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Charles M. Sheldon
next day she went down to the NEWS office to see Edward
Norman and arrange the details of her part in the establishment
of the paper on its new foundation. Mr. Maxwell was present
at this conference, and the three agreed that whatever Jesus
would do in detail as editor of a daily paper, He would
be guided by the same general principles that directed His
conduct as the Saviour of the world.
have tried to put down here in concrete form some of the
things that it has seemed to me Jesus would do," said Edward
Norman. He read from a paper lying on his desk, and Maxwell
was reminded again of his own effort to put into written
form his own conception of Jesus' probable action, and also
of Milton Wright's same attempt in his business.
have headed this, 'What would Jesus do as Edward Norman,
editor of a daily newspaper in Raymond?'
He would never allow a sentence or a picture in his paper
that could be called bad or coarse or impure in any way.
He would probably conduct the political part of the paper
from the standpoint of non-partisan patriotism, always
looking upon all political questions in the light of their
relation to the Kingdom of God, and advocating measures
from the standpoint of their relation to the welfare of
the people, always on the basis of 'What is right?' never
on the basis of 'What is for the best interests of this
or that party?' In other words, He would treat all political
questions as he would treat every other subject, from
the standpoint of the advancement of the Kingdom of God
Edward Norman looked up from the reading a moment. "You
understand that is my opinion of Jesus' probable action
on political matters in a daily paper. I am not passing
judgment on other newspaper men who may have a different
conception of Jesus' probable action from mine. I am simply
trying to answer honestly, 'What would Jesus do as Edward
Norman?' And the answer I find is what I have put down.'
The end and aim of a daily paper conducted by Jesus would
be to do the will of God. That is, His main purpose in
carrying on a newspaper would not be to make money, or
gain political influence; but His first and ruling purpose
would be to so conduct his paper that it would be evident
to all his subscribers that He was trying to seek first
the Kingdom of God by means of His paper. This purpose
would be as distinct and unquestioned as the purpose of
a minister or a missionary or any unselfish martyr in
Christian work anywhere.
All questionable advertisements would be impossible.
The relations of Jesus to the employees on the paper would
be of the most loving character."
far as I have gone," said Norman again looking up, "I am
of opinion that Jesus would employ practically some form
of co-operation that would represent the idea of a mutual
interest in a business where all were to move together for
the same great end. I am working out such a plan, and I
am confident it will be successful. At any rate, once introduce
the element of personal love into a business like this,
take out the selfish principle of doing it for personal
profits to a man or company, and I do not see any way except
the most loving personal interest between editors, reporters,
pressmen, and all who contribute anything to the life of
the paper. And that interest would be expressed not only
in the personal love and sympathy but in a sharing with
the profits of the business."
As editor of a daily paper today, Jesus would give large
space to the work of the Christian world. He would devote
a page possibly to the facts of Reform, of sociological
problems, of institutional church work and similar movements.
He would do all in His power in His paper to fight the
saloon as an enemy of the human race and an unnecessary
part of our civilization. He would do this regardless
of public sentiment in the matter and, of course, always
regardless of its effect upon His subscription list."
Again Edward Norman looked up. "I state my honest conviction
on this point. Of course, I do not pass judgment on the
Christian men who are editing other kinds of papers today.
But as I interpret Jesus, I believe He would use the influence
of His paper to remove the saloon entirely from the political
and social life of the nation."
Jesus would not issue a Sunday edition.
He would print the news of the world that people ought
to know. Among the things they do not need to know, and
which would not be published, would be accounts of brutal
prize-fights, long accounts of crimes, scandals in private
families, or any other human events which in any way would
conflict with the first point mentioned in this outline.
If Jesus had the amount of money to use on a paper which
we have, He would probably secure the best and strongest
Christian men and women to co-operate with him in the
matter of contributions. That will be my purpose, as I
shall be able to show you in a few days.
Whatever the details of the paper might demand as the
paper developed along its definite plan, the main principle
that guided it would always be the establishment of the
Kingdom of God in the world. This large general principle
would necessarily shape all the detail."
