Professor Morse As A Christian
( Originally Published 1902 )
PROFESSOR SAMUEL MORSE was as faithful and efficient as a Christian as he was conspicuous as an inventor. His success in life under great difficulties was another illustration of the fact that the children of ministers usually turn out well. Being thoroughly indoctrinated in a Christian home, he early entered upon the earnest discharge of religious duties. He took a special interest in the spiritual tuition of the young, becoming superintendent of one of the first Sunday Schools in America. While he taught fine art in the recitation room, he taught, by precept and example, the highest art of noble living. He was a conspicuous and potential member of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, of New York City, being constant in his attendance at the church services, and taking as deep interest in the temporal and spiritual success of the charge as the pastor himself. His personal knowledge of God was very distinct, and his consciousness of an indwelling Christ was exceedingly precious to him. At about the time the world was showering its honors upon him, he nestled up to the heart of his pastor to say to him, that the favor of Christ was so much better than the praise of kings. At the close of the solemn communion service, one Sabbath morning, he took the hand of the pastor, and with voice trembling with deep emotion that filled his soul, said: " O, this is something better and greater than standing before princes." He felt that he had had audience with the King of kings, and that seated at the table with his Lord, he had been fed upon the Bread of Life. The love of God, in the death of Christ, gave him the sweetest enjoyment and divinest inspiration a mortal can have in this world. He was always of a generous disposition ; even when he was struggling with poverty, he divided his scanty income with the Church of Christ and with the general causes of Charity. The first money he ever earned by his new invention was forty-seven dollars, which was his share of the right to use his instrument in the communication between the Post Office and the National Observatory in Washington, every penny of which he sent to the Rev. Dr. Sproll, as a thank-offering to God, to be used for Church purposes. This was the first sheaf of ripe wheat which was waved before the Lord, as a pledge that the harvest belonged to him. And as his financial ability increased, his benevolences were multiplied in every direction. While he was in Paris he took quite an interest in the American Chapel there, and subscribed the first thousand dollars to lift the debt upon it.
As might have been expected, his old age was sweet in contentment, beautiful in the advancement of Christian graces, glorious in the hope of immortality. He read his Bible constantly, prayed unceasingly, and revelled in the consciousness of Christ's presence, and in the prospect of Heaven. He said : " I love to be studying the Guide-book of the country to which I am going; I wish to know more and more about it." A little while before he died, his pastor reminded him of God's special goodness to him through his eventful life, and he responded : " Yes ; so good, so good, and the best part of all is yet to come."
It is a beautiful thing to see a character so symmetrically developed as that of Professor Morse. There are some men of genius, who are so engaged with the material forms and forces that they do not reach the spiritual Personality behind them. Their intellects grow to be large, but their religious natures remain very small. They become great scholars, artists, scientists, discoverers, but are very small Christians. There are others, whose study of nature brings them closer to the Author of Nature, and as they become great scholars, artists, scientists, inventors, they grow to be correspondingly great in their Christian character and experience. It is impossible to calculate the religious influence of men thus splendidly equipped in their intellectual powers ; who advance in divine favor as they grow in earthly honor, who pay a due regard to the realities of the next life, while they busy themselves with the practical concerns of this one. The great inventor, while he handled the subtle current, and made it do his bidding, saw to it that his own spirit was constantly charged with the electric current of love divine ; and while he spoke in a flash of lightning, to cities, and to distant continents and islands of the sea, he whispered perpetually in the ear of the Absolute and received continual messages in return from Him.