Project Canterbury

Columbia University

St. Paul's Chapel



[New York:] no publisher, 1907.


The following Addresses were delivered during the first Lenten season in the newly dedicated St. Paul's Chapel. On this account it is assumed that they may be of somewhat historic interest.

Moreover, the character of their reception at the time of delivery warrants the hope that these brief messages may be of interest and value to many who were unable to hear them.

It only remains to add that the time allotted--twelve minutes--was too short for anything like thorough treatment, and that the talks, which were for the most part extemporaneous, are set forth as nearly as possible in the form in which they were delivered.

G. A. O.

Columbia University,
Lent, 1907.




Bishop of New York

The list of topics connected with these Friday Services assigns to me, as my subject, "The Branded Body." I assume that some of you will already have anticipated the incident which suggested that topic, the story which is told by. St. Paul in the Letter to the Church in Galatia. In its sixth Chapter, at the 17th verse, he uses these words:

"Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." As some of you will remember, the Greek word for "marks" is "stigmata" (stigmata), the original meaning of which is abundantly familiar to all of us. In old days, in other words--and alas! that we should have to remember it, in days not so old in our own land--it was customary to brand slaves; just as on the plains to-day cattle are branded, to indicate their ownership. The Apostle, having been met with a challenge because of his apparent indifference to certain Hebrew rites, lifts the whole subject, as he was wont to do, to the highest altitude, and uses this striking figure in doing so. Did anybody say that he was indifferent to the outward and visible marks of discipleship, to that ancient faith in which he was born and bred? He resents the charge with indignant denial. "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Of the stock of Israel; circumcised the eighth day; as touching the law a Pharisee."

But when that charge is brought again, as it would appear to have been, by somebody in Galatia, he brushes it all aside, and, as I have said, by lifting the whole subject into its higher atmosphere, presents us with that striking image of himself, scourged and scarred and emaciated as he was, as the evidence Whose servant he was, and Whose brand he bore. In his Christian Apostleship, in other words, over and over again, his body had had left upon it the wounds which hostile hands had inflicted; and if anybody wanted to know whose slave he was, he could say, boldly, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."

[4] Men and brethren, has it ever occurred to us that we ought to be able to say the same thing? Of course; we cannot expect that, in days like these, when persecution no longer runs riot, there should be stripes, and bruises, and scars, to betoken our Christian discipleship; but man is a three-fold creature--of body and brain and soul--and the sovereign that rules his body and his brain should betray itself in his physical aspect.

Indeed, as a matter of fact it does. It is impossible to go into any crowd of people, whether they are shop girls or students, whether they are car drivers or philosophers, and not see, somewhere in their outward aspect, a token of the life they lead and live. It is this, suffer me to say, which explains the season an which a great body of Christians all around the world--of various views alas! in many things, but of one mind, thank God, in this--has recently entered. How absurd to many minds is this observance that began last Wednesday! But, has it ever occurred to you that no discipline, whether for mind or body, can ever be effective for which there is not a time and place? And no one to whom I speak this morning, can be unconscious of the fact that the temptations of our modern life, its self-indulgences, its dissipations, its secret habits, may greatly degrade, if they do not positively enslave. And so I submit that the question that belongs to us for the next forty days is this--In this complex kingdom of body, soul, and spirit, who is king, the conscience, or the carcass?--the will, inspired by God, or the appetite kindred to the beasts? It is quite idle for any of us to say that he is removed from the present challenge of this question. In some form or other, by the secret intrusion of some unguarded appetite, the evil enters in, and gets the mastery over the flesh. Our mental depression, our nervous perturbation, our physical enervation, all alike combine to make us slaves to the tobacco habit, the tea habit, the drink habit, or some other; and you have seen, as I have, the fairest temples, reared for the spirit of God to dwell in, dragged down, by some such indulgence, to the gutter.

Make this, then, a time to ask God to help you to be willing to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus--to redeem your appetites, your body, your affections, all your coarser hungers, and to consecrate them to Jesus--to bring, in one word, your whole nature to the foot of the Cross of Christ, and to ask him to stamp it with the indelible mark of service and sonship to him.



