President McKinley's Advice To Young Christians
( Originally Published 1902 )
PRESIDENT McKINLEY, with most of the members of his Cabinet, started upon a tour of the South and the West, which was one continuous ovation, with flowers, and receptions, and banquets, and speeches. The dangerous illness of Mrs. McKinley caused a sudden halt in the plans and a return of the party home. The President's addresses were timely, able, patriotic and inspiring. The one delivered in San Francisco, just before he started home with his wife, was so good and helpful that it ought to be read and pondered over by every religious young people's society of America. It was delivered at an impromptu reception given by the Epworth League and Christian Endeavor Society at the California Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and is as follows :
" It gives me great pleasure on this, the last evening of my stay in your hospitable city, to meet with the young men and the young women of the Epworth League and the Christian Endeavor, and the union of the Baptist Church and the Christian young people generally, who have dedicated them-selves to the holy cause of Christian teaching.
" I congratulate you that you are to be the host of the great International Epworth League Convention, to be held in your city in the month of July, for the success of which you have my best wishes. I congratulate you upon the noble work in which you are engaged, and the great results which have followed your efforts.
" He who serves the Master best serves man best, and he who serves truth serves civilization. There is nothing that lasts so long or wears so well and is of such inestimable advantage to the possessor as high character and an upright life, and that is what you teach by example and by instruction.
"And when you are serving man by helping him to be better and nobler, you are serving your country. I do not know whether it is true that every man is the architect of his own fortune, but surely every man is the architect of his own character, and he is the builder of his own character. It is what he makes it, and it is growing all the time easier both to do right and to be right.
" With our churches, our Young Men's Christian Associations, our various church societies, every assistance is given for righteous living and righteous doing. It is no longer a drawback to the progress of a young man to be a member of a Christian Church. It is no embarrassment; it is an encouragement. It is no hindrance ; it is a help.
" There never was in all the past such a demand as now for incorruptible character, strong enough to resist every temptation to do wrong. We need it in every relation of life, in the home, in the store, in the bank, and in the great business affairs of the country.
" We need it in the discharge of the new duties that have come to the Government. It is needed everywhere never more than at this hour. I am glad to show my interest in the great cause for which you are enlisted, for you are helping all the time home and family, law and liberty and country."
One of the most significant facts in the religious progress of the nineteenth century has been the interest the church has taken in the spiritual development of the children and young people, and one reason why the last half of the nine-tenth century has been the most productive period in the Christian Church since Apostolic times, is because the Holy Spirit has inspired the Church with a sense of the necessity of saving the young and enlisting them in diligent Christian service. Hundreds of thousands, even millions, have marched out of the Sunday School into efficient membership in the Church. Although there are many temptations which beset boys and girls, young men and women, and although many of them yield to those temptations, there never has been a time since the world began when young people have been more devoted to God and his cause than at the present time. President McKinley's tribute to the influence of these organizations, which develop and save the young, was encouraging. His insistence on the necessity of building up a true character was wise. Young people ought to build their characters like some of the cathedrals, cruciform, on Christ on the Cross—not with wood or hay or stubble, material to be burned up, but with right thoughts, and holy deeds. Then the character will be a palace built of precious stones, and the tempests of time shall not move it, nor the storms of death harm it; the fires of the last day shall not be able so much as to smoke it; it will stand stately, magnificent, enduring, reflecting the dazzling splendors of an Eternal Sun.