We meet To-day in God’s House to remember that blessing of health, and wealth and well-being, which we have enjoyed during this past year, and to shew, as we render thanks to the Giver, that we are not unmindful of others whose lives are less fortunate. And the very fact that To-day, throughout the Diocese, from all the pulpits, goes forth an appeal for help to the sick and suffering, testifies that we remember that the bodies of each one of us are holy unto the Lord, and that we believe it is God’s will that so long as the breath of life is within our nostrils we are bound to see that those bodies are healed of their rents and wounds, and that the living earthly temples of the Holy Ghost are kept in repair for Him whose glory fills those temples. (p. 1)….
To-day is Hospital Sunday, and very fitly do the Foresters, with their Rangers, their Wood-wards and other officers, come together to-day, when our hearts and our alms are asked for the great Hospital cause. They seem, by their presence, to emphasise the fact that a working man’s wealth is a working man’s health; and, as we give our alms to-day, we are not only bid to think of the awful agonies we, by those alms, can allay, the weary sufferings we can gently bear to a close, the triumphs of the science of medicine to which we may minister, but of the thousand bread-winners we can help to give back to their wives and children, who need their bread to be won for them. (p. 5)
If, as St. James said, “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father” is “to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction,” we can, by giving of our alms to the hospitals to-day, be purely religious, for how many women are widows, and how many children fatherless, while the winner of the bread for wife and children is on his bed of pain within the hospital wards? (p. 5)….
Go to any great metropolis of the old Pagan world, or look on the map at ancient Athens, Corinth, Rome, Rameses’ Heliopolis, you will see that all inside the walls has perished—all but the monuments that enshrined the great ideas of the souls or minds of the nation. There is the temple, the ruined theatres, the race course, the arch of triumph, the public bath, the orator’s pillar, the hero’s bust, the poet’s shrine, the tomb—all these in ruins remain to tell us what the people thought worthy of monument, or worthy of mighty buildings or of public expenditure. (p. 7)
Now, imagine London, 2,000 years hence, in ruins. What should we find? All these monumental ruins; ay, and many others. Besides St. Paul’s and the National Museum, here a home for the sightless, there a mighty asylum, here a great industrial school, there a vast workhouse or almshouse, here a large reformatory, there a huge orphanage, and last, in great numbers, noble remains—what of? why, of homes for incurables and hospitals for the sick and wounded! (pp. 7-8)
Do you not see the difference? Jesus Christ must have been in this ruined London. He had not been in Rome or Athens—only with Him did pity enter into the world, and become a power among men. (p. 8)
If we wish to know what London would be to-day had the Church of Christ been silent and His Holy Spirit not been the continued Comforter to the English people for these 1,400 years past, we must turn all the maniacs out into the streets, let the blind lead the blind, that both may fall into the ditch; we must empty our almshouses of all their inmates, and cast out to be trampled underfoot, or only noticed by dogs, the poor, broken, wounded pieces of humanity that lie in the 10,000 beds of the London hospitals. But Christ it is, Christ alone, and the power of His gospel, that has made this impossible for us to do. We know on whom we have believed—we know we are members one of another, and that in bearing one another’s burdens we fulfil the law of Christ—and every penny that shall be given for the cause of the sick and suffering of our diocese to-day, can only be asked for because we are followers of Jesus Christ, and only blessedly and willingly given because we have determined to follow Him still. (p. 8)
(Sermon Preached in Crosthwaite Church on Hospital Sunday, 11th May 1884)