Part 1 out of 5
Edited by Charles Aldarondo Aldarondo@yahoo.com
In His Steps
Charles M. Sheldon
"For hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps."
It was Friday morning and the Rev. Henry Maxwell was trying to
finish his Sunday morning sermon. He had been interrupted several
times and was growing nervous as the morning wore away, and the
sermon grew very slowly toward a satisfactory finish.
"Mary," he called to his wife, as he went upstairs after the last
interruption, "if any one comes after this, I wish you would say I
am very busy and cannot come down unless it is something very
"Yes, Henry. But I am going over to visit the kindergarten and you
will have the house all to yourself."
The minister went up into his study and shut the door. In a few
minutes he heard his wife go out, and then everything was quiet. He
settled himself at his desk with a sigh of relief and began to
write. His text was from 1 Peter 2:21: "For hereunto were ye called;
because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye
should follow his steps."
He had emphasized in the first part of the sermon the Atonement as a
personal sacrifice, calling attention to the fact of Jesus'
suffering in various ways, in His life as well as in His death. He
had then gone on to emphasize the Atonement from the side of
example, giving illustrations from the life and teachings of Jesus
to show how faith in the Christ helped to save men because of the
pattern or character He displayed for their imitation. He was now on
the third and last point, the necessity of following Jesus in His
sacrifice and example.
He had put down "Three Steps. What are they?" and was about to
enumerate them in logical order when the bell rang sharply. It was
one of those clock-work bells, and always went off as a clock might
go if it tried to strike twelve all at once.
Henry Maxwell sat at his desk and frowned a little. He made no
movement to answer the bell. Very soon it rang again; then he rose
and walked over to one of his windows which commanded the view of
the front door. A man was standing on the steps. He was a young man,
very shabbily dressed.
"Looks like a tramp," said the minister. "I suppose I'll have to go
He did not finish his sentence but he went downstairs and opened the
front door. There was a moment's pause as the two men stood facing
each other, then the shabby-looking young man said:
"I'm out of a job, sir, and thought maybe you might put me in the
way of getting something."
"I don't know of anything. Jobs are scarce--" replied the minister,
beginning to shut the door slowly.
"I didn't know but you might perhaps be able to give me a line to
the city railway or the superintendent of the shops, or something,"
continued the young man, shifting his faded hat from one hand to the
"It would be of no use. You will have to excuse me. I am very busy
this morning. I hope you will find something. Sorry I can't give you
something to do here. But I keep only a horse and a cow and do the
The Rev. Henry Maxwell closed the door and heard the man walk down
the steps. As he went up into his study he saw from his hall window
that the man was going slowly down the street, still holding his hat
between his hands. There was something in the figure so dejected,
homeless and forsaken that the minister hesitated a moment as he
stood looking at it. Then he turned to his desk and with a sigh
began the writing where he had left off.
He had no more interruptions, and when his wife came in two hours
later the sermon was finished, the loose leaves gathered up and
neatly tied together, and laid on his Bible all ready for the Sunday
"A queer thing happened at the kindergarten this morning, Henry,"
said his wife while they were eating dinner. "You know I went over
with Mrs, Brown to visit the school, and just after the games, while
the children were at the tables, the door opened and a young man
came in holding a dirty hat in both hands. He sat down near the door
and never said a word; only looked at the children. He was evidently
a tramp, and Miss Wren and her assistant Miss Kyle were a little
frightened at first, but he sat there very quietly and after a few
minutes he went out."
"Perhaps he was tired and wanted to rest somewhere. The same man
called here, I think. Did you say he looked like a tramp?"
"Yes, very dusty, shabby and generally tramp-like. Not more than
thirty or thirty-three years old, I should say."
"The same man," said the Rev. Henry Maxwell thoughtfully.
"Did you finish your sermon, Henry?" his wife asked after a pause.
"Yes, all done. It has been a very busy week with me. The two
sermons have cost me a good deal of labor."
"They will be appreciated by a large audience, Sunday, I hope,"
replied his wife smiling. "What are you going to preach about in the
"Following Christ. I take up the Atonement under the head of
sacrifice and example, and then show the steps needed to follow His
sacrifice and example."
"I am sure it is a good sermon. I hope it won't rain Sunday. We have
had so many stormy Sundays lately."
"Yes, the audiences have been quite small for some time. People will
not come out to church in a storm." The Rev. Henry Maxwell sighed as
he said it. He was thinking of the careful, laborious effort he had
made in preparing sermons for large audiences that failed to appear.
But Sunday morning dawned on the town of Raymond one of the perfect
days that sometimes come after long periods of wind and mud and
rain. The air was clear and bracing, the sky was free from all
threatening signs, and every one in Mr. Maxwell's parish prepared to
go to church. When the service opened at eleven o'clock the large
building was filled with an audience of the best-dressed, most
comfortable looking people of Raymond.
The First Church of Raymond believed in having the best music that
money could buy, and its quartet choir this morning was a source of
great pleasure to the congregation. The anthem was inspiring. All
the music was in keeping with the subject of the sermon. And the
anthem was an elaborate adaptation to the most modern music of the
"Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee."
Just before the sermon, the soprano sang a solo, the well-known
"Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him, all the way."
Rachel Winslow looked very beautiful that morning as she stood up
behind the screen of carved oak which was significantly marked with
the emblems of the cross and the crown. Her voice was even more
beautiful than her face, and that meant a great deal. There was a
general rustle of expectation over the audience as she rose. Mr.
Maxwell settled himself contentedly behind the pulpit. Rachel
Winslow's singing always helped him. He generally arranged for a
song before the sermon. It made possible a certain inspiration of
feeling that made his delivery more impressive.
People said to themselves they had never heard such singing even in
the First Church. It is certain that if it had not been a church
service, her solo would have been vigorously applauded. It even
seemed to the minister when she sat down that something like an
attempted clapping of hands or a striking of feet on the floor swept
through the church. He was startled by it. As he rose, however, and
laid his sermon on the Bible, he said to himself he had been
deceived. Of course it could not occur. In a few moments he was
absorbed in his sermon and everything else was forgotten in the
pleasure of his delivery.
No one had ever accused Henry Maxwell of being a dull preacher. On
the contrary, he had often been charged with being sensational; not
in what he had said so much as in his way of saying it. But the
First Church people liked that. It gave their preacher and their
parish a pleasant distinction that was agreeable.
It was also true that the pastor of the First Church loved to
preach. He seldom exchanged. He was eager to be in his own pulpit
when Sunday came. There was an exhilarating half hour for him as he
faced a church full of people and know that he had a hearing. He was
peculiarly sensitive to variations in the attendance. He never
preached well before a small audience. The weather also affected him
decidedly. He was at his best before just such an audience as faced
him now, on just such a morning. He felt a glow of satisfaction as
he went on. The church was the first in the city. It had the best
choir. It had a membership composed of the leading people,
representatives of the wealth, society and intelligence of Raymond.
He was going abroad on a three months vacation in the summer, and
the circumstances of his pastorate, his influence and his position
as pastor of the First Church in the city--
It is not certain that the Rev. Henry Maxwell knew just how he could
carry on that thought in connection with his sermon, but as he drew
near the end of it he knew that he had at some point in his delivery
had all those feelings. They had entered into the very substance of
his thought; it might have been all in a few seconds of time, but he
had been conscious of defining his position and his emotions as well
as if he had held a soliloquy, and his delivery partook of the
thrill of deep personal satisfaction.
The sermon was interesting. It was full of striking sentences. They
would have commanded attention printed. Spoken with the passion of a
dramatic utterance that had the good taste never to offend with a
suspicion of ranting or declamation, they were very effective. If
the Rev. Henry Maxwell that morning felt satisfied with the
conditions of his pastorate, the First Church also had a similar
feeling as it congratulated itself on the presence in the pulpit of
this scholarly, refined, somewhat striking face and figure,
preaching with such animation and freedom from all vulgar, noisy or
Suddenly, into the midst of this perfect accord and concord between
preacher and audience, there came a very remarkable interruption. It
would be difficult to indicate the extent of the shock which this
interruption measured. It was so unexpected, so entirely contrary to
any thought of any person present that it offered no room for
argument or, for the time being, of resistance.
The sermon had come to a close. Mr. Maxwell had just turned the half
of the big Bible over upon his manuscript and was about to sit down
as the quartet prepared to arise to sing the closing selection,
"All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
All my being's ransomed powers..."
when the entire congregation was startled by the sound of a man's
voice. It came from the rear of the church, from one of the seats
under the gallery. The next moment the figure of a man came out of
the shadow there and walked down the middle aisle.
Before the startled congregation fairly realized what was going on
the man had reached the open space in front of the pulpit and had
turned about facing the people.
"I've been wondering since I came in here"--they were the words he
used under the gallery, and he repeated them--"if it would be just
the thing to say a word at the close of the service. I'm not drunk
and I'm not crazy, and I am perfectly harmless, but if I die, as
there is every likelihood I shall in a few days, I want the
satisfaction of thinking that I said my say in a place like this,
and before this sort of a crowd."