Edward Norman finished reading the plan. He was very thoughtful.
have merely sketched a faint outline. I have a hundred ideas
for making the paper powerful that I have not thought out
fully as yet. This is simply suggestive. I have talked it
over with other newspaper men. Some of them say I will have
a weak, namby-pamby Sunday-school sheet. If I get out something
as good as a Sunday-school it will be pretty good. Why do
men, when they want to characterize something as particularly
feeble, always use a Sunday-school as a comparison, when
they ought to know that the Sunday-school is one of the
strongest, most powerful influences in our civilization
in this country today? But the paper will not necessarily
be weak because it is good. Good things are more powerful
than bad. The question with me is largely one of support
from the Christian people of Raymond. There are over twenty
thousand church members here in this city. If half of them
will stand by the NEWS its life is assured. What do you
think, Maxwell, of the probability of such support?"
don't know enough about it to give an intelligent answer.
I believe in the paper with all my heart. If it lives a
year, as Miss Virginia said, there is no telling what it
can do. The great thing will be to issue such a paper, as
near as we can judge, as Jesus probably would, and put into
it all the elements of Christian brains, strength, intelligence
and sense; and command respect for freedom from bigotry,
fanaticism, narrowness and anything else that is contrary
to the spirit of Jesus. Such a paper will call for the best
that human thought and action is capable of giving. The
greatest minds in the world would have their powers taxed
to the utmost to issue a Christian daily."
Edward Norman spoke humbly. "I shall make a great many mistakes,
no doubt. I need a great deal of wisdom. But I want to do
as Jesus would. 'What would He do?' I have asked it, and
shall continue to do so, and abide by the results."
think we are beginning to understand," said Virginia, "the
meaning of that command, 'Grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' I am sure I do not
know all that He would do in detail until I know Him better."
is very true," said Henry Maxwell. "I am beginning to understand
that I cannot interpret the probable action of Jesus until
I know better what His spirit is. The greatest question
in all of human life is summed up when we ask, 'What would
Jesus do?' if, as we ask it, we also try to answer it from
a growth in knowledge of Jesus himself. We must know Jesus
before we can imitate Him."
When the arrangement had been made between Virginia an Edward
Norman, he found himself in possession of the sum of five
hundred thousand dollars to use for the establishment of
a Christian daily paper. When Virginia and Maxwell had gone,
Norman closed his door and, alone with the Divine Presence,
asked like a child for help from his all-powerful Father.
All through his prayer as he kneeled before his desk ran
the promise, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God
who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and
it shall be given him." Surely his prayer would be answered,
and the kingdom advanced through this instrument of God's
power, this mighty press, which had become so largely degraded
to the base uses of man's avarice and ambition.
Two months went by. They were full of action and of results
in the city of Raymond and especially in the First Church.
In spite of the approaching heat of the summer season, the
after-meeting of the disciples who had made the pledge to
do as Jesus would do, continued with enthusiasm and power.
Gray had finished his work at the Rectangle, and an outward
observer going through the place could not have seen any
difference in the old conditions, although there was an
actual change in hundreds of lives. But the saloons, dens,
hovels, gambling houses, still ran, overflowing their vileness
into the lives of fresh victims to take the place of those
rescued by the evangelist. And the devil recruited his ranks
Henry Maxwell did not go abroad. Instead of that, he took
the money he had been saving for the trip and quietly arranged
for a summer vacation for a whole family living down in
the Rectangle, who had never gone outside of the foul district
of the tenements. The pastor of the First Church will never
forget the week he spent with this family making the arrangements.
He went down into the Rectangle one hot day when something
of the terrible heat in the horrible tenements was beginning
to be felt, and helped the family to the station, and then
went with them to a beautiful spot on the coast where, in
the home of a Christian woman, the bewildered city tenants
breathed for the first time in years the cool salt air,
and felt blow about them the pine-scented fragrance of a
new lease of life.
There was a sickly babe with the mother, and three other
children, one a cripple. The father, who had been out of
work until he had been, as he afterwards confessed to Maxwell,
several times on the edge of suicide, sat with the baby
in his arms during the journey, and when Maxwell started
back to Raymond, after seeing the family settled, the man
held his hand at parting, and choked with his utterance,
and finally broke down, to Maxwell's great confusion. The
mother, a wearied, worn-out woman who had lost three children
the year before from a fever scourge in the Rectangle, sat
by the car window all the way and drank in the delights
of sea and sky and field. It all seemed a miracle to her.
