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(Ibe University of Chicago 




Rev. L. P. JACKS, D.D., D.Litt. 

Rev. R. J. CAMPBELL, D.D. 



Rev. J. C. CARLILE, D.D. 

The Very Rev. Dean INGE, D.D. 






The Very Rev. Dean BURROUGHS, D.D. 

Rev. F. W. NORWOOD, D.D. 

Rev. F. B. MEYER, D.D. 

Rev. R. C. GILLIE, D.C.L. 







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Edited by 


Fleming H. Revell Company 


1 . ^ "<.' ; Fitst Ptiblisbe&M'arfb- 1925.' 
Reprinted July 1925 

Reprinted October 1925 

j Great Britain by 




'BRITISH PREACHERS" is the first of an annual 
volume of sermons which it is proposed to publish. 
The selection for the present volume has been made 
with the help of The Lord Bishop of Birmingham, 
Rev. R. C. Gillie, D.C.L., Rev. J. C. Carlile, D.D., 
C.B.E., and the Rev. Archibald Chisholm, D.Litt., 
to whom the Editor is indebted. 

February 1925. 



By L. P. Jads 


By R. J. Campbell 


By John A. Hutton 


By James Black 

THE GOOD FIGHT . . . . -63 
By J. C. Carlile 


By W. R. Inge 

" WHAT is CHRISTIANITY ? " . . . -89 
By Leyton Richards 


By H. Tydeman Chilvers. 



By George H. Morrison 

" FOLLOW ME YOURSELF " .... 125 

By E. W. Barnes 

By James Reid 

By E. A. Burroughs 

By F. W. Norwood 

By F. B. Meyer 

By R. C. Gillie 

By John Kelman 

By Herbert H. Farmer 



MIDDLE-AGE . . . . . . . 247 

By A. Maude Royden. 


By Charles Brown 

By Herbert Hensley Henson 


By Norman Maclean 

REV. L. P. JACKS, D.D., LL.D., D.Lirr. 

D.D., LL.D., D.Litl. 

DR. JACKS was educated at University School, 
Nottingham ; the University of London ; Man- 
chester College, Gottingen and Harvard (U.S.A.). 
He entered the ministry as Assistant to the Rev. 
Stopford Brooke at Bedford Chapel, in 1887, 
and subsequently became Minister of Renshaw 
Street Chapel, Liverpool, and the Church of the 
Messiah, Birmingham. Since 1903 he has been 
Professor of Philosophy, and since 1915 Principal 
of Manchester College, Oxford. He has edited 
the Hibbert Journal from its foundation in 1902. 
Amongst,his publications are : " Life and Letters 
of Stopford Brooke," " Mad Shepherds, and 
other Human Studies," " Among the Idolmakers," 
" All Men are Ghosts," " Religious Perplexities," 
"The Life of Charles Hargrove." 


REV. L. P. JACKS, D.D., LL.D., D.Litt. 

" A Shadow of Good Things to Come." 

Hebrews x, i. 

THE writer is here speaking of the moral law, the 
law of right and wrong, of which every man's 
conscience is a reflection, and every man's life an 
illustration. He tells us that the meaning of this 
moral law is to be found in something beyond itself, 
of which it is the shadow. 

A man who lives by the law of duty, doing what 
he believes to be right, not doing what he believes 
to be wrong, looks to us at first sight a plain, homely 
and intelligible figure. But in truth he is not so. 
The profoundest of all mysteries comes to a head in 
that man's life. An unbroken chain connects it with 
the foundations of the universe. That man with his 
homely creed and faithful life is bearing witness to a 
hidden world of unsearchable riches. This law of 
duty that he obeys is a shadow a shadow of good 
things to come a shadow of better things than itself. 
It is one of those " shadowy intimations " of which 
Wordsworth speaks in his " Ode to Immortality." 

A good man's life is a real thing as far as it goes. 
The world that is seen and temporal contains 
nothing more real than it. But when we compare 



it with the deeper reality from which it proceeds, 
with the eternal things to which it leads up and 
bears witness, it is like a shadow compared to the 
substance. The good man's life confers solid 
benefits upon his fellow-citizens; it makes these 
earthly cities better places for men to live in ; but 
its true meaning lies in a city not of earth but of 
heaven, a city that hath foundations, a glorious 
and imperishable kingdom, not of this world, from 
which all souls came forth at the beginning and to 
which they may all return when their earthly 
pilgrimage is done. The shadow of that heavenly 
city falls into our life at many points ; it takes 
many forms and the moral law, the familiar dis- 
tinction between right and wrong, is one of the 
forms the shadow takes. 


In all this the writer is speaking the language of 
an ancient philosophy ; but the truths he is speaking 
of are neither old nor new because they are eternal. 
It is high and precious language, the full meaning of 
which our age and generation have yet to understand. 

We live, you and I, on the very edge of a pro- 
found mystery. Just beyond us, just beyond the 
limit to which our vision can reach, there is a 
hidden world very closely connected with the world 
we are so familiar with, but yet concealed from 
mortal sense. All we get of it are the shadowy 


intimations which fall across our path. These 
shadows we see, often without paying much heed 
to them ; but the hidden reality that casts the 
shadows remains invisible. 

And yet, though we do not see it, the hidden world 

is constantly reminding us of its presence. It makes 

its presence felt. It touches our life with many 

strange experiences. It fills us with wistfulness and 

curiosity ; its influences flow over us when we are 

meditating or dreaming ; it haunts us in many a 

waking hour ; it surprises us with gleams of beauty ; 

it makes us dissatisfied and uneasy, like men who are 

troubled by the presence of a spirit ; and sometimes 

it breaks out suddenly, like an earthquake, and 

shakes the whole world. At all times this hidden 

thing knocks at the doors of life, though we only 

hear it when other sounds are still " Behold I 

stand at the door and knock." Everywhere its 

shadows fall across our path They fall on the 

philosopher's book ; they fall on the lovers' meeting ; 

they fall on the child at play ; they fall on the 

chemist in his laboratory ; they fall on the martyr 

at the stake ; they fall on the soldier who dies in 

battle, and they fall on the face of the dead. In 

all these there is something that we see ; and there 

is also something infinitely greater that we see not 

but which somehow makes us aware of its presence. 

There are tunes when these visitations crowd into 

our life, when instead of gently knocking at the 

door, they besiege us and bombard us and seem 

as though they would carry us by storm as when 

B 5 


we look upon some beloved face in the majesty and 
stillness of death. Sometimes they prompt us to 
do deeds for which no reason can be given, for 
which no utility can be alleged. Why are men 
eager to scale Mount Everest ? Because the 
Invisible leads them on; because on that lonely 
and terrible summit, won by heroic endeavour, 
they will be a little nearer to God. Why did the 
woman pour precious spikenard on the head of 
Christ ? Because the Invisible was prompting her. 
All the noblest deeds of man have been prompted 
in the same way. They are irruptions of the 
Eternal into the world of time. 

Whether we know it or not, every moment of our 
lives is passed on the very edge of these great 
realities. The partition that divides us from these 
is as thin as any partition possibly could be. They 
lie all round us closer than the atmosphere, nearer 
than our own bodies. Shakespeare has compared 
the scene of our life to a shoal, to a narrow ledge 
of dry land, raised a little above the surrounding 
waters. " This shoal and bank of time " is what he 
calls it. There your lot and mine are cast. A little 
island in the midst of immensity nothing more ! 
A lonely place to those who think of themselves as 
stranded and forgotten, but not lonely if we can 
feel the invisible links that bind it to the world 
beyond, not lonely if we can hear the voices that 
call to us across the deep, not lonely if we have 
learnt that wherever there is a soul in darkness, 
obstruction or misery, there also is a power which 


can enlighten, deliver, and help. These are the 
forces which redeem our life from its brutishness ; 
these are the values which invest it with glory and 
make living worth while, and before which our 
light afflictions shrink to nothing. Never do they 
leave us alone ; never does the play of their ringers 
cease on the manifold keyboards of life, of senses, 
intellect, imagination and heart, evoking in us the 
mystery named consciousness, so that deep answers 
unto deep. " I am not alone," said Jesus, " because 
the Father is with me " ; " Father, into thy hands 
I commit my spirit." 


In presence of this high mystery what shall we 
do ? What shall we say ? What attitude shall we 
take ? 

There are, so far as I can see, only two modes of 
answering that question. The first is that we should 
turn our backs on the ocean of eternity and devote 
ourselves to this " shoal and bank of time " on 
which our lot appears to be cast. Many have done 
this, and recommended it as the ultimately reason- 
able course. They know that the mystery is there, 
but they choose to disregard it. " We can make 
nothing of it," they say, "it has nothing to do 
with us, nor we with it. It is an irritant and a 
disturbance. It is a nuisance and an obstacle. 
It is the unknowable. It wastes the energies of 



those who tamper with it. It leads nowhere a 
dark thing that can only be left to itself. Leave it 
alone then and cultivate your gardens. Turn your 
back upon it, and treat it as though it were nothing." 

I once heard that very advice given to a young 
man who was sorely perplexed about the meaning 
of his life. " Turn your back upon the mystery." 
The young man's answer was, " I wish I could." 
Many of us no doubt have wished that, though 
perhaps not wisely. We wish we could ; but we 
cannot. The mystery itself has something to say 
in the matter. It is a living thing and will not 
suffer itself to be shaken off. The tighter we bolt 
the door against it, the louder it knocks. The more 
we turn away from these things, the more we 
refuse to face them, the darker they become 
the darker, but not the less real, not the less bound 
up with the very structure of our lives, not the 
less interfused with the very substance of our souls. 

Living, then, on the edge of these immortal 
things, are there no points of contact between us 
and them, no bridges to carry the traffic between 
the two worlds, no openings where the veil is lifted 
up and intercourse is free ? Points of contact 
between time and eternity ! There are many such ; 
and if we use them, as we may, if we let our 
thought travel along them, and our actions follow 
where our thought is leading us, then they will 
carry us further and further towards the good 
things that are to come ; so that the mystery of 
life, which is so immeasurably dark when we first 


encounter it, will begin to. glow with an inner 
radiance, until finally it becomes luminous through 
and through, still mysterious, still unsearchable, 
and yet an unsearchable light and no longer an 
unsearchable darkness. Let me mention some of 
these points of contact, between time and eternity, 
between man and God, between the son and the 


One has been spoken of already. In the moral 
law, in that plain sense of duty, which no scepticism 
can invalidate, there is unquestionably a link with 
the things that are unseen and eternal not the 
only link by any means, but the one on which all 
the others depend for their holding power. Has it 
ever occurred to you that in dealing with your 
conscience you were dealing with a visitor from a 
higher world ? Have you ever felt that this familiar 
force which pulls at you so often has its other end 
fastened down in the very foundations of the world, 
in the very roots of the universe, in the very heart 
of God ? Hold to it as your sheet anchor amid the 
storms and rocking confusions of life ! Make use 
of it in daily practice, not only for the assurance 
and peace it will give you here and now, but as a 
means of linking your life to the imperishable glories 
of a divine universe, and for confirming your citizen- 
ship among the immortals who there inhabit. It 



is a point of contact between two worlds, your 

Three more are mentioned by St. Paul faith, 
hope and charity; faith which is a gentler name 
for courage, hope which is the foster-mother of 
joy, and charity, the greatest of all, which is too 
high a thing to be reached by any definition, beyond 
the tongues that bewilder, beyond the prophecies 
that turn out false, beyond the knowledge that 
betrays. Walk hand in hand with these three ; 
take them not as the themes of your eloquence but 
as the business of your daily lives ; talk about them 
little but love them much. Then what will happen 
shall be this : the point of contact will open out, 
the bridges between the two worlds will throng 
with traffic, and the heavenly city will come down 
to meet you, made ready like a bride adorned for 
her husband. 

And if you love beauty, and are sensitive to its 
never-failing presence round about you, and still 
more if you have the power to create it by the skill 
of your hand or the magic of your voice, there 
too is a gleam to be followed up, a gleam that will 
never betray you, very graciously sent down, as it 
seems to me, into a world that would be utterly 
dark without it, and penetrating the smallest thing 
that exists. 

And if knowledge is your line, if you are a student, 
bent on probing the significance of nature or of 
history, every new thing you learn will be a fresh 
point of contact with immensity ; every step will 



find you gazing into a deeper Beyond ; every 
truth you discern will call for its completion in a 
truth more radiant than itself, and will deepen your 
reverence for the majestic secrets of the universe. 

These, surely, are points of contact enough. Yet 
there is one other, so profound, so far-reaching, so 
tremendous in its issues, that it is almost wrong in 
me to mention it after the rest, as though it were a 
mere tail-piece to the story. This last is one of the 
central truths of the Christian religion. I will 
indicate it in the briefest possible manner and leave 
you to think it over. It is the Cross. 

Two things there are which fall to the lot of every 
being that draws the breath of life, two things which 
no effort of ours to improve tne world will ever get 
rid of : suffering, which none can escape in some 
degree ; death, which has no degrees but which all 
must accept on the same terms. The Cross is the 
symbol of suffering and of death. It awaits us all. 

What is the meaning of these two ? Christianity 
has an answer. It tells us that suffering, endured 
for love, suffering prolonged to extremity in the 
service of any noble cause, becomes in its final 
phase a point of union with immortal joy ; it tells 
us that death, of which all suffering is a premonition, 
death, where the mystery deepens to its darkest, is 
the point from which the soul steps off into a world 
of light. " The last enemy that shall be destroyed is 
death." The supreme point of contact with the 
absolute values of an immortal universe ! 

Accept that, and the rest is easy. Faith, hope 



and love ; conscience, goodness, beauty and truth 
you will walk among these things and interpret 
them aright. You will see through them into the 
great Beyond whence they issue. And lastly, pain 
and death. Shadows, indeed, " black as the night 
from pole to pole," but shadows of good things to 
come; growing-points of the unsearchable riches, 
which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath 
it entered into the heart of man to conceive. 




BORN in London in 1867, he is the son and grand- 
son of Nonconformist Ministers : Ulster Protes- 
tants of Scottish extraction, He was educated at 
University College, Nottingham and Christ 
Church, Oxford, where he graduated in Honours 
in the School of Modern History and Political 
Science, In 1895 he entered the Congregational 
Ministry at Union Chapel, Brighton ; and from 
1903-1915 he was in charge of the City Temple, 
London, in succession to Dr. Joseph Parker. 
Ordained in 1916 into the Ministry of the Church 
of England, he was attached to Birmingham 
Cathedral, and became Honorary Chaplain to the 
Bishop of that Diocese. In 1917 he returned 
to London as Vicar of Christ Church, West- 
minster. In 1919 he obtained the degree of D.D. 
from Oxford University. Dr. Campbell is now 
incumbent of Holy Trinity, Brighton the Church 
made famous by the ministry of the Rev. F. W. 
Robertson. Amongst the volumes which he has 
published are : " The New Theology," " Chris- 
tianity and the Social Order," " The Ladder of 
Christ," " Thursday Mornings at the City Temple," 
" A Spiritual Pilgrimage," " Words of Comfort," 
" Problems of Life," " Life of Christ." 



" But now being made free from sin, and 
become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto 
holiness, and the end everlasting life." 

Romans vi, 22. 

MANY years ago as an undergraduate I had to work 
through the Institutes of Justinian, that compact 
body of Roman jurisprudence which has become 
the basis of the legal systems of most modern 
civilised communities. And I am glad I did, for 
it has enabled me to obtain a better grasp of the 
meaning of some New Testament figures of speech 
than one could otherwise have done. The Latin 
language was a very precise instrument for the 
expression of legal ideas, and there is no doubt that 
the forms and practices of Roman law, which were 
in force everywhere throughout the civilised world 
in apostolic times, must have supplied categories 
for Christian thought. Greek philosophy did the 
same, as everybody knows, but it was Roman law 
which was the mould in which the Christian doctrine 
of salvation took its traditional shape not alto- 
gether, perhaps, to its advantage, for its tendency 
on the whole has been to be too forensic and not 



sufficiently ethical. But, be that as it may, we 
cannot but admit that in such a sentence as my 
text of this morning the influence of concepts 
derived directly from Roman law is conspicuous. 
The writer's thought is that we are by nature the 
bondservants of a master called sin whose service 
issues in death, but that Christ has come and paid 
the price of His own death for our emancipation, 
so that henceforth we are free to serve Him in 
righteousness. He now becomes our master instead 
of sin ; we are His bondservants, and the fruit of 
the service we render will be eternal life. The 
metaphor thus elaborately employed right through 
this chapter is that of the ceremony of emancipation 
as prescribed in the Roman code governing the 
relations of master and slave. This is the explana- 
tion of such peculiar sentences as, " Being then 
made free from sin, ye became the servants of 
righteousness," and "When ye were the servants 
of sin ye were free from righteousness." 

So far the thought is quite clear. But now let 
us proceed to inquire whether it answers to any- 
thing real in our experience, and is a fair description 
of something which actually takes place, or whether 
it is a mere theory without living relation to what 
we know and feel about ourselves in this regard. 
Is it true that we are the bondservants of sin, and 
is it true that Christ sets us free if we are prepared 
to accept the freedom ? If so, how is it true ? 



Is there any man in all this congregation who 
does not feel himself to be to some extent in bondage 
to things in his own nature from which he earnestly 
desires to get free ? It goes without saying that 
we are all in bondage more or less to circumstances 
and to the conditions often the very unideal 
conditions under which we are having to live our 
lives in human society. But for the moment I am 
not thinking of that ; I am thinking of our inner 
life as individuals. Dark, and gross, and terrible 
things sometimes come to light which show how 
human beings can be made the helpless sport of 
mighty forces that seem to rise from abysmal deeps 
within themselves and sweep them to destruction 
despite their utmost efforts to resist and break free. 
One meets with the strangest inconsistencies in the 
qualities which dwell within the same breast and, 
in swift alternations, assume control of the actions 
of one and the same person. . It gives ground for 
the speculation whether what we call personality 
is a unity at all or whether it is a bundle of incoherent 
tendencies loosely bound together and destined 
ultimately to fly apart. You see the same man 
land, thoughtful, amiable, generous, high-minded ; 
and cruel, heartless, intractable, mean-spirited, 
dastardly. Which is the true man ? It seems 
amazing that the one set of instincts could live 
with the other without destroying them, but such 
appears to be the fact. You might suppose that 



pride and humility, intolerance and wide sympathy, 
harshness and tenderness, could not co-exist as 
permanent features of one and the same individuality. 
But they do ; the fact that they are the polar 
opposites of each other seems to make no difference 
to their power of dwelling together. The heart can 
be a hell of conflicting passions and desires, a 
pandemonium of violent attractions and repulsions. 
I have come across some strange things in my time 
in this way in the exercise of my spiritual office. 
One has found a man living two lives, a clean and a 
filthy, a noble and an ignoble ; and when he is 
asked why, the only answer he can give is that he 
does not know ; his baser propensities, he says, rise 
up every now and then like a black flood and 
overwhelm his will and every high resolve he has 
ever made. Nor does it bring him happiness ; he 
may be utterly miserable generally is in such 
cases but his misery does not set him free. 

Walt Whitman's lament over moral failure is a 
true description of what most people feel concerning 
the conflict between the better self and a baser self 
who seems to be somebody else : 

" A. soul confined with bars and bands 
Cries, ' Help ! 0, help ! ' and wrings her hands . . . 
' It was not I that sinned the sin, 
The ruthless body dragged me in ; 
Though long I strove courageously, 
The body was too much for me ' " 



And this again is but an echo of St, Paul's outcry 
in the chapter immediately following that which 
contains my text. " It is no more I that do it but 
sin that dwelleth in me. For I delight in the law 
of God after the inward man, but I see another law 
in my members, warring against the law of my 
mind and bringing me into captivity to the law 
of sin which is in my members. wretched man 
that I am ! Who shall deliver me from this body 
of death ? " If for " the body " you read " the 
lower nature," the statement is true of all moral 
effort and all consciousness of failure. We are not 
free to be what we should like to be or feel we 
ought to be. And, what is more, we cannot but 
feel that this consciousness bars us out or shuts us 
off from true union and harmony with God. 

The apostle then is right about the experience. 
Now let us see if he is right about the deliverance 
which he says is available for those who want to 
escape this bondage. And in the first place let me 
point out that the belief that there is such a deliver- 
ance has produced some marvellous results in the 
regeneration of human lives. It is worth while to 
note that the thing happens : people do get free 
from their subjection to seemingly invincible habits 
and forces which have worked their undoing. They 
get a fresh start, seem to be made over again, have 
their very being revolutionised by the insurgence 
of some new principle of life and power that lifts 
them above old levels and gives them confidence 
that they can attain to what is higher still. Their 



struggles are not over by any means, but a new 
feeling of mastery comes into the soul, an awareness 
of divine resources never realised before, and of 
the certainty of prevailing in the end. As I say, 
this is worth emphasising. However we may 
account for it, the change is actually wrought in 
countless lives, and goes on being wrought by the 
same means, simple faith in Christ. 


Let me pause here to point out that the renewal 
of life thus promised does not relate principally 
to making people good in terms of this world ; its 
bearing is upon something greater and more elevating 
than that. Note the apostle's language concerning 
the object to be attained. He says : " Being made 
free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have 
your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting 
that is, eternal life." That is plain enough, is it 
not ? What is promised in these words is nothing 
less than the acquirement of supernatural virtue 
that is, virtue unattainable by the natural man ; it 
is only secondarily, and in a comparatively small 
degree, that it can rightly be described as having 
to do with our standing and worth in relation to our 
fellow-men here and now. In saying this I must be 
careful not to be misunderstood. It is quite true 
that one of the first things that does happen to a 
man who has become spiritually regenerate that 



is, who has become definitely and consciously 
possessed by the Spirit of Christ is that he forth- 
with becomes a blessing to all around him ; no 
one can have to do with him without feeling the 
difference ; the nearer he stands to God the better 
and more beneficent is the influence of his personality 
in all ordinary human relations ; it could not be 
otherwise. But it cannot be too emphatically 
stated that this is only a consequence or a con- 
comitant of something far more radical and im- 
portant. In salvation properly understood it is 
not utilitarian, or merely social, this-world values 
that are at stake, not merely the production of 
good citizens or good members of the family circle, 
but the creation of true sanctity, the awakening in 
the soul of an experience that belongs intrinsically 
to the transcendental order, to heaven rather than 
to earth. Anything that falls short of this is a 
misunderstanding of what is assured to us in the 
gospel of Christ. As Baron von Hugel says in his 
" Mystical Element of Religion " : " Once more we 
find non-identity between the very Ethics directly 
postulated by Religion at its deepest, and the 
Ethics immediately required by the Family, Society, 
the State, Art, Science and Philosophy. As Prof. 
Troeltsch admirably puts it, ' the special character- 
istic of our modern consciousness resides in the 
insistence both upon the Religious, the That-world 
Ends, and upon the Cultural, This-world Ends 
which latter are taken as Ends in themselves; 
it is precisely in this combination that this 

c 21 


consciousness finds its richness, power, and freedom, 
but also its painful interior tension and its difficult 
problems.' " And Christopher Dawson in " God 
and the Supernatural " puts the case thus : " The 
Christian does not simply acquire extrinsic super- 
natural faculties, his whole life becomes super- 
natural." To put the matter briefly : if you are 
united to Christ you are at once brought into living 
relation with an order of transcendental values, 
with a good that never can be wholly expressed in 
terms of this world, and you are put into possession 
of a precious experience which grows ever richer 
and gladder as we use and draw upon it day by day. 
Before drawing to a close let me earnestly com- 
mend to you the practicality of what is thus offered. 
It is true that we live in days when many people 
are content with a good which is only of this present 
life and looks no further. But there are others who 
cannot thus be satisfied, and amongst these the 
majority of my hearers this morning have probably 
to be reckoned. For one reason or another, or no 
clear reason that you can give except that you 
know your soul is hungering for God and the life 
eternal, you have turned away from the allurements 
and disappointments of your daily lot to seek for 
what is higher and more enduring. It may be that 
there are more people who feel like this than one 
would readily gather from ordinary observation of 
the signs of the times. A competent thinker, Mr. 
Archibald Weir, says in a book recently published, 
that when the average man has learnt as clearly as 


the philosopher knows now that all our acquaintance 
with the forces of nature, all our science and positive 
knowledge, have not brought us one whit nearer 
to an understanding of the fundamental mysteries 
of existence, a spiritual reaction is not only possible 
but probable. He thinks we may live to see a 
complete change of view on the part of civilisation 
as a whole owing to a general disillusionment with 
secular hopes and aims. He says further : " The 
events of the last few years have shaken the con- 
fidence which was general, that our civilisation was 
safe from extreme calamities, a confidence which 
almost amounted to a sort of consolatory theism. 
Any doctrine of trust capable of taking the place 
of this old and discredited confidence would have 
to dispense with reliance on external safeguards. 
It would have to derive all its value from the human 
soul itself. If ever such a doctrine of trust comes 
to be developed and elucidated for the instruction 
of puzzled men, then at last the religion of all wise 
men will become a common possession." And he 
concludes : " Probably there never lived before in 
this world at one time so many men who would 
choose, if choose they might, the existence of the 
saint rather than careers of worldly success." 


In other words the spiritually restless and un- 
satisfied are turning back to Christ who alone is 

2 3 


able to impart what they are conscious of needing. 
This is not what the author I have just quoted 
actually says, but it appears to me the inevitable 
deduction therefrom. To know Christ as one's 
personal Saviour is to win through to the deliverance 
of which we are all in quest. 

But how can we know Christ in this way ? It 
is one thing to know Him as a mighty figure in the 
past and quite another to know Him as a warm 
living personal presence here and now, the nearest, 
tenderest, and most helpful of all friends. The 
great teacher of ages long ago is not enough ; we 
want the ever-living Companion of our souls who 
can and will usher us into the perfect freedom of 
the sons of God. Now this Christ, this very Christ 
for whom we long, is truly available for you who 
hear me at this moment, and you can discover and 
appropriate His grace and power for yourselves. 
Let me show you how. I have just been reading the 
testimony of a man who says that he managed 
to work his way out of a daily obsession of anxieties 
and dreads by coming to realise how little, com- 
paratively speaking, any of us have to do with the 
shaping of our own lives. When he contemplated 
the marvellous ingenuity and resourcefulness of the 
universal life that is manifesting through the teeming 
millions of organisms that live their little day on 
this planet, he could not but be conscious of the 
futility of imagining that it had nothing to do with 
him or had resigned into his hands the entire direction 
of his concerns. Looking back across the ages he 



observed how amazingly that inexhaustible life- 
force overcame one obstacle after another in pursuit 
of its ends. When one road was blocked it speedily 
found a second, if one organism or species failed 
and went under it unhesitatingly created a better 
and finer one. More than that, it has ever been 
taking us by surprise, so to speak, by the way in 
which it will leap to higher altitudes, by its un- 
foreseen developments and achievements both in the 
natural world and in humankind. And the life- 
force is only another name for God. Translate it 
into spiritual terms and immediately we are dealing 
with our ever-blessed Redeemer and Lord; for 
what is so beautifully true of creation as a whole 
is still more wonderfully true of the work of Christ 
in the soul that is yielded to Him in the simplicity 
of faith and love. The testimony I have just cited 
reminds me of another, that of a horticultural expert 
in California, that land of sunshine and abundant 
fertility. It is common knowledge that in California 
all kinds of experiments have been and are being 
made with a view to the production of new and 
finer specimens of fruits and flowers, and many 
admirable results have been thus obtained. But the 
informant I have just mentioned told me that the 
most astonishing facts in his experience of what 
Nature could do along this line were the totally 
unexpected and unprepared for. He said it filled 
him with awe and something akin to worship for 
he could not but feel that a smiling divine artificer 
working from the other side of the veil of sense 



took delight in surprising him occasionally by a 
sudden and unanticipated touch of creative power. 
Thus he, the human worker, would be labouring 
at the cultivation of a certain bed of blooms of 
familiar hue, shape and size, when lo ! one fine 
morning a new species would appear among them 
differing in toto from its fellows, yet more gorgeously 
garbed than they, more delicate in shade, more 
exquisite in design. Not only so, but once that new ' 
species came it remained; it was a permanent 
feature of the garden, reproducing itself continually. 
What was this but a miracle, the kind of miracle 
that is for ever recurring, not only in the world 
around us but in our inmost souls ? It is an illustra- 
tion of the way in which divine grace operates in 
our experience. You do your best within the laws 
and conditions of your being and yet come short, 
or you fail altogether as the case may be, and then 
you find that God in his unearned mercy and loving 
kindness has gone immeasurably beyond what you 
ever asked or looked for, has thought for you, and 
planned and brought to perfection over and above 
all your care and striving a beauty and sweetness 
which are not of time but eternity. 

Committing ourselves then in utter humility of 
spirit and simplicity of faith to the operation of 
the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, this is 
what we may look for and expect in our own actual 
experience of the life that we live with Him. As 
says the apostle himself as the summary of the 
Christian hope : " That He would grant you, 


according to the riches of His glory, to be strength- 
ened with might by His Spirit in the inner man ; 
that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; 
that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may 
be able to comprehend with all saints what is the 
breadth and length, and depth, and height ; and 
to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, 
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." 



EDUCATED at Glasgow University, Dr. Hutton 
was ordained to the Presbyterian Ministry in 
Alyth, Perthshire. He was called successively 
to Bristo Church, Edinburgh ; Jesmond, New- 
castle-upon-Tync ; and Belhaven, Glasgow. He 
has lectured frequently at Northfield, Mass., 
U.S.A., and is now the Minister of Westminster 
Congregational Church. He has published many 
volumes, including.: " If God be for Us," " The 
Proposal of Jesus," "," " The 
Persistent Word of God," "The Victory over 
Victory," " Our Ambiguous Life." 



"And Isaac digged again the wells of water 
which they had digged in the days of Abraham 
Ms father ; for the Philistines had stopped them 
after the death of Abraham." Genesis xxvi, 18. 

IN the village where I was born and a few hundred 
yards beyond its farthest dwelling-house, there was 
a well by the wayside. It had been there from 
immemorial days. Perhaps it was at one time a 
holy well ; for there is a tradition that in those 
ancient days, which were so full of faith and poetry, 
the place was a centre of religious activity and 
retreat. In those ancient days every well was a 
holy well. To-day, when we are more timid with 
regard to spiritual things, having lost in this region 
the courage of our feelings, we would call that 
superstition. But it was not superstition. It was 
faith ; it was simply the childlike and beautiful 
faith that " every good gift and every perfect gift 
cometh down from above." Even so late as my 
own boyhood that well ran clear. In still earlier 
days it had been the refuge of the village in every 
time of drought. Long years ago there, amongst 
others, a girl sat many a day awaiting her turn to 
draw water ; and she, in an exquisite poem, has 


given that well a humble immortality. Perhaps 
it was as she sat there waiting and thinking, pon- 
dering the mystery of pure water finding its way 
up to the light from the dark chambers of the earth, 
that the fire descended upon her spirit. She wrote 
an " Ode to Garibaldi " and a " Hymn of praise 
for the dawn of Italian Liberty " odes which in 
turn fired the soul of John Bright, who, long years 
afterwards, visited our village and unveiled a 
monument a fountain of running water to the 
memory of the poetess who as a girl had drawn 
water from the well. A few years ago I passed the 
very spot. The hole in the wall remained. The 
scooped-out place where formerly the blessed water 
lay could still be seen. But the well was dry. It 
was nauseous with mud and rubbish. The Philistines 
had stopped it with stones. A few more years and 
doubtless it will have been removed. (In fact it is 
now quite removed ; and the town has in its place 
a carefully pointed wall which can be guaranteed 
to produce no poetry !) 

