Bishop Henry C. Potter, of New York, preached the Baccalaureate sermon to the members of the Senior class yesterday afternoon in Appleton Chapel, from the text: "Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." Acts VIII, 20. He said in part:
The person rebuked in these words is Simon Magus, who, while journeying in Samaria, encounters St. Peter and St. John, who have brought the gift of a new illumination to the converts of the young deacon Philip. They have taught and blessed, and the marvelous tokens of this transforming presence straightway became manifest in them. Simon sees and wonders at it and eager to rouse a kindred ardor says: "Give me this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." The text is St. Peter's answer:
Let me at once clear the air and open the way for some suggestions which may be of service to you by saying that I have not come here to denounce money. There has been a disposition, more or less evident at many points in the history of modern civilization, but never quite so significant as in our own generation, to regard wealth as at best a doubtful blessing; and, especially in its organized accumulations, as an unmixed evil. Now no one can deal candidly with the teaching of Jesus Christ without realizing that He was the revealer of principles for the guidance of human stewardship, not the propounder of microscopic rules for its daily regulation. He has taught us to face money in the strength of a great principle, and not in the pettiness of a mere rule. And so, wealth, whether you possess it or desire it is yours to desire, to employ, to enjoy in His fear and as His stewards. You may well thank God that other men have lived who have accumulated wealth, but better still, have, both living and dying, with princely hand dispensed it.
But when I have said this there still remains to be declared that other side of this whole matter toward which my text directs us. Money is a power. It may be used for the best purposes, and just as easily for the worst. It is like many other powers with which God has endowed us, that it may bring within our reach much that would otherwise be beyond it. It is unlike those other powers, in that, while they must oftenest earn their desires, it may as often buy them. In our time we are seeing as never before the enormous power not only of mere wealth, but the still more gigantic powers of associated or organized wealth. But we ought not to lose sight of the fact that if such conbinations have involved loss or disablement or the extinction of business opportunities for other people, that is not a sufficient reason for denouncing such combinations or denying their right to be. But then, again, this is not the whole of the case. That great aggregations of capital have in them elements of peril there can be no doubt. As President Hadley has said. "The true medical treatment in the body politic as in the human body, is the physiological one to create a public spirit and a public sentiment which shall be adequate to deal with the new conditions."
But are luxury, splendor, the enervating power of wealth what the apostle means by the gift of God? What are the gifts of God? Three are typical of all the rest. They are Vision, Love, Self-sacrifice. And these,--it may take you a long time to find it out, but find it out in God's good time and way I pray you may,--these are all that make life worth living