[Editor: This article, a report on a church sermon, was published in The Numurkah Leader (Numurkah, Vic.), 12 May 1911.]
Methodist Church, Numurkah.
On Sunday last the three services at the Methodist Church were well attended, the occasion being the anniversary, and the preacher the Rev. Ernest Smith, of Footscray.
In the afternoon the subject of the address was “Christ’s attitude to the Masses.” A great many people, said the preacher, were anxious to say what they thought of Christ, but whatever their ideas were the Sun would not stop rising — it was what Christ thought of them that mattered. His pity was as deep as the pathos of humanity and His sympathy as wide as its woe, and a man must see with His eyes, feel with the depth of His soul, be in fact identified with Him before he could do much for humanity.
If any church should do good it was the Methodist because it was the friend of all and the enemy of none. He believed it was doing what it could, but it was not sufficiently concentrated — it was like a leaky hose, it squirted too much. It helped to run nearly every church going.
Christ’s attitude was one of sympathy. God heard the splash of a tear and He would stop the music of an Archangel choir to hear the cry of a soul in need or the sob of a little child.
At the bottom and top of society there was awful heathenism. The parson was by many deemed a parasite and the church a wowser element in life which dictated but did not understand. There was a great danger of the alienation of the Sunday, which was being absorbed by golf, tennis, dinners, calls and so on and very little prayer. Christ entered into the difficulties, perplexities and agonies of life, and His church was the only force against the social and moral degradation of humanity. Why did not men go to church? There was no theological or intellectual difficulty and there was no cheap remedy for social evils in land taxes, socialism or alleged equality.
One attitude of Christ to the masses was that of personal solicitation. He was for the individual and the church must follow Him. There was no use in it trying to care for the multitude if it did not care for the individual. It was evident the masses must be dealt with one by one and they must be brought to church.
The man who says he reads his bible at home told a lie — if he did so it would force him to church. If every member of the Methodist Church took up Christ’s attitude of personal solicitation the world would be won to Christ.
Singing, music and free seats would attract. Some choirs sang stuff which would be tolerated neither in heaven nor the other place — awful stuff. He did not give a dump for classical music, what was wanted was the tune with a good swing to it. With good music, free seats, the congregation could defy the minister and the devil.
For himself he would have written over the door of every church “Abandon rank all ye who enter here.” Further, the working man would listen when a preacher spoke of Jesus, but would not be bothered with dry-as-dust ecclesiasticism.
The message of Christ was one of hope, and outside that was indifference and despair. It taught the contemplation of righteousness and the beautiful. It stood for better conditions in child life — especially in the city where some were damned from their birth. It stood for a white Australia — that the thoughts of every man and woman should be white and pure.
Ruskin said: “If religion is good for anything, it is good for everything,” and St. Paul said: “Religion is profitable for all things.” It was the personal duty of the Christian to tell the unbeliever that. They could win men if they got alongside them. No social screw-jack could lift a man to Heaven; if higher wages were wanted, they could knock off drinking and smoking. In England that would mean 10s per week each to every workingman.
In conclusion, Mr Smith made an earnest appeal to all to individually bring individuals to Christ, for that was tha method to convert the world.
The evening subject was “Life’s Second Chance,” and the text was taken from Mark 14, 41-42, “Sleep on now and take your rest. Rise, let us go.”
The incident in which the text occurs was when Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane in an agony of struggle, longing for human sympathy; but his disciples failed to keep awake. The struggle over He tells them to sleep on and take their rest. But almost immediately as if a second thought occurs to Him, He says, “Rise, let us go,” and gives them their second chance of befriending Him, but they had failed to seize the first opportunity of showing their friendship, and were thus unprepared for the second and all deserted Him again in His hour of need.
The Japanese soldier if he commits an error, is immediately beheaded. If God dealt thus with mankind there would be great numbers headless, but again and again men have had the second chance. Just as Jesus Christ was longing for human sympathy and assistance, so the world was more hungry for love, openheartness and friendship than could be realised.
Daily there were lonely hearts who were lonelier still because of the lack of human sympathy. There was comfort in confession. He considered the greatest thing in the world was to keep the heart ever open to listen to men’s confession of sorrow and sin and to lead them to the Shepherd of their souls. They would then be representing God to the people.
It seems a mean thing to give a life that was tattered and torn to God, but it was meaner still to refuse the love that would take that life. Prevention was better than cure, but repentance was better than continuance. God would restore the wasted years and give them life’s better second chance. Christ’s disciples had missed their opportunity of preparing, and while He met His enemies dry eyed and calm, the disciples were miserably scattered. If they had no reserve force when temptation came they must go down. “The mill wheel would never grind with the water that was past.”
Christ had come with a second chance to humanity and would gather up the fragments of a life mis-spent, and weave it into a pattern all His own, and make it a thing exquisitely beautiful and pleasing to the heart of God, and again and again humanity had responded to the second chance.
On Monday night, Mr Smith delivered an interesting lecture in the Methodist Sunday School, the subject being “Japan and the Japanese.”
The Numurkah Leader (Numurkah, Vic.), 12 May 1911, p. 4 (column 5)
not give a dump = to care very little for something, i.e. to care so little for something that one would not even spend the smallest coin on it (the “dump” was an early Australian coin of low value, struck from the middle of a larger coin); similar to the phrase “not give a brass razoo” (related to the phrases “don’t give a damn” and “don’t give a tinker’s cuss”)
pathos = compassion or pity; or an experience, or a work of art, that evokes feelings of compassion or pity
s = a reference to a shilling, or shillings; the “s” was an abbreviation of “solidi”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
Shepherd = in a religious context, a reference to Jesus or God
wowser = someone who is puritanical, bigoted, censorious, or overly moralistic, particularly those who aim to force their morals upon others (in the past, the word was especially applied to temperance campaigners)
[Editor: Added full stop after “the Rev”. Added comma after “leaky hose”. Replaced comma with a full stop after “awful heathenism”, “the devil”, “miserably scattered”. Changed “alieniation” to “alienation”, “degredation” to “degradation”, “There was was no theological” to “There was no theological”, “Mark 14, 41—42” to “Mark 14, 41-42”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]