Tribute To William Mckinley
( Originally Published 1921 )
WE are met here, dear friends, within the shadow of a nation's grief. The dark hand of evil has made a hideous assault upon one of the noblest of men, and humanity stands aghast in contemplation of a senseless, monstrous crime and its dire consequences.
"Man's inhumanity to man," which has been a murderer from the beginning, still murders; the race continues to pay the penalties of its unloving strife; tears flow; heads are bowed, and we are again re-minded that "when Christ reigns, and not till then, will the world find rest."
Although we execrate this wretched deed, we have come here in no mood of anger to cry out for vengeance or violent reprisal. Let us, rather, emulate the Christian words of our fallen chieftain. Let us have a righteous pity for a pitiless man whom Satan hath bound, and remembering that "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord," let it be ours likewise to say, "May God forgive him."
The history of this hour clusters about a man whose life was of such surpassing purity and sweetness that no words or flowery speech can possibly ornament its simple grandeur or add to the fragrance which perfumes the memory of him who was ever intent on the business of doing good.
The earthly career of President McKinley lies before you like an open field. There is no need that I should linger here to paint the lily; no need that I should seek to reinforce your respect and love for this genuine man and for that which made him lovable. When history dips its pen to inscribe the long list of his virtues and the annals of his righteous life, it will declare that in the midst of a wicked and per-verse generation he was unsullied; when surrounded by the foam and turbulence of human passion and hatred, he loved much; when assailed by seething temptation, he yielded not.
In the hour of danger, he was brave; in the time of excitement, he was calm, wise, and prudent. It will be said that this Christian life was hallowed and glorified by the practice of charity, mercy, and forgiveness; that he was slow to wrath, tender hearted; faithful to duty, to family, and friends, faithful to mankind and to God.
As we survey the many temptations and frailties which beset the pathway of our fellow man; the storms which shipwreck character and blast the faltering manhood of the age; is it any wonder that with one accord the world unites to proclaim its joy over one true man who was faithful unto the end? Is it any wonder that we mourn the loss to this generation of one whose life furnishes pretext for the hope that through Christian grace mankind may sometime be altogether lovely?
In this hour, when evil seems so real and sorrow hard to bear, our hearts go out to that bereaved wife whose tender, loving companionship has been so ruthlessly shattered. Oh, may she realize that the divine presence rests upon her always. May He who saves even unto the uttermost lead her safely through these troubled waters and bestow upon her an eternal, satisfying consolation.
Coming here as we do, to add the flowers of our gratitude and love in memory of this illustrious man; coming perchance to shed the tear which falls in compassionate sympathy, and to lament the rude shock which has sorely wounded the world, we would surely miss the lesson of this day and this deed if we remained here to mourn and give ourselves up to unavailing grief.
It has been told of the dying President that in the hour of his extreme emergency, he uttered the words, "Thy will be done," and murmured to himself the verses of that sublime hymn, "Nearer, my God, to Thee."
Some of you who have been healed by Christian Science know what it is to sit face to face with that which seemed to be impending death, and have felt the deep emotions which surge to and fro at such a time; and now you know that the man whose Christian living has led him to the peaceful utterance of such trust in God, has on earth travelled many a league towards heaven.
The event which we deplore touches us with severe and startling impact. The slumbering thought is aroused, and once again we are forced to recognize the fact that the world's social and political system is sadly awry.
The two extremes of society, the despotism and selfish greed of power and wealth on one hand, and the sullen, distracted, supplicating poor on the other hand,—like upper and nether stones, have been grinding against each other in irritating and destructive friction. By a strange anomaly of fate, the human man who stood on the middle ground of moderation and good will to men, is crushed between these stones—a martyr to a social system ungoverned by God.
You who are Christian Scientists know the remedy for all the strife and antipathies which disrupt and disfigure humanity. You well know that, as Mrs. Eddy quotes from John Robinson, "When Christ reigns, and not till then, will the world have rest."
You know that when all men shall say, "Thy will be done," and mean it, then will dawn the present and eternal welfare of us all, and that when the universal prayer shall be "Nearer, my God, to Thee," the door of our salvation will open and all will be satisfied with the government of God.
According to Christian Science the remedy for all evil lies in the power of Mind—the power of right thought which is in the image and likeness of God—of divine intelligence.
