The Influence Of Jesus Christ In Civilization -- By: Newell Dwight Hillis
BSac 56:222 (Apr 1899) p. 327
The Influence Of Jesus Christ In Civilization
The soul, like the body, thrives through nourishment. Mind and heart hunger for food, and find it in the best qualities of the best men who have gone before. History stores up the bravest deeds and noblest thoughts of the heroes of yesterday as soul food for the youth of to-day. The Greek general bade his parents bring their children up— not upon milk, but upon the memories of soldierly ancestors. Always it has been the necessity of life that children and youth should look upward toward illustrious masters and models. Each Pitt and Burke stimulates himself by tales of eloquence and oratory. Each young Correggio lingers long before his master’s easel. Each Keats or Shelley turns eager feet toward the great bard’s home. History is not a mausoleum of dead men, but a granary storing up for future generations the choicest spirits of past ages.
When a nation has no heroes to nourish greatness in its youth, God raises up some poet to create them. Thus the blind bard hung Achilles in the sky above the race of Grecian savages. Straightway thousands felt the drawing of that great heart; just as the ocean, without knowing the cause, is lifted forward, following the planets. Soon the ideal Achilles repeated himself in the real orators and artists, statesmen and philosophers of Athens. Plutarch thought the iron and granite in the hills of Sparta repeated
BSac 56:222 (Apr 1899) p. 328
themselves in the Spartan warriors. We know that the single root brought from Africa by the Spanish traveler repeated its unexampled size and color in all the vineyards of Spain. Thus one great man like Pericles or Cato, like John Huss or William Tell, like Vane or Hampden, like Brown or Lincoln, repeats himself in the new and larger manhood of his nation. When God wants to create a revolution or secure a sudden forward movement in society, he sets some great man into the midst of the people, and, looking upward, the generations are lifted to his level. The measure of civilization for a nation is found in the number and quality of its heroes and leaders.
Social progress through lifting up a master and model has always been the divine method. Here nature lends us a thousand interpretations. Ours is a world in which rain and snow, falling to the ground, must be lifted up and passed through bough and branch before water reddens in the wine’s purple flood, or drips in the golden juices of the orange. In the forests the carbon and iron of the soil must be lifted up, to be hardened into masts for ships or timbers for temples. In the fields the wheat stalk lifts up the phosphates and condenses them into the rich, brown berry. By ropes and pulleys Phidias...
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