Value Of A Soul
( Originally Published 1902 )
REV. GEORGE P. ECKMAN, D.D., pastor of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church of New York City, preached a sermon in which he thus spoke of the value of a soul, irrespective of circumstances :
" The street railways of America are among our most democratic institutions. In the chariots provided by the corporations which operate these lines of transit ride millionaires and mendicants, the cultured and the unkempt, the clean and the unclean, with extraordinary indiscrimination. Here is a marvel of social equalization. An electric car may contain the germinant forces of a revolution or a reformation. It frequently does enclose the most diverse elements of our complex civilization. On an Amsterdam Avenue car, the other afternoon, rode together on opposite sides of the aisle a company of young women from the classic shades of the college which crowns yonder summit with its imposing buildings, and a group of Italian laborers fresh from the street. The students from academic halls were bright-faced, animated in expression, with the light of intelligence flashing from their eyes, their arms laden with books and manuscripts. They were looking toward a future splendid with promise, and the sunshine of heaven seemed to be resting on their brows. The humble toilers were begrimed with mire, they smelt of garlic and beer, they were stolid and dumb. Their eyes were listless, their bearing negligent. They saw no day-star of promise, and the shadow of perdition hung like a pall over their brows. One could not help musing over the relative values which society would put upon those typical groups. Let an accident occur and every occupant be killed; which would appear the greater calamity, the loss of those college girls or the death of those stupid toilers? There can be no doubt what society would say; there can be no question what the newspapers would intimate. The destruction of those cultured young persons would be esteemed vastly more serious than the loss of those laborers. And if we regard people merely for what they have accumulated and what they can contribute, probably this judgment is correct. But, difficult as it may be to realize it, the Christian view of human worth makes the soul of that ugliest street-digger as valuable as the soul of that fairest girl across the aisle. The mission of Christ is as ardently urged to reach that humble worker as to gain that beautiful woman. The mechanism of the church should be as scientifically adapted to capture the one as the other. When they have been severally united to the Christian community, the function of each will not be identical. The ability of the one will be laid under contribution to compensate for the disability of the other."