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and welcomed in Nathanael. It was a commendation of character. My theme this morning is
THE VALUE OF CHARACTER.
I mean character in the highest sense. As the Greek zapazove was the clear stamp on the coin or the clean-cut carving on the seal, so let us here understand those decided and decisive qualities that make moral worth and life, the deep traits that mark the authentic seal and the ringing gold of a true manhood ; character firmly founded on principle — Christian principle. A man of character in this sense is a man of settled convictions, firm purposes, fixed adhesion to the right, kindly feeling, ready sympathies, helpful spirit, and courteous ways, the Christian chevalier.
I. Character prompts to action – perennial action. There are, indeed, other springs of intense activity. But they fail in adversity and wither in disappointment. They walk and work by sight. And when sight fails the work dies too. The baffled gold hunter grows reckless, the broken speculator desperate, and the long-defeated politician dies disgusted. The greatest emperor of a memorable century entombed his last frustrations and vexations in the Convent of Yuste, performing his own funeral rites in advance of his death ; and the boundless activity of the great emperor of this century passed almost into mental stagnation on his prison island. Sooner
Sooner or later the illusory springs of action are seen to be illusions -- an iridescent bubble burst; as when the great Richelieu bade a broken-hearted farewell to his gallery of art, or Mahmoud of Persia, after thirty years of conquest, on one
day ordered his gold and jewels to be brought before him, and wept at the thought that he should see them no more; on the next day feasted his eyes on his army, his elephants, his camels and his chariots, burst into tears, and returned in gloom to his palace to die.
In the character embedded in true and vital principle, the energies strike deeper root, and neither die nor wither. “Trust in the Lord and do good” will be a maxim as effective for thousands of years to come as for the three thousand years past. It is the motto for the man who can toil at the substructure as well as the superstructure, in sight or out, with or without speedy result, in victory or seeming defeat. The character infused especially by the gospel — how it can rouse a race from lethargy, or raise the individual from his worst to his best! It domesticates the wandering Sioux, exchanges the Zulu kraal for a home, gives industries, arts, and laws to the Hawaiian and the Cherokee. It can transform the cultivated idler into a toiler. The world is full of such trophies, oftener indeed in humble than in public life, and in all lands.
Here is a woman on an island in mid-ocean, chieftainess in a low and sensual race. To eat, drink, and carouse, to swim in the surf and bask on the beach, had been the height of her ambition. But a divine message spoken by an American messenger touches her heart, and fills her soul with an aim, a purpose, and a life. She becomes a veritable “mother in Israel." She presides even with grace in a hospitable home. She helps the helpers of her degraded race.
the awful crater of Kilauea she sets at naught all the fears and warnings of her people and friends, and defies the fabled terrors of the great goddess Pele in her throne of power, and rounds out a long and noble life with a peaceful death.
Contemporary for forty years with this regenerated savage Kapiolani was a young Englishman, endowed with wealth, accomplishments, and social rank. He was a graduate from Cambridge, where, as he testifies, the fellows, his teachers, did their best “to make and keep me idle. "Why in the world,' said they, 'should a young man of your fortune trouble himself with fagging?'” And so from the university he plunged into parliament and the giddiest whirl of fashion. He belonged to five clubs, gambled with Fox and Sheridan, sang for the Prince of Wales, “ fished and hunted with Pitt, and danced at Almack's till five in the morning.” It was the promise of a career dashy and dazzling, but flashy and futile. But a change came; it came from the leaven of another and a noble character. The company of a devout and scholarly friend in a continental tour wrought in him at twenty-five a revolution that for half a century transformed his whole system of thought and action. “ That he should rise,” says a biographer, “to be one of the most laborious and eminent benefactors of mankind was beyond the divination of any human sagacity.” The Christian reconstruction of his in most character did it all. That was the power that inspired William Wilberforce to a life of devoted diligence and unconquerable philanthropy seldom seen in a public man — "labor conspicuous and unceasing for every measure, public or private, for the relief of human suffering, and for the moral and religious welfare of men.” This was the power that upheld him through eighteen years of parliamentary struggle and defeat to the abolition of the British slave-trade and permitted him, after forty years of waiting, to rejoice, three days before his death, in the abolition of British slavery itself.
Not long before this latest joy of Wilberforce, a young Scotchman emerges from a Glasgow cotton mill and evening school to thirty years of missionary work and beneficent exploration in the Dark Continent, attended with toils, privations, and endurances almost incredible. The world knows the deeply devout character that sent Livingstone forth and kept him there to the end. He condensed it all in one short sentence addressed to a band of young scholars, his last public words in Scotland : “Fear God and work hard.” He epitomized it all in those closing days when he pressed on his way, though forced from his feet to the beast of burden, the shoulders of his men, the palanquin, and the couch, where he was found one morning motionless by the bedside, on his knees.
And thus it is that in every land and every sphere the deepest character becomes the powerful spring of action - action that knows no discouragement, shrinks before no obstacle, is baffled by no defeats, and that ends only with the powers of life.
II. Character founded on high principle brings
tranquillity in the labors. On a journey, at some great center of diverging lines and moving trains, what a matter of moment and of comfort it is quietly to know that you are on the right track and in the right conveyance! Men and women are rushing hither and thither, uncertain, anxious, and troubled. You look calmly on, assured that track and train and ticket are right, and if the elements keep faith, your destination, though out of sight, is sure. Even so in the journey of life there is inexpressible satisfaction in having so thoroughly adjusted the whole spirit and aim to the course that is wise and right as to hold on the way without tremor or vacillation. It is then all work and no worry. The steam goes forth in driving the wheels and not in howling to the winds. The weak man hesitates and chafes and fumes and frets. The strong man settles down solidly and serenely to his work.
We have fallen upon times of general uneasiness, dissatisfaction, and complaint. Labor, service, capital, trade, commerce, politics, education, marriage, morals, religion are all in a state of seismic rumbling if not of volcanic eruption. The elements of life are in a growing uproar. Till the Master comes through the darkness and the storm, saying, “Peace, be still,” it is for the disciples to toil in patience at the oars. We need more work and less words ; genuine fidelity with its attendant serenity; the still and steady power that holds the helm and stems the tide. It is the privilege of a good man to labor on in the serene dutifulness with which the Master replied to the threat, “Get thee