But I have no wish to indulge myself in futile 
sentiment. I wish to speak of the ways of wells, 
indeed; but the wells I am thinking of are the 
souls of men. 


It sends a wave of yearning over hearts of a 
certain quality to see a well, where once clear water 



ran, now choked with earth, a home for creeping 
things. But a more tragic spectacle it will always 
surely be to see a human soul, a being capable of 
all the divine generosities of a man, giving no sign 
of a holy source and background to his life. Yet 
such is the Christian view of every human being. 
We stand related to the great world of spirit. On 
the interior side of our life we are at this moment 
in contact with the generous wealth of God's own 
life. And yet in how few of us the. holy stream 
runs smoothly day by day ! In how many is it 
at best an intermittent flow, a hasty turbulent 
rush one day, carrying with it the obstructions of 
days or weeks or months, followed by a time of 
reaction, of dryness and deadness and silence ! And 
in how many, it would seem, the waters have quite 
ceased to flow ! The outlet has been closed for 
years. The dust of accumulated carelessness has 
sealed the delicate apertures by which alone the 
holy things rise up from the depths within us all. 
Great stones have been allowed to embarrass -and 
impede the high moments when the soul within 
might have broken the seal of the mere casual 
dust. And in the case of some, with a little regret 
it may be at the first, but soon with deliberate 
intention, they have built up the well; they 
have finally denied that it ,is any part of a 
man's duty to embody in his life the thoughts of 

The Bible speaks of us when we are what God 
would have us, as " living wells of water " ; and 



the same Bible describes us when we have failed 
to fulfil or sustain the part which God intended for 
us, as " wells without water." 

We shall best make use of our time then in con- 
sidering two aspects of this matter, and shall ask 
ourselves, first, how it comes to pass that wells 
run dry, and, second, what means may we take to 
bring back the flow. 


How does it come about that wells run dry ? 
Wells, like human souls, run dry as the result, for 
one thing, of neglect. If you let a well alone, if 
that well be placed by the wayside, in course of time 
the waters within it will fail. The dust from the 
wayside will gather on the surface of the water and 
sink through the water to the tiny and delicate 
apertures which communicate with the depths 
beneath. At first only a thin layer of dust will lie 
about those apertures ; but in course of time that 
layer of dust will be reinforced from above, until 
at last it forms a crust which effectually cuts off 
the tender unobtrusive flow. Beginning at the 
surface of the well, that choking process sinks deeper 
and deeper down, until a day comes when the waters 
no longer try to find their way. So far as that well 
is concerned, the waters fail. Of course, this need 
not happen if the well be situated in some sheltered 
valley, defended by ferns and moss. For in a quiet 



place like that birds come in summer days to stir 
its surface, to flutter about it and bathe and drink. 
But the kind of well which is like the soul of a man 
is a well which stands by the wayside. And, for 
such a well to be allowed to remain stagnant and 
idle is already for it to begin to die. The dust of 
one day gathers and sinks ; and then the dust of 
another day, making it more difficult for the tiny 
stream to find its way, until at last the water 
reluctantly, sadly (if water could think and feel) 
withdraws, seeking some other outlet ; or, so far as 
we see, its life dies within it. It is use which keeps a 
well in life ; and there a well is like the soul of a 
man. High powers within us recede and die for no 
more tragic reason than this, that we have not given 
them play. We have not called upon our souls. 
We have not set ourselves moral tasks which are 
beyond us, tasks which would have taken us down 
into ourselves to find our resource in God. The most 
ruinous influence for the delicate mechanism of the 
soul is simply the passing of the days without any 

holy stir. 

* * * * * 

But it is not thus only that wells run dry. The 
waters may suddenly fail in a spring as the result of 
some subterranean change, through some shifting 
far from the surface, through some alteration in the 
depths and nearer to the sources or nearer to the 
very source. 

In like manner it often happens with the soul. 
A life suddenly and, so far as strangers see, 



unaccountably, presents a changed aspect to the 
world. Here was a happy, generous-hearted man, 
with the accent of kindness always in his voice. You 
have not seen him for a space of time, when one 
day you meet. But he is not now what he was. 
There is a hardness in his voice, a vein of contra- 
diction. You try to get on to the old language, 
but it won't come. Presently he says something 
cynical, unbelieving, brutal almost. What has 
happened ? Oh, any one of a thousand things. 
But this may have happened. He may in the 
interval have gone through some experience which 
has shifted the very basis of his life. He may have 
been deceived by someone whom he trusted. Or 
his love may have been betrayed. He may have 
discovered something dreadful in someone. Or he 
may have discovered something dreadful in himself. 
But something may have happened which so shook 
the elements and foundations of his life that, when 
you saw him again, they had either not found a 
new equilibrium or they had settled down in such 
a way as to congeal and obstruct the generous 
fountain of his life. Certainly such things do take 
place. A well ceases to flow and a human heart 
ceases to portray the holy and generous qualities 
of kindness and belief and loving services, as the 
result of some shock or dislocation in a region deeper 
than the surface, in the region of its more cherished 
sentiments, somewhere near to the back and source 
of things. 



Once again a well may run dry, and, from being 
a sweet and indeed holy thing by the wayside, may 
become a ruin and an eyesore as the result of 
the behaviour of the passers-by. They may throw 
in mud and stones. And so, in this world of living, 
God-created things, the life in human souls may be 
embarrassed and hindered and slain by the unfeeling 
brutality of men. Wells may be closed and choked, 
as were the wells of my text, by the hands of the 
Philistines, by the hands of those who, whether 
they know it or not, are the true and only enemies 
of God. 

It may be by positive evil-doing, as when a sinful 
man in pursuit of animal indulgence brings ruin 
and a hell of remors into another life. But it 
may be by evil courses less criminal and less dramatic. 
We may blast the life of a soul by our malice, by 
our evil-speaking. Or we may depress the generous 
life of another's spirit by the display of our contempt. 
By our suspicion, by our unreasonable anger, by 
the very tone of our voice, by a certain quality in 
the glance of our eye, we may drive the soul of 
another back upon itself and roll a stone against the 
door of its life. 

And then, to touch upon another aspect : just 
as there are social conditions, hard evil circumstances 
and conventions, of such a kind that they hinder 
the proper life of other people, occupations, dwelling- 
houses where cheeks grow pale and life runs low, 

P 37 


so there are social conditions in which the daily 
tendency is to seal up the holier side of life. 

These, then, are some of the ways by which the 
waters in a well begin to fail by neglect and the 
accumulated dust of the way, or by some profound 
dislocation beneath the surface, or by the hand of 
the Philistines, by the brutality, that is to say, 
of man. 

But if it is by these ways that the higher senti- 
ments are withered or blasted, then obviously we 
shall at least be doing something to keep the wells 
running if we take precautions against those very 


Neglect was the first cause we noted as leading 
to the failure of that well which is our soul with 
God as its source. The opposite of neglect is 
attention. If neglect tends to cut us off from God, 
attention may do something to bring back the flow 
of the higher life. By attention in these deepest 
matters I mean prayer. I mean confession. I 
mean the daily confronting of myself with my own 
highest conception of life. I mean, by attention, 
the steady holding of my soul to its own highest 
moment. The unflinching demand upon myself 
that I shall live now in these actual days as I know 
I shall wish I had lived when I come to die if God 
in that day give me time to think, By attention, 


in the matter of my soul and its relation to God, 
I mean exactly what I should mean if I spoke of 
attention tp a small plot of ground on which I 
was trying to raise something. I should mean 
watering it in dry weather and taking precautions 
against weeds. I should mean a daily loving 
vigilance over it or over myself. 

Now I can hear someone saying at this point : 
" But really I have no time ! Life being what it 
is to-day, how is one to find time for religion at 
all ? " Well, but we must all find time ! And 
if your heart is in it you will find time. There 
is nothing so elastic as time. Time is, it seems to 
me, the one thing we can make. I never accept 
from myself the excuse that I have no time to do 
something which I ought to do. When I say to 
myself that I have no time I know that what I 
ought really to be saying to myself is that I don't 
want to do it. When God sends me a fine mood for 
work I seem to have time for everything. But if I 
am having a lazy fit, do not come to me ! I shaD. 
tell you and in a sense it will be true that I am 
being worked to death. 

But indeed, to keep the well of our soul in flood 
does not require time so much as sincerity. A 
minute will do, though an hour would be none too 
much. But if the minute be really a minute of 
prayer, of reality, of a tender entreaty towards 
God, it will be enough. It will cast its light, its 
peace and concentration of power, behind it and 
in front. Its influence will accompany us down 



the street, just as we can hum a tune to ourselves, 
and far from that tune interfering with our business, 
it actually adds to our resources. A minute is 
not too much and can surely be spared in the 
busiest life. But the neglect of that minute, if 
repeated for a time, may in imperceptible ways 
deflect the secret stream, leaving our soul harder 
and more secular. 

With regard to those profound dislocations and 
catastrophes which often change the current of a 
well or of a life, I will say only these things. (For 
a human soul is not a well though they have things 
in common ; and anything which is merely physical 
can never really illustrate the working of the soul.) 

It is true that a dislocation in nature may leave a 
well dry, turning its current elsewhere. But that 
need never happen in the case of a soul. No 
catastrophe in our experience has the right to turn 
our soul away from God. Every such catastrophe 
ought to have the opposite effect and has had all 
through the history of faith. I cannot conceive of 
any human sorrow or tragedy or betrayal justifying 
any man or woman in turning away from the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot 
conceive of any disaster in the region of our emotions 
casting doubt or suspicion upon the love and com- 
passion of the Saviour of the world. On the contrary, 
if there is one thing which should take us to His 
breast it is just that He in His beautiful love is so 
different from everything that is base or unkind in 
human hearts, 



But I must hasten to conclude. Sometimes a 
well fails because it is frozen. Sometimes hearts 
lose their tenderness, their faith, their spirit of 
reconciliation and obedience, in consequence of the 
hard cold spirit of the world. What wells are frozen 
in others by the coldness of our hearts ! And if 
that be so, what wells might be let loose everywhere 
were our hearts warm with love and kindness ! Yes, 
kindness. Kindness is the cause of God in this great 
fierce world. What wells it has the power to 
unloose ! 

Had you ever the experience of someone coming 
to you, asking you to forgive him for a wrong which 
perhaps you did not even know he had done you ? 
In that case you will remember what a well of love, 
of forgiveness, was let loose within you ! How at 
the moment it was so great as almost to choke you ! 
It did really make speech impossible; there was 
such a flood passing through your heart. 

And then, what new powers we are aware of 
within ourselves when we are in the midst of those 
who believe in us ! And how a dumb spirit settles 
down upon us when we are in the presence of cold 
and unbelieving souls ! 

There is an atmosphere which freezes and puts 
to death; such unkindness is a form of murder. 
And there is on the other hand an atmosphere which 
melts and brings to life. We are all of us at all times 
creating the atmosphere which we ourselves and 


others must breathe. And kindness, like the summer 
brings back into the grey skies of this world the 
" sunshine and the swallows and the flowers." 

^ <fp fJ5 SjS Sp 

What was the mission of Jesus Christ but just 
a mission and a message of kindness ? He knew 
how to let loose the well of God's life in the hearts 
of men. And what was His method ? For it must 
be ours. I can best answer by telling you an 
old story. 

" Early in the morning He came again into the 
temple, and all the people came unto Him ; and 
He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes 
and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken 
in adultery ; and when they had set her in the 
midst, they say unto Him, ' Master, this woman was 
taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses 
in the law commanded us, that such should be 
stoned : but what sayest Thou ? ' This they said, 
tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. 
But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger 
wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. 
So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up 
Himself, and said unto them : ' He that is without 
sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.' And 
again He. stooped down and wrote on the ground. 
And they which heard it, being convicted by their 
own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at 
the eldest, even unto the last : and Jesus was left 
alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 
When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none 


but the woman, He said unto her, ' Woman, where 
are thine accusers ? Hath no man condemned 
thee ? ' She said, ' No man, Lord.' And Jesus 
said unto her, ' Neither do I condemn thee : go, 
and sin no more.' " 

That was kindness, pure, unqualified kindness. 
It was Jesus digging again the wells which His Father 
had digged. It was Jesus removing the stones with 
which the Philistines had stopped the well. 

And what was the result of that kindness of 
Jesus ? Oh, this was the result. 

In all probability she became Mary, who broke 
the box of spikenard over the feet of Jesus, and 
wept there. She became the Mary who stood by 
the Cross of Jesus while strong men, who had not 
her secret, fled. She was the Mary who came to 
the tomb to anoint His body ; and there, first of 
all human souls, saw Christ risen from the dead. 

That was the result the water in the well began 
its flow, running pure and clear from its source in 
the heart of God. And as it was in the beginning, 
it is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 



DR. BLACK was educated at the University and the 
United Free Church College, at Glasgow, and 
also at Marburg University. Ordained at 
Castlehill Church, Forres, in 1903, he passed 
to Broughton Place Church, Edinburgh, in 1907. 
During the war he was a Chaplain in France, 
attached to the Royal Scots and 2nd Seaforths. 
At this time he was mentioned in despatches. 
He has been Warrack Lecturer on Preaching 
and also held the James Sprunt Lectureship, 
Union Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. He is 
now minister of St. George's United Free Church, 
Edinburgh. He is the author of "The Pilgrim 
Ship," " The Burthen of the Weeks," "Around 
the Guns," "The Mystery of Preaching," and 
"The Dilemmas of Jesus." 



" In all these things we are more than conquerors 
through him that loved us." Romans viii, 37. 

WITHOUT doubt one of the master terms of the 
Christian dictionary is the word " to overcome." 
Conquest and victory express the high ideal of the 
Christian life. We cannot fail to notice, for instance, 
that the New Testament is rich with gracious 
promises for the soul that overcomes. " He that 
overcometh shall inherit all things." Just because 
Jesus Himself overcame the world we are called 
in His strength to do the same. It is a gospel of 

This does not mean that our Lord glories in the 
" strong man," as we count men strong. Nor 
does it suggest that He makes a special appeal to 
the resolute and the gifted. Rather is it the 
opposite. If He makes any special appeal to one 
class more than another it is to the weak and the 
broken that He speaks ! But the glory of His 
religion is that He can make strength out of 
weakness and heroes out of cowards. By His 
message and His grace He leads the foolish things 
of the world to confound the wise, and He bestows 
on the ungifted the inheritance of the sons of God. 



This message of victory present and future triumph- 
is not offered to any of us who think ourselves strong, 
but to all of us who know ourselves to be weak. 

The words in which the Apostle expresses this 
ideal of Christian victory at once suggest the notion 
of life as a battle. There is a field of extended warfare, 
a far-flung battle-line, where opposing forces struggle 
for mastery. We picture at once the massed ranks 
of an enemy, who straddles across our way to do 
battle for our soul. . . . Out of his own experience, 
with bitter memories, Paul labels some of these 
battalions with well-known names. Here is Tribula- 
tion ; there Distress. On this side there is Persecu- 
tion ; on that side the gaunt twins Famine and 
Want. On the left is Nakedness; on the right 
Peril ; in front a Sword. His list, though long, is 
incomplete. These are but types, and under these 
types we are expected to group all the temptations, 
trials, difficulties and sins which make onset against 
our soul. . . . Then when the Apostle has made 
up his list (a hard and testing list it is !), this is his 
ringing answer : "In all these things and as 
many more as you care to add we are more than 
conquerors through Him that loved us." This is 
clear exultation ! 


This is the ideal, I say, as clear as sunlight. 
Would that it were the reality ! Alas ! we who 


believe in Jesus and call Him Lord have more often 
to confess defeat than glory in victory. Instead of 
vanquishing, we are vanquished. Temptations un- 
resisted, trials unmet, sins unpurged, mark our lives 
as with scars. We are pitifully less than conquerors 
and that in spite of Him Who loved us ! 

And should it be otherwise, even should we win 
through, how often is our victory gained only with 
infinite toil and agony gained with little to spare 
gained, as we say, by the skin of the teeth. After 
some desperate struggle we just manage to hold the 
sin off. We shut our eyes that we may not see it ; 
we clench our hands that we may not grasp it. 
We are saved often not by will but by fortune. 
We are helped not by ourselves but by our friends. 
We win not by the power of good but by the fear 
of evil. Sometimes we win by showing a clean 
pair of heels ! And on the whole we just manage 
to wriggle through on the right side. 

Now I am not decrying this narrow and painful 
victory. It is better to win by the skin of the 
teeth than not at all. God Himself knows that in 
many a man's case this desperate tussle and slim 
victory are more noble than the easy triumph of 
some man so temperamentally gifted that he has 
only to raise a lordly hand. When we think of how 
some men are placed, when we remember their 
social and educational disadvantages, when we 
think of the fearful odds they have to meet and the 
terrible array of besetting temptations they have 
to face the heredity, the environment, the ridicule 



they have to endure when we recall all this and 
more, then we can only thank God that such a 
man wins through at all. It is something indeed 
that he gets a struggling hand on a rock and manages 
to haul himself panting on the shore. There is not 
one of us but knows some such hero of God, who 
keeps the enemy down only by never taking his 
hand from its throac, who maintains his loyalty to 
Christ by a watching that is unceasing and a 
struggle that is unrelenting ! And Jesus, Who knows 
all things, will one day award that man all honour ; 
for his greatness lies in this, that amid leaping 
devils he managed just to keep his feet and 
stand ! 


All honour to such men ! Yet in spite of our 
admission, it is safe to say that this skin-of-the- 
teeth victory is not the Christian ideal. When we 
remember the infinite resources of strength and 
power which Christ has to offer us, it surely does 
little honour to our Master that so many of us, 
even in His name, only manage to scrape 

Let me ask you to notice Paul's view of what 
Christian victory is. We translate his word from 
the original Greek as " more than conquerors." 
That is good enough, and for practical purposes 
exact enough; but it does not give the subtle 



meaning of his native phrase. His word means 
literally " to conquer excessively," to conquer 
abundantly, to conquer with a great deal to spare, 
with a mastery and a reserve strength never quite 
called out. The contrast here is obvious on the 
one hand a man who conquers with the last ounce 
torn out of him, and on the other hand one who 
triumphs with ease and with reserve strength, with 
a great deal in hand. Such a man is truly " more 
than a conqueror " winning not with the last 
gasp but with a kind of ease and surety that give 
the impression of large unexhausted power behind. 
He has something always " in hand." 

Whatever our Christian practice may be, this at 
least is the Christian ideal. It expresses the result 
which Christ should exercise on our lives. If we are 
one with Him, we fight not with our own might 
alone but with His. And what is there in all Paul's 
list or any other man's list that is stronger than 
Jesus? Who or what can separate us from the 
love of Jesus ? Shall tribulation or distress ? 
Persecution or famine? Nakedness, peril, or the 
sword ? Nay, in all these things, through Him that 
loved us, we conquer excessively. 

To see what this ideal type of victory means, I 
wish to contrast three " samples " of overwhelming 
victory, as we see them illustrated in the lives of 
men who prove themselves more than conquerors. 
I shall give them in an ascending scale. 



The first type of overwhelming victory is that 
which we see so often effected victory by devasta- 
tion. An enemy sweeps over another nation, like 
a horde of Assyrians, ruins the land and puts the 
people to the sword, leaving only a tragic desolation. 
It is a great type of victory, magnificent in its 
thoroughness. History has shown us many ex- 
cessive triumphs like this. That indeed is the type 
of conquest which Russia once exercised over 
Poland. It ruled by the iron heel and by the use 
of all oppressive and repressive measures. It was 
an excessive victory ; but it was a tragic thing. 

Now, in the spiritual life there is a good type of 
victory marvellously akin to this. We discover 
some enemy in our life, and we make up our minds 
for a perfect conquest. But often we win only by 
this law of devastation. You find a striking parallel, 
say, in the case of a reformed drunkard. The man, 
perhaps, has awakened to his shame, and he resolves 
in Jesus to master his sin. He conquers the evil 
powers arrayed against him praise God ! but in 
countless cases he gains the day only by the doctrine 
of the " iron heel." He crushes and smothers every 
instinct or suggestion that would lead him into the 
zone of danger. He learns, as Russia learned, that 
his only safety lies in devastating a certain part 
of his life. He binds his unsleeping instincts in 
chains. He manfully cuts off the hand and plucks 
out the eye that have played the mischief with his 

5 2 


soul, and that might tempt him again to his undoing. 
A strong man, by Christ's aid, may well conquer 
in this clean-cut fashion conquer indeed with 
reserve power, conquer magnificently. But though 
it is magnificent, the man knows in his heart that 
it is literally conquest by devastation, by laying 
whole stretches of his nature under the iron heel. 
He is saved by his chains ! Thank God for the 
power in him to use these chains. 

This is noble and magnificent. Would to God 
that more of us could do it ! Such a man is indeed 
" more than a conqueror." But is it the best ? 
We should be fools to despise it or sneer at it. But 
is it the best ? 


The second type of " excessive victory " is a 
stage higher. For there is a method of triumph 
by which we may not only conquer our foes com- 
pletely as completely as the former but may also, 
by judicious treatment of them, turn them in time 
into our allies and helpers and friends. We may 
win them to our side and our heart. 

This type of magnificent victory is strikingly 
illustrated in the history of our own little island 
home. We know that the Normans conquered the 
Saxons and ruled them for some generations : but the 
rule was so kindly that for centuries the Norman and 
the Saxon have been inextricably welded together. 

E 53 


In an ideal sense this is a finer and higher type 
of victory. For it turns what might have been 
(and once was) its enemy into its friend. On the 
spiritual plane there is a glorious type of excessive 
victory peculiarly parallel to this. For it is possible, 
through Him that loved us, so to deal with the 
qualities, the native tendencies, the human aptitudes 
which originally proved our undoing, that they end 
by becoming our strength. 

Take the example of this very man Paul of whom 
we are speaking. We Joiow that in his unregenerate 
days it was his obstinacy and his hot-headed zeal 
which first led him into his passionate persecution 
of Jesus. But when he was won for God he became 
so much of a conqueror that he used and harnessed 
these dangerous gifts for the work of his greatest 
glory. He did not need to strangle the powers 
that had once led him astray ; but he used 
them and consecrated them in his excessive 

So, too, with a man like Peter. Any child knows 
that it was this disciple's blundering rashness and 
his mingled courage and fear that led him into his 
worst sins as a disciple. Another man might have 
argued, " I shall crush this unholy and impetuous 
boldness lest it lead me again into sin. I must cut 
this out, and must devastate this part of my nature. 
For in that lies my danger." But when he received 
the Holy Ghost, the glory of Peter lies in this he 
became so much of a conqueror that instead of 
needing to bridle his tongue and restrain his emotions, 



he used these, consecrated, for the glory of God. 
Truly an excessive victory. 

That is being " more than a conqueror " with a 
vengeance ! That is turning the enemy's guns on 
himself ! Conquest by devastation is great, some- 
times superb ; but surely it is a more triumphant 
thing not to crush and chain the qualities that have 
previously misled us, but to use them for our best 
good and service, and harness them for the ends of 
our soul. 

This is high ; but though high, we must admit 
that in Jesus our Lord it is possible. And not only 
possible ! For it has been done, magnificently done, 
by thousands who in Jesus have been " more than 

There is a striking parable of this in the Old 
Testament. Baasha built the fortress of Ramah 
over against Jerusalem to hold King Asa in check. 
The fortress dominated all Judah and threatened 
their peace. But King Asa, by an artifice, managed 
to draw Baasha into the north to meet another foe. 
The people of Judah, in the interval, went out and 
razed the fortress to the ground. But that was not 
enough ; for if they left the timbers and stones 
there, Baasha might have returned and rebuilt the 
place of danger. So we read that the men of Judah 
went out and carried the sticks and stones back to 
Jerusalem, and out of that material they built a 
new fortress of their own beside the city ! . . . That 
is the great secret. Use the powers that once hurt 
you, for your glory. That is excessive victory ! 



But there is a higher form of excessive victory 
even than that. It is so high that I only know of 
one person in all human history who ever fully 
attained it. Some men attain it partially, as it 
were, in certain departments of their life. But no 
one except Jesus has ever realised it in all things. 
Yet, in spite of this, if we are ever to strive to be 
like Jesus, it must be our ideal ! 

Let me state it. I know well that when I state 
it some of you may call it a paradox, a blunt con- 
tradiction in terms. It is this the highest type of 
conquest is seen only in him who can conquer 
without striking a blow, who can win his fight 
without fighting ! No doubt you ask if it is possible 
to speak of conquest where no battle has been 
fought. May I seek to show you that the only 
perfect conqueror is he who never needs to fight 
at all ? He alone is the supreme instance of one 
who is " more than a conqueror." 

The prowess of Napoleon was so great that on 
one occasion when he marched against an enemy 
all opposition faded before him like a mist before 
the sun; and he marched through the length of 
the land without striking a blow. That in itself 
was a far more signal triumph than if he had won 
a Marengo or an Austerlitz. His power was never 
so superb ; this was the biggest proof of his greatness. 

Now, through Him that loved us, there may be 
a similar state in the human soul If we have the 



strength of the Lord in us we may conquer so 
excessively that we too, in meeting the enemies of 
our soul, need never strike a blow. 

To show that this is no far-fetched dream, may 
I ask you to notice how this high ideal is possible 
for most men in certain special spheres ? As we 
know, there are some men so scrupulously honourable 
that the temptation to tell a lie is really no tempta- 
tion at all. If it comes, because of their native 
honour, the temptation makes no appeal and causes 
no anguish. They do not need to fight they 
conquer excessively. 

There are men and women too (many, no doubt, 
who hear me now) to whom the temptation to 
drink or to gluttonous excess makes no appeal. 
There is no inherited taint, no induced craving, no 
agonising struggle. They simply brush the sugges- 
tion aside as being either a vulgar or ignoble thing. 
They conquer with infinite resources in hand 
without needing to lift their finger in battle. For 
they live on a plane of soul (I do not mean a mere 
temperament, but a plane of soul) where the sugges- 
tion wields no power or seduction. 

In the same way, I can conceive of a man so 
honest that though he were left with piles of gold, 
knowing that none could either see him or call him 
to account, so honest that the temptation to steal 
would have no weight with him. Another man 
might play with the gold and dally with it, finger it 
and hunger for it ; and then, after a struggle, he 
might put it from him and resist the suggestion. 



A good victory, won through agony ! But this 
other man lives on such a plane of soul that the 
temptation of theft leaves him cold. He wins 
without a battle more than a conqueror. 

Now, if we take what we thus see effected in 
certain spheres and departments, and apply it all 
round not to this one thing or that one thing, 
not to this particular and to that particular, but 
to the whole sweep of human life we shall see 
something of the Christian ideal of excessive victory. 
This is a picture of the ideal man in Christ, the 
man who lives as fully as possible on the plane of 
mind and soul which was Christ's. If only we could 
make this dream ours ! If only we could attain to 
a type of victory like that ' more than conquerors." 


7s it only an ideal? Perhaps beyond any human 
attainment? If it were it would not be worth 
preaching, least of all to broken men and women 
such as you and I are. But at least we may say 
this that it is an ideal that may be more and more 
realised, bit by bit attained, by daily faithfulness 
and daily union with Jesus, until at the end " we 
all come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of 
the stature of the fulness of Christ." For the 
perfect way to conquer evil is to have the heart so 
set on good and so pledged to Christ that tempta- 
tions cease to have an insistent appeal. That is 
the highest type of excessive victory -winning 
without a battle. 

How shall it be done? . . Well, one might 



mention this or that, one might add counsel to 
counsel, but it all amounts to this. I prophesy 
this overwhelming victory, be the temptation what 
it may, for that man who is so close to Jesus that 
he can say with the Apostle, " I live, yet not I, 
but Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now 
live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of 
God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." 

And the perfect thing is to be able to add, like 
him. " I do not frustrate the grace of God." 


&EV. J. C. CARLILE, C.B.E., D.D. 

C.B.E., D.D. 

MINISTER of Folkestone Baptist Church. He was 
educated at the Royal Schools of Science and at 
the Metropolitan College. Whilst a Baptist 
Minister in London he became a leader in social 
reform, and was with Cardinal Manning in 
organising the Dock Strike Mediation Committee. 
He was a member of the London School Board, 
Secondary Education Committee, and President 
of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland. 
He has published the following : " History of 
the English Baptists," " Life of Dr. Maclaren," 
"Royal Lives," "Talks to Little Folks," 
" Christianity and Labour," "Vision and Voca- 
tion," "Colony of Heaven." 


" Fight the good fight of faith." i Timothy vi, 12 

ST. PAUL'S Christian experience was a long campaign, 
he was always at war with evil ; while he knew in 
his inner life the peace of God that passeth all 
understanding, he was ever busy pushing further out 
the frontiers of the Kingdom. His association with 
the army made him familiar with military thought 
and forms of expression. He often wrote in the lan- 
guage of a soldier. He described faith as a gift of 
God to be received with gratitude, as a work, an effort 
demanding energy ; here he presents faith as a fight. 
It is sometimes supposed that belief is the easiest 
thing in the world, it is conceived as mental haziness 
or laziness, shutting the eyes to the grim facts of 
life, following the line of least resistance, attempting 
to acquiesce in what one knows is not true. Yet 
religious faith is nothing of the kind. It is not a 
denial of reason, It goes all the way with reason, 
and then walks on ahead. It demands that a man 
should hold himself with a tight hand, taking the 
risks and responding to the obligations. Faith is 
usually a difficult habit of mind. Perhaps it was 
not intended that it should be a simple and easy 
matter. It is a challenge, a test. 



Faith is a fight against the seeming. Faith 
believes reverently and intelligently that a good 
God is governing the world, that His relation to 
His children is that of our Father in Heaven. We 
are familiar with the sweet winsomeness of the 
representations of the loving Father in the words 
of Jesus. God is very tender and pitiful. While 
he is the All- Wise, All-Powerful, He is the Father. 
His heart beats true to His little children. What- 
ever can be done to add value to life He is sure to 
do. He is not an arbitrary judge. He does the 
best for each and for all. There is no haphazard 
in His government, no gaps in His knowledge. We 
live in a world that is intelligent and purposeful 
because God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 
That is our faith. 

