ex- 
actly, but it is akin to joy. It is the 
dauntlessness of Job, when he said, 
" Though he slay me, yet will I trust in 
Him." It is the conviction that the fu- 
ture is so sure that no struggle against 
a present ill can be in vain. 



47 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

V 

A third result of a belief in immortal- 
ity is detachment from the mere things 
of life. This detachment is not a for- 
lorn asceticism, dwelling upon its self- 
denial, but is the happy ascent to a 
new sense of freedom. Certain qualities 
within man are conceived as permanent, 
— love and honour and sacrifice and 
righteousness, — but the houses and 
lands are remembered to be temporary. 
And yet many excellent people grow 
haggard with worry about the outward 
and the passing. They fret because their 
income is affected by a change in the 
market; they cannot smile because a 
certain building which they owned has 
been burned; they are in despair be- 
cause a thief in the night has carried off 

48 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

much of their family silver. All these 
outer circumstances seem to vex them 
vastly more than the impression that a 
son at college is wasting his time, that 
a daughter is vulgar in her conversation, 
that they themselves are growing hard. 
In his better moments a man may envy 
his coachman the radiant look in his 
eye; he may sigh and wish himself as 
free as this underling. 

It is important to notice that it is the 
poor man quite as much as the rich man 
who may be in bondage to things. I re- 
member years ago coming upon the 
smouldering ruins of an isolated cottage 
by the roadside. Over these ashes a 
woman was weeping and wringing her 
hands. She was obliged to work all day, 
and had left her tiny house that morn- 
ing believing it safe. She now returned 

49 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

to find everything that she possessed 
gone: not one thing had been saved. 
She told of the chair in which she had 
sat; of the old bits of cloth which had 
belonged to her mother; of the photo- 
graphs. . . . Her family were all dead; 
she had made no friends; she had no 
interests beyond these few treasures, 
which each night she had been wont to 
fondle as if they had been children. 
The whole scene was heart-breaking. 
It was the story of Job in a modern 
form. But when one thought it over, it 
ought not to have been a tragedy. Sym- 
bolical as these possessions were, they 
were but symbols, things. The reali- 
ties for which they stood still lay be- 
hind and above them, indestructible. 
The love, the loyalty, the comfort, once 
enshrined in them had not perished 

SO 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

with them. Only the woman did not 
know. Things were all in all to her. In 
exactly the same way the monk who 
has devoted his life to poverty may be 
dreaming of the possessions he might 
have had, and may be congratulating 
himself because he has been amazingly 
good to give them up. From time to time 
he longs for them. So, too, the poor la- 
bouring man, living in two rooms, may 
have for his ideal the possession of a 
palace on some avenue with all the 
trappings which belong to it. In con- 
trast with all this, we may think of cer- 
tain rich men who have been sur- 
rounded all their lives with abundance 
of possessions, and who are so far in- 
different to them that if their posses- 
sions were all to vanish in one night, 
their owners could on the next daybe- 

51 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

gin again with entire courage to earn a 
living. I have known such people. The 
only explanation of their attitude is that, 
for one reason or another, they have be- 
come detached from things. A sense of 
immortality has been borne in upon 
them. They are able to distinguish be- 
tween things and realities. Perhaps 
many of those dearest to them have 
gone beyond the range of death. Per- 
haps they are absorbed in some control- 
ling enthusiasm. Perhaps they have be- 
come sated with things and are weary 
of them. Whatever the reason, there are 
men, rich and poor, who are honestly 
indifferent to things. They use them 
when they are theirs. But they do not 
magnify them. To have them or to lose 
them is not of much consequence. They 
have laid up for themselves treasure in 

52 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

life where moth and rust do not cor- 
rupt, and where thieves do not break 
through nor steal. Where their treasure 
is, there are their hearts also. 

It is a conviction of immortality, held 
either consciously or subconsciously, 
which alone can really give detachment 
from things. If one lives on a mighty 
thoroughfare, where thousands of all 
sorts of human beings pass each day, 
one ma}^ easily have the maudlin senti- 
mentality of Xerxes on the Hellespont, 
watching his million soldiers march by, 
and weeping because in a brief time 
all this host must be dead. As one goes 
out into the throngs and watches the 
faces, reading there the infinite ranges 
of fear and hope, of joy and sorrow, of 
failure and achievement, one is swept 
upon the shores of eternity. It is not 

S3 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

the passing of earthly bodies which con- 
cerns one, but the permanent forces in 
life. Then in the surging stream of life, 
lost in its onward rush, one looks up at 
the tall buildings and sees them as in a 
dream. They are not real. It is the life 
which devises them, which passes in 
and out, which sees them crumble and 
fall to dust, — it is human life which is 
real, — the life which is unseen, spirit- 
ual, albeit enshrined for a few years in 
bodies which we see. After such an ex- 
perience as this one returns to one's fa- 
miliar possessions with a feeling almost 
of resentment that they are there to 
clog one's journey. Life is so much 
more than things, it stretches out so 
wide and far, that one is able quite to 
forget things. The sense of immortality 
blots them out of thought and interest. 

54 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

They are to be used as the earth is used 
under the marching of soldiers going 
into battle. The earth is there, it helps; 
but the inspiration for the battle is the 
imperishable cause for which men are 
content to die. So men, because aglow 
with immortality, win their detachment 
from things. 

VI 

A youth of intelligence cannot reach 
the consciousness of awaking powers 
within him without simultaneously be- 
coming aware that if he is to fulfil his 
destiny he must use those powers for 
some honest and hard work. If, through 
the years, you watch such a person, you 
can at least surmise — perhaps you can 
know — whether or not he is depend- 
ing in any sense upon an expectation 

55 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

of immortality. If the work appears 
to be such as could reasonably be 
rounded and completed within an ordi- 
nary earthly life, you must think that, 
neither consciously nor subconsciously, 
does he rely upon any hope of having 
more than one lifetime for his task. If, 
however, you see that his chosen work 
is too ambitious to be closed in even a 
hundred years, if, further, as you look 
into his clear eyes you know that he is 
neither self-deceived nor mad, you then 
know that, however silently and mod- 
estly, he is expecting ample time to 
work out his dreams, — a time so am- 
ple, indeed, that he intends to go on 
working after the latch of death has 
snapped the door of this life behind 
him. He shows by the greatness of his 
task his belief in immortality. "For 

56 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

half a century," wrote Victor Hugo, 
" I have been writing my thoughts in 
prose and in verse ; history, philosophy, 
drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode, 
and song; I have tried all. But I feel 
that I have not said the thousandth part 
of what is in me. When I go down to 
the grave I can say, like many others, 
^ I have finished my day's work.' But I 
cannot say, ' I have finished my life.' " 
And so it is for every man. If any 
person is thoroughly aroused by a con- 
viction of immortality, the work he sets 
himself to do will show it. It has often 
been said that the world is done with 
the man whose work is done. On the 
other hand, if we see a man whose work 
will take eternity to finish, we ask trem- 
blingly whether eternity may not be 
given him. For that man there is rea- 

57 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

son, at any rate, why there should be 
eternity. He is justifying his beHef in it. 
There are a good many young peo- 
ple with a touch of genius who are so 
delicate in health that it is exceedingly 
problematical whether they can live 
more than a few years. Again and again 
you find these brilliant people facing 
death as a probability and yet going on 
gallantly with a vigorous preparation 
for a significant life-work. It is folly to 
think that they can do anything ade- 
quate with such a long preparation unless 
they are to have twenty or thirty years 
in which to build upon their foundation, 
— and then they can but make a begin- 
ning. You may say that these young 
persons are gambling with fate: they 
are getting ready to live this life only 
in case they are allowed to live^ while 

S8 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

there is life there is hope, and youth is 
divinely hopeful. The physical weak- 
ness may pass: they may after all live 
long on the earth. Perhaps they may. 
But one cannot help thinking that, with- 
out forgetting such a chance, they are 
counting upon something which is to 
them more certain. Though weak now 
they are conscious that, whatever be- 
falls them, there is strength for them in 
the future. They go about their task of 
laying solid foundations, knowing by a 
superb instinct that their preparation 
shall count for a great task whether 
they live or whether they die. They, 
too, by the greatness of the work which 
they have chosen, demonstrate what it 
is truly to believe in immortality. 

Another phase of the same truth ap- 
pears in a worker who persists in cling- 

59 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

ing to an ideal, the practical fruits of 
which the present world treats with 
disregard or contempt. An artist, for 
example, may continue to paint pictures 
in such a style that no one will buy 
them. This artist may have unques- 
tioned genius. He could readily paint 
exactly the sort of pictures which would 
satisfy the current taste, and so instantly 
find a market for his work. But he sees 
that it is his divinely appointed task to 
go on developing his art in the way he 
believes to be the highest till he has 
painted the best picture of that kind 
which can be painted. Meantime, will 
the world of his day ever recognize the 
beauty and the truth which he sees in 
his work? Even after his death, should 
the pictures survive, would any age give 
its approval ? And there is still another 

60 



/ 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

question: Is it possible that through a 
long earthly life he might never be able 
to paint such a picture as any genera- 
tion of men ought to value ? Remember 
the well-assured fact that he could at 
any moment drop his ideal and paint 
the sort of pictures which the rich of 
to-day would rush forward to buy; and 
then contemplate the conviction which 
prefers poverty and inattention rather 
than to surrender a belief in the signifi- 
cance of his work as he is trying to do 
it. That persistent faith in the value of 
his work means a sublime reliance on 
immortality. The flash of this artist's 
eye proclaims to the observer that the 
toiler cannot toil in vain. He sees the 
ultimate victory in the clouds of heaven. 
He seems to know immortality. 

Of modern biographies there is not a 

6i 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

more inspiring life than that of Louis 
Pasteur. His biographer says plainly 
that Pasteur was constantly mindful of 
immortality. " Absorbed as he was," is 
the record, "in his daily task, he yet 
carried in himself a constant aspiration 
towards the Ideal, a deep conviction of 
the reality of the Infinite and a trustful 
acquiescence in the mystery of the uni- 
verse." Again the biographer writes, 
** Absolute faith in God and in eternity, 
and a conviction that the power for 
good given to us in this world will 
be continued beyond it, were feelings 
which pervaded his whole life." And at 
the end the biographer relates that it 
seemed as if " Pasteur already saw those 
dead ones who, like him, had preserved 
absolute faith in the Future Life." 
But we need no assurances either 

62 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

from the biographer or from Pasteur's 
own letters to tell us that Pasteur be- 
lieved eagerly in immortality. The 
reader is convinced by the method in 
which Pasteur chose and performed his 
work. Having discovered his transcen- 
dent gift of saving life through science, 
he gave himself up to his vision with 
utter recklessness. When he was trying 
to arrest cholera in Paris in 1865, risk- 
ing his life in his experiments, Henri 
Deville said to him one day, " Studies 
of that sort require much courage"; 
whereupon Pasteur answered simply, 
" What about duty ? " When he was 
treating poor little Joseph Meister, ap- 
parently dying of hydrophobia, he lost 
sight of the accumulation of experiments 
on animals which guaranteed his suc- 
cess, and spent the last terrible night 

63 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

before the cure was certain in sleepless- 
ness, being haunted through the slow 
dark hours by distorted visions of a dy- 
ing child. His first discoveries were of 
enormous commercial value, and he 
could easily have been diverted from 
his desire to relieve human suffering 
by confining himself to studies of fer- 
mentation, silk-worms, and the like, in 
order to become immensely rich; but 
he was sure that "a man of pure sci- 
ence would complicate his life, the or- 
der of his thoughts, and risk paralyz- 
ing his inventive faculties, if he were 
to make money by his discoveries." 
In mid-life he did have a break-down 
which seemed to indicate that his career 
was to be cut short. But he worked on 
steadily, without excitement, as if death, 
if it came, could not interrupt him. And 

64 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

at the end of his full career, when, after 
crowding honours from a grateful world, 
he knew that he must pass from this 
life, he did not fold his hands and ask 
for peace, but each day asked to be 
pushed in his wheel-chair into the gar- 
den of his Institut that he might share, 
with his last intelligence and his last 
strength, in its work. As one lays down 
the book one is forced to say that the 
life of Pasteur was not finished in his 
seventy-three years of earth. It is, one 
says to one's self, that man's vocation to 
work at his great task for ever; conse- 
quently one thinks, " Life for evermore 
is his." He not only believed in im- 
mortality: he lived it. 

It is inevitable that to many a mod- 
est man or woman this assumption of a 
great task, to prove one's faith in im- 

65 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

mortalityj should seem beyond the most 
earnest grasp. The duties of the com- 
mon day seem to absorb every second 
of time; and to go wildly in search of 
some ambitious scheme would mean 
only to abandon the evident duty be- 
neath one's hand, — and that would be 
wrong. The reply to such a cavil as this 
is to point out that great tasks are not 
necessarily conspicuous. The greatest 
task is often the insignificant duty done 
in a great way, which thereby trans- 
forms littleness into magnificence. 

There is no more common task than 
a mother's in the upbringing of her chil- 
dren. That task may be so trifling that it 
will seem to proclaim that she is content 
to let death draw the curtain for ever. 
Thus she may be drilling her chil- 
dren in the mere amenities and clever- 

66 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

nesses of life. It may be her daily con- 
cern how they may achieve comrade- 
ship with this group or that in social 
splendour; how they may shine in public 
or private speech; how, by some star- 
tling deed of strength or skill, they may 
lay hold of the public admiration; or 
even how they may, by marriage or by 
industry, be comfortably provided with 
abundance of goods. It seems as if these 
ambitions showed the short vision of a 
good many mothers. Their work for 
their homes has not one syllable to say of 
immortality: it speaks loudly, but all its 
sounds are of this life, and this life only. 
Now there is a different sort of mother. 
Outwardly her home is quite the same 
as the homes of these other mothers 
whom I have been describing. She is as 
rich or as poor as they; as prominent or 

67 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

as unknown; as charming or as dull; 
as learned or as ignorant. All such 
details as these are purely irrelevant. 
When you see this mother with her 
children you recognize at once a subtle 
difference which transfigures her task 
and makes it shine as the stars in heaven. 
She is not indifferent to the pretty bau- 
bles which adorn life; she is pleased if 
they come to her children; but only on 
one condition; and that is, that they do 
not curb in them a desire for that which 
is best and highest, which no failure 
can quench, and which no success can 
burn to cinders. She is lifting her eyes 
to see a distant scene which is beyond 
the gates of time. She dares to pray 
for her children's poverty if poverty 
means honour absolutely white and 
clean. She dares to pray for her chil- 

6S 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

dren's disgrace in the world, if perse- 
cution means that they have obeyed a 
heavenly vision. She dares to pray for 
her children's death, if by dying they 
may save an heroic day for country 
or for truth. This mother lives some- 
times in a cottage, sometimes in a 
palace; sometimes in a Christian city, 
sometimes in a heathen village; but 
wherever she lives, she makes earth 
eloquent with immortality. She makes 
her commonplace task very noble. 
Hers is a work which cannot end with 
time. She needs eternity to complete 
it; and eternity she shall have. 

You have doubtless read of the aged 
saint who would not allow his portrait 
to be painted. " For which man," he 
asked, "do you wish to paint? One of 
them is not worth painting, and the 

69 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

other is not finished yet." That story 
tells of a man whose work is to reach 
out into the infinite. His life is singing 
of immortality, not because he is soft 
and fearful, not because he has been 
crushed and awed by conditions here, 
not because he longs to escape as from 
a prison into the expected peace of 
heaven, but because he is strong and 
courageous, because he believes incur- 
ably in life and the extent of its oppor- 
tunity. He has put his hand to a task 
so vast that, while it can be begun 
here, it can only be begun. With joy 
shall he work upon it while the light 
of this life shines over it; and when the 
night of death draws down, he shall 
still rejoice, for the morning comes, the 
work shall go on. And in God's bright 
noontide he shall finish it. 

