The Pulpit: Holy Land of Australia [13 December 1920]

[Editor: A report on a patriotic sermon by the Rev. Thomas Elias Ruth. Published in The Argus, 13 December 1920.]

The Pulpit.

Holy Land of Australia.

Crowded congregations welcomed the Rev. T. E. Ruth back to his pulpit at Collins street Baptist Church yesterday. The morning subject was “The Holy Land of Australia,” and the text was from Exodus, “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” According to some people, said the preacher, the golden age was lost in the yesteryears, or in the absent land of far distances. It was yestergold or morrow gold rather than golden day. But thrilling through every burning bush, every living book, every redeeming religion, was the essential message of life, “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” The blazing benedictions of the past were the blazing ubiquities of the present. The revelations of yesterday should make men open-eyed to the Divine Presence here and now.

The vision came to Moses not in Egypt, the land of mystic light, the land of temple and pyramid, where everything was permeated with the sense of mystery, where the psychic something at the back of matter might be expected to burst into flame; not in Egypt, the home of the gods, did the Spirit of the universe become vocal, but in the land of the grazier. And there Moses became a man with a name, a man with a mission.

“I believe in Australia,” continued Mr. Ruth, “as I believe in God, as I believe in you, as I believe in myself. I believe in Australia, in its fealty to the Empire, in its affection for Mother England, in its freedom to work out its own political and industrial destiny without the interference of alien ecclesiastics or professional agitators.” He appealed to every Australian to recognise with reverence the sacredness of the opportunity which was his, to regard his responsibility in the light of the fire that glowed from every bush, to express his faith in God in terms of service for men. Without vision the people perished. Without reverence the vision was not seen. For Australians, Australia was the holy land. The place whereon they stood was holy ground.

During the evening sermon Mr. Ruth said that a trip round the world in 1920, contact with conditions in Europe and America, fellowship with modern men and modern amusements, comparison between Atlantic and Pacific points of view, had immensely increased his faith in the forces of Christian civilisation, enlarged his hopes of the progress of men, and shattered his fears. Pessimists were as much out of place in the world to-day as undertakers would be in Paradise. If he were asked as a British Australian to name the most outstanding necessity in the social life of England and America, he would say not liberty, but discipline to prevent liberty already achieved from degenerating into license. Democracy was a vast experiment, still upon probation, beset by innumerable perils, in grave danger of degenerating into the organ of individual or class exploitation, and the ready instrument of the malcontent or the demagogue.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 13 December 1920, p. 9

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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