Let us look round upon the things we see. " It 
does not yet appear that all things are put under 
Him." It would seem that no wise government is 
directing the world's course, that everything depends 
on the luck of the game and the strength of the man 
of the hour. There is no department of life in which 
we are not called to walk by faith and not by sight. 
We are continually challenged to fight the good fight 
of faith against the things that seem to be. 

We are familiar with faith in Providence. It is 
very beautiful and comforting. It is definitely set 
out in the Scriptures. " The steps of the good man 
are ordered of the Lord." We recall the words of 



Jesus concerning the sparrow, God's odd bird, but 
not forgotten. We have lingered over reading the 
good news that " all things work together for good 
for them that love God." 
We have sung with the Quaker poet : 

" I know not where his islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air, 
I only know I cannot drift 
Beyond His love and care." 

That is our faith, but does it correspond with 
actual experience ? Is it what we see or simply a 
contrast born of the devout imagination ? It is 
not easy to maintain one's hold upon the belief 
that God is in His heaven and all is right with the 
world. Faith believes that to be absent from the 
body is to be present with the Lord, that " to live 
is Christ and to die is gain." We sing : 

" Here in the body pent, 
Absent from Thee I roam, 
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent, 
A day's march nearer home." 

As we stand by the open grave and hear the 
sublime words of comfort : "I am the resurrection 
and the life, saith the Lord. He that believeth on 
me though he were dead yet shall he live, and 
whosoever believeth on me shall never die." But 
our eyes are upon the grave and " we long for the 
touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice 



that is still." Faith is a great affirmation that the 
things that are seen are not the real, but that the 
things that are invisible are the actual. 


Faith is a fight against appetite. Faith says : 
Live for to-morrow. Go through the darkness of 
the night for the sake of the dawn. Climb the steep 
heights for the view that you have not yet seen, 
that shall be obtained from the top. Appetite says : 
Have all you can to-day ; there may be no to- 
morrow, and the hunger of nature should be satisfied 
here and now to the full. The animal in us, the 
survival of countless years, is ever ready to spring 
up and to snatch that which it desires. It follows 
the senses. Seeing is believing. It is under the 
tyranny of the optic nerve. Faith puts up a brave 
fight against the lower desires. It struggles to keep 
hold of the best. Christ's teaching is so good that 
it ought to be true, but it only becomes true for the 
individual through faith. 

Think of the fight against despair which many 
brave souls wage all their lives. There are crowds 
of disciples making a glorious defence against their 
weakness, struggling with the thorn in the flesh 
that never ceases to rankle and to smart. They are 
represented by R. L. Stevenson, with a hole in his 
lung and fever in every limb, gathering his friends 
and household in the morning before his death, 


in his far-away Samoan home, to pray : " The day 
returns and brings with it the petty round of irritating 
concerns. Help us to play the man. Help us to 
perform our duties with laughter and kind faces. 
Let cheerfulness abound with industry. Give us to 
go blithely on our business each day, and bring us 
to our resting-place weary but undishonoured, and 
grant us in the end the gift of sleep." 

It is no small achievement to maintain the spirit 
of gladness in the conflict. Most of us limp along 
the road with grim seriousness. Yet there is an 
element of j oyous romance in the conflict. Faith is a 
manly thing intended for the open air and the rough 
ways of life. Cromwell's Ironsides went into battle 
with a song. Lord Shaw of Dumfermline declared 
that the motto of his life was to turn every trouble 
into an adventure. Few can rise to that ideal. 
The strain of standing up to the desperate handicap 
has a weakening effect and can only be overcome by 
faith in God enabling us to realise that " underneath 
are the everlasting arms." The conflict is by no 
means hopeless. "Be of good courage, and He 
shall strengthen thine heart." 

The enemy is multiple and mighty. Ours is not 
a conflict with mere flesh and blood, but with the 
despotisms, the empires, the forces that control this 
dark world. It is the greatest blunder to under- 
estimate our foes. There is something in the air, 
however it may be described, that is poisonous to 
the ideal. For the majority it is impossible to live 
a clean straight life without sometimes having to 


fight hard. The saints of God did not discover that 
the narrow way was an easy road. All through the 
ages they have had to contend for the faith. Into 
the conflict they have put their whole strength that 
they might be victorious. Our Lord Jesus did not 
promise His disciples an armchair and a pair of 
slippers. They were to carry the cross, to say 
" No " to themselves. There is no victory without 
a struggle. 

One cannot convince another of spiritual things. 
Each must learn for himself. Men are not argued 
into the Kingdom of God. They are born again. 
Their eyes are opened. If we do not see the 
Kingdom, that is all there is to be said. But once 
its presence is realised and we catch a glimpse, 
though only a glimpse, no fight will be too costly 
to win through. It is worth more than we have 
ever known or dreamed. Its pains were more 
joyous than the pleasures of the world. " We 
reckon that our light affliction which is but for a 
moment is not worthy to be compared with the 
eternal weight of glory." 


Faith is a good fight. Our warfare is not with 
flesh and blood. There is no question about the 
difficulty of the task or the urgent necessity of 
undertaking it. There is a great door and effectual 
open to us, and there are many adversaries. Oppor- 


tunities may be measured by opposition. A thing 
worth doing is never easy. The fight of faith is a 
fight of which one need not be ashamed. It is a 
great thing to know that if we must fight, the cause 
is supremely worth while. You may look the world 
in the face without apology. The one thing for 
which a man may lay down his life rather than be 
defeated and have no regret is his faith. 

What is our attitude to this good fight ? Do we 
look on in a neutral mood. 

" What think ye of Christ, friend, when all is done 

and said, 

Like you this Christianity or not ? 
It may be false, but would you have it true ? 
Has it your vote to be so if it can ? " 

That is the crux of the whole thing. What is our 
relationship to the fight ? Are we in it ? Do we 
long for the victory ? If so, we shall not find it 
fail. It is not without a history. It may be 
traced through the ages from the days of Jesus 
until now. Men have sacrificed everything that 
they might engage in this warfare, and in their 
moments of agony and seeming defeat they have 
shouted victory. In the fight itself they have found 
inspiration and exhilaration. They have rejoiced 
in their sufferings and counted their scars as marks 
of distinction. No fight has been so glorious. 
Those who have looked on have spoken of sacrifice, 
but those in the turmoil of the conflict counted it 
an honour even to lay down life itself. 

? 6q 


There have been countless wars which cannot be 
defended. They were blunders when they were not 
crirnes. Their motive and method will not bear 
scrutiny. Ambition, lust of power, treachery, have 
been the poisoned springs. There are not many 
wars one would care to defend, but the age-long 
fight between good and evil, the fight of faith, is 
a great fight in which one may take part unashamed. 
It is good in itself. There is no apologia to be 
written. The cause needs no defence. It is right 
and just. A man ought to fight this fight, not for 
promise of reward or personal advantage, but 
because it is supremely worthy. 

There has been too much advocacy of virtue 
based upon reward. We are to do right because 
it is right, to speak the truth because it is the truth, 
to follow the beautiful for the sake of beauty. If 
Christ had nothing to give, it would be our duty 
and our delight to follow Him all the way. This 
conflict is intrinsically good for those who take part 
in it. It makes the soul greater. There is some 
subtle addition to the character that changes its 
quality and increases its stature. 

There are experiences through which it is im- 
possible to pass and remain the same. They change 
everything. Life becomes a different thing to those 
who have looked into the face of death. It is im- 
possible to go through the experiences of real war 
without losing something of the bloom of the soul. 
The glamour of battle has been made beautiful by 
novelists and idealised by poets. The glory of the 


trenches became a platitude except to the men 
who were there. To them it was mud and blood, a 
horrible business, an interregnum in life which 
ought never to have been. Somebody-'s crime or 
blunder, a devil's sport, but nothing which possessed 
redeeming power. War is not a short cut to a 
millennium, it does not regenerate character. It 
takes the sacredness from life and gives a recklessness 
and brutality all to be deplored. Not so the fight of 
which we speak. 

The fight of faith is the conquest of the lower 
nature, killing the animal in the soul. There can 
be no defeat to the man who follows the Christ. 
The New Testament is the literature of courage, 
the book of great victories, the record of the only 
religion in the world which gives assurance of 
victory. How wonderfully the disciples of Jesus 
grew under His influence; as they fought their 
fight the little commonplace men became great, 
They manifested qualities no one expected to find, 
developed capacities which more than surprised the 
world. It is ever so. The fight of faith greatens those 
who take part in it. It is the material out of which 
ideals are shaped. It lifts the soul to a higher plane. 
" This is the victory that overcometh the world, 
even our faith." The heart cannot be content with 
any working theory of life which belittles human 
nature and takes inspiration out of heroic effort. 

The dawn of the day of victory is not yet, though 
it may be nearer than we dream. The Kingdom 
must come. 



" These things shall be ; a loftier race 
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise, 
With flame of freedom in their souls, 
And light of knowledge in their eyes. 

" They shall be gentle, brave and strong, 
To spili no drop of blood, but dare 
All that may plant man's lordship firm 
On earth and fire, and sea and air." 

There need be no doubt as to the nature of the 
faith. It is reliance on Jesus Christ, accepting Him 
as God manifest in the flesh, the One " Who loved 
us and gave Himself for us." This is the witness 
of the great souls who trod the mystic way, " the 
friends and aiders of those who live in the Spirit." 
They speak in many languages, they are called by 
different names, but they are one in their testimony 
to the power of faith in the personal Christ. From 
St. Paul to Catherine Booth, all the radiant company 
confess that the strength by which they lived was 
not their own, but derived from God's dear Son. 
Their testimony should have value for our age. 
There will be no victory apart from living faith 
that unites the soul to Jesus Christ. Even religion 
becomes irreligious if it be separated from faith. 

It is glorious to realise that all we require for 
living the life that is life indeed is within our reach. 
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt 
be saved." All action involves faith. Belief is the 
connection between the dynamo and the lamp. 
The Arab proverb is true : " The strength of the 



heart is from the soundness of the faith." Professor 
James puts it in a sentence. " Believe that life is 
worth living, and your belief will half create the 
fact." Let us take heart of grace, trust Christ and 
fight the good fight of faith. 


INGE, D.D., C. F.O., F.B.A. 

DEAN of St. Paul's. Dean Inge is the eldest son 
of the late Rev. William Inge, D.D., Provost of 
Worcester College, Oxford, and of Mary, daughter 
of the Venerable Edward Churton, Archdeacon of 
Cleveland. Educated at Eton and passing on 
to King's College, Cambridge, he gained many 
distinctions, becoming Senior Chancellor's Medal- 
list in 1883 and Hare Prizeman in 1885. He was 
formerly Assistant Master at Eton, Fellow and 
Tutor of Hertford College, Oxford ; Lady 
Margaret Professor of Divinity and Hon. Fellow 
of Jesus College, Cambridge. He has been Select 
Preacher at both Oxford and Cambridge, and has 
been successively chosen as Bampton Lecturer; 
Paddock Lecturer, New York ; Gifford Lecturer, 
St. Andrews ; and Romanes and Hibbert 
Lecturer. Amongst his publications are : 
"Christian Mysticism," "The Philosophy of 
Plotinus," " Outspoken Essays," " The Idea of 
Progress," " The Victorian Age." 


D.D., C.V.O., F.B.A. 

" Take unto you the whole armour of God." 

Ephesians vi, 13. 

IT is difficult to realise that it is only six years 
to-day since the last shot was fired in the Great 
War. The long nightmare has become a " portion 
and parcel of the dreadful past." To many of us 
it remains chiefly as the sudden stroke which cut 
our lives into two parts, and the happier times 
before 1914 are already becoming misty and unreal. 
But we do remember the vicissitudes of the last 
months of the war the well-grounded fear that the 
blockade of our coasts might attain its terrible 
object the severe defeats in the spring, and then 
the check to the enemy's advance, which at first 
seemed only a slight recoil in the swaying line, 
such as we had often heard of before. Only by 
degrees towards the end of the summer, it dawned 
upon us that this was really the beginning of 
the end, that the hitherto invincible German 
army was at last crumbling. We could 
hardly believe it, till the defection of our 
chief enemy's allies showed that the mighty 
power which had defied the world was no longer 



able to punish desertion that it was broken and 

And what was in our minds, after we had offered 
our thanks to God for our deliverance ? Let me 
quote to you the words of President Wilson at the 
Royal Banquet on December 28th, 1918 : " We 
have used the great words right and justice, and 
now we are to prove whether or not we understand 
those words, and how they are to be applied to the 
settlement which must conclude this war. And 
we must not only understand them, but we must 
have the courage to act upon our understanding. 
Yet, after I have uttered the word courage, it 
comes into my mind that it would take more courage 
to resist the great moral tide now running in the 
world than to yield to it, to obey it. There is a 
great tide running in the hearts of men. The hearts 
of men have never beaten so singularly in unison 
before. Men have never before been so conscious 
of their brotherhood. Men have never before 
realised how little difference there was between 
right and justice in one latitude and in another, 
under one sovereign and under another; and it 
will be our high privilege, I believe, sir, not only to 
apply the moral judgments of the world to the particu- 
lar settlements which we shall attempt, but also to 
organise the moral force of the world to preserve 
those settlements, to steady the forces of mankind, 
and to make the right and the justice to which 
great nations like our own have devoted themselves 
the predominant and controlling force of the world." 



It sounds like bitter mockery to quote these 
words to-day. Yet they were not empty rhetoric. 
They were the sincere words of a Christian idealist, 
not well versed in the cynical politics of the Old 
World, but not, at that moment, out of touch with 
realities. For there was, in the months after the 
Armistice, a real vision of a possible better world. 
There was a deep repentance and shame, a resolve 
that the passions and ambitions which had brought 
Europe to ruin should not again sway the destinies 
of nations ; there was an hour of hope and a con- 
sciousness of brotherhood among the peoples who 
had so long been grappling in mortal strife. This 
revulsion against the ideas and ideals of militarism 
was very strong, not only among ourselves but in 
Germany, though our lying newspapers said nothing 
about it. 

But it all came to nothing. The Prince of this 
world would not let go his prey so easily. Europe 
was once again stretched upon the rack, and the 
screws were once again turned. The American 
idealist and man of letters was outwitted by a 
stronger man, whose ideals differed somewhat 
sharply from his own. " I conceive of life after the 
war," said M. Clemenceau, " as a continual conflict, 
whether it be war or peace. I believe it was 
Bernhardi who said that war is politics conducted 
by other weapons. We can invert this aphorism 
and say that peace is war conducted by other 



weapons." The chief difference would seem to be 
that in war one attacks one's enemies, in peace also 
one's allies. 

This, then, is the end of " the war to end war " 
a peace to end peace. Such is the world we have to 
live in. We are spared the bitterest of all discoveries 
that our brave men died in a bad cause. They 
died in a good cause. But the next bitterest dis- 
covery is ours that in so far as they were fighting 
to exorcise the spirit of Machiavelli and Bernhardi, 
they seem to have fought and died in vain. That 
accursed spirit is no monopoly of any one nation, 
still less of any form of government. Democracy 
and autocracy are tarred with the same brush. 

What is the cause of it all ? Countless books have 
been written lately about the psychology of war. 
The new sciences have been called in to help ; but 
it cannot be said that a satisfactory answer has 
been found. St. James, as we remember, has a 
very simple explanation : " From whence come 
wars and fighting among you ? Even of your lusts 
which war in your members." This was also the 
view of Ruskin. " The cause of war is simply that 
most men are thieves." But this is too simple. 
None of the nations went to war in 1914 because 
they were thieves. We, for example, went to war 
not because we had anything to gain, but chiefly 
because we had everything to lose, and feared 
isolation. Germany and Russia went to war mainly 
as an antidote to revolution at home. The causes 
of wars are very complex. Some of them we may 


hope to combat successfully ; others, it must be 
feared, lie very deep among the roots of human 


. I am not sure whether any valid analogy can be 
drawn between the life of the individual and the 
life of the race. If it can, I think that there is 
hope that war is a disease of our nonage, and may be 
outgrown. " Man was only born yesterday/ 1 says 
Maurice Maeterlinck, " and has scarcely yet even 
begun to disentangle himself from chaos." A 
French psychologist says that the human boy is 
most pugnacious between nine and twelve, and 
that perhaps the human race is just at that stage 
now. It is certainly true that the lowest savages 
are not very warlike, and that war, like cannibalism, 
begins with the higher savagery. Cannibalism we 
have already outgrown; war we may outgrow. 
It has also been pointed out that in the animal 
world organised war is known only among bees and 
ants, the creatures which have established an in- 
dustrial civilisation with stores of capital, and which 
suffer from over-population. Unfortunately these 
two species live under a highly developed state 
socialism, so that our radical reformers cannot get 
much comfort from their example. But, in fact, I 
distrust all these analogies. 

We can, however, protest, in the name of common 
sense as well as religion, against those who maintain 



that war is not an evil. There was far too much 
of this nonsense in the last century. In the humane 
eighteenth century representative men were, in 
theory at least, against war. But in the nineteenth 
" fervent Christians like De Maistre, philosophers 
like Hegel, advanced social reformers like Proudhon, 
emotional rhetoricians like Ruskin, though they 
might possibly allow that war itself was an evil, 
were equally with Moltke and the militarists, lost 
in admiration for its magnificent results " (Havelock 
Ellis). We are less surprised to find Moltke writing, 
ten years after the victory of 1870 : " Eternal peace 
is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream. War 
is a part of God's world order. In war are developed 
the noblest virtues of mankind : courage and 
sacrifice, fidelity and the willingness to sacrifice 
life itself. Without war the world would be swallowed 
up in materialism." It is hardly necessary to point 
out that Germany, which as a weak, divided and 
pacific nation had led the world in music, theology 
and idealistic philosophy, was never so " swallowed 
up in materialism " as after the successful wars 
through which this grim old soldier had guided her. 
It is no use to try to cast out devils by Beelzebub. 

I will give you only one more quotation, this time 
from M. Elie Faure, who has himself been a champion 
of war. " Man is above all an artist. He rejects 
only those forms of art which are exhausted. The 
desire of perpetual peace will not kill this form of 
art unless the conditions of peace involve a new 
method of warfare, with the same suclden 


collective intoxication, the same shining responsi- 
bilities, the same creative risks, the same atmosphere 
of voluntarily accepted tragedy." 

Do not these words explain why St. Paul was 
so fond of comparing the Christian life to a warfare, 
enumerating with loving care all the soldier's 
accoutrements for attack and defence, and finding 
their spiritual equivalents? Do they not explain 
why the Church has always cherished this ana- 
logy, so that even in the Baptismal service the 
infant promises through its sureties to be Christ's 
faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end ? 
Do they not explain the success of militant reli- 
gious leaders like Ignatius of Loyola and General 
Booth ? 

In the language of the new psychology, we want 
to sublimate our native pugnacity rather than to 
repress it. We want to find a moral equivalent for 
war, which will evoke the same noble instincts and 
emotions as warfare, without its ruinous results. 
And this moral equivalent is surely provided by 
enlisting under Christ's banner and fighting man- 
fully against sin, the world and the flesh. 


We must realise frankly that the powers of evil 
are much stronger than most of us suppose them 
to be. We must realise that civilisation, with all 
its intellectual and spiritual treasures, is in danger, 



and that the Church of Christ is on its trial. The 
call that has come to us is a call to arms, with the 
curse of Meroz upon those who will not come to 
the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against 
the mighty. The age of comfort and security, with 
its obvious advantages and its subtle dangers, is 
over. A new and obscure path lies before us. Like 
Joshua's warriors, we have not passed this way 
before. We know our enemies Machiavelli and 
his disciples abroad ; not nations, but ideas, are 
the foes of this country and at home all the dis- 
integrating tendencies which have been let loose 
by the war, faction and class animosity, self- 
indulgence and luxury in some quarters, above all, 
that dissolution of all moral authority which regards 
the stored wisdom of the race, the ripe experience 
of thousands of years, as a set of antiquated tabus. 
Our young people have eaten of the tree of know- 
ledge, and they have lost faith and reverence, 
Knowledge without faith automatically turns man 
out of Paradise. Temptation glides in like a serpent, 
whispering, " Thou shalt not surely die." The 
moral traditions, which gave us the best safeguard 
against sin- that of being shocked at it are being 
sedulously and insidiously undermined. " These 
having no law are a law to themselves," and the 
passions grant dispensations more easily than the 
most accommodating priest. 

" Therefore take unto you the whole armour of 
God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore.," 


It is a call to arms the same call, may we not say, 
that summoned the flower of our country to the 
battlefield nine years ago. They saved their country 
from a foreign enemy. We have to save it from 
itself. Let us remember their loyalty, their courage, 
their sacrifice, their death, and their victory, and, 
in a very different sense from that of the cynical 
Frenchman, let us carry on their warfare with other 
weapons in time of peace. If God be for us, who 
shall be against us ? Thanks be to God, Who giveth 
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. " To 
him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of 
life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." 



EDUCATED at Mansfield College, Oxford, he 
entered the Congregational Ministry and was 
called to Peterhead, Scotland, in 1906 ; Collins 
Street, Melbourne, Victoria, in 1910; Bowdon 
in 1914 ; and Pembroke Chapel, Liverpool, in 
1918. In 1919 he returned to Bowdon, and there 
remained until he was called as successor to Dr. 
Berry to Carrs Lane, Birmingham, in 1924. 



" Our Gospel came not unto you in word only 
but also in power." i Thes. i, 5. 

THERE is nothing more familiar to the Western 
World than Christianity, and yet nothing is more 
misunderstood. Ask the question " What is Christi- 
anity ? " even among professing Christians, and we 
find a diversity of answer from dogmatic certainty 
at the one extreme to vague generality at the other ; 
whilst among those who make no Christian pro- 
fession the variety of answer is as wide as human 
experience. Christianity for instance is often con- 
fused with an ethical code, generally negative, a 
series of " Thou shalt not's," or it is mistaken for a 
body of dogma : Mr. Bernard Shaw so mistakes it 
when he dubs it " Salvationists" Or again it may 
be identified with an economic system as when the 
Marxian or other social enthusiast claims it for 
Socialism. There is of course truth in all these 
points of view ; for Christianity does work out in 
ethics, in dogma, in economics, indeed in every de- 
partment of life. But always with these practical 
expressions of Christian Faith there goes something 
deeper, something more fundamental because more 
spiritual, and it is this spiritual element which gives 


to Christianity its distinctive quality, and which 
cannot be ignored in any proper answer to the 
question " What is Christianity ? " 

Let us then try to give an answer to this question 
which includes all that is true in the popular ex- 
pressions of Christianity and which yet adds that 
fundamental spiritual element which these popular 
expressions overlook. 

Obviously Jesus Christ is central to the religion 
which he founded, and our answer to the question 
" What is Christianity ? " must keep that fact ever 
in mind. Such answer for convenience can be 
stated under three heads. 

Christianity is belief about Christ. This is not 
the whole of Christianity, but we cannot have 
Christianity without it. Thus we may believe that 
Jesus Christ was Man or God, or both at once, 
" Very God and very Man," but if Christianity is 
to be more than a name or a label we must define 
the meaning of Christ for our own experience. 
What am I to do with Him, what is His relationship 
to me and mine to Him, what is the basis of His 
authority over my life and the life of the world ? 
The answer to these and all such questions means 
formulated beliefs about Christ. 

Think of the history of our Christian faith from 
this point of view. At the outset Jesus demanded 


belief about Himself. " Whom do men say that I 
am ? " He asked. " Whom do ye say that I am ? " 
That is to say He wanted His disciples to define their 
thoughts in regard to His Person as an essential 
part, of their Christian life. And so later it became 
necessary for the Church to justify its Christian 
faith in contact with pagan belief, the world's 
philosophy, and heresy within its own ranks : John's 
Gospel and parts of Paul's Epistles are fully under- 
stood only in this light. So there came into 
being a body of Christian doctrine, a system of 
Theology by which men's belief about Christ His 
relation to God, man, time, eternity were all duly 
formulated and then scheduled as articles of faith. 
In this way Christianity came to be identified with a 
specific creed. 

It is this identification which prejudices Christi- 
anity to the open mind, for Christianity as a system 
of belief about Christ seems to be something to be 
accepted, not questioned, something based on 
authority, not on experience. Therefore it is neces- 
sary to be clear on this point. I am not pleading 
for subscription to a written creed as a test either 
of Churchmanship or of Christian discipleship ; 
some Churches require this, others do not. All I 
plead is this, that while I ought to give heed to 
what men have believed about Christ in days past 
(since it registers the thought and experience of 
sincere Christians), yet if Christianity is to be real 
for me it must be my thought and my experience, 
not someone else's, which is the basis of my creed. 


It is in that sense that Christianity is inseparable 
from belief about Christ. 

Nevertheless we must beware of reducing Christi- 
anity to just what anyone chooses to think, or 
believe, or affirm, as Christian Truth. That is to 
say, Christianity on the intellectual side is not 
pure subjectivism. On the contrary, the strength 
of Christianity lies in the fact that at its centre is 
an objective Truth embodied in the Man Christ 
Jesus ; and so our business is not to hold any view 
we like and then give it a Christian label, but to 
explore the Truth in Jesus Christ and relate it to 
our own life. In this process I may, or may not, 
express my convictions in the time-honoured formulae 
of the Christian creeds. Some people find these 
adequate, others do not ; but however I express 
my beliefs about Christ, the important thing is 
that my confession of faith shall be based not 
merely on authority but also on experience. So 
then, while Christianity is belief about Christ, yet 
behind Christian belief there always lies the more 
vital fact of Christian experience. 


Christianity is living like Christ. It is easy to 
see that the reproduction of Christ's life in the 
world of to-day is the solution of all human problems, 
personal and social. It is the failure to live like 
Christ which is the root cause of all the world's 


maladies, while on the other hand, as someone has 
said, " If all men were like Christ, then earth were 
like Heaven/' But there precisely is our difficulty, 
for it is possible to know the true life and to see it 
in Jesus Christ and yet not to live it. We feel it 
to be beyond our human power. We must all agree 
with Paul's profound psychology in his Epistle to 
the Romans : " When I would do good, evil is 
present with me, for I delight in the Law of God in 
my inmost soul but I see another law in my members 
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin." 
Consequently Christianity, if it be construed as 
living like Christ, demands the impossible; in the 
strict sense it is impracticable. It is quite futile, 
for instance, to take a Gospel of " Self-help " to 
the man who is down-and-out, whether morally or 
physically ; to tell such a man to " live like Christ " 
is merely to make mockery of his impotence ; it is 
because he has failed so to live that he is where he 
is. And so in the wider context of the social order, 
in industry, or politics, or the ordinary intercourse 
of life. It is easy to prescribe an amelioration, if 
not a final solution, of our social problems ; but 
the individual meantime is helpless, involved in 
the " System," or so he seems. What is needed 
therefore is power to translate the ideal into life, 
some reinforcement of our personality whereby we 
can prove our Christianity by actually living like 
Christ and reacting to the world as He did. An 
ethical example like that of Jesus is an excellent 
tonic if we feel it to be within our power, but 



otherwise it merely induces despair and revolt. And 
so while Christianity includes " belief about Christ " 
and implies "living like Christ," yet something 
further is required if Christianity is to be within 
the realm of the immediately practicable. 


Christianity is contact with Christ. This is 
seen very clearly in the earthly life of Jesus. His 
first followers became attached disciples through 
the contagion of His presence, contact with His 
personality ; and then in yielding to that presence 
miracles were wrought, things which caused men to 
marvel and which still awake our wonder. Thus 
commonplace fishermen became Apostles, tax- 
gatherers were changed into honest citizens, sinners 
were transformed into saints, vice (as in the " Sick 
of the Palsy," a nervous wreck through self-abuse) 
yielded to virtue ; intellectual pride as in Nico- 
demus crept to the feet of Jesus in order to learn ; 
the doubt of Thomas became a magnificent dog- 
matism ; timidity was transmuted into courage, and 
even the intolerance of the Pharisee typified by 
Paul gave place to the Christian humility which 
could confess itself to be "less than the least of all 
the saints." But such miracles were not confined 
to individuals ; a common contact with Jesus 
Christ issued in the emergence of a new society 
which was known as the Church. That is to say, 



where the spirit of Jesus governed the relationships 
of men, diverse and even antagonistic personalities 
were welded into a fellowship. Such temperamental 
opposites as Peter and John sat down at the same 
table; Matthew, in the service of the Roman 
State and Simon the Zealot, fierce patriot and 
anti-Roman, were fellow-disciples of the same 
Master ; and so it came to be that while world 
empires fell, yet contact with the life of Christ 
enabled the Church to survive as an instance, how- 
ever imperfect, of what a Christian social order 
ought to be. 

All this was accomplished and the humanly im- 
possible was made possible through contact with 
Jesus Christ. Something was communicated by 
His personality which turned weakness into strength. 
But the possibility of such miracles did not pass 
with the passing of Jesus. We too can start where 
the first disciples began with a consideration of 
Christ's person, a study of the Gospel portrait ; 
and to do so is to meet an intellectual challenge and 
to begin to formulate " belief about Christ." Then 
as a fact of spiritual biography some such process 
follows as this as we face the historic fact of Christ 
there presses upon us a sense of obligation ; we 
feel that we ought to " live like Christ " ; we try 
to do so and we fail ; and then from this endeavour 
and this failure there comes the greatest discovery 
of all, for Christ becomes to us the standard of our 
idea of God. That is to say, we cannot think of 
God except in terms of His character ; the conviction 



smites home that God is what Jesus was. The 
Love on the Cross therefore was not merely a 
historic fact but a spiritual fact, and the living 
presence which we find in nature and in the human 
heart has a definite character which is the character 
of Jesus Christ. Consequently to turn to God 
through Christ in worship and in prayer, to give 
our soul's response to the moral beauty and grandeur 
of Christ's life, is perforce to establish contact with 
the living power of God Himself. 

It is this Divine Power which is the characteristic 
gift of Christianity. If we need proof of this, we 
can turn to the Christian experience of the centuries 
or of to-day. The missionary effort of the Church 
is our most dramatic witness in these days as it 
was hi the day when Paul bore witness that his 
Gospel came to the Thessalonians " not in word 
only but also in power " ; for by this power souls 
are still transformed, the bonds of sin in human 
life are broken ; fear, anxiety, suffering are burdens 
endurable ; whilst prosperity and earthly happiness 
are sanctified. But this Divine Power within the 
soul reaches beyond the individual and makes for 
the redemption of society ; for it is the impulse 
behind all enduring human fellowship. That is to 
say, only when men are at one with God are they 
truly at one each with the other ; and so in this 
Christian contact with the Unseen is the means, 
and the only means, whereby the problems of the 
social order can finally be solved and earth endowed 
with the likeness of Heaven. 


We may explain this Christian experience as we 
will ; that indeed is the province of Theology ; 
but the experience remains as a testimony to the 
fact that Christianity is not merely "belief about 
Christ," or even " living like Christ " ; it is first 
of all contact with God through Christ and then 
both life and belief in the light and the power of 
that experience. 

