WHAT CHRISTIANITY HAS TO OFFER
CONVERSION OF THE EMERSONS
THE CROWN GATHERED early for the last meeting of the series. The buzz of conversation indicated the intense interest. Small groups in different parts of the hall were engaged in lively discussion.
Lucile’s eyes were bright with excitement. “I wonder if anything is going to happen,” she remarked to her father.
“A great deal is going to happen, my dear, but not what you seem to expect. There will be no controversy tonight.”
“Why not, and what will happen?”
“There will be no controversy, because all important points of controversy have been covered, and the subject tonight is too vital to all of us for thoughtless interruptions.”
“But what will happen?” she persisted.
“I cannot be sure,” Mr. Emerson smiled as he observed her earnestness, “but I expect decisions to be made that will affect the whole life of many present.”
Lucile turned to face her father squarely, while George and Mrs. Emerson watched in breathless interest. A new seriousness was in Lucile’s voice as she asked:
“Have you made your decision, Dad?”
“Not yet, but I expect to do so. I want to hear first what Christianity has to offer. Have you decided?”
“Yes, I have, Dad. I hope you don’t object.”
“You know I don’t. And you George?” George merely nodded his head solemnly in the affirmative. “And you, wife?” Mrs. Emerson, with an appealing look in her soft brown eyes, answered quietly, firmly:
“Yes; I have always felt a yearning to be a Christian.”
Suddenly the hall was quiet, for the speaker and the chairman were going to the platform. David Dare, as he arose to speak, was received by a subdued but apparently unanimous applause.
“What has Christianity to offer you?” he began, “You have heard the very frank admissions of leading sceptics that scepticism has literally nothing whatever except blank despair and soul-terrifying loneliness for the unbeliever. You have listened to the wistful yearnings uttered by these sceptics.
“You have seen how the Bible foretells, even down to the end of time, the history of all the leading nations of the ancient world. Not one of you present, nor anyone else for that matter, has been able to deny that these prophecies were made centuries before their fulfilment; and no one can account for them on natural grounds. It is admitted by all of you that no other book in the world contains real prophecies. The prophecies of the Bible present an unexplainable mystery to the unbeliever.
“Christianity has Christ to offer you. This, according to the testimony of nearly a score of leading infidels, whose words were read here, is the greatest fact in the history of the world. They waxed more enthusiastic over Him than over anyone else in the world. And finally some leading unbelievers publicly renounced their unbelief and admitted joyously their belief in Christ.
“Let us consider what Christ means to the human race, and therefore, to you personally. As the direct result of Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan, and His other teachings of mercy, and His own personal tender care for the sick, the horrible practice of exposure and neglect of the sick and maimed is now, and has long been, a thing of the past. Care of the sick or injured in hospitals and sanitariums — humane treatment of disease — is now the rule wherever the Bible has gone.
“Are you a social reformer and interested in the poor? Then consider how the poor have been uplifted by Him. Slavery has been abolished by the teaching of Jesus that all men are of one blood, and brothers in the sight of God. Jesus offers comfort to the oppressed and boldly arraigns the selfish rich. He calls not for the palliatives of charity, but for fundamental social justice for all.
“Do you believe that education is a fundamental in the progress of humanity? Then observe that knowledge has been promoted by Him. Jesus sought to make men whole in mind as well as in body. When Jesus said, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,’ He released, He impelled, the greatest forces directed into the world. There are almost infinite implications in that command. It directs all Christians to scan the history of nations, so as to apply the gospel to every phase or relationship of life.
“To this end, methods of navigation had to be studied and perfected in order to reach all nations, as commanded. This command has unloosed untold energies of men in every age, sending them into the depths of the earth and upon wings above the clouds; to the burning sands of the Sahara, to the chill and solitudes of the arctic, and to the great unknown fastnesses of Tibet. Why? — that the great commission may be carried out.
“The command to teach all nations meant that the teacher must know more than the learner. So under the missionary urge of Jesus’ words, more than nine hundred languages have been reduced to writing, and all kinds of practical as well as religious books have been translated into them by the missionary. In fact, the geographical knowledge of our globe has come largely from the missionaries who have ventured where the foot of the trader dared not tread.
“The race from which Jesus came was the most hated and the most persecuted in the world, and the most bigoted and provincial. Yet He became the one universal Man, uniting Orient and Occident, appealing equally to the East and to the West.
“Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty, and Jesus for only three; yet those three years infinitely transcend in influence the combined one hundred and thirty years that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the three greatest men of all antiquity, taught.
“Jesus was not a writer, yet He is quoted more than any writer in history, and His words have winged their way to earth’s remotest bounds, and have been translated into all languages and nearly all dialects.
“So far as we know, the Carpenter of Nazareth drew no architectural plans, yet the world’s masterpieces of architecture have been reared in His praise.
“He painted no pictures, yet the paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him.
“He wrote no poetry, but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him.
“He composed no music, still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios written in His praise.
“Jesus was highly social, yet He possessed a reserve that discouraged all familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to the world, yet He was attentive to the needs and sufferings of all men.
“Sceptics praise the clearness of His judgments, the depth of His ethics, the justness of His decisions, the weight of His words, the faultless beauty of His glorious life — its balance, its pure nobility, and its serene power.
“You never exhaust Christ’s words. They pass into proverbs, they are enacted into laws, they are consolidated into doctrines, they become consolation for the poor and weary, they grow into the life and transform the character; but they never pass away, and after all the use made of them, they are still as fresh as when first spoken.
“Christ’s words have the charm of antiquity with the freshness of today, the simplicity of a child with the wisdom of God, the softness of kisses from the lips of love, and the force of lightning rending mountains.
“The most determined criticism has not been able to dethrone Christ as the incarnation of perfect holiness. The waves of a tossing and restless sea of unbelief break at His feet, but still He stands the supreme model, the inspiration of great deeds, the rest for the weary, the fragrance of all the world, the one divine flower in the garden of the world.
“Sceptics quite freely admit these things and attempt to account for Christ on natural grounds. They are very willing to admit Him to be the greatest man that ever lived, but at any hint of actual deity in combination with His humanity, they arise in determined protest and violent rejection of such a suggestion.
“However, by calling Christ a superman they have by no means solved the difficulty. On the contrary, they have created more difficulties than they had before. For if Christ is not in a real sense God as well as man, He must be the world’s greatest deceiver, for He claimed that worship was due Him, that He was the light of the world, that He pre-existed, that He descended from heaven, that He was equal with God (John 5:17, 18), ‘that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.’ John 5:23; see also John 10:30, 38. Jesus accepted the title of ‘the Lord thy God.’ Matthew 4:7; John 10:33. When Thomas, the sceptic, after Jesus’ resurrection, called Him ‘my Lord and my God,’ Jesus did not rebuke him but on the contrary said unto him, ‘Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’ John 20:28, 29. There is much more written, all to the same effect, in all four Gospels.
“To have made the claims He made, if none of them were true, would necessarily brand Him as the most unprincipled deceiver in all history. Yet there is not a sceptic who will admit He was anything of the kind. You all, equally with me, believe that Christ was honest and earnest, for you know that a bad man could not have taught such great truths as He taught, and that a good man could not have deceived the people for whom He gave His life.
“Thus at once the greatest difficulty in the Bible and the weightiest proof of its inspiration is Christ. He stands out commandingly among all the sons of men, unapproached and unapproachable. He walks down the ages with the tread of a conqueror, while around Him shines a moral splendour that has compelled even the most hostile criticism to bow the head in hushed reverence. Upon the impregnable Rock of Ages all criticisms are baffled and shattered. Christ is, as He prophesied He would be, the spiritual magnet that draws all men everywhere to Himself.
“From heaven, with the accumulated love of eternity in His heart, came this King of kings, to be one with humanity, to suffer the vilest mockery to endure the strongest temptations, to experience the lowest of deaths, that you and I might know what love is, and might be restored to Edenic innocence and happiness. Around Him all truth clusters and revolves, as do the planets about the sun.
“And now will you pardon me a personal testimony?
“I was reared an infidel. My parents and other immediate relatives were proud of their unbelief. I was nourished on the vaunting sceptics of the ages.
“But I observed the futile amazement with which every sceptic from Celsus to Wells stood around the cradle of the Christ. I wondered why this helpless Babe was thrust into the world at a time when Roman greed, Jewish hate, and Greek subtlety would combine to crush Him. And yet this most powerful, devastating combination ever known in history served only to advance the cause of the Infant who was born in a stable — the purest human being born in the filthiest place in the world.
