No matter that we do not know what we are here for. We may not understand how our lives are to be woven into the great design of the world’s work any more than a single thread of some wonderful and beautiful rug understands the pattern of which it is a part.
No matter, I say. The Master-Weaver understands what we are here for and what we are doing, and that is enough. He has uses for every sound thread and doubtless one is as important as another. Vaunt not yourself O thread of purple, over your fellow-thread of white!
Asserting then that the man who quarries stone has served humanity as well as he who writes a book, if quarrying stone is what he can do best; asserting the equal value of all things done well and the equal dignity of all sincere and honest work of hand and brain, I shall not be misunderstood when I say that the present day has developed three careers of usefulness which, while not more important, are more continuously prominent than any others.
These are statesmanship, journalism, and the pulpit.
The Pulpit deals with faith. It has to do with religion. Religion makes moral ideals vital. Moral ideals make individual life sweet and satisfying, national life strong and pure. “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” The young man and the pulpit are therefore preeminent in conspicuity.
The American people at heart are a religious people. They are practical and fearless, too. If you will listen to the chance conversations of the ordinary American you will find that the laymen of the Nation have some very decided views upon the Pulpit, the man who fills it, and the work he ought to do.
In the breast of the millions there is not only a great need but a great yearning for certain things of the soul which it is for the Pulpit to supply. This paper is an attempt to talk as one of these millions to the young man who is about to mount to this sacred station.
“I have just come from church,” said a friend one day, “and I am tired and disappointed. I went to hear a sermon and I listened to a lecture.
“I went to worship and I was merely entertained.
“The preacher was a brilliant man and his address was an intellectual treat; but I did not go to church to hear a professional lecturer. When I want merely to be entertained I will go to the theater.
“But I do not like to hear a preacher principally try to be either orator or artist. I am pleased if he is both; but before everything else I want him to bear me the Master’s message. I want the minister to preach Christ and Him crucified.”
The man who said this was a journalist of ripe years, highly educated, widely experienced, acquainted with men and life. He was world-weary with that weariness which comes of the journalist’s incessant contact with every phase of human activity, good and bad, great and small.
For no man touches life at so many points and is both so rich in and worn by human experiences as the newspaper man in daily service. And I have found that this expression of the wise old man of the press whom I have quoted fairly reflects a general feeling among men of all other classes.