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May 20 1907

Splendid Sermon by Rev. H. Beverley Ketchen, M.A., Yesterday
From Hamilton Times, May 20, 1907

In the MacNab Street Presbyterian Church yesterday morning, the pastor Rev. Mr. Ketchen, preached a strong sermon upon the text Isaiah, 42nd chapter, first seven verses, of which perhaps an epitome may be found in the first clause of the fourth verse, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgement in the earth."

Mr. Ketchen showed very trenchantly that the so-called socialism was either the maunderings of a muddled mind, or the anarchistic anachronism of a pernicious past, and that only in the teachings of Jesus could be found a safe and sane ideal of practical socialism.1 The following are extracts from the sermon:

"This morning we feel inclined to see what Isaiah has to say regarding the character and breadth of a consecrated life purpose, and although the terms of this service were stated twenty-five hundred years ago to a tribe of captives, yet they are so independent of locality and age, so adapted to the lasting needs of humanity, and so instinct with the love that never faileth, that they come home to the heart and conscience to-day, with as much tenderness and authority as ever.

"It is safe and sane to say that it is the ideal of every Christlike life--the ideal of all true saving service.

"Now, then, what is Isaiah's idea of service! First, there is the motive--it is very explicit. The only true philanthropy is that inspired by love of God. Service of humanity reaches its noblest sacrificial standard only when it is rendered as a service to God. The real missionary life, which in a world of need and social obligation is the only true life, can only be lived under the humble and grateful conviction that we are indebted to God, and are being used by Him. The true life is the life that is useful, because it is used, influential because it is influenced, victorious because it is obedient, learning the methods of work by daily attention to God's voice, with no strength or courage beyond what God lends, and is achieving all for God's glory. This is the ideal for man as conceived by Isaiah, and we should see that the service he pictures in this passage has never been surpassed either in imagination of the dreamer or the heroism of the martyr. It is a programme of human life, and a prophecy of human destiny, worthy to have come from the lips of the compassionate Master Himself, and it is not strange that in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, Christ should have quoted this passage as a complete exposition of the tenderness, the universality, and the sacredness of His own mission.

"We serve our fellow men best when we serve them for God's sake."

"There is a great deal of arrant non-sense written and spoken nowadays about social service. There are frantic reformers enough, agitating all kinds of impossible schemes for the improvement of human society. They would equalize social conditions; they would regulate the system so that there would be neither wealth nor poverty, the industrious and indolent would sup at the same board. The sagacious and the stupid would have all things in common and incidentally they would destroy the very principle of progress, and make vagrancy a profession. The world is getting overrun with brainless socialistic fanatics who would march us back to freedom without a God and settle us down to serve and love each other by administration; and, judging by the spirit and methods of these so-called philanthropists, they would usher us into a pretty pandemonium indeed. Their service to mankind is prompted in too many cases by the basest kind of self-love. Christianity is the only socialism, and it is a thousand shames that these erratic reformers should have the audacity to misappropriate the name--atheism or anarchy would have suited better.

"Christ laid down the true platform of socialism when He gave the two great commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind and strength, and thy neighbour as thyself." He had nothing to say about communism or the abolition of class distinction. He did not protest against the whole government of the universe, because one man was rich and another poor. He was not blind to the inequalities of life, but they did not agitate or distract Him. He neither raved nor despaired. He was serene and sane. 'He did not strive nor cry, neither was His voice heard in the streets.'

"Chloroform may be a good thing to avert bodily pain, but it has its dangers. It certainly is a dangerous thing to chloroform the soul to escape the pain of sacrifice--let us beware of moral anaesthetics. Oh, that something would rouse us from our easy, comfortable, lethargic mental condition, and fire us with the passion of service for God, that instead of giving a few dollars per year for the schemes of the church, we might serve with the heroic enthusiasm that glorified the life of Livingston, of Morrison, of Dr. Grenfell, of the Labrador wild.2

"Several have told me that 'charity begins at home,' and they say truly. Where else could it begin? But I notice that with the majority of men who use this argument, charity stays at home--a veritable recluse. There are others who say we owe all our superfluous special energy to Canada at present--I donít believe it, for one thing it is not Christian, and for another thing, even from a patriotic standpoint, I believe such a course would be the most fatal policy. I am convinced that if we had the burden of the world on our hearts and consciences, we would be hundredfold better citizens of Canada.

"May God give us men of the broad, sensitive, Catholic love of the Christ; and by this shall we know whether we are servants of God according to Isaiah's ideal of service, if we are willing to go beyond the camp of our wee-ordered, comfortable life, realizing our obligations to the disinherited and our kinship with the lost.

"We are chosen not to die by living to save ourselves, but to live by dying to save others. When the Celestial knighthood is assembled at the Round Table of the King, our name will be unspoken, and our crown will hang over an empty chair, unless we give ourselves now, without reserve, to the personal Christ, who calls us with Divine authority to submit our liberty to God's sovereignty in a sacrificial missionary service for God's sake."

1 In this sermon Rev. Ketchen rejects socialism-communism as a Godless, impossible scheme, and as a kind of "moral anaesthetic." By contrast his preaching is similar to the "Social Gospel" movement of the day which sought to correct the economic and social problems for the material and spiritual improvement of society. Although he never uses the term "Social Gospel" he is advocating a similar idea: a Christian missionary commitment of obligation and service to society that accepts class distinction and includes the "very principle of progress." He states: "Christianity is the only socialism."

2 For more information on Dr. Grenfell, see W-MCP2-4.053 which includes his image, IMG234.

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