Acting Chaplain of Columbia University.

What gravity is to the physical universe so is honesty to the world of men. Without it disintegration must ensue. Without some considerable degree of honesty business would come to a standstill; industry and commerce would cease; cooperation would end and man would drift back to his primitive state of individualism and barbarism. In the sphere of intellect, also, is honesty of prime importance. In proportion as a student, or scholar, or writer is honest, not merely in actions, but in thought, just to that extent is his work likely to have enduring weight and value. The same principle holds in the moral and spiritual realm. Honesty in religion should, indeed, be a truism. Religion, which appeals to all that is highest in man's nature, ought first and foremost to insist, not merely upon honesty of conduct, but also on integrity of intellectual processes. Its devotees should be honest in thought.

But, alas, what do we find? On the one hand, are many religious men making professions far in excess of their actual beliefs; and on the other hand, are multitudes of men of learning, of earnest purpose, of high and noble life, who feel conscientiously unable to ally themselves with any form of religion.

Surely in the case of Christianity, a religion which claims to embody and set forth the truth, such a situation is anomalous. How comes it that such a state of affairs exists?

Doubtless one reason many men stay outside of religion is because they are unwilling to assume the responsibility which its open avowal involves. Such are either deliberately dishonest or the victims of self-deceit. In either case they take shelter behind the phrase "intellectual difficulties." With this class we need go no further than to commend common honesty--honesty of heart and mind which will either gladly accept the consequences of the truth it pretends to desire or will frankly admit that it prefers to remain in complacent ignoble ignorance!

Another, and perhaps more prevalent cause, and one which applies both to the man without and the man within, is indifference--an indifference, a lukewarmness wholly unworthy so important a [5/6] subject. To an earnest man, religion must be everything or nothing. For an honest, self-respecting man there is no middle ground. Better, a thousand times, honest disbelief than dishonest acquiescence. Lukewarmness in such a matter is unworthy of man and an insult to God. "I would thou wert cold or hot," God is represented as saying, "but because thou art lukewarm I will spew thee out of my mouth." This cannot mean that God would rather have a man either very good or very bad, but rather that He sees more hope for even the very bad than for the indifferent. There is more hope for a Saul of Tarsus opposing God to the utmost in his mistaken, though honest, zeal than for the complacent, self-satisfied Pharisees.

But there is a third class of persons with whom I have profoundest sympathy. These are they who feel that to ally themselves with Christianity they must fetter and bind their intellect, must, indeed, make a sacrifice of what appears to them of fundamental import, viz., intellectual honesty. These persons are neither dishonest nor indifferent. They are mistaken.

Surely it is high time to remind such men that they not only can, but must, retain their honesty and utilize their freedom of intellect in religion; that Christianity, above all religions, claims to be no mere sentiment or feeling, but claims to be true, to correspond to actuality. Its Founder makes the startling claim that He is the Truth, and such is the professed belief of all His followers to-day. Truly, then, Christianity need fear no amount of investigation, so it be honest and thorough. Its very claim, indeed, is a challenge to such investigation, and it is only a timorous faith that declines the issue. Let us never fear truth. Truth is a big thing, and however much in the earlier stages its various aspects may appear to conflict, in the final issue they must agree. Truth is a vital thing and cannot be handed down from age to age in a napkin. Truth is a powerful thing. It stands in no need of our puny patronage, but we stand in dire need of its protection and strength.

What, then, let us ask, does Honesty in Religion demand of us as individuals? Three things. First of all--don't pretend to believe more than you do. So to do augurs a curiously distorted conception of God and of salvation. It assumes that salvation is based upon mere intellectual profession--as if that could save any man. It assumes that such professions are pleasing to God--as if God could be pleased with a lie.

