Nearly two thousand years have passed since
Christmas and Christianity.
Christ came to earth, and while His natal day
is becoming more and more widely known and cel-
ebrated, the world is still far from understanding
His simple philosophy of brotherhood.
In tens of thousands of churches on this Christmas
day as on preceding ones all over the civilized world,
professed followers of Christ--good meaning people,
who believe they are Christians--will say with lip
and heart, "Peace on earth and good will to men,"
and they will go forth from the churches to fight
their fellowmen on bloody battlefields, or in the
more silent conflicts of the business world.
Millionaire Christians who have just planned a
corner on wheat or pork, which shall pauperize
thousands of their brother men but shall swell their
own millions into billions, will bow their gray heads
reverently on the velvet backs of costly pews, and
glorify the name of that gentle Being who was born
in a manger, and who bade his followers to "Do
unto others as they would be done by."
Men who lie awake nights to perfect schemes of
getting the better of competitors, will join in halle-
lujahs sung to the simple Carpenter who lived only
to do good to mankind, and who said, "Love your
Men who have put away wives of whom they were
weary and married others for whom they had con-
ceived a passion; women who have bribed lawyers
to divorce them and clergymen to remarry them,
will go to church and worship the Christ whose
religion proclaims against a plurality of wives and
Meantime, in spite of all these unwholesome facts,
and many more as disagreeable ones which could be
mentioned, the world is slowly but steadily advanc-
ing toward the Christ standard.
Humanity is cleaner and kinder than it was even
a few hundred years ago.
In the early days of Christian rule there was a
deep-seated objection in the church against cleanli-
Because the pagans had been devoted to baths,
the church considered bodily purity synonymous
with impiety of the soul.
Monks were allowed two baths a year in the
middle ages, and a moistened corner of a towel,
which was common property in the convents, served
for the nuns' occasional ablutions.
Even in the seventeenth century it caused a sen-
sation in a convent, when a duchess who had turned
her thoughts to religious matters for a season
demanded a foot bath.
The desire for clean extremities was deemed
That was less than two hundred years ago, and
to-day our churches believe that cleanliness is next
to godliness, and an untidy Christian is as rare as a
clean native Indian. Indeed, the generally accepted
idea to-day is that some moral slackness pervades
the mind of one whose person is not clean.
And just as we have progressed in neatness, so we
have in kindness and tolerance. One hundred
years ago we burned as witches people who pos-
sessed clairvoyant powers. To-day we call them
"phychists," and science studies them with interest.
A century ago good Christians put insane people in
dungeons and fetters, believing them to be pos-
sessed of devils.
To-day we know better--we know they are dis-
eased sufferers, and we bring science and sympathy
to bear upon their misfortunes.
Yet our prisons, our insane asylums, our reform
schools and our poorhouses, all of them supposed to
be conducted on Christian principles, would startle
the tender Christ were He to return to us this Christ-
mas day and make a visiting tour among them.
What consternation would ensue were His calm
eyes to penetrate the dark corners and His hand to
reveal what lay behind closed doors.
Meanwhile we can only thank God and progress
that things are so much better than they used to
be, even while we are filled with wonder that they
are not better than they are.
Christ never asked for forms and conventions and
complicated dogmas. That is all man's doing.
Christ does not want you to give largely to the
church while you grind your fellowman in the mill
He does not want you to make generous gifts to
the poor on Christmas day while on every other you
indulge in selfish, sordid methods of dealing with
Here are a few suggestions for practical Chris-
tianity during these holiday times.
If you are a married man, do not starve your
wife's heart and brain by giving her no affection
and no recreation during eleven months of the year,
and then expect to make her happy by an elaborate
Pay your iceman and your milkman, and your
paper bill and all other bills before you display
your generosity to churches, hospitals, fresh air
funds or personal friends.
It is better to be called stingy than dishonest.
A little consideration, a little affection, a little
thoughtfulness, and a continual regard for the feel-
ings and rights of others in your home and business
relations every day of the year, is more acceptable to
Christ than a large display on His birthday of piety
Though the world is full of sinning,
Of sorrow and of woe,
Yet the devil makes an inning
Every time we say it's so.
And the way to set him scowling
And to put him back a pace,
Is to stop this stupid scowling
And to look things in the
If you glance at history's pages,
In all lands and eras known,
You will find the vanished ages
Far more wicked than our
As you scan each word and letter,
You will realize it more
That the world to-day is better
Than it ever was before.
And in spite of all the trouble
That abounds on earth to-day,
Just remember it was double
In the ages passed away.
And these wrongs shall all be righted,
Good shall dominate the
For the darkness now is lighted
By the torch in Science'
Forth from little motes in chaos,
We have come to what we
And no evil force can stay us--
We shall mount from star
We shall break away each fetter
That has bound us heretofore,
And the world to-day is better
Than it ever was before.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.