Henry Maxwell had not taken his seat, and he now remained standing,
leaning on his pulpit, looking down at the stranger. It was the man
who had come to his house the Friday before, the same dusty, worn,
shabby-looking young man. He held his faded hat in his two hands. It
seemed to be a favorite gesture. He had not been shaved and his hair
was rough and tangled. It is doubtful if any one like this had ever
confronted the First Church within the sanctuary. It was tolerably
familiar with this sort of humanity out on the street, around the
railroad shops, wandering up and down the avenue, but it had never
dreamed of such an incident as this so near.
There was nothing offensive in the man's manner or tone. He was not
excited and he spoke in a low but distinct voice. Mr. Maxwell was
conscious, even as he stood there smitten into dumb astonishment at
the event, that somehow the man's action reminded him of a person he
had once seen walking and talking in his sleep.
No one in the house made any motion to stop the stranger or in any
way interrupt him. Perhaps the first shock of his sudden appearance
deepened into a genuine perplexity concerning what was best to do.
However that may be, he went on as if he had no thought of
interruption and no thought of the unusual element which he had
introduced into the decorum of the First Church service. And all the
while he was speaking, the minister leaded over the pulpit, his face
growing more white and sad every moment. But he made no movement to
stop him, and the people sat smitten into breathless silence. One
other face, that of Rachel Winslow from the choir, stared white and
intent down at the shabby figure with the faded hat. Her face was
striking at any time. Under the pressure of the present unheard-of
incident it was as personally distinct as if it had been framed in
"I'm not an ordinary tramp, though I don't know of any teaching of
Jesus that makes one kind of a tramp less worth saving than another.
Do you?" He put the question as naturally as if the whole
congregation had been a small Bible class. He paused just a moment
and coughed painfully. Then he went on.
"I lost my job ten months ago. I am a printer by trade. The new
linotype machines are beautiful specimens of invention, but I know
six men who have killed themselves inside of the year just on
account of those machines. Of course I don't blame the newspapers
for getting the machines. Meanwhile, what can a man do? I know I
never learned but the one trade, and that's all I can do. I've
tramped all over the country trying to find something. There are a
good many others like me. I'm not complaining, am I? Just stating
facts. But I was wondering as I sat there under the gallery, if what
you call following Jesus is the same thing as what He taught. What
did He mean when He said: 'Follow Me!'? The minister said,"--here he
turned about and looked up at the pulpit--"that it is necessary for
the disciple of Jesus to follow His steps, and he said the steps are
'obedience, faith, love and imitation.' But I did not hear him tell
you just what he meant that to mean, especially the last step. What
do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?
"I've tramped through this city for three days trying to find a job;
and in all that time I've not had a word of sympathy or comfort
except from your minister here, who said he was sorry for me and
hoped I would find a job somewhere. I suppose it is because you get
so imposed on by the professional tramp that you have lost your
interest in any other sort. I'm not blaming anybody, am I? Just
stating facts. Of course, I understand you can't all go out of your
way to hunt up jobs for other people like me. I'm not asking you to;
but what I feel puzzled about is, what is meant by following Jesus.
What do you mean when you sing 'I'll go with Him, with Him, all the
way?' Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and
trying to save lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus
did? What do you mean by it? I see the ragged edge of things a good
deal. I understand there are more than five hundred men in this city
in my case. Most of them have families. My wife died four months
ago. I'm glad she is out of trouble. My little girl is staying with
a printer's family until I find a job. Somehow I get puzzled when I
see so many Christians living in luxury and singing 'Jesus, I my
cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee,' and remember how my
wife died in a tenement in New York City, gasping for air and asking
God to take the little girl too. Of course I don't expect you people
can prevent every one from dying of starvation, lack of proper
nourishment and tenement air, but what does following Jesus mean? I
understand that Christian people own a good many of the tenements. A
member of a church was the owner of the one where my wife died, and
I have wondered if following Jesus all the way was true in his case.
I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other
'All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
All my being's ransomed powers,
All my thoughts, and all my doings,
All my days, and all my hours.'
and I kept wondering as I sat on the steps outside just what they
meant by it. It seems to me there's an awful lot of trouble in the
world that somehow wouldn't exist if all the people who sing such
songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don't understand. But
what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps?
It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had
good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for
luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while
the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in
tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or
a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and
The man suddenly gave a queer lurch over in the direction of the
communion table and laid one grimy hand on it. His hat fell upon the
carpet at his feet. A stir went through the congregation. Dr. West
half rose from his pew, but as yet the silence was unbroken by any
voice or movement worth mentioning in the audience. The man passed
his other hand across his eyes, and then, without any warning, fell
heavily forward on his face, full length up the aisle. Henry Maxwell
"We will consider the service closed."
Henry Maxwell and a group of his church members remained some time
in the study. The man lay on the couch there and breathed heavily.
When the question of what to do with him came up, the minister
insisted on taking the man to his own house; he lived near by and
had an extra room. Rachel Winslow said:
"Mother has no company at present. I am sure we would be glad to
give him a place with us."
She looked strongly agitated. No one noticed it particularly. They
were all excited over the strange event, the strangest that First
Church people could remember. But the minister insisted on taking
charge of the man, and when a carriage came the unconscious but
living form was carried to his house; and with the entrance of that
humanity into the minister's spare room a new chapter in Henry
Maxwell's life began, and yet no one, himself least of all, dreamed
of the remarkable change it was destined to make in all his after
definition of the Christian discipleship.
The event created a great sensation in the First Church parish.
People talked of nothing else for a week. It was the general
impression that the man had wandered into the church in a condition
of mental disturbance caused by his troubles, and that all the time
he was talking he was in a strange delirium of fever and really
ignorant of his surroundings. That was the most charitable
construction to put upon his action. It was the general agreement
also that there was a singular absence of anything bitter or
complaining in what the man had said. He had, throughout, spoken in
a mild, apologetic tone, almost as if he were one of the
congregation seeking for light on a very difficult subject.
The third day after his removal to the minister's house there was a
marked change in his condition. The doctor spoke of it but offered
no hope. Saturday morning he still lingered, although he had rapidly
failed as the week drew near its close. Sunday morning, just before
the clock struck one, he rallied and asked if his child had come.
The minister had sent for her at once as soon as he had been able to
secure her address from some letters found in the man's pocket. He
had been conscious and able to talk coherently only a few moments
since his attack.
"The child is coming. She will be here," Mr. Maxwell said as he sat
there, his face showing marks of the strain of the week's vigil; for
he had insisted on sitting up nearly every night.
"I shall never see her in this world," the man whispered. Then he
uttered with great difficulty the words, "You have been good to me.
Somehow I feel as if it was what Jesus would do."
After a few minutes he turned his head slightly, and before Mr.
Maxwell could realize the fact, the doctor said quietly, "He is
The Sunday morning that dawned on the city of Raymond was exactly
like the Sunday of a week before. Mr. Maxwell entered his pulpit to
face one of the largest congregations that had ever crowded the
First Church. He was haggard and looked as if he had just risen from
a long illness. His wife was at home with the little girl, who had
come on the morning train an hour after her father had died. He lay
in that spare room, his troubles over, and the minister could see
the face as he opened the Bible and arranged his different notices
on the side of the desk as he had been in the habit of doing for ten
The service that morning contained a new element. No one could
remember when Henry Maxwell had preached in the morning without
notes. As a matter of fact he had done so occasionally when he first
entered the ministry, but for a long time he had carefully written
every word of his morning sermon, and nearly always his evening
discourses as well. It cannot be said that his sermon this morning
was striking or impressive. He talked with considerable hesitation.
It was evident that some great idea struggled in his thought for
utterance, but it was not expressed in the theme he had chosen for
his preaching. It was near the close of his sermon that he began to
gather a certain strength that had been painfully lacking at the
He closed the Bible and, stepping out at the side of the desk, faced
his people and began to talk to them about the remarkable scene of
the week before.
"Our brother," somehow the words sounded a little strange coming
from his lips, "passed away this morning. I have not yet had time to
learn all his history. He had one sister living in Chicago. I have
written her and have not yet received an answer. His little girl is
with us and will remain for the time."
He paused and looked over the house. He thought he had never seen so
many earnest faces during his entire pastorate. He was not able yet
to tell his people his experiences, the crisis through which he was
even now moving. But something of his feeling passed from him to
them, and it did not seem to him that he was acting under a careless
impulse at all to go on and break to them this morning something of
the message he bore in his heart.
So he went on: "The appearance and words of this stranger in the
church last Sunday made a very powerful impression on me. I am not
able to conceal from you or myself the fact that what he said,
followed as it has been by his death in my house, has compelled me
to ask as I never asked before 'What does following Jesus mean?' I
am not in a position yet to utter any condemnation of this people
or, to a certain extent, of myself, either in our Christ-like
relations to this man or the numbers that he represents in the
world. But all that does not prevent me from feeling that much that
the man said was so vitally true that we must face it in an attempt
to answer it or else stand condemned as Christian disciples. A good
deal that was said here last Sunday was in the nature of a challenge
to Christianity as it is seen and felt in our churches. I have felt
this with increasing emphasis every day since.
"And I do not know that any time is more appropriate than the
present for me to propose a plan, or a purpose, which has been
forming in my mind as a satisfactory reply to much that was said
here last Sunday."
Again Henry Maxwell paused and looked into the faces of his people.
There were some strong, earnest men and women in the First Church.
He could see Edward Norman, editor of the Raymond DAILY NEWS. He had
been a member of the First Church for ten years.
