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The Fourth of July In Westminster Abbey

( Originally Published 1927 )


T0 all true men the birthday of a nation must always be a sacred thing. For in our modern thought the nation is the making-place of man. Not by the traditions of its history, nor by the splendor of its corporate achievements, nor by the abstract excellence of its Constitution, but by its fitness to make men, to beget and educate human character, to contribute to the complete humanity the perfect man that is to be,— by this alone each nation must be judged today. The nations are the golden candlesticks which hold aloft the glory of the Lord. No candlestick can be so rich or venerable that men shall honor it if it hold no candle. " Show us your man," land cried to land.

It is not for me to glorify tonight the country which I love with all my heart and soul. I may not ask your praise for anything admirable which the United States has been or done. But on my country's birthday I may do something far more solemn and more worthy of the hour. I may ask for your prayers in her behalf : that on the manifold and wondrous chance which God is giving her,— on her freedom (for she is free, since the old stain of slavery was washed out in blood) ; on her unconstrained religious life; on her passion for education and her eager search for truth; 0n her zealous care for the poor man's rights and opportunities ; on her quiet homes where the future generations of men are growing; on her manufactories and her commerce; on her wide gates open to the east and to the west ; 0n her strange meeting of the races out of which a new race is slowly being born; on her vast enterprise and her illimitable hopefulness,—on all these materials and machineries of manhood, on all that the life of my country must mean for humanity, I may ask you to pray that the blessing of God, the Father of man, and Christ, the Son of man, may rest forever.

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