ó to acknowledge
that we here worship God with complete religious liberty. We owe it to
this friendly country to remind ourselves of this audibly and in no
halting tones. This (to quote the Psalmist) may be a strange land to us;
but this land has never made us feel like strangers.
How then shall we sing the Lordís song? What shall we
sing? What contribution of moral and spiritual worth can we offer beneath
the blue skies of this great country?
Daniel kept his windows open towards
The Mohammedan kneels towards Mecca.
We have eyes that often strain across 6000 miles of sea
to "the lone shieling of the misty island". And there are still some old
sanctities there for which I would humbly plead.
1. Here is one of them: "Honour thy father and thy
It is not likely that a man who forgets his father and
mother will ever do much, to honour his fatherís God.
Cast your memory back and you will recall men
(perchance your father was of them) ó thrifty
men who sacrified their all that you might have what none could steal from
you ever ó a good education ó
men who could die but who could not lie ó
men in whose presence the foul word was an impossibility and the mean
intention an outrage. And women (perchance your mother was amongst them)
ó women who toiled and moiled for you
ó read stories to you ó
prayed for you ó pinched themselves for
you ,ó nursed you back from the edge of the
abyss when the torch was flickering. Is there one soul here, or listening
in to this Service, who has been forgetting the old home or dishonouring
its teaching? Let todayís setting sun see the golden chain mended
ó that letter written, that debasing habit faced
and fought ó that unworthy companionship ended.
II. Here in another old sanctity: Keep in touch with
your Church, whichever and wherever it be.
How often have we seen a young man from home arrive in
this teeming city, and begin by being present at some Service every Sunday
ó so making public acknowledgment of Faith in
Him to Whom we owe all we have and all we are. Should a Great Creatorís
creatures ever have it in their hearts to do less? And then we began to
miss him. And that point, so often, coincided with an easy descent to
where only dead men lie. Oh! the tragedies and wrecks we all know about,
if we donít speak about, whose end has sometimes been six feet of earthís
III. Here is another sanctity ó
lore of country, Patriotism. That will never imply hatred of
another country, and it will always be clean and also unselfish. Clean!
for we can well guess what Dr. Johnson meant when he defined Patriotism as
the last refuge of a scoundrel. Yes ó clean; may
it never be used as a cloak to cover something less and something lower.
And unselfish. A sergeant in a Highland Regiment
returned once to his battalion in the Line after having been twice
wounded. He was certain that he was to be "for it" the third time. "But I
donít mind," he said, "itís going to be a better world for the kiddies
His sacrificial unselfishness had something of the
Christ and Calvary spirit.
And didnít we see, once, raw recruits from the moors
and glens, ó men who had never seen a cannon in
their lives, ó didnít we see them facing mud and
blood for King and Country and for little earthly reward
ó doing something for which we havenít even a
name in our language? The French call it esprit de corps. We, when we call
it anything, say it is The Old Flag. Are we ever to let that spirit
evaporate, far though we be from home?
IV. And here is yet one last Sanctity. It is the answer
to the first question in a wonderful little book called the Shorter
Catechism, "What is manís chief end?" ó "Manís
chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever". What a splendid
twin British Exhibition is possible for us at this time
óspiritual as well as material; character as well as commerce.
How shall we sing the Lordís song in a strange land?
The comprehensive answer is there: "Manís chief end is to glorify God".
The words may take you back to a motherís knee. Whether
or no, they take you ultimately to a green hill far away and long ago
where Somebody hung upon a Cross for love of the souls of men.
And they confront you with Him, Who, in His judgment of
men, never makes mistakes, King of kings and Lord of lords, to reign for
ever and ever.