And Maxwell, coming back into Raymond at the end of that
week, feeling the scorching, sickening heat all the more
because of his little taste of the ocean breezes, thanked
God for the joy he had witnessed, and entered upon his discipleship
with a humble heart, knowing for almost the first time in
his life this special kind of sacrifice. For never before
had he denied himself his regular summer trip away from
the heat of Raymond, whether he felt in any great need of
rest or not.
is a fact," he said in reply to several inquiries on the
part of his church, "I do not feel in need of a vacation
this year. I am very well and prefer to stay here." It was
with a feeling of relief that he succeeded in concealing
from every one but his wife what he had done with this other
family. He felt the need of doing anything of that sort
without display or approval from others.
So the summer came on, and Maxwell grew into a large knowledge
of his Lord. The First Church was still swayed by the power
of the Spirit. Maxwell marveled at the continuance of His
stay. He knew very well that from the beginning nothing
but the Spirit's presence had kept the church from being
torn asunder by the remarkable testing it had received of
its discipleship. Even now there were many of the members
among those who had not taken the pledge, who regarded the
whole movement as Mrs. Winslow did, in the nature of a fanatical
interpretation of Christian duty, and looked for the return
of the old normal condition. Meanwhile the whole body of
disciples was under the influence of the Spirit, and the
pastor went his way that summer, doing his parish work in
great joy, keeping up his meetings with the railroad men
as he had promised Alexander Powers, and daily growing into
a better knowledge of the Master.
Early one afternoon in August, after a day of refreshing
coolness following a long period of heat, Jasper Chase walked
to his window in the apartment house on the avenue and looked
On his desk lay a pile of manuscript. Since that evening
when he had spoken to Rachel Winslow he had not met her.
His singularly sensitive nature -- sensitive to the point
of extreme irritability when he was thwarted -- served to
thrust him into an isolation that was intensified by his
habits as an author.
All through the heat of summer he had been writing. His
book was nearly done now. He had thrown himself into its
construction with a feverish strength that threatened at
any moment to desert him and leave him helpless. He had
not forgotten his pledge made with the other church members
at the First Church. It had forced itself upon his notice
all through his writing, and ever since Rachel had said
no to him, he had asked a thousand times, "Would Jesus do
this? Would He write this story?" It was a social novel,
written in a style that had proved popular. It had no purpose
except to amuse. Its moral teaching was not bad, but neither
was it Christian in any positive way. Jasper Chase knew
that such a story would probably sell. He was conscious
of powers in this way that the social world petted and admired.
"What would Jesus do?" He felt that Jesus would never write
such a book. The question obtruded on him at the most inopportune
times. He became irascible over it. The standard of Jesus
for an author was too ideal. Of course, Jesus would use
His powers to produce something useful or helpful, or with
a purpose. What was he, Jasper Chase, writing this novel
for? Why, what nearly every writer wrote for -- money, money,
and fame as a writer. There was no secret with him that
he was writing this new story with that object. He was not
poor, and so had no great temptation to write for money.
But he was urged on by his desire for fame as much as anything.
He must write this kind of matter. But what would Jesus
do? The question plagued him even more than Rachel's refusal.
Was he going to break his promise? "Did the promise mean
much after all?" he asked.
As he stood at the window, Rollin Page came out of the club
house just opposite. Jasper noted his handsome face and
noble figure as he started down the street. He went back
to his desk and turned over some papers there. Then he came
back to the window. Rollin was walking down past the block
and Rachel Winslow was walking beside him. Rollin must have
overtaken her as she was coming from Virginia's that afternoon.
Jasper watched the two figures until they disappeared in
the crowd on the walk. Then he turned to his desk and began
to write. When he had finished the last page of the last
chapter of his book it was nearly dark. "What would Jesus
do?" He had finally answered the question by denying his
Lord. It grew darker in his room. He had deliberately chosen
his course, urged on by his disappointment and loss.
Jesus said unto him, no man having put his hand to the plow,
and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."