The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 01, 1914, Page 13, Image 13

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The Commoner
accepts as done for Himself whatever service is
rendered to any human brother "Lord, when
did we see-Thee hungry and fed Thee, and when
did we see Thee naked and covered Thee? Amen,
I say unto you, as often as ye did it to one of
these my least brethren ye did it to Me" (Matt.
xxiv. 40). In Christianity universal love is only
one form of universal justice, but here as else
where heroic Christianity has so often been
weakened by compromise and attenuated by
foot-note and exegesis and refined away into
sweet reasonableness and personal prejudice,
that the duty of universal love seems like a new
They who would labor for the peace of the
world should first strive for the triumph of the
religion of Christ. His greeting was "Pax Vo
bis!" "Peace be with you." His legacy was
peace: "My peace I leave you, My peace I
give unto you; not as the world giveth do I
give unto you," (John xiv. 27) not the peace
of the chloroformed conscience, but the peace
of the loving heart and the innocent life. His
Gospel was peace f Glory to God in the highest
and on eaTth peace to men of go6d will" were
the tidings that fell from the midnight sky at
Bethlehem when the cry of a little Child was
heard in the night and the mighty God of the
thunder, the hurler of the lightning bolt, lay a
trembling Infant on a bed of straw.
Today we are justified in the hope that this
vision of peace may be a' confirmed reality
among all the nations of America. May I ven
ture in this august and venerable presence to
express the gratitude of all Americans to the
First Citizen of the republic for the lofty policy,
the enlightened action, the heroic courage, the
sublime patience that have held this nation free
from the allurement of covetousness and the
embroilment of war? And may we not likewise
give thanks for the Premier who stands forth
as one of the world's chiefest apostles of peace,
the persuader of nations, who has bound the
world henceforward to strive for international
arbitration. So under' favor of heaven shall it
ever be. Not statesmen of blood and iron; not
Mars shaking the world as he walks; not the
bark of the cannon nor the shriek of the burst
ing shell; not crowded grAveyards and thronged
hospitals and mutilated multitudes and wan wid
ows and helpless orphans and all the drear and
dread accompaniment of war shall be the ideal
of our American republics. Rather let us take
for our guide and our philosophy the law of that
gentle Jesus, the sublimest Idealist of all time,
whom the frenzied brutality and materialism of
the world would stigmatize as an enthusiast and
a dreamer, but whom the reverence and spirit
uality of the world acclaim as their God and
Redeemer. When men sneer at the peacemaker
as a theorist and denounce the yearning after
brotherhood as a sentimental pose, let us Cher
ish as our inspiration and our comfort the vision
of that Prince of Peace, anguishing on the Cross,
the sublimest success while seemingly the great
est failure in all the history of mankind, Himseir
at once the apostle of radiant love and the vic
tim of malignant hatred, crucified between two.
thieves, lifted on the ignominious cross between
earth and heaven, clad only in His shame and in
His blood, but who out of the depths of His
seeming degradation and defeat was able to nit
His voice in tones of calm triumph and say to
His disciples: "Have confidence, I have overcome
tho world."
Following is the sermon delivered by Rev
John Brittan Clark, First Presbyterian church:
"What mean these stones?" Josh. 4:21.
The pageB of the Bible are like slides in a
wonderful. stereopticon putting great truths m
the form of beautiful pictures on the screen oi
human consciousness. The text this morning is
one of these impressive slides. It shows a heap
of rude, uncut, weather-beaten, gray stones,
Piled m the form of a rude altar. Near them is
a group of Hebrew children; they are wonder
fully interesting as they stand there under tlie
blue sky, in the yellow sand of the desert, in tne
brilliant sunlight, dark skinned, bare legged
and bare arms, the rosy flush of health upon then
soft round cheeks, the wind playing with t heir
uncovered black hair, their dark eyes alight witu
eager attention. They are gathered around one
much older, looking with reverence into the race
Beamed with vears, his head crowned with long
white hair. He is telling them about these stones.
