In His Steps
Charles M. Sheldon
Part 4 out of 5
Rose went into the dining-room and began to eat from a plate of
fruit and cakes on the sideboard.
"Are you going up to see mother?" asked Felicia after a while. She
had remained in front of the drawing-room fireplace.
"No," replied Rose from the other room. "I won't trouble her
tonight. If you go in tell her I am too tired to be agreeable."
So Felicia turned into her mother's room, as she went up the great
staircase and down the upper hall. The light was burning there, and
the servant who always waited on Mrs. Sterling was beckoning Felicia
to come in.
"Tell Clara to go out," exclaimed Mrs. Sterling as Felicia came up
to the bed.
Felicia was surprised, but she did as her mother bade her, and then
inquired how she was feeling.
"Felicia," said her mother, "can you pray?"
The question was so unlike any her mother had ever asked before that
she was startled. But she answered: "Why, yes, mother. Why do you
ask such a question?"
"Felicia, I am frightened. Your father--I have had such strange
fears about him all day. Something is wrong with him. I want you to
"Now, here, mother?"
"Yes. Pray, Felicia."
Felicia reached out her hand and took her mother's. It was
trembling. Mrs. Sterling had never shown such tenderness for her
younger daughter, and her strange demand now was the first real sign
of any confidence in Felicia's character.
The girl kneeled, still holding her mother's trembling hand, and
prayed. It is doubtful if she had ever prayed aloud before. She must
have said in her prayer the words that her mother needed, for when
it was silent in the room the invalid was weeping softly and her
nervous tension was over.
Felicia stayed some time. When she was assured that her mother would
not need her any longer she rose to go.
"Good night, mother. You must let Clara call me if you feel badly in
"I feel better now." Then as Felicia was moving away, Mrs. Sterling
said: "Won't you kiss me, Felicia?"
Felicia went back and bent over her mother. The kiss was almost as
strange to her as the prayer had been. When Felicia went out of the
room her cheeks were wet with tears. She had not often cried since
she was a little child.
Sunday morning at the Sterling mansion was generally very quiet. The
girls usually went to church at eleven o'clock service. Mr. Sterling
was not a member but a heavy contributor, and he generally went to
church in the morning. This time he did not come down to breakfast,
and finally sent word by a servant that he did not feel well enough
to go out. So Rose and Felicia drove up to the door of the Nazareth
Avenue Church and entered the family pew alone.
When Dr. Bruce walked out of the room at the rear of the platform
and went up to the pulpit to open the Bible as his custom was, those
who knew him best did not detect anything unusual in his manner or
his expression. He proceeded with the service as usual. He was calm
and his voice was steady and firm. His prayer was the first
intimation the people had of anything new or strange in the service.
It is safe to say that the Nazareth Avenue Church had not heard Dr.
Bruce offer such a prayer before during the twelve years he had been
pastor there. How would a minister be likely to pray who had come
out of a revolution in Christian feeling that had completely changed
his definition of what was meant by following Jesus? No one in
Nazareth Avenue Church had any idea that the Rev. Calvin Bruce, D.
D., the dignified, cultured, refined Doctor of Divinity, had within
a few days been crying like a little child on his knees, asking for
strength and courage and Christlikeness to speak his Sunday message;
and yet the prayer was an unconscious involuntary disclosure of his
soul's experience such as the Nazareth Avenue people had seldom
heard, and never before from that pulpit.
"I AM just back from a visit to Raymond," Dr. Bruce began, "and I
want to tell you something of my impressions of the movement there."
He paused and his look went out over his people with yearning for
them and at the same time with a great uncertainty at his heart. How
many of his rich, fashionable, refined, luxury-loving members would
understand the nature of the appeal he was soon to make to them? He
was altogether in the dark as to that. Nevertheless he had been
through his desert, and had come out of it ready to suffer. He went
on now after that brief pause and told them the story of his stay in
Raymond. The people already knew something of that experiment in the
First Church. The whole country had watched the progress of the
pledge as it had become history in so many lives. Mr. Maxwell had at
last decided that the time had come to seek the fellowship of other
churches throughout the country. The new discipleship in Raymond had
proved to be so valuable in its results that he wished the churches
in general to share with the disciples in Raymond. Already there had
begun a volunteer movement in many churches throughout the country,
acting on their own desire to walk closer in the steps of Jesus. The
Christian Endeavor Society had, with enthusiasm, in many churches
taken the pledge to do as Jesus would do, and the result was already
marked in a deeper spiritual life and a power in church influence
that was like a new birth for the members.
All this Dr. Bruce told his people simply and with a personal
interest that evidently led the way to the announcement which now
followed. Felicia had listened to every word with strained
attention. She sat there by the side of Rose, in contrast like fire
beside snow, although even Rose was alert and as excited as she
"Dear friends," he said, and for the first time since his prayer the
emotion of the occasion was revealed in his voice and gesture, "I am
going to ask that Nazareth Avenue Church take the same pledge that
Raymond Church has taken. I know what this will mean to you and me.
It will mean the complete change of very many habits. It will mean,
possibly, social loss. It will mean very probably, in many cases,
loss of money. It will mean suffering. It will mean what following
Jesus meant in the first century, and then it meant suffering, loss,
hardship, separation from everything un-Christian. But what does
following Jesus mean? The test of discipleship is the same now as
then. Those of us who volunteer in this church to do as Jesus would
do, simply promise to walk in His steps as He gave us commandment."
Again he paused, and now the result of his announcement was plainly
visible in the stir that went up over the, congregation. He added in
a quiet voice that all who volunteered to make the pledge to do as
Jesus would do, were asked to remain after the morning service.
Instantly he proceeded with his sermon. His text was, "Master, I
will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." It was a sermon that
touched the deep springs of conduct; it was a revelation to the
people of the definition their pastor had been learning; it took
them back to the first century of Christianity; above all, it
stirred them below the conventional thought of years as to the
meaning and purpose of church membership. It was such a sermon as a
man can preach once in a lifetime, and with enough in it for people
to live on all through the rest of their lifetime.
The service closed in a hush that was slowly broken. People rose
here and there, a few at a time. There was a reluctance in the
movements of some that was very striking. Rose, however, walked
straight out of the pew, and as she reached the aisle she turned her
head and beckoned to Felicia. By that time the congregation was
rising all over the church. "I am going to stay," she said, and Rose
had heard her speak in the same manner on other occasions, and knew
that her resolve could not be changed. Nevertheless she went back
into the pew two or three steps and faced her.
"Felicia," she whispered, and there was a flush of anger on her
cheeks, "this is folly. What can you do? You will bring some
disgrace on the family. What will father say? Come!"
Felicia looked at her but did not answer at once. Her lips were
moving with a petition that came from the depth of feeling that
measured a new life for her. She shocked her head.
"No, I am going to stay. I shall take the pledge. I am ready to obey
it. You do not know why I am doing this."
Rose gave her one look and then turned and went out of the pew, and
down the aisle. She did not even stop to talk with her
acquaintances. Mrs. Delano was going out of the church just as Rose
stepped into the vestibule.
"So you are not going to join Dr. Bruce's volunteer company?" Mrs.
Delano asked, in a queer tone that made Rose redden.
"No, are you? It is simply absurd. I have always regarded that
Raymond movement as fanatical. You know cousin Rachel keeps us
posted about it."
"Yes, I understand it is resulting in a great deal of hardship in
many cases. For my part, I believe Dr. Bruce has simply provoked
disturbance here. It will result in splitting our church. You see if
it isn't so. There are scores of people in the church who are so
situated that they can't take such a pledge and keep it. I am one of
them," added Mrs. Delano as she went out with Rose.
When Rose reached home, her father was standing in his usual
attitude before the open fireplace, smoking a cigar.
"Where is Felicia?" he asked as Rose came in.
"She stayed to an after-meeting," replied Rose shortly. She threw
off her wraps and was going upstairs when Mr. Sterling called after
"An after-meeting? What do you mean?"
"Dr. Bruce asked the church to take the Raymond pledge."
Mr. Sterling took his cigar out of his mouth and twirled it
nervously between his fingers.
"I didn't expect that of Dr. Bruce. Did many of the members stay?"
"I don't know. I didn't," replied Rose, and she went upstairs
leaving her father standing in the drawing-room.
After a few moments he went to the window and stood there looking
out at the people driving on the boulevard. His cigar had gone out,
but he still fingered it nervously. Then he turned from the window
and walked up and down the room. A servant stepped across the hall
and announced dinner and he told her to wait for Felicia. Rose came
downstairs and went into the library. And still Mr. Sterling paced
the drawing-room restlessly.
He had finally wearied of the walking apparently, and throwing
himself into a chair was brooding over something deeply when Felicia
He rose and faced her. Felicia was evidently very much moved by the
meeting from which she had just come. At the same time she did not
wish to talk too much about it. Just as she entered the
drawing-room, Rose came in from the library.
"How many stayed?" she asked. Rose was curious. At the same time she
was skeptical of the whole movement in Raymond.
"About a hundred," replied Felicia gravely. Mr. Sterling looked
surprised. Felicia was going out of the room, but he called to her:
"Do you really mean to keep the pledge?" he asked.
Felicia colored. Over her face and neck the warm blood flowed and
she answered, "You would not ask such a question, father, if you had
been at the meeting." She lingered a moment in the room, then asked
to be excused from dinner for a while and went up to see her mother.
No one but they two ever knew what that interview between Felicia
and her mother was. It is certain that she must have told her mother
something of the spiritual power that had awed every person present
in the company of disciples who faced Dr. Bruce in that meeting
after the morning service. It is also certain that Felicia had never
before known such an experience, and would never have thought of
sharing it with her mother if it had not been for the prayer the
evening before. Another fact is also known of Felicia's experience
at this time. When she finally joined her father and Rose at the
table she seemed unable to tell them much about the meeting. There
was a reluctance to speak of it as one might hesitate to attempt a
description of a wonderful sunset to a person who never talked about
anything but the weather.