70 



RESPONSIBILITY OF INDIVIDUAL 

Immortality throws upon the indi- 
vidual at least four commanding re- 
sponsibilities: the responsibility to be 
master of himself in all temptations; 
the responsibility to be courageous in 
all the hard places of experience; the 
responsibility to detach himself from 
the mere things of life ; and the respon- 
sibility to buckle to himself a task so 
great that only eternity is long enough 
to complete it. If he fulfils these re- 
sponsibilities he has already passed 
from death into the endless life. He 
already stands firmly in the high and 
beautiful country of immortality. 



II 



THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 
TO IMMORTALITY 

I 

In spite of efforts, here and there, to 
escape the tendency, the world has for 
a good many centuries been chiefly 
concerned with the individual. Com- 
petition rather than cooperation has 
been the distinctive note among the 
sounds of men. Naturally enough, 
therefore, immortality has seemed the 
reward of the individual: and individ- 
ual immortality is the only kind of im- 
mortality of which the average man has 
any conception. It is a wholesome cor- 
rective to recall to ourselves that there 

72 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

have been periods in the world's his- 
tory when the only conception of on- 
going life was through the family and 
the nation. 

So far as scholars can discover from 
the ancient Scriptures the Hebrew peo- 
ple reached their hope of individual 
immortality through their longings to 
perpetuate their families, their tribes, 
their nation. The growth of the Messi- 
anic idea was an inspiring vision of the 
way in which the nation might not only 
continue, but continue in righteousness, 
as the people chosen by God to be di- 
rectly under his eternal rule. We should 
not desire for a moment to return to 
the gloomy thought of Sheol, as the 
dim abode of individual souls after 
death, — a thought which characterized 
a good deal of Old Testament theology; 

73 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

but we may with profit return to that 
other, larger, and positive conception 
of the Old Testament, the belief that 
groups of humanity as groups would be 
perpetuated. Incidentally one may add 
that in returning to it we are bound to 
relate it in some way to the hope of in- 
dividual immortality, and, for this and 
other reasons, find for it a much larger 
content. But we must recognize at once 
the irresistible truth enshrined in the 
idea. " The faithful in Palestine," writes 
a high authority, Dr. R. H. Charles, 
"looked forward to a blessed future 
only as members of the holy people, as 
citizens of the righteous kingdom that 
should embrace their brethren. And 
herein ... we can trace the finger of 
God; for it was no accident that his 
servants were unable to anticipate any 

74 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

future blessedness save such as they 
shared with their brethren and nation. 
The self-centredness, if not selfishness, 
that marked the Greek doctrine of im- 
mortality is conspicuous by its absence 
in the religious forecasts of the faithful 
in Judaism. In true religion unlimited 
individualism is an impossibility. The 
individual can only attain to his highest 
in the life of the community here and 
hereafter." 

Think for a moment of some of the 
groupings of humanity to which we 
may ascribe more than an earthly 
significance. The relationships of the 
family, sacred on earth, must have a 
meaning beyond time. The spirit of a 
university putting its mark upon gen- 
eration after generation, binding to it- 
self affection and loyalty, means, one 

75 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

suspects, a durable influence in life be- 
yond the grave. At this moment we 
have grown suspicious of the right of 
the nation to survive, because we are 
seeing the privileges of patriotism trav- 
estied by a false ambition ; but in nor- 
mal times we feel that the idea of na- 
tionality stands for something eternal. 
Then there is the Church idea, uniting 
as it does men of many nations and 
many ages under one divine leader- 
ship, discovering to men that each 
is to love his brother till all men are 
bound together in the universal society 
of lovingkindness. Beyond the ideal 
of the Church it is only a step to the 
relationship which men bear one to 
another simply because they are alive. 
It is the ideal of the Church that it 
should embrace the world; till it does, 

76 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

we must think of one more relation- 
ship which cannot die. There is a 
conception of a world-self which ap- 
pears again and again in the history of 
thought, and by its insistence on reap- 
pearing leads us to ascribe to it an eter- 
nal value. I purpose now to speak of 
these relationships, one by one, in a 
little more detail. 

In reflecting upon the immortality of 
the family tie, we must guard against 
stopping where the religious man in 
primitive ages stopped. You do not de- 
clare the family immortal when you 
think of your descendants always going 
on with the peopling of the world as 
we now know it. Nevertheless, we may 
find in what we sometimes call the im- 
mortality of influence an important con- 

77 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

tribution to the assurance that a family 
is worth surviving. Thus it means much 
if a father can say to a son: " So far as 
I know, our family name has never been 
stained with dishonour. Do you see to 
it that you be not the first to stain it 
with any meanness or untruth." That 
is an entirely different thing from the 
attempt to pass on visible wealth or an 
accumulation of power. It is a spiritual 
quality to which the family is beckoned, 
and therefore this quality may be ex- 
pected to survive, — provided it fall not 
into the pit of smug priggishness or self- 
deceived Pharisaism. We must pay 
honest tribute to the immortality of in- 
fluence wherever we find it; and not 
least in families which, from father to 
son, through centuries, have been self- 
sacrificing and unselfish servants to the 

78 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

state or some other group of humanity. 
But I have in mind more than this. 
Though we are told on highest author- 
ity that " in heaven they neither marry, 
nor are given in marriage/' yet the es- 
sential truth embracing the mutual love 
within a family seems to have in it a 
power which cannot die: there needs 
no creation of new families to maintain 
this. The Spartan mother who could 
fire her son's courage, the devotion of 
Penelope for her husband, the loyalty 
of -^Eneas to his father, the pain and 
triumph of the steadfast Antigone, all 
show the attitude of the Classical world. 
The modern world has presented even 
stronger ideals of family relationships: 
we can never forget the reverence of 
St. Augustine for his mother, the spir- 
itual marriage of Dante to Beatrice 

79 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

which produced one of the eternal 
visions of the world, the love of Sir 
Thomas More for his daughter, the 
tenderness of Charles Lamb for his 
insane sister. Beyond these are the 
types that are almost too common to be 
chronicled: the Anglo-Saxon type of 
love between husband and wife sym- 
bolized in Burns's "John Anderson my 
Jo," and the New England type of the 
last century and earlier by which one 
son in a family was chosen to have a 
college education and a " career," while 
the other children, with the father and 
the mother, stayed on the dreary farm, 
to toil, to sacrifice, and to pray, that the 
fortunate son and brother might go 
forth to his opportunity. Daniel Web- 
ster came from this sort of home, and 
the honour he gained is due in largest 

80 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

degree to his obscure and unselfish 
father. 

In the midst of all this history stands 
the figure of the historic Christ, push- 
ing aside His unique career until His 
thirtieth year that (if we may trust 
tradition) He might make a home in 
Nazareth for His widowed mother, — a 
carpenter men called Him, but He was 
first of all a Son. And in the Middle 
Ages when the monastery robbed fam- 
ily life of its full glory, worship was 
accorded to the mother of Christ, so 
giving to every mother a consciousness 
of the dignity of her own divine honour 
in the relations of humanity. 

I touch lightly upon these expres- 
sions of family love : each one of you 
from his own experience could expand 
the list indefinitely; but I trust that I 

8i 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

have said enough to make you feel that 
there is something in the family rela- 
tionship which cannot be lost when the 
life we now know is merged into the life 
immortal. 

Consider now the grouping of men 
centring in enthusiasm for a univer- 
sity. In contrast with a place where a 
conventional youth may spend several 
conventional years of amusement min- 
gled with the minimum of study, and in 
contrast with the place for acquiring a 
certain technical knowledge required 
for a chosen work in life, is the uni- 
versity idea realized; that is, a place 
where young men absorb the ideals 
which have accumulated through dis- 
tinguished teachers and through such 
pupils as prove to be geniuses, catching 

82 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

the torch from the past, only to fan its 
fire to brighter light and to pass it on 
to him who will and can bear it. The 
University of Prague first did its huge 
share in making John Huss, and then 
Huss became the shining light of his 
university, and through the university 
stood for freedom in the world of his 
time. No one can think of Abelard, 
without thinking of the University of 
Paris, of which his teaching was the 
foundation; just as no one can think of 
Colet and Erasmus and Matthew Ar- 
nold, without instantly associating them 
with Oxford ; or of Westcott or Tenny- 
son without recalling Cambridge. In 
our own land Jonathan Edwards is part 
of Yale, and Yale is part of Edwards ; 
and Agassiz and Emerson and Phillips 
Brooks are inseparable from Harvard. 

83 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

AH these men caught something from 
the association with the men and tradi- 
tions of their universities, either as pu- 
pils or as teachers, or as both pupils and 
teachers, which partakes of an immor- 
tal quality. They cannot quite be imag- 
ined beyond time, without some of the 
relationships for which their respective 
universities are responsible. Is it not 
possible that there is at least an element 
in the idea of a university which is per- 
manent, attaching to humanity however 
and wherever it may persist? 

We need to guard against a too stub- 
born and unyielding definition of uni- 
versity. While it is easy to see the group, 
inspired and inspiring, in a formal in- 
stitution of learning, yet it is undoubted 
that some men discover the group 
which makes their real university out- 

84 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

side all college walls and paths. The 
little court at Weimar in the days of 
Goethe and Schiller, the Lake School 
of Poetry in England, and the Transcen- 
dentalist Movement in New England 
were all, in their way, exceptionally 
able universities. I remember that sev- 
eral years ago an English clergyman 
told me that he had in his parish a day 
labourer who spent his evenings in the 
study of botany. This man had acquired 
so profound a knowledge of botany that 
he was the welcome correspondent of 
some of the most celebrated botanists of 
Europe : his letters were his university, 
— it was not mere information which 
these letters brought to him, but joy in 
their friendship, and incentive to attain 
what might bring joy in turn to his un- 
seen friends. 

85 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

When we think of the nation, we 
must take into account the emotions, 
almost religions, which the nation has 
aroused in the lives of patriots. It is 
sometimes said that the reason why 
men may be expected to die for their 
country, in case of their country's ex- 
tremity, is that a man is immortal, and a 
nation is not. But a man would also die 
for his friend, if his love were complete: 
there both factors in the sacrifice are 
immortal. Accordingly, we may think 
it an added reason why a man should 
die for his country, not that by his death 
he should maintain his country's name 
on the face of the map a year or two 
longer, but that by the abandonment 
characterizing his loyalty he should 
raise, if by ever so little, the standard 
of his country's glory, both for an exist- 

86 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

ence here and for an immortality in the 
vast regions unseen. 

When a great English statesman was 
mourning the death of Abraham Lin- 
coln, he brought himself out of despair 
for a cause which he held to be sacred, 
by saying, "It is easy to kill a President, 
it is not easy to destroy a nation." If 
this could be said of a nation less than a 
century old, what might one say of the 
civilization of Greece, of Rome, of 
France, or of England? Nations have 
been born, have slowly developed, have 
reached a zenith, and then have gradu- 
ally or suddenly seemed to give place 
to other powers: in the course of this 
history, however, they have attached to 
themselves the devotion of millions 
upon millions of immortal souls. If you 
think of immortality at all, it seems to 

87 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

me rational that an idea like that of a 
nation should survive with those indi- 
viduals who find it the source of en- 
kindling life. As we dream of the here- 
after may we not expect to find in its 
boundless and varied expression the 
perfection of what on earth we have 
known as the national spirit, only that 
the imperfect Rome, both as Republic 
and as Empire, should be rounded out 
into the perfection of which its earthly 
type was the promise, and so with all 
the great nations before and since ? In 
so far as we find patriotism a spiritual 
quality, just in so far must we ascribe 
to it a lasting power. We are in dan- 
ger, through timidity of imagination, of 
stripping our immortality so bare that it 
might seem to lack the vigour and in- 
terest which have made life worthy this 

88 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

side of death. Among the relationships 
which have meant most to men's higher 
achievement is the relationship existing 
in the nation, and that relationship, in 
some form, higher than we can possibly 
anticipate, must survive the shock of 
earthly history. 

We climb to a potentially higher re- 
lationship when we think of the individ- 
ual's merging his indentity in the life of 
the Christian Church. By the Christian 
Church I do not mean anyone Commun- 
ion or limited group of Communions: I 
mean, difficult as it is to define and cir- 
cumscribe, the Church Universal, a body 
of men, seen and unseen, who, in spite 
of defects of organization, in spite of 
distortions of truth by addition or sub- 
traction, have on the whole been faith- 

89 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

ful to one another and to the best that 
has been revealed to them, so that 
Christ could really be thought to be 
their head. There are lamentable chap- 
ters in the history of the Church, fraught 
with bitterness and strife, with worldli- 
ness and self-seeking, with bigotry and 
persecution, with hypocrisy and hate, 
with corruption and worse than death. 
But there are other chapters correspond- 
ingly rejoicing : they tell of the heroism 
of the early martyrs, of the clear-sighted 
courage of reformers, of the simple 
goodness of such officers as Victor Hugo 
depicted in the Bishop of Les Mis'e^ 
rabies or as Ian Maclaren described in 
the Pastor of Drumtochty, of the con- 
quest of temptation in cottage and pal- 
ace, of the man who is inwardly con- 
verted from a life of hardness and sin 

90 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

to a life of tenderness and love. As base 
politicians may disgrace the name of 
patriotism, so base intriguers may dis- 
grace the name of churchmanship. But, 
all other things being equal, a man who 
is loyal to the ideals of the Church, who 
is faithful to its Head and to his fellow- 
members, who keeps the laws of the 
Church and lifts his eyes to its Gospel, 
is a happier and better man than the 
man who, like Gallio, cares for none of 
these things. 

We sometimes hear that the Church 
is only for this dispensation: it is for 
the through-a-glass-darkly stage of life; 
when this age is over we shall have 
something better. There we may catch 
up the words: yes, something better; 
that is, the Church made perfect; the 
Church will be changed, but we shall 

91 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

be able to identify it. Of old, it was cus- 
tomary to speak of the Church Militant, 
being the Church on Earth ; the Church 
Expectant, being the Church in Para- 
dise; and the Church Triumphant, be- 
ing the Church of the last stage, when 
all is made perfect in^ Heaven. Orders 
and ceremonies may easily pass away; 
but the purity of heart, the loyalty unto 
death, the love of utter self-forgetful- 
ness, all of which the Church tries with 
its life-blood to cultivate, cannot pass. 
Other forms of expression the Church 
may readily accept, provided the reali- 
ties which live within any outward cov- 
ering go onward with strength. 

The main reason why we must think 
of the immortality of the Church is that 
we cannot think it enough to approach 
God only one by one; we must by some 

92 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

device come to do him homage as hu- 
manity, as members one of another. 
Each one of us ought to be so full of 
gratitude and praise that he should de- 
sire to have his imperfections neutral- 
ized and transcended by the virtues of 
others; and, if by any merciful provi^ 
dence, through good parents and devout 
teachers, any one of us has been able 
to escape grievous falls into sin, that 
strength, so won and maintained, ought 
to be shared with those less fortunate. 
It is good that the single voice utters 
its praise from the lonely places of life; 
but there is the wonder of the many 
voices, blending with the strings of 
many instruments, and so making what 
seems the perfection of praise, the ex- 
pression of humanity and not of an indi- 
vidual, all variety tending to the amaz- 

93 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

ing harmony. The longing to be lost in 
such a company cannot be confined to 
a few years of earthly life: the Church 
in Heaven — the Church Triumphant 
— must long to utter that praise of the 
heart which is now silent, but which 
must then be vocal, the very summit of 
all harmony, when the individual does 
his share but is lost in the rejoicing of 
the whole. 