No upright man could take pleasure in professions of friendship or allegiance, however exalted, did he suspect their genuineness. Can [6/7] it be that God is less hard to please? Can it be that Almighty God is more satisfied with the man who assents, let us say, to the entire creed, but does so with little or no thought, or with considerable doubt and misgiving, than with the man to whom a portion of it is dearer than life, but who refuses to go farther than in honesty he can? Let us ever remember that there is no virtue in mere professions as such; that salvation is a thing not merely of the future, but of the present, and that the only belief potent to save is a vital and therefore an honest one. No mere mechanical acquiescence in any formula, however sacred, will suffice. The belief that takes hold of a man's heart and soul and is part of his very life--this is the only vital belief; this the only saving faith. Well did Ingersoll utter the taunt: "If Christians only believed half what they claim to believe they would set the world on fire." Half-hearted belief is surely one cause of the ineffectiveness of many Christians.

Honesty's second demand complements the first. Believe as much as you can. The right attitude, the scholarly attitude, the only attitude that spells progress is that of Phillips Brooks--not must I believe this, but may I believe. How difficult an attitude it is to take is well illustrated by the experience of one of our bishops with a traveling man on the train. In the course of conversation the man remarked with much apparent sincerity that he would like to believe if he could. "Will you then promise," said the Bishop, "to say this prayer for a month: 'O, possibility of a Saviour, give me light'?" The man agreed. Meeting him a few weeks later the Bishop asked: "How are you getting along, my friend? Are you receiving the light you have been praying for?" With evident embarrassment the man replied: "No, Bishop, I stopped saying that prayer after two weeks. I found I didn't want light."

Finally, honesty demands that a man live up to what he believes, in the confident assurance that this is the only way to grow in knowledge. By putting into practice truths at first held tentatively one arrives at an experimental and personal knowledge of them. This in turn forms a foundation for further advance. Follow the light you have and you get more light. Use your talents and you increase them. Live the truth and it becomes vital. If you cannot accept Christ's divinity, then at least follow His humanity and by so doing you will ultimately be led to the higher truths. Certain it is, if Christ be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, all honest seekers after truth must some time or other find Him; and all honest investigations when completed must make His character stand out but the dearer and more resplendent.

[8] Not many years ago a minister in the Highlands of Scotland called upon an avowed atheist with the hope of converting him. They talked long into the night, but without avail. As the minister started home the host prepared a lantern and handed it to him, but to his amazement the guest refused to take it. "Why," he exclaimed, "you can't think of going across these lonely hills a night like this without a lantern. It would be suicidal!" "But," replied the minister, "that lantern will be of no use to me. It throws no light on my home beyond the hills." "True," said the other, "but it will throw a light about your path and so enable you to avoid pitfalls and reach home safely."

So with religion. It will not explain all mysteries in heaven and earth. But, if what little of it we may have be genuine and be faithfully followed, it will throw a light about our path. Cherish that light, follow it faithfully, and it will lead you home.




Editor of "The Outlook"

Genesis, 3:15--"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its heel."

The serpent makes a little puncture in the skin; poison enters; sickness and perhaps death ensues. Thus the serpent bruises the heel. You get your heel on the head of the serpent and you do not take it off again until the head of the serpent is crushed and he is dead. Thus the heel bruises the head of the serpent. The ancient prophet foresaw the long contest between good and evil, between sin and righteousness. Sin, the apostle John defines as lawlessness. Wherever the spirit of lawlessness goes there go disease and peril of death. But eventually man will conquer the spirit of lawlessness and bring in the kingdom of God. The serpent will poison whatever it touches, but man will crush the head of the serpent.

[9] It is our duty and it is within our power to destroy sin. We are not to banish it, nor to compromise with it, nor to content ourselves with regulating it or reforming it; that is, putting it into forms that are less noxious. We are absolutely to destroy it. Within the limits of time allotted to me this morning I can illustrate this truth only by its application to a single kind of sin; the sin of covetousness.