When that Sunday in the Sterling mansion was drawing to a close and
the soft, warm lights throughout the dwelling were glowing through
the great windows, in a corner of her room, where the light was
obscure, Felicia kneeled, and when she raised her face and turned it
towards the light, it was the face of a woman who had already
defined for herself the greatest issues of earthly life.
That same evening, after the Sunday evening service, Dr. Bruce was
talking over the events of the day with his wife. They were of one
heart and mind in the matter, and faced their new future with all
the faith and courage of new disciples. Neither was deceived as to
the probable results of the pledge to themselves or to the church.
They had been talking but a little while when the bell rang and Dr.
Bruce going to the door exclaimed, as he opened it: "It is you,
Edward! Come in."
There came into the hall a commanding figure. The Bishop was of
extraordinary height and breadth of shoulder, but of such good
proportions that there was no thought of ungainly or even of unusual
size. The impression the Bishop made on strangers was, first, that
of great health, and then of great affection.
He came into the parlor and greeted Mrs. Bruce, who after a few
moments was called out of the room, leaving the two men together.
The Bishop sat in a deep, easy chair before the open fire. There was
just enough dampness in the early spring of the year to make an open
"Calvin, you have taken a very serious step today," he finally said,
lifting his large dark eyes to his old college classmate's face. "I
heard of it this afternoon. I could not resist the desire to see you
about it tonight."
"I'm glad you came." Dr. Bruce laid a hand on the Bishop's shoulder.
"You understand what this means, Edward?"
"I think I do. Yes, I am sure." The Bishop spoke very slowly and
thoughtfully. He sat with his hands clasped together. Over his face,
marked with lines of consecration and service and the love of men, a
shadow crept, a shadow not caused by the firelight. Once more he
lifted his eyes toward his old friend.
"Calvin, we have always understood each other. Ever since our paths
led us in different ways in church life we have walked together in
"It is true," replied Dr. Bruce with an emotion he made no attempt
to conceal or subdue. "Thank God for it. I prize your fellowship
more than any other man's. I have always known what it meant, though
it has always been more than I deserve."
The Bishop looked affectionately at his friend. But the shadow still
rested on his face. After a pause he spoke again: "The new
discipleship means a crisis for you in your work. If you keep this
pledge to do all things as Jesus would do--as I know you will--it
requires no prophet to predict some remarkable changes in your
parish." The Bishop looked wistfully at his friend and then
continued: "In fact, I do not see how a perfect upheaval of
Christianity, as we now know it, can be prevented if the ministers
and churches generally take the Raymond pledge and live it out." He
paused as if he were waiting for his friend to say something, to ask
some question. But Bruce did not know of the fire that was burning
in the Bishop's heart over the very question that Maxwell and
himself had fought out.
"Now, in my church, for instance," continued the Bishop, "it would
be rather a difficult matter, I fear, to find very many people who
would take a pledge like that and live up to it. Martyrdom is a lost
art with us. Our Christianity loves its ease and comfort too well to
take up anything so rough and heavy as a cross. And yet what does
following Jesus mean? What is it to walk in His steps?"
The Bishop was soliloquizing now and it is doubtful if he thought,
for the moment, of his friend's presence. For the first time there
flashed into Dr. Bruce's mind a suspicion of the truth. What if the
Bishop would throw the weight of his great influence on the side of
the Raymond movement? He had the following of the most aristocratic,
wealthy, fashionable people, not only in Chicago, but in several
large cities. What if the Bishop should join this new discipleship!
The thought was about to be followed by the word. Dr. Bruce had
reached out his hand and with the familiarity of lifelong friendship
had placed it on the Bishop's shoulder and was about to ask a very
important question, when they were both startled by the violent
ringing of the bell. Mrs. Bruce had gone to the door and was talking
with some one in the hall. There was a loud exclamation and then, as
the Bishop rose and Bruce was stepping toward the curtain that hung
before the entrance to the parlor, Mrs. Bruce pushed it aside. Her
face was white and she was trembling.
"O Calvin! Such terrible news! Mr. Sterling--oh, I cannot tell it!
What a blow to those girls!" "What is it?" Mr. Bruce advanced with
the Bishop into the hall and confronted the messenger, a servant
from the Sterlings. The man was without his hat and had evidently
run over with the news, as Dr. Bruce lived nearest of any intimate
friends of the family.
"Mr. Sterling shot himself, sir, a few minutes ago. He killed
himself in his bed-room. Mrs. Sterling--"
"I will go right over, Edward. Will you go with me? The Sterlings
are old friends of yours."'
The Bishop was very pale, but calm as always. He looked his friend
in the face and answered: "Aye, Calvin, I will go with you not only
to this house of death, but also the whole way of human sin and
sorrow, please God."
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
WHEN Dr. Bruce and the Bishop entered the Sterling mansion
everything in the usually well appointed household was in the
greatest confusion and terror. The great rooms downstairs were
empty, but overhead were hurried footsteps and confused noises. One
of the servants ran down the grand staircase with a look of horror
on her face just as the Bishop and Dr. Bruce were starting to go up.
"Miss Felicia is with Mrs. Sterling," the servant stammered in
answer to a question, and then burst into a hysterical cry and ran
through the drawing-room and out of doors.
At the top of the staircase the two men were met by Felicia. She
walked up to Dr. Bruce at once and put both hands in his. The Bishop
then laid his hand on her head and the three stood there a moment in
perfect silence. The Bishop had known Felicia since she was a little
child. He was the first to break the silence.
"The God of all mercy be with you, Felicia, in this dark hour. Your
The Bishop hesitated. Out of the buried past he had, during his
hurried passage from his friend's to this house of death,
irresistibly drawn the one tender romance of his young manhood. Not
even Bruce knew that. But there had been a time when the Bishop had
offered the incense of a singularly undivided affection upon the
altar of his youth to the beautiful Camilla Rolfe, and she had
chosen between him and the millionaire. The Bishop carried no
bitterness with his memory; but it was still a memory.
For answer to the Bishop's unfinished query, Felicia turned and went
back into her mother's room. She had not said a word yet, but both
men were struck with her wonderful calm. She returned to the hall
door and beckoned to them, and the two ministers, with a feeling
that they were about to behold something very unusual, entered.
Rose lay with her arms outstretched upon the bed. Clara, the nurse,
sat with her head covered, sobbing in spasms of terror. And Mrs.
Sterling with "the light that never was on sea or land" luminous on
her face, lay there so still that even the Bishop was deceived at
first. Then, as the great truth broke upon him and Dr. Bruce, he
staggered, and the sharp agony of the old wound shot through him. It
passed, and left him standing there in that chamber of death with
the eternal calmness and strength that the children of God have a
right to possess. And right well he used that calmness and strength
in the days that followed.
The next moment the house below was in a tumult. Almost at the same
time the doctor who had been sent for at once, but lived some
distance away, came in, together with police officers, who had been
summoned by frightened servants. With them were four or five
newspaper correspondents and several neighbors. Dr. Bruce and the
Bishop met this miscellaneous crowd at the head of the stairs and
succeeded in excluding all except those whose presence was
necessary. With these the two friends learned all the facts ever
known about the "Sterling tragedy," as the papers in their
sensational accounts next day called it.
Mr. Sterling had gone into his room that evening about nine o'clock
and that was the last seen of him until, in half an hour, a shot was
heard in the room, and a servant who was in the hall ran into the
room and found him dead on the floor, killed by his own hand.
Felicia at the time was sitting by her mother. Rose was reading in
the library. She ran upstairs, saw her father as he was being lifted
upon the couch by the servants, and then ran screaming into her
mother's room, where she flung herself down at the foot of the bed
in a swoon. Mrs. Sterling had at first fainted at the shock, then
rallied with a wonderful swiftness and sent for Dr. Bruce. She had
then insisted on seeing her husband. In spite of Felicia's efforts,
she had compelled Clara to support her while she crossed the hall
and entered the room where her husband lay. She had looked upon him
with a tearless face, had gone back to her own room, was laid on her
bed, and as Dr. Bruce and the Bishop entered the house she, with a
prayer of forgiveness for herself and for her husband on her
quivering lips, had died, with Felicia bending over her and Rose
still lying senseless at her feet.
So great and swift had been the entrance of grim Death into that
palace of luxury that Sunday night! But the full cause of his coming
was not learned until the facts in regard to Mr. Sterling's business
affairs were finally disclosed.
Then it was learned that for some time he had been facing financial
ruin owing to certain speculations that had in a month's time swept
his supposed wealth into complete destruction. With the cunning and
desperation of a man who battles for his very life when he saw his
money, which was all the life he ever valued, slipping from him, he
had put off the evil day to the last moment. Sunday afternoon,
however, he had received news that proved to him beyond a doubt the
fact of his utter ruin. The very house that he called his, the
chairs in which he sat, his carriage, the dishes from which he ate,
had all been bought with money for which he himself had never really
done an honest stroke of pure labor.
It had all rested on a tissue of deceit and speculation that had no
foundation in real values. He knew that fact better than any one
else, but he had hoped, with the hope such men always have, that the
same methods that brought him the money would also prevent the loss.
He had been deceived in this as many others have been. As soon as
the truth that he was practically a beggar had dawned upon him, he
saw no escape from suicide. It was the irresistible result of such a
life as he had lived. He had made money his god. As soon as that god
was gone out of his little world there was nothing more to worship;
and when a man's object of worship is gone he has no more to live
for. Thus died the great millionaire, Charles R. Sterling. And,
verily, he died as the fool dieth, for what is the gain or the loss
of money compared with the unsearchable riches of eternal life which
are beyond the reach of speculation, loss or change?
Mrs. Sterling's death was the result of the shock. She had not been
taken into her husband's confidence for years, but she knew that the
source of his wealth was precarious. Her life for several years had
been a death in life. The Rolfes always gave an impression that they
could endure more disaster unmoved than any one else. Mrs. Sterling
illustrated the old family tradition when she was carried into the
room where her husband lay. But the feeble tenement could not hold
the spirit and it gave up the ghost, torn and weakened by long years
of suffering and disappointment.