The scene of the redemptive work which is to transform society is within you. The enlightenment of your own consciousness and the purification and exaltation of your own understanding is the first object to attain. If you would make one supreme effort to reform the world, reform yourself, and throw the weight of your own Christian and righteous thought and example on the right side; then exert the power of Christian Science against the errors of human belief and eliminate them.
Let us learn first what it means to be near God ourselves and to be governed by divine law. He who peers timidly towards a remote or unknown somewhere in hopes to be near God, as though he were isolated and aloof, finds Him not, and misses the true sense of divine immanence.
Christian Science teaches us that God is always "God with us." It means God with us; Life with us; wisdom with us. It means the power and action of good with us. It means health, dominion, abundance, harmony, and completeness with us. It means the guidance of divine Love and all that is included in its pure embrace.
It is this God that answers prayer, heals the sick and saves sinners. In this near God only can we "live and move and have our being." If men would change their sense of God as being an austere person who afflicts, to the understanding of the infinite presence of all that means boundless good and the perfection of being, then they would instinctively, yes, ardently, turn thitherward the footsteps that have been tired because of sin and ignorance and pain, and speedily find heaven within.
Turning from the prevalent assumption that this lamented death was of providential enactment, instituted or permitted for any good purpose whatever, we proclaim that God is Life and always means life for man.
We are thankful at this time that Christian Science is extricating us from the desolating supposition that God is the procurer of death or any other evil, and so acquainting us with the divine nature that we may with ever-growing fervency and cheer utter the supreme longing, "Nearer, my God, to Thee."
What a doleful sense of our heavenly Father—of the loving Ruler of the universe—it is that en-treats you to be resigned to the will of God as though it were to be a hard, reluctant submission. What a perversion of the Science of God to burden you with the belief that God who is infinite Life, arranges the death of man and asks him to be resigned to such extreme evil. Is it strange that men shrink and hesitate to say, "Thy will be done"? Is it strange that thought, thus ignorantly educated, rebels instinctively against such a government and refuses to be comforted by the thought that God who doeth all things well, doeth evil and permits it?
In resistance to this depressing sense which to-day obscures from mortals the divine nature, picture to yourself man governed wholly by the law of God, without one taint of the carnal mind which is "enmity against God."
Governed by the law which reflects or manifests the all-inclusive and perfect God, man would be governed by Life and its eternal rule which provides no death. He would be governed by health, harmony, and happiness.
Such government would mean for him prosperity, welfare, abundance, a righteous dominion over the actual things of existence. It would maintain for him perfection, completeness of mind and estate.
He would be under the rule of eternal Love and animated by it alone. He would manifest perpetual capacity, versatility, the strength, power, and action of good, now and forever.
We who are learning this are gradually yearning for the government of God. In every hour of need, whether beset by sin or disease, grief or desolation, the best that we can possibly do is to turn instantly to our God and invoke his guidance and deliverance.
There is never a time when God's will means man's discomfiture; never a plight so deplorable or so inevitable that the knowledge of God's will and obedience thereto will not extricate him. This is the teaching of Christian Science.
The sad event which we are considering has occasioned a striking exhibition of the universal fear which blights the human mind and life. As Christian Scientists you are enlisted to cast out this bane of mortal existence and abolish its reign, in the name and law of Almighty God, for as Paul says, "He hath not given us the spirit of fear."
It is your privilege through the power of Mind to still the voice of revenge and passionate wrath. It is for you to stay the hand of violence and dispel the dark cloud of anarchy and riot. It is for you who understand the resistless power of good to re-strain and subdue the tempest of bitterness and hatred which now impels a fratricidal conflict.
Upon you is resting the choicest blessing of the ages. You are being disenthralled—redeemed. You have felt the direct touch of God which purifies and heals. The revelation is yours which declares the satisfying reality of good and the utter unreality of evil.
You understand what this means. It is the voice of Truth which sustains you, solves the mystery of evil, and will raise you in triumph above the storm of sin.
To-day in the midst of exciting emotion, you are calm. Confronted by a sense of disaster and death, you are assured and confident of the immortality of Life—the imperishable existence of man. When fear mutters and sorrow tempts you, you have dominion over evil; governed by God, you are learning that His "Grace is sufficient for thee."
Delivered at Memorial Service, First Church of Christ Scientist, Chicago, Illinois. Part of this address appeared in the Chicago Record-Herald September 20, 1901.