No man was more honored in the community. There was Alexander
Powers, superintendent of the great railroad shops in Raymond, a
typical railroad man, one who had been born into the business. There
sat Donald Marsh, president of Lincoln College, situated in the
suburbs of Raymond. There was Milton Wright, one of the great
merchants of Raymond, having in his employ at least one hundred men
in various shops. There was Dr. West who, although still
comparatively young, was quoted as authority in special surgical
cases. There was young Jasper Chase the author, who had written one
successful book and was said to be at work on a new novel. There was
Miss Virginia Page the heiress, who through the recent death of her
father had inherited a million at least, and was gifted with unusual
attractions of person and intellect. And not least of all, Rachel
Winslow, from her seat in the choir, glowed with her peculiar beauty
of light this morning because she was so intensely interested in the
There was some reason, perhaps, in view of such material in the
First Church, for Henry Maxwell's feeling of satisfaction whenever
he considered his parish as he had the previous Sunday. There was an
unusually large number of strong, individual characters who claimed
membership there. But as he noted their faces this morning he was
simply wondering how many of them would respond to the strange
proposition he was about to make. He continued slowly, taking time
to choose his words carefully, and giving the people an impression
they had never felt before, even when he was at his best with his
most dramatic delivery.
"What I am going to propose now is something which ought not to
appear unusual or at all impossible of execution. Yet I am aware
that it will be so regarded by a large number, perhaps, of the
members of this church. But in order that we may have a thorough
understanding of what we are considering, I will put my proposition
very plainly, perhaps bluntly. I want volunteers from the First
Church who will pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly for an
entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question,
'What would Jesus do?' And after asking that question, each one will
follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result
may be. I will of course include myself in this company of
volunteers, and shall take for granted that my church here will not
be surprised at my future conduct, as based upon this standard of
action, and will not oppose whatever is done if they think Christ
would do it. Have I made my meaning clear? At the close of the
service I want all those members who are willing to join such a
company to remain and we will talk over the details of the plan. Our
motto will be, 'What would Jesus do?' Our aim will be to act just as
He would if He was in our places, regardless of immediate results.
In other words, we propose to follow Jesus' steps as closely and as
literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do. And those who
volunteer to do this will pledge themselves for an entire year,
beginning with today, so to act."
Henry Maxwell paused again and looked out over his people. It is not
easy to describe the sensation that such a simple proposition
apparently made. Men glanced at one another in astonishment. It was
not like Henry Maxwell to define Christian discipleship in this way.
There was evident confusion of thought over his proposition. It was
understood well enough, but there was, apparently, a great
difference of opinion as to the application of Jesus' teaching and
He calmly closed the service with a brief prayer. The organist began
his postlude immediately after the benediction and the people began
to go out. There was a great deal of conversation. Animated groups
stood all over the church discussing the minister's proposition. It
was evidently provoking great discussion. After several minutes he
asked all who expected to remain to pass into the lecture-room which
joined the large room on the side. He was himself detained at the
front of the church talking with several persons there, and when he
finally turned around, the church was empty. He walked over to the
lecture-room entrance and went in. He was almost startled to see the
people who were there. He had not made up his mind about any of his
members, but he had hardly expected that so many were ready to enter
into such a literal testing of their Christian discipleship as now
awaited him. There were perhaps fifty present, among them Rachel
Winslow and Virginia Page, Mr. Norman, President Marsh, Alexander
Powers the railroad superintendent, Milton Wright, Dr. West and
He closed the door of the lecture-room and went and stood before the
little group. His face was pale and his lips trembled with genuine
emotion. It was to him a genuine crisis in his own life and that of
his parish. No man can tell until he is moved by the Divine Spirit
what he may do, or how he may change the current of a lifetime of
fixed habits of thought and speech and action. Henry Maxwell did
not, as we have said, yet know himself all that he was passing
through, but he was conscious of a great upheaval in his definition
of Christian discipleship, and he was moved with a depth of feeling
he could not measure as he looked into the faces of those men and
women on this occasion.
It seemed to him that the most fitting word to be spoken first was
that of prayer. He asked them all to pray with him. And almost with
the first syllable he uttered there was a distinct presence of the
Spirit felt by them all. As the prayer went on, this presence grew
in power. They all felt it. The room was filled with it as plainly
as if it had been visible. When the prayer closed there was a
silence that lasted several moments. All the heads were bowed. Henry
Maxwell's face was wet with tears. If an audible voice from heaven
had sanctioned their pledge to follow the Master's steps, not one
person present could have felt more certain of the divine blessing.
And so the most serious movement ever started in the First Church of
Raymond was begun.
"We all understand," said he, speaking very quietly, "what we have
undertaken to do. We pledge ourselves to do everything in our daily
lives after asking the question, 'What would Jesus do?' regardless
of what may be the result to us. Some time I shall be able to tell
you what a marvelous change has come over my life within a week's
time. I cannot now. But the experience I have been through since
last Sunday has left me so dissatisfied with my previous definition
of Christian discipleship that I have been compelled to take this
action. I did not dare begin it alone. I know that I am being led by
the hand of divine love in all this. The same divine impulse must
have led you also.
"Do we understand fully what we have undertaken?"
"I want to ask a question," said Rachel Winslow. Every one turned
towards her. Her face glowed with a beauty that no physical
loveliness could ever create.
"I am a little in doubt as to the source of our knowledge concerning
what Jesus would do. Who is to decide for me just what He would do
in my case? It is a different age. There are many perplexing
questions in our civilization that are not mentioned in the
teachings of Jesus. How am I going to tell what He would do?"
"There is no way that I know of," replied the pastor, "except as we
study Jesus through the medium of the Holy Spirit. You remember what
Christ said speaking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit:
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you
into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what
things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall
declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me;
for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things
whatsoever the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he
taketh of mine, and shall declare it unto you.' There is no other
test that I know of. We shall all have to decide what Jesus would do
after going to that source of knowledge."
"What if others say of us, when we do certain things, that Jesus
would not do so?" asked the superintendent of railroads.
"We cannot prevent that. But we must be absolutely honest with
ourselves. The standard of Christian action cannot vary in most of
"And yet what one church member thinks Jesus would do, another
refuses to accept as His probable course of action. What is to
render our conduct uniformly Christ-like? Will it be possible to
reach the same conclusions always in all cases?" asked President
Mr. Maxwell was silent some time. Then he answered, "No; I don't
know that we can expect that. But when it comes to a genuine,
honest, enlightened following of Jesus' steps, I cannot believe
there will be any confusion either in our own minds or in the
judgment of others. We must be free from fanaticism on one hand and
too much caution on the other. If Jesus' example is the example for
the world to follow, it certainly must be feasible to follow it. But
we need to remember this great fact. After we have asked the Spirit
to tell us what Jesus would do and have received an answer to it, we
are to act regardless of the results to ourselves. Is that
All the faces in the room were raised towards the minister in solemn
assent. There was no misunderstanding that proposition. Henry
Maxwell's face quivered again as he noted the president of the
Endeavor Society with several members seated back of the older men
"He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as
EDWARD NORMAN, editor Of the Raymond DAILY NEWS, sat in his office
room Monday morning and faced a new world of action. He had made his
pledge in good faith to do everything after asking "What would Jesus
do?" and, as he supposed, with his eyes open to all the possible
results. But as the regular life of the paper started on another
week's rush and whirl of activity, he confronted it with a degree of
hesitation and a feeling nearly akin to fear.
He had come down to the office very early, and for a few minutes was
by himself. He sat at his desk in a growing thoughtfulness that
finally became a desire which he knew was as great as it was
unusual. He had yet to learn, with all the others in that little
company pledged to do the Christlike thing, that the Spirit of Life
was moving in power through his own life as never before. He rose
and shut his door, and then did what he had not done for years. He
kneeled down by his desk and prayed for the Divine Presence and
wisdom to direct him.
He rose with the day before him, and his promise distinct and clear
in his mind. "Now for action," he seemed to say. But he would be led
by events as fast as they came on.
He opened his door and began the routine of the office work. The
managing editor had just come in and was at his desk in the
adjoining room. One of the reporters there was pounding out
something on a typewriter. Edward Norman began to write an
editorial. The DAILY NEWS was an evening paper, and Norman usually
completed his leading editorial before nine o'clock.
He had been writing for fifteen minutes when the managing editor
called out: "Here's this press report of yesterday's prize fight at
the Resort. It will make up three columns and a half. I suppose it
all goes in?"
Norman was one of those newspaper men who keep an eye on every
detail of the paper. The managing editor always consulted his chief
in matters of both small and large importance. Sometimes, as in this
case, it was merely a nominal inquiry.
"Yes--No. Let me see it."
He took the type-written matter just as it came from the telegraph
editor and ran over it carefully. Then he laid the sheets down on
his desk and did some very hard thinking.
"We won't run this today," he said finally.
The managing editor was standing in the doorway between the two
rooms. He was astounded at his chief's remark, and thought he had
perhaps misunderstood him.
"What did you say?"
"Leave it out. We won't use it."
"But" The managing editor was simply dumbfounded. He stared at
Norman as if the man was out of his mind.
"I don't think, Clark, that it ought to be printed, and that's the
end of it," said Norman, looking up from his desk.
Clark seldom had any words with the chief. His word had always been
law in the office and he had seldom been known to change his mind.