By covetousness I mean, and I think the Bible means, the desire to get something for nothing. This is a very common desire in American life. We conceal this inherent viciousness by many fine phrases. We call it energy, enterprise, shrewdness, sagacity, skill, but whatever we call it and whatever disguise it wears, the desire to get something for nothing is always a vicious desire. It may show itself in the gambling hell where the professional gambler fleeces his silly victim, or in bridge whist where the fashionable lady plucks her guest and sends her from the parlor a hundred dollars the poorer for the afternoon play, or on 'Change where the gambling is done with stocks, or cotton, or pork, or grain; it may be seen in the grocer who sells colored oleomargarine for Orange County butter, or in the packer who puts into his tin can a little chicken meat, a good deal of corn-meal and some chicken feathers and sells it for the genuine article; it may be seen in the petty thief who carries off the overcoat from your hallway or in the magnificent thief who palms off on an unsuspecting public stock that represents no value and cynically says afterward: "I did not say that it would pay a dividend, did I?" Whatever the form, whereever there is this desire to get something for nothing, there is the spirit of dishonesty. I do not say that all these forms of covetousness are equally wrong. I have no desire to balance one sin against another and see which is the weightier of the two. I do not know whether in the sight of God it is more sinful to wreck a train or wreck a railroad company. I simply say that whatever the form this desire may take, the desire is inherently, essentially, fundamentally, vicious. I am not condemning all railroad management; on the contrary, among our best, noblest and most useful citizens are found some of our railroad builders and managers. I am not condemning all stock operations; on the contrary the buying and selling of stock is an essential part of the industry of our country. I am not condemning all card playing; on the contrary I think it often an innocent and restful recreation. I am simply condemning the desire to get something for nothing as alike vicious, whether shown at the card table or at the stock exchange, in the country grocer or in the great packing house.

"Naked come we into the world," says the sacred writer. I have never known a man so skeptic as to doubt that statement. Coming [9/10] naked, there are only three ways we can acquire property. We can produce it by our own exertion of brain or hand, we can receive it as a gift, or we can take it from another without compensation. The first is the method of industry; the second is sometimes the method of love--then it is honorable, sometimes the method of beggary--then it is not; the third is the method of the thief. It is true that gambling and thieving are not the same, as forgery and highway robbery are not the same, but they have a common root--the desire to get something for nothing--and that, however it shows itself, whether in highway robbery or in sneak thieving; whether in selling adulterated goods or selling valueless stocks; whether in gambling with cards or gambling with grain, is always a sin against God and against the social order.

We can by law regulate this desire to get something for nothing; we can require the grocer to put the word "oleomargarine" on his imitation of butter; we can require the packer to submit his canned meats to inspection; we can forbid the financier to issue stock until the property which it represents has been examined by some government bureau and the issue has been authorized; we can close up by the police some of the grosser gambling hells. This probably is all that we can do by law. It is often and truly said that we cannot make men good by legislation; all that we can do is to protect ourselves from the worser forms of evil. But this is not all that religion can do, nor all that public opinion can do, nor all that you young men of this University can do. You can get your heel on the head of the serpent; you can eradicate from the human breast the desire to get something for nothing. You can destroy the root out of which the various forms of dishonesty grow. We can write opposite the name of the successful gambler the word "disgrace" instead of the word "successful"; we can class the covetous man--that is, the man who desires to get something for nothing--where Paul classes him: "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no, not to eat." Paul, you observe, gave this counsel long before President Hadley gave it. We can measure men not by the amount of money which they have acquired, nor yet by what they do with it when they have acquired it, but by the methods they have pursued in its acquisition. If they have truly made it by a beneficent industry, they are entitled to honor; if they have obtained it by sagacity from the storehouse of others, no matter how sagacious they have been, they deserve our condemnation.

