One Solitary Life

You may never have heard of Rev. James Allan Francis, but the one he wrote about needs no introduction:

“He was born in an obscure village,
the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village
where he worked in a carpenter shop
until he was thirty. Then for three years
he was an itinerant preacher.

“He never had a family or owned a home.
He never set foot inside a big city.
He never travelled two hundred miles
from the place he was born.
He never wrote a book or held an office.
He did none of the things
that usually accompany greatness.

“While he was still a young man,
the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends deserted him.
He was turned over to his enemies,
and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he was dying his executioners gambled
for the only piece of property he had, his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down
and laid in a borrowed grave.

“Nineteen centuries have come and gone
and today he is still the central figure
for much of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched,
all the navies that ever sailed,
and all the parliaments that ever sat,
and all the kings that ever reigned,
put together have not affected the life of man
upon this earth as powerfully as this
One Solitary Life.”


These words, which have become known around the world, were originally part of a sermon that Rev. Francis delivered on 11th July 1926 to a convention of the Baptist Young People’s Union in Los Angeles . They were subsequently published in 1926 in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons”. Reverend James Allan Francis was born in Nova Scotia in 1864; he passed away in 1928.

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