The essence of Christianity is the appeal to the life of Christ as a revelation of the nature of God and of God's agency in the world. The record is fragmentary, inconsistent, and uncertain. . . . But there can be no doubt as to what elements in the record have evoked a response from all that is best in human nature. The Mother, the Child, and the bare manger: the lowly man, homeless and self-forgetful, with his message of peace, love, and sympathy: the suffering, the agony, the tender words as life ebbed, the final despair: and the whole with the authority of supreme victory.
Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law, Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw; Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight, A little louder, but as empty quite; Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage, And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age. Pleased with this bauble still, as that before, Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.