It is this personal relationship to Jesus Christ 
which is the essential fact in Christianity. All other 
religions are separable from their founders; they 
are " Book Religions," or they turn upon the 
observance of a prescribed ritual or the performance 
of certain duties. But divorce Christianity from 
the person of its founder and at once you destroy 
its genius ; for Christianity is not only a message 
of Divine Truth, it is a gospel of Divine Power, and 
that Power is mediated to men through the Person 
of Jesus Christ. 




AFTER spending his early years in London 
commercial life, he was ordained as Minister of 
the Baptist Chapel, Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, 
in 1894. Nine years later he removed to Bethesda 
Baptist Chapel, Ipswich, from which he was 
called in 1919 to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, 
the pulpit made famous by the Rev. Charles H. 



" For this God is our God for ever and ever : 
He will be our Guide even unto death.'' 

Psalm xlviii, 14. 

" HAVING no hope, and without God in the world," 
is the solemn description given by the Holy Spirit, 
through the apostolic writings, of an unregenerated 
soul. The outstanding characteristic of the religion 
of the Lord Jesus Christ in its experimental aspect 
is that of living faith. Faith is marked by distinctive 
acts. It always returns to the source whence it 
came ; faith from God goes to God. It is a sub- 
jective grace, for it dwells within the spirit of a 
man ; but its objective is the eternal God Who is 
the refuge and strength of every possessor of that 
faith. So the Psalmist here declares that the God 
of Whom he has been speaking, who is the only true 
God, is his God, and that for ever and ever, and 
will also be his Guide even unto death. Now in 
looking into this message this morning we shall 
notice the text, in the first place, as being faith's 
manifesto. Faith makes her declaration, taking her 
stand, making a great affirmation. "This God is 
our God for ever and ever : He will be our Guide 
even unto death." 

H 101 


Faith's Manifesto. Now in this manifesto you 
have an avowal of faith's choice of God and her alle- 
giance to Him. This grace of faith distinguishes the 
will of God from all other volitional acts. It says, 
" Other lords besides thee have had dominion over 
us, but of Thee and Thee only will we make mention." 
Faith makes her choice on the ground of revelation. 
God is revealed ; He is known only by revelation : 
" Can any by searching find out God ? " No, God 
is not found by merely searching ; God is a self- 
revealer and He has revealed Himself. The Bible 
is the revelation of God, and faith^ accepts the God 
of revelation. She takes her stand upon the word 
of the living God, and accepts what that word says 
about God Himself. Taking her stand on the 
vantage-ground of infallible truth, she makes choice 
of the God of heaven and earth as He is declared 
therein. What a choice it is ! The attributes and 
perfections that make up the Eternal Godhead are 
almost beyond our comprehension. Yet faith 
sufficiently apprehends to act decisively thereupon 
and thus derives comfort and consolation and 
strength. What shall we say of the eternity, of the 
omnipresence, the omniscience, the abounding faith- 
fulness of Jehovah ? These attributes and per- 
fections become the sheet anchor of living faith. 
Faith makes choice of Him as the abiding One, as 
the One Who remains when everything else passes 
away. Faith finds its bedrock in the very Being 


of God and to her He becomes increasingly real and 
even nearer than hands or feet and she oft-times sings : 

" When I can say that God is mine, 
When I can feel His glory shine, 
I tread the world beneath my feet 
And all that earth calls good or great." 

Shallow happiness and little joy is the outcome of 
a very meagre conception of God. The God of 
revelation, the God of the Bible, is the Almighty 
Being. The One Who makes the heavens His 
throne, and the earth His footstool. Surrounded 
by the squadrons of angelic spirits, the uplift of 
His ringer, and the nod of His head is the Divine 
behest for any one of them. With heaven and earth 
at His command, He marshals the stars, and gives 
them all their names. He takes the events and 
circumstances of life, and rules and governs and 
controls, and none can stay His hand. And faith 
unhesitatingly makes choice of Him, and says, 
" This God is our God for ever and ever." 

But then the God of revelation is the God. Who is 
declared in Christ, the Mediator. There is a beautiful 
story told of a Christian sister who went into a new 
district, and one of the first cases she visited was 
a poor dying fallen woman in an alley of the city. 
Being somewhat nervous in her new sphere, and 
also fearful of the circumstances in which she found 
herself, she began to talk to this poor woman of 
the greatness of God. And the woman opened her 
dying eyes and said, " I don't know Him. I don't 



want to know Him." The sister felt confused at 
first, and she silently offered a prayer to God that, 
by His Spirit, she might be helped ; and she began 
to talk to the woman about the Savicur. And she 
looked at the sister and said, " But is Jesus God ? " 
" Oh, yes," replied the sister, " Jesus Christ is 
God." " Oh, I can trust Him," said the woman. 
That poor woman realised God as her Saviour in 
Christ Jesus, and ere she passed away, sinful woman 
though she was, she found salvation through Jesus 
Christ. My dear men and women, the God of the 
Bible of whom faith makes choice is the God that 
is revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who is the image of the invisible God, the effulgence 
of His glory, Who is the express image of His 
Person. " For the Word was with God, and the 
Word was God," Beneath the shadow of the Cross, 
and looking through the mediatorial achievements 
of Jesus Christ, faith lifts up her heart unto the 
living God, and says, "Through Jesus Christ this 
God is my God for ever and ever." God in Christ 
reveals His heart. God in Christ shows me the 
unfathomable depths of His love. God in Christ 
is a God of grace, but equally that of righteousness 
and truth. At Calvary I see all the attributes of 
God manifested and magnified and in perfect 
harmony in the glorious accomplishment of the 
dear Redeemer. 

Yes, but the Holy Spirit, too, is the witness of 
God; and the Holy Spirit, co-equal with the 
Father and with the Son, bears witness not only 


to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but 
to the Personality of God. Faith makes choice and 
accepts that invisible wonderful Third Person in the 
Trinity, Who is not far from any one of us. Faith 
receives Him ; and by the witness, the indwelling 
witness, the silent touch, the mystic touch of the 
Spirit of God upon my spirit, faith says, " This God 
is my God for ever and ever : He will be my Guide 
even unto death." 

This unequivocal choice and avowal of living 
faith links us up with all those who have made God 
their personal possession. What a delightful ex- 
pression is that, " My father's God." Perhaps some 
young person here can say, " My mother's God," and 
faith is helped to make its choice by the demon- 
strated relationship of the souls of men and women 
around us to their living Lord. My mother never 
preached to me in words, but her life spoke volumes. 
She witnessed for God ; and when by the witness 
of the Holy Spirit in my own heart I could and did 
make choice of the Saviour I felt it to be a great 
joy that I was in living fellowship with the God of 
my mother. And this is what it does always. We 
think of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. 
We think of the God of men and women who have 
been used through the centuries. And as we look 
over the range of past generations, and see the 
" Sacramental host of God's elect " as they have 
marched on year after year, we say, " This God is 
our God for ever and for ever." 




Then you have in this manifesto not only the 
choice of faith, but you have a very definite appropri- 
ation of God. Faith identifies itself with God, takes 
its stand in with Him and by Him, walks and talks 
and lives in fellowship with God. It is not simply 
pointing to Him and saying " yes, that is God/' but 
faith having distinguished Him from all others, 
says "He is my God." And the man possessing 
this faith links himself and identifies himself with 
God in all His redeeming purposes, in all the great 
principles enunciated in His word, in all that pertains 
to His being, and His work and His outgoings in 
the world, whether in nature or in grace. You 
cannot claim God as yours, and stand isolated from 
Him. It demands a living identification with God. 
If you appropriate God, then you must be godly, 
and godliness must be the characteristic of your 
life. And if people will not read the Bible, they 
must see the Bible translated in your life. And if 
they will not believe the testimony that is written, 
they must be helped to make choice of God by the 
witness of God through the lives of His people. 
And so the Psalmist says, "He is our God." And 
when faith appropriates Him like this, she is in 
line with the procedure of Divine grace. God, by 
an eternal covenant, has bequeathed Himself to us. 
" I will be your God, and ye shall be my people." 
In that covenant that is ordered in all things and 
sure, God has given Himself to us, the free gift of 


sovereign grace, and faith definitely accepts 

There came a time in my life which I had not 
planned or scheduled, and I do not know that 
anyone planned it for me, except that others prayed 
that it might come about, and when that something 
came, so wonderful, as to change the whole of my 
outlook on life, I went to God, and I said, 

" Nothing but sin I Thee can give, 
Nothing but grace shall I receive." 

" Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is 
none upon earth that I desire besides Thee." When 
faith is thus awakened none but God can satisfy. 
It is not enough to know that others have claimed 
Him ; I must have Him for myself as though there 
were none other to have any share in Him. I must 
have the whole of what He is, and what He has 
revealed. It must be God and my soul. The 
writer here says, " He shall be mine." Whatever 
others do with Him ; whatever others say about 
Him. They may go their way, but I am going 
mine. My way is God's way, and God is my portion 
in the land of the living for ever. 

And, of course, when you make choice of God, 
and when you appropriate Him, you take your 
stand by Calvary, you nail your colours to the mast 
of Calvary, and you stand on redemption ground. 
You rest beneath the shelter and the shadow of the 
victory of the Cross. And not only so, when you 
take God by faith you take the victory of Calvary 



and find it workable in your life. When you are 
in living identification with God you may stand in 
with all the achievements of our Lord Jesus Christ ; 
for He was victorious over sin, and death, and hell, 
and the grave. The Church of Christ needs this 
note to-day. She has worn her mourning habiliment 
long enough. She has indulged in croaking and 
crying quite long enough. Oh, for the tune to 
come when every believer in Christ Jesus will take 
his and her stand beside the victorious Lord and 
never dream of defeat. God, Who never halts, 
Who marches on in onward progress, unto eternal 
victory, but always by way of the Cross and the 
substitutionary sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and by way of the empty tomb, and the 
enthroned Redeemer; this is the God we adore, 
and we must take our stand with the Psalmist and 
say with him, He is my God. 

Do you notice in this manifesto that faith declares 
also a surrender to Divine guidance ? "He shall be 
my Guide even unto death." " I do not ask to see 
the distant scene, one step is enough for me." God 
has declared that He will guide me, so I fling off the 
reins now, and trust Him for guidance and for 
direction. There is a story told of a renowned 
preacher that he was on his way to fulfil an engage- 
ment in the country. Someone met him at the 
station, and he took his seat in the trap provided 
for him; and a friend was driving. The horse 
seemed rather frisky, and when they came to 
difficult parts of the road the great preacher put 


his hand out to steady the driver's arm. And 
presently the driver said, " Who is going to drive, 
yon or me ? " The great preacher felt rather 
ashamed, and sat quiet for the rest of the journey. 
But as he said afterwards, it taught him a lesson, 
that if God was to guide the life He must do it all, 
or not at all. And as faith makes choice of God, 
and appropriates Him, it says, " Thou shalt be my 
guide even unto death, I yield myself to Thee." 
That means acceptance of the will of God. And 
believe me when I say there is nothing else in this 
world that counts but the will of God. Anything 
that you do or I do, if it is not within the compass of 
the will of God, it does not count with God. The 
only thing that is worth doing in the world is the 
will of God. And the writer says here, " Thou shalt 
be my guide even unto death." 

This also means and involves prayerful watch- 
fulness. We say to one another, " you want to 
make up your mind about this." Yes, but the 
mind must be stayed upon God. You are going to 
make a choice of a business, or you are retiring from 
active life, so are thinking about a nice little green 
spot down in the country. The first thing for us to 
consider is what the will of God is about the matter. 
If God is going to guide you there must be watchful 
prayerfulness for His leading and direction ; and 
your mind must be in harmony with His, and His 
will is revealed in the Bible ; and the Bible should 
become the man of our counsel, the director of our 
ways, the inspiration of our thoughts. Have you 



sought for the guidance of God about next Wednes- 
day ?* That is a primary question for every man 
and woman who fears God. What does God want 
me to do ? What is God's will for this country ? 
What is God's mandate for this favoured isle of 
ours ? May He guide and direct. Oh, yes, it finds 
its outworking all the way along. You see, if I 
am going to submit to the guidance of the Lord, 
then I must know what submission to the silent 
tuition of the Holy Spirit means ; that inward 
witness of the Spirit of God when I am in the secret 
place talking to Him ; it means also the resignment 
of my life right unto death. You need not worry 
as to when you are going to die, or even how you 
are going to die. We may not die at all if the Lord 
comes back soon. But if He delays His coming we 
shall die, but until death it must be God and I, 
never alone, no, never alone, just following where 
He leads, and in death there will be no parting, but 
it may be said, " And they two went on together," 
and " I would rather walk in the dark with God 
than go alone in the light." 


I must hasten to notice now, in conclusion, that 
such a manifesto as this demands demonstration in 
life. If God is my God, and if He is going to be my 
Guide even unto death, then there must be con- 

* The day of political election. 


sistency of life and walk and especially in spiritual 
matters. I must walk with God in the deeper 
movements of my soul. I must know what it is 
to have God brought into all the deep conflict of 
thought and mind in relation to spiritual things. 
There must be a daily vital practical fellowship 
with God. I must stake my all upon God if He is 
my God. But such a manifesto as this must also 
be a directing factor in all the ordinary transactions 
of life. In the home and the home is a very sacred 
place, and there are many transactions there that 
can only be determined really by such a manifesto 
as this. Whatever comes within that sacred circle 
of the home must be decided by the will of God so 
far as we know and understand it. God must be 
consulted on the hearth about everything. The 
family altar must not be neglected. This Bible 
must not be put on a shelf to be looked at and 
dusted in the ordinary routine. God must be con- 
sulted about myself, my wife, my children, my 
circumstances. - Oh, do not be hypocrites and quote 
a text like this, and put out your manifesto, " This 
God is our God for ever and ever : He will be our 
guide even unto death," and then crowd Him out 
of the home circle. He must be there. In St. Paul's 
Churchyard some years ago, in one of the big business 
houses and at the back of that big business house, 
where between three and four hundred people were 
employed, there was an office, and at a certain hour 
in the morning there was a sign put up on the door 
of that office, and no one entered that room then 



because they knew that the three partners in that 
office were engaged in prayer to God. The Bible 
was in that office. The fear of God was there. In 
that business house in St. Paul's Churchyard a 
manifesto like this was proved to be of working 
value. And, my hearers, if it is not of working 
value then, for God's sake and your own give it up. 
And if it will not work in the board-room, in the 
office, in the committees, in the shrine of commercial 
enterprise, then it is useless to us. This God is our 
God for business and for the home, and in all national 
affairs also. The Lord is absolutely trustworthy. 

What more can I say ? Such a manifesto as this 
should keep us calm amidst life's troubles and cares. 
But what have I to fear ? " With Christ in the 
vessel I smile at the storm." The thought that God 
will see us through should keep us calm. I am a 
poor sailor, and one day when I was especially ill, 
I looked up and saw the captain pacing backwards 
and forwards on the bridge of the steamer with all 
the composure imaginable. I thought to myself, 
yes, God is on the bridge all the time. God has the 
reins of the Government. He has " His way in the 
whirlwind and in the storm." " Yea, though I 
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 
will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." " This God 
is our God for ever and ever : He will be our guide 
even unto death." Is this God your God, my 
hearer ? May the Holy Spirit help you now to make 
choice of Him and appropriate' Him as your own 
Saviour and Lord. 



HE was bora in Glasgow, where his father was 
Principal of the Stow Training College. After 
his ministry in Thurso and Dundee he was called 
to Wellington Church, Glasgow. Among his 
publications are : " The Afterglow of God," 
" Flood-Tide," " The Footsteps of the Flock," 
"The Significance of the Cross," "Sun-Rise," 
"The Unlighted Lustre," "The Wings of the 
Morning." He has edited Thomas Boston's 
"Diary," and Hugh Macdonald's "Rambles 
round Glasgow," and is a constant contributor 
to the religious press. 



" Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right ? " 

Luke xii, 57. 

I WONDER what is the import of these words, and 
what our Saviour actually meant by them. I 
wonder, when He uttered them that day, what 
thought was moving in His mind. One difference 
between our Lord and us is this, that everything 
He said had a meaning. He never spoke just for 
the sake of speaking. And to read His words, 
however difficult, in the quiet assurance that they 
mean intensely, is one of the first requirements of 
discipleship. Often the spiritual meaning of His 
words is the one thing that seems to escape the 
commentator. You may dissect the rose, and 
prepare it for the microscope, but the beauty of it 
is gone when you do that. And the words of the 
Saviour are like roses, living, and because living 
beautiful, with an immediate appeal to heart and 
life. What, then, did the Master mean when he 
said, " Why do ye not judge things for yourselves ? " 
And remember He is speaking to you and me as 
truly as to His audience in Galilee. 
Now the way to approach the words is this. It 


is to take the verses immediately preceding. Our 
verse is not an isolated utterance ; it springs from 
what immediately precedes. There our Lord is 
talking of the weather what an extraordinary 
range of things He talked about. He is talking of 
how rustic people can tell you what the weather 
is going to be. And the point and pith is that 
this is a knowledge of their mother-wit, gathered 
in, and garnered, from experience. They did not 
go to school to get that learning. They certainly 
did not gather it from books. It was not by sitting 
at any teacher's feet that they laboriously acquired 
that weather-lore. They used their eyes. They 
looked. They summarised and crystallised ex- 
perience until they knew that to-morrow morning 
would be rainy and to-morrow evening sultry with 
the heat. This means that so far as weather was 
concerned they judged of their own selves. They 
based then: judgment on their own experience ; on 
what they had seen happening every day. Of the 
science of the weather they knew nothing. Of 
meteorology they were ignorant. Experience gave 
them the data that they needed. 

And then our Lord says, " Children, I am going 
to talk to you of something more important than 
the weather " for after all, in Galilee and Glasgow, 
there are things more important than the weather 
" and I want you to feel that in these higher 
things it is exactly as it is with weather-lore. I 
want you to judge of your own selves. Here am 
I, a Teacher sent from God, but some of you are 


dubious of My teaching ; some of you question 
the words that I have spoken, and are doubtful of 
My predictions of the future ; then use your eyes 
watch look around you judge things from your 
own experience, and you will find My every utter- 
ance corroborated." The Lord is so certain that 
everything He says is in deepest harmony with 
life, with its hopes and its illimitable yearnings, 
that He is willing to stake Himself, and all His 
doctrine, on the verdict of the open eye that goes 
through life judging for itself. Reject Him if you 
will. You cannot reject life. Some scale of values 
you must have. You are at liberty to choose your 
own. And the Lord is so perfectly and so sublimely 
certain that experience will justify His claims, that 
He is willing to stake everything on that. " Judge 
even of yourselves that which is right. Leave Me 
out of account if you desire to. Open your eyes. 
Value your own life. Watch others. Study the 
big world." There is nothing more wonderful in 
Jesus than the perfect confidence with which He 
knows that independent judgment such as that, 
leads to His blessed feet. 


Suppose now we analyse that thought a little, 
setting it in different lights. Think, for instance, 
of the selfish life. In the teaching of our blessed 
Lord selfishness is unsparingly condemned. He 
that liveth to himself is dead. He that saveth 

I 117 


his life shall lose it. In varying phrase, by metaphor 
and parable, with an urgency that never lessens, 
our Lord warns His hearers against selfishness. 
Not only were His words a warning. His life was 
a stronger warning than His words that life so 
rich in sacrifice, so full of the self-forgetfulness of 
love, so continually absorbed in others' needs and 
in the lowly service of the poor, that self passed in 
music out of sight. Accept Christ and that is plain. 
It is written so that he who runs may read. Christ 
stands for self-forgetful service. Christ and the 
selfish life are opposites. And down the ages, with 
whatever failure, that has been recognised by all 
His followers, and has directed the endeavours of 
their days. 

But now suppose you have a man who refuses to 
accept that judgment, who disowns and dis- 
regards it, who resists the challenge of such words 
what then, is that an end of things ? It is then the 
Lord comes and says, " Friend, why do you not 
judge of your own self ? You doubt my words ? 
So be it. Nobody forces you to credit them. If 
ye will not come to me that ye might have life, no 
sovereign power is going to make you come. One 
thing only/' says the Lord, " I beg of you, before 
you cast my claims into oblivion that you would 
judge things of your own selves. Never mind My 
words for the moment. Use your own experience 
of life. Look at the men and women whom you 
know. Judge by what you have actually seen. 
And tell me, apart altogether from anything I 


have ever said, what kind of people are the selfish 
people ? Are they happy ? Are they blessed ? 
Are they loved ? Is life a big radiant thing for 
them ? Do they look as if they knew the secret ? 
Will anybody miss them when they die ? Are not 
they always poor though they be wealthy, narrow 
though their dwelling be a palace, restless though 
they have the world to roam in ? " If only we 
would judge of our own selves if only we would 
take the facts of life if only with undistorted 
vision we would accept the verdict of experience, 
we should find that every word the Master utters is 
rooted in the reality of things, and corroborated in 
the experience of men. " You hypocrites," He 
says, " you can discern the heavens you can tell 
when it is going to rain ! Cannot you tell, by the 
same observation, when life is going to be a tragedy ? 
Judge of your own selves. Take life as you see it 
and decide. And the decision will bring you to My 
feet." I know nothing more like our blessed Lord 
than that perfect confidence in His own values. 
He does not want you to shut your eyes. He wants 
you to judge of your own self. He leaves it there, 
supremely tranquil. Every fact of life is in His 
favour. Facts are the highway to His feet. 


Again, think of some prevailing habit; for in- 
stance, think of gambling. You hear men discussing 



and disputing whether or not gambling be a sin. 
It is very notable how in all these moral questions 
Jesus is in the midst in the midst, right on to this 
hour, the insistent and inevitable Christ. And so 
men argue and discuss, always with Jesus in the 
midst, whether or not gambling be a sin. That is 
to say they want Him to judge, as the man did 
with the inheritance. They want to hear Him say 
" Yes, it is a sin," or " No, it is not a sin." My 
dear hearer, what the Master does, in a hundred 
cases such as that, is to cast the burden of judging 
upon you. " Judge," He says, " of your own 
selves. Do not hide facts by asking me to arbitrate. 
Use your eyes. Read your daily newspaper. Find 
out what is happening in Glasgow." So certain is 
He that if a man does that, instead of debating 
about abstract sinfulness, he will be led to the mind 
and will of heaven. Use your eyes as the humble 
rustics do when they look abroad to see if rain is 
coming. They do not need anyone to force con- 
clusions on them. No more do you with gambling. 
Use your eyes, see what is going on, cease dis- 
cussions about sinfulness, and wisdom will lift 
her voice up in the gates. See the misery that 
gambling causes ; see the kind of temper it creates ; 
see how it saps the moral fibre ; see how it takes the 
edge off honest toil that is what Jesus means, in 
regard to this, and to a hundred questions, when 
He says, " that men would judge of their own 
selves." The looseness of the moral law to-day, 
the laxness in the most sacred ties, the disregard of 



Sabbath rest, the passionate questing to be rich 
" Master, how dost Thou judge all that ? " and 
then the Master {urns to us and says " Why do ye 
not judge of your own selves ? " Is it succeeding ? 
Are men happier ? Is life a bigger thing and the 
world better ? Use your eyes just as the rustics 
do when they warn you that the rain is coming. 
And the Lord is so supremely confident that the 
verdict of fact is on His side, that He just leaves it 
there the rest is silence. 


Again, take the state of the world to-day, and 
think of some of the words of Jesus. Are not they 
perfectly familiar to us all ? " Seek ye first the 
kingdom and its righteousness and all else shall 
be added unto you." " Blessed are the meek, for 
they shall inherit the earth." " Love your enemies." 
" Turn the other cheek." And men say " Quite 
so ; very beautiful dreaming ; the idealism of the 
rainbow ; but in a world like this it would never 
work at all." Well, if men know what would not 
work, the presumption is they know what would 
work, and knowing it have tried it, and the result 
of the trial is our world. And it is then the Lord 
comes, discountenanced, flaunted as a dreamer, and 
says, " Children, won't you judge things for your- 
selves ? " What of your slums what of your 
strikes what of your glaring and hideous 



inequalities, where beggary and luxury rub shoulders, 
and all under the sound of the church bells ; what 
of your multitudes ripe for revolution, your 
countries desolate and drenched with blood, and 
nobody one whit the better of it all? Use your 
eyes. Trust experience. Judge of your own selves. 
Has the wisdom of the world succeeded ? Has it 
given the crowd a glimpse of paradise ? The moment 
that the facts are faced, and that is the only thing 
the Lord demands here, the world is ready for His 
coming. His hopes are the only hopes for men. 
His programme the most practical of politics. His 
spirit the only spirit that can make the world 
beautiful for everybody. If men would only judge 
of their own selves, there would go a cry from the 
river to the sea, " Lord save us, or we perish." 



LORD Bishop OF 

(The Rt. Rev. Ernest William Barnes, Sc.D., 

DR. BARNES was educated at King Edward's 
School, Birmingham, and entered Trinity College, 
Cambridge, as a scholar. He was bracketed 
and Wrangler ; and in 1897 he became President 
of the Union, and a Fellow of Trinity College in 
1898. He was ordained in 1902, and later became 
Examining Chaplain to Bishop of Llandaff, 
Master of the Temple, Fellow of King's College, 
London, and was Select Preacher at both Oxford 
and Cambridge. In 1918 he was made Canon of 
Westminster, and in 1924 was appointed Bishop 
of Birmingham. He is the author of various 
Memoirs and Papers on Gamma Functions, 
Integral Functions, and Linear Difference 
Equations, in the Transactions of the Royal 
Society, the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 
the London Mathematical Society and elsewhere ; 
he. has also given many contributions to Theology. 



Peter said to Jesus : " Master, what about this 
man ?" " If it be my will that he should wait till I 
come," answered Jesus, " what has that to do with 
you? Follow me yourself ." John xxi, 21, 22. 

IT is now generally agreed that the last chapter of 
St. John's Gospel, from which these verses come, is 
not a part of the original book but, as it were, an 
appendix to it. The Gospel proper ends with the 
20th chapter. Its natural conclusion is the sentence : 
" These things have been recorded that you may 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God 
and that, through belief in His Name, you may 
have life." Such words give briefly and clearly the 
main" purpose of the Evangelist. He sought to 
proclaim that life in all possible richness on earth, 
leading to life eternal in the Kingdom of Heaven, 
is God's gift to men through Jesus Christ. The 
Gospel, as we know, was written many years after 
the death of Jesus, at a time, indeed, when the 
oldest of those who had known the Master in the 
flesh were passing away. Many Christians were 
troubled by the situation ; their dearest hope was 
fading. There had been a persistent belief among 
the Lord's followers that He would return in the 



lifetime of some 'of those who had seen Him on earth. 
In particular it was thought that Jesus had promised 
the beloved disciple that he, at any rate, should 
tarry till the Lord's coming. The belief proved vain. 
Dismay was widespread. But among the group of 
Christian saints and seers who lived at Ephesus 
there was true insight. One of them, probably 
blending allegory with tradition, found a message 
for his age and was led to add to the fourth Gospel 
a story of the appearance of Jesus in Galilee to 
some of His disciples. They were fishing, these 
disciples who were soon to be fishers of men. When 
they threw in the net, as Jesus commanded, they 
obtained a great haul of a hundred and fifty-three 
fishes. Why this detail ? we ask. Because, so 
some scholars assert, a hundred and fifty-three 
was the number of kinds of fishes which were then 
believed to exist. The miracle hides an allegory ; 
it reiterates the promise that by obedience to 
Christ His followers shall in the end draw all men 
unto Him. We are told, moreover, that the net 
which held the fishes had not been torn. Here, 
too, is an allegory ; the Church that is to be, when 
men are true to their Lord, shall not be rent by 
faction. It shall be one body with many members, 
whose Head is the Lord Christ. This kind of 
symbolism puzzles some among us because it is 
unfamiliar to our thought. Let us pass to the more 
simple sequel. 

After breakfast, the fellowship meal, Jesus gave 
the thrice-repeated command to Peter, " Feed my 


lambs." Here it is clearly implied that Peter and 
those with him could not go back to their former 
occupations; neither were they to wait idly till 
their Master's return. They were to shepherd the 
little flock of Christ. There follows a saying of 
Jesus which is not easy to understand, though it 
clearly includes a sombre prediction of the death 
by which Peter should glorify Christ. Yet it too 
is primarily symbolic. In youth men can choose 
their calling. At the end age comes on. The old 
man must lift up his hands that another may 
fasten the girdle round his cloak. Tottering and 
half blind, he must go where he is carried. " But," 
says the Master, " even at life's end follow me." 

Then we are told that Peter turned round and 
saw the beloved disciple following them as they 
walked. And he asked the Lord : " What about 
this man ? " " If I will that he wait till I come," 
said Jesus, " what is that to you ? Follow me 
yourself." The writer insists that it is a fact that 
Jesus did not promise that the beloved disciple 
should not die before the Lord's return. The Lord 
said : "If that be My will, how can it affect your 
own duty ? You must follow me." 


As we thus read the last chapter of St. John's 
Gospel by the light of modem scholarship, it 
acquires a new meaning for us. We have in it a 



message of hope for ourselves because it was a 
command to disciples of Christ, who some 1,850 
years ago were disappointed, disillusioned. Christ 
had not returned to establish His Kingdom on 
earth. " No," the writer of this appendix would 
have us believe, " He made no promise of a speedy 
return. Moreover, what has the time of His return 
to do with you ? Your duty is to follow Him. By 
service to Him the whole world of men shall yet 
be redeemed. Follow the Master." 

Like those who in the distant past sought eternal 
life in Christ, we in this age are disappointed, dis- 
illusioned. The nineteenth century, with its brilliant 
intellectual discoveries, its very definite social 
progress, its hopeful enthusiasm, has gone. One 
of the greatest eras in the history of mankind has 
come to a ruinous end. Some among us in their 
bitterness belittle this recent time of peace and 
prosperity which has suddenly become remote. It 
had in it seeds of disaster, as we now see only too 
clearly ; but Christian enterprise was vigorous and 
Christian idealism active. Now we are tired, 
depressed. So much that was good has been 
destroyed that it seems hardly worth while to 
begin to build anew. The hope of rapid progress 
towards the Kingdom of God has proved as vain 
as was the hope of Christ's reappearance on earth 
within a century of His Crucifixion. In their 
discouragement many who were once enthusiasts 
wonder whether it is of any use to follow the way 
of Christ. Others make no effort. Some even 


scoff at the Christian ideal. To us Christ's answer 
comes : " What have they to do with you ? Follow 
Me yourself." 

This is Christ's message to each of us : " Follow 
Me yourself." Though the times are evil, though 
we are passing through a period of turmoil, of 
reaction, of spiritual exhaustion, our course is 
plain ; we, at all events, must follow Christ. 