The circumstances now, however, seemed to be so extraordinary that
Clark could not help expressing himself.
"Do you mean that the paper is to go to press without a word of the
prize fight in it?"
"Yes. That's what I mean."
"But it's unheard of. All the other papers will print it. What will
our subscribers say? Why, it is simply--" Clark paused, unable to
find words to say what he thought.
Norman looked at Clark thoughtfully. The managing editor was a
member of a church of a different denomination from that of
Norman's. The two men had never talked together on religious matters
although they had been associated on the paper for several years.
"Come in here a minute, Clark, and shut the door," said Norman.
Clark came in and the two men faced each other alone. Norman did not
speak for a minute. Then he said abruptly: "Clark, if Christ was
editor of a daily paper, do you honestly think He would print three
columns and a half of prize fight in it?"
"No, I don't suppose He would."
"Well, that's my only reason for shutting this account out of the
NEWS. I have decided not to do a thing in connection with the paper
for a whole year that I honestly believe Jesus would not do."
Clark could not have looked more amazed if the chief had suddenly
gone crazy. In fact, he did think something was wrong, though Mr.
Norman was one of the last men in the world, in his judgment, to
lose his mind.
"What effect will that have on the paper?" he finally managed to ask
in a faint voice.
"What do you think?" asked Norman with a keen glance.
"I think it will simply ruin the paper," replied Clark promptly. He
was gathering up his bewildered senses, and began to remonstrate,
"Why, it isn't feasible to run a paper nowadays on any such basis.
It's too ideal. The world isn't ready for it. You can't make it pay.
Just as sure as you live, if you shut out this prize fight report
you will lose hundreds of subscribers. It doesn't take a prophet to
see that. The very best people in town are eager to read it. They
know it has taken place, and when they get the paper this evening
they will expect half a page at least. Surely, you can't afford to
disregard the wishes of the public to such an extent. It will be a
great mistake if you do, in my opinion."
Norman sat silent a minute. Then he spoke gently but firmly.
"Clark, what in your honest opinion is the right standard for
determining conduct? Is the only right standard for every one, the
probable action of Jesus Christ? Would you say that the highest,
best law for a man to live by was contained in asking the question,
What would Jesus do?' And then doing it regardless of results? In
other words, do you think men everywhere ought to follow Jesus'
example as closely as they can in their daily lives?" Clark turned
red, and moved uneasily in his chair before he answered the editor's
"Why--yes--I suppose if you put it on the ground of what men ought
to do there is no other standard of conduct. But the question is,
What is feasible? Is it possible to make it pay? To succeed in the
newspaper business we have got to conform to custom and the
recognized methods of society. We can't do as we would in an ideal
"Do you mean that we can't run the paper strictly on Christian
principles and make it succeed?"
"Yes, that's just what I mean. It can't be done. We'll go bankrupt
in thirty days."
Norman did not reply at once. He was very thoughtful.
"We shall have occasion to talk this over again, Clark. Meanwhile I
think we ought to understand each other frankly. I have pledged
myself for a year to do everything connected with the paper after
answering the question, What would Jesus do?' as honestly as
possible. I shall continue to do this in the belief that not only
can we succeed but that we can succeed better than we ever did."
Clark rose. "The report does not go in?"
"It does not. There is plenty of good material to take its place,
and you know what it is."
Clark hesitated. "Are you going to say anything about the absence of
"No, let the paper go to press as if there had been no such thing as
a prize fight yesterday."
Clark walked out of the room to his own desk feeling as if the
bottom had dropped out of everything. He was astonished, bewildered,
excited and considerably angered. His great respect for Norman
checked his rising indignation and disgust, but with it all was a
feeling of growing wonder at the sudden change of motive which had
entered the office of the DAILY NEWS and threatened, as he firmly
believed, to destroy it.
Before noon every reporter, pressman and employee on the DAILY NEWS
was informed of the remarkable fact that the paper was going to
press without a word in it about the famous prize fight of Sunday.
The reporters were simply astonished beyond measure at the
announcement of the fact. Every one in the stereotyping and
composing rooms had something to say about the unheard of omission.
Two or three times during the day when Mr. Norman had occasion to
visit the composing rooms the men stopped their work or glanced
around their cases looking at him curiously. He knew that he was
being observed, but said nothing and did not appear to note it.
There had been several minor changes in the paper, suggested by the
editor, but nothing marked. He was waiting and thinking deeply.
He felt as if he needed time and considerable opportunity for the
exercise of his best judgment in several matters before he answered
his ever present question in the right way. It was not because there
were not a great many things in the life of the paper that were
contrary to the spirit of Christ that he did not act at once, but
because he was yet honestly in doubt concerning what action Jesus
When the DAILY NEWS came out that evening it carried to its
subscribers a distinct sensation.
The presence of the report of the prize fight could not have
produced anything equal to the effect of its omission. Hundreds of
men in the hotels and stores down town, as well as regular
subscribers, eagerly opened the paper and searched it through for
the account of the great fight; not finding it, they rushed to the
NEWS stands and bought other papers. Even the newsboys had not a
understood the fact of omission. One of them was calling out "DAILY
NEWS! Full 'count great prize fight 't Resort. NEWS, sir?"
A man on the corner of the avenue close by the NEWS office bought
the paper, looked over its front page hurriedly and then angrily
called the boy back.
"Here, boy! What's the matter with your paper? There's no prize
fight here! What do you mean by selling old papers?"
"Old papers nuthin'!" replied the boy indignantly. "Dat's today's
paper. What's de matter wid you?"
"But there is no account of the prize fight here! Look!"
The man handed back the paper and the boy glanced at k hurriedly.
Then he whistled, while a bewildered look crept over his face.
Seeing another boy running by with papers he called out "Say, Sam,
le'me see your pile." A hasty examination revealed the remarkable
fact that all the copies of the NEWS were silent on the subject of
the prize fight.
"Here, give me another paper!" shouted the customer; "one with the
prize fight account."
He received it and walked off, while the two boys remained comparing
notes and lost in wonder at the result. "Sump'n slipped a cog in the
Newsy, sure," said the first boy. But he couldn't tell why, and ran
over to the NEWS office to find out.
There were several other boys at the delivery room and they were all
excited and disgusted. The amount of slangy remonstrance hurled at
the clerk back of the long counter would have driven any one else to
He was used to more or less of it all the time, and consequently
hardened to it. Mr. Norman was just coming downstairs on his way
home, and he paused as he went by the door of the delivery room and
"What's the matter here, George?" he asked the clerk as he noted the
"The boys say they can't sell any copies of the NEWS tonight because
the prize fight isn't in it," replied George, looking curiously at
the editor as so many of the employees had done during the day. Mr.
Norman hesitated a moment, then walked into the room and confronted
"How many papers are there here? Boys, count them out, and I'll buy
There was a combined stare and a wild counting of papers on the part
of the boys.
"Give them their money, George, and if any of the other boys come in
with the same complaint buy their unsold copies. Is that fair?" he
asked the boys who were smitten into unusual silence by the unheard
of action on the part of the editor.
"Fair! Well, I should--But will you keep this up? Will dis be a
continual performance for the benefit of de fraternity?"
Mr. Norman smiled slightly but he did not think it was necessary to
answer the question.
He walked out of the office and went home. On the way he could not
avoid that constant query, "Would Jesus have done it?" It was not so
much with reference to this last transaction as to the entire motive
that had urged him on since he had made the promise.
The newsboys were necessarily sufferers through the action he had
taken. Why should they lose money by it? They were not to blame. He
was a rich man and could afford to put a little brightness into
their lives if he chose to do it. He believed, as he went on his way
home, that Jesus would have done either what he did or something
similar in order to be free from any possible feeling of injustice.
DURING the week he was in receipt of numerous letters commenting on
the absence from the News of the account of the prize fight. Two or
three of these letters may be of interest.
Editor of the News:
Dear Sir--I have been thinking for some time of changing my paper. I
want a journal that is up to the times, progressive and
enterprising, supplying the public demand at all points. The recent
freak of your paper in refusing to print the account of the famous
contest at the Resort has decided me finally to change my paper.
Please discontinue it.
Very truly yours,-------
Here followed the name of a business man who had been a subscriber
for many years.
Editor of the Daily News, Raymond:
Dear Ed.--What is this sensation you have given the people of your
burg? What new policy have you taken up? Hope you don't intend to
try the "Reform Business" through the avenue of the press. It's
dangerous to experiment much along that line. Take my advice and
stick to the enterprising modern methods you have made so successful
for the News. The public wants prize fights and such. Give it what
it wants, and let some one else do the reforming business.
Here followed the name of one of Norman's old friends, the editor of
a daily in an adjoining town.
My Dear Mr. Norman:
I hasten to write you a note of appreciation for the evident
carrying out of your promise. It is a splendid beginning and no one
feels the value of it more than I do. I know something of what it
will cost you, but not all. Your pastor,
One other letter which he opened immediately after reading this from
Maxwell revealed to him something of the loss to his business that
possibly awaited him.
Mr. Edward Norman,
Editor of the Daily News:
Dear Sir--At the expiration of my advertising limit, you will do me
the favor not to continue it as you have done heretofore. I enclose
check for payment in full and shall consider my account with your
paper closed after date.