The effect of this triple blow, the death of father and mother, and
the loss of property, was instantly apparent in the sisters. The
horror of events stupefied Rose for weeks. She lay unmoved by
sympathy or any effort to rally. She did not seem yet to realize
that the money which had been so large a part of her very existence
was gone. Even when she was told that she and Felicia must leave the
house and be dependent on relatives and friends, she did not seem to
understand what it meant.
Felicia, however, was fully conscious of the facts. She knew just
what had happened and why. She was talking over her future plans
with her cousin Rachel a few days after the funerals. Mrs. Winslow
and Rachel had left Raymond and come to Chicago at once as soon as
the terrible news had reached them, and with other friends of the
family were planning for the future of Rose and Felicia.
"Felicia, you and Rose must come to Raymond with us. That is
settled. Mother will not hear to any other plan at present," Rachel
had said, while her beautiful face glowed with love for her cousin,
a love that had deepened day by day, and was intensified by the
knowledge that they both belonged to the new discipleship.
"Unless I can find something to do here," answered Felicia. She
looked wistfully at Rachel, and Rachel said gently:
"What could you do, dear?"
"Nothing. I was never taught to do anything except a little music,
and I do not know enough about it to teach it or earn my living at
it. I have learned to cook a little," Felicia added with a slight
"Then you can cook for us. Mother is always having trouble with her
kitchen," said Rachel, understanding well enough she was now
dependent for her very food and shelter upon the kindness of family
friends. It is true the girls received a little something out of the
wreck of their father's fortune, but with a speculator's mad folly
he had managed to involve both his wife's and his children's portion
in the common ruin.
"Can I? Can I?" Felicia responded to Rachel's proposition as if it
were to be considered seriously. "I am ready to do anything
honorable to make my living and that of Rose. Poor Rose! She will
never be able to get over the shock of our trouble."
"We will arrange the details when we get to Raymond," Rachel said,
smiling through her tears at Felicia's eager willingness to care for
So in a few weeks Rose and Felicia found themselves a part of the
Winslow family in Raymond. It was a bitter experience for Rose, but
there was nothing else for her to do and she accepted the
inevitable, brooding over the great change in her life and in many
ways adding to the burden of Felicia and her cousin Rachel.
Felicia at once found herself in an atmosphere of discipleship that
was like heaven to her in its revelation of companionship. It is
true that Mrs. Winslow was not in sympathy with the course that
Rachel was taking, but the remarkable events in Raymond since the
pledge was taken were too powerful in their results not to impress
even such a woman as Mrs. Winslow. With Rachel, Felicia found a
perfect fellowship. She at once found a part to take in the new work
at the Rectangle. In the spirit of her new life she insisted upon
helping in the housework at her aunt's, and in a short time
demonstrated her ability as a cook so clearly that Virginia
suggested that she take charge of the cooking at the Rectangle.
Felicia entered upon this work with the keenest pleasure. For the
first time in her life she had the delight of doing something of
value for the happiness of others. Her resolve to do everything
after asking, "What would Jesus do?" touched her deepest nature. She
began to develop and strengthen wonderfully. Even Mrs. Winslow was
obliged to acknowledge the great usefulness and beauty of Felicia's
character. The aunt looked with astonishment upon her niece, this
city-bred girl, reared in the greatest luxury, the daughter of a
millionaire, now walking around in her kitchen, her arms covered
with flour and occasionally a streak of it on her nose, for Felicia
at first had a habit of rubbing her nose forgetfully when she was
trying to remember some recipe, mixing various dishes with the
greatest interest in their results, washing up pans and kettles and
doing the ordinary work of a servant in the Winslow kitchen and at
the rooms at the Rectangle Settlement. At first Mrs. Winslow
"Felicia, it is not your place to be out here doing this common
work. I cannot allow it."
"Why, Aunt? Don't you like the muffins I made this morning?" Felicia
would ask meekly, but with a hidden smile, knowing her aunt's
weakness for that kind of muffin.
"They were beautiful, Felicia. But it does not seem right for you to
be doing such work for us."
"Why not? What else can I do?"
Her aunt looked at her thoughtfully, noting her remarkable beauty of
face and expression.
"You do not always intend to do this kind of work, Felicia?"
"Maybe I shall. I have had a dream of opening an ideal cook shop in
Chicago or some large city and going around to the poor families in
some slum district like the Rectangle, teaching the mothers how to
prepare food properly. I remember hearing Dr. Bruce say once that he
believed one of the great miseries of comparative poverty consisted
in poor food. He even went so far as to say that he thought some
kinds of crime could be traced to soggy biscuit and tough beefsteak.
I'm sure I would be able to make a living for Rose and myself and at
the same time help others."
THREE months had gone by since the Sunday morning when Dr. Bruce
came into his pulpit with the message of the new discipleship. They
were three months of great excitement in Nazareth Avenue Church.
Never before had Rev. Calvin Bruce realized how deep the feeling of
his members flowed. He humbly confessed that the appeal he had made
met with an unexpected response from men and women who, like
Felicia, were hungry for something in their lives that the
conventional type of church membership and fellowship had failed to
But Dr. Bruce was not yet satisfied for himself. He cannot tell what
his feeling was or what led to the movement he finally made, to the
great astonishment of all who knew him, better than by relating a
conversation between him and the Bishop at this time in the history
of the pledge in Nazareth Avenue Church. The two friends were as
before in Dr. Bruce's house, seated in his study.
"You know what I have come in this evening for?" the Bishop was
saying after the friends had been talking some time about the
results of the pledge with the Nazareth Avenue people.
Dr. Bruce looked over at the Bishop and shook his head.
"I have come to confess that I have not yet kept my promise to walk
in His steps in the way that I believe I shall be obliged to if I
satisfy my thought of what it means to walk in His steps."
Dr. Bruce had risen and was pacing his study. The Bishop remained in
the deep easy chair with his hands clasped, but his eye burned with
the blow that belonged to him before he made some great resolve.
"Edward," Dr. Bruce spoke abruptly, "I have not yet been able to
satisfy myself, either, in obeying my promise. But I have at last
decided on my course. In order to follow it I shall be obliged to
resign from Nazareth Avenue Church."
"I knew you would," replied the Bishop quietly. "And I came in this
evening to say that I shall be obliged to do the same thing with my
Dr. Bruce turned and walked up to his friend. They were both
laboring under a repressed excitement.
"Is it necessary in your case?" asked Bruce.
"Yes. Let me state my reasons. Probably they are the same as yours.
In fact, I am sure they are." The Bishop paused a moment, then went
on with increasing feeling:
"Calvin, you know how many years I have been doing the work of my
position, and you know something of the responsibility and care of
it. I do not mean to say that my life has been free from
burden-bearing or sorrow. But I have certainly led what the poor and
desperate of this sinful city would call a very comfortable, yes, a
very luxurious life. I have had a beautiful house to live in, the
most expensive food, clothing and physical pleasures. I have been
able to go abroad at least a dozen times, and have enjoyed for years
the beautiful companionship of art and letters and music and all the
rest, of the very best. I have never known what it meant to be
without money or its equivalent. And I have been unable to silence
the question of late: 'What have I suffered for the sake of Christ?'
Paul was told what great things he must suffer for the sake of his
Lord. Maxwell's position at Raymond is well taken when he insists
that to walk in the steps of Christ means to suffer. Where has my
suffering come in? The petty trials and annoyances of my clerical
life are not worth mentioning as sorrows or sufferings. Compared
with Paul or any of the Christian martyrs or early disciples I have
lived a luxurious, sinful life, full of ease and pleasure. I cannot
endure this any longer. I have that within me which of late rises in
overwhelming condemnation of such a following of Jesus. I have not
been walking in His steps. Under the present system of church and
social life I see no escape from this condemnation except to give
the most of my life personally to the actual physical and soul needs
of the wretched people in the worst part of this city."
The Bishop had risen now and walked over to the window. The street
in front of the house was as light as day, and he looked out at the
crowds passing, then turned and with a passionate utterance that
showed how deep the volcanic fire in him burned, he exclaimed:
"Calvin, this is a terrible city in which we live! Its misery, its
sin, its selfishness, appall my heart. And I have struggled for
years with the sickening dread of the time when I should be forced
to leave the pleasant luxury of my official position to put my life
into contact with the modern paganism of this century. The awful
condition of the girls in some great business places, the brutal
selfishness of the insolent society fashion and wealth that ignores
all the sorrow of the city, the fearful curse of the drink and
gambling hell, the wail of the unemployed, the hatred of the church
by countless men who see in it only great piles of costly stone and
upholstered furniture and the minister as a luxurious idler, all the
vast tumult of this vast torrent of humanity with its false and its
true ideas, its exaggeration of evils in the church and its
bitterness and shame that are the result of many complex causes, all
this as a total fact in its contrast with the easy, comfortable life
I have lived, fills me more and more with a sense of mingled terror
and self accusation. I have heard the words of Jesus many times
lately: 'Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least My
brethren, ye did it not unto Me.' And when have I personally visited
the prisoner or the desperate or the sinful in any way that has
actually caused me suffering? Rather, I have followed the
conventional soft habits of my position and have lived in the
society of the rich, refined, aristocratic members of my
congregations. Where has the suffering come in? What have I suffered
for Jesus' sake? Do you know, Calvin," he turned abruptly toward his
friend, "I have been tempted of late to lash myself with a scourge.
If I had lived in Martin Luther's time I should have bared my back
to a self-inflicted torture."
Dr. Bruce was very pale. Never had he seen the Bishop or heard him
when under the influence of such a passion. There was a sudden
silence in the room. The Bishop sat down again and bowed his head.