Think of the Christians when the appendix to 
St. John's Gospel was written. They were small 
scattered communities living in a hostile world. 
They were despised, distrusted, maligned, at in- 
tervals persecuted. Government officials thought 
them disloyal because they would not worship the 
deified head of the State. Religious pagans de- 
nounced them because the worship of Christ was 
exclusive and uncompromising. The educated de- 
spised them as superstitious fanatics. They bore 
the burden of the world's hostility and, above all, 
Christ had not returned. Yet victory came to 
those who had strength individually to follow Christ. 
Some, possibly many, gave way under the strain ; 
but the rest in meekness, patience and temperance 
held fast, serving one another, loving one another. 
Gradually they won regard by the purity of their 
lives, by their steadfastness, their sobriety, their 
excellence as citizens. Their influence extended. 
Their power grew. They conquered the Empire. 
But nothing fails like success. In a nominally 
Christian world the sharp outlines of fellowship in 
Christ become blurred. It is easy to pretend to 



follow the Master. Men readily persuade them- 
selves that they are His disciples when they can 
in safety give Him lip service while neither their 
motives nor their acts are true to Him. How often 
has religion been blighted by its apparent prosperity ? 
Men must be sick at heart because the Saviour is 
flouted or ignored they must discover anew that 
they have to take up a Cross when they follow 
Him before a new outpouring of His Spirit can 
cleanse as with living water. 


Repeatedly has this been seen in history. Let 
me remind you of but one instance taken from our 
own national past. The Great Rebellion was the 
endeavour of all that was vital in Puritanism and of 
much that was best in the national character to 
reconstruct English political, religious and social life. 
Its outcome was disastrous. It bred Fifth Monarchy 
men who wished by force to establish a reign of the 
saints. It bred Levellers whose passion for equality 
made vain the hope of freedom. All kinds of 
fantastic hopes and beliefs arose in the confusion. 
The result was Cromwell's firm but militarist 
regime and finally the Restoration, a period of 
reaction, revenge, ostentatious vice. What did the 
best men of the time do ? We know little of the 
private lives of the ordinary men and women who 
sought to follow Christ. Such people make history 



by the creative power of their faith but are seldom 
recorded in it. Yet two men of the time are familiar 
to us all. John Milton, impoverished and blind, 
wrote " Paradise Lost," that great drama of the 
struggle of the individual soul. And John Bunyan 
wrote " Pilgrim's Progress," the story of the man 
who tried to follow Christ. Each turned from the 
world where his hopes seemed ruined ; each, as it 
were, went back to the beginning as he emphasised 
personal responsibility and the need of personal 
goodness. The solemn cadence of Milton's verse 
fitly enshrines the solemn theme of man in the 
presence of his Maker. In the greatest allegory 
the world has seen, Bunyan showed how a single 
soul could triumph over temptation and reach the 
heavenly city. 

" He who would valiant be 
'Gainst all disaster, 
Let him in constancy 
Follow the Master." 

It has been said that Bunyan is to be condemned 
for making Christian leave wife and children in 
the City of Destruction while he sets out alone. But 
the prophet of Bedford jail was wiser than his 
critics. There must be a period of loneliness when 
we begin to search for God. In finding Him we 
find the need of true fellowship, which is something 
richer and deeper than association for business or 
pleasure. And, be it remembered, Christian's wife 
and children followed him in the end. In a time of 


spiritual disaster the pioneers who hear and obey 
the command " Follow Me yourself " are they 
through whose influence others are led to journey 
to the Holy City. 


To-day we have to realise that we, like Milton 
and Bunyan, are living in an age of reaction. War 
is demoralising. In it truth is perverted, men 
become callous and suspicious, force is exalted 
above reason. Sympathy becomes narrow. Re- 
venge begins to seem natural. The odious principle 
that the end justifies the means gains strength. 
The war, thank God, is over; but the passions 
which it excited still remain. They will be with 
us until those who follow Christ can persuade their 
fellows to love His ideals. Reformation will be 
slow. To re-establish the sway of Christian stan- 
dards, after such a period of moral and spiritual 
turmoil as that through which we have passed, 
cannot possibly be easy. And yet evil condemns 
itself. The laws of the Kingdom of God reassert 
their supremacy because they are necessary to the 
civilised progress of mankind. They who show the 
temper of Christ prove wiser than their fellows just 
because they are more true to the spiritual purpose 
for which man was created. For twenty years before 
the war there was active hostility to Christian Faith 
and to Christian ideals of conduct. It was said 
by a brilliant English writer that " the men in 



whom the religious instinct is strongest move 
further and further from the Christian postulates." 
Nietzsche affirmed that " Christianity is the one 
great curse, the one great spiritual corruption." A 
philosopher of repute in our midst declared that 
" we none of us are Christians and we all know, no 
matter what we say, that we ought not to be." 
Well, we have had a few years of widespread re- 
pudiation of Christianity and the experience has 
been sufficient entirely to discredit such assertions. 
Thoughtful men are rediscovering the value of the 
teaching of Christ. To us who worship Him that 
discovery is no new thing; but it remains for us 
to gain and show the power of His Spirit. Christianity 
has not more than held its own among the religions 
of the world simply because of its ethics. Other 
religions which have fallen before it had moral 
codes of real value. But our own Faith will prove 
itself invincible because Christ gives power to those 
who simply follow Him. The man who feels himself 
joined to Christ he who after searching has found 
the Lord has a strength not his own. The greatest 
of Christian missionaries, an unprepossessing Jew, 
subject to periodic attacks of distressing illness, said 
confidently : "I can do all things through Christ 
Who strengthens me." He had achieved an absolute 
surrender to his Lord ; and from his absolute faith 
came his invincible optimism. Did not John Wesley 
show the same heroic endurance, a like resolute 
confidence, because he also lived with Christ ? 
When Wesley began to preach large areas of 

K 133 


England were practically heathen. But he saw 
that the Gospel was sufficient for human needs ; 
he gained, by self-discipline and self-surrender, the 
power which Christ gives to those who follow Him ; 
and he began the regeneration of England. At the 
beginning the odds seemed overwhelmingly against 
him, but he demonstrated afresh the truth of the 
message which came to Zechariah : " Not by might, 
nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of 

To-day men seek their own. The temper of strife 
persists. The fear of that poverty which always 
follows war has produced bitterness, jealousy, dis- 
union. It is for us who call ourselves by Christ's 
Name to show a different temper, to be patient 
under hardship, generous to the utmost of our power, 
calm amid dissension and, so far as in us lies, at 
peace with all men. 

And, as we try thus to be loyal to Christ, we read 
in a newspaper of someone who seems to be obvi- 
ously seeking selfish ends which will harm our own 
well-being. " What about that man ? " we ask one 
another indignantly. Christ's answer comes, " What 
has he to do with you ? Follow Me yourself." 

Help us, Father, that we may serve Thee in 
confidence and truth by following Thy Son, Jesus 
Christ our Lord. Amen. 




THE REV. JAMES REID was educated at 
Edinburgh University and New College, Edin- 
burgh. In 1905 he became Minister at Oban, 
passing on in 1910 to Sherwood United Free 
Church, Paisley. Here he remained until called 
to his present Church, St. Andrew's Presbyterian 
Church, Eastbourne. He was W arrack Lecturer 
in Preaching, 1923-4. He has published two 
volumes entitled " Materials of Moral Instruc- 
tion," and " The Victory of God." His lectures 
on Preaching are published under the title " In 
Quest of Reality." 



" And God said Certainly I will be with thee ; 
and this shall be a token unto thee that I have 
sent thee : when thou hast brought forth the 
people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this 
mountain." Exodus iii, 12. 

THIS is one of the great stories of history. It tells 
how the call to his life's task came to one of the, 
world's mightiest men, as Moses is acknowledged 
by all competent students to have been. His 
career up to this point had been that of many great 
emancipators. In his hot youth he had been stirred 
to champion the cause of the people who were 
oppressed, but the time was not then ripe. His 
rashness, in point of fact, had made the task im- 
possible for the moment, and he himself had fled 
into exile, to wait for God's signal. The desert 
could not have been an altogether uncongenial 
experience for Moses. He was a mystic and a 
dreamer. These quiet spaces where he communed 
with God must have grown sweetly pleasant to his 
spirit. " Far from the madding crowd," he was 
finding the secret of the Presence. He could not 
indeed have been altogether at peace. Tidings 
must have come to him from time to time of the 



sufferings of his race. Often in these solitudes his 
spirit would be disturbed by thoughts of their 
misery, flashed before him, by his active imagination, 
while he brooded and chafed at his helplessness. 
Then came the call. But when it came it was like 
the rude awakening from a dream. It is one thing 
to see visions ; it is another thing to face practical 
difficulties. Moses began to think of the people, of 
their obstinacy, their apathy, their unwillingness to 
help themselves. There are none who find it so 
hard to accept a gospel of deliverance as those who 
need it most, whose condition has sunk them so 
low that it has put out the spark of hope. Moses 
thought, too, of himself, of his own poor gifts and 
stammering tongue. The very idea of his con- 
fronting the mighty Pharaoh in his palace was 
almost paralysing. At this point there came to 
him, we are told, the assurance which he knew to 
be of God. " Certainly I will be with thee ; and 
this shall be a token unto thee : when thou hast 
brought the people up out of Egypt ye shall serve 
God upon this mountain." 

There are several very profound suggestions in 
this strange promise. For one thing it was an 
answer to Moses' own uncertainty as he faced this 
adventure. One question kept whispering itself to 
him as he looked ahead the question whether he 
could be sure this was a call of God at all. It all 
sounds very real and unmistakable to our minds 
as we read the story the voice, the dazzling 
-miracle of a bush that burned and was not con- 


sumed. There could hardly be any doubt after 
that. But we must remember the metaphorical 
language of Scripture, its graphic symbols. When 
the Bible says God spoke, we are not, of course, to 
infer an actual voice, but an interpretation, through 
spiritual insight, of some event or situation such 
as any of us may face or be facing at this moment. 
We are as near God to-day as men were then, and 
He speaks to us in the circumstances of our life 
as really as He spoke to Moses. It is the inter- 
preting mind and conscience that hears the divine 
whisper in the familiar, and sees the " common 
bush aflame with God." 

" The angels keep their ancient places, 
Turn but a stone and start a wing ! " 

Else were our world to-day, even with all its marvels, 
a poorer place. So when God speaks with Moses 
there is, so to speak, room for doubt ; he is tempted, 
as every man is, to question the reality of his spiritual 
experience. Is this word of conscience really a 
voice of God ? So we ask when the first flush of 
conviction begins to fade into the light of common 
day. Is this way that seemed so right yesterday 
really so right as it seemed ? Or was it, perchance, 
only a morbid fancy or a sentimental mood ? Have 
we simply been dreaming, when the challenge of 
duty reached us from that vivid picture of vice 
and misery not far from our doors ? Was it not 
all a hallucination this concern for others, this 
tragic picture ? These are whispers that beset all 



of us at times. We are all prone to doubt the value of 
our own spiritual experience, to wonder if after all God 
is so real as we sometimes imagine, Jesus Christ so 
wonderful, the Bible so fine, and the duty so clear. 
Some people, indeed, are in that place of per- 
plexity about the whole business of religious ex- 
perience. There are scientists who take the point 
of view that religion is just a kind of compensation 
thrown up by our protesting spirits as a makeweight 
against the ills of life a kind of artificial dug- 
out into which we run for shelter from things we 
are afraid to meet, and a world we cannot face 
alone. Time and again the longing comes on us 
all for signs, for assurances that we are right. It 
is this craving which in part has made the Roman 
Church lay down the doctrine of infallible truth. 
We ah 1 seek guarantees ; we do not want to take 
any risks, especially if the risk means some sacrifice 
or suffering. So we seek for assurance, for proof 
that we are on the right road. Bunyan tells in 
" Grace Abounding " how he went about for a 
long time uncertain whether or not he was a child 
of God, unwilling to venture on his own spiritual 
experience. As he was walking one day from 
Bedford to Elstow he came on a puddle of water 
which suggested to him to try to work a miracle, 
to prove whether or not he had faith. " The 
temptation was hot upon me," he says. " I must 
say to the puddles which were in the horsepads, 
' Be dry/ " He could not make up his mind, 
however, to put his faith to the test. He reasoned 


that if nothing happened he would then be sure 
he had no faith. Thus he was tossed, as he puts it, 
" between the devil and his own ignorance," and 
so perplexed that he stumbled along in utter 
despondency for months. Was not this the same 
kind of perplexity in which Moses found himself, 
if we read between the lines ? For God said to him, 
" Surely I will be with thee, and this shall be a 
token unto thee ; when thou hast brought the 
people up out of Egypt ye shall worship Me upon 
this mountain." 

Does it not just mean this you can only be sure 
of a spiritual impulse by making the experiment ? 
A heavenly vision only attests its reality in the 
pathway of obedience to it. You wonder if a way 
is right, and in faith you step out on it ; then you 
know. There is a reaction of peace in your own 
soul that countersigns the demand of duty. Things 
turn out in the end in a way that makes you sure. 
You feel constrained to do a difficult kindness ; 
is it only a whim ? Perhaps the person may not 
like it, so you say. But go on with it and there 
comes such a flash of gratitude with perhaps the 
hint of a tear into the face of the one you have 
helped that you know you have been a veritable 
angel of God. Or you are trying to bring someone 
into the light of the gospel. You begin to question 
whether it is worth while to spend so much time 
on what looks like barren soil. But one day the 
light breaks, and then the truth of Christ, of which 
you were almost uncertain, becomes alive with a 



fresh flame which is the glory of all your day. 
Matthew Arnold tell in a phrase which has become 
almost threadbare that " tasks in hours of insight 
willed may be through hours of gloom fulfilled." 
But there is more in it than that. It is generally 
in hours of gloom that tasks of insight have to be 
fulfilled. And it is only so that they are verified 
to have been of God. As we fulfil them they renew 
the splendour of their birth in our souls. They 
recover the fire divine which made them shine in 
a heavenly vision. It is always the people who are 
doing God's work who are keenest on it. It is the 
active missionary people who are most confident 
about missions. The spiritual pessimists are never 
found among the zealous workers. Only among the 
spectators who see the vision and let it go do we 
find the croakers and the doubters. Those who 
have seen Christ and followed Him are the people 
to whom He becomes more and more ; it is those 
who have seen and not followed who are the dis- 
illusioned. Faith followed translates itself into the 
fact of an invincible experience. " This shall be 
a. token unto thee," said God ; " when thou hast 
brought the people out of Egypt ye shall serve 
God upon this mountain." 

But let us look a little deeper. Was there not 
a suggestion here, that unless he followed this 
command of God the experience of Horeb was over 
for him, its radiant communion ended, its quiet 
peace shattered, its visions no longer possible ? 
For years he had been serving God there, and the 


experience had been wonderful. But now that 
stage was over. Fuller light had come and he 
must walk in it. If he would keep the communion 
of Horeb, he must leave it. If he would preserve 
the light in his soul, he must follow where it led. 
That vision of higher duty once seen would disturb 
his quiet for ever. In short, God said to Moses, 
" You will only preserve this experience of fellowship 
you have had here by leaving it behind." It is the 
old story over again, of the monk who had a vision 
of Christ in his cell and was enraptured, when at 
the moment there came a knock at his cell door 
calling him to a disagreeable duty. He was disturbed 
and half annoyed to leave his ecstasy; but he 
obeyed, and when he returned the vision was still 
there and a voice said, " Hadst thou stayed I must 
have fled." 

In a word, we can only keep our fellowship with 
God by walking in the light which it reveals ; the 
experience of communion and the revelation of duty 
go hand in hand. We find God on a certain level 
of life. It may be a high level or it may be a low 
one. Thank God, He takes us just as we are into 
His fellowship. There were no conditions laid down 
for the returning prodigal save the condition he 
fulfilled by returning ; though some people make the 
mistake of imagining they must in some way make 
themselves good enough for that high fellowship. 
They strive and struggle to screw up the mood of 
their souls or the tone of their character, till the 
strain is almost too much for them. Or they conjure 



up what is really a fiction, and try to make believe 
it is themselves ; when all the time God wants 
nothing but reality. God is ready to begin fellow- 
ship with any man at any level of need or know- 
ledge, though he be as ignorant of, Christianity as 
a Hottentot or as vile as any wastrel of the streets. 
He will begin with a man in the gutter, if only he 
be ready to leave the gutter. That is a fact we 
are in danger of forgetting with our tremendous 
demand for a moral Christianity. A man does not 
need to know very much of God to make a beginning 
with him in a redeeming experience if only he 
will be sincere. In point of fact it was people like 
the publicans and harlots that Christ found it 
easiest to get in touch with ; they had no shelters 
from His light, no rags of self-righteousness 
nothing which, shutting out the light that rebuked, 
shut out also the love that saved. They were open 
to all experience, ready to take it for what it was 
worth, and the message of Jesus came to them, like 
heavenly music to a starved heart amid the cursing 
and riot of a slum alley. God meets us just as we 
are, and reaches out to us His saving fellowship. 1 
There were no hope for us if He did not take the 
initiative. As Pascal puts it, " We had not sought 
Thee, hadst Thou not already found us." 

But there are moral conditions of this spiritual 
communion. Light breaks, and our eyes open to 
it. A voice in our ears whispers of duty to be 
done, of wrongs to be put right some twisted 
thing to be straightened out, perhaps; and it is 



not easy. That is why religion has sometimes 
b;en called a grey thing. Its light looks stern and 
cold as it falls upon the tinsel of cheap or unworthy 
things. But it is light and the question rises, What 
are we going to do about it ? When once we have 
seen the higher way we cannot stay on the lower 
level and keep the fellowship that came to us there. 
So long as we stand and hesitate the light will 
remain stern and grey, disturbing, shattering, making 
dispeace in our shabby world. Only as we face the 
duty it demands, or the fight to which it calls us, 
will the glory return and the smile come back upon 
the face of God. Perhaps that is just why the joy 
and inspiration of the Christian life is weak for 
some of us. The poet in his hymn puts the 

" Where is the blessedness I knew 
When first I saw the Lord ? " 

If that be our mood, it is worth while to examine 
ourselves and see if the joy did not depart at the 
place of some disloyalty. Have we not been ex- 
pecting our experience to be permanent on the 
same moral level as that on which we found it, 
and so to speak, Christ went on and left us standing ? 
The Christian life is a journey forward; it is not 
a spiritual retreat. It is a march ; not a rest camp 
behind the lines. We cannot keep the fellowship 
of God in any compromise with an unconquered 
temptation or a neglected duty. Christian ex- 
perience must grow by the exercise of fresh insight 


and new obedience, or it degenerates into a mere 
nursing of old memories. Where the light falls we 
must follow, though it seem to lead us out into 
the storm, away from the quiet resting-place of 
faith and love. This shall be the token that I am 
with you, that you shall keep the experience of 
Horeb only by leaving it. 

Now this is how God is ever leading us to higher 
things. The process is by stages. Do not let us 
deny to any man the name of Christian, though he 
be very far from being wholly Christian. The 
disciples were learners, not graduates in the school 
of Christ. God leads us like children who learn 
by stages. The process is by the increase of light. 
At first there are things which are neutral. Then 
the light touches them and at once they become 
live moral issues. It is the same with the Church 
as it is withondividuals. It advances by a process 
of progressive enlightenment. " Such is the order 
of God's enlightening His Church," wrote John 
Milton, " to deal out and dispense by degrees His 
beam as our earthly eyes may best sustain it." 
There are people who expect some changes to come 
as by magic, forgetting that all true advance in 
civilisation is by the gradual quickening of con- 
science. Only bit by bit does the light break from 
the truth of Christ, though it is all there in Him. 
It is a question of our power to see it. But once 
a thing has been seen there is no more peace for 
the Church till it has been faced, no more living 
peace, no more sense of fellowship with God. For 


light that is not followed only disturbs ; it does 
not. heal or inspire. 

Think, for instance, of the missionary impulse 
of the Church. It only awoke in Britain about a 
century ago. When William Carey went to India 
his project was denounced by the East India 
Company as " harmful, dangerous, imprudent, 
pernicious, fantastic." But the light was up for 
Carey and he followed it. Then the light spread 
and it spreads still, and there is no real fellowship 
with God, no vital health for the Church of to-day, 
without obedience to this light. She cannot find 
the old communion save on the new terms ; only, 
so to speak, as she comes back to Horeb from her 
expedition into Egypt. Or think of slavery. For 
centuries it was neutral. John Newton the hymn 
writer was once a slave trader, and tells us that on 
his last voyage to the African coast for a cargo he 
" experienced sweeter and more frequent hours of 
divine communion than he had ever known before." 
On such a voyage, it is almost incredible to learn, 
he wrote " How sweet the name of Jesus sounds." 
The light had not come, but at last it broke. The 
call came to go down to Egypt and set the people 
free. Slavery became a living moral issue. There 
could be no compromise with it. It was a real 
touchstone of spiritual quality. In England the 
battle was fierce ; in America it was fiercer, for it 
had bitten deep into the life of the nation. Some 
churches would not face the issue. The pulpits 
were tuned to the conscience of the pews. But 



great voices were lifted. Men like Beecher in 
Brooklyn and Brooks in Boston called the Church 
to her task of emancipation and to the full gospel 
of the sacredness of human personality. The light 
had come and thenceforth there was no real peace 
for the church, no vital fellowship with God, till 
the new level had been reached. So God leads on, 
sending His light as we can see it, revealing new 
stages of spiritual progress and calling us to rise 
to them. 

Have we not these new moral issues to-day ? 
What of the demand for peace, for instance ? Many 
minds are questioning the method of war as the 
way of settling disputes, or even of achieving 
justice. Not so long ago war was regarded as 
spiritually neutral to the Christian conscience, or 
even as an enterprise which gave a fine platform 
for the exhibition of Christian virtues. The depart- 
ment of international peace was left to the care 
of a handful of people who were regarded as cranks 
or faddists. It was the highest we knew. But the 
light is up to-day. God's beam shines clearly on a 
higher way the way of co-operation and goodwill, 
the patient building up of international friendship. 
The light is up. The question of international 
relations is a living moral issue. It concerns our 
communion with God. There can be no real peace 
and no deep fellowship with God for the Church 
on any lower level of outlook. 

The same thing is true of our social relationships. 
Once the ills of society were not regarded as the 


Church's concern. But bit by bit the light spread. 
It reached our prisons and made the care of the 
criminal a moral issue. It touched our industries, 
and Mrs. Browning rang home to the conscience of 
the community " The Cry of the Children " toiling 
in mines or factories twelve hours a day or more 
for a pittance. It is hardly credible that the Church 
of those days for the most part took her stand 
against the reformers. But the light grew and it 
grows still, disturbing our peace as we think of 
the troubles of society, its strifes, its miseries 
conditions for which every class is in part responsible. 
The light is up and we must face it. A more 
Christian way of corporate life will become more 
and more a living moral issue for the Church, such 
that there can be no real health in us save as we 
face the light and walk in it. 

It is true that religious experience has always the 
same elements, the sense of peace with God, the 
joy of forgiveness, the inspiration of His presence ; 
these strands of gold run through religious experience 
in all the centuries. But we find them under new 
conditions. For God always comes to us in the 
actual world in which we live. We know that God 
loves us, but all that that love means we do not 
know. Paul saw into the depths of it as a man sees 
into a translucent sea when the sun is up, and his 
verdict was that there were depths beyond depths ; 
as life unfolds, its meaning grows deeper and more 
far-reaching. That is one effect of the influence of 
Christ upon us, to deepen the meaning of all great 

L 149 


words. Love, faith, goodness, duty, salvation 
they all grow richer as we walk with God, like 
pearls, which are said to take their quality from 
the wearer on whose breast they lie. 

" New occasions teach new duties, time makes 

ancient good uncouth, 

They must upward still and onward, who would 
keep abreast of truth." 

Lowell was pointing out a very common danger 
the danger of luxuriating in the light of the past, 
instead of walking in the light of the present, as it 
falls upon some fresh citadel to be stormed for 
God, or on some bit of " No-man's Land " to be 
charted and brought under the harrow and the 
plough of His will. We are pilgrims that is the 
point. Our truly Christian hymns are marching 
songs. Our only rest is in moving with the unfolding 
purpose. Our only peace is walking in the challenging 
light. So the private place of communion which 
we seem to leave at the call of duty and service 
becomes ours again in an enlarging fellowship the 
fellowship of a world redeemed. It will only be 
complete when the nations shall bring their honour 
and glory into it, and they shall come from the east 
and the west, and the north and the south and shall 
sit down with us in the Kingdom of our Father. 





Hon. D.D. St. Andrews. 

DEAN OF BRISTOL, a son of Prebendary W. E. 
Burroughs, he was a scholar at Harrow and 
Balliol College, Oxford, and gained First Class 
Honours in Class Moderations and Litt. Hum., to- 
gether with the Craven, Hertford and Derby 
Scholarships, and the Chancellor's Prize for Latin 
Verse. He became Fellow and Classical Tutor 
of Hertford College ; Junior Proctor ; Chaplain 
to H.M. The King ; Canon Residentiary of Peter- 
borough and Proctor in Convocation ; Chaplain- 
Fellow of Trinity, Oxford ; and has been Select 
Preacher at both Oxford and Cambridge. Amongst 
his publications are : "The Eternal Goal," " A Faith 
for the Firing Line," "The Fight for the Future," 
" The Valley of Decision," " World-Builders All," 
" The Delayed Decision," " The Way of Peace," 
"The Latin Culture," "Education and Reli- 
gion," together with essays in "Liberal Evan- 
gelicalism," "Towards Reunion." "The Inner 
Life," etc. He is Commissary to the Archbishop 
of Sydney and the Bishop in Egypt and the Sudan, 
and Hon. Chaplain to the Bristol Division, 



" The world passeth away, and the desire of it ; 
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." 

I John ii, 17. 

IT is strange how death sometimes seems to be 
needed in order to call attention to the true meaning 
of life, even as it took the world war to set most 
men thinking seriously about the true conditions 
of peace. While a man still lives, there is apt to 
be truth in the sarcasm of the Psalmist : "So long 
as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak 
good of thee." Prosperity has always been an 
excellent passport, and well-doing often seems to 
weigh less with one's next-door neighbour than an 
obvious ability to do oneself well. But that is 
only in life. The advent of death forces even shallow 
contemporary judgment to take up the measuring- 
rod of eternity to see the man we consorted with 
yesterday as posterity will see him, should his name 
survive. Courtesy may soften hard facts in his 
obituary notice; but once his funeral is over, he 
must stand or fall by the same criterion as history 
applies to the great names of the past. And may 

* A Sermon preached before the University of Bristol on 
" Founder's Day." Local allusions have been omitted, 



one not claim with Goethe that, in the long run, history 
judges as we are told that God will judge ? 

" Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht." 

In the long run men do appraise their fellows not 
by their achievements but by their ideals : not by 
the amount of disturbance they made in their own 
generation, but by the ultimate bearing of their 
work upon the ultimate happiness of mankind. 
A Napoleon is " Great " to his contemporaries. 
Yet one short century has been enough to make us 
conscious rather how little of his work remains. 
And we can see that it failed because it was selfish. 
Work which would last must be in accordance with 
world-principles, done in the interests of the Whole, 
with the sense of the Whole as its inspiration. As 
our historical perspective lengthens, greatness and 
goodness approach more nearly together. The 
names which posterity really loves to honour are 
always those of the children of God individuals 
in whom the Spirit of the Whole has found ex- 
pression. And by common consent of sceptics as 
well as believers, the greatest Figure on the stage 
of history is He Who is also the Ideal Man, Whom 
Christian faith addresses as the Eternal Son of the 
World Father. " The world passeth away, and the 
desire of it ; but he that doeth the will of God 
abideth for ever." 



This is a truth which, I think, is brought home 
to us by any such " Commemoration of Founders 
and Benefactors "- as that for which we have been 
called together ; and it should be no small cause 
of thankfulness to a young University that its 
early days have been watched over by so many 
men of the true "Founder" breed a type so 
common in earlier centuries and so rare to-day. 
" The glory, of God " is no longer a current, or at 
least an avowed, incentive to public service in 
days when the chief use of wealth is apparently to 
make one's present comfortable and one's future, 
so far as may be, secure. Yet, in the long run, it 
is the motive behind the work that gives it value 
and permanence, not the amount of money sunk 
in it. Money is a neutral standard of value. It 
becomes an asset or a handicap to its owner and to 
the community, according to its owner's philosophy. 
That is what our generation so desperately needs 
to learn. Real value always depends on and springs 
from personality ; and a man's personality his 
power to make his other powers, material or mental, 
a plus or a minus quantity in the scheme of things 
depends on his creed, his religion, his philosophy 
of life. " As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." 
That, after all, is the chief lesson which any Uni- 
versity has to teach to deserve its title indicative 
of kinship with the Whole. And one way in which 
it teaches it is by commemorating its Founders 



and Benefactors as men who, possessed of that 
which St. John writes down as " the world " which 
" passes," knew how to make their possession per- 
manent by linking it with the plan of God for the 
progress of man. " The world passeth away, and 
the desire of it ; but he that doeth the will of God 
abideth for ever." 

But of course the main task of a University is 
to equip the ordinary man and woman with the 
sort of knowledge and outlook that will make their 
essential life-work permanent though their names 
may be forgotten at once. It should seek to save 
them, in other words, from that wasting of them- 
selves which is the penalty of not hitching their 
wagons to a star and that the right star. Our 
task, I say, is to take the raw material of the in- 
dividual the five-talent and the one-talent sort 
alike with his necessarily limited experience, his 
probably too narrow view of what his University 
is to do for him, and open his eyes to the width of 
his heritage, make him feel his kinship with the 
Whole. That is where a University differs from 
(say) a vocational training college or a technical 
institute or a foundation dedicated to research. 
Research is an incidental, not the characteristic, 
task of a University. A true University stands for 
an attempt to see life and the universe as a whole, 
and should seek, above all, to equip men with a 
true philosophy; knowing, with Socrates, that 
" the unexamined life is not a life for a man." 
How is the world situated in this respect to-day ? 


How far is our higher education on the way to 
achieve its object ? 


Is it too much to say that the chief danger ahead 
of our national education is a spiritual one the 
danger of confirming, instead of combating, a 
material outlook on life ? Is it too much to say 
that we are a desperately " worldly " age in the 
broadest sense at a time when, really, " worldli- 
ness " ought to be impossible for men who can 
think ? The logic of the whole situation points the 
other way. A sense of consistency, a really scientific 
respect for evidence, would make it impossible 
for the world to behave to-day as a large part of it 
is still content to behave. But, as a French writer 
put it during the war, "In England logic enjoys 
no prestige." Unlike our late enemies, with their 
instinctive passion for world-views Weltansichten 
we have very little natural sense of the Whole. We 
are empiricists by tradition taking things as they 
come, and " muddling through." And that is why 
we are so capable of an inconsistency which some- 
times borders on suicidal mania. A secular civilisa- 
tion has become as unworkable as we might, if 
we cared, have known it would. Yet we go on 
with the practical applications of our pre-war 
materialism when, by the tests alike of scientific 
research and of everyday results, materialism is little 
more than a mid- Victorian heresy. We certainly 



need a touch of the stern otherworldliness of my 
text and its context to redeem us from a position 
so little creditable to educated men : to rescue us from 

" Wandering between two worlds, one dead, 
The other powerless to be born." 