Then there is the other side of the 
shield. Here we must say our general 
confessions, confessing the sins which 
we as individuals never did, but the bur- 
den of which we must share, because 
we are members one of another, and 
we have the Spirit of our Master, who, 
perfect, bore the sins of the grossly im- 
perfect. We have enough of His love 
to dare to be shorn of our strength if it 

. 94 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

may make those weaker than ourselves 
more nearly strong. When the light of 
the heavenly country shall break upon 
us we dare to believe that sin shall have 
been transcended; but moral progress 
is still possible when sin is absent. The 
orthodox theologian has always taught 
that the sinless Christ grew in favour 
with God as well as with man. The saint- 
hood cannot be thought of as one of 
monotonous evenness: some must have 
attained excellence in one virtue, others 
in another. The range from innocence 
to Christlike perfection is an infinite 
distance, and the saints must be ever 
climbing towards the ideals which shall 
ever tower above them in the light of 
a divine presence. So the characteristic 
of the Church which impels men here 
to bear the burdens of the weak, will 

95 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

surely impel those who have been able 
to climb high to reach down hands of 
help to those who struggle below them. 
Thus the praise and the service of the 
Church can be thought to go on through 
the unceasing years of eternity. 

For all these reasons we cannot im- 
agine immortality for the individual 
without imagining an immortality for 
the relationships cherished within the 
Church. It is quite likely that the most 
wordy and self-possessed of Church- 
men here will reach the new life to 
find nothing there which they will 
think ought to be called the Church: 
it will not, to their mind, be rigid 
enough, or narrow enough, or indefinite 
enough, or soft enough. And so they 
will think that the Church has vanished 
in the mists of earth. But surely they 

96 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

will discover that the ideals for which 
the Church at its best has always strug- 
gled will be held aloft by a body of 
faithful men which cannot be num- 
bered ; and slowly they will see on the 
clouds of heaven the light of the true 
Church, generous enough to claim all 
who try to be true and good, convinc- 
ing enough to make all see the truth 
and to walk joyfully in its straight and 
beautiful road. And that is the Church 
which must last for ever. 

All these relationships of which I 
have spoken as knitting individuals to- 
gether in the family, the university, the 
nation, and the Church, are suggestive 
of others, notably friendship. Friend- 
ship may scarcely be named alone, be- 
cause its basis of love and comradeship 

97 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

is the texture which makes vital the 
relationships upon which I have dwelt. 
I have said enough, I trust, to demon- 
strate that we must think of relation- 
ships existing among individuals them- 
selves and then between individuals 
and that immeasurable wholeness, which 
is the whole human family and includes 
all the souls whom the Lord God has 
made or shall make. This wholeness 
may be symbolized in the language of 
to-day under the title of the federation 
of all nations or the organic unity of 
the Church. This is to conceive that 
even in this world men might appre- 
ciate the ultimate desirability of dis- 
covering a way by which humanity 
might not compete or fight, but re- 
member only that it exists for each of 
its individual members equally with all 

98 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

the rest, and for the God from whom it 
comes and to whom it goes. 

If we have the conviction that these 
relationships are immortal, we must 
ask how we can show our sense of re- 
sponsibility towards their immortality. 
How shall we live towards them in 
this life that we shall demonstrate our 
faith in their noble continuance? In 
answering this question, I shall not 
again take up the various relationships 
one by one, but I shall attempt to de- 
scribe certain principles which may 
apply to all of them, illustrating the 
principles now from one and now from 
another of the relationships. In general, 
we may ask how we shall live towards 
the relationships here existing between 
the individual and the world-self, that 

99 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

we may reach the next stage in life able 
to recognize the immortal life, in its 
corporate expression, which we with 
our fellows have been storing up in 
these days of preparation and oppor- 
tunity. 

n 

The first word I put down is Dis- 
crimination; which means sense of 
proportion, with the attending sacrifice 
of all that is less worthy for the sake 
of that which is best. The application 
of this principle for individuals is gen- 
erally recognized. It is not recognized 
always for the corporate life of groups 
of individuals. A man who would not 
fail to be a gentleman, a man of integ- 
rity and honour, as an individual, will 
sometimes be a boor, a scoundrel, and 

loo 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

a liar when he acts, as he supposes, in 
the interest of his country. Could he 
possibly be so transformed, if he be- 
lieved that his country had an immor- 
tal value which lasted beyond the sights 
and sounds of this world ? I think not, 
— at least if he could and did reflect. 

Sooner or later the reader of his- 
tory and biography sees that an indi- 
vidual is only humanity in the small, 
and humanity is only the individual in 
the large. As an individual grows, 
reaches his power, and declines, so a 
nation or a church goes through the 
processes of growth and decay, — and 
for exactly the same causes. There- 
fore it is as dangerous for a nation to 
gain the whole world and to lose its 
own soul as it is for an individual to 
do so. " If thine eye offend thee, pluck 

lOI 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

it out, and cast it from thee," is a com- 
mandment to groups of men as well as 
to men one by one: and the solemn 
alternative is as fatal for one as for the 
other. 

The world learns to apply this prin- 
ciple to smaller groups before it grasps 
the fact that it must apply it to all 
groups to the utmost limit of compre- 
hension. For instance, when two uni- 
versities are engaged in some signifi- 
cant athletic contest, it is often difficult 
to make the eager rivals understand 
that it is more important to play the 
game absolutely fairly than it is to gain 
the victory. All that is best in each uni- 
versity insists upon this code of honour, 
dismayed as it may be at the thought 
of defeat. An institution which has that 
sense of proportion among all its mem- 

I02 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

bers, however young, will not pass like 
a mushroom growth, but will last. 

Now, it is quite possible that a man 
who, in his private affairs and in such 
smaller groupings as that of the uni- 
versity, had been entirely honourable, 
might think himself justified in taking 
the responsibility of doing a dastardly 
act or speaking a contemptible lie to 
save, as he would say, his country. 
Think of two nations at war. One, let us 
imagine, for what it declares self-preser- 
vation, ignores treaties solemnly sworn, 
throws international law to the winds, 
and in general conducts its warfare not 
as gentlemen might do, but as highway 
ruffians. The justification of such con- 
duct is that war made so devilish that 
its frightfulness is soon over, is on the 
whole the most merciful; but the real 

103 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

reason is a desperate haste to win at any 
cost. The other nation, let us imagine, 
starts its warfare with the firm resolve to 
regard treaties and international laws;^ 
the provocation of the enemy to retali- 
ate with forbidden methods may be se- 
riously tempting; but by the insistence 
of staunch rulers, though there be tem- 
porary loss and even risk of ultimate 
defeat, the nation maintains its honour. 
While it fights hard, it fights squarely. 
Like a noble individual, it says to itself 
and to the world, " Rather than do cer- 
tain things, I prefer to die." 

There we have the contrast. What is 
the result? Again and again in history 
it has been proved, as of the individual, 
so of the nation, that he that saveth his 
life shall lose it; and contrariwise, that 
he that loseth his life for Righteousness' 

104 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

sake shall find it. To trample on sacred 
rights in order to maintain or enlarge a 
physical existence may win a battle or 
even a war, but the very success of the 
villainy strangles the nation itself. A 
nation raised to material magnificence 
may in the adventure so outrage human 
ideals that it will di'sgust the best of its 
own sons, who will steadily discover 
that they cannot defend a nation which 
has filth in its skirts. After enormous 
conquest a nation may suddenly drop 
apart. It may have lived to the flesh 
and have died to the spirit: what was 
earthly and temporal may have been so 
magnified that the immortal part shriv- 
elled. Bourbon France died, not be- 
cause the mob was violent, but because 
the really noble and strong could not 
defend a pleasure-seeking, selfish, rotted 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

civilization. France had too long been 
in the throes of the fatal illness of hav- 
ing had the supposedly-glorious reign 
of Louis XIV. 

If there is any nation in the wars of 
to-day which is saying that anything is 
right for self-preservation, and is acting 
accordingly, it is searing with devilish 
tools its own immortal existence. Any 
nation which remembers that it has an 
immortal life to guard and to pass on 
will live, not for a passing victory, but 
for the eternal years, wherein only what 
is brave and true can survive. In the 
immortal life the most ignominious 
defeats may prove to be the most per- 
manent victories, because the sense of 
proportion was kept, and the utmost 
sacrifice, even of what seemed life itself, 
was not shirked, 

io6 ^ 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

Other aspects of this law of discrimi- 
nation appear in a nation like our own, 
which boldly announces that it offers a 
home for the oppressed of other lands, 
and endeavours to give every man who 
enters the life of the nation an equal 
opportunity. Setting aside the ambition 
of certain leaders, who import cheap 
labour in order to develop rapidly our 
natural resources, we may believe that 
America is sincere in its wish to offer, 
not only an asylum, but a real chance 
of larger life. But the danger is start- 
ling. A biologist has recently pointed 
out that " whatever the present antipa- 
thies may be to racial mixtures, we may 
rest assured that in a few hundred years 
these persons of foreign race and blood 
will be incorporated in our race and we 
in theirs." We know also from biology 

107 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

that while such fusion may raise the 
lower race, it is likely to pull down the 
higher race. We are therefore facing, 
with our eyes open, the problem of im- 
migration to this country. If we were a 
nation living for a few hundred years 
we might hesitate. But when we re- 
member that we are a nation partaking 
of immortality, we know that we must 
discriminate, hold the ideal with its at- 
tending risk before us, and make the 
necessary sacrifice for the accomplish- 
ing of our distinctive, God-giving des- 
tiny. 

And this consideration leads to an- 
other. We know well enough that the 
wealth of a nation, as Ruskin taught 
us, is the well-being of all its people. 
We are aware therefore that for our 
children's sakes, as well as for the sake 

io8 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

of the poor themselves, we must see 
that conditions improve among the less 
fortunate. A bad drain in a poor quar- 
ter of the city may bring a pestilence 
which shall reach into the wide avenues 
of the prosperous. But if we are really 
discriminating, we know that no selfish 
philosophy will give us the motive to 
help the submerged part of the com- 
munity as we ought. If our nation is 
conceived to be really immortal, we 
shall be concerned, not only for the out- 
ward surroundings of those less com- 
fortable than ourselves; we shall see 
also that their spirits are nourished. 
We shall think about the highest ele- 
ments in their well-being, as well as 
of our own. We shall look into their 
places of amusement to assure our- 
selves that while they are thoroughly 

109 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

interesting, they shall at the same time 
be clean, wholesome, elevating. We 
shall see that the beauty of a genuine 
art shall adorn their churches. By a 
companionship growing to friendship 
we shall, without patronage, give of 
our inner strength to receive in return 
their inner strength, gained by fortitude 
and by love in hard conditions. Because 
they and we make up a nation which is 
immortal, we shall not stop with the 
material benefits which it is right that 
we share, but we shall discriminate, we 
shall fix our attention primarily upon 
the deep things in the life of all individ- 
uals which in turn make the essential 
and continuing life of the nation. 

When the Cathedral at Rheims was 
being bombarded, in the fall of 19 14, a 
cry of indignation arose from the world, 

no 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

because this ancient church was likely 
to be wholly destroyed. Apparently not 
even the death of tens of thousands of 
French soldiers had so scandalized the 
French nation and its friends. Some 
people said that God was dishonoured, 
because it was the place of His worship; 
but other churches had been destroyed, 
and long ago Christians had been taught 
that God's worship is not confined to 
sacred places, like Gerizim or Sion, but 
that men may anywhere worship God 
in spirit and in truth. And, besides, 
many joined in the outcry who were 
not interested in religion. It was for 
some people doubtless an artistic in- 
stinct which was offended. There might 
be another church as beautiful in its 
way; or this ruin might be restored; 
but the exact structure, with its associa- 

III 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

tions of French history, with its time- 
coloured stones, with its suggestion of 
reverence for the past, could not be 
replaced. There was here the instinc- 
tive recognition that there was some- 
thing immortal in the reverent work of 
the architects and builders who gave 
their lives to make Rheims Cathedral 
what it had become. It was the out- 
ward and visible expression of the un- 
seen life of France: first there had 
been the plan in the mind of the archi- 
tect, then the assembling of the stones, 
then the carving day by day of pillar 
and wall and buttress, of arch and 
tracery and roof. There kings had been 
crowned. There men had wept and re- 
joiced. There men had felt the presence 
of the Most High. What the church 

stood for was immortal : it stood for the 

■» 

112 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

spirit of France. And as men weep 
over the body of a dead friend, so pa- 
triots wept over the symbol that for 
centuries had been, as it were, the 
body of France. But their very weep- 
ing showed that they believed in an un- 
dying spirit of the French nation. The 
cathedral could have been saved by an 
abject surrender to the invaders, but 
that would have been sacrificing the 
immortal part of France to its temporal 
expression. Rather, through their tears, 
they preferred to see the French world 
crumble and fall to dust, that the soul 
of France might be saved. 

If any institution, grouping human- 
ity, is conscious of its immortal dignity, 
it will show the fact by its discrimina- 
tion, its sense of proportion, its willing 
sacrifice of the little for the great. 

113 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

III 

The second word I enter as a sign 

of our corporate immortality is Truth. 
We may think of truth as accuracy or 
as light. In the former case it is mathe- 
matical, in a fashion negative ; it is anx- 
ious, lest it commit errors. In the latter 
case it is spiritual, poetical; it cannot 
hope to be exact and final in any utter- 
ance, for in the blaze of light in which 
it stands it looks out, not towards dark- 
ness, but towards indefinite ranges of 
light, and it does not dare to say that it 
has seen all or can see all. It is this 
latter aspect of truth which compels us 
to seek it, not 'one by one, but as co- 
labourers in various groups, and by im- 
agination at least in a universal human- 
ity which includes all men of all ages, 
past, present, and to come. 

114 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

' In the nineteenth century one of the 
heated discussions about truth was 
whether anything could be averred to 
be knowable. There is the pebble on 
the sands, said a popular philosopher: 
you see it and think you know it; but 
to know it, you must know its history, 
and that involves a knowledge of all the 
geological ages through which it has 
passed; moreover, it has been worn to 
its present roundness and smoothness 
by innumerable tides, and this fact in- 
sists that we know the history of the 
influence of the heavenly bodies upon 
the earth. So a relentless logic then 
says that to be quite thorough we must 
know the secrets of all the universe, for 
the whole universe has had its influence 
upon that pebble lying modestly on the 
sand. The nineteenth century was con- 

"5 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

siderably impressed with this exposi- 
tion of the unknowable; but at length 
it shook itself free from this exclusive 
view of truth as a concept of mere neg- 
ative accuracy. Men arose who said 
that to have infinite spaces of ignorance 
is not to condemn the knowledge which 
we do have; and so, in the place of the 
unknowable, they placed the idea of 
the unknown. In that moment philos- 
ophy took into account the immortality 
of the race, for there was the vision that 
humanity as an interrelated whole, made 
up of individuals and groups of individ- 
uals, should go out upon this endless 
quest of knowing the truth. There was 
to be the endless attainment of the truth : 
humanity was not only to seek, but, as 
it had found truth in the past, so it should 
go on finding it through eternity. And 

ii6 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

to live with such an endless end in view 
is to live as if the race were immortal. 
Through the same years when this 
discussion was proceeding, there was 
the rise in all departments of knowledge 
of what we call specialists. Time had 
been when a member of any learned 
profession expected to have about the 
same fund of information which his 
neighbour had acquired. Then a small 
section of the field was chosen to be as 
thoroughly known as possible. Thus 
that valuable member of the commun- 
ity known as the family physician is to- 
day either supplanted or, more wisely, 
supplemented. When he finds a disease 
too perplexing for his own general 
fund of knowledge and skill, the fam- 
ily physician turns to the specialist 
who gives his whole time to the study 

117 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

of that especial disease : he may consult 
him, personally or through one of his 
books; or he may turn the case quite 
over to him. So it is with all branches 
of knowledge. We appreciate as our 
fathers did not appreciate that search 
for truth is a cooperative pursuit. While 
one is busied over one tiny corner, 
others are cultivating their particular 
plots, and in some way these sectional 
accomplishments are brought together 
as the years pass, and the great body 
of truth is increased. For no sane dis- 
coverer dares to isolate his findings; he 
must relate his discovery to the dis- 
coveries of other men, lest his unre- 
lated truth turn upon him, as it were, 
and contradict itself. It is not only 
groups of humanity here and there who 
must search for the truth; but it is all 

ii8 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

groups bound together as one organism 
which in the last analysis can be trusted 
to give a solid verdict. Zoology and 
medicine and electricity and poetry and 
theology and biology and art and geol- 
ogy and history are but a few of the de- 
partments which must not only gather 
up their specializations within them- 
selves, but must cast them down before 
an all-inclusive synthesis. When hu- 
manity holds before itself the ideal of 
seeking the truth, that moment it pos- 
tulates its immortality. For only eter- 
nity is long enough to complete the 
search. 

