God, Virtue, and Immorality

As Brother Mikhail and I walked through the Memorial Church on the Stanford University campus erected by Mrs. Stanford in loving memory of her husband, I wondered about the faith of Leland Standard. I found the following except from a eulogy of the so-called “Robber Barron.” I enjoy studying the Captains of Industry of the 19th Century some of whom were men of the Christian faith:

“Finally, sir, I may be permitted to say that all his moral nature was based on profound religious convictions. While making no ostentatious professions of religion, and not a member of any church, his mind, liberalized by the reading of modern science and philosophy, yet clung to the primal truths of Christ’s teaching—God, virtue, and immortality. In the charter of the new university he prohibits sectarian instruction, but requires the teaching of “the immortality of the soul, the existence of an all-Wise and beneficent Creator, and that obedience to His laws is the highest duty of man.” After his son’s death his thoughts turned with increasing solemnity to contemplate the vast issues of the eternal life.

Like ancient Cato, as reported by Cicero, he might have said:


Glorious day, when I shall remove from this confused crowd to join the divine assembly of souls! For I shall go not only to meet great men, but also my own son Cato. His spirit, looking back upon me, departed to that place whither he knew that I should soon come, and he has never deserted me.

If I have borne his loss with courage, it is because I consoled myself with the thought that our separation would not be for long.

In whichever of its many aspects we contemplate the life of LELAND STANFORD, as a successful and honorable merchant, as a great chief of industry, as a patriotic war governor, as a Senator of the United States, as a wise and generous philanthropist, he reveals himself as a unique and commanding figure in our country’s history and a noble type of American manhood. ”

Peace to his ashes and honor to his memory!”

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