Kant, the distinguished German philoso pher, called him the "Prometheus of modern times." When the announcement of his death reached Paris, Mirabeau declared before the National Assembly that Franklin possessed the genius "that freed America and poured a flood of light over Europe." No man can foresee to what the initial act of a series will lead if one proceeds "with se verity" toward himself. I once heard an English clergyman illustrate this in a remark able way : Dr. Joseph Parker, formerly preacher at the City Temple, Holborn, London, was an impressive teacher because he was simple. In a sense he had the gift of the Indian adept who plants a tiny seed and in a moment a great mango tree rises before you.
One Sunday morning Dr. Parker planted this little thought-seed from the Second Epis tle of St. John: "And it hath not yet appeared what we shall be." "Here is the tree that grew before our eyes.
"I was walking in the Strand one day, many years ago, and I met a friend leading a little boy by the hand.
"I said to the little boy : 'What is this that fills the air and shuts the houses and the sky from our sight?' "And after a pause, the diffident little boy said: " 'It is fog.' "And how do you spell fog, my little boy? "The boy did not reply, for he was shy. But I urged him on by saying, 'There are three letters in the word fog—what is the first?' "Finally, between fear and bashfulness, the little boy said 'H.' "And the next letter, I persisted. Let us have the second letter of the word fog.
"And after hesitating as before, the little boy said 'I.'
"Good! said I, and now for the third letter in the word fog, that is so thick in these London streets that it shuts the houses and the sky from our sight? "Again he paused—but at length replied 'Q.' "H—I—Q for fog! And what a fog it is in the London streets.
"And I went on the way to my duty, and he went on his way to become a man.
"And now," said the preacher with a dra matic change of voice and manner, "to whom is it that we go for the reading of the precious documents of the past. Who spells out for us, patiently but accurrately, the messages that are concealed in cuneiform inscriptions, in pal impsests, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, in the an cient writings of the Babylonians and Assyri ans? To whom do we go? "To him who once, as a little boy, spelled fog for me H I Q.
"And it hath not yet appeared what we shall be." Now the tree of the Indian adept comes and goes, and we wonder at its coming and going. And if we attempt to photograph it, the de veloped plate shows that it was not there But the wonderful tree that sprang from the seed the preacher planted in our hearts we knew to be no figment of the imagination. Every man grasped the reality of it and came away convinced of the power of his eternal pos session.
Every man knew the seed was in him.
That it is vital.
And the name of the seed is Perseverance.
Some call it Talent ; others call it Genius. But whatever it is, God has denied it to no man.
Even if we are spelling fog H I Q, it still remains true for us that "it bath not yet ap peared what we shall be."