The university is the group within 
humanity whose primary function is to 
seek the truth. Other groups may seem 
at least to have the truth subordinated, 
however slightly, to some other quality, 

119 



/ 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

such as physical welfare, or spiritual 
salvation, or love. A university is sup- 
posed to be created and to exist for the 
search of the truth, at whatever penalty 
to what are called more practical inter- 
ests. If the truth discovered compels a 
revolution in the Church, the university 
must contend for that revolution. If it 
shows that a modern state is advancing 
upon falsehood, there again the univer- 
sity must foster revolution. If it shows 
that an accepted system of economics is 
not based upon truth, it must face the 
epithets of scorn which always include 
the word "academic," and plead for a 
revolution in business. 

This quiet search for the truth is full 
of hazard. Every university, to be a 
university, must be free. This will 
doubtless give liberty to the erratic 

I20 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

teacher whose prejudices and dreams 
will make him teach lies. But it is better 
to have the defects of the quality than not 
to have complete freedom; for out of it 
will come the earnestness which makes 
a teacher not only diligent in seeking 
the truth but most carefully responsible 
in uttering that only which he is thor- 
oughly convinced to be true: he will 
often say, "I do not know," or "I can 
see no farther than that." And the ul- 
timate safety is in the community of 
teachers; for the errors of one will be 
offset and corrected by the clearheaded- 
ness of others. The university is com- 
mitted to the immortal task of finding 
and declaring the truth; and the seri- 
ousness and honesty of its conception 
of its function will denote whether it is 
ephemeral or eternal. 

121 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

Within this function of the univer- 
sity is its will to inspire in the young a 
love of the truth. It is no accident that 
on the seals of many universities we find 
among other words Veritas^ lux^ or illu" 
minatio. Such words are as beacons 
shining over the hills of knowledge. 
The story is told of Spencer and Hux- 
ley that one day they were speaking 
together of the satisfactions of their 
individual lives. "When I am gone,'' 
said Spencer, " my only hope is that 
I shall have accomplished something 
which shall be associated with my 
name in the future." To this Huxley 
answered, " I do not care for so much 
as that: all I want to be sure of is that, 
when I am done, the truth shall have 
had a little push." Huxley's is the true 
university spirit. That is the zeal for 

122 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

truth which every university must de- 
sire to give to its pupils. 

I remember hearing many years 
ago, in an academic classroom, an in- 
spiring lecture on the Epistle to the 
Romans. The teacher was giving his 
exposition with shining eyes: St. Paul 
seemed to live before that little group 
of young men. Then some one asked 
what St. Paul meant by a certain sen- 
tence. " I don't know," was the answer 
of the wise scholar. "That is one of 
the questions I intend to ask St. Paul 
when I see him." That man inspired 
in his listeners a love of the truth. 
Truth was seen to be an immortal 
search: this world was not enough for 
even a decent beginning in the search 
for it. Questions must be asked in 
worlds to come. 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

I spoke of the sacrifice involved in 
discrimination. Truth also involves sac- 
rifice. One of the promises made to the 
infant Church was that the Spirit of 
God should guide it into all truth. The 
officers of the Church who have taken 
this promise seriously and receptively 
have most often been the martyrs. Con- 
ventionality or worldliness or positive 
badness has again and again hardened 
the heart of the Church, so that the 
man who has listened attentively to the 
Spirit of Truth has received a message 
cutting athwart all the selfishness and 
complacency of the age. What has 
called itself orthodoxy has attempted 
to persecute the truth which is fresh 
from the life of God, and the prophet 
who has been the medium of this truth 
has been stoned, burned, torn asunder, 

124 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

crucified. What has been acquired in 
academic shade is forced by its con- 
science to come out into the light to 
die. By the very choice of physical 
safety or loyalty to the truth, the truth 
requires its votary to announce whether 
he lives for this life or the life to 
come. 

Though love repine, and reason chafe, 
There came a voice without reply, — 
** *Tis man's perdition to be safe, 
When for the truth he ought to die." 

Each martyr so dying for the truth 
has become the centre of new life for 
the future of the Church; and when 
an age is an age of mart3TS, when many 
saints are not only willing to die for the 
truth, but do die for it, then truth flames 
up like a mighty torch, and men ever 
after go back to that age to read the 

125 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

utterance of important truth. This loy- 
alty to truth even unto death is a wit- 
ness to immortality before which both 
the indifferent and the scoffer veil their 
eyes. 

Truth on its active side is justice. 
When Necker was Minister of Finance 
to Louis XVI, an influential lady of the 
court came to make a request (which 
was not unusual) that he give her from 
the public treasury one thousand crowns. 
When he refused, the lady asked in 
astonishment, " What can a thousand 
crowns be to the King!" "Madam," 
answered Necker, " a thousand crowns 
are the taxes of a whole village." To 
see the naked fact was Necker's genius 
for the truth; to apply it in his office 
was his genius for justice. Democracy 
is seeing the same truth in the waging 

126 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

of war. A despotism may go to war 
for ambition or for a grudge : either it 
does not see the misery of those who 
must pay the cost, or it viciously does 
not care. A democracy, if it has great- 
hearted and clear-seeing leaders, will 
allow war only when a supreme prin- 
ciple is at stake, only when the end to 
be fought for is one which deserves the 
extremities of sacrifice. And when the 
honest statesman has swept his eye 
over the people whose cause he pleads, 
he knows by his very discernment of 
the truth, that this world is not long 
enough to give justice to those who 
have suffered from the errors of the 
blind or the unscrupulous. As truth 
requires immortality for its consumma- 
tion, so also does justice, which is truth 
in action. For not till men know the 

127 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

truth can justice prevail; and however 
much good men may desire it, they can- 
not be just till they are wise, and they 
cannot be wise till — all the world help- 
ing them — they know the truth. And 
that, once more, needs immortality. 

IV 

To Discrimination and Truth I now 
add the word Hope, By hope I mean 
such belief in humanity that one can 
rationally expect it to escape from its 
sin and turmoil. People can be found 
who believe that it is possible on this 
side of death for an individual here or 
there to attain perfection; but I never 
have met any one who was optimist 
enough to believe that in this world hu- 
manity as a whole could become com- 
pletely righteous. To ^have a hope that 

128 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

humanity can attain the will always to 
think and to do such things as are good 
requires nothing less than a confidence 
in immortality. Accordingly, one who 
believes in immortality for the race 
will show his belief by a correspond- 
ing hope; or, if this seem unnecessarily 
definite, we can at least say that no one 
can have this hope who does not trust in 
the opportunity which a future life shall 
give. " It is not," writes a shrewd man, 
" the prosperity of the wicked which is 
the staggering fact, but his sin; and the 
real reason why we should desire a life 
after death is not so much that we may 
be rewarded for being as good as we 
are, but that we may have a chance to 
become better." Immortality is the only 
answer to a rational hope for the race. 
This hope must show itself in vari- 

129 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

ous ways. The first of these is in a rec- 
ognition of the difficulties. To almost 
every man it is plain that there is such 
a thing as sin. Towards an Eternal 
Right or towards one another men have 
so misbehaved that the world is filled 
with the results of their deeds. Some 
unhappiness comes in the natural course 
of things, but all through history acute 
minds have attributed a vast amount of 
the misery of earth to men's abuse of 
the moral law. These disastrous conse- 
quences have not been visited always 
or only upon the offenders, each man 
reaping the exact results of his own 
misdoing; but they have been visited 
upon humanity as a whole. One has 
sown; a neighbour, a grandchild, a be- 
ing in another continent, or a whole 
nation, has reaped the sowing. 

130 



.RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

The difficulty is further increased 
by the well-assured fact that progress 
has been made very slowly out of the 
wretched tangle. Man has lived on the 
globe many thousand years, but through 
times of which we have any record he 
has not been very different from what 
he is to-day. There is no sound reason 
why we should think the hell-like spots 
of London, Berlin, or New York a bit 
better than the corresponding sections 
of Athens, Babylon, or Ur of the Chal- 
dees. And noble as are the Christian 
' saints of to-day, one cannot quite con- 
gratulate one's self that they are more 
consistently heroic and good than the 
saints of the first Christian centuries. 
From science, with its doctrine of evo- 
lution, we gain the courage to believe 
that in spite of appearances there has 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

been moral and spiritual growth in these 
less plastic millenniums, just as there 
was physical growth in the more fluid 
ages before. But even science coldly 
warns us that evolution has now these 
many centuries subsided into a snail- 
like advance. Here, on the threshold, 
we feel the hopelessness of completing 
the renovation of humanity in a world 
like our own, however long time may 
last. 

Another way in which hope for the 
race will show itself is in throwing it- 
self against these recognized difficulties 
and in extorting from the present order 
some demonstration of its power to 
grow. For we need repeatedly to re- 
mind ourselves that this world is prob- 
ably joined to the next so closely that 
we shall awake in the new environment 

132 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

to find ourselves exactly what we were 
when we breathed our last earthly 
breath. If humanity is to advance with 
any appreciable momentum it must be- 
gin to do so, and the beginning may be 
found to be no easier in a future world 
than here. To have hope for humanity 
means, therefore, that we are not post- 
poning our efforts either individually or 
corporately, but are minded to turn our 
hope into action at once. It is this in- 
stinct which forces the Christian physi- 
cian to keep his patient alive just as long 
as he can, though he know that a future 
awaits this patient the other side of death, 
and though every indication lead him to 
expect that the days of life here remain- 
ing will be painful. He may say that it 
is his profession to keep life; but back 
of this mere professional instinct is the 

^33 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

higher instinct, the instinct to give his 
patient the utmost use of the earthly 
opportunity. 

What we see for the individual, we 
see in exactly the same degree for the 
race : we are instinctively sure that as 
a race we are expected to make the 
most of this earthly life. Each stage is 
expected to gather its share of momen- 
tum which shall at length carry human- 
ity rapidly forward towards perfection. 
The pessimist, knowing the deep-seated 
corruption of his country, may cry out 
that the nation is not worth saving, and 
refuse all effort to help it to righteous- 
ness; the candid man with hope in his 
heart, knowing precisely the same black 
facts, will bend all his power to per- 
suade his countrymen to work with him 
for a prompt reform. Though nothing 

134 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

be able to rescue the nation in this dis- 
pensation, it may carry the ideals and 
hopes of its founders and reformers into 
the new life, and what was begun here 
may proceed to its immortal fruition. 

Side by side with this effort to extort 
growth must be patience. In his " Lib- 
erty of Prophesying," Jeremy Taylor 
tells a legend of Abraham. A strange 
old man, stooping with weary age, came 
one night to the door of Abraham's 
tent ; Abraham received him kindly, 
washed his feet, and bade him enter 
and sup with him. But when the old 
man confessed himself a worshipper of 
the fire only, and refused to conform to 
Abraham's religious views, Abraham, 
zealously angry, cast him out. Presently 
the Lord spoke to Abraham : " Where 
is the stranger?" "He would not call 

135 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

upon Thee," answered Abraham; "so I 
thrust him away." " I," said the divine 
Voice, " have suffered him these hun- 
dred years; couldest not thou endure 
him for one night?" 

This old tale, had it been understood, 
might have saved many a cruel act 
done in the name of religion or patriot- 
ism. We must be eager to have men 
see the divine beauty as we see it; but 
we may not hasten their coming to the 
Light by applying thumb-screws or set- 
ting the rack in motion. A nation at 
war may believe that the immediate 
hope of the world lies with the assur- 
ance of the victory of its arms; but it 
may not hasten the victory by mean 
trickery or contemptible and illegal 
warfare. Theodore Parker, in his haste 
to reach the abolition of slavery, said, 

136 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

" God is not in a hurry, but I am.'^ 
That short sentence summarizes the 
folly of impatience. The zealous re- 
former with the divine hope in his heart 
is so confident of the outcome that he 
can afford to work both without haste 
and without rest. He shall do his full 
share to start the humanity with which 
he has contact towards its goal, but 
even if the progress is slow, he will 
still hope. The main issue is that a vital 
beginning shall be made. A depend- 
ence on immortality can then assure 
the final victory. 

In this context we may remind our- 
selves of two historic instances which 
are in a measure parts of the same 
event. One is the Messianic Hope of 
Israel. That hope was never realized 
in a form which those who dreamed it 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

through the years before Christ would 
have recognized. The Christian world 
believes that the hope was fulfilled in a 
way which transcended the most ven- 
turesome of prophets. Instead of an 
earthly kingdom was a spiritual ; in- 
stead of a conqueror of nations was a 
conqueror of the human heart; instead 
of a terrible King was a loving and 
sympathetic Friend. Unlike as the hope 
seemed, outwardly, to its answer in 
history, there is no doubt that the na- 
tion inspired by the hope was made 
ready to receive that better Gift, just 
because it had hoped with all its heart 
and mind and soul. 

We, too, must in our time have our 
Messianic Hope. We are hoping for a 
perfected humanity transfigured into the 
image of Christ. We announce our pro- 

138 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD, 

grammes and panaceas. We deftly draw 
pictures of what ought to be. We dare 
to begin our part in making the world 
like our dreams, leaving the end rev- 
erently and trustingly to God and im- 
mortality. When the new heaven and 
the new earth are come, I am quite 
sure that we shall find our Messianic 
Hope far short of the bold and beauti- 
ful solution which God shall give to us, 
and far different from it. But I am also 
sure of this: we shall not be mocked 
because of our effort to see the distant 
scene. As^the Messianic Hope had 
its share towards making possible the 
Greatness of two thousand years ago, 
so our Messianic Hope will have its 
part in bringing into eternity the Great- 
ness which God longs to give to hu- 
manity, 

139 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

The other historic instance closely 
related to the Messianic Hope is the 
way Christ, having come, used hope in 
His mission to men. We cannot explain 
Him, but we know that His influence 
upon frail and sinning humanity was 
His most wonderful miracle, a miracle 
which is as unique in history as it is 
unquestioned. He transformed individ- 
ual men, and later, invisible, He trans- 
formed cities and nations. How did He 
do it? How did Simon, untrustworthy, 
volatile, impertinent, become the pa- 
tient and reliable leader, St. Peter ? We 
may not know fully; but one element in 
the change was Christ's hope for this 
blundering fisherman. Christ believed 
in the possibility of Simon's stability till 
Simon believed in himself, and really 
became a Rock. The man who had de- 

140 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

nied his Master became as the shadow 
of a great rock in a weary land, the 
refuge of men blinded by the tempest. 
This one instance must suffice to sug- 
gest to us how we may help to bring 
the world towards the best we can 
dream for it: we must have hope for 
the outcast and the despised; we must 
have hope for the crooked politician 
and the evasive ecclesiastic; we must 
have hope for the commercialized city, 
daft over its material bigness and blind 
to its vulgarity and cheapness ; we must 
have hope for the nation sliding calmly 
into easy compromise, an opportunist 
in days of world -warfare, confusing 
duty with profit ; even for the wide 
world, enmeshed in anger and strife, 
we must have hope: and, if our hope 
is the real thing, it will flash from our 

141 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

eyes to kindle hope in others, till from 
life to life it passes with pentecostal 
power to give hope to those for whom 
we hope, till Christ in us gives them 
the beginning of a new life, which hav- 
ing begun shall not end, but shall go 
on to its fulfilment from this life into 
the next, and crowned at length by the 
complete opportunity of immortality. 