" Love not the world, neither the things that are 
in the world. If any man love the world, the love 
of the Father is not in him. For everything that is 
in the world the desire of the flesh, the desire 
of the eyes, the glamour of life is not from the 
Father, but from the world itself. And the world 
passeth away, and the desire of it; but he that 
doeth the will of God abideth for ever." 

It is a peculiarly hard saying for our modern 
world, what with its tradition of scientific materi- 
alism, its belief in scientific Utopias, its passion for 
personal liberty and expansion, its movements, even 
within strictly Christian thought, away from asceti- 
cism and puritanism towards a view of Christianity 
as the higher humanism. Must an age to which 
(for instance) the sense of beauty means so much, 
and " the glamour of life " is so intriguing, really 
believe that these have no place in the eternal order, 
that they " are not from the Father, but from the 
world " which " passeth away " ? The question is, 
of course, too large to debate in passing ; but I 
raise it, because it seems to me that the answer 
bears fundamentally on the prospects of a spiritual 
revival in the world to-day, and also that, apart 
from such a revival a real swinging round from 



our decayed materialism to a spiritual philosophy 
of life the century before us can hardly fail to 
mark the beginning of a new Dark Age. And I 
shall venture to indicate a solution, because here, 
surely, lies the strategic line of resistance to all the 
forces of disintegration around us, both those 
deliberately unleashed in the name of " the world- 
revolution " and those -which have inevitably 
followed in the wake of a long war and a short- 
sighted peace. It is nothing less than a re-education 
of humanity that we need : a mobilisation of all 
the influences, professional and what I might call 
casual alike, which go to the shaping of human 
thought and character, and the directing of them 
to produce just that sort of outlook which ought 
to result from a University training. And, if so, 
it is more than ever important that the Universities 
should stand solid for a spiritual philosophy 

The present situation would be impossible if the 
community were permeated with the true " Uni- 
versity " point of view centring in so clear a sense 
of the Whole that it becomes discomfort, even 
torture, to feel that your life and conduct consist 
of a group of mutually inconsistent fragments. 
What education, at all its stages, ought to labour 
most to build up is the capacity for correlation, 
for forming a system, and so for living " according 
to plan." That will be the best antidote for our 
modern form of Satanism the worship of disin- 
tegration, revolution, as such. The success of 



education must be judged by the kind of systems 
men work out for themselves, the sort of objectives 
they set before them. They will judge aright if 
they have what Plato calls the " synoptic " faculty, 
that of " gathering together " (as he puts it) " the 
promiscuous lessons of boyhood into one perspective, 
revealing their natural relations to each other and 
to the nature of the universe."* And that faculty, 
he says, it must be the task of higher education to 
induce in what he calls " the class of twenty years 
old," in other words, the University student. 


To judge by the present world- wide bewilderment, 
the loss of any constant sense of direction, any clear 
vision of a goal a loss reflected as clearly as any- 
where in the foggy, tentative politics of to-day 
it is from lack of just this wider vision that our 
generation is suffering most. An argument, you 
will say, for extending University education. Yes, 
but equally an argument for making sure that the 
education given is always " University education " 
in the sense the name implies ; above all, that it 
sends a man or woman forth equipped with a 
working philosophy which will work out. 

I have quoted Matthew Arnold's " Stanzas from 
the Grande Chartreuse," where he, the mid- Victorian 
Freethinker, confesses his secret yearning for the 

* Plato, Republic, 5370. 



faith his intellect seemed to forbid, his disappoint- 
ment with a world which, along with its faith, had 
also lost its energy. 

" Wandering between two worlds, one dead, 

The other powerless to be' born, 
With nowhere yet to rest my head, 

Like these, on earth I wait forlorn. 
Their faith, my tears, the world deride 
I come to shed them at their side. 
* * * * * 

" Our fathers watered with their tears 
This sea of time on which we sail ; 
Their voices were in all men's ears 

Who passed within their puissant trail. 
Still the same ocean round us raves, 
But we stand mute, and watch the waves." 

How true it is of our day too but with how much 
less justification ! Much water has flowed under all 
the bridges since Matthew Arnold wrote. The 
scientific materialism then in the ascendant has 
been disowned by science itself, as well as disproved 
by bitter practical experience. As Lord Balfour 
puts it in his Gifford Lectures, delivered in 1913, 
"We now know too much about, matter to be 
materialists." Moreover, we have been through 
the world war. We might, we ought to, have gone 
over frankly not to the faiths ingrained with magic 
which Matthew Arnold and his generation rightly 
knew must be left behind, but to that profound yet 



simple spiritual philosophy which the New Testa- 
ment enshrines, and of which perhaps the most 
perfect summary is in the eight short clauses of the 
Lord's Prayer. There the whole outlook is quite 
in harmony with modern thought, with its rational 
emphasis on Personality ; only it fills in the centre 
of the circle, where modern agnosticism leaves a 
blur, with the figure of a personal Father in Heaven, 
Whose character and kingdom and will are to be the 
standard for all His children. So it grounds man's 
higher life on a solid basis, moral and mystical at 
once, and from the Divine Fatherhood a new human 
brotherhood naturally springs. 

That, I say, is the faith to which we should have 
boldly gone over in view of the facts. Then, having 
given " glory to God in the highest," we should 
have found peace growing on earth " among men 
of good will." As it is, we have not dared to be 
"synoptic" in Plato's sense. And so we have, 
on the one hand, scepticism and superstition 
flourishing strangely side by side ; and, on the 
other, in the very spheres of science and learning, 
for which we have vindicated the right to detach 
themselves from their spiritual background, we 
find tentativeness and specialisation, because real 
creation and discovery are only possible in an 
atmosphere of faith. The true answer, I think, to 
the difficulty noted already how to reconcile the 
typically modern outlook to the otherworldly dualism 
of St. John in my text is to point out that the 
antithesis between " the world " and " the Father " 


only arises when the Father is ignored. It disappears 
again when the prayer of His family comes to be 
" Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." 

A generation which once more centred life in 
God would be able to say " Two worlds are ours/' 
and to make the best of both of them. 

Nothing so quickens and fructifies the sense of 
beauty as the sense of God ; nothing so increases 
" the glamour of life " as conscious and intelligent 
partnership in a supernatural order. In the splendid 
words of one of the earliest Christian Apologies, 
dating from A.D. 130, " Because they (the Christians) 
acknowledge the goodness of God towards them, 
therefore on account of them there flows forth the 
beauty that is in the earth." It is the world without 
God that " passeth away " ; it is the desire for the 
gifts without the Giver that finds them turn to dust 
when grasped. Once bring God in, and His works 
gam meaning and value and permanence ; much 
as we have seen that the value of money depends 
on the personality of its possessor. "The world 
passeth away, and the desire of it ; but he that 
doeth the will of God " not only himself " abideth 
for ever," but finds a new solidity, a new satis- 
faction, a new coherence, in all that he gains from 
or learns of God's world. 

That should be the result of University teaching : 
and that is what our generation desperately needs. 
And the sacrifice (if it be such) which it asks of 
our intellectuals, who know how hollow the old 
unf aiths are grown, is to come out boldly for the new 



spiritual outlook which all the needs of our day 
demand. Nothing else could strike such a blow 
at scepticism and superstition at once, or bring in 
so quickly the greatness of a new age of faith. 
Irreligion has, somehow, come to be regarded as 
freedom ; it only spells " self-determination " really, 
and there is no slavery so great as being at the 
mercy of oneself. 

" From servitude to Freedom's name 

Free thou thy mind, in bondage pent ; 
Depose the fetish, and proclaim 
The things that are more excellent." 

But till the leaders lead in that direction, can 
we expect the rank and file to follow ? The pre- 
rogative and penalty of leadership is that it is 
called to " give itself away," to act according to 
convictions and not according to circumstances, 
that so the raw material of circumstances may be 
" moulded nearer to the heart's desire." Our need 
is plain enough to-day ; and it is one which a lead 
from the intellectuals is urgently called for to 
supply. We need the binding influence of a goal, a 
real direction, if we are to get anywhere at all. 
And to be thus bound is, even for the intellect, the 
pre-condition of becoming free. For when that 
binding influence comes in the form of a Guide as 
well as a goal a Guide for Whose friendship all 
our hearts are shaped, and in Whose friendship 
alone they can be satisfied then you have the 
ideal conditions for liberty, happiness and per- 


manent achievement at once. The moral and the 
mystical need are both satisfied. . "In knowledge 
of Him standeth our eternal life ; His service is 
perfect freedom." So we can, after all, make the 
best of both worlds when we claim them both in 
the name of " Our Father," and, by making His 
Son our Saviour, become capable of doing His will. 
" The world passeth away, and the desire of it ; but 
he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." 

M 165 



BORN in Australia, he was educated at Ormond 
College, Melbourne ; and is an Honorary Captain 
of the Australian Imperial Forces. He was 
called to Churches at Canterbury (Victoria), 
Brunswick (Victoria), and North Adelaide (South 
Australia). Since 1919 he has occupied the 
pulpit of the late Dr. Parker, at the City Temple, 
London. He is the author of "The Cross and 
the Garden," " Sunshine and Wattlegold," and 
" Moods of the Soul." 



" But He answered her not a word." 

Matthew xv, 23. 

IF one were asked what was the outstanding 
characteristic of Jesus in His dealings with men 
and women, one might easily reply, His courtesy. 
We have a shrewd idea what we mean by the word, 
though we have had occasion enough to question 
its lineal descent. The word is " court-esy " and 
suggests courtliness. It is redolent of the age of 
chivalry and reminds us of the time when they 
who frequented courts practised sedulously or were 
supposed to inherit, the graces of politeness, urbanity, 
courtliness. That is a noble tradition and one 
which it is to everybody's advantage should never 
be departed from. 

Like every other human ideal it is subject to 
failure. Courts may become hollow. Polished 
speech may resemble a rapier, and urbanity may 
but thinly cover contempt. We have not forgotten 
John Milton's sturdy words : 

" And trust thy honest offered courtesy 
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds- 


With smoky rafters, than in tapestry walls, 
And courts of princes, where it first was named, 
And yet is most pretended." 

Words may suffer moral degeneration as well as 
human beings, as who does not remember that the 
word courtesan had also its original connection 
with courts, where it had often enough no other 
resemblance to courtliness than the decoration of 
the person, the simulation of pleasing manners and 
even of affection which was not truly felt. 

There ought to be a society for the reclamation of 
fallen words, as well as for fallen people. 

But this word courtesy must be preserved, and 
who that knows its choicest meaning would not 
place it like a garland upon the brows of Jesus ? 
Though born in a manger He had always the air 
of a prince. He was unfailingly courteous, and 
His courtesy had the rare quality of always being 
as unstrained as it was sincere. It had not a smooth 
side for the great and a rough side for the poor. 
He was as princely among His fishermen friends as 
when Pontius Pilate, even while he crucified Him, 
felt constrained to have put above His head the 
inscription, " This is Jesus the King." He re- 
claimed courtesans by being courtly. He caused 
His intimates to become gentlemen without ever 
mentioning the word. He was no bluff democrat, 
slapping men upon the shoulder in token of His 
gracious descent to their level ; His unfailing courtesy 
made them instinctively wipe their feet, leaving 


market-place and fishing-boat as though they crossed 
the mosaic pavement of a palace to walk as courtiers 
with the king. Upon everyone who has truly walked 
with Him since He has left the aureole of courtesy. 

Now everybody knows that public life, power and 
popularity may easily roughen a man's spirit. One 
may be too busy to be discriminatingly thoughtful. 
Absorbed in great affairs, he may look with unseeing 
eyes over the heads of humble folk who have no 
apparent connection with them. Accustomed 
to command, politeness of speech may seem a 
weakening of authority. If urbanity be assumed 
as a means to popularity, it may be thrown off as 
warriors throw off armour in moments of relaxation. 
He who uses his fellows as mere instruments for 
his own aggrandisement may leave them to rust 
when he has no further use for them. Sensitive 
people always fear for the powerful and popular, lest 
they show the rough edge of callousness or brutality. 

Who that has read Alexandre Dumas' description 
of William of Orange can ever forget again that 
power and the jealous love of popularity may easily 
cause deterioration of the finer qualities of human 
character. "The eye keen like that of a bird of 
prey, the long aquiline nose, the finely cut mouth 
which he generally kept open, or rather which 
gaped like the edges of a wound ; the prowling 
ways which were the very type of a suspecting 
master, or an unquiet thief. . . ." 

The ancients were not blind to these things, as 
is evidenced by their saying: 



" What difference is there between the figure of 
the conqueror and that of the pirate ? The differ- 
ence only between the eagle and the vulture ; 
serenity or restlessness." 

The eagle is serene, the vulture restless ; but both 
alike are birds of prey. 

It is worth a thought at the time of a General 
Election. They who aspire to govern their fellows 
need the prayerful discernment of those who expose 
them to the most ruthless assaults upon character. 
If a man be very successful in business, very 
profuse in wealth, very powerful in his influence, 
they who love him best should pray for him ; he 
should certainly pray for himself, lest the finer 
blossoms of character are nipped by cruel frosts or 
withered by burning heat. And there is no surer 
test of intrinsic greatness than whether courtesy 
to all men, unstrained and sincere, can endure 
through the springtime of promise, the summer of 
power, the autumn of ripe achievement, and the 
winter of declining years. 

Now all men would confess that Jesus withstood 
all these temptations and wore the white flower of 
courtesy in His heart even down to the Cross. 
Even there He had time to hear the impassioned 
cry of a thief and to welcome him to paradise as 
though they two were going to meet the King in 
acknowledged fellowship. 

But all this, which no one could deny, only 
throws into darker relief His attitude towards the 
Canaanitish woman who is the subject of our text. 



It is the only instance upon record which, shakes 
our faith in His unfailing courtesy. 

Perhaps it is well there is just one case, which 
by its very contrast throws His constancy into 
relief, otherwise we might have accepted the 
courtesy of Jesus as we often accept the sweetness 
of a singer or the eloquence of an orator as though 
either were a mere natural efflorescence and not a 
carefully cultivated gift. The goodness of Jesus 
was a great achievement, else why did He so per- 
sistently pray ? 

But why, on the other hand, did He treat this 
woman so ? The evangelist does not explain ; 
indeed, he makes us feel as though each dark 
detail was a blow from a whip. There are 
three of them. First, " He answered her not a 
word." Second, he seemed narrow in His sym- 
pathies ; "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of 
the house of Israel." Third, He seemed utterly 
contemptuous ; "It is not meet to take the children's 
bread and cast it to the dogs." 

Here is a handle for the enemies of Jesus ! Did 
not the evangelist see it ? Why did he not add a 
word of explanation or extenuation ? Was it that 
he entirely agreed with this attitude of Jesus, or 
did he consider that the final act of mercy cancelled 
it entirely out ? Did he not see that the question 
would arise whether ultimate mercy could excuse 
preliminary callousness or contempt ? 

Fortunately there is no other similar incident in 
all the wonderful record of that Life of Lives. Had 



there been more our confidence would have been 
shaken. As it is we have passed it over with com- 
parative ease because we prefer to take the evidence 
of a thousand incidents rather than that of one only. 
Jesus was consistently courteous, therefore we should 
judge Him by the general tone 01 His life rather 
than by the one apparent variation. 

There is at least something human there which 
will justify a moment's pause. Many a friendship 
has been wrecked by one deed, by one word. It 
came like an arrow and remained quivering in the 
heart. Because of the pain caused, all the manifold 
and continuous kindnesses were forgotten. One 
doubt has shattered a lifetime's confidence. Are 
not our palaces of love as brittle as glass ? A whole 
reputation has often been withered by one deed or 
word. If even our confidence in Jesus must with- 
stand the jolt of an apparent obstacle, do not let 
our most cherished human relationships fall broken 
to the earth because of one unexplained perturba- 
tion, or even one admitted flaw. These remarks are 
not offered as an adequate explanation of the 
conduct of Jesus upon this occasion, but at least 
they may well have human significance for some 
of us. 

The silence of Jesus is profoundly suggestive. 
It is recorded that " He answered her not a word." 
If we had naught to guide us in the understanding 
of this story but the silence of Jesus we might well 
turn away from it entirely baffled. For nothing is 
so inconclusive as silence. How we crave for a word, 


and would almost rather have the word we dread 
than no word at all. For words give a foothold to 
the understanding, but silence envelops all possi- 
bilities in its dark cloak and leaves the mind a prey 
to uncertainty. Hence we resent it, reaching out 
passionate hands of protest into the dark. 

We all know that faith amid silence is the supreme 
test of loyalty. Much friendship there is in this 
world which can only persist by means of frequent 
reiteration. The deepest waters are the silent 

The silence of God is faith's bitterest trial. It is 
overwhelming to the soul at times to realise that 
amid all the ages in which men have cried to Him, 
seeking help or guidance, never once has His voice 
been heard. To pain and the sense of outrage, 
amid the flagrant miscarriage of justice and the 
sufferings of the innocent, He has presented the 
attitude of imperturbable silence. Faith has many 
times staggered under its weight. Rare souls profess 
that they have heard Him speak to them at such 
times ; most of those who have trusted Him have 
known that grace was given unto them. But silence 
is the metier of God ! We can only judge by His 
general benevolence that His mercy is unfaltering. 
Maybe the silence of God is the courtesy of Omni- 
potence. If, as all believers confess, there is grace 
which strengtheneth the weak and upholdeth the 
humble, it is better than the vociferation of the 
Deity. Whoso would trust God must trust His 



Returning to the story, it seems clear to me that 
the silence of Jesus was His initial courtesy. The 
disciples would have silenced her. " Send her 
away," they said, " for she breaketh the silence of 
thy thoughts."' Jesus was silent to her ; He 
answered her not a word, but He would not have her 
sent away. 

I think the woman was an intrusion upon His 
deep and wise plans. She threatened to thrust 
Htm into complications with the Canaanites when 
He earnestly wished to restrict His mission to the 
Jews. She would go, as the woman of Samaria 
went, saying to her people, " Come, see this man. 
Is not He the Christ ? " And heathendom would 
flood into the Kingdom of God before the sluice- 
gates were under control. Jesus would check by 
His silence this woman from being the innocent 
cause of a calamitous departure from sound policy. 

Jesus was of the same opinion as the disciples, but 
for an entirely different reason. When He said, 
" I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house 
of Israel," He said what they also believed. But 
each adopted the same policy for opposite reasons. 
The disciples looked upon the heathen with con- 
tempt ; they regarded Him as ISRAEL'S Saviour 
and Teacher. Why should the heathen share in Him ? 

Jesus coveted the heathen, but had method in 
His purpose. He would give Himself to the Jews 
that they in turn might be the Saviours of the 
heathen. They were God's chosen race of prophets 
and priests. The days were not many that He 


could give to His mission of preparation. The 
bitter racial issue must not be raised before the 
time had come. His own disciples were not ready 
yet for that development. 

There are things that a far-seeing mind may see 
but may not be able to explain to those whose vision 
is more limited. He would not send her away 
that His soul refused to do His only armour was 
that of silence. " He answered her not a word." 

But the woman would not be denied. Mother- 
love had entered the lists on behalf of her child and 
would acknowledge no truce. She came and wor- 
shipped him, uttering the simplest and most pre- 
vailing of all prayers, " Lord, help me." 

Jesus turned now and looked into the eyes of 
desperately longing, self-sacrificing motherhood. The 
disciples were looking into her eyes too, but they 
saw something quite different. Where He saw love, 
they only saw pertinacity. What to Him was noble 
to them was mean. Where He saw vicarious sorrow 
they saw shameless pugnacity. He knew that her 
motherhood was radiantly selfless but would not 
be denied. They thought in her but a determined, 
selfish woman who would not be shaken off. To 
them she was a heathen dog, to Him a child of God 
in whom the divine love was translucent. 

Into His mind came the thought that was in 
their minds. It came like the stab of a knife, 
venomous with hate and prejudice. He knew it 
for the false thing it was. How His soul loathed 
the sectarian bitternesses which cloud the fair faces 



of the great humanities. He took the loathsome 
thing that was in their hearts upon His lips for a 
moment and flung it down that she might show 
what the soul's pure feeling would do with it. 

" It is not meet/' said He, " to take the children's 
bread and cast it to the dogs." 

Their thought, though His words. Had their lips 
spoken it the lines of the mouth would have been 
tight and hard, the eyes fierce and cruel. She 
winced at the words, but looking at His eyes and 
lips, she did not despair but even smiled as mother- 
wit came to the help of mother-love. " Yea, Lord," 
said she, "for even the dogs eat of the crumbs 
which fall from their master's table." 

And there the foul thing shrivelled in the heat 
of the fierce elemental passion which leapt like a 
live coal out of the bosom of God. The Son of 
Mary flung wide the door of mercy to motherhood, 
which is neither of the Jew nor the Gentile, but is 
human and Divine. 

I hold that the place where the courtesy of Jesus 
seemed to fail is the place where the elemental 
strength of His humanity is clearly revealed. He 
to whom, almost alone among life's manifold ex- 
periences, was not given that of fatherhood, demon- 
strated His knowledge of its vicarious sacrifice. 
Life could give to Him no wife, but did not deny to 
Him a mother. Mary's Son was the most courtly 
believer in motherhood the world has seen. He 
trusted its white flame to destroy the mean ties 
of man's narrowness, even when they were uttered 


in the name of religion. Whoso would call another 
man a " dog," let him fling his vile epithet into the 
flame of the love of that man's mother. Here is 
the nearest thing we humans ever see to that Divine 
pertinacity of love which will not let us go. 

" If I were damned in body and soul, 

Mother o' mine, mother o' mine, 
I know whose kiss would make me whole, 
Mother o' mine, mother o' mine." 

Let us make a bonfire of our mean racial 
antipathies and our class prejudices on the altar 
of the great Humanities ; for whatever shows us 
man at his best shows us the glory of God as when 
the moon, full-phased, swims into our ken from 
behind the clouds. 

To-day some mothers are bringing their babes to 
this church to be baptised in Christ's Name. May all 
political systems, tariff policies, economic combina- 
tions, racial rivalries be made, by the seeing eye of 
man, to come to their final testing before the needs of a 
child and the protecting sacrificing spirit of parent- 
hood. And may the courtesy of Jesus rest like an 
aureole upon the brows of all them who follow Him. 


REV. F. B. MEYER, B.A., D.D. 


MEYER, B.A., D.D. 

DR. MEYER was educated at Brighton College 
and Regent's Park Baptist College. He became 
Assistant Minister to the Rev. C. M. Birrell, at 
Liverpool, in 1870. Two years later he was 
called to the Baptist Chapel, York, and still 
later to Leicester, where the Melbourne Hall was 
built for his ministry. He has been pastor to 
the Regent's Park Chapel, London, and also 
Christ Church, Westminster Bridge Road, of 
which he has been Minister Emeritus since 1921. 
In 1904 and 1920 he was President of the National 
Federation of Free Churches, and also of the 
Baptist Union in 1906. He is the author of the 
following : " Israel : a Prince with God," "Elijah," 
"Tried by Fire," "The Bells of Is," " Reveries 
and Realities,"" Work-a-Day Sermons,"" Blessed 
Are Ye." 


John ii, i-n. 

THIS is one of those precious memories which the 
mother of our Lord pondered in her heart, and 
doubtless often recited in that home to which 
St. John led her from the Cross. Several incidents 
in this Gospel may be traced to that fellowship 
in love and sorrow which, until her death, must 
have linked His mother and the disciple whom 
Jesus loved. 

Is it not wonderful that this was our Lord's first 
miracle ! Had we been asked to select one which 
seemed most appropriate to stand as the frontis- 
piece of His earthly ministry, we should have 
selected the raising of Lazarus, the calming of the 
storm, or the feeding of the hungry crowds; but 
who would have chosen this ? The inventive 
genius of man would have conceived an introductory 
scene which combined the chief features of the 
Transfiguration and of the Giving of ( the Law. How 
different is the simplicity of this incident ! . 

In the previous chapter we are told that the 
Apostles beheld in Jesus Christ the Glory of the 
Only-Begotten of the Father; and when we ask 



one of those eye-witnesses to give a sample of its 
choicest manifestations, we are conducted to a 
little village in the highlands of Galilee, at the 
distance of an afternoon's walk from Nazareth, 
where the Master sits at a simple marriage feast 
amongst His friends, and makes wine out of water 
to supply their lack. 

The miracles of this Gospel are signs (xx, 30), 
carefully selected as bearing upon the special char- 
acteristics of our Lord's person and work, which 
the Evangelist had set himself to portray. There 
was a distinct purpose in His performing this miracle 
as His first, and in its being set so prominently 
at the front of this narrative. We are told that 
He manifested forth His glory ; and we reverently 
ask, How ? As we strive to answer that question, 
may we again sit at His table and hear Him speak ! 


It was His glory to show that true religion is 
consistent with ordinary life. There is a common 
tendency to associate the highest type of religion 
with rigorous austerity of life, as if the human 
were too common to be divine. We fancy that he 
whose thoughts commune most deeply with the 
Eternal must be a stern, silent and solitary type of 
man. This ideal of the religious life was exemplified 
in the old prophets, who dwelt in the solitudes of 
unfrequented deserts and hills, withdrawn from 


the common joys and engagements and ties of 
human existence ; only emerging now and again 
to pour on the ears of awestruck crowds the burning 
words of the living God. Such had been John the 
Baptist. The desert, his home ; the locust and 
wild honey, his fare ; the camel's cloth, his dress. 
And we might have expected to find the Son of God 
more rigorous still in His isolation ; rearing Himself 
in severe and solitary grandeur, like the Jungfrau 
among the alps. 

But no ! His early years are spent, not in a desert, 
but in a home. He comes eating and drinking. 
He moves freely amongst men as one of themselves, 
He interweaves His life with the life of the home, 
the market-place, and the street. And in pursuance 
of this purpose He wrought His first miracle at 
a peasant's wedding. 

Travelling by easy stages from the Joidan valley, 
He had reached Galilee. Finding His mother gone 
from Nazareth, He followed her over the hills to 
Cana, and for her sake was invited with His six 
new-made followers to the rustic feast. It was 
a time of simple-hearted enjoyment. " The bride- 
groom crowned with flowers with which his mother 
had crowned him in the day of his espousals; 
the bride adorned with her jewels, sitting apart 
among the women." But, though He was the 
Son of God, no cloud would veil His face or cast 
a restraining spell upon the guests. 

This is the harder type. It is easier, like the 
anchorite, to be separated from the world, than, 



like the Saviour, to be in it and not of it. Easier 
to decline an invitation to the house of the great 
than to go there and behave as the Son of God. 
Easier to refuse the things of sense than to use them 
without abuse. Easier to maintain a life of prayer 
far from, the haunts of men, than to enter them 
maintaining constant fellowship with God in the 
unruffled depths of the soul. Nothing but the 
grace of the Holy Spirit can suffice for this. But 
this is sufficient if daily and believingly sought. 

It is most honouring to God. The idea of the 
ascetic life is that every human feeling is a weakness, 
and every natural instinct a sin. No woman's 
caress, no childish voice, no tender love, none of the 
jewels or flowers of existence, may soften the rigours 
of that lot. But is not all this a libel on God's 
original creation ? Has He made so great a mistake 
in creating us that we must thwart His ideal at 
every step, ere we can rise to our true manhood ? 
Must we make ourselves other than men before 
we can be saints? Surely, to reason thus is to 
dishonour the wisdom and love of God in our 
original creation. And the Incarnation teaches us, 
as does this miracle, that God does not require an 
emasculated, but a fulfilled and purified humanity. 

It is most useful to the world. Of what use is salt, 
except in contact with the corrupting carcase ? 
The holiness which builds three tabernacles amid 
almost inaccessible rocks is of little help to the 
breaking hearts of demon-possessed men in the 
valley below. This, at least, is not our Saviour's 


message. " Go," says He, " to Jerusalem and 
Samaria, to the crowded cities and homes of men. 
Live amongst them, kindling them with the passion 
of your holiness. Suffer little children to come to 
you ; publicans and sinners to draw near to you ; 
crowds to follow you. All I ask is that whether ye 
eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, ye should do 
all to the glory of God." 


It was His glory to teach the beauty of waiting 
meekly for God. If ever there was a being who 
might have claimed to act on the prompting of His 
own spirit, it was surely our blessed Lord. But 
there never was one who lived in more absolute and 
entire dependence on the Father from the first. 
It comes out very clearly here. 

His advent with His friends threatened the whole 
family with a disgrace, which to the hospitable mind 
of the Jew would be irreparable. The wine ran 
short. Mary, who seems to have had considerable 
influence in the house, was made aware of the fact, 
and quickly guessed its cause. She could not endure 
the thought of inflicting, however unconsciously, so 
great a mortification on that kindly circle, and 
she suddenly conceived the hope of helping them 
through Him whom she had been wont to count 
her obedient son. Why should He not now assume 
the position which had been predicted from His 



birth ? She could not have been deceived in all 
that had been told her ; but it had been long and 
hard to wait. Yet surely the salutation of the 
Baptist and gathering of disciples were omens 
of an approaching change. Why should He not 
now blossom out into all that splendid glory with 
which Jewish anticipation invested the Messiah ? 

Her implied request must have appealed closely 
to the tender heart of Jesus. All that she felt 
He felt also. But He could not take His commands 
from her entreaty, or even from the warmth of His 
own emotions. He addressed her with a title 
consistent with the most perfect tenderness indeed, 
He used it from His cross ; but, waiving her sugges- 
tion with a common Aramaic expression, went on 
to announce that henceforth His eye would be, 
if possible, more closely fixed on the dial-plate of 
His Father's will, following the index-finger of 
His purpose, waiting till it should reach the hour, 
and the alarum for action should ring out. " Mine 
hour is not yet come." 

It was thus that He waited or acted throughout 
His life. The Gospels abound in references to His 
hour. Before it struck He was calm and peaceful, 
however pressing might be the apparent need for 
action. When it struck He acted instantly and 
decisively. Afterward, He returned unto His rest. 
This is almost the hardest lesson in Christian living. 
We listen to the advice of friend ; the threatening 
of foe; the pressure of circumstance. We think 
we must do something. Like King Saul, we force 


ourselves and offer the sacrifice. We pray hurriedly 
and throw ourselves into the breach, to discover, 
when too late, that we have run without being sent, 
and have defeated our own object by too much 
haste. " My soul, wait thou," might often be 
addressed to ourselves by ourselves. Not a moment 
behind God ; but not a moment before Him ! 
Ready for His hour to strike ! 


It was His glory to show the inwardness of true 
religion. In the entrance-hall six stone water-pots 
were standing, " after the manner of the purifying 
of the Jews." Their superstitious dread of un- 
cleanness made it necessary to have large supplies 
of water ever at hand. Without washing no one 
ate (Mark vii, 3). The feet of each guest were 
washed on arrival (Luke vii, 44). The washing of 
cups and jugs and bottles, says the Talmud, went 
on all day. And in this we have a symbol of that 
religion which consists in external rites, and is 
content only if these are maintained. 

