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Charles M. Sheldon
the bell rang for tea she went down and her grandmother
did not appear. She sent a servant to her room who brought
back word that Madam Page was not there. A few minutes later
Rollin came in. He brought word that his grandmother had
taken the evening train for the South. He had been at the
station to see some friends off, and had by chance met his
grandmother as he was coming out. She had told him her reason
Virginia and Rollin comforted each other at the tea table,
looking at each other with earnest, sad faces.
said Virginia, and for the first time, almost, since his
conversion she realized what a wonderful thing her brother's
changed life meant to her, "do you blame me? Am I wrong?"
dear, I cannot believe you are. This is very painful for
us. But if you think this poor creature owes her safety
and salvation to your personal care, it was the only thing
for you to do. O Virginia, to think that we have all these
years enjoyed our beautiful home and all these luxuries
selfishly, forgetful of the multitudes like this woman!
Surely Jesus in our places would do what you have done."
And so Rollin comforted Virginia and counseled with her
that evening. And of all the wonderful changes that she
henceforth was to know on account of her great pledge, nothing
affected her so powerfully as the thought of Rollin's change
of life. Truly, this man in Christ was a new creature. Old
things were passed away. Behold, all things in him had become
Dr. West came that evening at Virginia's summons and did
everything necessary for the outcast. She had drunk herself
almost into delirium. The best that could be done for her
now was quiet nursing and careful watching and personal
love. So, in a beautiful room, with a picture of Christ
walking by the sea hanging on the wall, where her bewildered
eyes caught daily something more of its hidden meaning,
Loreen lay, tossed she hardly knew how into this haven,
and Virginia crept nearer the Master than she had ever been,
as her heart went out towards this wreck which had thus
been flung torn and beaten at her feet.
Meanwhile the Rectangle awaited the issue of the election
with more than usual interest; and Mr. Gray and his wife
wept over the poor, pitiful creatures who, after a struggle
with surroundings that daily tempted them, too often wearied
of the struggle and, like Loreen, threw up their arms and
went whirling over the cataract into the boiling abyss of
their previous condition.
The after-meeting at the First Church was now eagerly established.
Henry Maxwell went into the lecture-room on the Sunday succeeding
the week of the primary, and was greeted with an enthusiasm
that made him tremble at first for its reality. He noted
again the absence of Jasper Chase, but all the others were
present, and they seemed drawn very close together by a
bond of common fellowship that demanded and enjoyed mutual
confidences. It was the general feeling that the spirit
of Jesus was the spirit of very open, frank confession of
experience. It seemed the most natural thing in the world,
therefore, for Edward Norman to be telling all the rest
of the company about the details of his newspaper.
fact is, I have lost a great deal of money during the last
three weeks. I cannot tell just how much. I am losing a
great many subscribers every day."
do the subscribers give as their reason for dropping the
paper?" asked Mr. Maxwell. All the rest were listening eagerly.
are a good many different reasons. Some say they want a
paper that prints all the news; meaning, by that, the crime
details, sensations like prize fights, scandals and horrors
of various kinds. Others object to the discontinuance of
the Sunday edition. I have lost hundreds of subscribers
by that action, although I have made satisfactory arrangements
with many of the old subscribers by giving them even more
in the extra Saturday edition than they formerly had in
the Sunday issue. My greatest loss has come from a falling
off in advertisements, and from the attitude I have felt
obliged to take on political questions. The last action
has really cost me more than any other. The bulk of my subscribers
are intensely partisan. I may as well tell you all frankly
that if I continue to pursue the plan which I honestly believe
Jesus would pursue in the matter of political issues and
their treatment from a non-partisan and moral standpoint,
the NEWS will not be able to pay its operating expenses
unless one factor in Raymond can be depended on."
He paused a moment and the room was very quiet. Virginia
seemed specially interested. Her face glowed with interest.
It was like the interest of a person who had been thinking
hard of the same thing which Norman went on to mention.
one factor is the Christian element in Raymond. Say the
NEWS has lost heavily from the dropping off of people who
do not care for a Christian daily, and from others who simply
look upon a newspaper as a purveyor of all sorts of material
to amuse or interest them, are there enough genuine Christian
people in Raymond who will rally to the support of a paper
such as Jesus would probably edit? or are the habits of
the church people so firmly established in their demand
for the regular type of journalism that they will not take
a paper unless it is stripped largely of the Christian and
moral purpose? I may say in this fellowship gathering that
owing to recent complications in my business affairs outside
of my paper I have been obliged to lose a large part of
my fortune. I had to apply the same rule of Jesus' probable
conduct to certain transactions with other men who did not
apply it to their conduct, and the result has been the loss
of a great deal of money. As I understand the promise we
made, we were not to ask any question about 'Will it pay?'
but all our action was to be based on the one question,
'What would Jesus do?' Acting on that rule of conduct, I
have been obliged to lose nearly all the money I have accumulated
in my paper. It is not necessary for me to go into details.
There is no question with me now, after the three weeks'
experience I have had, that a great many men would lose
vast sums of money under the present system of business
if this rule of Jesus was honestly applied. I mention my
loss here because I have the fullest faith in the final
success of a daily paper conducted on the lines I have recently
laid down, and I had planned to put into it my entire fortune
in order to win final success. As it is now, unless, as
I said, the Christian people of Raymond, the church members
and professing disciples, will support the paper with subscriptions
and advertisements, I cannot continue its publication on
the present basis."