Dr. Bruce spoke at last: "Edward, I do not need to say that you have
expressed my feelings also. I have been in a similar position for
years. My life has been one of comparative luxury. I do not, of
course, mean to say that I have not had trials and discouragements
and burdens in my church ministry. But I cannot say that I have
suffered any for Jesus. That verse in Peter constantly haunts me:
'Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should
follow His steps.' I have lived in luxury. I do not know what it
means to want. I also have had my leisure for travel and beautiful
companionship. I have been surrounded by the soft, easy comforts of
civilization. The sin and misery of this great city have beaten like
waves against the stone walls of my church and of this house in
which I live, and I have hardly heeded them, the walls have been so
thick. I have reached a point where I cannot endure this any longer.
I am not condemning the Church. I love her. I am not forsaking the
Church. I believe in her mission and have no desire to destroy.
Least of all, in the step I am about to take do I desire to be
charged with abandoning the Christian fellowship. But I feel that I
must resign my place as pastor of Nazareth Church in order to
satisfy myself that I am walking as I ought to walk in His steps. In
this action I judge no other minister and pass no criticism on
others' discipleship. But I feel as you do. Into a close contact
with the sin and shame and degradation of this great city I must
come personally. And I know that to do that I must sever my
immediate connection with Nazareth Avenue Church. I do not see any
other way for myself to suffer for His sake as I feel that I ought
Again that sudden silence fell over those two men. It was no
ordinary action they were deciding. They had both reached the same
conclusion by the same reasoning, and they were too thoughtful, too
well accustomed to the measuring of conduct, to underestimate the
seriousness of their position.
"What is your plan?" The Bishop at last spoke gently, looking with
the smile that always beautified his face. The Bishop's face grew in
glory now every day.
"My plan," replied Dr. Bruce slowly, "is, in brief, the putting of
myself into the centre of the greatest human need I can find in this
city and living there. My wife is fully in accord with me. We have
already decided to find a residence in that part of the city where
we can make our personal lives count for the most."
"Let me suggest a place." The Bishop was on fire now. His fine face
actually glowed with the enthusiasm of the movement in which he and
his friend were inevitably embarked. He went on and unfolded a plan
of such far-reaching power and possibility that Dr. Bruce, capable
and experienced as he was, felt amazed at the vision of a greater
soul than his own.
They sat up late, and were as eager and even glad as if they were
planning for a trip together to some rare land of unexplored travel.
Indeed, the Bishop said many times afterward that the moment his
decision was reached to live the life of personal sacrifice he had
chosen he suddenly felt an uplifting as if a great burden were taken
from him. He was exultant. So was Dr. Bruce from the same cause.
Their plan as it finally grew into a workable fact was in reality
nothing more than the renting of a large building formerly used as a
warehouse for a brewery, reconstructing it and living in it
themselves in the very heart of a territory where the saloon ruled
with power, where the tenement was its filthiest, where vice and
ignorance and shame and poverty were congested into hideous forms.
It was not a new idea. It was an idea started by Jesus Christ when
He left His Father's House and forsook the riches that were His in
order to get nearer humanity and, by becoming a part of its sin,
helping to draw humanity apart from its sin. The University
Settlement idea is not modern. It is as old as Bethlehem and
Nazareth. And in this particular case it was the nearest approach to
anything that would satisfy the hunger of these two men to suffer
There had sprung up in them at the same time a longing that amounted
to a passion, to get nearer the great physical poverty and spiritual
destitution of the mighty city that throbbed around them. How could
they do this except as they became a part of it as nearly as one man
can become a part of another's misery? Where was the suffering to
come in unless there was an actual self-denial of some sort? And
what was to make that self-denial apparent to themselves or any one
else, unless it took this concrete, actual, personal form of trying
to share the deepest suffering and sin of the city?
So they reasoned for themselves, not judging others. They were
simply keeping their own pledge to do as Jesus would do, as they
honestly judged He would do. That was what they had promised. How
could they quarrel with the result if they were irresistibly
compelled to do what they were planning to do?
MEANWHILE, Nazareth Avenue Church was experiencing something never
known before in all its history. The simple appeal on the part of
its pastor to his members to do as Jesus would do had created a
sensation that still continued. The result of that appeal was very
much the same as in Henry Maxwell's church in Raymond, only this
church was far more aristocratic, wealthy and conventional.
Nevertheless when, one Sunday morning in early summer, Dr. Bruce
came into his pulpit and announced his resignation, the sensation
deepened all over the city, although he had advised with his board
of trustees, and the movement he intended was not a matter of
surprise to them. But when it become publicly known that the Bishop
had also announced his resignation and retirement from the position
he had held so long, in order to go and live himself in the centre
of the worst part of Chicago, the public astonishment reached its
"But why?" the Bishop replied to one valued friend who had almost
with tears tried to dissuade him from his purpose. "Why should what
Dr. Bruce and I propose to do seem so remarkable a thing, as if it
were unheard of that a Doctor of Divinity and a Bishop should want
to save lost souls in this particular manner? If we were to resign
our charge for the purpose of going to Bombay or Hong Kong or any
place in Africa, the churches and the people would exclaim at the
heroism of missions. Why should it seem so great a thing if we have
been led to give our lives to help rescue the heathen and the lost
of our own city in the way we are going to try it? Is it then such a
tremendous event that two Christian ministers should be not only
willing but eager to live close to the misery of the world in order
to know it and realize it? Is it such a rare thing that love of
humanity should find this particular form of expression in the
rescue of souls?"
And however the Bishop may have satisfied himself that there ought
to be nothing so remarkable about it at all, the public continued to
talk and the churches to record their astonishment that two such
men, so prominent in the ministry, should leave their comfortable
homes, voluntarily resign their pleasant social positions and enter
upon a life of hardship, of self-denial and actual suffering.
Christian America! Is it a reproach on the form of our discipleship
that the exhibition of actual suffering for Jesus on the part of
those who walk in His steps always provokes astonishment as at the
sight of something very unusual?
Nazareth Avenue Church parted from its pastor with regret for the
most part, although the regret was modified with a feeling of relief
on the part of those who had refused to take the pledge. Dr. Bruce
carried with him the respect of men who, entangled in business in
such a way that obedience to the pledge would have ruined them,
still held in their deeper, better natures a genuine admiration for
courage and consistency. They had known Dr. Bruce many years as a
kindly, conservative, safe man, but the thought of him in the light
of sacrifice of this sort was not familiar to them. As fast as they
understood it, they gave their pastor the credit of being absolutely
true to his recent convictions as to what following Jesus meant.
Nazareth Avenue Church never lost the impulse of that movement
started by Dr. Bruce. Those who went with him in making the promise
breathed into the church the very breath of divine life, and are
continuing that life-giving work at this present time.
* * * * * *
It was fall again, and the city faced another hard winter. The
Bishop one afternoon came out of the Settlement and walked around
the block, intending to go on a visit to one of his new friends in
the district. He had walked about four blocks when he was attracted
by a shop that looked different from the others. The neighborhood
was still quite new to him, and every day he discovered some strange
spot or stumbled upon some unexpected humanity.
The place that attracted his notice was a small house close by a
Chinese laundry. There were two windows in the front, very clean,
and that was remarkable to begin with. Then, inside the window, was
a tempting display of cookery, with prices attached to the various
articles that made him wonder somewhat, for he was familiar by this
time with many facts in the life of the people once unknown to him.
As he stood looking at the windows, the door between them opened and
Felicia Sterling came out.
"Felicia!" exclaimed the Bishop. "When did you move into my parish
without my knowledge?"
"How did you find me so soon?" inquired Felicia.
"Why, don't you know? These are the only clean windows in the
"I believe they are," replied Felicia with a laugh that did the
Bishop good to hear.
"But why have you dared to come to Chicago without telling me, and
how have you entered my diocese without my knowledge?" asked the
Bishop. And Felicia looked so like that beautiful, clean, educated,
refined world he once knew, that he might be pardoned for seeing in
her something of the old Paradise. Although, to speak truth for him,
he had no desire to go back to it.
"Well, dear Bishop," said Felicia, who had always called him so, "I
knew how overwhelmed you were with your work. I did not want to
burden you with my plans. And besides, I am going to offer you my
services. Indeed, I was just on my way to see you and ask your
advice. I am settled here for the present with Mrs. Bascom, a
saleswoman who rents our three rooms, and with one of Rachel's music
pupils who is being helped to a course in violin by Virginia Page.
She is from the people," continued Felicia, using the words "from
the people" so gravely and unconsciously that her hearer smiled,
"and I am keeping house for her and at the same time beginning an
experiment in pure food for the masses. I am an expert and I have a
plan I want you to admire and develop. Will you, dear Bishop?"
"Indeed I will," he replied. The sight of Felicia and her remarkable
vitality, enthusiasm and evident purpose almost bewildered him.
"Martha can help at the Settlement with her violin and I will help
with my messes. You see, I thought I would get settled first and
work out something, and then come with some real thing to offer. I'm
able to earn my own living now."
"You are?" the Bishop said a little incredulously. "How? Making
"Those things!" said Felicia with a show of indignation. "I would
have you know, sir, that 'those things' are the best-cooked, purest
food products in this whole city."
"I don't doubt it," he replied hastily, while his eyes twinkled,
"Still, 'the proof of the pudding'--you know the rest."
"Come in and try some!" she exclaimed. "You poor Bishop! You look as
if you hadn't had a good meal for a month."
She insisted on his entering the little front room where Martha, a
wide-awake girl with short, curly hair, and an unmistakable air of
music about her, was busy with practice.
"Go right on, Martha. This is the Bishop. You have heard me speak of
him so often. Sit down there and let me give you a taste of the
fleshpots of Egypt, for I believe you have been actually fasting."
So they had an improvised lunch, and the Bishop who, to tell the
truth, had not taken time for weeks to enjoy his meals, feasted on
the delight of his unexpected discovery and was able to express his
astonishment and gratification at the quality of the cookery.
"I thought you would at least say it is as good as the meals you
used to get at the Auditorium at the big banquets," said Felicia
"As good as! The Auditorium banquets were simply husks compared with
this one, Felicia. But you must come to the Settlement. I want you
to see what we are doing. And I am simply astonished to find you
here earning your living this way. I begin to see what your plan is.