If we really believe in immortality 
for humanity, we shall be possessed by 
an undaunted hope for it. And that 
hope shall begin to bear fruit now. 

V 

Discrimination, Truth, Hope are the 
words I have named to express our be- 
lief in immortality when we think of 
humanity in its larger relationships: I 
add only one other word, Love. 

142 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

I have in another connection referred 
to the Larger Hope, the hope that God 
will bring every individual personality 
into his happiness. I have already shown 
that such a belief is a limitation of human 
liberty: the self-willed, who have hith- 
erto, by their own choice, remained out- 
side God's friendship, will in some man- 
ner be obliged to change their natures. 
There are undoubted difficulties in the 
hypothesis of the Larger Hope. It is 
sometimes held airily by expansive na- 
tures as if there were nothing easier 
than to persuade every one in the world 
to be gentle and loving and good, — 
that is, suitable for the kingdom of 
heaven. But difficult as the hope may 
be, it is not more difficult than the 
Larger Despair; and, whatever the dif- 
ficulties of logic, it is certain that every 

M3 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

loving man ought to long that the Larger 
Hope should prove to be true. 

All I wish to insist upon just here is 
that the Larger Hope imposes upon one 
who believes in it, or thinks that he be- 
lieves in it, definite responsibilities. One 
of these is that the man who is so gener- 
ous as to hope that he will find all men 
in the kingdom of heaven must begin 
to live on intimate terms with all sorts 
of people now. He cannot with any 
self-respect ask God to love what he 
does not at least try to love. 

I state the proposition thus boldly be- 
cause the Larger Hope is sometimes 
cast up to Heaven as a challenge: God 
having made all men, is the frequent 
plea, and having put them into a rather 
shabby environment, must bring them 
all out to an equal plane of comrade- 

144 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

ship and bliss at the end. Very well, — 
what is the pleader willing to do now 
to share his company and blessings with 
the soiled, the crusty, the crude, the 
proud, the bigoted, the Becky Sharps, 
the Pecksniffs, the Bill Sykeses, and all 
the rest? How far is he willing to allow 
himself to be the means through which 
God shall begin now to admit all men 
into a gracious and refined Christian 
fellowship ? This does not mean walk- 
ing by the open doors of hospital wards 
and seeing the motley company cared 
for when ill; it does not mean meeting 
them for a few minutes in some court- 
room to which he goes from curiosity; 
it does not mean looking them over in 
some great ocean steamer, — to the fin- 
ical person it does not make much dif- 
ference whether the glance be down into 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

the steerage or back into the worldly 
and complacent throng who occupy first 
cabins. No! it means loving these dif- 
ferent people of varied temperaments 
and attainments; it means a longing to 
sit down to talk with them by the hour, 
the day, the week, just as one would 
enjoy a long visit with some old friend. 
For there are to be no distinctions: all 
are to fare alike. The pleader's sense 
of justice demands itl 

It sounds impossible. For a good 
many people it is impossible at present. 
But it is not impossible for some peo- 
ple even now; and it might become 
possible for every person, — if he had 
enough love in him. There are some 
wonderfully attractive men and women 
who seem at home anywhere. They go 
in and out of all sorts of homes. The 

146 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

crabbed find that they can smile when 
such visitors come through their doors. 
The shiftless and untidy rearrange the 
furniture so that the room is not so bad 
as it seemed before the guest came. 
The cantankerous and the bitter cease 
reviling for half an hour, and find some 
pleasant word to say of a neighbour. 
The vile forget their villainy, and of- 
fer to help a good cause. These men 
and women who are able to be simple 
and genuine friends with all kinds 
of people are the only real reasons 
which the world has for believing in 
the Larger Hope: they have enough 
love from on high to carry heaven 
into homes both nasty and disagree- 
able, whether rich or poor, and they 
can and do receive the only ade- 
quate response, love for love. By their 

147 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

love they believe in immortality for 
humanity. 

When all is said, how can any loving 
heart endure to think of an immortality 
where he shall not share the best God 
gives him with all kinds of people? For 
it is the essence of love that it is un- 
selfish, that it thinks of all the people 
who are forlorn and unhappy and left 
out. So if such a person aglow with 
love should come to the immortal life 
with all its new opportunities for joy, 
and should find that some one he had 
known on earth was not within the cir- 
cle of the opportunity, — an old repro- 
bate perhaps for whom he only had 
affection, a selfish, very prosperous, and 
notable woman to whom he only had 
been kind, or a scapegrace of a boy 
cast out by his family in whom he only 

148 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

had believed, — if this person were not 
there, I say, how long would the saint, 
overflowing with God's forgiving love, 
stay quietly enjoying his peace? Not 
one moment I am perfectly sure, even 
as Andrew when he first saw the king- 
dom of heaven in the face of Jesus 
Christ, stayed not an instant, but ran 
to fetch the wayward Simon, that they 
might together listen to the Master's 
talk. 

Heaven is not won, I think, by a 
man's own goodness. If we may im- 
agine that only one man were good 
enough to win heaven, lack of wide fel- 
lowship would make heaven doleful for 
that good man, because goodness is, 
first of all, love. The good man wants 
the unselfish joy of knowing that others 
are as happy as he ; so he must bring 

149 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

all he can with him. The Great Sup- 
per must be furnished with guests, else 
there is no tasting the feast. So out into 
the by-ways and hedges must go the 
true servant of the Lord of the Supper, 
to find them which were not bidden, 
that they come after all and sit down 
with the Most Loving. Then the joy is 
complete. 

In an unconventional form this is 
what we mean by the missionary spirit. 
Strange criticisms are made by the man 
outside the Church, and often by the 
man in it, of the futility of sending 
teachers and doctors and preachers to 
non-Christian lands. Why should we 
not confine our benevolent efforts to our 
own poor or degraded? Why should 
we not let these foreigners alone to 
work out their own problems in their 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

own way? The only answer is that we 
believe that we have a unique privilege 
and we want to share it now. We be- 
lieve in the brotherhood of man; and 
we want to share what is to us most 
precious with Chinamen and Indians 
and Africans and every other race of 
men. The Larger Hope hovers over 
our love, and we wish to show the real- 
ity of our faith in the longing that this 
hope be true by inviting to our fellow- 
ship those who now seem to have less 
than we have. Real love never stays at 
home, but, by the very richness of its 
devotion to family and parish and city 
and country, presses out into the edges 
of humanity and claims humanity as its 
own. 

When John Bright's wife lay dead, 
his friend Cobden came to console him, 

151 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

And these are the words with which 
Cobden appealed to Bright's love for his 
wife: "There are thousands of houses 
in England at this moment where 
wives, mothers, and children are dying 
of hunger. Now, when the first parox- 
ysm of your grief is past, I would ad- 
vise you to come with me, and we will 
never rest till the Corn Laws are re- 
pealed. John Bright accepted the chal- 
lenge, and won the gratitude of the 
poor of England. The love learned at 
his own fireside went out to the op- 
pressed; and the poor loved him. Three 
old men came into Manchester one day 
to hear Bright speak once more. When 
they saw him come to the platform they 
all three broke down and burst into 
tears. Their love for him was so great 
that they could not contain it. That is 

152 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

the sort of experience which makes 
one ready for immortality. The Larger 
Hope seems possible. 

It will be joy to meet all the great 
and noble of all ages who by their own 
strength have won the crown of life; 
but it will be greater joy to meet in the 
life to come the people of all sorts and 
conditions who by our love and friend- 
ship have come there. And the joy 
greater still will be to take their hands 
and to go running swiftly with them 
out into the farther rims of twilight and 
darkness, seeking some who have been 
forgotten, or who never understood that 
they were really wanted. And thus the 
love learned on earth will be the bless- 
ing of immortality. In the light of Him 
who is the Source of Love, it will be 
the joy of heaven. This is the immor- 

153 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY , 

tality begun on earth which Matthew 
Arnold found in his great father and in 
others of a similar unselfishness: — 

Servants of God ! — or sons 
Shall I not call you ? because 
Not as servants ye knew 
Your Father's innermost mind, 
His, who unwillingly sees 
One of his little ones lost — 
Yours is the praise, if mankind 
Hath not as yet in its march 
Fainted, and fallen, and died I 

Ye, like angels, appear, 

Radiant with ardour divine. 

Beacons of hope, ye appear ! 

Languor is not in your heart, 

Weakness is not in your word, 

Weariness not on your brow. 

Ye alight in our van I at your voice. 

Panic, despair, flee away. 

Ye move through the ranks, recall 

The stragglers, refresh the outworn. 

Praise, re- inspire the brave. 

154 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD 

Order, courage, return; 
Eyes rekindling, and prayers, 
Follow your steps as ye go. 
Ye fill up the gaps in our files, 
Strengthen the wavering line, 
Stablish, continue our march. 
On, to the bound of the waste. 
On, to the City of God. 



Ill 



THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD FOR 
IMMORTALITY 

I 

In Shakespeare's King Henry V] 
Mistress Quickly describes the death 
of Falstaff, who had died in her inn. 
When she knew that the end was near, 
she tried to reassure him with the 
thought that he was not dying. " ^ How 
now, Sir John ! ' quoth I : ' What, man ! 
be o' good cheer.' So he cried out, 
^ God, God, God ! ' three or four times. 
Now I, to comfort him, bid him he 
should not think of God; I hoped there 
was no need to trouble himself with any 
such thoughts yet." Mistress Quickly is 
representative of a large number of peo- 

156 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

pie who believe that to think of God is 
wholly unpractical. But the truth is 
that, since we live in a world made 
and controlled by Him, to think of 
God is at all times the most practical 
occupation in which we can engage. We 
cannot therefore consider our responsi- 
bility to immortality without weighing 
all the evidence that we can discover 
of the responsibility which God assumes 
towards it. 

It is sometimes said that every man 
creates his own God. The element of 
truth in this flippant remark is that every 
man has his own conception of the na- 
ture and character of God. The exist- 
ence and stability of the Divine Being 
is no more put in jeopardy by the com- 
plex views about Him than is the ex- 
istence of any human character who is 

IS7 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

estimated in various ways by those 
who know him with varying degrees of 
intimacy. Further, just as it makes a 
difference in the acts of persons when 
they differently regard a fellow man, — 
as, for instance, the three men in the 
parable who from their lord received re- 
spectively five talents, two talents, and 
one talent, — so it makes a difference 
in our acts when we differently regard 
the Lord God. In the parable the man 
with one talent said that he knew his 
master to be a hard man, reaping where 
he had not sown, therefore his fear 
made him hide the money, so that it 
was useless. In exactly the same way 
men's idea of God may be such that 
they will waste their lives from a sort 
of spite against what they think God's 
injustice or neglect. 

158 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

We see this principle in the attitude 
of nations towards the Divine Idea. 
Israel, Greece, Rome were what they 
were largely because of the concep- 
tions which they variously had of God. 
And in nothing has national expression 
been more significant than in its idea 
of a future life which has directly risen 
out of the nation's idea of God. Old 
Testament scholars have amply proved 
that by a divine education the ancient 
Hebrews passed from a monolatrous 
to a monotheistic conception of God. 
Moreover, the righteous character of 
God was progressively revealed to the 
nation, and the great prophets, from 
800 B. c. onward, insisted that, to serve 
the righteous God, the people must 
make the spiritual effort to be right- 
eous also. At the beginning of the 

IS9 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

religious growth of the nation, so far as 
scholars can trace it, ideas about the 
future life seem to have been coloured 
largely by the influence of the religious 
ideas of neighbouring nations; but when 
the Hebrews acquired a doctrine of the 
future life distinctly their own, it was 
a doctrine exactly conforming to their 
idea of God. This future life required 
righteousness, and its main joy was 
that it was life in a divine community. 
The gods of the Greeks, on the other 
hand, were both immoral and selfish: 
so it was not strange that the Greeks 
thought it proper that the base Mene- 
laus should be translated to the Isles 
of the Blessed; and even Plato, with 
his exalted moral conception of indi- 
vidual immortality, thought it right that 
the immortal individual should bliss- 

i6o 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

fully ignore the fate of the community. 
Of Romans there was none finer than 
Marcus Aurelius. As a Stoic he had his 
theology partly from Greece, but his 
sense of order, law, and justice made 
his thought characteristically Roman. 
Marcus Aurelius was quite sure that 
the gods exist, and, though much per- 
plexed by what he thought manifesta- 
tions of their power, he was also sure 
that they are just. He was not clear 
how the future might be: he inclined 
to think our bodies would go to earth 
and our souls to the divinity who gave 
them; but he was satisfied that what- 
ever might be in store for us after 
death was just. In the light of this be- 
lief Marcus Aurelius lived his upright 
life; his idea of God governed both 
thoughts and acts. 

i6i 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

And so it has been of all times and 
peoples. The Buddhist, with his idea of 
God as Peace, tried to be lost in medi- 
tation in this world, and dreamed of 
Nirvana at the last. The Mahomedan 
saw God in self-indulgent power, and 
accordingly lived to the flesh, and looked 
forward to a heaven of carnal delights. 
The barbarians of Northern Europe 
thought of God as a great warrior, and 
therefore lived to fight, and thought to 
be gathered in the end to the armed 
camp of heaven. Even to our North 
American Indians both heaven and 
earth were hunting-grounds, because 
the Great Spirit was the Maker of moun- 
tains and streams, where He wished 
His children to hunt and fish. Every- 
where one looks, in history or in life, 
the idea of immortality is seen to de- 

162 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

pend upon the idea men may have of 
the Invisible God. We may therefore 
examine with earnest care what re- 
sponsibility God, as we know Him, takes 
towards our immortality, always re- 
membering how our own responsibility 
is reflected in it, 

n 

The first fact which confronts us is that 
God has so made the world that he does 
not permit us who are in this life to 
know anything of the life which is to 
be. How shall we imagine that for this 
fact (of which in our grief we often 
bitterly complain) God takes the re- 
sponsibility? 

I see two answers. The first of these 
is that, being the Supreme Master of 
life, God means us to make the most of 

163 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

this period of our schooling. A boy may 
be indolent and sluggish in his lessons 
because he is thinking too vividly of 
the business career to which he aspires. 
He may, at every opportunity, be run- 
ning about through offices and shops, 
watching the leaders or the subordinates 
in business, and dreaming all the time 
how it will seem when he is in these 
men's places; meanwhile he is scorning 
to study Latin and French and Algebra, 
because they belong to his petty and 
dreary world of school, and have noth- 
ing to do with what he calls real life. 
Perhaps his parents do not seriously up- 
braid him, because they believe that this 
enthusiasm for his career will more than 
offset his diligence with books. But what 
is the actual result, as many an instance 
shows? This boy who tries to enter the 

164 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

second period of his life while still plod- 
ding through the first period, again and 
again reaches the second period, not 
only ill-equipped but sated with his 
dreams before he has put his hand to 
the work which ought to accomplish 
his dreams. And his companion, who 
apparently is so absorbed in the work 
and play of school-days that he does 
not so much as think what is to come, 
is again and again his distant superior 
in the hard battle of mature life when 
it is reached. 