Very truly yours,-------
Here followed the name of one of the largest dealers in tobacco in
the city. He had been in the habit of inserting a column of
conspicuous advertising and paying for it a very large price.
Norman laid this letter down thoughtfully, and then after a moment
he took up a copy of his paper and looked through the advertising
columns. There was no connection implied in the tobacco merchant's
letter between the omission of the prize fight and the withdrawal of
the advertisement, but he could not avoid putting the two together.
In point of fact, he afterward learned that the tobacco dealer
withdrew his advertisement because he had heard that the editor of
the NEWS was about to enter upon some queer reform policy that would
be certain to reduce its subscription list.
But the letter directed Norman's attention to the advertising phase
of his paper. He had not considered this before.
As he glanced over the columns he could not escape the conviction
that his Master could not permit some of them in his paper.
What would He do with that other long advertisement of choice
liquors and cigars? As a member of a church and a respected citizen,
he had incurred no special censure because the saloon men advertised
in his columns. No one thought anything about it. It was all
legitimate business. Why not? Raymond enjoyed a system of high
license, and the saloon and the billiard hall and the beer garden
were a part of the city's Christian civilization. He was simply
doing what every other business man in Raymond did. And it was one
of the best paying sources of revenue. What would the paper do if it
cut these out? Could it live? That was the question. But was that
the question after all? "What would Jesus do?" That was the question
he was answering, or trying to answer, this week. Would Jesus
advertise whiskey and tobacco in his paper?
Edward Norman asked it honestly, and after a prayer for help and
wisdom he asked Clark to come into the office.
Clark came in, feeling that the paper was at a crisis, and prepared
for almost anything after his Monday morning experience. This was
"Clark," said Norman, speaking slowly and carefully, "I have been
looking at our advertising columns and have decided to dispense with
some of the matter as soon as the contracts run out. I wish you
would notify the advertising agent not to solicit or renew the ads
that I have marked here."
He handed the paper with the marked places over to Clark, who took
it and looked over the columns with a very serious air.
"This will mean a great loss to the NEWS. How long do you think you
can keep this sort of thing up?" Clark was astounded at the editor's
action and could not understand it.
"Clark, do you think if Jesus was the editor and proprietor of a
daily paper in Raymond He would permit advertisements of whiskey and
tobacco in it?"
"Well no--I--don't suppose He would. But what has that to do with
us? We can't do as He would. Newspapers can't be run on any such
"Why not?" asked Norman quietly.
"Why not? Because they will lose more money than they make, that's
all!" Clark spoke out with an irritation that he really felt. "We
shall certainly bankrupt the paper with this sort of business
"Do you think so?" Norman asked the question not as if he expected
an answer, but simply as if he were talking with himself. After a
pause he said:
"You may direct Marks to do as I have said. I believe it is what
Christ would do, and as I told you, Clark, that is what I have
promised to try to do for a year, regardless of what the results may
be to me. I cannot believe that by any kind of reasoning we could
reach a conclusion justifying our Lord in the advertisement, in this
age, of whiskey and tobacco in a newspaper. There are some other
advertisements of a doubtful character I shall study into.
Meanwhile, I feel a conviction in regard to these that cannot be
Clark went back to his desk feeling as if he had been in the
presence of a very peculiar person. He could not grasp the meaning
of it all. He felt enraged and alarmed. He was sure any such policy
would ruin the paper as soon as it became generally known that the
editor was trying to do everything by such an absurd moral standard.
What would become of business if this standard was adopted? It would
upset every custom and introduce endless confusion. It was simply
foolishness. It was downright idiocy. So Clark said to himself, and
when Marks was informed of the action he seconded the managing
editor with some very forcible ejaculations. What was the matter
with the chief? Was he insane? Was he going to bankrupt the whole
But Edward Norman had not yet faced his most serious problem. When
he came down to the office Friday morning he was confronted with the
usual program for the Sunday morning edition. The NEWS was one one
of the few evening papers in Raymond to issue a Sunday edition, and
it had always been remarkably successful financially. There was an
average of one page of literary and religious items to thirty or
forty pages of sport, theatre, gossip, fashion, society and
political material. This made a very interesting magazine of all
sorts of reading matter, and had always been welcomed by all the
subscribers, church members and all, as a Sunday morning necessity.
Edward Norman now faced this fact and put to himself the question:
"What would Jesus do?" If He was editor of a paper, would he
deliberately plan to put into the homes of all the church people and
Christians of Raymond such a collection of reading matter on the one
day in the week which ought to be given up to something better
holier? He was of course familiar with the regular arguments of the
Sunday paper, that the public needed something of the sort; and the
working man especially, who would not go to church any way, ought to
have something entertaining and instructive on Sunday, his only day
of rest. But suppose the Sunday morning paper did not pay? Suppose
there was no money in it? How eager would the editor or publisher be
then to supply this crying need of the poor workman? Edward Norman
communed honestly with himself over the subject.
Taking everything into account, would Jesus probably edit a Sunday
morning paper? No matter whether it paid. That was not the question.
As a matter of fact, the Sunday NEWS paid so well that it would be a
direct loss of thousands of dollars to discontinue it. Besides, the
regular subscribers had paid for a seven-day paper. Had he any right
now to give them less than they supposed they had paid for?
He was honestly perplexed by the question. So much was involved in
the discontinuance of the Sunday edition that for the first time he
almost decided to refuse to be guided by the standard of Jesus'
probable action. He was sole proprietor of the paper; it was his to
shape as he chose. He had no board of directors to consult as to
policy. But as he sat there surrounded by the usual quantity of
material for the Sunday edition he reached some definite
conclusions. And among them was a determination to call in the force
of the paper and frankly state his motive and purpose. He sent word
for Clark and the other men it the office, including the few
reporters who were in the building and the foreman, with what men
were in the composing room (it was early in the morning and they
were not all in) to come into the mailing room. This was a large
room, and the men came in curiously and perched around on the tables
and counters. It was a very unusual proceeding, but they all agreed
that the paper was being run on new principles anyhow, and they all
watched Mr. Norman carefully as he spoke.
"I called you in here to let you know my further plans for the NEWS.
I propose certain changes which I believe are necessary. I
understand very well that some things I have already done are
regarded by the men as very strange. I wish to state my motive in
doing what I have done."
Here he told the men what he had already told Clark, and they stared
as Clark had done, and looked as painfully conscious.
"Now, in acting on this standard of conduct I have reached a
conclusion which will, no doubt, cause some surprise.
"I have decided that the Sunday morning edition of the NEWS shall be
discontinued after next Sunday's issue. I shall state in that issue
my reasons for discontinuing. In order to make up to the subscribers
the amount of reading matter they may suppose themselves entitled
to, we can issue a double number on Saturday, as is done by many
evening papers that make no attempt at a Sunday edition. I am
convinced that from a Christian point of view more harm than good
has been done by our Sunday morning paper. I do not believe that
Jesus would be responsible for it if He were in my place today. It
will occasion some trouble to arrange the details caused by this
change with the advertisers and subscribers. That is for me to look
after. The change itself is one that will take place. So far as I
can see, the loss will fall on myself. Neither the reporters nor the
pressmen need make any particular changes in their plans."
He looked around the room and no one spoke. He was struck for the
first time in his life with the fact that in all the years of his
newspaper life he had never had the force of the paper together in
this way. Would Jesus do that? That is, would He probably run a
newspaper on some loving family plan, where editors, reporters,
pressmen and all meet to discuss and devise and plan for the making
of a paper that should have in view--
He caught himself drawing almost away from the facts of
typographical unions and office rules and reporters' enterprise and
all the cold, businesslike methods that make a great daily
successful. But still the vague picture that came up in the mailing
room would not fade away when he had gone into his office and the
men had gone back to their places with wonder in their looks and
questions of all sorts on their tongues as they talked over the
editor's remarkable actions.
Clark came in and had a long, serious talk with his chief. He was
thoroughly roused, and his protest almost reached the point of
resigning his place. Norman guarded himself carefully. Every minute
of the interview was painful to him, but he felt more than ever the
necessity of doing the Christ-like thing. Clark was a very valuable
man. It would be difficult to fill his place. But he was not able to
give any reasons for continuing the Sunday paper that answered the
question, "What would Jesus do?" by letting Jesus print that
"It comes to this, then," said Clark frankly, "you will bankrupt the
paper in thirty days. We might as well face that future fact."
"I don't think we shall. Will you stay by the NEWS until it is
bankrupt?" asked Norman with a strange smile.
"Mr. Norman, I don't understand you. You are not the same man this
week that I always knew before."
"I don't know myself either, Clark. Something remarkable has caught
me up and borne me on. But I was never more convinced of final
success and power for the paper. You have not answered my question.
Will you stay with me?"
SUNDAY morning dawned again on Raymond, and Henry Maxwell's church
was again crowded. Before the service began Edward Norman attracted
great attention. He sat quietly in his usual place about three seats
from the pulpit. The Sunday morning issue of the NEWS containing the
statement of its discontinuance had been expressed in such
remarkable language that every reader was struck by it. No such
series of distinct sensations had ever disturbed the usual business
custom of Raymond. The events connected with the NEWS were not all.