You can be of infinite help to us. You don't really mean that you
will live here and help these people to know the value of good
"Indeed I do," she answered gravely. "That is my gospel. Shall I not
"Aye, Aye! You're right. Bless God for sense like yours! When I left
the world," the Bishop smiled at the phrase, "they were talking a
good deal about the 'new woman.' If you are one of them, I am a
convert right now and here."
"Flattery! Still is there no escape from it, even in the slums of
Chicago?" Felicia laughed again. And the man's heart, heavy though
it had grown during several months of vast sin-bearing, rejoiced to
hear it! It sounded good. It was good. It belonged to God.
Felicia wanted to visit the Settlement, and went back with him. She
was amazed at the results of what considerable money an a good deal
of consecrated brains had done. As they walked through the building
they talked incessantly. She was the incarnation of vital
enthusiasm, and he wondered at the exhibition of it as it bubbled up
and sparkled over.
They went down into the basement and the Bishop pushed open a door
from behind which came the sound of a carpenter's plane. It was a
small but well equipped carpenter's shop. A young man with a paper
cap on his head and clad in blouse and overalls was whistling and
driving the plane as he whistled. He looked up as the two entered,
and took off his cap. As he did so, his little finger carried a
small curling shaving up to his hair and it caught there.
"Miss Sterling, Mr. Stephen Clyde," said the Bishop. "Clyde is one
of our helpers here two afternoons in the week."
Just then the bishop was called upstairs and he excused himself a
moment, leaving Felicia and the young carpenter together.
"We have met before," said Felicia looking at Clyde frankly.
"Yes, 'back in the world,' as the Bishop says," replied the young
man, and his fingers trembled a little as they lay on the board he
had been planing.
"Yes." Felicia hesitated. "I am very glad to see you."
"Are you?" The flush of pleasure mounted to the young carpenter's
forehead. "You have had a great deal of trouble since--since--then,"
he said, and then he was afraid he had wounded her, or called up
painful memories. But she had lived over all that.
"Yes, and you also. How is it that you're working here?"
"It is a long story, Miss Sterling. My father lost his money and I
was obliged to go to work. A very good thing for me. The Bishop says
I ought to be very grateful. I am. I am very happy now. I learned
the trade, hoping some time to be of use, I am night clerk at one of
the hotels. That Sunday morning when you took the pledge at Nazareth
Avenue Church, I took it with the others."
"Did you?" said Felicia slowly. "I am glad."
Just then the Bishop came back, and very soon he and Felicia went
away leaving the young carpenter at his work. Some one noticed that
he whistled louder than ever as he planed.
"Felicia," said the Bishop, "did you know Stephen Clyde before?"
"Yes, 'back in the world,' dear Bishop. He was one of my
acquaintances in Nazareth Avenue Church."
"Ah!" said the Bishop.
"We were very good friends," added Felicia.
"But nothing more?" the Bishop ventured to ask.
Felicia's face glowed for an instant. Then she looked her companion
in the eyes frankly and answered: "Truly and truly, nothing more."
"It would be just the way of the world for these two people to come
to like each other, though," thought the man to himself, and somehow
the thought made him grave. It was almost like the old pang over
Camilla. But it passed, leaving him afterwards, when Felicia had
gone back, with tears in his eyes and a feeling that was almost hope
that Felicia and Stephen would like each other. "After all," he
said, like the sensible, good man that he was, "is not romance a
part of humanity? Love is older than I am, and wiser."
The week following, the Bishop had an experience that belongs to
this part of the Settlement history. He was coming back to the
Settlement very late from some gathering of the striking tailors,
and was walking along with his hands behind him, when two men jumped
out from behind an old fence that shut off an abandoned factory from
the street, and faced him. One of the men thrust a pistol in his
face, and the other threatened him with a ragged stake that had
evidently been torn from the fence.
"Hold up your hands, and be quick about it!" said the man with the
"Righteousness shall go before him and shall set us in the way of
THE Bishop was not in the habit of carrying much money with him, and
the man with the stake who was searching him uttered an oath at the
small amount of change he found. As he uttered it, the man with the
pistol savagely said, "Jerk out his watch! We might as well get all
we can out of the job!"
The man with the stake was on the point of laying hold of the chain
where there was a sound of footsteps coming towards him.
"Get behind the fence! We haven't half searched him yet! Mind you
keep shut now, if you don't want--"
The man with the pistol made a significant gesture with it and, with
his companion, pulled and pushed the Bishop down the alley and
through a ragged, broken opening in the fence. The three stood still
there in the shadow until the footsteps passed.
"Now, then, have you got the watch?" asked the man with the pistol.
"No, the chain is caught somewhere!" and the other man swore again.
"Break it then!"
"No, don't break it," the Bishop said, and it was the first time he
had spoken. "The chain is the gift of a very dear friend. I should
be sorry to have it broken."
At the sound of the Bishop's voice the man with the pistol started
as if he had been suddenly shot by his own weapon. With a quick
movement of his other hand he turned the Bishop's head toward's what
little light was shining from the alleyway, at the same time taking
a step nearer. Then, to the amazement of his companion, he said
roughly: "Leave the watch alone! We've got the money. That's
"Enough! Fifty cents! You don't reckon--"
Before the man with the stake could say another word he was
confronted with the muzzle of the pistol turned from the Bishop's
head towards his own.
"Leave that watch be! And put back the money too. This is the Bishop
we've held up--the Bishop--do you hear?"
"And what of it! The President of the United States wouldn't be too
good to hold up, if--"
"I say, you put the money back, or in five seconds I'll blow a hole
through your head that'll let in more sense than you have to spare
now!" said the other.
For a second the man with the stake seemed to hesitate at this
strange turn in events, as if measuring his companion's intention.
Then he hastily dropped the money back into the rifled pocket.
"You can take your hands down, sir." The man lowered his weapon
slowly, still keeping an eye on the other man, and speaking with
rough respect. The Bishop slowly brought his arms to his side, and
looked earnestly at the two men. In the dim light it was difficult
to distinguish features. He was evidently free to go his way now,
but he stood there making no movement.
"You can go on. You needn't stay any longer on our account." The man
who had acted as spokesman turned and sat down on a stone. The other
man stood viciously digging his stake into the ground.
"That's just what I am staying for," replied the Bishop. He sat down
on a board that projected from the broken fence.
"You must like our company. It is hard sometimes for people to tear
themselves away from us," and the man standing up laughed coarsely.
"Shut up!" exclaimed the other. "We're on the road to hell, though,
that's sure enough. We need better company than ourselves and the
"If you would only allow me to be of any help," the Bishop spoke
gently, even lovingly. The man on the stone stared at the Bishop
through the darkness. After a moment of silence he spoke slowly like
one who had finally decided upon a course he had at first rejected.
"Do you remember ever seeing me before?"
"No," said the Bishop. "The light is not very good and I have really
not had a good look at you."
"Do you know me now?" The man suddenly took off his hat and getting
up from the stone walked over to the Bishop until they were near
enough to touch each other.
The man's hair was coal black except one spot on the top of his head
about as large as the palm of the hand, which was white.
The minute the Bishop saw that, he started. The memory of fifteen
years ago began to stir in him. The man helped him.
"Don't you remember one day back in '81 or '82 a man came to your
house and told a story about his wife and child having been burned
to death in a tenement fire in New York?"
"Yes, I begin to remember now." The other man seemed to be
interested. He ceased digging his stake in the ground and stood
"Do you remember how you took me into your own house that night and
spent all next day trying to find me a job? And how when you
succeeded in getting me a place in a warehouse as foreman, I
promised to quit drinking because you asked me to?"
"I remember it now. I hope you have kept your promise."
The man laughed savagely. Then he struck his hand against the fence
with such sudden passion that he drew blood.
"Kept it! I was drunk inside of a week! I've been drinking ever
since. But I've never forgotten you nor your prayer. Do you remember
the morning after I came to your house, after breakfast you had
prayers and asked me to come in and sit with the rest? That got me!
But my mother used to pray! I can see her now kneeling down by my
bed when I was a lad. Father came in one night and kicked her while
she was kneeling there by me. But I never forgot that prayer of
yours that morning. You prayed for me just as mother used to, and
you didn't seem to take 'count of the fact that I was ragged and
tough-looking and more than half drunk when I rang your door bell.
Oh, what a life I've lived! The saloon has housed me and homed me
and made hell on earth for me. But that prayer stuck to me all the
time. My promise not to drink was broken into a thousand pieces
inside of two Sundays, and I lost the job you found for me and
landed in a police station two days later, but I never forgot you
nor your prayer. I don't know what good it has done me, but I never
forgot it. And I won't do any harm to you nor let any one else. So
you're free to go. That's why."
The Bishop did not stir. Somewhere a church clock struck one. The
man had put on his hat and gone back to his seat on the stone. The
Bishop was thinking hard.
"How long is it since you had work?" he asked, and the man standing
up answered for the other.
"More'n six months since either of us did anything to tell of;
unless you count 'holding up' work. I call it pretty wearing kind of
a job myself, especially when we put in a night like this and don't
"Suppose I found good jobs for both of you? Would you quit this and
begin all over?"
"What's the use?" the man on the stone spoke sullenly. "I've
reformed a hundred times. Every time I go down deeper. The devil's
begun to foreclose on me already. It's too late."
"No!" said the Bishop. And never before the most entranced audience
had he felt the desire for souls burn up in him so strongly. All the
time he sat there during the remarkable scene he prayed, "O Lord
Jesus, give me the souls of these two for Thee! I am hungry for
them. Give them to me!"
"No!" the Bishop repeated. "What does God want of you two men? It
doesn't so much matter what I want. But He wants just what I do in
this case. You two men are of infinite value to Him." And then his
wonderful memory came to his aid in an appeal such as no one on
earth among men could make under such circumstances. He had
remembered the man's name in spite of the wonderfully busy years
that lay between his coming to the house and the present moment.