Virginia asked a question. She had followed Mr. Norman's
confession with the most intense eagerness.
you mean that a Christian daily ought to be endowed with
a large sum like a Christian college in order to make it
is exactly what I mean. I had laid out plans for putting
into the NEWS such a variety of material in such a strong
and truly interesting way that it would more than make up
for whatever was absent from its columns in the way of un-Christian
matter. But my plans called for a very large output of money.
I am very confident that a Christian daily such as Jesus
would approve, containing only what He would print, can
be made to succeed financially if it is planned on the right
lines. But it will take a large sum of money to work out
much, do you think?" asked Virginia quietly.
Edward Norman looked at her keenly, and his face flushed
a moment as an idea of her purpose crossed his mind. He
had known her when she was a little girl in the Sunday-school,
and he had been on intimate business relations with her
should say half a million dollars in a town like Raymond
could be well spent in the establishment of a paper such
as we have in mind," he answered. His voice trembled a little.
The keen look on his grizzled face flashed out with a stern
but thoroughly Christian anticipation of great achievements
in the world of newspaper life, as it had opened up to him
within the last few seconds.
said Virginia, speaking as if the thought was fully considered,
"I am ready to put that amount of money into the paper on
the one condition, of course, that it be carried on as it
has been begun."
God!" exclaimed Mr. Maxwell softly. Norman was pale. The
rest were looking at Virginia. She had more to say.
friends," she went on, and there was a sadness in her voice
that made an impression on the rest that deepened when they
thought it over afterwards, "I do not want any of you to
credit me with an act of great generosity. I have come to
know lately that the money which I have called my own is
not mine, but God's. If I, as steward of His, see some wise
way to invest His money, it is not an occasion for vainglory
or thanks from any one simply because I have proved in my
administration of the funds He has asked me to use for His
glory. I have been thinking of this very plan for some time.
The fact is, dear friends, that in our coming fight with
the whiskey power in Raymond -- and it has only just begun
-- we shall need the NEWS to champion the Christian side.
You all know that all the other papers are for the saloon.
As long as the saloon exists, the work of rescuing dying
souls at the Rectangle is carried on at a terrible disadvantage.
What can Mr. Gray do with his gospel meetings when half
his converts are drinking people, daily tempted and enticed
by the saloon on every corner? It would be giving up to
the enemy to allow the NEWS to fail. I have great confidence
in Mr. Norman's ability. I have not seen his plans, but
I have the same confidence that he has in making the paper
succeed if it is carried forward on a large enough scale.
I cannot believe that Christian intelligence in journalism
will be inferior to un-Christian intelligence, even when
it comes to making the paper pay financially. So that is
my reason for putting this money -- God's, not mine -- into
this powerful agent for doing as Jesus would do. If we can
keep such a paper going for one year, I shall be willing
to see that amount of money used in that experiment. Do
not thank me. Do not consider my doing it a wonderful thing.
What have I done with God's money all these years but gratify
my own selfish personal desires? What can I do with the
rest of it but try to make some reparation for what I have
stolen from God? That is the way I look at it now. I believe
it is what Jesus would do."
Over the lecture-room swept that unseen yet distinctly felt
wave of Divine Presence. No one spoke for a while. Mr. Maxwell
standing there, where the faces lifted their intense gaze
into his, felt what he had already felt -- a strange setting
back out of the nineteenth century into the first, when
the disciples had all things in common, and a spirit of
fellowship must have flowed freely between them such as
the First Church of Raymond had never before known. How
much had his church membership known of this fellowship
in daily interests before this little company had begun
to do as they believed Jesus would do? It was with difficulty
that he thought of his present age and surroundings. The
same thought was present with all the rest, also. There
was an unspoken comradeship such as they had never known.
It was present with them while Virginia was speaking, and
during the silence that followed. If it had been defined
by any of them it would perhaps have taken some such shape
as this: "If I shall, in the course of my obedience to my
promise, meet with loss or trouble in the world, I can depend
upon the genuine, practical sympathy and fellowship of any
other Christian in this room who has, with me, made the
pledge to do all things by the rule, 'What would Jesus do?'"
All this, the distinct wave of spiritual power emphasized.
It had the effect that a physical miracle may have had on
the early disciples in giving them a feeling of confidence
in the Lord that helped them to face loss and martyrdom
with courage and even joy.
Before they went away this time there were several confidences
like those of Edward Norman's. Some of the young men told
of loss of places owing to their honest obedience to their
promise. Alexander Powers spoke briefly of the fact that
the Commission had promised to take action on his evidence
at the earliest date possible.
He was engaged at his old work of telegraphy. It was a significant
fact that, since his action in resigning his position, neither
his wife nor daughter had appeared in public. No one but
himself knew the bitterness of that family estrangement
and misunderstanding of the higher motive. Yet many of the
disciples present in the meeting carried similar burdens.
These were things which they could not talk about. Henry
Maxwell, from his knowledge of his people, could almost
certainly know that obedience to their pledge had produced
in the heart of families separation of sympathy and even
the introduction of enmity and hatred. Truly, a man's foes
are they of his own household when the rule of Jesus is
obeyed by some and disobeyed by others. Jesus is a great
divider of life. One must walk parallel with Him or directly
across His way.