But the Master turned the water of outward 
ceremonial washing into wine for inward drinking. 
Surely there is deep symbolical meaning here, in 
illustration of which we recall two sentences, the 
one from the Old Testament, the other from the 
New. " Thy love is better than wine " ; and 
" Whoso . . . drinketh my blood hath eternal life." 



The most spiritual men in the old Jewish system 
were constantly emphasising the impotence of 
mere ritual to save and sanctify the soul, David 
felt it (Psalm li, 16), Isaiah felt it (Isaiah i, 13), 
Micah brings it out in clear relief (Micah vi, 7). 
And here our Lord in this striking miracle seems to 
say : " The days of ceremonialism are past ; the 
system which was sent to teach spiritual ideas by 
material substances and external rites is at an end, 
the tedious routine of outward ablutions, which 
has diverted men's attention from the inner life 
and the befitting garb of the soul, must be laid 
aside; I am come to teach men to love, to live 
by faith, to array themselves in robes washed white 
in .My blood, and to rise through close participation 
in My death to a life of stainless purity and flawless 
beauty. Not water, but blood ! Not washing, 
but drinking ! Not the outward cleanliness, how- 
ever fair and right ; but the purity of the heart, 
the deliverance of the spirit from the polluting 
taint of evil ! " We are not surprised to learn that 
He cleansed the Temple, and that He told Nicodemus 
that even he must be born again. 


It was His glory to awaken us to see the Divine 
power in the ordinary processes of nature. The 
world is full of miracles ; but they are so gradual 
and quiet that we are often blinded to their wonder, 



till the flash of a sudden " sign " awakens us from 
our strange neglect. 

It seems doubtful whether the Lord changed all 
the contents of the six stone jars, or only that which 
was drawn from them. The latter would more 
resemble His way, who gives us, not granaries of grain 
but daily bread ; and who deals out supplies of 
daily strength. But, even if He had turned all the 
water into wine, there would be no obstacle to our 
faith. The sin of drunkenness was not the sin of 
Palestine, as it is of London ; and therefore did not 
need the special methods of prevention which the 
principles of His Gospel now lead us to adopt. 
Also we must remember that the light wines of the 
Galilean vintage were very different to the brandied 
intoxicants with which we are too familiar. 

But this is the interesting point : that we see 
compressed into a single flash the same power that 
works throughout the wine-lands every summer, 
transforming the dew and rain into the juices that 
redden the drooping cluster of the vines. The 
superficial man looks at this miracle and cries : 
" Oh, wondrous day that beheld so great a deed ! " 
The spiritual man looks at it, and whilst not under- 
rating its marvel, walks the world with a new 
reverence, because he knows that the same Divine 
power is throbbing all around. The power revealed 
in feeding the five thousand is required to cover 
the autumn fields with grain. The power needed 
to raise the dead shows how much is constantly 
demanded to keep us living. The power that quells 



the storm indicates how much is being exercised 
to maintain the stable equilibrium of the world. 

This is the glory of the miracles of Jesus, that 
they have taught us to look on the world around 
us with new and opened eyes. We hear His voice 
in the summer wind, and amid the roar of the 
pitiless storm. We catch sight of His form awakening 
nature from her wintry sleep by Hjs touch, as once 
the little daughter of Jairus from her couch. We 
stand spellbound before His power, as once they 
did who saw the wonderful works of His hands. 
He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. 
In Him all things consist. And as for this world, 
it teems with the miraculous : 

" And every common bush aflame with God ; 
But only he who sees takes off his shoes." 


It was His glory to train others, in fellowship with 
Himself, for holy ministry. The loftiest character- 
istic in a leader is not in performing all service 
himself, but in delegating work to others, who are 
thus trained for a far-reaching extension of his 
methods and influence. We find a notable instance 
of it here. Our Lord turned to the leader of the 
little group of volunteers, who were waiting on the 
guests, and asked him to have the water- jars filled 
up. That request was a severe test to their obedient 


faith. Those great jars stood in the vestibule of 
the house. Each would hold about twenty gallons ; 
and they had already fulfilled their purpose. They 
did not hold the drinking water, but, as we are 
expressly told, were used for the Jewish rites of 
purification. As the guests had entered, water 
drawn from those jars had been poured over their 
hands and feet, according to Eastern custom, where 
the sand and heat and perspiration demand the 
frequent application of refreshing water. Probably 
by this time they were nearly empty, and it would 
be no small labour to draw sufficient water from 
some neighbouring well or spring. The men also 
were needed to attend on the guests. To-morrow 
would surely be time enough to fill these capacious 
jars in anticipation of the fresh relay of visitors ! 

There was no hesitation, however. Mary had 
already instructed them to do whatever Jesus might 
command ; and at once leaving all else, these 
willing hearts and hands were soon engaged in 
their somewhat arduous toil. It was no half- 
hearted service, for we learn that they filled them 
up " to the brim." So full were they that if a chance 
leaf, driven by the breeze, had alighted on the 
brimming contents of one of those great jars of 
water, it would have overflowed and spilt a few 
drops on the floor. 

Let us notice here : (i) The necessity of obeying 
exactly and immediately the commands of that 
"inner voice," which may always be recognised 
by two signs : It never asks questions, but is always 



direct and explicit ; and it generally asks for an 
obedience which is against, or above, what we by 
nature feel disposed to give. It is the Voice of the 
Spirit of God ! Whatsoever He saith unto you, 
Do it ! Not yours to question why ; not yours to_ 
make reply. He who responds, obeys, co-operates, 
and allows this Christ-light to have full sway in 
him, becomes transformed thereby, and recreated 
into the likeness of Christ. 

(2) Whenever you do anything for Jesus, do it 
up to the brimful measure. It may be a very small 
thing to take a class of poor children ; to pay a 
visit to a dying man or woman ; to write a letter 
but let the response be always brimful. The jar 
is your opportunity! A very common jar! The 
act may seem unnecessary and inconvenient ; but 
out of it will probably arise the greatest achieve- 
ment of your Christian service. When Jesus and 
you have entered into co-partnership, be sure that 
you do your bit with all your heart and might. Let 
there be nothing lacking on your side. It is an 
amazing thing that the Lord of Glory should want 
our help, and honour us by making us His fellow- 
workers. Let us show ourselves worthy of His 
trust ! 

(3) We are told that " the servants who drew 
the water knew." The emphatic reference here 
laid on their drawing water throws light on this 
whole miracle. They drew water from the brimming 
jars, but as they crossed the passage to the tables 
where the guests reclined, they saw it flush into 


wine. But only they, "knew when the miracle took 
place. When we work with Christ, we get to 
understand His methods ; He unfolds to us His 
secrets. The secret of the Lord is with them that 
fear Him, and He shows them His covenant. We, 
the servants, know many things hidden from the 
wise and prudent ! 

Many of us realise that this miracle is constantly 
taking place. We spend a week thinking out and 
preparing an address. We fill the water-pots to 
the brim. But at the end of days of preparation, 
we look sadly on what we have done, and say to 
ourselves : " After all, it is very poor stuff, only 
water." Yet, when we are speaking, and see faces 
suffused with emotion, here radiance, there repen- 
tance not to be repented of, we know that the 
Master has been collaborating with us, and has 
turned the water into wine. In that change, was 
there not a subtle reference to a thought afterwards 
elaborated by the Apostle : " This is He who came 
by water and blood, not by water only." 

" Measure thy life by loss instead of gain, 
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured 

forth ; 

For Love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice, 
And whoso suffers most hath most to give." 

" How poor were earth, if all its Martyrdoms, 
If all its struggling sighs of sacrifice 
Were swept away, and all were satiate ! " 

It is a beautiful privilege to work along with'Christ, 



but we shall not serve that blessed apprenticeship 
without learning this lesson, that He has no pleasure 
in service rendered to Himself or to others, that 
does not cost us blood. This trace of blood in our 
actions is a matter we can never talk about. When 
it is being shed, we must anoint our heads and 
wash our faces, that men may have no inkling of 
what is happening. Neither the right hand nor the 
left must know or divulge the secret. When our 
Lord was performing this miracle, there was no 
strain or effort, no wrinkle on His forehead, no 
cloud upon His face. He drew no attention to 
Himself ; needed no thanks, and stole away 
unrecognised, at least for the moment, as the Giver. 
Of course there is no merit in sacrifice, which adds 
joy to the marriage feasts of our friends and bene- 
ficiaries, any more than in a hair shirt worn next 
the skin. The Master knows, and you know ; and 
you know that He knows ! A smile has passed 
between Him and you, and it is enough. Probably 
He will give you larger and wider opportunities 
as the days run on. Blessed are they that help to 
save weddings from disgrace, and little children 
from sorrow, because they have learnt in the school 
of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to 


It was His glory to show the ascending scale of 
God's gifts. The devil ever gives his best first ; 


and when the appetite is somewhat palled, he puts 
on his worse, even to the worst. Gold at the crown, 
clay at the foot. Feasting with harlots, then famine 
with swine. Goshen with its pastures, followed by 
Egypt with its fetters. Those who are living a 
heartless and worldly life must make the most of it, 
for it is the best they will ever have. After you 
have " well drunk," there will come coarser tastes, 
more depraved appetites. That which has satisfied 
will fail to satisfy, and in its stead will come forms 
of sin and temptation from which at the first you 
would have started back, saying, "Do you take 
me for a dog, that I should ever come to this ! " 

But the Master, on the other hand, is always 
giving something better. As the taste is being 
constantly refined, it is provided with more delicate 
and ravishing delights. That which you know of 
Him to-day is certainly better than that which you 
tasted when first you sat down at His board. And 
so it will ever be. The angels, as His servants, have 
orders to bring in and set before the heirs of glory 
things which eye hath not seen, and man's heart 
has not conceived, but which are all prepared. 
The best of earth will be far below the simplest 
fare of heaven. But what will heaven's best be ? 
If the wine in the peasant's house is so luscious, 
what will be the new wine in the Father's Kingdom ? 
What may we not expect from the vintage of the 
celestial hills ! What will it be to sit at the Marriage 
Supper of the Lamb, not as guests, but as the Bride ! 
Oh, hasten on, ye slow-moving days ; be quick to 

o 197 


depart, that we may taste that ravishment of bliss ! 
But for ever and ever, as fresh revelations and 
wonder break on our glad souls, we shall look up to 
the Master of the Feast, and cry, " Thou hast kept 
the best until now" 




HE was educated at the College of Science and 
the University, at Durham ; the Presbyterian 
Theological College (now Westminster College, 
Cambridge) ; Tubingen and Berlin. He was 
Assistant Minister to the late Rev. John Watson, 
D.D. (Ian Maclaren), at Sefton Park Church, 
Liverpool ; Minister of Willesden Presbyterian 
Church, London, and of St. Andrew's Presby- 
terian Church, Eastbourne. Since 1910 he has 
occupied the pulpit of the Marylebone Presby- 
terian Church, and is ex- President of the National 
Council of the Evangelical Free Churches. He 
is the author of : " The Story of Stories : A Life 
of Christ for Children," " The Kinsfolk and Friends 
of Jesus," "God's Lantern-bearers," "Little 
Sermons to the Children," " Evangelicalism : 
Has it a Future ? " " The Minister in the Modern 
World : " Joint-editor of "The Bible for Youth." 




" He that loveth father or mother more than Me 
is not worthy of Me ; and he that loveth son or 
daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 
And he that doth not take his cross and follow after 
Me is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life 
shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake 
shall find it." Matthew x, 37-39. 

THERE is no denying that there are spearpoints in 
the teaching of Jesus. Hard sayings, severe de- 
mands, mingle with His tender promises and words 
of compassion. Something inexorable mingles 
strangely with something endlessly considerate. 
And part of my business is to bring you up against 
these spearpoints. I could not have a quiet con- 
science and you could only have contempt forme 
if I failed in this part of my duty, though both you 
and I may tremble a little while I do it. But the 
first thing is to understand what the spearpoints 
of the requirements of Jesus really are. It is very 
easy to misconceive them. 

From time to time novelists and dramatists 
present to us characters who according to them 
really follow out Jesus' teaching and copy His 



example. What they often suggest is that it is 
impossible to be a first-grade Christian without 
breaking with the ordinary relations of life and 
forsaking the ordinary intercourse of the family; 
that such a Christian will inevitably be a martyr 
and must be a hero. One thinks of the phrase of 
Edna Lyall, a forgotten novelist, " to live the life 
of the Crucified " ; of Sir Hall Caine's " The Master 
Christian," and now of the new play, " The Fool," 
which represents a clergyman seeking wholly to 
honour Christ and becoming thereby what most 
people would call an impossible person. I am afraid 
there is a good deal of melodrama, rather than true 
tragedy, in most delineations of this kind. The 
chief character is apt to be a stupid fool rather than 
a holy fool. One great writer, the Russian Dostoieff- 
sky, has written a book on this theme which is 
wholly worthy. His novel, " The Idiot," I can 
strongly recommend. It is a pity that people should 
spend their time on melodramatic versions of this 
theme when a work of genius lies to their hand. 

But such books, whether well-conceived or ill- 
conceived, do serve to remind us of the sharp edge 
of the demands of Jesus. It is important that we 
should study them. There is a permanently dis- 
quieted conscience in some Christians because they 
feel they have never done justice to them and have 
been tempted to avoid them. Besides, there are 
a good many outsiders who feel that what is required 
is quite beyond them. They say : " It is too hard 
for me. Of course, to be a real Christian and live 


a life like the life of Jesus, that would be a wonderful 
and beautiful thing, but who does ? " They are 
too often content to leave it at that. And there 
are others, both Christian and un-Christian, who 
think that there are first-grade Christians and 
second-grade Christians, and that it is impossible 
to be a first-grade Christian unless one accepts 
certain conditions of self-renunciation, such as, let 
us say, the unmarried life, voluntary poverty, and 
so forth. Now is that so? As honest men and 
women, let us know the facts. Let us try and clear 
up the situation. 


The first thing to make clear to ourselves is that 
our Lord did call certain people to special sacrifices, 
special sufferings and, be it added, to special joys 
because of the service that involved such special 
sacrifices and sufferings. He called His Apostles 
to give up their nets and their boats, or their 
custom-house accounts and tolls. He told a rich 
young aristocrat to give all his fortune to the poor 
and to cast in his lot with Himself. He indicated 
quite clearly that certain people could serve Him 
and their generation best by remaining unmarried. 

Something corresponding to these special com- 
mands must exist to-day, must be relevant for 
some of Christ's people in the world to-day. There 
is such a thing as an unusual vocation to spiritual 



service and testimony. Woe betide the man or 
woman who hears such a call and refuses it. Blessed 
is the man who discerns and obeys it. 

All through the Christian centuries men have 
accepted such vocations. The Church would have 
withered long ago had it not been so. And followers 
of St. Martin and St. Francis, of John Knox and 
George Fox are still to be found, though the inward 
drama of their souls is often undiscovered because 
their visible self-renunciation is undramatic. There 
are ministers in our churches who have sacrificed 
college fellowships, lucrative directorships, in prosper- 
ous companies, comfortable posts in the Civil 
Service, to undergo the arduous training and to 
receive the limited stipends and to anticipate the 
meagre pensions which are the best that unendowed 
churches can provide. They count the world well 
lost. They too have known the heavenly, vision 
and have obeyed it. There will always be men and 
women to hear such a call to the home ministry 
or to the mission field or to some kind of public 
service, ill-remunerated but important. If you 
have but a suspicion that such a call is in your ear, 
consider it most seriously, for God speaks in whispers, 
scarcely to be heard, as well as in thunderclaps. 
Count yourself honoured if you know you ought to 
obey it. You will be among God's elect, elect to 
special service as surely as the Apostles. 

But the question I wish to press is this. Supposing 
that many of you are without such a call to special 
spiritual service, are you therefore condemned to a 


second-grade Christian life ? Or to put it still 
more sharply, supposing you were once conscious 
of a vocation to special service, and accepted it and 
in due time felt compelled to resign it for some 
reason which seemed good to you, such as ill-health, 
or the claims of those unexpectedly dependent on 
you, or a fresh revelation of your powers, are you 
therefore condemned to a second-grade Christian 

The answer is quite decisively "No." The grounds 
for this statement are widespread in the Gospels, 
but perhaps the clearest statement is found in the 
discussion concerning marriage. When the disciples 
heard our Lord's statement concerning the in- 
violableness of marriage save for one reason, with 
a dismal pessimism which throws a shadow on the 
habitual married life of that time they answered, 
" If that's a man's position with his wife, there is 
no good in marrying." Our Lord's rejoinder is 
notable : " True, but this truth is not practicable 
for everyone ; it is only for those who have the gift. 
Some are eunuchs from birth, some have been made 
eunuchs by men, and some have made themselves 
eunuchs for the sake of the Realm of Heaven. Let 
anyone practise it for whom it is practicable." 

Let me translate this into modern speech. " Some 
are called to a greatly simplified and concentrated 
life. They are called to a heroic short cut. If this 
is practicable for you, take that way." But He 
refuses to say that he who thus simplifies his life 
is therefore in a class by himself. Rather He insists 



that there is an ideal for marriage which must be 
pursued by all married people. He refuses to 
commit Himself to the proposition that the un- 
married are necessarily in a higher state. There is 
nothing in His teaching to suggest it. 

We see our way on the first point then. Some 
are called to special service and special conditions 
of life, to a narrowing and a concentration of 
their powers. But others who are not so called 
are neither condemned to a lower state nor released 
from the compulsion to seek the highest kind of 
life along the lines on which they choose to live or 
are compelled to live. 


A second point is equally clear. All Christ's 
people are to be prepared for sacrifice and for the 
utmost sacrifice for the truth they know and for 
the Lord they love. Mark what I say. They are 
to be prepared for it. Their innermost loyalty, 
their deepest devotion, is to be their loyalty and 
their devotion to Him, which is just the same as 
saying loyalty and devotion to truth and to fulness 
of life and to goodness. He does say explicitly that 
nothing is comparable, in force of demand, to this 
compulsion. You must be prepared for limitation, 
yes, for what can only be called mutilation, for this 
fidelity. You must place this claim higher than 
any conceivable earthly claim. You must be pre- 


pared for death itself rather than resign this which 
alone makes life essentially precious. You may not 
be called to be a martyr, but you are to pray to 
be fit to be a martyr. You may not be called to be 
obviously a hero, but you are to strive to develop 
the heroic quality. The time may come when 
everything else must go that this may remain. 

I think it is easy to instance how this works. A 
Christian girl must be prepared to forego marriage 
if marriage would forbid her remaining avowedly 
Christian. A business man must be prepared to 
forego gain and endure loss rather than be dis- 
honest. A youth must be prepared to lose his 
situation rather than deny his conscience. A 
minister must be prepared to forfeit his position 
rather than conceal the truth he knows. A politician 
must be prepared to sacrifice his career rather than 
desert his principles. 

Our Lord bids us face the possibility and count 
the cost of the high prize of His approving love. 
The cost may be the loss of the human splendours, 
the loss of much dear earthly delight, the loss of 
livelihood. We must be prepared for the greatest 
demand, for the worst trial. 

That is a hard saying, and I don't say it lightly. 
In that sense every Christian is called on "to live 
dangerously." In that sense every Christian is a 
potential martyr, an embryo hero. , 

That being clear, let me say with equal strength 
that our Lord nowhere teaches that such a trial, 
even unto death, is the inevitable consequence of 



discipleship. His words are, " Let him that would 
follow Me take up his cross," not " Let him that 
would follow Me die on the cross." To carry the 
cross means that one is prepared for crucifixion, if 
crucifixion be demanded. There is another sense in 
which Paul uses this metaphor, viz. that all that is 
bad in us, all that is against Jesus, is to be put to 
death, and that we will get the strength thus to 
crucify our earthly longings and lusts by the 
love which He from His cross creates. But our 
Lord is not using the metaphor in that sense. What 
He demands is preparedness for death for His sake : 
that and no more. 

Think of His own life and this will grow clear. 
He was not "living the life of the crucified" all 
the three years of His ministry. His first year 
was a year of a great deal of sunshine. He pictured 
Himself and His comrades as a bridal party. He 
comforted and healed and helped many people. He 
did His utmost to prepare people for His message. 
He never ran upon the spearpoints of opposition. 
When His Apostles went forth as His heralds, He 
bade them leave the place that rejected them, 
leave with a solemn warning but still leave, neither 
inviting nor resisting opposition. When they were 
tired out He invited them to come apart and rest 
awhile. He Himself never refused the simple pro- 
visions and alleviations of life when they could be 
accepted without compromising His mission. You 
remember how He was accused of being a glutton 
and a wine-bibber because He was not an ascetic 


like John. You remember, too, His resting-times 
in that dear home in Bethany, and how simply He 
cast Himself down and slept when tired out, though 
His disciples had to toil at the oar. His sacrifices 
were never needless sacrifices, blundering sacrifices. 
Both His own sacrificial life and the sacrificial life 
He demanded were distinguished by that " fine 
sanity " of which Strauss, the arch-heretic of a past 
century, spoke. He never asked needless, meaning- 
less asceticism. He never advocated pain for pain's 
sake. He was not afraid to live a day without 
open sacrifice. He never taught that we had no 
right to be happy unless we were sacrificing some- 
thing every day. 

My complaint against certain novelists and 
dramatists lies here. They are so anxious to make 
their effect that they do less than justice to the 
sanity which Jesus possessed, and to the sanity 
which He taught when He said, " Be wise as 
serpents and harmless as doves." It is a mis- 
representation of the life and teaching of Jesus to 
suggest that all the time and all the way a faithful 
follower of His must expect only to walk on sword- 
blades and to be .crowned with thorns and to be 
voted an impossible person. 

What Jesus demands is far-reaching enough, 
tremendous enough I venture the word, terrible 
enough without its being misrepresented. 

A full confirmation of what I am saying is found 
in the lives of His first Apostles. They did .endure 
hardship, many of them died a martyr's death; 



but what friendships they enjoyed, what alleviations 
they possessed. Peter in the home of Mark's 
mother, Paul under Lydia's kindly roof at Philippi ! 
And all the encircling fellowships of the brotherhood, 
were God's mercies to them as they told His good 
news in a pagan world. 

By all means let us take to heart, with bared 
breast, our Lord's words, " He that loveth father 
and mother, son and daughter, more than Me, is 
not worthy of Me/' but let us remember also His 
amazing promise : " Everyone that hath left houses 
or brethren or sisters or father or mother or children 
or lands for My name's sake shall receive a hundred- 
fold and shall inherit eternal life." " Shall receive 
a hundredfold." " Shall receive a hundredfold." 
Yes, there are spearpoints in the words of Jesus, 
but the spears are garlanded with roses, and there 
are medicaments for the wounds they make. 


I have been trying to present fairly our Lord's 
demands. But I tremble lest I should misrepresent 
them and lure you from the path with a false hope 
of ease or somehow cheat you into the unheroic 
life. I have been pointing out that we are not 
called to live the life of the crucified but to live the 
life prepared for a sudden demand for crucifixion. 
I have been emphasising that the butcher and the 
banker, the wife and the schoolmistress, may be 



as truly dedicated souls as the minister and the 
missionary. But these treacherous hearts of ours, 
they are so easily tempted to evade the greatest 
demand when it comes. Remember, therefore, 
" the terrible thoroughness " of Jesus Christ. Do 
you recognise that phrase ? It occurred in an 
obituary notice of F. H. Bradley, perhaps the 
greatest of our modern English philosophers, and 
refers to the implacable demands of his intellect 
in the search for truth. 

They exactly describe the nature of our Lord's 
demand " terrible thoroughness." We cannot per- 
suade Him to call the wrong way the right way 
or the partially right way. We cannot retain His 
fellowship, which is the dew on the grass, the 
sunlight on the dew, unless we walk His way. We 
cannot walk the lower path, when called to the 
higher, without a cloud rising between Him and us. 
He demands, He insists, that we seek the highest ; 
He is inexorable, implacable, there. 

I do not know where you stand to-day, at what 
parting of the ways in your life ; I cannot know if 
there is anyone called to a mighty act of faith or 
an unlooked-for act of sacrifice. All I know is 
that it is impossible to deceive Him, impossible to 
change His demand, impossible to be one with Him 
in feeling and to be opposed to Him in will. I 
charge you, remember the "" terrible thorough- 
ness " of Jesus Christ, like the thoroughness of the 
true surgeon who will cut away the last fragment of 
diseased flesh but does it for the sake of life. How 



do I dare to say these things to you and to myself ? 
How can I hope to draw men and women to His side, 
or to hold you steadfast when this is my message' ? 

I have but one hope Himself. If you and I 
can but catch one fleeting vision of Him, undeviating 
in His love for us ; if we can gain, one fresh glimpse 
of Him enduring the Cross for us, it will be enough 
to nerve us to meet the spearpoints.of life, which 
are as sure as the spearpoints of His teaching. His 
own certainty helps us. Jesus was sure that there 
was that in Him which can remake manhood, 
changing the coward into the hero and the recreant 
into the loyalist. Jesus knew that His love can be 
stronger than every allurement and every menace 
of earth. There was something in Him com- 
municable to everyone who surrendered to Him. 
He knew Himself to be the Lifegiver, the bestower 
of heavenly reinforcement, such as no fountain of 
power could either contribute or withstand. He 
knew better than we do how much He was asking. 
But He dared to ask because He knew how much 
He had to give. 

Daring ? Of course He was daring with the 
boldness of great love. Revolutionary ? Yes, if 
you mean inward revolution, the revolution made 
by victorious love. No, if you mean outward 
revolution, which He not only did not initiate but 
also carefully avoided. Folly ? Ah, that depends 
upon your judgment, whether the human splendours 
or His approval be most worth while. 


REV. J. KELMAN, D.D., D.Litt., O.B.E. 


A SON of the late Rev. J. Kelman, D.D., Miniate: 
of the United Free Church of St. John's, Leith; 
Dr. John Kelman was educated at New College, 
Edinburgh. He interrupted his college course by 
three years' travel and work in Australia, one 
session being spent at Ormond Collegr, Melbourne. 
After finishing at New College, in 1890, he became 
Assistant to the Rev. (now Principal Sir) George 
Adam Smith, in Aberdeen. He was ordained 
Minister of Peterculter, Aberdeen, in 1891, then 
transferred to New North Church, Edinburgh. 
In 1907 he became a colleague of and successor to 
Dr. Alexander Whyte at the St. George's U.F. 
Church in Edinburgh. From 1919 to 1924 he 
was at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, 
New York. He is now Minister of St. Andrew's 
Presbyterian Church, Frognal, Hampstead. He 
is the author of : " The Road, A Study of John 
Bunyan's ' Pilgrim's Progress,' " " Some Aspects 
of International Christianity," " The Foundations 
of Faith," "Prophets of Yesterday and their 
Message for To-day," etc. 


REV. JOHN KELMAN, D.D., D.Litt., O.B.E. 

The Garden and the Cross. 
Matthew xxvii, 59-60 ; John xix, 41. 

VERY little is known about Joseph of Arimathea. 
He was a counsellor, both rich and influential, and 
either he had settled in Jerusalem, emigrating from 
the village of Arimathea, or perhaps he may have 
retained his Arimathean home, while he had pur- 
chased for himself a city garden in which he had 
made his tomb. In any case he seems to have 
been a man of refined and gentle tastes, to whom 
a garden was a precious thing. He had been im- 
pressed by Jesus, but it was characteristic of his 
disposition that he had not come out into the open, 
but had lived as a secret disciple and supporter of 
the Master. We read that he had not consented 
unto the deed of the others, and very probably 
he had been absent from the trial where all seem 
to have been at one in their verdict of condemnation. 
After Jesus had died he came forward with those 
tender ministries which culminated in the burial 
described in the text. 

Curiously he appears as a great figure in the later 
Arthurian romances. We read of him in stories of 
the Holy Grail, connected with an establishment at 



Glastonbury, and in the year A.D. 63 we find him 
building the first British oratory with twisted twigs 
on an island in the River Brue. These legends 
show how deeply he had impressed the imagination 
of our fathers and how much he had endeared 
himself to their hearts. 


First of all let us tell to ourselves again the 
beautiful story. It begins with Joseph and his 
garden. The garden is a characteristic feature of 
the Holy Land. " Many a sweet vista in Palestine 
is seen framed in trellised vines, or in passion-flower 
swinging over a roofed fountain or a garden house." 
Men planted orchards and enclosed them with a 
wall or a thorn hedge. They irrigated them arti- 
ficially, or diverted streams towards them, so that 
those who approached along the dusty highway 
were refreshed even in passing with the sound of 
falling or of running water. Some of these gardens 
have become famous from their magnificence and 
their beauty. Such were the King's Gardens near 
the Pool of Siloam, wonderful gardens of roses and 
of spices. But many a private man had his little 
plot of land where he spent his leisure time among 
flowers of his own cultivating, and shady trees 
under which he found retirement and solitude. 
When Titus was besieging Jerusalem it was 
among garden trenches outside the walls that 


on one occasion he was nearly captured by the 

These garden solitudes meant much to Israel. 
The life of Palestine was all lived in the open, and 
the publicity of it must sometimes have been very 
wearing to the nerves and trying to the strength of 
men. Houses were built so as to give the appear- 
ance of aggressive ruinousness, and past the blind 
walls of these the screaming streets zigzagged 
through cities and villages. But the apparent ruin 
was often a very gorgeous little palace, opening 
with all its windows upon a garden, where nature's 
voice might be heard continually calling, Come 
unto me and I will give you rest. The reason for 
this curious habit of architecture has of late 
centuries been largely the rapacity of the tax- 
collector. But it has deeper roots than that, and 
somehow fits exactly with the Oriental nature. 
There is something which makes a secret place 
congenial to the Eastern. The genii of the desert 
derived their name from the same root as the word 
for garden, and the garden city of Jenin obviously 
bears the same origin. The violent contrast between 
these sweet retreats and the noise and bustle of 
life outside their walls made them veritable para- 
dises to the imagination of men and women. They 
were the favourite spots for meditation and for 
prayer. In them the family held its gatherings. 
Lights were swung in the darkness among the 
green branches of the trees and the sound of music 
and laughter was wafted out from such secluded 



places to arouse a wistful moment of envy in the 
heart of those who passed by. Thus religion and 
romance combined in the idea of the hortus con- 
clusus (the garden enclosed), so sweetly sung in the 
Song of Solomon. It is significant that the Paradise, 
alike of Jews, Mohammedans and Christians, has 
always been conceived of as a garden. 