It is quite the same with a young per- 
son who is discovered to have a talent 
or even a genius for music. Bewitched 
with the thrilling experience of aston- 
ishing his elders by his improvisations, 
he smiles patronizingly on all his teach- 
ers who plead with him to do his dull 

165 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

exercises and study his dull books, and 
fancies himself already to be the peer 
of the great master whose performance 
he has heard. Of course, if this young 
*bit of vanity is allowed to persist in his 
stubborn course, he will reach the time 
when he ought to be a marvellous mu- 
sician, only a failure, — one more of 
those people who had it in them to be 
geniuses, and missed their opportu- 
nity by skipping their preparation — a 
defect which genius never forgives. 

Now is it not reasonable to believe 
that the world of the immortal life dove- 
tails into this earthly experience, in 
some such fashion as the mature life of 
man dovetails into the period of his 
preparation? May not this earthly life 
make ready more adequately for the 
heavenly life because that heavenly life 

1 66 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

cannot be definitely pictured? May its 
reality not be thought to be so surpass- 
ingly beautiful that if we did know 
about it, even the most conscientious 
of us would be listlessly dreaming of it, 
while the humdrum work beneath our 
hands was either slighted or wholly 
ignored? Something like this has hap- 
pened in periods of history when the 
saints have dwelt in detail upon what 
they believed the glories of heaven. 
Too much thought about the golden 
streets of the new Jerusalem has al- 
lowed the streets of many a mediaeval 
town to be soiled and foul. A too intent 
gaze upon the serried ranks of white- 
robed heavenly saints has blinded cer- 
tain ascetic heroes to those who ought 
to have been made saints on earth, and 
whose robes are anything but white. 

167 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

There were Puritan saints who had no 
doubt about the bliss of heaven, but 
they succeeded in making this world a 
kind of dungeon for their families lest 
they think too highly of it: and our 
thought of heaven is not to-day more 
cheerful because we think of meeting 
there these same Puritan saints who 
despised this world and its normal joys. 
When all is told, we are quite sure that 
the most congenial saints in heaven will 
be those unselfish and radiant spirits 
who bravely met what they found in 
this life, rejoiced in God's sunshine, 
made little of the rain, and in both 
bright weather and dark forgot their 
own present and future in bringing com- 
fort and help to the burdened and op- 
pressed. They will have made them- 
selves more fit for heaven, and they 

1 68 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

will have made heaven more glad, be- 
cause while on earth they did not try 
to probe secrets of the future which 
God obviously meant to remain secrets, 
and they lived their hard and beautiful 
lives on earth as if it were heaven 

itself. In such lives I see the first 
full and eloquent reason why I think 

God is willing to be responsible, even 
though we murmur, for our not know- 
ing any detail of the manner of our 
future life. 

The second reason for God's with- 
holding from us news of the country 
beyond death seems to me quite as 
clear: I cannot believe that our present 
consciousness could by any means com- 
prehend any descriptions which might 
be given us. There is much, we are 
well aware, in this present visible uni- 

169 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

verse which is invisible to our eyes: 
the telescope and the microscope reveal 
so much beyond what we can see with 
the naked eye that we know that there 
are whole universes of mystery beyond 
the realms which the telescope opens 
in greatness and which the microscope 
opens in littleness. Occasionally a sen- 
sitive photographic plate catches the 
view of an asteroid millions of miles 
away which, through even the strongest 
telescope, the eye cannot see; and at the 
other extreme, scientists are telling us, 
an electron is so small that an electron 
is to an atom what a pin-head is to the 
dome of St. Paul's, London. It is the 
same way with sounds. We are grow- 
ing extremely modest when we look 
or listen: the world we live in now is 
quite beyond our capacity to realize. 

170 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

Why should we expect to be told of 
another? 

I have more than once referred to a 
conviction of this generation that the 
world to come meets this in a close and 
intimate way, so that perhaps the day 
before death and the day after death 
may make the day between seem an 
almost imperceptible transition. This 
might be thought to militate against 
the conviction which I hold just as 
strongly ; namely, that we could not 
understand if we were told the news of 
that new life. For the fact is that the 
passing from one to the other is a tran- 
sition, and the new life instantly is dif- 
ferent from the old, however closely it 
may join itself to the old. We can judge 
this most wisely by the transitions in 
our life here. The transition from child- 

171 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

hood to maturity is a dim period, but 
the child and the man live to a large ex- 
tent in different worlds. The man has 
more or less vague remembrances of 
the world of his childhood, but unless 
his sympathy is uncommonly keen he 
has forgotten more than he remembers. 
When he became a man he put away 
childish things; he entered a door into 
a new sphere, and the door has all but 
closed behind him. The child, on the 
contrary, though he may little think it, 
is facing the future as if it were an un- 
known continent. As he sees his elders 
pass through certain experiences which 
now make them laugh and sing, and 
again make them sigh and weep, he 
too may laugh or weep with his child- 
ish sympathy; but when he asks why 
his elders rejoice or mourn, he can get 

172 ' 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

no satisfactory answer. He may be told 
that his father is glad because a reform 
mayor has been elected in a certain 
great city, and there is hope that the 
whole country will feel the inspiration 
of this moral victory; moreover news 
has just come that the Turks have been 
driven out of Constantinople, and the 
Greek liturgy has again been said in 
St. Sophia. This is all clear and defi- 
nite language: the child's eyes grow 
big with wonder as he listens; but for 
the life of him he cannot see why any 
one should find any cause for excite- 
ment when such unintelligible things 
have happened. If they had only told 
him that his lost dog had been found, 
or that he was to be taken to visit his 
grandfather, he would have understood. 
Then there is the still harder tale: 

173 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

why do grown men and women weep? 
When he sees the tears filling the eyes 
of one he loves, he asks why. A letter 
falls from the dear hand, and he is told 
tenderly and caressingly that a relative 
whom he has never seen has just died: 
"What is death? " he asks. "Is the place 
where dead people go beautiful ? Then 
why, oh why," he cries, " do you weep ? " 
He throws himself into his mother's arms 
and sobs with her; but he does not know 
why. Perhaps his philosophy of death 
is better than hers, but it is wholly dif- 
ferent. No words can make him under- 
stand why in their deepest moods his 
elders do what they do, and say what 
they say. They have passed a mysteri- 
ous boundary in life which is as the 
boundary between two worlds. May it 
not be that it is in this way that at 

174 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

death those we love pass a filmy line 
which admits them to a quite new ex- 
perience; and may it not be that God 
fails to explain to his earthly children, 
not because He is less loving than 
earthly fathers, but because He is in- 
finitely wiser? — for we with our con- 
sciousness fitted for this stage of life 
cannot understand the language which 
alone describes the stage ahead of us ? 
To a slighter degree we see the same 
principle in different ages in history, 
even if they touch one another. The 
very old man who has been active in 
the days of his strength laments that he 
does not comprehend the new sights 
and sounds. He does not see how the 
new ways of doing business can be hon- 
ourable; he does not understand the new 
books; the people who proclaim them- 

175 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

selves orthodox in the Church have not 
his orthodoxy; the radical reformers of 
society and government seem to him 
either demented or possessed with dev- 
ils. He says to himself that he is hope- 
lessly conservative, and that it is prob- 
ably just as well that he will not stay much 
longer in this world, since it is beyond 
both his sympathy and his understanding. 
Some enthusiastic young friend tries to 
make him see that history is repeating 
itself, that he himself in the vigour of 
youth was radical, and being sure of 
the integrity of his dreams clung to 
them till he helped the world by their 
fulfilment; and now, says the apologist 
for his time, the young radicals of this 
day are trying to do the same task for 
the coming age: the world is safe after 
all. But the old man shakes his head: 

176 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

he does not believe it; in any case he 
cannot expect ever to understand it. 
There have been old men who have 
never ceased to be radicals, who seemed 
always to be living in the ages ahead 
of them, — men like Socrates, Roger 
Bacon, and Galileo. But though each 
tenaciously guarded his contribution for 
the future, I suspect that in general each 
had his misgivings about the strenuous 
youth who did not happen to look to 
him for guidance. Men who have won 
great victories in their time cannot be- 
lieve that the battles they see preparing 
for the new time are to be really worth 
fighting. 

The transition from century to cen- 
tury is not so great as the transition from 
childhood to maturity; therefore its les- 
son cannot be so marked. But it sug- 

177 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

gests a method which evidently per- 
vades all life. We ought not to be 
surprised that it puts its mark upon 
the transition from life through death 
to future life. That transition must be 
greater than the transition from age to 
age here; it must be as great, at least, 
as the transition from childhood to man- 
hood, where we can see its wholesome 
benefit. We may reverently say that 
God keeps the secrets of the immortal 
life against the day of our coming to it, 
as he keeps the secrets of the stages in 
our life here; and He does it, we may 
as reverently think, in order that we 
may live each day of opportunity as if 
it were eternity. 



178 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

III 

Another criticism often made of the 
world is that there is a reckless quantity 
of everything, including human beings. 
Some insects by myriads are born and 
perish in an afternoon. Can they serve 
any use ? One cannot roam over a sum- 
mer hillside without seeing the fruits of 
wild life going, as one murmurs, to 
waste. And what shall we think of what 
seems to us the superfluous humanity of 
the earth, — the people who have ap- 
parently no joy and who bring no joy, 
— the odious, the degraded, the maimed, 
the defective ? Often reflection upon im- 
mortality has been marred by the thought 
of the indiscriminate multitudes of peo- 
ple who have existed through the ages 
of history. How can they all be brought 

179 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

to unity? How can any conceivable 
heaven contain them? William James, 
with his genius and originality, once 
attacked the problem in his Ingersoll 
Lecture; and only a few days ago some 
one, with imagination and assurance 
and a faculty for reckoning, declared 
that all the people now alive and all 
who had lived could be seated comfort- 
ably in the State of New Jersey, with 
some space between the chairs! But 
most people are worried not so much 
by the excessive numbers of humanity 
as by the apparently useless or wasted 
lives. Can God, they ask, really feel 
responsible for all the souls whom He 
has allowed to come into the world? 

We shall reach a clearer answer if 
we examine some of the details of what 
we are apt to call the lavish overpro- 

i8o 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

duction of nature. It is a scandal to 
many that of the hundreds of acorns 
produced by an oak only a few become 
trees in their turn. The assumption is 
that the only legitimate use of an acorn 
is to grow into a tree. Probably no one 
has ever observed nature with the com- 
bination of scientific acuteness and poeti- 
cal appreciation shown by the remark- 
able French naturalist, Fabre. In one 
of his books M. Fabre dwells upon the 
various uses of the acorns. Many of them, 
he shows, become the birthplace of the 
elephant beetle. Selecting the point 
farthest from the cup, the mother bores 
through it into the tender meat in the 
extreme opposite end, and there deposits 
her egg. The young larva, being born, 
lives first on the tender food in the cup, 
then on the filings of the long bore. It 

i8i 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

is now strong enough to eat the hard 
meat which remains; and, when the 
acorn falls to the ground, the little being 
crawls out and goes into the ground, 
leaving nothing but a hollow shell. This 
insect so reared becomes the favorite 
autumn food of the blackbird, " the min- 
strel of the forest." Of the acorns which 
remain, the field mouse takes what it 
can to store near its nest; and the farmer 
takes his share for his pigs, and lo! says 
M. Fabre, we have the most excellent 
of bacon ! If any acorns yet have not 
been used, they in time fall to dust, and 
enrich the soil, making the old oak grow 
more sturdy because of their contribu- 
tion to its roots; and the fowls of the air 
come to lodge in its branches, to feast, 
and to sing, their joy being in some 
subtle way increased because the acorns 

182 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

have perished. So it is, according to the 
great naturalist, that not one acorn is 
wasted out of all the thousands. 

Several years ago I was spending a 
few weeks in a magnificent wilderness 
crossed by a transcontinental railway. 
A number of people were there to rest 
from hard work and to gather inspira- 
tion for work ahead of them. A little 
way from the railway station one could, 
by breaking new paths, come upon 
scenes which possibly no man before 
had ever beheld. Every moment could 
be given to the exploration of the 
beauty and grandeur of nature, which 
seemed to be thrown at one's feet with 
a wild extravagance. One day when a 
train stopped at the station, a traveller 
alighted and walked as far as the time 
would allow him. I stood with him on 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

a little rustic bridge spanning a moun- 
tain torrent. Before us loomed the 
snow-capped summit of a towering 
mountain; lesser peaks kept it com- 
pany, with their stern rock and gleam- 
ing snow; and in the foreground were 
the dark green pines, and then the 
luxuriant undergrowth encouraged by 
the warm winds from the Pacific. Over 
all was the sun-filled air, crisp and in- 
spiriting; and there was the music of 
many waters coming down the steep 
cascades to join the stream which was 
pouring over the rocks beneath us. The 
power of God seemed to come through 
it all: one felt all weariness taken away; 
and everything bright and pure and 
strong seemed possible, if one only 
could get the forces which God had 
placed there into one's mind and heart 

184 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

and soul. Suddenly the traveller turned 
and said, "What an awful waste of 
water-power! " He proved to be a no- 
table manufacturer whose mills were 
on the banks of a New England river; 
and all he saw in that august scene was 
a stupendous amount of water-power 
gone to waste. Obviously it never oc- 
curred to him that mountains and gla- 
ciers, solemn pines and flowing waters, 
could have any value but a commercial 
value. That they might possibly build 
up the unseen spirit of humanity was 
altogether beyond his experience or his 
imagination. 

From such thoughts about the acorns 
and the mountain torrents it is now 
easy to make a general deduction. If 
we had sufficient knowledge about the 
needs of man and the nature around 

i8s 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

man, I think we should find that, even 
in what seems the most ruthless over- 
production and the most extravagant 
waste, there is a real use for every- 
thing. God surely is willing to be held 
responsible for all that He has made 
and is making. 

And thus we return to the thought 
of the overwhelming number of men. 
How shall we dare to think it possible 
that such a motley assembly as human- 
ity can attain to immortality? Some 
such thought as this was doubtless dis- 
turbing the minds of the first Christian 
disciples, for our Saviour said one day: 
"Are not five sparrows sold for two 
farthings ? And not one of them is for- 
gotten in the sight of God. But the very 
hairs of your head are all numbered. 
Fear not therefore: ye are of more 

i86 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

value than many sparrows." That high- 
est of testimony may be put at the end 
of all our investigation of nature and 
human nature : it confirms, it reassures, 
it constructs. God has made worlds 
full of men, generation after genera- 
tion. Lavish he has been, but never 
wasteful. We may venture, on the high- 
est ground, to say that not one of them 
is forgotten. Ungracious they often 
are ; brutal and false they often are; 
yes, many are inefficient and blunder- 
ing, blocking the path of those whose 
courage and industry would otherwise 
give them the crown of achievement. 
For a good many only excuses can be 
made, and the Great Heart of the world 
can only cry, "Father, forgive them, 
for they know not what they do." It 
is hard to believe that even by the most 

187 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

generous interpretation such people as 
these have been of use in this present 
world, except perhaps to toughen the 
souls of the saints and heroes who 
must win in spite of them. If they are 
useless here, there is only one alterna- 
tive: the God who made them and is 
willing to be held responsible for them, 
must some way still remember them. 
Are they not of more value than many 
sparrows? And that can only mean 
that God, being by His will responsi- 
ble, is holding for them immortality. 

We are brought by such considera- 
tions very close to the Larger Hope, 
of which I have already twice spoken 
in these lectures. There is such a thing 
in life as free will ; and man must choose 
whether he will be saint or devil. Even 
God's utmost responsibility cannot make 

i88 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

man of use, if by forcing him God takes 
from him that which is God's highest 
gift, — the gift of self-direction. But all 
one can learn from the most authorita- 
tive sources makes one every day more 
convinced that God will never shirk 
His loving responsibility for every child 
of man to whom He has given a living 
soul. Through eternity God's yearning 
Fatherhood will be seeking him. The 
desperate and wayward soul may go to 
the utmost bounds of the blackest night, 
but God will be there. And at some 
moment of eternity, we may hope (we 
cannot know) that the scarred and bat- 
tered being will turn and recognize the 
Love that is seeking it everywhere, will 
yield to the high use to which God cre- 
ated it, and will come out into the light 
of the morning. God has made a practi- 

189 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

cally infinite host of humanity; but He 
cares for each individual. He, by His 
own Word, accepts the responsibility. 