"Burns," he said, and he yearned over the men with an unspeakable
longing for them both, "if you and your friend here will go home
with me tonight I will find you both places of honorable employment.
I will believe in you and trust you. You are both comparatively
young men. Why should God lose you? It is a great thing to win the
love of the Great Father. It is a small thing that I should love
you. But if you need to feel again that there is love in the world,
you will believe me when I say, my brothers, that I love you, and in
the name of Him who was crucified for our sins I cannot bear to see
you miss the glory of the human life. Come, be men! Make another try
for it, God helping you. No one but God and you and myself need ever
know anything of this tonight. He has forgiven it the minute you ask
Him to. You will find that true. Come! We'll fight it out together,
you two and I. It's worth fighting for, everlasting life is. It was
the sinner that Christ came to help. I'll do what I can for you. O
God, give me the souls of these two men!" and he broke into a prayer
to God that was a continuation of his appeal to the men. His pent-up
feeling had no other outlet. Before he had prayed many moments Burns
was sitting with his face buried in his hands, sobbing. Where were
his mother's prayers now? They were adding to the power of the
Bishop's. And the other man, harder, less moved, without a previous
knowledge of the Bishop, leaned back against the fence, stolid at
first. But as the prayer went on, he was moved by it. What force of
the Holy Spirit swept over his dulled, brutal, coarsened life,
nothing but the eternal records of the recording angel can ever
disclose. But the same supernatural Presence that smote Paul on the
road to Damascus, and poured through Henry Maxwell's church the
morning he asked disciples to follow in Jesus' steps, and had again
broken irresistibly over the Nazareth Avenue congregation, now
manifested Himself in this foul corner of the mighty city and over
the natures of these two sinful sunken men, apparently lost to all
the pleadings of conscience and memory and God. The prayer seemed to
red open the crust that for years had surrounded them and shut them
off from divine communication. And they themselves were thoroughly
startled by it.
The Bishop ceased, and at first he himself did not realize what had
happened. Neither did they. Burns still sat with his head bowed
between his knees. The man leaning against the fence looked at the
Bishop with a face in which new emotions of awe, repentance,
astonishment and a broken gleam of joy struggled for expression. The
"Come, my brothers. God is good. You shall stay at the Settlement
tonight, and I will make good my promise as to the work."
The two men followed him in silence. When they reached the
Settlement it was after two o'clock. He let them in and led them to
a room. At the door he paused a moment. His tall, commanding figure
stood in the doorway and his pale face was illuminated with the
"God bless you, my brothers!" he said, and leaving them his
benediction he went away.
IT WAS the afternoon of that morning when Burns was installed in his
new position as assistant janitor that he was cleaning off the front
steps of the Settlement, when he paused a moment and stood up to
look about him. The first thing he noticed was a beer sign just
across the alley. He could almost touch it with his broom from where
he stood. Over the street immediately opposite were two large
saloons, and a little farther down were three more.
Suddenly the door of the nearest saloon opened and a man came out.
At the same time two more went in. A strong odor of beer floated up
to Burns as he stood on the steps. He clutched his broom handle
tightly and began to sweep again. He had one foot on the porch and
another on the steps just below. He took another step down, still
sweeping. The sweat stood on his forehead although the day was
frosty and the air chill. The saloon door opened again and three or
four men came out. A child went in with a pail, and came out a
moment later with a quart of beer. The child went by on the sidewalk
just below him, and the odor of the beer came up to him. He took
another step down, still sweeping desperately. His fingers were
purple as he clutched the handle of the broom.
Then suddenly he pulled himself up one step and swept over the spot
he had just cleaned. He then dragged himself by a tremendous effort
back to the floor of the porch and went over into the corner of it
farthest from the saloon and began to sweep there. "O God!" he
cried, "if the Bishop would only come back!" The Bishop had gone out
with Dr. Bruce somewhere, and there was no one about that he knew.
He swept in the corner for two or three minutes. His face was drawn
with the agony of his conflict. Gradually he edged out again towards
the steps and began to go down them. He looked towards the sidewalk
and saw that he had left one step unswept. The sight seemed to give
him a reasonable excuse for going down there to finish his sweeping.
He was on the sidewalk now, sweeping the last step, with his face
towards the Settlement and his back turned partly on the saloon
across the alley. He swept the step a dozen times. The sweat rolled
over his face and dropped down at his feet. By degrees he felt that
he was drawn over towards that end of the step nearest the saloon.
He could smell the beer and rum now as the fumes rose around him. It
was like the infernal sulphur of the lowest hell, and yet it dragged
him as by a giant's hand nearer its source.
He was down in the middle of the sidewalk now, still sweeping. He
cleared the space in front of the Settlement and even went out into
the gutter and swept that. He took off his hat and rubbed his sleeve
over his face. His lips were pallid and his teeth chattered. He
trembled all over like a palsied man and staggered back and forth as
if he was already drunk. His soul shook within him.
He had crossed over the little piece of stone flagging that measured
the width of the alley, and now he stood in front of the saloon,
looking at the sign, and staring into the window at the pile of
whiskey and beer bottles arranged in a great pyramid inside. He
moistened his lips with his tongue and took a step forward, looking
around him stealthily. The door suddenly opened again and someone
came out. Again the hot, penetrating smell of liquor swept out into
the cold air, and he took another step towards the saloon door which
had shut behind the customer. As he laid his fingers on the door
handle, a tall figure came around the corner. It was the Bishop.
He seized Burns by the arm and dragged him back upon the sidewalk.
The frenzied man, now mad for a drink, shrieked out a curse and
struck at his friend savagely. It is doubtful if he really knew at
first who was snatching him away from his ruin. The blow fell upon
the Bishop's face and cut a gash in his cheek. He never uttered a
word. But over his face a look of majestic sorrow swept. He picked
Burns up as if he had been a child and actually carried him up the
steps and into the house. He put him down in the hall and then shut
the door and put his back against it.
Burns fell on his knees sobbing and praying. The Bishop stood there
panting with his exertion, although Burns was a slightly-built man
and had not been a great weight for a man of his strength to carry.
He was moved with unspeakable pity.
"Pray, Burns--pray as you never prayed before! Nothing else will
"O God! Pray with me. Save me! Oh, save me from my hell!" cried
Burns. And, the Bishop knelt by him in the hall and prayed as only
he could pray.
After that they rose and Burns went to his room. He came out of it
that evening like a humble child. And the Bishop went his way older
from that experience, bearing on his body the marks of the Lord
Jesus. Truly he was learning something of what it means to walk in
But the saloon! It stood there, and all the others lined the street
like so many traps set for Burns. How long would the man be able to
resist the smell of the damnable stuff? The Bishop went out on the
porch. The air of the whole city seemed to be impregnated with the
odor of beer. "How long, O Lord, how long?" he prayed. Dr. Bruce
came out, and the two friends talked about Burns and his temptation.
"Did you ever make any inquiries about the ownership of this
property adjoining us?" the Bishop asked.
"No, I haven't taken time for it. I will now if you think it would
be worth while. But what can we do, Edward, against the saloon in
this great city? It is as firmly established as the churches or
politics. What power can ever remove it?"
"God will do it in time, as He has removed slavery," was the grave
reply. "Meanwhile I think we have a right to know who controls this
saloon so near the Settlement."
"I'll find out," said Dr. Bruce.
Two days later he walked into the business office of one of the
members of Nazareth Avenue Church and asked to see him a few
moments. He was cordially received by his old parishioner, who
welcomed him into his room and urged him to take all the time he
"I called to see you about that property next the Settlement where
the Bishop and myself now are, you know. I am going to speak
plainly, because life is too short and too serious for us both to
have any foolish hesitation about this matter. Clayton, do you think
it is right to rent that property for a saloon?"
Dr. Bruce's question was as direct and uncompromising as he had
meant it to be. The effect of it on his old parishioner was
The hot blood mounted to the face of the man who sat there beneath a
picture of business activity in a great city. Then he grew pale,
dropped his head on his hands, and when he raised it again Dr. Bruce
was amazed to see a tear roll over his face.
"Doctor, did you know that I took the pledge that morning with the
"Yes, I remember."
"But you never knew how I have been tormented over my failure to
keep it in this instance. That saloon property has been the
temptation of the devil to me. It is the best paying investment at
present that I have. And yet it was only a minute before you came in
here that I was in an agony of remorse to think how I was letting a
little earthly gain tempt me into a denial of the very Christ I had
promised to follow. I knew well enough that He would never rent
property for such a purpose. There is no need, Dr. Bruce, for you to
say a word more."
Clayton held out his hand and Dr. Bruce grasped it and shook it
hard. After a little he went away. But it was a long time afterwards
that he learned all the truth about the struggle that Clayton had
known. It was only a part of the history that belonged to Nazareth
Avenue Church since that memorable morning when the Holy Spirit
sanctioned the Christ-like pledge. Not even the Bishop and Dr.
Bruce, moving as they now did in the very presence itself of divine
impulses, knew yet that over the whole sinful city the Spirit was
brooding with mighty eagerness, waiting for the disciples to arise
to the call of sacrifice and suffering, touching hearts long dull
and cold, making business men and money-makers uneasy in their
absorption by the one great struggle for more wealth, and stirring
through the church as never in all the city's history the church had
been moved. The Bishop and Dr. Bruce had already seen some wonderful
things in their brief life at the Settlement. They were to see far
greater soon, more astonishing revelations of the divine power than
they had supposed possible in this age of the world.
Within a month the saloon next the Settlement was closed. The
saloon-keeper's lease had expired, and Clayton not only closed the
property to the whiskey men, but offered the building to the Bishop
and Dr. Bruce to use for the Settlement work, which had now grown so
large that the building they had first rented was not sufficient for
the different industries that were planned.