Often they have noticed the deference paid them,
they have wondered why they were so carefully
guarded; why they were cautioned never to de
face them, never to disturb them, never to use
them when they built their forts In sport. Theso
stones looked like all stones, but they were troat
ed differently. Why? How wero they differ
ent? Why must they bo treated with reverence?
upon tneir childum lips had formed tho ques
tion 'What mean theso stones?" and ho around
whom they gather is telling them "What mean
theso stones." He tells them that one day in
April, many years before they wero born when
the barley and the flax were ripe in the fields on
the mountain sides and in the valleys, the He
brow people came, in the course of their long
journey from Egypt, to the Jordan river. The
snows that had long lain on the peaks and higher
levels of Hermon were melting, swelling tho
mountain streams which swiftly and noisily were
rushing over the pebbly courses and the imped
ing boulders to empty into the Jordan. Tho
Jordan Is ordinarily quite an insignificant
stream. It is its connection with the vital
things of God that alone gives it its great prom
inence. Through a deep crevice in the rocks
made by volcanic action many centuries ago, it
hurries with great velocity to tho Dead Sea, a
narrow, muddy, and in some places, deep stream.
On one side of it the bank rises in perpendicular
bluffs; on the other side the ground is low and
the water easily overspreads it with weeds,
bushes and drift. These flats, varying in width,
were covered that early April day with a .rush
ing, boiling mass of brown water, deep, resist
less. No boat could stem its force, no bridge
spanned it. The sun flashed from its twisting
current, overhead a bird or two hovered in the
air, along tho shore the thick bushes were swept
under the muddy stream.
Suddenly, a clear ringing note rose upon the
still air, trembled there a moment and died
throbbingly away the winding call of a ram's
horn trumpet. Soon, the bushes on tho bank
parted; six men, clad in white robes which made
a startling contrast to the green of the foliage
behind them and the brown of the stream be
fnf 'ham, stenped slowly into the edge of the
seething current. Through tho opening in tho
bushes behind them a vast host is visible, in a
long lino reaching far back into the distance.
MHiod worr'ors are there with swords and
spears and shields aglow in the sunlight. Aged
patriarchs are there bonding tremblingly upon
their rude staffs. Anxious, shrinking women
are there, gazing fearfully upon the scene before
them. Timid maidens are there clinging to tho
firm arm of stalwart Hebrew youths. Nestling
in loving arms are little children, warmed by
the sun and lulled by the. noise of the stream,
blissfully unconscious of what Is transpiring
around them. There, too, were herds and flocks
and all the possessions of a great nation in one
of the most mighty migrations of all time. Be
fore them is the Jordan, full to the brim and
overflowing its banks, a seemingly impregnable
barrier to progress.
Forward move the white robed priests, step
bv step, ever more deeply into the turbid stream.
Suddenly see the water round their feet it
boils it recoils, it struggles like a maddened
hound in leash, it mounts upon itself as if an
invisible dam had been thrown across its Path
as indeed there had. Higher, higher, higher
ft rises Piling up upon itself, twisting, hissing,
coil ne -til the priests, standing in the midst of
the Jordan carrying the Ark of God, have beside
them nnd far above their heads a liqueous. wall
nf trembling, throbbing water, quivering but
SLpr breaking. On the other side of them,
S?J water rushes rapidly away as if afrighted
2 the marvelous sight, leaving the bottom of the
?Lr Pxnosed; here and there, little shallow
nools in the depression, here and there great
v? .loJmlnewit in the unusual light; on
T farmer shore Uie trees are gently moving
. i hroP7P Hko the beckoning hands of guid
Ie the breez e liKe l" , Ark And the
inf Mat bare , th ? Ark of the Covenant 6f the
priests that bare tuer q
Lord stood firm on avy tro
the JTrdin, ? But m 'they -passed, twelve men,
over Jordan. B a l rlheQ of the nati0n,
one,from each f the twelve it m
picked up each stone jro m
river's course, carried tnem gerye
thev went and tfaced ie memor,al of th,8
through all the future a gtQry
great dividing of Me waters g Qf
the aged man wor" t0 year, when they
Hebrew children, '5 asking "What
stood 0UtSi'7 Can you not see it all
mean these stones. a ywith eraoti0n stir
tho face of the ten b the great
rt"!n &."pCrbe Mm- had a
part? tho young faces boforo him filled with
wonder, all In wrapt attention, scarcely breath
ing in their oxcltod Interest? I think I cam
see some small brown handBrcop out to touck
Uiobo old, old stones, ovor which for conturle
tho wild river had run oro tho eyo of man had
seen tnem.