IV 

Men all on fire to bring in at once the 
kingdom of heaven are baffled when 
they look up to the Leader of the uni- 
verse, because He seems to leave much 
of the struggle to erring and wavering 
men, and allows the accomplishment 
of the brave and good to be coun- 
teracted by the mistakes and wilful 
knavery of the worthless. Why, ex- 
claim these ardent saints, does not God, 
like a giant among pigmies, thrust in 
His hand and crush all opposition to 
His righteousness and love ? Why are 
all the hideous crimes against the true 
humanity permitted? 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

If we believe in God as the absolute 
Master of His universe we can have no 
doubt that God could make men as per- 
fect as the flowers. He could interfere 
at every turn with the free will which 
He would then only apparently give to 
men, and all their errors and failures 
would instantly be cancelled. But the 
price of this perfection would be that 
men would be stripped of their freedom : 
they would be reduced to the level of 
things, — beautiful things to be sure, 
things like the rose or the shimmering 
sea, — but still only things. 

The all-important difference between 
a thing and a person is that a person 
can return by life the love and care 
which God bestows: a person can be 
the friend of God; a thing can be only 
His creature. The only philosophy which 

191 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

can adequately explain the creation of 
man is that God is so overwhelmingly 
the God of Love that He longs to win 
the love of His creatures. You cannot 
drive one to love, you can only give 
love and wait for its return. It is a form 
of persuasion, if you will, only more. 
Thus God gives men freedom to do 
right, or to do wrong, to please Him or 
to grieve Him, to be His friends or to 
try to be His enemies. 

Just here enters the necessary thought 
of immortality. For it is quite evident 
that time is not enough, as our human 
experience demonstrates, to make this 
human choice of God complete, either 
for even the best men individually, or 
for the race as a whole, — not to 
speak of the forlorn beings who have 
altogether missed the way. Immortality 

192 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

is the extension of man's opportunity. 
If not in this life, in some of the stages of 
life beyond it the best men maybe trusted 
to give back to God such a measure of 
the love which He has given to them 
that the bestowal of freedom will be 
justified to the divine plan. And then 
we must ask wistfully, as we have real 
love within us, whether the surprising 
opportunities of eternity will not be 
sufficient to win those who have misun- 
derstood here, or even those who have 
contemptuously turned their backs on a 
Father's plea. Whatever our hopes or 
our fears, our logic or our instinct, we 
cannot fail to place before our imagina- 
tion the possibility. 

In all this contemplation we see 
emerging an outstanding characteristic 
of God, — His divine patience. God's 

193 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

patience is part of His responsibility for 
immortality. All history, so far as we 
know it, is the record of God's patience. 
By nature, by prophets, most of all 
through Christ, He has warned. He has 
encouraged, He has displayed His love. 
But to win man's free gift of Himself 
what has God not borne ! Through ages 
of man's crude vaunting, unrighteous 
power, and selfish aggrandisement, God 
has waited. The loathsome sins of the 
Caesar Borgias and the Catherine de' 
Medicis besmirch the pages of history, 
and yet God does not smite them with 
His lightnings: He waits for their tyranny 
to be overpast. The sinister weakness 
of the Henry the Thirds and the Qiieen 
Annes allows villainy to plot its malice 
in high places, and still those who seem 
to rule and cannot, continue to sit on 

194 



> 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

their thrones; God waits for real lead- 
ers to arise among the people. Even the 
Church, which ought always to be 
counted upon, has had its Alexander 
the Sixths in Rome, its Torquemadas 
in Spain, its Dean Swifts in England, 
its Cotton Mathers in Massachusetts; 
and, in spite of it all, God's mercy is 
stretched out still: He waits for the 
Church to learn pity and tolerance and 
love. This is not the way the best of 
men would control history if they could 
control it: they would smash into it 
with all their force; they would stamp 
out the rapacious, the detestable, the 
slave-maker, and the cruel. As it is, 
their cry is to God that he will play 
just such a role: — 



19s 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered : 
Let them also that hate him flee before 

him. . . . 
Let the wicked perish at the presence of God. 

Long after the Hebrew poet had sung 
this hymn, Cromwell took the words 
for his battle-cry, and, facing theworld- 
liness of King Charles's Court, believed 
himself the scourge of an impatient 
God. But the most sagacious saints 
have not found God in the great and 
strong wind which rends the moun- 
tains, nor in the earthquake, nor in the 
fire, but in the still small voice, the 
voice of waiting for men to understand, 
the voice of a divine patience. How easy 
it would be, thinks the man who is only 
half a saint, to burn up the hopeless, to 
put the well-intentioned but flimsy into 
straight-jackets, and to keep a strict 

196 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

paternal watch over the reasonably 
good; then God might have a world in 
which it would be pleasant to dwell. 
But these unfinished saints do not know 
the Father of all the living; they do not 
remember that He would not that any 
should perish; they forget that even to 
Christ God permitted crucifixion by 
men for whom Christ asked forgive- 
ness. God is a God who waits. He is 
the God of inexhaustible patience. 

If history shows such an evident re- 
cord, what must the days of immortality 
show but the same patience of God? If 
God and His angels now rejoice over 
one sinner who repents more than over 
ninety and nine just persons who need 
no repentance, how can that attitude 
be anything but an eternal attribute of 
His will ? It must not only be a blessed 

197 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

aspect of the immortal life of humanity, 
but it must also be one mighty reason 
why God should give immortality to 
those of His creatures upon whom 
He has bestowed freedom. Browning 
looked upon the seemingly perfect art 
of Florence, and then gloomily cast his 
eye upon the uncouth imperfection of 
man. Courage returned to him when 
he remembered that these things of 
art had only time in store, and so had 
to be perfect now or else for ever fail; 
but man had eternity for his develop- 
ment, and thus could outstrip at last 
the perfection of Michelangelo's David, 
— the perfection, we may add, per- 
mitted by the God of everlasting pa- 
tience. Through our struggle upward 
we now are wont to pray to a God 
whom we can thus address: "O most 

198 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

mighty God, and merciful Father, who 
hast compassion upon all men, and 
who wouldest not the death of a sinner, 
but rather that he should turn from his 
sin, and be saved." He will not now 
break the bruised reed. He will not 
now quench the smoking flax. Can He 
or will He ever do it ? 

Back then we come to the Larger 
Hope. The mystery of God is blinding 
because of its light; and though we 
may be obliged to leave many a sub- 
ject in the form of questions, it is safer, 
when we attempt definitions, to say the 
positive convictions which come to 
our reason or to our intuition, and to 
be extremely chary of the negative 
logic which often slams the door in the 
face of hope. When we study God's 
patience in the records of history and 

199 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

in the manifestation of His glory in the 
earthly life of Christ, we must wonder 
whether we can conceive that the 
Blessed God can be really and com- 
pletely happy so long as one of His 
children (for that is His name for us 
all) is gone astray into the brambles; 
so long as only one is still unhappy 
however the man himself may seem to 
choose his unhappiness; so long as a 
single man refuses to understand that 
he is loved by the heavenly King. 
Logic constantly in theology has grown 
weary, and has set a limit to God's pa- 
tience : it has allowed it to last in time, 
but it has blotted it sometimes from 
eternity. It is the mother who has a 
bad son who can tell what the love 
which God put in her heart can do. 
This son was repulsive to all but her; 

200 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

but she still hoped; she waited for him 
to return to the beauty and kindness of 
his childhood; she prayed; she longed; 
she promised God her own life, if He 
would give goodness to her poor boy. 
But death crossed this son's path, before 
she or any one else could see the slight- 
est change. He was still in the far coun- 
try living with the swine like a beast, 
and the end came. But is it the end? 
Is that mother's patience gone; or has 
she still love and hope for him? Do 
you not know that, though she be the 
straightest of Calvinists, she is praying 
still for that dear child ? Is she saying 
that he has been undutiful, that he has 
been unforgivably cruel to her, that he 
has spoiled her life, that he is bring- 
ing her grey hairs with sorrow to the 
grave ? No, you know that not one of 

20I 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

these things is true of her prayers : she 
prays with the same hope with which 
she prayed when he lay in his cradle, 
when he spoke his first words, when 
he threw his arms about her neck and 
promised never again to grieve hen 
She is waiting. She is hoping. She is 
loving. She has patience which she 
knows will go with her through eternity. 
Where does she get it? Is it a trick of 
the devil, an imagination from some 
imp? Ah! such love does not come 
from such a source. Whence can such 
love come but from the central fire of 
Love, from God ! There you see a spark 
which has flashed from the eternal pa- 
tience of God. It is to give such patience 
room that, among other reasons, God 
has granted to men immortality, — for 
men's sake, — and for His own, 

202 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

V 

Hardly a man, however brave, can 
fail at some tragic moment to reproach 
God with the hardness of life. This hard- 
ness does not depend on desert, either 
individually or collectively. If a man 
were exactly paid for what he had done, 
he might preserve Stoic calm. If he 
took the consequences of being a mem- 
ber of humanity, and so sometimes 
reaped another man's bad sowings, he 
might be philosophical about it. But 
there is hardness in life which would 
remain even if every individual, acting 
by himself and as a member of society, 
had never done a wrong act. There is 
hardness inherent in human life. For 
instance, before a man can make his 
garden, he must chop down the trees, 

203 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

pull out the stumps, dig out the roots 
and the stones, and then by some de- 
vice enrich the soil. It is very hard 
work. And harder experiences await 
him: there will be too much rain or 
too little, too much cold or too much 
heat, so that he will fear frost and mil- 
dew and drought. Besides, there will 
be the cut- worm and other greedy cater- 
pillars, with all manner of tiny beetles, 
to threaten his crops ; and perhaps the 
locusts may sweep down some morn- 
ing to eat every tender shoot. The suc- 
cess of this garden is won only by work 
and anxiety, and, if life depend upon 
it, by tragedy also. Then there are the 
calamitous forces of nature, such as the 
lightning, the tidal wave, the volcanic 
eruption, the tornado, the earthquake. 
It is exceedingly difficult to find a cor- 

204 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

ner of the earth where some dreadful 
natural foe does not beset one's peace: 
if it is none of these things, it may be a 
malarial climate or the prevalence of 
some dangerous insect. By skill and 
care and work some of these dangers 
may be overcome or at least minimized; 
but they cannot be wholly eradicated. 
Harder than any of these physical dif- 
ficulties are the fierce temptations which 
beset every living soul. Prosperity, ad- 
versity, and the state of life which pro- 
vides just enough, all have their peculiar 
kinds of temptation, so beguiling that it 
seems impossible not to be scorched 
by them, if not quite ruined. Remorse 
comes after each yielding, but the mem- 
ory of it fades; and the temptation, bid- 
ing its time, reappears with all its ap- 
pealing grimaces and promises. When 

205 • 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

people really wish to be good, why 
should it be made thus hard to attain 
goodness ? 

At the end of the catalogue, — which 
might be indefinitely prolonged, — is 
death. The death which one must die 
for oneself can be accepted on faith as 
a door to wider and better existence; 
but the deaths one must endure in the 
desolation and heart-breaking caused 
by the vanishing of friends are woefully 
hard. Faith in God may be stronger 
than death; but the sorrow and the 
loneliness are well-nigh unbearable. 
There is no least doubt that life is hard 
— hard for every one in one way or an- 
other; and, in spite of all the mingling 
of comfortings and joys, hard to the end. 

There have been times when thinkers 
have tried to relieve God of thrusting 

206 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

these burdens on men's backs; and have 
posited a dualism in the governance of 
the universe, — Nature or Satan, some- 
thing or somebody, put these thorns on 
the roses, and God is responsible only 
for the flowers with their fragrance and 
beauty. But this evasion is always dis- 
credited when men live and think their 
best. When we see what hardness can 
do and has done for many an individual, 
many a family, many a community, we 
know that it is possible to find a place 
for hardness in love. A brilliant mod- 
ern essayist has written, evidently out 
of his own experience, "If the light is 
clouded, and the joy is blotted out, and 
the energy burns low, it is a sign, not 
that we have failed, but that the mind 
of God is bent still more urgently upon 
us." And so we cut the Gordian knot, 

207 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

and say that God is responsible, by His 
loving will, for all the hardness of life. 
Inevitably we must ask. Why? The 
answer is similar to the philosophy by 
which the necessary idea of God's pa- 
tience is discovered. We think that God 
is so far the overflowing of love that He 
made mankind in order to have loving 
friends, — not only beings to love, but 
beings to be loved by. Accordingly, He 
bestows the perilous gift of freedom: 
He desires, we think, real friends, not 
mechanically perfect automatons. And 
now, as we pore over the hardness of 
life, we read a new revelation of His will 
for us : He wants not only friends who 
shall give back some of the love which 
He gives to them, but He wants also 
great friends, — friends who have been 
through hard places, and who have 

208j 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

overcome; friends who have victory 
written on their foreheads. "Lay a 
sword upon my coffin, I pray you," said - 
an old poet; "for I have been a brave 
soldier in the wars for the liberty of 
mankind." May God not desire friends 
of whom such words may truthfully be 
said ? I think so. 

With this hypothesis in mind, can we 
not (as a people who try to please God) 
take our hard times manfully; looking 
upon them not as obstacles, but as chal- 
lenges to our possible fibre ? If we live 
on barren wastes, can we not believe 
in God enough to trust that every hard- 
ness conceals some richness; and so, 
digging deep, bring up, as from some 
barren Kimberley, the vast wealth which 
lies beneath ? If sorrow leave us forsaken 
and dreary, can we not lift our heads, 

209 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

brush the tears away, and go out to seek 
those whose sorrow is like unto our 
sorrow, and fill up with sympathy and 
love the aching void in our hearts, be- 
coming thus a strong tower of defence 
against the stormy wind, and drawing 
into the shelter of our strength and 
peace those who might otherwise faint 
by the way and be lost in the trackless 
desert of hopelessness? If a man fails 
in his work; if all his ambitions tumble 
about his ears; if he knows that he is 
what the world calls a ruined man, and 
there is no chance that in the years left 
to him he can build up what has fallen, 
then may he not take this poisoning 
experience, crush the poison quite out 
of it, and go running to the others who 
he may suspect are failing in just the 
same way, giving them not so much 

2IO 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

sympathy as a cry of hope, giving to 
their weakness and despair a measure 
of the strength which he has been able 
to extract from his misery, and saving 
more than one soul alive? 

Even if this world were all, it would 
be serviceable to make such high use 
as this of the hardness of life. But lift 
the curtain, and peer into the life im- 
mortal which stretches out and up to 
the hills of eternity. You may think at 
first that you can see nothing but the 
long reaches of space, empty and mo- 
notonous. Then, by faith, I am sure you 
will see something else: you will have 
a vision of what it is to the most loving 
God to have through the eternal years 
loving friends who are strong, and eter- 
nally growing stronger; because in the 
years of earth the conquest was nobly 

211 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

begun. Every toiler who has sufficient 
work to need helpers in its perform- 
ance, knows the joy of finding among 
the ordinary, routine labourers the men 
and the women who have had sufficient 
experience in life, and that experience 
sufficiently well met, to give them un- 
derstanding and sympathy and strength. 
Their eyes answer your best dream for 
the work ; you put your hand to the ful- 
filment of the dream with new courage. 
The work is covered with glory and 
gladness because strong helpers share 
with you its heaviness and its victory. 
All this is a poor, dim shadow of what 
must be in the blessedness of God 
when His children come to His help, 
not only with loyalty and love, but also 
with strength. He gave hardness; they 
bowed their necks to its weight; they 

212 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

lifted it by their strength ; and now they 
are co-workers with the Master of the 
universe; they are men, great and 
strong. 