People were eagerly talking about strange things done during the
week by Alexander Powers at the railroad shops, and Milton Wright in
his stores on the avenue. The service progressed upon a distinct
wave of excitement in the pews. Henry Maxwell faced it all with a
calmness which indicated a strength and purpose more than usual. His
prayers were very helpful. His sermon was not so easy to describe.
How would a minister be apt to preach to his people if he came
before them after an entire week of eager asking, "How would Jesus
preach? What would He probably say?" It is very certain that he did
not preach as he had done two Sundays before. Tuesday of the past
week he had stood by the grave of the dead stranger and said the
words, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," and still he
was moved by the spirit of a deeper impulse than he could measure as
he thought of his people and yearned for the Christ message when he
should be in his pulpit again.
Now that Sunday had come and the people were there to hear, what
would the Master tell them? He agonized over his preparation for
them, and yet he knew he had not been able to fit his message into
his ideal of the Christ. Nevertheless no one in the First Church
could remember ever hearing such a sermon before. There was in it
rebuke for sin, especially hypocrisy, there was definite rebuke of
the greed of wealth and the selfishness of fashion, two things that
First Church never heard rebuked this way before, and there was a
love of his people that gathered new force as the sermon went on.
When it was finished there were those who were saying in their
hearts, "The Spirit moved that sermon." And they were right.
Then Rachel Winslow rose to sing, this time after the sermon, by Mr.
Maxwell's request. Rachel's singing did not provoke applause this
time. What deeper feeling carried the people's hearts into a
reverent silence and tenderness of thought? Rachel was beautiful.
But her consciousness of her remarkable loveliness had always marred
her singing with those who had the deepest spiritual feeling. It had
also marred her rendering of certain kinds of music with herself.
Today this was all gone. There was no lack of power in her grand
voice. But there was an actual added element of humility and purity
which the audience distinctly felt and bowed to.
Before service closed Mr. Maxwell asked those who had remained the
week before to stay again for a few moments of consultation, and any
others who were willing to make the pledge taken at that time. When
he was at liberty he went into the lecture-room. To his astonishment
it was almost filled. This time a large proportion of young people
had come, but among them were a few business men and officers of the
As before, he, Maxwell, asked them to pray with him. And, as before,
a distinct answer came from the presence of the divine Spirit. There
was no doubt in the minds of any present that what they purposed to
do was so clearly in line with the divine will, that a blessing
rested upon it in a very special manner.
They remained some time to ask questions and consult together. There
was a feeling of fellowship such as they had never known in their
church membership. Mr. Norman's action was well understood by them
all, and he answered several questions.
"What will be the probable result of your discontinuance of the
Sunday paper?" asked Alexander Powers, who sat next to him.
"I don't know yet. I presume it will result in the falling off of
subscriptions and advertisements. I anticipate that."
"Do you have any doubts about your action. I mean, do you regret it,
or fear it is not what Jesus would do?" asked Mr. Maxwell.
"Not in the least. But I would like to ask, for my own satisfaction,
if any of you here think Jesus would issue a Sunday morning paper?"
No one spoke for a minute. Then Jasper Chase said, "We seem to think
alike on that, but I have been puzzled several times during the week
to know just what He would do. It is not always an easy question to
"I find that trouble," said Virginia Page. She sat by Rachel
Winslow. Every one who knew Virginia Page was wondering how she
would succeed in keeping her promise. "I think perhaps I find it
specially difficult to answer that question on account of my money.
Our Lord never owned any property, and there is nothing in His
example to guide me in the use of mine. I am studying and praying. I
think I see clearly a part of what He would do, but not all. What
would He do with a million dollars? is my question really. I confess
I am not yet able to answer it to my satisfaction.
"I could tell you what you could do with a part of it, said Rachel,
turning her face toward Virginia. "That does not trouble me,"
replied Virginia with a slight smile. "What I am trying to discover
is a principle that will enable me to come to the nearest possible
to His action as it ought to influence the entire course of my life
so far as my wealth and its use are concerned."
"That will take time," said the minister slowly. All the rest of the
room were thinking hard of the same thing. Milton Wright told
something of his experience. He was gradually working out a plan for
his business relations with his employees, and it was opening up a
new world to him and to them. A few of the young men told of special
attempts to answer the question. There was almost general consent
over the fact that the application of the Christ spirit and practice
to the everyday life was the serious thing. It required a knowledge
of Him and an insight into His motives that most of them did not yet
When they finally adjourned after a silent prayer that marked with
growing power the Divine Presence, they went away discussing
earnestly their difficulties and seeking light from one another.
Rachel Winslow and Virginia Page went out together. Edward Norman
and Milton Wright became so interested in their mutual conference
that they walked on past Norman's house and came back together.
Jasper Chase and the president of the Endeavor Society stood talking
earnestly in one corner of the room. Alexander Powers and Henry
Maxwell remained, even after the others had gone.
"I want you to come down to the shops tomorrow and see my plan and
talk to the men. Somehow I feel as if you could get nearer to them
than any one else just now."
"I don't know about that, but I will come," replied Mr. Maxwell a
little sadly. How was he fitted to stand before two or three hundred
working men and give them a message? Yet in the moment of his
weakness, as he asked the question, he rebuked himself for it. What
would Jesus do? That was an end to the discussion.
He went down the next day and found Mr. Powers in his office. It
lacked a few minutes of twelve and the superintendent said, "Come
upstairs, and I'll show you what I've been trying to do."
They went through the machine shop, climbed a long flight of stairs
and entered a very large, empty room. It had once been used by the
company for a store room.
"Since making that promise a week ago I have had a good many things
to think of," said the superintendent, "and among them is this: The
company gives me the use of this room, and I am going to fit it up
with tables and a coffee plant in the corner there where those steam
pipes are. My plan is to provide a good place where the men can come
up and eat their noon lunch, and give them, two or three times a
week, the privilege of a fifteen minutes' talk on some subject that
will be a real help to them in their lives."
Maxwell looked surprised and asked if the men would come for any
"Yes, they'll come. After all, I know the men pretty well. They are
among the most intelligent working men in the country today. But
they are, as a whole, entirely removed from church influence. I
asked, 'What would Jesus do?' and among other things it seemed to me
He would begin to act in some way to add to the lives of these men
more physical and spiritual comfort. It is a very little thing, this
room and what it represents, but I acted on the first impulse, to do
the first thing that appealed to my good sense, and I want to work
out this idea. I want you to speak to the men when they come up at
noon. I have asked them to come up and see the place and I'll tell
them something about it."
Maxwell was ashamed to say how uneasy he felt at being asked to
speak a few words to a company of working men. How could he speak
without notes, or to such a crowd? He was honestly in a condition of
genuine fright over the prospect. He actually felt afraid of facing
those men. He shrank from the ordeal of confronting such a crowd, so
different from the Sunday audiences he was familiar with.
There were a dozen rude benches and tables in the room, and when the
noon whistle sounded the men poured upstairs from the machine shops
below and, seating themselves at the tables, began to cat their
lunch. There were present about three hundred of them. They had read
the superintendent's notice which he had posted up in various
places, and came largely out of curiosity.
They were favorably impressed. The room was large and airy, free
from smoke and dust, and well warmed from the steam pipes. At about
twenty minutes to one Mr. Powers told the men what he had in mind.
He spoke very simply, like one who understands thoroughly the
character of his audience, and then introduced the Rev. Henry
Maxwell of the First Church, his pastor, who had consented to speak
a few minutes.
Maxwell will never forget the feeling with which for the first time
he stood before the grimy-faced audience of working men. Like
hundreds of other ministers, he had never spoken to any gatherings
except those made up of people of his own class in the sense that
they were familiar in their dress and education and habits. This was
a new world to him, and nothing but his new rule of conduct could
have made possible his message and its effect. He spoke on the
subject of satisfaction with life; what caused it, what its real
sources were. He had the great good sense on this his first
appearance not to recognize the men as a class distinct from
himself. He did not use the term working man, and did not say a word
to suggest any difference between their lives and his own.
The men were pleased. A good many of them shook hands with him
before going down to their work, and the minister telling it all to
his wife when he reached home, said that never in all his life had
he known the delight he then felt in having the handshake from a man
of physical labor. The day marked an important one in his Christian
experience, more important than he knew. It was the beginning of a
fellowship between him and the working world. It was the first plank
laid down to help bridge the chasm between the church and labor in
Alexander Powers went back to his desk that afternoon much pleased
with his plan and seeing much help in it for the men. He knew where
he could get some good tables from an abandoned eating house at one
of the stations down the road, and he saw how the coffee arrangement
could be made a very attractive feature. The men had responded even
better than he anticipated, and the whole thing could not help being
a great benefit to them.
He took up the routine of his work with a glow of satisfaction.
After all, he wanted to do as Jesus would, he said to himself.
It was nearly four o'clock when he opened one of the company's long
envelopes which he supposed contained orders for the purchasing of
stores. He ran over the first page of typewritten matter in his
usual quick, business-like manner, before he saw that what he was
reading was not intended for his office but for the superintendent
of the freight department.
He turned over a page mechanically, not meaning to read what was not
addressed to him, but before he knew it, he was in possession of
evidence which conclusively proved that the company was engaged in a
systematic violation of the Interstate Commerce Laws of the United
States. It was as distinct and unequivocal a breaking of law as if a
private citizen should enter a house and rob the inmates. The
discrimination shown in rebates was in total contempt of all the
statutes. Under the laws of the state it was also a distinct
violation of certain provisions recently passed by the legislature
to prevent railroad trusts. There was no question that he had in his
hands evidence sufficient to convict the company of willful,
intelligent violation of the law of the commission and the law of
the state also.