One of the most important of these was the pure-food department
suggested by Felicia. It was not a month after Clayton turned the
saloon property over to the Settlement that Felicia found herself
installed in the very room where souls had been lost, as head of the
department not only of cooking but of a course of housekeeping for
girls who wished to go out to service. She was now a resident of the
Settlement, and found a home with Mrs. Bruce and the other young
women from the city who were residents. Martha, the violinist,
remained at the place where the Bishop had first discovered the two
girls, and came over to the Settlement certain evenings to give
lessons in music.
"Felicia, tell us your plan in full now," said the Bishop one
evening when, in a rare interval of rest from the great pressure of
work, he was with Dr. Bruce, and Felicia had come in from the other
"Well, I have long thought of the hired girl problem," said Felicia
with an air of wisdom that made Mrs. Bruce smile as she looked at
the enthusiastic, vital beauty of this young girl, transformed into
a new creature by the promise she had made to live the Christ-like
life. "And I have reached certain conclusions in regard to it that
you men are not yet able to fathom, but Mrs. Bruce will understand
"We acknowledge our infancy, Felicia. Go on," said the Bishop
"Then this is what I propose to do. The old saloon building is large
enough to arrange into a suite of rooms that will represent an
ordinary house. My plan is to have it so arranged, and then teach
housekeeping and cooking to girls who will afterwards go out to
service. The course will be six months' long; in that time I will
teach plain cooking, neatness, quickness, and a love of good work."
"Hold on, Felicia!" the Bishop interrupted, "this is not an age of
"Then we will make it one," replied Felicia. "I know this seems like
an impossibility, but I want to try it. I know a score of girls
already who will take the course, and if we can once establish
something like an esprit de corps among the girls themselves, I am
sure it will be of great value to them. I know already that the pure
food is working a revolution in many families."
"Felicia, if you can accomplish half what you propose it will bless
this community," said Mrs. Bruce. "I don't see how you can do it,
but I say, God bless you, as you try."
"So say we all!" cried Dr. Bruce and the Bishop, and Felicia plunged
into the working out of her plan with the enthusiasm of her
discipleship which every day grew more and more practical and
It must be said here that Felicia's plan succeeded beyond all
expectations. She developed wonderful powers of persuasion, and
taught her girls with astonishing rapidity to do all sorts of
housework. In time, the graduates of Felicia's cooking school came
to be prized by housekeepers all over the city. But that is
anticipating our story. The history of the Settlement has never yet
been written. When it is Felicia's part will be found of very great
The depth of winter found Chicago presenting, as every great city of
the world presents to the eyes of Christendom the marked contrast
between riches and poverty, between culture, refinement, luxury,
ease, and ignorance, depravity, destitution and the bitter struggle
for bread. It was a hard winter but a gay winter. Never had there
been such a succession of parties, receptions, balls, dinners,
banquets, fetes, gayeties. Never had the opera and the theatre been
so crowded with fashionable audiences. Never had there been such a
lavish display of jewels and fine dresses and equipages. And on the
other hand, never had the deep want and suffering been so cruel, so
sharp, so murderous. Never had the winds blown so chilling over the
lake and through the thin shells of tenements in the neighborhood of
the Settlement. Never had the pressure for food and fuel and clothes
been so urgently thrust up against the people of the city in their
most importunate and ghastly form. Night after night the Bishop and
Dr. Bruce with their helpers went out and helped save men and women
and children from the torture of physical privation. Vast quantities
of food and clothing and large sums of money were donated by the
churches, the charitable societies, the civic authorities and the
benevolent associations. But the personal touch of the Christian
disciple was very hard to secure for personal work. Where was the
discipleship that was obeying the Master's command to go itself to
the suffering and give itself with its gift in order to make the
gift of value in time to come? The Bishop found his heart sing
within him as he faced this fact more than any other. Men would give
money who would not think of giving themselves. And the money they
gave did not represent any real sacrifice because they did not miss
it. They gave what was the easiest to give, what hurt them the
least. Where did the sacrifice come in? Was this following Jesus?
Was this going with Him all the way? He had been to members of his
own aristocratic, splendidly wealthy congregations, and was appalled
to find how few men and women of that luxurious class in the
churches would really suffer any genuine inconvenience for the sake
of suffering humanity. Is charity the giving of worn-out garments?
Is it a ten-dollar bill given to a paid visitor or secretary of some
benevolent organization in the church? Shall the man never go and
give his gift himself? Shall the woman never deny herself her
reception or her party or her musicale, and go and actually touch,
herself, the foul, sinful sore of diseased humanity as it festers in
the great metropolis? Shall charity be conveniently and easily done
through some organization? Is it possible to organize the affections
so that love shall work disagreeable things by proxy?
All this the Bishop asked as he plunged deeper into the sin and
sorrow of that bitter winter. He was bearing his cross with joy. But
he burned and fought within over the shifting of personal love by
the many upon the hearts of the few. And still, silently,
powerfully, resistlessly, the Holy Spirit was moving through the
churches, even the aristocratic, wealthy, ease-loving members who
shunned the terrors of the social problem as they would shun a
THE breakfast hour at the settlement was the one hour in the day
when the whole family found a little breathing space to fellowship
together. It was an hour of relaxation. There was a great deal of
good-natured repartee and much real wit and enjoyable fun at this
hour. The Bishop told his best stories. Dr. Bruce was at his best in
anecdote. This company of disciples was healthily humorous in spite
of the atmosphere of sorrow that constantly surrounded them. In
fact, the Bishop often said the faculty of humor was as God-given as
any other and in his own case it was the only safety valve he had
for the tremendous pressure put upon him.
This particular morning he was reading extracts from a morning paper
for the benefit of the others. Suddenly he paused and his face
instantly grew stern and sad. The rest looked up and a hush fell
over the table.
"Shot and killed while taking a lump of coal from a car! His family
was freezing and he had had no work for six months. Six children and
a wife all packed into a cabin with three rooms, on the West Side.
One child wrapped in rags in a closet!"
These were headlines that he read slowly. He then went on and read
the detailed account of the shooting and the visit of the reporter
to the tenement where the family lived. He finished, and there was
silence around the table. The humor of the hour was swept out of
existence by this bit of human tragedy. The great city roared about
the Settlement. The awful current of human life was flowing in a
great stream past the Settlement House, and those who had work were
hurrying to it in a vast throng. But thousands were going down in
the midst of that current, clutching at last hopes, dying literally
in a land of plenty because the boon of physical toil was denied
There were various comments on the part of the residents. One of the
new-comers, a young man preparing for the ministry, said: "Why don't
the man apply to one of the charity organizations for help? Or to
the city? It certainly is not true that even at its worst this city
full of Christian people would knowingly allow any one to go without
food or fuel."
"No, I don't believe it would," replied Dr. Bruce. "But we don't
know the history of this man's case. He may have asked for help so
often before that, finally, in a moment of desperation he determined
to help himself. I have known such cases this winter."
"That is not the terrible fact in this case," said the Bishop. "The
awful thing about it is the fact that the man had not had any work
for six months."
"Why don't such people go out into the country?" asked the divinity
Some one at the table who had made a special study of the
opportunities for work in the country answered the question.
According to the investigator the places that were possible for work
in the country were exceedingly few for steady employment, and in
almost every case they were offered only to men without families.
Suppose a man's wife or children were ill. How would he move or get
into the country? How could he pay even the meager sum necessary to
move his few goods? There were a thousand reasons probably why this
particular man did not go elsewhere.
"Meanwhile there are the wife and children," said Mrs. Bruce. "How
awful! Where is the place, did you say?"
"Why, it is only three blocks from here. This is the 'Penrose
district.' I believe Penrose himself owns half of the houses in that
block. They are among the worst houses in this part of the city. And
Penrose is a church member."
"Yes, he belongs to the Nazareth Avenue Church," replied Dr. Bruce
in a low voice.
The Bishop rose from the table the very figure of divine wrath. He
had opened his lips to say what seldom came from him in the way of
denunciation, when the bell rang and one of the residents went to
"Tell Dr. Bruce and the Bishop I want to see them. Penrose is the
name--Clarence Penrose. Dr. Bruce knows me."
The family at the breakfast table heard every word. The Bishop
exchanged a significant look with Dr. Bruce and the two men
instantly left the table and went out into the hall.
"Come in here, Penrose," said Dr. Bruce, and they ushered the
visitor into the reception room, closed the door and were alone.
Clarence Penrose was one of the most elegant looking men in Chicago.
He came from an aristocratic family of great wealth and social
distinction. He was exceedingly wealthy and had large property
holdings in different parts of the city. He had been a member of Dr.
Bruce's church many years. He faced the two ministers with a look of
agitation on his face that showed plainly the mark of some unusual
experience. He was very pale and his lips trembled as he spoke. When
had Clarence Penrose ever before yielded to such a strange emotion?
"This affair of the shooting! You understand? You have read it? The
family lived in one of my houses. It is a terrible event. But that
is not the primary cause of my visit." He stammered and looked
anxiously into the faces of the two men. The Bishop still looked
stern. He could not help feeling that this elegant man of leisure
could have done a great deal to alleviate the horrors in his
tenements, possibly have prevented this tragedy if he had sacrificed
some of his personal ease and luxury to better the conditions of the
people in his district.
Penrose turned toward Dr. Bruce. "Doctor!" he exclaimed, and there
was almost a child's terror in his voice. "I came to say that I have
had an experience so unusual that nothing but the supernatural can
explain it. You remember I was one of those who took the pledge to
do as Jesus would do. I thought at the time, poor fool that I was,
that I had all along been doing the Christian thing. I gave
liberally out of my abundance to the church and charity. I never
gave myself to cost me any suffering. I have been living in a
perfect hell of contradictions ever since I took that pledge. My
little girl, Diana you remember, also took the pledge with me. She
has been asking me a great many questions lately about the poor
people and where they live. I was obliged to answer her. One of her
questions last night touched my sore! 'Do you own any houses where
these poor people live? Are they nice and warm like ours?' You know
how a child will ask questions like these. I went to bed tormented
with what I now know to be the divine arrows of conscience. I could
not sleep. I seemed to see the judgment day. I was placed before the
Judge. I was asked to give an account of my deeds done in the body.
