Do you remember the famous reply, often quoted, given to a foreign visitor at the English court? He had asked the secret of the greatness of England, which impressed him so forcibly. And her gracious majesty, of blessed memory, Queen Victoria, placed her hand upon a Bible, and replied in the memorable words, "This is the secret of England's greatness."
Just how much that wise woman had in mind I am sure I do not know. I feel very sure she did not refer to the church system of England. But to something far more and deeper than that, of which the church system is only one expression. Where the Bible has gone, and where it has so largely dominated the life of the people, as in England, there has been both a moral regeneration and, mark it keenly, a new mental life. Its touch has awakened the mental powers. There has been aroused and released into activity that spirit of energy which has become the most marked characteristic of the Western world.
These two, the mental life and the remarkable energy, lie at the basis of all our wonderful modern science. And this, in turn, lies at the basis of all our phenomenal development. It is this that makes the West different from the East. The leading nations are Christian nations. The germ of vigorous life is in the Gospel of Christ.
This is the thing the heathen world is knocking so earnestly at our door for to-day. I do not say that they think of it in that way. They are just coming, groping out of the darkness, with eyes blinking and blinded by the brightness of our light. They stretch eager, reaching fingers out toward the light, without knowing much about it. The glare of it has caught them.
And if they are caught, moth-like, and hurt by its flame -- if they copy our vile vices, which are no part of our Christianity, but the remnants of our own original savagery cropping out in spite of Christianity -- if so, is it surprising? Their eyes are bothered by the sudden change from black darkness to brilliant light.
But there's a deeper asking. Underneath all, the thing they are really asking for, all unconsciously most of them, is that which lies at the root of all our Western progress. They ask unknowingly for the Gospel of Christ, the heart of this precious old Bible. When they get that they will find that it brings the new awakening of mental life and the new aggressive energy that has made us Christian nations what we are.