No man dares to condemn the Christian faith today, because the Christian faith has not been tried. Not until men get rid of the thought that it is a poor machine, an expedient for saving them from suffering and pain; not until they get the grand idea of it as the great power of God present in and through the lives of men; not until then does Christianity enter upon its true trial and become ready to show what it can do.
To hold your truth, to believe it with all your heart, to work with all your might, first to make it real to yourself and then to show its preciousness to other men, and then - not till then, but then - to leave the questions of when and how and by whom it shall prevail to God: that is the true life of the believer. There is no feeble unconcern and indiscriminateness there, and neither is there any excited hatred of the creed, the doctrine, or the Church, which you feel wholly wrong. You have not fled out of the furnace of bigotry to freeze on the open and desolate plains of indifference. You believe and yet you have no wish to persecute.
What is the Christian? Everywhere the man who, so far as he comprehends Jesus Christ, so far as he can get any knowledge of Him, is His servant - the man who makes Christ a teacher of his intelligence and the guide of his soul - the man who obeys Christ as far as he has been able to understand him. . . . I would know any man as a Christian, would rejoice to know any man as a Christian, whom Jesus would recognize as a Christian; and Jesus Christ, I am sure, in these old days recognized His followers even if they came after Him with the blindest sight, with the most imperfect recognition and acknowledgment of what He was and of what He could do.
No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle and pure and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of the goodness.
The best advisers, helpers and friends, always are not those who tell us how to act in special cases, but who give us, out of themselves, the ardent spirit and desire to act right, and leave us then, even through many blunders, to find out what our own form of right action is.
Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.