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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Dr. Hale's Closing Words.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

With the permission of Dr. Hale, we publish the following summary of his final remarks to the students as one of the University preachers, spoken in the chapel, Tuesday morning:-

"I find that it is seven years since I first took the charge of the morning service here-after the resignation of our friend Dr. Andrew Peabody. The service has interested me from the first, as well it might. It was the daily religious service most distinguished in Christendom, as I think, and most remarkable for all those qualities of religious service which give distinction to any regular function. It was more fully attended, I suppose, than any regular meeting of men for worship in the world. Nothing could be asked more devout than the manner, and, on the whole, more earnest, than the purpose of the worshippers. The best arrangement that science knows how to make was made for the right rendering of praise. And, for the rest, by the working in two centuries and a half of the great central law of religion, every word of controversial theology or of dogmatic discussion was, by precedent and general understanding, excluded from a service which was simply the consecration of each new day, by eight hundred picked men of high purpose preparing for lofty duty. Perfectly naturally, therefore, the service here has assumed the place which we all wish for anything that belongs to the University. As we wish, and indeed expect, that our observatory shall be the most distinguished observatory in America, our system the best system, our gymnasium the best gymnasium, our crew the best crew, our Greek the best Greek, we are glad to believe that our chapel service is the most dignified and distinguished, and that it meets fully the purpose of such service.

"At stated intervals, as seven years have gone by, it has been my privilege to lead this service, till today I do so for the last time. I am glad to have the opportunity to say to the gentlemen whom I meet that I have been well aware that they are as interested in the service as I am, and to help along, as we give a torch from hand to hand, the traditions of the service to you who are to sustain it now. The government of the University has entrusted the chapel service to the religious feeling and high purpose of the undergraduates. It is in perfectly safe hands there, for there are few men indeed who do not, every day, wish for help that their lives may be more successful, and who do not know that they need more point than they have to make their lives succeed. Few men, indeed, who do not in every day turn aside from mere grinding or mere play to ask what life is for, and how it can be made better. Let more men determine to meet here when the bell rings for chapel, that together they may meditate and resolve and together they may ask the God of all strength to help them through; and the daily chapel service takes on, of course, the high dignity of being the central occasion which collects the college, and collects it for its central aim. That aim is, that honorable men, of true and upright life, shall go hence and lead America. You have heard me say it a thousand times. I hope you will say it, each to each other, a thousand times more. This is the one thing where there is no "Elective." It is the one thing which history requires, and your own consciences, which are the voices of the present God. You may choose whether you will study Greek or physics, but you must be pure, upright, honorable leaders of this land. For this you must consecrate each day of life as life begins. And the experience of the past, and the gregarious instinct of the ruling family in this world, the family of man, suggests that you make this consecration as a collegium, at the college of John Harvard-that you make it together.

"I bid you good-bye, gentlemen. I have spoken perhaps too long. It is enough to say that, in the advance of men's confidence in men and in young men, you have been entrusted with the religious service which shows that this is a Christian college. Do not go back on those who give to you this trust, but show them that it is safe in your hands."

The Scripture lesson was the close of the Sermon on the Mount.

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