These, you say, are the reasons why one’s allegiance should be given to the Christian Church. Let us now look back over the processional as it marches across the dim years. Saints, martyrs, confessors, evangelists, and singing children have joined its historic train. Is there any other processional in the world’s history which, numbering such millions and millions, began with only one? When the Christ enters the arena of history, He comes as one to lead myriad deep-lived souls! Next, there follow twelve. They, two by two, take up the marching line. Think of their deeds and influence, of their inspiring power! What would have been the record of those obscure fishermen of Galilee and of their simple friends, had they refused to ally themselves with the leader who called for their allegiance and their obedient love?
Next follow the early disciples. Tried by scourging, by stripes, by poverty, by imprisonment, by all manner of danger and trial, they yet remain true. Then follow the prophets, those whose clear vision looks out on things unknown and things unseen. To the prophet is intrusted the ministry of hope and inspiration. Then follow the martyrs who yield life for the cause they profess. In torture at the stake, and on the cross, by fire and by sword, they show forth an unshaken and undying faith. Then follow matrons and virgins, babes and children, reformers and mediaeval saints with a convoy of angels, singing as they march. These are the Church triumphant, the Church above. But to-day we have among us the Church militant—the long processional of congregations, elders, deacons, members, ministers and missionaries, young people, and workers in every phase of enterprise and reform. These all communicant on earth are the Church militant, whose work is to keep alive the traditions of the past and to march onward to an endless victory and to an unceasing praise. Who, looking upon that processional, filing through the ages of the years of man, would say that there may be a parliament of religions? A parliament of boasts and pomps, of good precepts and queries, of misuses and half-truths, of superstitions and infinite idolatries, no doubt; but there is but one religion, though it be perverted in many ways and rightly revealed at divers times; and there is but one God, infinite, true, holy, just, loving, and eternal. Where now are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Bow thy head, O Buddha! and do thou, O Zoroaster! hang thy head. Isis and Osiris grow dim; Jove nods in heaven; the pipe of Pan is dumb; Thor is silent in the northern Aurora; the tree of Igdrasil waves in midnight; Confucius is pale; Muhammad is dust. Darkness is over the skirts of the gods of the past—gloom receives them, Erebus holds outstretched arms. But the Lord God, Jehovah, the Ancient of Days, encanopied in space and glory, leads onward to the end of years His people in a mighty train, to a rule and kingdom which shall know no end. May thou and I, dear friend-soul, in whatsoever land thou be, may thou and I be numbered in that throng!