'How many sinful souls had I visited in prison? What had I done with
my stewardship? How about those tenements where people froze in
winter and stifled in summer? Did I give any thought to them except
to receive the rentals from them? Where did my suffering come in?
Would Jesus have done as I had done and was doing? Had I broken my
pledge? How had I used the money and the culture and the social
influence I possessed? Had I used it to bless humanity, to relieve
the suffering, to bring joy to the distressed and hope to the
desponding? I had received much. How much had I given?'
"All this came to me in a waking vision as distinctly as I see you
two men and myself now. I was unable to see the end of the vision. I
had a confused picture in my mind of the suffering Christ pointing a
condemning finger at me, and the rest was shut out by mist and
darkness. I have not slept for twenty-four hours. The first thing I
saw this morning was the account of the shooting at the coal yards.
I read the account with a feeling of horror I have not been able to
shake off. I am a guilty creature before God."
Penrose paused suddenly. The two men looked at him solemnly. What
power of the Holy Spirit moved the soul of this hitherto
self-satisfied, elegant, cultured man who belonged to the social
life that was accustomed to go its way placidly, unmindful of the
great sorrows of a great city and practically ignorant of what it
means to suffer for Jesus' sake? Into that room came a breath such
as before swept over Henry Maxwell's church and through Nazareth
avenue. The Bishop laid his hand on the shoulder of Penrose and
said: "My brother, God has been very near to you. Let us thank Him."
"Yes! yes!" sobbed Penrose. He sat down on a chair and covered his
face. The Bishop prayed. Then Penrose quietly said: "Will you go
with me to that house?"
For answer the two men put on their overcoats and went with him to
the home of the dead man's family.
That was the beginning of a new and strange life for Clarence
Penrose. From the moment he stepped into that wretched hovel of a
home and faced for the first time in his life a despair and
suffering such as he had read of but did not know by personal
contact, he dated a new life. It would be another long story to tell
how, in obedience to his pledge he began to do with his tenement
property as he knew Jesus would do. What would Jesus do with
tenement property if He owned it in Chicago or any other great city
of the world? Any man who can imagine any true answers to this
question can easily tell what Clarence Penrose began to do.
Now before that winter reached its bitter climax many things
occurred in the city which concerned the lives of all the characters
in this history of the disciples who promised to walk in His steps.
It chanced by one of those coincidences that seem to occur
preternaturally that one afternoon just as Felicia came out of the
Settlement with a basket of food which she was going to leave as a
sample with a baker in the Penrose district, Stephen Clyde opened
the door of the carpenter shop in the basement and came out in time
to meet her as she reached the sidewalk.
"Let me carry your basket, please," he said.
"Why do you say 'please'?" asked Felicia, handing over the basket
while they walked along.
"I would like to say something else," replied Stephen, glancing at
her shyly and yet with a boldness that frightened him, for he had
been loving Felicia more every day since he first saw her and
especially since she stepped into the shop that day with the Bishop,
and for weeks now they had been thrown in each other's company.
"What else?" asked Felicia, innocently falling into the trap.
"Why--" said Stephen, turning his fair, noble face full toward her
and eyeing her with the look of one who would have the best of all
things in the universe, "I would like to say: 'Let me carry your
basket, dear Felicia'."
Felicia never looked so beautiful in her life. She walked on a
little way without even turning her face toward him. It was no
secret with her own heart that she had given it to Stephen some time
ago. Finally she turned and said shyly, while her face grew rosy and
her eyes tender: "Why don't you say it, then?"
"May I?" cried Stephen, and he was so careless for a minute of the
way he held the basket, that Felicia exclaimed:
"Yes! But oh, don't drop my goodies!"
"Why, I wouldn't drop anything so precious for all the world, dear
Felicia," said Stephen, who now walked on air for several blocks,
and what was said during that walk is private correspondence that we
have no right to read. Only it is a matter of history that day that
the basket never reached its destination, and that over in the other
direction, late in the afternoon, the Bishop, walking along quietly
from the Penrose district, in rather a secluded spot near the
outlying part of the Settlement district, heard a familiar voice
"But tell me, Felicia, when did you begin to love me?"
"I fell in love with a little pine shaving just above your ear that
day when I saw you in the shop!" said the other voice with a laugh
so clear, so pure, so sweet that it did one good to hear it.
"Where are you going with that basket?" he tried to say sternly.
"We are taking it to--where are we taking it, Felicia?"
"Dear Bishop, we are taking it home to begin--"
"To begin housekeeping with," finished Stephen, coming to the
"Are you?" said the Bishop. "I hope you will invite me to share. I
know what Felicia's cooking is."
"Bishop, dear Bishop!" said Felicia, and she did not pretend to hide
her happiness; "indeed, you shall be the most honored guest. Are you
"Yes, I am," he replied, interpreting Felicia's words as she wished.
Then he paused a moment and said gently: "God bless you both!" and
went his way with a tear in his eye and a prayer in his heart, and
left them to their joy.
Yes. Shall not the same divine power of love that belongs to earth
be lived and sung by the disciples of the Man of Sorrows and the
Burden-bearer of sins? Yea, verily! And this man and woman shall
walk hand in hand through this great desert of human woe in this
city, strengthening each other, growing more loving with the
experience of the world's sorrows, walking in His steps even closer
yet because of their love for each other, bringing added blessing to
thousands of wretched creatures because they are to have a home of
their own to share with the homeless. "For this cause," said our
Lord Jesus Christ, "shall a man leave his father and mother and
cleave unto his wife." And Felicia and Stephen, following the
Master, love him with a deeper, truer service and devotion because
of the earthly affection which Heaven itself sanctions with its
But it was a little after the love story of the Settlement became a
part of its glory that Henry Maxwell of Raymond came to Chicago with
Rachel Winslow and Virginia Page and Rollin and Alexander Powers and
President Marsh, and the occasion was a remarkable gathering at the
hall of the Settlement arranged by the Bishop and Dr. Bruce, who had
finally persuaded Mr. Maxwell and his fellow disciples in Raymond to
come on to be present at this meeting.
There were invited into the Settlement Hall, meeting for that night
men out of work, wretched creatures who had lost faith in God and
man, anarchists and infidels, free-thinkers and no-thinkers. The
representation of all the city's worst, most hopeless, most
dangerous, depraved elements faced Henry Maxwell and the other
disciples when the meeting began. And still the Holy Spirit moved
over the great, selfish, pleasure-loving, sin-stained city, and it
lay in God's hand, not knowing all that awaited it. Every man and
woman at the meeting that night had seen the Settlement motto over
the door blazing through the transparency set up by the divinity
student: "What would Jesus do?"
And Henry Maxwell, as for the first time he stepped under the
doorway, was touched with a deeper emotion than he had felt in a
long time as he thought of the first time that question had come to
him in the piteous appeal of the shabby young man who had appeared
in the First Church of Raymond at the morning service.
"Now, when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest
thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the
poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me."
WHEN Henry Maxwell began to speak to the souls crowded into the
Settlement Hall that night it is doubtful if he ever faced such an
audience in his life. It is quite certain that the city of Raymond
did not contain such a variety of humanity. Not even the Rectangle
at its worst could furnish so many men and women who had fallen
entirely out of the reach of the church and of all religious and
even Christian influences.
What did he talk about? He had already decided that point. He told
in the simplest language he could command some of the results of
obedience to the pledge as it had been taken in Raymond. Every man
and woman in that audience knew something about Jesus Christ. They
all had some idea of His character, and however much they had grown
bitter toward the forms of Christian ecclesiasticism or the social
system, they preserved some standard of right and truth, and what
little some of them still retained was taken from the person of the
Peasant of Galilee.
So they were interested in what Maxwell said. "What would Jesus do?"
He began to apply the question to the social problem in general,
after finishing the story of Raymond. The audience was respectfully
attentive. It was more than that. It was genuinely interested. As
Mr. Maxwell went on, faces all over the hall leaned forward in a way
seldom seen in church audiences or anywhere except among workingmen
or the people of the street when once they are thoroughly aroused.
"What would Jesus do?" Suppose that were the motto not only of the
churches but of the business men, the politicians, the newspapers,
the workingmen, the society people--how long would it take under
such a standard of conduct to revolutionize the world? What was the
trouble with the world? It was suffering from selfishness. No one
ever lived who had succeeded in overcoming selfishness like Jesus.
If men followed Him regardless of results the world would at once
begin to enjoy a new life.
Maxwell never knew how much it meant to hold the respectful
attention of that hall full of diseased and sinful humanity. The
Bishop and Dr. Bruce, sitting there, looking on, seeing many faces
that represented scorn of creeds, hatred of the social order,
desperate narrowness and selfishness, marveled that even so soon
under the influence of the Settlement life, the softening process
had begun already to lessen the bitterness of hearts, many of which
had grown bitter from neglect and indifference.
And still, in spite of the outward show of respect to the speaker,
no one, not even the Bishop, had any true conception of the feeling
pent up in that room that night. Among those who had heard of the
meeting and had responded to the invitation were twenty or thirty
men out of work who had strolled past the Settlement that afternoon,
read the notice of the meeting, and had come in out of curiosity and
to escape the chill east wind. It was a bitter night and the saloons
were full. But in that whole district of over thirty thousand souls,
with the exception of the saloons, there was not a door open except
the clean, pure Christian door of the Settlement. Where would a man
without a home or without work or without friends naturally go
unless to the saloon?
It had been the custom at the Settlement for a free discussion to
follow any open meeting of this kind, and when Mr. Maxwell finished
and sat down, the Bishop, who presided that night, rose and made the
announcement that any man in the hall was at liberty to ask
questions, to speak out his feelings or declare his convictions,
always with the understanding that whoever took part was to observe
the simple rules that governed parliamentary bodies and obey the
three-minute rule which, by common consent, would be enforced on
account of the numbers present.
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