He dropped the papers on his desk as if they were poison, and
instantly the question flashed across his mind, "What would Jesus
do?" He tried to shut the question out. He tried to reason with
himself by saying it was none of his business. He had known in a
more or less definite way, as did nearly all the officers of the
company, that this had been going on right along on nearly all the
roads. He was not in a position, owing to his place in the shops, to
prove anything direct, and he had regarded it as a matter which did
not concern him at all. The papers now before him revealed the
entire affair. They had through some carelessness been addressed to
him. What business of his was it? If he saw a man entering his
neighbor's house to steal, would it not be his duty to inform the
officers of the law? Was a railroad company such a different thing?
Was it under a different rule of conduct, so that it could rob the
public and defy law and be undisturbed because it was such a great
organization? What would Jesus do? Then there was his family. Of
course, if he took any steps to inform the commission it would mean
the loss of his position. His wife and daughter had always enjoyed
luxury and a good place in society. If he came out against this
lawlessness as a witness it would drag him into courts, his motives
would be misunderstood, and the whole thing would end in his
disgrace and the loss of his position. Surely it was none of his
business. He could easily get the papers back to the freight
department and no one be the wiser. Let the iniquity go on. Let the
law be defied. What was it to him? He would work out his plans for
bettering the condition just before him. What more could a man do in
this railroad business when there was so much going on anyway that
made it impossible to live by the Christian standard? But what would
Jesus do if He knew the facts? That was the question that confronted
Alexander Powers as the day wore into evening.
The lights in the office had been turned on. The whirr of the great
engine and the clash of the planers in the big shop continued until
six o'clock. Then the whistle blew, the engine slowed up, the men
dropped their tools and ran for the block house.
Powers heard the familiar click, click, of the clocks as the men
filed past the window of the block house just outside. He said to
his clerks, "I'm not going just yet. I have something extra
tonight." He waited until he heard the last man deposit his block.
The men behind the block case went out. The engineer and his
assistants had work for half an hour but they went out by another
"If any man cometh unto me and hateth not his own father and mother
and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own
life also, he cannot be my disciple."
"And whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my
WHEN Rachel Winslow and Virginia Page separated after the meeting at
the First Church on Sunday they agreed to continue their
conversation the next day. Virginia asked Rachel to come and lunch
with her at noon, and Rachel accordingly rang the bell at the Page
mansion about half-past eleven. Virginia herself met her and the two
were soon talking earnestly.
"The fact is," Rachel was saying, after they had been talking a few
moments, "I cannot reconcile it with my judgment of what Christ
would do. I cannot tell another person what to do, but I feel that I
ought not to accept this offer."
"What will you do then?" asked Virginia with great interest.
"I don't know yet, but I have decided to refuse this offer."
Rachel picked up a letter that had been lying in her lap and ran
over its contents again. It was a letter from the manager of a comic
opera offering her a place with a large traveling company of the
season. The salary was a very large figure, and the prospect held
out by the manager was flattering. He had heard Rachel sing that
Sunday morning when the stranger had interrupted the service. He had
been much impressed. There was money in that voice and it ought to
be used in comic opera, so said the letter, and the manager wanted a
reply as soon as possible.
"There's no great virtue in saying 'No' to this offer when I have
the other one," Rachel went on thoughtfully. "That's harder to
decide. But I've about made up my mind. To tell the, truth,
Virginia, I'm completely convinced in the first case that Jesus
would never use any talent like a good voice just to make money. But
now, take this concert offer. Here is a reputable company, to travel
with an impersonator and a violinist and a male quartet, all people
of good reputation. I'm asked to go as one of the company and sing
leading soprano. The salary--I mentioned it, didn't I?--is
guaranteed to be $200 a month for the season. But I don't feel
satisfied that Jesus would go. What do you think?"
"You mustn't ask me to decide for you," replied Virginia with a sad
smile. "I believe Mr. Maxwell was right when he said we must each
one of us decide according to the judgment we feel for ourselves to
be Christ-like. I am having a harder time than you are, dear, to
decide what He would do."
"Are you?" Rachel asked. She rose and walked over to the window and
looked out. Virginia came and stood by her. The street was crowded
with life and the two young women looked at it silently for a
moment. Suddenly Virginia broke out as Rachel had never heard her
"Rachel, what does all this contrast in conditions mean to you as
you ask this question of what Jesus would do? It maddens me to think
that the society in which I have been brought up, the same to which
we are both said to belong, is satisfied year after year to go on
dressing and eating and having a good time, giving and receiving
entertainments, spending its money on houses and luxuries and,
occasionally, to ease its conscience, donating, without any personal
sacrifice, a little money to charity. I have been educated, as you
have, in one of the most expensive schools in America; launched into
society as an heiress; supposed to be in a very enviable position.
I'm perfectly well; I can travel or stay at home. I can do as I
please. I can gratify almost any want or desire; and yet when I
honestly try to imagine Jesus living the life I have lived and am
expected to live, and doing for the rest of my life what thousands
of other rich people do, I am under condemnation for being one of
the most wicked, selfish, useless creatures in all the world. I have
not looked out of this window for weeks without a feeling of horror
toward myself as I see the humanity that passes by this house."
Virginia turned away and walked up and down the room. Rachel watched
her and could not repress the rising tide of her own growing
definition of discipleship. Of what Christian use was her own talent
of song? Was the best she could do to sell her talent for so much a
month, go on a concert company's tour, dress beautifully, enjoy the
excitement of public applause and gain a reputation as a great
singer? Was that what Jesus would do?
She was not morbid. She was in sound health, was conscious of her
great powers as a singer, and knew that if she went out into public
life she could make a great deal of money and become well known. It
is doubtful if she overestimated her ability to accomplish all she
thought herself capable of. And Virginia--what she had just said
smote Rachel with great force because of the similar position in
which the two friends found themselves.
Lunch was announced and they went out and were joined by Virginia's
grandmother, Madam Page, a handsome, stately woman of sixty-five,
and Virginia's brother Rollin, a young man who spent most of his
time at one of the clubs and had no ambition for anything but a
growing admiration for Rachel Winslow, and whenever she dined or
lunched at the Page's, if he knew of it he always planned to be at
These three made up the Page family. Virginia's father had been a
banker and grain speculator. Her mother had died ten years before,
her father within the past year. The grandmother, a Southern woman
in birth and training, had all the traditions and feelings that
accompany the possession of wealth and social standing that have
never been disturbed. She was a shrewd, careful business woman of
more than average ability. The family property and wealth were
invested, in large measure, under her personal care. Virginia's
portion was, without any restriction, her own. She had been trained
by her father to understand the ways of the business world, and even
the grandmother had been compelled to acknowledge the girl's
capacity for taking care of her own money.
Perhaps two persons could not be found anywhere less capable of
understanding a girl like Virginia than Madam Page and Rollin.
Rachel, who had known the family since she was a girl playmate of
Virginia's, could not help thinking of what confronted Virginia in
her own home when she once decided on the course which she honestly
believed Jesus would take. Today at lunch, as she recalled
Virginia's outbreak in the front room, she tried to picture the
scene that would at some time occur between Madam Page and her
"I understand that you are going on the stage, Miss Winslow. We
shall all be delighted, I'm sure," said Rollin during the
conversation, which had not been very animated.
Rachel colored and felt annoyed. "Who told you?" she asked, while
Virginia, who had been very silent and reserved, suddenly roused
herself and appeared ready to join in the talk.
"Oh! we hear a thing or two on the street. Besides, every one saw
Crandall the manager at church two weeks ago. He doesn't go to
church to hear the preaching. In fact, I know other people who don't
either, not when there's something better to hear."
Rachel did not color this time, but she answered quietly, "You're
mistaken. I'm not going on the stage."
"It's a great pity. You'd make a hit. Everybody is talking about
This time Rachel flushed with genuine anger. Before she could say
anything, Virginia broke in: "Whom do you mean by 'everybody?'"
"Whom? I mean all the people who hear Miss Winslow on Sundays. What
other time do they hear her? It's a great pity, I say, that the
general public outside of Raymond cannot hear her voice."
"Let us talk about something else," said Rachel a little sharply.
Madam Page glanced at her and spoke with a gentle courtesy.
"My dear, Rollin never could pay an indirect compliment. He is like
his father in that. But we are all curious to know something of your
plans. We claim the right from old acquaintance, you know; and
Virginia has already told us of your concert company offer."
"I supposed of course that was public property," said Virginia,
smiling across the table. "I was in the NEWS office day before
"Yes, yes," replied Rachel hastily. "I understand that, Madam Page.
Well, Virginia and I have been talking about it. I have decided not
to accept, and that is as far as I have gone at present."
Rachel was conscious of the fact that the conversation had, up to
this point, been narrowing her hesitation concerning the concert
company's offer down to a decision that would absolutely satisfy her
own judgment of Jesus' probable action. It had been the last thing
in the world, however, that she had desired, to have her decision
made in any way so public as this. Somehow what Rollin Page had said
and his manner in saying it had hastened her decision in the matter.
