A Little Candle

Once there was a man who had the habit of being very kind and pleasant to everybody. He was a man of large affairs, was brought into contact with a great number of people, and all of them came to know him as a dear good fellow and friend. It was altogether natural for him, on entering into conversation, to say some cheery, encouraging thing, which was always flavored with love and ofttimes with fun. He knew people of every class and kind, from bank presidents and railway builders to coal stokers and boot-blacks, and each and all speedily discovered that he not only thoroughly enjoyed making other people happy, but that he was a genius in the multiplicity and simplicity of the ways he found to do it. His religion was distinctly good-natured, brotherly, and continuous; his creed was written all over his face. It read, "Let us be friends, let us be happy, and let us do the square thing."

That such a man should prove winsome goes without saying. He was remembered as we remember a bit of good news, a happening that we dwell upon and love to talk about. His kindliness was so habitual, so elemental, and so spontaneous, that there could be no question as to its sincerity and its all-inclusiveness. You knew you had come upon a genuine brother man who, without mentioning the subject, presented a concept of righteousness that seemed very companionable and altogether attainable, and who led lots of people that never thought of going to church, to wish they were like him. And so the largeness of his helpfulness might be said to have been determined by the littleness of the things which afforded him opportunity to give his brother man that little lift which ofttimes proves a benediction.

He was never ecclesiastically ordained, yet he was always preaching, and the secret of his success was found in part in the fact of humanity's hunger for just this good cheer. He led all to see that "simple kindness is the brightest jewel in the crown of character," and gave every one a better understanding of the psalmist's saying, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." He constantly reminded people of him who was a past master in the art of winning men, the Man of Nazareth. He brought the Christ-life into one's field of vision, and thus illustrated the Master's words: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

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Suburban Lecture
April 24, 1915

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