“I marvelled that this poverty-stricken and uneducated plebeian, who exercised no authority, commanded no army, held no office, received no honours, wrote no books, and who died in early manhood the most contemptible of deaths, a malefactor on a cross between two criminals — I marvelled that His name is yet the most esteemed name on earth, even among the sceptics themselves.
“No unbeliever could tell me why His words are as charged with power today as they were nineteen hundred years ago. Not could scoffers explain how those pierced hands pulled human monsters with gnarled souls out of a hell of iniquity and overnight transformed them into steadfast, glorious heroes who died in torturing flames, that others might know the love and mighty power of the Christ who had given peace to their souls.
“No agnostic could make clear why seemingly immortal empires pass into oblivion, while the glory and power of the murdered Galilean are gathering beauty and momentum with every attack and every age.
“Nor could any scoffer explain, as Jesus Himself so daringly foretold, why by telephone, aeroplane, and radio, by rail, horse, and foot, His words are piercing the densest forest, scaling the highest mountains, crossing the deepest seas and the wildest deserts. making converts in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people on earth.
“No doubter could tell me how this isolated Jew could utter words at once so simple that a child can understand them and so deep that the greatest thinkers cannot plumb their shining depths. The life, the words, the character of this strange Man are the enigma of history. Any naturalistic explanation makes Him a more puzzling paradox, a fathomless mystery.
“But I learned that the paradox was plain and the mystery solved when I accepted Him for what He claimed to be — the Son of God, come from heaven a Saviour of men, but above all, my own Saviour. I learned to thrill at the angel’s words: ‘Behold, . . .unto you is born this day . . . a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’ Now I have learned a great truth that
“ ‘Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn.’
“This, then, is what Christianity has to offer: A perfect Model, forgiveness of sins, rest to the soul, a Comforter, a Companion, a Saviour, and then eternal life in communion with myriads of perfect beings. Contrast this with the bewailing despair, the glum hopelessness, the wearing heartache, that is ever the lot of the unbeliever. Which will you choose? The choice is yours, the opportunity now. You have had weeks to weigh the evidence, to feel the thrill of joy in contemplating the Christ. He asks to enter your heart and bring His peace that follows His forgiveness of sins.”
Then pausing a moment, his earnest eyes searching the faces of that solemn audience, he said:
“Those who desire to abandon their unbelief and publicly proclaim their acceptance of Jesus as the divine Son of God, their Saviour from sin; those who were formerly sceptics and who desire to be known henceforth as Christians, followers of the Christ, please stand.”
More than a hundred rose instantly to their feet. David Dare’s eyes turned instinctively to the section where the Emerson family usually sat. His eyes lighted with pleasure when he saw all four of the Emersons standing.
“Mr. Emerson,” he said, “I am happy to see you and your family give this testimony. Will it embarrass you to tell the audience briefly why you have taken this stand?”
“I shall be only too glad to do so.” Mr. Emerson’s voice was clear, and thrilled with joy as he spoke. “While you have been carrying on these lectures, I have been reading the Bible through. Many things I thought the Bible said, I found it did not teach at all, and many cavils I thought objections, I found vanished before a candid study. Then when I read the New Testament, I found in Jesus peace and contentment for the first time in my life. The terrifying feeling that I was alone in a vast universe, left to grope my way in an infinitude, gave way to one of perfect trust when I grasped the hand of Jesus, the One who created all these things.
“The knowledge that my wrongs, my mistakes, my sins, no matter what they are, have been forgiven, is the most wonderful thrill in all the world. The dread with which I looked forward to my remaining years has turned to a fountain of joy and praise to the Jesus for whom I have always had a high regard, but whom I now trust as my own Friend and Saviour.”
David Dare then asked all who were standing to come forward to meet him and make arrangements for uniting with the church, so that they might have a part in the organized work of giving to all the world “this gospel of the kingdom.” Among the first to reach him were Mr. Emerson; Mrs. Emerson, in quiet content; George, in whose soul had been born a new ambition to serve; and Lucile, the once pert, thoughtless girl, now chastened with a new beauty of soul.
This Book is Published with the hope that it will turn the heart of the reader to full belief in the Sacred Scripture. It has received more unsolicited commendation than any other book the publishers have ever issued.
If it has been an inspiration to you, we hope that you will join in its circulation.