But you and I cannot put the stamp of disgrace on this desire in another and condone it in ourselves. We may forgive our neighbor, [10/11] but we have no right to forgive ourselves except upon the condition of a strong resolve never to repeat the offence. This is said to be a commercial age. A commercial age is better than an ecclesiastical age or a military age. Properly speaking, a commercial age is characterized by the free and equal interchange of the products of industry. This is what commerce means; this is what it ought to mean to you who are going out to have your share in the world's activity. For what purpose are you going? By what motive inspired? By what ideal led? Let me speak perfectly plainly. If your ambition is to get rich quickly, if your aim is to get your neighbor's wealth into your pocket by what men call shrewdness and sagacity; if, in brief, you are actuated by the ambition to get something for nothing, you belong to the criminal class. For every man, by whatever name he may be called, who is trying to get something for nothing is actuated by a criminal spirit. Put your heel on that spirit in yourself; grind it to powder; leave no life in that serpent if he ever shows himself in your own heart. For the ambition to get something for nothing substitutes the ambition to render to your age, your country, your fellow-men the highest and best service you can render; study to see how much you can contribute toward making your world, your country, your town, your village, your home happier, wiser, truer, nobler, diviner, because you have lived in it. The battle of life is the battle between the ambition of service and the ambition of acquisition between the desire to do something for your age and the desire to get something for nothing. God strengthen you for this battle; God inspire you to live a life of noble service.




Rector, St. Mark's Church.

"Jesus saith unto him, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."--St. John, 20:29.

These words of our Lord stand in direct opposition to a widespread conviction of the present day. That conviction is tersely expressed in the trite saying, "Seeing is believing." Jesus would say to [11/12] his skeptically inclined disciples, it is well to believe on the basis of sight, but it is better to be able to believe without that basis. In the realm of thinking men to-day, knowledge is at a premium, and faith, I fear, at a heavy discount. Man takes the position that knowledge is the supreme thing to be desired, and that only the credulous will believe what is incapable of verification. Religion is to a certain extent discredited, because it asks men to believe things which cannot be proved. That demand removes it from the interests of men of intellect, and relegates it as a survival serviceable only for the more unthinking women and children.

We may with great propriety thank God for our appreciation of knowledge. When men passionately yearn for it, when they give their lives to discriminate between 'the true and the false, in history, in science, in ethics, yes, and in religion, too, when we see the largest single gift presumably ever made that more men may know, and know better, we can but rejoice. Nevertheless it is to be noted that all the knowledge we have or ever can have, will not' enable us to dispense with faith. Indeed I think that the larger knowledge we possess the larger place do we of necessity find for faith. For in the first place, faith is the pioneer of knowledge; and in the second place, faith is, at least in certain conditions, superior to knowledge.

Faith must first pass through the illimitable forest of things knowable and blast the way. Then carefully following this guidance man may go on as far as his allotted time and his given talents will permit, and pick up his knowledge by the way. To be concrete. Take the child who is beginning to acquire knowledge, how does it first come to him? Does it come as demonstrated fact or as accepted belief? He believes long before he can know, he believes vastly more than he can know. He accepts what is told him as an article of his creed, and at a certain point prefers fairy tales to sober history. If he is told that the sun is relatively stationary and that the earth does all the moving, he will make that statement an article of belief, but he cannot put it in his store of demonstrated knowledge. One of the hardest problems of the education of children comes from the necessity of putting belief as the pioneer of knowledge. He may grasp many facts, but when he asks for evidence, the teacher is baffled, because the demonstration goes beyond the range of the child's understanding. He can be told that the fact is certain, but that its proof he must patiently wait for, and often it is not possible to give him any better satisfaction.

If the child were to rebel against belief and refuse to accept any fact undemonstrable to his understanding, his education would be [12/13] seriously impeded. His progress would be painfully tedious, and he would become an adult in years while remaining a child in knowledge. His advance in knowledge is dependent upon the liveliness of his faith, and upon the maintenance of the things he believes ever in the van of the things he knows.

But when we become men shall we not put away childish things? Some of them, I hope, but not all; and surely not this method of education. If ever your faith shall get to the rear of your knowledge, you will either turn about and travel backward, or your forward course will be with steps painfully slow.

