And then there's a yet graver peril threatening. It's quite the common thing to appeal to selfish motives. It is striking that the great strides that prohibition has made of recent years, have been due to a sort of legislation and to business regulation that appeal to selfish motives. The economic motive, and the disagreeable and injurious likelihood of a saloon being close to one's own home, have had greater influence than higher moral motives. And we are glad of any motive that will put the damnable traffic down and out.
Well, I'm going to come down a step here, and remind you of a yet graver peril that threatens. There is serious danger of a heathenized Christianity dominating our boasted Christian civilization and Christian lands. And in time that would be a serious menace to our pocket-books.
That is to say, there may be the energy and keen mental life without the mellowing and sweetening influence of the Christian spirit. The restless aggressiveness may come without the poise; the ceaseless activity without the deeper steadying quality; the keenness without the softening touch of the true life. In other words, if we don't Christianize heathendom, they will exert an influence on us that will practically amount to their heathenizing Christendom.
Already such influences are seeping in at more than one crack. Mohammedanism has an active propaganda in Great Britain. Heathen wedges are slipping their thin edges in, in our land. More and more it will extend, in time influencing our whole moral fabric, and affecting our whole national life.
During some recent researches among the ruins of Pompeii the explorers turned up a find that told its own story. It was the body of a crippled boy. He was lame in his foot. And around the body there was a woman's arm, a finely shaped, beautiful, bejewelled arm. The mute find told its simple story. The great stream of fire suddenly coming from the volcano, the crowd fleeing for life, the little cripple unable to get along fast enough, the woman's heart touched, her arm thrown about the boy to aid his escape; then the overtaking fire-flood, and both lost. The arm that was stretched out to save another was preserved, and only that. All the rest of the brave rescuer's body had gone. The saving part was saved. Only that mercifully outstretched to save another was itself saved.
The Church or the man that selfishly saveth his life shall lose it. He that forgetteth about his own life in eagerly saving others shall find that he has saved his own life, and that it has grown into a new fulness and richness of life.
These are some of the dark ugly faces peering into ours. But there's another face among them. It is a very bright face, with eyes all aglow, and features all shining with light. It is the face of victory over every danger and difficulty that threatens. Many believe that the emergency will be met. The victory will surely be achieved. But the fact to mark keenly, just now, is that it will be achieved only by a vigorous, masterful gripping of the present pressing emergency.
Ah! God, may Thy Church—we men who make Thy Church, who are Thy Church—may we see the emergency, and be gripped by it; for Jesus' sake; aye, for men's sake; for the Church's sake; for our own sake; in Jesus' great name.