What shall we say of the man him- 
self who has torn strength from the 
hardness of life, and with this strength 
has entered the life immortal ? He must 
confess two truths. The first of these is 
that life would ultimately be trivial and 
poor, were it not that hard times strew 
the pathway. Whether the difficulties 
shall continue after death we cannot tell ; 
if they continue, the light upon them 
will be so clear that they can be shoul- 
dered without repining. But as one 
looks back upon the difficult days and 
years, one may see that God's will or 
God's permission is bound up with 
every pain and every hardship which 

213 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

fell to one's lot. Everything means 
something. Everything has a divine 
possibility. We cannot think even of 
the perfect strength of Christ without 
remembering the Cross and the way 
He endured it. Life itself is less than 
life if it does not contain the strength 
due to overcoming that which is un- 
deniably hard. 

The other truth which a man must 
confess in the light of his victory is that 
the hardness of life is not completely 
intelligible until immortality is recog- 
nized as its goal. " To him that over- 
cometh," is the heavenly promise of the 
Book of Revelation, "to him will I give 
to eat of the tree of life, which is in the 
Paradise of God." So many people suf- 
fer to the very end of the earthly jour- 
ney, with so little chance to turn their 

214 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

heroic endurance to the gladness of 
service, that a sane observer cannot be- 
lieve that in a world where nothing is 
wasted such victory is to be a mere re- 
cord: by its very strength and conquest 
it assumes an opportunity for useful- 
ness. The God who is certainly willing 
to be responsible for all the stubborn 
material which this world contains for 
the cultivation of men's endurance, will 
just as certainly be responsible for giv- 
ing this store of power the utmost free- 
dom to be spent for the lasting good of 
humanity and the beatific vision of God; 
that is, the return to God of the love He 
gave, made through tribulation strong, 
— the love which is strong as death. 
That means immortality. 

Emerson in his last days lost much 
of his mental faculty. When his friend 

215 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

Longfellow died Emerson was led to 
his house, and for a long time he stood 
looking down into the face of the dead 
poet. At last he said, "I cannot recall 
his name, but I know that he was a 
beautiful soul." Longfellow had borne 
many sorrows with simple steadfast- 
ness, and even to Emerson's waning in- 
telligence the story was plain in the still 
features. It is a parable of what we may 
expect to find in the life immortal. There 
will be myriads, I think, in the world 
to come who will bear the marks in 
some way of the silent victories of 
earth. Their names will never have 
been chronicled. We shall never have 
heard that there were such beings. 
Perhaps they were kept to the four 
walls of a little room for years. But 
here they are in the Paradise of God, 

216 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

— great and strong by reason of their 
overcoming. And we shall say, "We 
do not know their names, but we know 
that they are beautiful souls, — worthy 
of the Master who seeks their love and 
their strength." 

VI 

Earlier in this lecture I suggested two 
possible reasons why we know no de- 
tails of the future life; I wish now to 
add a third reason. May it not be that 
God keeps from us knowledge of what 
that life is to be because He wishes us 
to trust Him rather than to trust our 
knowledge ? 

We learn that this life is happier if 
we simply do our best day by day and 
leave the consequences in God's keep- 
ing. It is folly to be anxious for the 

217 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

morrow. In the days of the English 
Commonwealth Bulstrode Whitelock 
was Ambassador to The Hague. One 
night he was so worried by thought of 
the dangers which threatened both Na- 
tion and Church that he could not sleep. 
His old servant, sleeping in the same 
room, at length spoke: "Sir," he said, 
"may I ask you a question?" "Cer- 
tainly," replied the ambassador. " Sir," 
pleaded the servant, "did God govern 
the world well before you came into 
it?" "Undoubtedly," was the answer. 
" And will He rule the world well when 
you have gone out of it?" asked the 
man. "Undoubtedly," said Whitelock. 
" Then, sir," continued the voice, " can 
you not trust Him to rule the world well 
while you are in it?" With this, the 
story says, the weary statesman turned 

218 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

on his side and fell asleep. We may 
surmise that what God asks us to do 
for eternity is only an extension of a 
method which He is teaching us by our 
present experience. 

Out of this conjecture flows a princi- 
ple which turns the conjecture into a 
practically assured truth. There is some- 
thing more to be desired than life, than 
even immortal life, and that is life con- 
scious of the presence and the love 
of God. At length we come to define 
immortality as the life which is sus- 
tained by the perpetual consciousness 
of the comradeship, the friendship, the 
love of God. "This is life eternal," said 
Jesus Christ, "to know thee, the only 
God . . ." God, in asking us to believe 
that He will be responsible for our fu- 
ture, asks us first to feel our responsi- 

219 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

bility to know Him, and to know Him 
now. So we lay hold of the essen- 
tial characteristic of immortality in this 
period of our schooling, and we advance 
towards the next period with an always 
increasing trust. 

" I should long ago have killed my- 
self," wrote Tolstoi, " if I had not had a 
dim hope of finding God. I only really 
live when I feel and seek Him. . . . 
And stronger than ever rose up life 
within and around me, and the light 
that then shone never left me again." 
And so a great modern poet cries : — 

My God, my God, let me for once look on 

Thee 
As though not else existed, we alone ! 
And as creation crumbles, my soul's spark 
Expands till I can say, — Even from myself 
I need Thee and I feel Thee and I love Thee : 
I do not plead my rapture in Thy vyrorks 

220 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

For love of Thee, nor that I feel as one 
Who cannot die : but there is that in me 
Which turns to Thee. 

Again, it was a present experience of 
which St. Augustine wrote when he 
expressed his rapturous hope, "Thou 
hast made us for Thyself, and our heart 
is restless till it rests in Thee." So too 
Thomas Aquinas felt that he knew the 
present fruition of the Godhead. "Here," 
he said, "the soul in a wonderful and 
unspeakable manner both seizes and is 
seized upon, devours and is herself de- 
voured, embraces and is violently em- 
braced: and by the knot of love she 
unites herself with God, and is with 
Him as the Alone with the Alone." For 
the mystics, who can say such words, 
immortality is only the opportunity for 
knowing God more intimately: they are 

221 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

indifferent to everything else which im- 
mortality may include. 

Christ revealed God as a loving and 
patient Father; and His most compre- 
hensive declaration about immortality 
is, "In my Father's house are many 
mansions." No relationship admits one 
so deeply into the trust which becomes 
a man towards God as the relationship 
of a loving child to his loving father. 
There we must assume that the child, 
admitting his lack of knowledge and 
experience, rests in the confidence that 
his father will provide for him what is 
wisest and happiest. It is of the essence 
of childhood that it should have this 
trust. And when any gift is given, the 
crowning joy of its receiving is that 
the child looks up to see the fathei^s 
happiness because he has brought hap- 

222 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

piness to his child. The child may not 
understand it at the time; but long af- 
ter he recalls how his father looked on 
such and such a day when he thanked 
him with all the affection of his nature : 
just what the gift was may be forgotten; 
but that loving and radiant glance from 
father to child is the symbol of an eter- 
nal memory. Just so must it be when 
God throws open the door of immortal- 
ity to His bewildered and surprised chil- 
dren. The height of all their rejoicing 
must be the love of God which they 
find made more intense by their grati- 
tude. Through immortality they shall 
not merely discover the safety and re- 
pose which they desired, but they shall 
find in some wonderful and new way 
the desire of all desires, the Lord God. 
To have known Him, to have trusted 

223 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

Him here, is beyond all other earthly 
good; and the exaltation of heaven is to 
transcend this earthly knowledge by 
the knowledge which starts out afresh 
upon the eternal journey towards com- 
pletion, when we shall know even as 
we are known, when we shall see the 
King in His beauty in the land that is 
very far off, when we shall love Him 
indeed who first loved us. 

VII 

At the end of all human responsibil- 
ity towards immortality I put the word 
Joy. Sometimes there comes a day in 
the open country when the sun shines 
on the lake and on the distant hills, 
when we hear the laughter of little chil- 
dren at play, when from the dome of 
heaven to the depth of the valley there 

224 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

seems only serenity, and all that an- 
noyed us yesterday is forgotten in the 
sense that to-day all is perfect. The 
earth is Paradise and we know that we 
walk with God in the splendour of His 
kingdom. Such days may be rare ; but 
when they come they are the creative 
energy which we cherish against the 
trials and discouragements of the future. 
And because we rejoice for only one day 
out of many, we are able to carry joy 
into days of darkness. We know that 
the best of days, rare as it may seem, is 
the normal day, and the year is meant 
to be fused with the joy of it. 

So it is that, when we have caught a 
genuine glimpse of immortality, all the 
experiences of life ought to be trans- 
figured. We often shrug our shoulders 
when we read of the early Christians, 

225 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

who were so intent upon entering the 
place which Christ had gone to prepare 
for them that they coveted the crown 
of martyrdom. Days of persecution were 
to them really as days of revelry. Stoi- 
cal Roman gentlemen, quite used to 
bravery, were aghast at this new sort 
of bravery, — a bravery which did not 
shut its eyes and grind its teeth and 
clinch its fists, but went laughing and 
singing into the arena to meet the wild 
beasts. The immortal hope was not a 
speculation, a balanced probability: it 
was the most sure of all their realities; 
beside it death was but a child's bub- 
ble, vanishing into air. Even we. Chris- 
tians as we think ourselves, are inclined 
to ask if these early martyrs did not take 
death a little too lightly. The only an- 
swer we can give is that when Chris- 

226 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

tianity first burst upon the world it was 
such amazing good news, with all its 
hopes and promises, that its adherents 
were like the people who live through 
a perfect summer day, when the whole 
world seems to break into music, and 
one must sing and shout for joy, for only 
joy is real. 

In these sterner days — not really 
harder but less joyous — a prophet now 
and then reminds us that it is our re- 
sponsibility to ourselves, to the world, 
and to God to hold our faith in immor- 
tality " triumphantly, as a satisfying and 
inspiring conviction," — to hold it with 
great joy. The warning is given us that 
if we do not hold it in this way the hope 
may be lost to men ; and the patient pro- 
cess of attaining it must be repeated in 
history. However this may be, joy is a 

227 



K 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

contagious quality; and nothing so con- 
vinces the world as a belief which is held 
with evident joy. The oppressive opti- 
mism which apparently has never en- 
tered any deep experience and which 
skips gaily over the surface of other 
people's trouble, cannot be dignified 
with the name of joy; it is only the 
twittering of incompetence. But when 
you see a courageous soul, sensitive and 
quick, going into the blackest of earthly 
pain, and, by laying hold of some un- 
seen Power so close that it may almost 
be said to be within him, grasping an 
assurance which transmutes the misery 
into expectation, and, a little later, by 
a more intimate counsel with the un- 
seen Friendship, transmuting the ex- 
pectation into certainty, then you see a 
quality in life which seems to have all the 

228 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

minor and all the major chords of expe- 
rience blended into a harmony which 
may validly be called the expression of 
immortal joy. It is a joy which can have 
no jarring surprises; it is neither bird- 
witted nor blind. It looks steadfastly 
upon what many think to be only a sad 
or inexplicable scene, and cries with 
the prisoner of Bedford jail, " Glorious 
it was to see how the open region was 
filled with horses and chariots, with 
trumpeters and pipers, with singers and 
players upon stringed instruments, to 
welcome the pilgrims as they went up, 
and followed one another in at the beau- 
tiful gate of the city." Such is the joy 
which men can and do have who say, 
with heads thrown back and with eyes 
sparkling, "I believe ... in the life 
everlasting." 

229 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

This joy is made rational by the su- 
preme fact that the God who makes 
heaven what it is also breathes His life 
into every particle of our earthly en- 
vironment. If we may seize upon that 
most practical discernment, the discern- 
ment of the constant Presence of God 
behind and within all the outward sights 
and sounds of the world, then we shall 
know, not only what this life means, 
but what life means for ever and even 
And day by day, as we trust ourselves 
more unreservedly to this ultimate Com- 
panionship, we shall know as we never 
thought we could know how utterly 
God loves men. We shall see him 
brooding over all who have tangled 
their lives with folly and indulgence 
and hate; we shall see such love as a 
human face has showed only once in all 

230 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

history; we shall see a determination 
to save these bitter and shameless be- 
ings by a love which will risk both the 
world and Himself for their reclaim- 
ing; we shall see a hope which sur- 
passes all philosophy and theology and 
poetry and art — a hope which yearns 
so fervently and powerfully for the love 
of men that we, too, with our shallow 
human love and our little faith, must 
also leap to the hope that all humanity, 
even what we call the dregs, shall yet 
be gathered into the Father's embrace. 
If only, we cry, they could see what we 
see, how could they hesitate to abandon 
all their mawkish so-called pleasure, and 
arise to claim their heritage, breaking 
down, with scalding tears, and saying, 
" I will go to my Father." 

People are sometimes afraid to trust 

231 



THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY 

such a hope. They think that it may be 
wise for those who are bad not to be 
told how forgiving and patient and end- 
lessly expectant God's love may be: 
these draggled and miry souls had bet- 
ter hear only of God's unappeasable 
justice — then they may be frightened 
and turn to Him. Even for those who 
are now living fairly good lives, too 
great emphasis on God's forgiving 
love might encourage slackness. So the 
hopeful are bidden to withhold their 
joy. But ponder this argument of those 
who plead for an expedient theory of 
ethics. Of two men which is the safer: 
is it the man who suspects that his fa- 
ther so far tempers his love with other 
qualities that he really does not love 
him at all, requiring of him virtue only 
that the father may not be disgraced by 

232 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

an unworthy son, and therefore exact- 
ing duties with awful penalties for their 
non-performance: or, is it the man, on 
the other hand, who is confident that 
his father loves him so much that he will 
die rather than see him come to irre- 
trievable grief, — yes, that his father 
loves him so much that he will die to 
make his love perfectly and unmistak- 
ably clear to him ? Which of these sons 
will strive to conquer all his tempta- 
tions ? Which will be likely to say such 
words as Prince Hal cried out to his 

father, when he saw how great was his 
father's love for him? 

I will redeem all this . . . 

And in the closing of some glorious day 

Be bold to tell you that I am your son. 

There can be no possible doubt of the 
answer. If human love can do a lit- 

233 



iTHE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY^ 

tie, in this sacred task of making the 
world good, how dare we, in the name 
of justice or in the name of righteous- 
ness, or in any other name below the 
Highest, set a limit to what the love of 
God can do? 

Therefore, knowing that God is our 
Father, who loves us as the Lord Christ 
loved the erring and the lost; who feels 
for us such responsibility as that Good 
Shepherd felt when He went seeking 
all the strayed and sorry sheep until He 
found them; who is as eternally giving 
Himself for us as this same Christ gave 
Himself for His friends when He laid 
down His life for them because "greater 
love hath no man than this," — there- 
fore our joy may be unbounded. He is 
our God now. He is the present solu- 
tion of every earthly success and hap- 

234 



RESPONSIBILITY OF GOD 

piness, of every earthly pain and afflic- 
tion. And He is our God eternally. 
Because He is, and because He has 
called us to be, not servants but friends, 
He will bring us always closer to Him- 
self. We cannot imagine the future; 
but Him we know: and knowing Him 
and His willingness to be responsible 
for it, it is our joy to leave altogether 
to his keeping our immortality. For the 
joy which includes and explains all 
other joys is the joy of knowing Him. 
In the last and best thought concerning 
the future we must say that our immor- 
tality is God. 

THE END 



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