"What mean these atones?" These ton
meant tho recognition of a. .great event in the
nation's history. Theso stones meant tho cease
less remembrance of that ovont. Theso stones
meant that in the lifo and deepest heart of each
generation this precious heritage of the early
days should be gratofully enshrined. "What
mean those stones?" They were meant to keep
the Hebrew people from ever forgetting the
crossing of tho Hebrew fathors westward over
tho Jordan river.
And does not that suggest, instantly, today,
another crossing westward ovor the Intervening
water, of a pro-eminent pulsation of human life,
carrying the rollglous destiny of a mighty race
with It, tho crossing of tho wild Atlantic by
tho Pilgrim fathers?
Once every yoar this nation stops Its busy, its
resistless, Its almost mad rush of life; stops its
factory wheels, stops its mail, stops its typo
machines and adding machines and all sorts of
whirring, producing machines; all over tho coun
try tho pens lie Idle on the desks. What for?
Why these cessations of life? What mean theso
closed stores, these quiet streets, theso unoccu
piod people, these silent fnctorles. In thought,
at least, wo all go to PlymuiHh Rock and ask
the almost identical question theso Hebrew
children asked In the long ago1 century. "What
means this stone?" It means that long ago tho
fathors of this people came' out from enslave
ment to what they felt was wrong In man's re
lation to God, carrying In tholr hearts tho holy
ark of God, tlje BIblo with tho puro spiritual
life. They camo to edgo of tho vast, wild, heav
ing waters of tho sea. They committed them
selves to it, feeling they wero the prlestB of pop
ular liberty, of the freedom to worship
God. "What means this stone?" This is what
it means. It means that the wild sea opened
boforo them a path to tho now world, that they
passed as did the Hebrew fathers from Egypt
Into Palestine, from the lands of Europe with
its old atmosphere into the new world with its
noW Ideals.
But that was long, long ago; Innumerable
pressing interests have arisen since then, terid
ing, not weakly, to make the present and oncom
ing generations miss tho vital meaning of that
momentous migration the exodus from the old
world of the Pilgrim fathors. The present looks
rarely backward; when it takes a retrospect, it
is more often In curiosity or for present material
benefit than In reverent gratitude. To a far too
great degree tho Pilgrim fathers are names to
be conjured with, rather than the incarnation of
principles to inspire. Shall they who crossed
tho barrier between the slavery of conscience
to killing forms, and tho liberty of conscience
to enjoy vital spiritual reality, bo forgotten? To
that question tho Hebrews answered with glor
ious emphasis, "NO" and they reared twelve
stones from out the very crossing itself to elicit
tho question from succeeding generations,
"What mean these stones?" and every timo It
was answered, tho fathers lived again, tho vital
transition of their national life was recalled for
tho adoring reverence of their descendants.
Shall it not be so with us? What means this
national thanksgiving which falls every year
with its imperative prohibition across the mad
rush of our secular life? What means this
potent "Peace bo still" to the noises of the
street, to tho flerco competition of business, to
tho loud grlndlngs of the mills. It means that
we, the children of the fathers, shall hear again
the story of tho crossing of the fathers, of tho
parting of tho sea before the Mayflower, that
ark of spiritual liberty; shall hear again, shall
keep in mind, shall never forget, the passing of
bi'""n iff 'nto the nation and the world God
designed to be.
But tho mere memory' of a past event is not,
in itself, dynamic. These stones meant far more
than a reminder of something done. Up to
that crossing of the Jordan, the way, though
hard, had been comparatively easy for the He
brew people. God had driven out their foes for
them in miraculous ways. After crossing Jor
dan they themselves had to drive out their foes
by many hard battles. Up to the Jordan cross
ing, their wants had been miraculously supplied.
Did not the manna cover the ground like frost?
Did not the quails cover the earth like tho brown
leaves of the trees in autumn? Did not the rocks
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