In the whole world of scientific discovery there was never a case of sublimer or more far reaching faith than Darwin's when he discovered the doctrine of evolution. For at the beginning he did not have the array of facts which found place in the "Descent of Man;" the great conclusion first came to him as an article of belief. He was possessed by faith long years before he could claim a demonstration. If he had refused to entertain the article of faith, then the marvelous discovery would have waited for another to search out and unfold. In reality evolution is still for most of us largely an article of belief, and yet we do not hesitate to base our thought and our investigations upon it.

All new discoveries are made in that way. Columbus believed that the earth was round. Rob his soul of the element of faith, and America might still be the home of the Indian. It is impossible to keep speculation out of our acquisition of knowledge, or to keep it in the background. We lay great stress on facts, and rightly, but if we get hold of a new fact, it is of very little value, until the interpreter comes along, and tells us what he believes. Sometimes fact must be added to fact before faith can have a place, but the facts are meaningless until the man with large faith becomes their interpreter. The interpretation, which is merely a creed, goes always far in advance of the facts, and never can lose its position in the lead, unless it would become a dead and useless thing.

Let us take one more instance: say a person is a student of history, What is his primary interest to-day? It runs along two lines. The critical sifting of truth from falsehood, and the interpretation of events. Whether a certain statement records an actual happening or not will be determined by a painstaking and exhaustive investigation. But the modern student is not greatly concerned with facts that are well established. His interest lies in the meaning of events, the relation of one happening to others, that is the philosophy of history. There lies the fascination and the value of historical study; but the moment the [13/14] student travels that road, he finds himself obliged to call on faith as an indispensable tool. He must believe before it is possible to know.

From the proposition already laid before you briefly it is a short step to the final point I desire to make, that faith calls for a higher quality in our human nature than knowledge. To believe without knowledge is sometimes so much finer than to believe with knowledge. There is scarcely time to do much qualifying; therefore it must suffice to say that the matter of belief must be good, that in praising faith I do not mean to commend credulity

Suppose I say to my friend, "I believe you are an honest man." He replies, "Why do you believe I am honest?" I answer, "Because for the past year I have had you watched by detectives. Every deed of yours has been carefully scrutinized. Every business transaction has been observed. You have even been followed on the cars to see that you paid your fare; no detail of your concerns has been too small to receive attention, yet there is no single blot on your record." I have faith in my friend founded on a solid structure of knowledge. But how little my friend would appreciate either my faith or my knowledge! How justly he and every other right-minded person would despise the littleness of soul that builds up a faith by such a process.

On the other hand suppose when my friend asks me the basis of my belief in his integrity, I am able to say, "I have looked into your open face; I have seen the gaze of your honest eyes; I have held communion with your spirit, and it rings true." Then the soul of my friend is knit to my soul, and both he and I learn the blessedness of believing what we have not seen.

I am sure we can understand now what Jesus meant, and what is more to the point perceive its truth. St. Thomas was a prototype of many modern minds. Seeing was believing to him. He did not propose to be swept off his feet by a superstition, as his fellows seemed to be. He would believe on adequate evidence. Let him put his finger into the nailprints and his hand into the wounded side, or he will not believe. The evidence he demanded was given, his conviction was absolute, and his feeble faith was good as far as it went. But there is a finer faith: "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Blessed are they who can recognize their Lord, not by any physical tests, wounds, or healing the sick, or walking on the sea, or raising the dead, or by a voice from heaven, but by fellowship of soul, by striving for the same things for which he strived, by seeing the ideal of life which he saw, by grasping the eternal destiny of man as he grasped it.

Religion offers its adherents a certain amount of knowledge, but [14/15] it presents a far larger room for faith. That is not its weakness but its power. Perhaps we should like to know that man will be redeemed from his sins, that he will sometime be really pure. Christ came with the glorious gospel, veritably good news, that we may believe it. Yes, even in the midst of a sordid life, with constant exposure of unexpected wickedness, we may still believe that in Jesus Christ all mankind will be redeemed. Take our knowledge if you will, but spare our faith.

Project Canterbury