"Would you mind telling us, Rachel, your reasons for refusing the
offer? It looks like a great opportunity for a young girl like you.
Don't you think the general public ought to hear you? I feel like
Rollin about that. A voice like yours belongs to a larger audience
than Raymond and the First Church."
Rachel Winslow was naturally a girl of great reserve. She shrank
from making her plans or her thoughts public. But with all her
repression there was possible in her an occasional sudden breaking
out that was simply an impulsive, thoroughly frank, truthful
expression of her most inner personal feeling. She spoke now in
reply to Madam Page in one of those rare moments of unreserve that
added to the attractiveness of her whole character.
"I have no other reason than a conviction that Jesus Christ would do
the same thing," she said, looking into Madam Page's eyes with a
clear, earnest gaze.
Madam Page turned red and Rollin stared. Before her grandmother
could say anything, Virginia spoke. Her rising color showed how she
was stirred. Virginia's pale, clear complexion was that of health,
but it was generally in marked contrast with Rachel's tropical type
"Grandmother, you know we promised to make that the standard of our
conduct for a year. Mr. Maxwell's proposition was plain to all who
heard it. We have not been able to arrive at our decisions very
rapidly. The difficulty in knowing what Jesus would do has perplexed
Rachel and me a good deal."
Madam Page looked sharply at Virginia before she said anything.
"Of course I understand Mr. Maxwell's statement. It is perfectly
impracticable to put it into practice. I felt confident at the time
that those who promised would find it out after a trial and abandon
it as visionary and absurd. I have nothing to say about Miss
Winslow's affairs, but," she paused and continued with a sharpness
that was new to Rachel, "I hope you have no foolish notions in this
"I have a great many notions," replied Virginia quietly. "Whether
they are foolish or not depends upon my right understanding of what
He would do. As soon as I find out I shall do it."
"Excuse me, ladies," said Rollin, rising from the table. "The
conversation is getting beyond my depth. I shall retire to the
library for a cigar."
He went out of the dining-room and there was silence for a moment.
Madam Page waited until the servant had brought in something and
then asked her to go out. She was angry and her anger was
formidable, although checked I m some measure by the presence of
"I am older by several years than you, young ladies," she said, and
her traditional type of bearing seemed to Rachel to rise up like a
great frozen wall between her and every conception of Jesus as a
sacrifice. "What you have promised, in a spirit of false emotion I
presume, is impossible of performance."
"Do you mean, grandmother, that we cannot possibly act as our Lord
would? or do you mean that, if we try to, we shall offend the
customs and prejudices of society?" asked Virginia.
"It is not required! It is not necessary! Besides how can you act
with any--" Madam Page paused, broke off her sentence, and then
turned to Rachel. "What will your mother say to your decision? My
dear, is it not foolish? What do you expect to do with your voice
"I don't know what mother will say yet," Rachel answered, with a
great shrinking from trying to give her mother's probable answer. If
there was a woman in all Raymond with great ambitions for her
daughter's success as a singer, Mrs. Winslow was that woman.
"Oh! you will see it in a different light after wiser thought of it.
My dear," continued Madam Page rising from the table, "you will live
to regret it if you do not accept the concert company's offer or
something like it."
RACHEL was glad to escape and be by herself. A plan was slowly
forming in her mind, and she wanted to be alone and think it out
carefully. But before she had walked two blocks she was annoyed to
find Rollin Page walking beside her.
"Sorry to disturb your thoughts, Miss Winslow, but I happened to be
going your way and had an idea you might not object. In fact, I've
been walking here for a whole block and you haven't objected."
"I did not see you," said Rachel briefly.
"I wouldn't mind that if you only thought of me once in a while,"
said Rollin suddenly. He took one last nervous puff on his cigar,
tossed it into the street and walked along with a pale look on his
Rachel was surprised, but not startled. She had known Rollin as a
boy, and there had been a time when they had used each other's first
name familiarly. Lately, however, something in Rachel's manner had
put an end to that. She was used to his direct attempts at
compliments and was sometimes amused by them. Today she honestly
wished him anywhere else.
"Do you ever think of me, Miss Winslow?" asked Rollin after a pause.
"Oh, yes, quite often!" said Rachel with a smile.
"Are you thinking of me now?"
"Yes. That is--yes--I am."
"Do you want me to be absolutely truthful?"
"Then I was thinking that I wished you were not here." Rollin bit
his lip and looked gloomy.
"Now look here, Rachel--oh, I know that's forbidden, but I've got to
speak some time!--you know how I feel. What makes you treat me so?
You used to like me a little, you know."
"Did I? Of course we used to get on very well as boy and girl. But
we are older now."
Rachel still spoke in the light, easy way she had used since her
first annoyance at seeing him. She was still somewhat preoccupied
with her plan which had been disturbed by Rollin's sudden
They walked along in silence a little way. The avenue was full of
people. Among the persons passing was Jasper Chase. He saw Rachel
and Rollin and bowed as they went by. Rollin was watching Rachel
"I wish I was Jasper Chase. Maybe I would stand some chance then,"
he said moodily.
Rachel colored in spite of herself. She did not say anything and
quickened her pace a little. Rollin seemed determined to say
something, and Rachel seemed helpless to prevent him. After all, she
thought, he might as well know the truth one time as another.
"You know well enough, Rachel, how I feel toward you. Isn't there
any hope? I could make you happy. I've loved you a good many
"Why, how old do you think I am?" broke in Rachel with a nervous
laugh. She was shaken out of her usual poise of manner.
"You know what I mean," went on Rollin doggedly. "And you have no
right to laugh at me just because I want you to marry me."
"I'm not! But it is useless for you to speak, Rollin," said Rachel
after a little hesitation, and then using his name in such a frank,
simple way that he could attach no meaning to it beyond the
familiarity of the old family acquaintance. "It is impossible." She
was still a little agitated by the fact of receiving a proposal of
marriage on the avenue. But the noise on the street and sidewalk
made the conversation as private as if they were in the house.
"Would that is--do you think--if you gave me time I would."
"No!" said Rachel. She spoke firmly; perhaps, she thought afterward,
although she did not mean to, she spoke harshly.
They walked on for some time without a word. They were nearing
Rachel's home and she was anxious to end the scene.
As they turned off the avenue into one of the quieter streets Rollin
spoke suddenly and with more manliness than he had yet shown. There
was a distinct note of dignity in his voice that was new to Rachel.
"Miss Winslow, I ask you to be my wife. Is there any hope for me
that you will ever consent?"
"None in the least." Rachel spoke decidedly.
"Will you tell me why?" He asked the question as if he had a right
to a truthful answer.
"Because I do not feel toward you as a woman ought to feel toward
the man she marries."
"In other words, you do not love me?"
"I do not and I cannot."
"Why?" That was another question, and Rachel was a little surprised
that he should ask it.
"Because--" she hesitated for fear she might say too much in an
attempt to speak the exact truth.
"Tell me just why. You can't hurt me more than you have already."
"Well, I do not and I cannot love you because you have no purpose in
life. What do you ever do to make the world better? You spend your
time in club life, in amusements, in travel, in luxury. What is
there in such a life to attract a woman?"
"Not much, I guess," said Rollin with a bitter laugh. "Still, I
don't know that I'm any worse than the rest of the men around me.
I'm not so bad as some. I'm glad to know your reasons."
He suddenly stopped, took off his hat, bowed gravely and turned
back. Rachel went on home and hurried into her room, disturbed in
many ways by the event which had so unexpectedly thrust itself into
When she had time to think it all over she found herself condemned
by the very judgment she had passed on Rollin Page. What purpose had
she in life? She had been abroad and studied music with one of the
famous teachers of Europe. She had come home to Raymond and had been
singing in the First Church choir now for a year. She was well paid.
Up to that Sunday two weeks ago she had been quite satisfied with
herself and with her position. She had shared her mother's ambition,
and anticipated growing triumphs in the musical world. What possible
career was before her except the regular career of every singer?
She asked the question again and, in the light of her recent reply
to Rollin, asked again, if she had any very great purpose in life
herself. What would Jesus do? There was a fortune in her voice. She
knew it, not necessarily as a matter of personal pride or
professional egotism, but simply as a fact. And she was obliged to
acknowledge that until two weeks ago she had purposed to use her
voice to make money and win admiration and applause. Was that a much
higher purpose, after all, than Rollin Page lived for?
She sat in her room a long time and finally went downstairs,
resolved to have a frank talk with her mother about the concert
company's offer and the new plan which was gradually shaping in her
mind. She had already had one talk with her mother and knew that she
expected Rachel to accept the offer and enter on a successful career
as a public singer.
"Mother," Rachel said, coming at once to the point, much as she
dreaded the interview, "I have decided not to go out with the
company. I have a good reason for it."
Mrs. Winslow was a large, handsome woman, fond of much company,
ambitious for distinction in society and devoted, according to her
definitions of success, to the success of her children. Her youngest
boy, Louis, two years younger than Rachel, was ready to graduate
from a military academy in the summer. Meanwhile she and Rachel were
at home together. Rachel's father, like Virginia's, had died while
the family was abroad. Like Virginia she found herself, under her
present rule of conduct, in complete antagonism with her own
immediate home circle. Mrs. Winslow waited for Rachel to go on.
"You know the promise I made two weeks ago, mother?"