So far then, one might naturally think of Joseph 
as being " a good easy man," a man somewhat 
luxurious in his tastes, and bent upon enjoying the 
full beauty of life. There was, however, a tomb 
- in Joseph's garden. This might give the impression 
that we had been mistaken in conceiving the garden 
as a voluptuous thing, and might lead us to imagine 
that it was but an enclosure with which a melancholy 
person, prone to thinking upon death, had sur- 
rounded his tomb. As a matter of fact, while the 
presence of the tomb does indeed show us Joseph 
to have been a serious and thoughtful man, it by 
no means takes away the sense of luxuriousness 
from the garden. Indeed, the tomb is the last 
word of luxury in such a case, and the mystic 
dreaming which centres around a man's own grave 
may become to an imaginative nature an extremely 
voluptuous experience. It is in this way that a 
cultivated mind may bid defiance to mortality and 
make even death the minister of his pleasures. 
The tomb is sombre but there is no necessary 
harshness in its presence here. He will play with 
the spectre for a little time now and then and find 
the sun shining all the brighter when he returns 


to the world, with the comfortable assurance that, 
after all, he is not dead yet. 

Little did Joseph think, while he planned and 
walked in his garden under the sweet and fragrant 
shade of trees, of the strange shadow that would 
one day fall across it. For many a day and year 
he had watched his plants growing, until the sap- 
lings cast longer and heavier shadows, dappling 
the lily-sprinkled ground. But one day there arose 
upon the hill just beyond his wall a savage, strange 
and uncouth thing, shapeless, horrible and sugges- 
tive, that changed everything. The garden could 
never be the same again, nor could Joseph. We 
ask ourselves how much he knew of Calvary, and 
it is probable enough that he knew everything, 
and that in despair of any help he had absented 
himself from the scene of the trial. Yet when the 
cross actually arose and its shadow was flung upon 
his pleasance, not only was the garden changed : 
the touch of the cross upon it changed Joseph 
also. It shamed him out of all his associations 
and cut him off from everything he had held dear. 
It turned for him the glory of the Jewish world to 
ashes, and it made of him a new man, definitely and 
heroically Christian. 

That wheeling shadow did more than touch the 
garden with its magic spell. The cross stood like 
the index of some ghastly dial, and we see from 
Calvary its black image sweeping round the world. 
Ah, that mighty cross ! What power it has to 
change all that it touches ! Its power was felt by 



the guilty Jewish! world and the faded world of 
the Greek. It penetrated below the surface pre- 
judices of the nations and quenched the evil lights 
that lit their treacherous depths. Joseph was not 
the only dreamer whom that day brought to face 
reality. In richer and more tragic meaning the 
shadow of the cross fell upon all earth's gardens, 
swept round the world of man's ambitions and his 
sins, and quenched the very flames of hell within 
innumerable souls. 

Think of Joseph walking on that day in his garden 
that hideous day. He hears all that is transacted 
on the hill above him, the noise and tumult and 
the strident cries of men whose throats are dry 
with the dust of the execution-ground. He hears 
the hammering of nails and all that follows it, to 
the very death-cry of Jesus that rends the air. 
Then, when all is over, the garden is so changed 
for Joseph that there is but one possible use for it. 
While Jesus was alive Joseph had hung back from 
Him, feeling perhaps that He had power enough to 
defend Himself. But now, when He has been left 
to the mercy of men and has not exercised His 
power, the responsibility for all that is left of Him 
falls upon His friend. Criminals were buried at 
sunset, their bodies thrown into the pit beside 
the cross : there shall be no sunset malefactor's 
pit for Jesus. The new tomb and its use are 
obvious. He must come here. So Jesus came to 
Joseph, dead Jesus, who might have come to 
him living, had Joseph willed it so. A strange 


guest indeed, coming to the garden tomb; though 
the cross had touched it and the ground was 
sprinkled now with sweet spices of burial before 
its time. There laid they Jesus, and this was His 
homecoming from His enemies to His friends. This 
was Jesus' way of entering Joseph's garden. Did 
Joseph himself, we wonder, lie afterwards in that 
tomb, sharing with Jesus the dreadful realism of 
the grave ? We cannot tell. At least on that day 
Jesus was his guest. 

" Rest weary Son of God ; Thy work is done 

And all Thy burdens borne ; 
Rest on that stone, till the third sun has brought 
Thine everlasting morn." 

Touched by that shadow of the cross, Joseph's 
garden blossomed into flowers in the spring-time. 
But there were new and strange flowers growing 
there now beyond all the beauty of former days. 
In that new tomb there was planted the seed of 
human immortality and eternal life. Among those 
flower-beds there sprang up the plant of a love that 
death cannot kill, whose seedlings have been trans- 
planted far and wide and are now growing in every 
land. Thus, when next we read of it, there are 
angels in the garden, and a woman longing for a 
departed friend. Finding Jesus, she falls upon the 
ground and clasps His feet, giving, herself to Him 
in tenderest abandonment. " Mary." " Rabboni." 
It is the shortest dialogue recorded upon earth, and 
in it is the utter self-surrender of mankind and the 



eternal acceptance of God. We are told that she 
had supposed Him to be the gardener, and she 
was not wrong in that supposition : for He is the 
Lord of that garden and all others Lord of the 
garden of the souls of men and women, Who hence- 
forth shall plant in them the seeds of all good things. 
And with His entrance the secluding gates were 
broken and flung aside forever. The garden that 
had been so secret became now a hospitable place, 
free for the entrance of the glory of heaven and the 
outgoing of human love so long as time shall last. 


Now let us see what all this means for our own 
life and its experience. It is an old and very 
beautiful story, but like other such tales it is strangely 
"applicable yet." All through the ages men and 
women have found that " a garden is a lovesome 
thing, God wot," and the garden idea is worth 
considering in this connection. English literature 
is singularly rich in it and many of our most 
beautiful essays and poems show what it has meant 
to our shy and reticent race. " God Almighty 
first planted a garden," says Bacon, " and indeed 
it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of men ; 
without which buildings and palaces are but gross 
handiworks." Robert Louis Stevenson in a well- 
known sentence has reminded us that "it is a 
shaggy world, and yet studded with gardens; 



where the salt and tumbling sea receives rivers 
running from among reeds and lilies." No reference 
of them all, perhaps, is more satisfying than Mrs. 
Florence McCunn's words in which she tells us, 
" Time, which makes our politics obsolete, only 
makes our gardens old-fashioned." Through all 
the centuries the literature of gardens has been a 
thing by itself, and with all its great beauty it has 
stood for a selfish element in art and letters. The 
aristocratic spirit, that delights in exquisite things, 
wards off the vulgar crowd and retires to its culti- 
vated retreat with a fastidious relief. From that 
secluded garden of the " Decameron," sleeping 
among its cypresses at Fiesole, down to those dainty 
enclosures which still breathe the fragrance of 
bygone ages in the precincts of great houses in 
England and in France, the garden has been the 
most deliberate of luxuries. It has stood for a 
private place in which the spirit lingers among the 
things it loves most dearly. It is an enclosure 
beautiful and fresh, a place set apart from the daily 
toil, relaxed from strenuousness of any kind. 
Labour should know its limits, and this is luxury 
that lies beyond them. 

Much as we admire and delight in this sweet and 
pleasant heritage that comes to us from the poetic 
and luxurious past, conscience cannot be content 
with it, as a final ideal for the pleasures of life. The 
garden can no longer be regarded as an insignificant 
place of mere rest and refreshment. It is a more 
important factor in man's spiritual development 



than either the battlefield or the market-place. It 
may be a place of secret idolatry, corrupting the 
very souls of those that walk in it. It may be a 
place of mere self-indulgence, hindering the spirit 
of man and detaining it on its arduous way a 
standing temptation to its lingerers to stay too 
long aloof from the toilsome and painful world 
outside. But a change has come of late years upon 
the idea of the garden. In former times it was a 
thing possible only to the rich. To-day all the world 
is preparing gardens for the poor. Nothing is 
more typical of the swivelling round of conscience 
from one set of virtues and vices to another, than 
the change in all nations which has made the old 
complacency no longer possible. Whenever men 
to-day begin to shut themselves in exclusively for 
the purpose of enjoying the good things of this life, 
the insistent cry of the world's poverty and misery 
condemns them in the consciences of all worthy 
citizens. Indeed that cry penetrates to their own 
conscience, and will not let them rest. The social 
battle has, as Mr. Benjamin Kidd has told us, been 
won in the consciences of the wealthy and the 
powerful, and it is there that it will always gain 
its victories. The garden of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries is no longer a possible ideal. 
It has been supplanted by the cottage garden of 
the country, and the children's play-gardens which 
are now an institution even in the poorest slums 
of the city. 

There is no more patent and significant testimony 


to the power of the cross than this. The shadow of 
the cross has changed the gardens of the world. 
The sense of the world's pain and suffering has 
abolished the old and created the new social con- 
science : and, in the main issues of our social life, 
the victory of the cross is already won in the 
consciences of the powerful. 

The garden idea is also applicable to our individual 
lives. We all know many beautiful spirits, the 
most charming of all our friends, who give us the 
sense of a race of aristocrats of the soul. They 
inhabit withdrawn and secret places. Theirs is 
the garden enclosed, the fountain sealed, and they 
linger where the dew of herbs is laden with fragrance 
under morning and evening light. Theirs is the 
garden of thought. Their mind dwells among choice 
books whose literary beauties never wither, though 
the roots of those trees of knowledge may have 
been planted centuries ago. Theirs too is the 
garden of the heart, and they are delicately sensi- 
tive to the iinest shades and possibilities of emotion. 
All these are secret and reticent things, flying senti- 
ments that shrink from the touch of any but 
initiated finger-tips. They are the Diana of the 
garden, continually eluding the huntsman in thickets 
of the glade. Others there are whose garden is 
that of the home, shutting in a little company of 
dearest friends. Few guests are there, for the gates 
are jealously guarded and the general public passes 
on its way, left to mind its own business, and to 
express its joy and heal its sorrow for itself. Within 



the sacred pale of home there is the tender luxury 
of motherhood and fatherhood, the joy in children 
and the children's joy in life and love. But it is 
an essentially exclusive precinct, apt to grudge 
any share that the homeless may beg of it. There 
is also the garden of our sorrows, where each new 
tomb is hewn out of the living rock of life. When 
grief comes to us we shrink back from all consola- 
tions of friends. We shall not admit even our 
dearest to share our tears with us. Our sorrow is 
our own and let men keep their hands from it : as 
though the touch of any communication seemed to 
profane the austere luxury of grief. 

So there are many singers and mourners upon 
garden-seats, who still for one reason or another 
stay aloof from the general, shut themselves in and 
let the world go by. These are sweet places of 
imagination and of dream, of desire and regret, 
and to a certain extent they are excellently good 
places. They keep our finest heritage of the inner 
life from profane and common handling. They tell 
us of the infinite value of reticence as a preserver 
of tender and elusive things. We may well thank 
God for those gardens enclosed, and for every cool 
retreat in a world whose literature and whose life 
alike are grown so vociferous and so promiscuous 
as those of to-day. 

Yet upon even our sweetest gardens there must 
inevitably fall one day the shadow of the cross. 
Sooner or later, but quite surely some time, it will 
invade them. I do not mean merely that the 


dreamer of delicate dreams will have to include in 
his imagination the pathetic yet half-pleasant tomb, 
saying to himself, / shall die. I mean that the 
shadow of the real cross will come upon them, grim, 
and gaunt, and searching. 

" Thy straight long beam lies steady on the cross. 

Ah me ! 

What secret would thy radiant finger show ? 
Of thy bright mastership is this the key ? 
Is this thy secret then and is it woe ? 

" Even so, oh cross ! thine is the victory : 

Thy roots are fast within our fairest fields. 
Brightness may emanate in heaven from thee : 
Here thy dread symbol only shadow yields." 

In horror we watch the shades of death taking 
possession of our garden, and imparting to our 
lives the peculiar quality of pain and sacrifice. 
We think that all is over with the sweet fragrance 
of olden days, that never more again shall we know 
the fascinating charm of the earth. It may be so. 
To some extent it is so, doubtless. Yet the change 
is surely for the better. The touch of some great 
sorrow or sacrifice which life has demanded of us 
may change the sheltered coward into a brave man 
who bears his heart exposed and unprotected in 
the open. It may change also the world of a man's 
ideals until he will be henceforth ashamed of mere 
selfish delight, however artistic, and will be con- 
strained to respond to the demand for assuagement 



of the world's sorrow and pain. Christ comes to 
all our gardens thus, invading and claiming them. 
He brings love, and the open generous heart that 
tears down the gates of their exclusiveness and 
insists that we shall share our best with the dis- 
inherited. His coming is like the change that we 
have seen from the gardens of the rich to the gardens 
of the poor, which has abolished the complacency 
of ancient days and established the social con- 
science in society. So for us, each one according to 
his experience, shall Christ replace our demand for 
selfish enjoyment with His greater ideals of sacrifice 
and redemption. We shall still have our secret 
places, nor will His presence banish any of the 
fairest elements of life ; but we shall no longer 
take up an attitude of spiritual selfishness towards 
any part of the outer world, seeking rather to share 
whatever gifts the garden may have brought us, 
with those whose poverty of spirit needs such gifts. 
Further, there is still the new tomb in the garden. 
As we have seen, from the moment when the shadow 
of the cross had touched the garden of Joseph, there 
was nothing for it but to let Jesus in, dead or living. 
So when His cross has touched our lives and we 
have felt, either in the understanding of His suffer- 
ing or in the experience of our own, something of 
the divine meaning of sorrow and of pain, Christ 
comes to our gardens. We must let Him in. And 
after this coming of His, the place will never be 
the same again. For us as for Joseph it is the 
shadow of the cross that brings light and changes 


the tomb that once was there into the promise and 
portal of a glorious life. In all the gardens of our 
thought and feeling there is indeed the inevitable 
tomb, and our sense of death is naturally chill and 
dread. That is but human nature. But now the 
tomb is changed from the shadow of death to the 
resting-place of Jesus, and the ground of His 
resurrection. In the ideal of sacrifice and the 
willing acceptance of the cross many of us have 
taken the dead Christ into our garden ; and lo, a 
miracle ! The living Christ is walking with us 
there. He has not only brought love for the dead 
and the perfume of sweet spices rendering an 
ancient memory fragrant. Not only has He trans- 
formed the sacrifices of life into a new revelation 
of love. He has filled our hearts with hope and 
promise for the future day. Our shadowed secret 
places, from which the old selfish luxuriousness has 
departed at the entrance of sorrow or of death 
these may become for us also scenes of resurrection. 
We have taken the dead Christ to our hearts and 
shall find Him living. We have reverenced His 
tomb and we shall see His rising. 

Thus all the beauty of art and the tenderness of 
love need to be touched with the shadow of the 
cross before they can perfectly fulfil themselves. 
But touched with that shadow the garden of the 
soul becomes a place of resurrection where Christ 
will walk henceforward in all the transfigured 
beauty of His eternal life. We do not suppose Him 
to be the Gardener of our souls. We know Him 

Q 229 


to be the Master of the garden. He shall command 
and enhance its freshness and its growth. When 
the night falls and we enter into our own new tomb 
we shall find it sweet with the fragrance of His 
spices. Then when we awake it shall be in the fields 
of the blessed, the eternal gardens of the Lord. 
There we shall see Him once again, walking in the 
sunlight, and He shall call us by our name, and we 
shall answer as we did on earth, " My Master." 




REV. HERBERT H. FARMER, M.A., was educated 
at Cambridge University, where he was a scholar 
of Peterhouse. After graduation he held the 
Burney Studentship for research in the philo- 
sophy of religion. His theological training was 
at Westminster College, Cambridge. He was 
ordained at Stafford Presbyterian Church in 
1919, and is now minister of St. Augustine's 
Presbyterian Church, New Barnet. 



"Just as one man's disobedience made all the 
rest sinners, so one man's obedience will make 
all the rest righteous." (Moffatt's translation.) 

Romans v, 19. 

AT first reading the second half of this chapter 
seems to strike a note of unreality. Up to verse n 
the Apostle has been speaking with warm enthu- 
siasm about the great work of redemption wrought 
for mankind by Jesus Christ. At verse 12 this 
seems to change ; from being religious and ex- 
periential the Apostle passes, apparently, to being 
merely speculative, almost rabbinical. The idea 
strikes him that there is a parallelism between the 
relation of Adam to the human race in respect of 
sin and the relation of Jesus to it in respect of the 
remedy of sin, and he forthwith proceeds to work 
out the idea in detail, setting forth many points 
of similarity and contrast between the two relation- 
ships. Reading the passage quickly it is difficult 
to resist the impression that Paul was here indulging, 
somewhat uncritically, an exuberant outburst of 
intellectual association and metaphorical conceit. 
May we not pass it over as an example of an extinct 



homiletical method, a bygone scholasticism, cutting, 
as the modern slang is, no ice ? It is interesting to 
compare Adam with Christ, but, after all, what does 
it amount to ? The pith of the matter is in the 
first eleven verses. 

It is very doubtful, however, whether there is a 
single passage in Paul's epistles where, when you 
get to the core of it, you find him saying something 
which does not matter even to the modern world. 
In this comparison of Christ with Adam it is possible 
to hold that the Apostle is still very closely in 
touch with facts, as closely in touch as in the first 
half of the chapter. To be sure, he falls into a some- 
what rabbinical and dry way of expressing himself, 
but a man does not throw off all his mental habits 
when he becomes a Christian, and the important 
thing is what he has to say and not how he says 
it. The suggestion I have to make is that, having 
spoken in verses i to n of the great work Jesus did 
for mankind, the Apostle is now in these later 
verses trying to set forth a certain far-reaching fact 
of human life which lay behind that work and 
made it possible. This fact is so essential and 
ineradicable in human life that it does unite Adam 
and Jesus ; incidentally and for the same reason, 
namely, that it is so essential, it is exceedingly diffi- 
cult to express and to grasp in all its bearings.. So 
far from Paul here merely indulging a play of 
metaphorical ideas, he is grappling with a reality, 
the terror and challenge of which had met him 
every day of his life alike in his own soul and in 



his observation of men, a reality which is still, as 
it will always be, one of the most obtrusive things 
in human experience. 

What is this reality ? It is the terrific solidarity 
of the human race. Adam and Jesus, remote in 
time from one another, yet closely knit together 
in the one web of life ! "As one man's trespass 
issued in doom for all, so one man's act of redress 
issues in acquittal and life for all. Just as one man's 
disobedience made all the rest sinners, so one man's 
obedience will make all the rest righteous." Adam, 
in other words, by virtue of the solidarity of man- 
kind, did infinite harm to all through his sin ; Jesus, 
by virtue of the same solidarity, did infinite good 
to all through his righteousness. Let not our 
minds be turned from the main truth by discussions 
about Adam and the Fall. Solidarity, at any rate, 
is a fact which we can all verify for ourselves. The 
Apostle's penetrating and inspired revelation to us 
here is in connecting with this fact the efficacy of 
Christ's life and death and, therefore, the whole 
reasonableness of the Gospel. 

We cannot do better than to start with Adam, 
that is to say, with what Adam stands for as the 
type and symbol sin. For people who are in any 
degree sensitive to life's problems and sorrows, it 
is in regard to sin that the close interlocking of 



human lives with one another is usually first vividly 
realised ; and the truth once seen soon ramifies 
into a matter of such magnitude that it is impossible 
not to be well-nigh overwhelmed by it. It is more 
than likely that this is how it first came home to 
Paul. He begins this same epistle to the Romans 
with one of the most powerful and sombre pictures 
in literature of the festering corruption of the pagan 
world of that time. The picture, in its total im- 
pression, is not of a collection of individual sinners, 
but of a society of sin ; a whole people lapsed ; sin, 
so to say, self-multiplying and infectious over the 
whole race. Paul too had known the problem of 
sin in his own heart. Whence came these evil 
passions which sprang up in his soul and defied all 
his efforts to control them ? He did not want them ; 
on the contrary, he hated them. They were alien 
intruders. They seemed to come in from the outside. 
Whence ? His conclusion seems to be that in 
part at any rate they have come in from the whole 
diseased condition of humanity of which he was, 
willy-nilly, an organic part, with which he was, as 
it were, consolidated. Within and without, sin 
implied, as part of its basis and power, the solidarity 
of the race. 

It is the same, of course, to-day. No one can 
look at life steadily and seriously without being 
stung by the thought. It becomes clearer as one's 
experience of life widens. The overpowering, 
entrenched might of evil and the paralysing mag- 
nitude of the problem of redeeming it even in a 


small section of human life are the immediate 
consequence of the close, organic solidarity of the 
race, of the fact that pressing in upon every in- 
dividual cell of the body of humanity is the moral 
ill-health of the whole. This unity makes it im- 
possible ever to isolate the problem to be dealt 
with. You find you cannot hope ever to restore 
Jones completely without first restoring a hundred 
other folk besides, to say nothing of reforming social 
systems which are mighty with tradition and hoary 
with age. Nobody has realised the magnitude of 
the problem of sin who has not understood that it 
is a vast illness of the whole vast organism of 
humanity. We may insist as much as we like that 
sin is a matter of individual responsibility ; but we 
must insist also, however difficult it may be to 
reconcile the two positions, that it is a matter of 
social determination and collective pressure, other- 
wise we take account of only half the facts. 

At any popular seaside resort at the height of 
the season it is possible to contemplate this general 
debility of the race in an unusually concentrated 
light. At one such resort recently there was staged 
every night in the week to crowded and appreciative 
houses a piece which was one long succession of 
folly and indecency. You came out of the place 
feeling that you needed a spiritual bath. You 
came out and passed the big hotels with their 
ostentatious luxury, the crowded public-houses with 
the neglected children on the doorstep and the 
raucous jollity within. You traversed the slums, 



hideous, evil-smelling, filthy. You noted the shop 
windows, filled with silly novels and still sillier, 
if not pitiably indecent, postcards. You lingered 
by the pierrots and heard the " doiible ententes " 
with which insipid fare was spiced up for jaded 
tastes. You read the newspapers the next day 
with the reports of such of yesterday's immoralities 
as happened to offend the police. You pieced it 
all out with what you yourself knew of the ways 
of men and of your own heart the general drabness 
and moral shoddiness of it all and the total, 
irresistible impression was that mankind, as a 
whole and on the average, was in desperately low 

And this was not a melancholy judgment born of 
a transient depression of spirits, nor was it the 
outcome of a superior self-complacency. One re- 
membered every capacity of good that there is in 
men. One made every allowance. Indeed, it was 
just because there was so much allowance to be 
made that the problem of it all seemed so insoluble 
and its burden so unbearable. Behind all these 
facts there stretched away into the background the 
total illness of humanity considered as a whole 
evil heredity ; poor, under-nourished physique ; a 
vile environment in childhood ; a meagre education 
ceasing before it has ever begun at the baby age of 
fourteen ; bad housing ; monotonous work ; sup- 
pressed instincts and all the rest. One did not 
despise these people. One was in so many ways on 
a level, so very much in the same boat with them. 



We were all poor specimens and none knew quite 
why. If we had any idea as to the reason we were 
impotent in face of it. And as the realisation of 
these things swept over the soul, the heart cried 
out almost involuntarily for an assurance of some 
sort that somewhere, at some time, something had 
been done, something was being done, which was 
equal to the magnitude of the problem, which was 
really making a difference and had the situation in 
hand. It was intolerable to contemplate the possi- 
bility that all we sick folk, sick together and in- 
fecting one another, might be incurable ; yet plainly 
we were so if left to ourselves. One had a half- 
glimpse of what Jesus felt when the sight of the 
teeming multitudes of men wrung from Him the 
thought that they were sheep without a shepherd, 
lost sheep, trebly lost because they did not know 
they were lost, for ever lost unless someone bigger 
than them all took them in hand and did for them 
that which in the nature of the case they could not 
do for themselves. 

Those who hope and believe that one day mankind 
will succeed in redeeming itself cannot have seen 
the problem for what it really is. It is like ex- 
pecting a man to lift himself by his own waistband, 
and a rotten waistband at that. To be optimistic 
about sin it is necessary either deliberately to 
minimise its magnitude or to look elsewhere for 
its cure. The facts drive one to despair or to God. 
Here the Christian faith comes in. That faith is 
that God has the situation in hand and that, in 



particular, it was got in hand and the disease, so 
to say, checked in a way which ensures its ultimate 
defeat, through the life and death of Jesus Christ. 
Is this a tenable belief ? The heart in its moments 
of clearest vision longs passionately that it might 
be true. Is there any evidence that it is true ? 
There is along the line the Apostle suggests in 
this passage. 


I have said that the fact of the solidarity of 
mankind first obtrudes itself upon us in regard to 
sin. Our mistake is to think that it is confined to 
sin. The interlocking of life with life is to be found 
in every department of human experience, not 
least, probably, in those areas of our being which 
at present lie beyond our conscious experience. 
Scientists have shown that on the physical plane 
all life, including animal and vegetable life, is knit 
together in a single web of cause and effect ; so 
that it is hardly any exaggeration to say that 
ultimately every organism depends upon every other 
organism for its well-being. It may at times have 
seemed to us a poetic hyperbole to say that a 
sparrow cannot perish without the Father knowing 
it, but it is sober, scientific fact that it cannot 
perish without the whole of animate nature knowing 
it. One sparrow might kill many insects, and 
insects affect crops, and crops affect the destinies 


of peoples. What is true on the lowest physical 
plane is hardly likely to be untrue on the plane of 
man's mind and spirit. There is much, indeed, to 
show that the unity is far closer there than else- 
where. Our minds run into one another in countless 
ways. Telepathy, sympathy, suggestion are facts. 
When we happen to notice one of these facts we 
are often amazed, yet what if the truth of the 
matter were that in everything, in a way which 
does not injure our personality, we are only a part 
of the single, total fact of humanity, just as the 
cells of the body are only part of the single total 
fact of the body ? A biologist has recently said 
that this is so, and that in consequence the League 
of Nations is biologically inevitable, because we 
cannot for ever keep apart what God in the nature 
of things has joined together. The true unit of 
life is not Jones or Brown or Robinson ; to regard 
them as isolated individuals is to see only half of 
them. The true unit is the human race, the racial 
organism in which all the individuals, at present 
very largely in an unconscious way, throb and 
palpitate together. 

Now, if solidarity can be effective for evil, by the 
same argument it can be effective for good. If my 
neighbour can drag me down by his sin, may he 
not also drag me up by his virtue, nay, indeed, 
does he not, even though I know nothing about it ? 
This seems to be precisely Paul's argument in this 
passage. " Just as one man's disobedience made 
all the rest sinners, so one man's obedience will 



make all the rest righteous." It is something gained 
to know in face of all the evil in the body of humanity 
that the same conditions which make evil strong 
also make good strong and give it the opportunity 
to redeem. The question then is, whether there is 
enough good in the body of humanity to make any 
real difference, to lift the sunken cells back into 
purity and health, or, at the least, to save them 
from irremedial dereliction and collapse. The 
Christian answer would seem to be that there is 
enough good, but only because of Jesus Christ. 
His perfect love, introduced right into the organism 
of humanity, has made a difference, a vital, ever- 
lasting difference, which is not the less real because 
the way of it we cannot at present completely 

It is our obsession with physical magnitudes 
which makes us fail to realise that the perfect 
love of Jesus is the most colossal and dynamic fact 
in the whole of terrestrial history. Can an earth- 
quake happen and the whole earth not reverberate ? 
Can a spiritual earthquake happen and the whole 
body of humanity, already throbbing in a single 
unity, not reverberate too ? As the hymn says, 
" there was no other good enough." It is His 
goodness which counts. So, as I have thought of 
all the sin and degradation in human life and of 
its terrible disproportion to what is good, wonderful 
as the latter often is; as the overwhelming solid 
magnitude of evil has laid hold of me and the 
pitiable impotence of us who are involved in it 


to help ourselves I have comforted myself with the 
thought, and dared to hope that it is not far from 
the reality of things, that Christ has died, that the 
power of perfect love is not merely in the Universe 
somewhere, but actually, through Christ's divine 
humanity, in the poor sick body of mankind of 
which I am a part. 

There are those who will think these thoughts 
to be the merest speculation. Yet, after all, they 
are not far from the deepest intuitions of the 
Christian faith and, indeed, of the universal human 
heart. The pre-eminence which we give to love 
as the supreme redeeming thing in Christ, the 
necessity for an incarnation of the Spirit of love, the 
efficacy we attribute to prayer, the possibility of 
atonement, the need for us to love and to enter 
into the fellowship of suffering in order to redeem 
it ah* these things bend together and become 
reasonable in the central fact, amply witnessed 
by everyday experience, that, whether we like it 
or not, we are all, sinners and saints together, 
members one of another. To be sure, no man can 
be fully restored without his own co-operation, but 
must we not believe in what the old theologians 
called prevenient grace, which, being translated into 
more human and understandable terms, means 
a love which in the first instance gets hold 
of men without their co-operation and sets their 
feet on the upward way. There are antinomies in 
life which we can never hope to reconcile. We must 
believe in freedom at all costs, yet, when we see 



a poor debauched, broken, disabled human life 
with, for the time being, no freedom left, we are 
driven to believe in a love which has still got him 
in its grasp and will not let him go. May it not be 
that in the profound penetration of the mood in 
which he wrote this chapter the Apostle saw some- 
thing which we have missed and which made him 
say, meaning it in a sense more universal than our 
despondent hearts perhaps are ready to believe, 
" just as one man's disobedience made all the rest 
sinners, so one man's obedience will at some time 
or other make all the rest righteous? " 





Miss ROYDEN is the youngest daughter of the 
late Sir Thomas Royden, ist Bart., of Frankby 
Hall, Birkenhead. She was educated at Chelten- 
ham Ladies' College and Lady Margaret Hall, 
Oxford. She worked for three years at the 
Victoria Women's Settlement, Liverpool, and 
then in the country parish of Luffenham. Miss 
Royden joined the National Union of Women's 
Suffrage Societies and became a member of the 
Executive Committee, from which she resigned 
in 1914. She also edited the Common Cause. 
During the years 1917-1930 she was Assistant 
Preacher at the City Temple. She was the 
founder, with Dr. Percy Dearmer, of the Fellow- 
ship Services at Kensington in 1920, which have 
now been transferred to the Guildhouse, Eccleston 
Square. Amongst her publications are : " Women 
and the Sovereign State," " The Hour and the 
Church," " Sex and Commonsense," " Political 
Christianity," " Prayer as a Force," " Friendship 
ot God." 



OUR LORD never reached middle-age, and I suppose 
that is, fundamentally, the reason why many 
people feel that middle-age is rather dreary. It 
is because so many of the finest spirits died when 
they were young ; so often that it has become a 
proverb to say " Those whom the gods love die 
young." Our Lord Himself, who might have been 
thirty-three who could not, I believe, have been 
more than thirty-five or thirty-six when He died, 
gives to those who love Him an example and an 
inspiration at so many points of life, that to find 
that one cannot get from Him the kind of guidance 
that one would desire at middle-age makes us feel 
that it is better to be swept out of life before the 
process of growing old and losing the glamour and 
the glory of existence comes upon us. 

What is middle-age ? When do we begin to be 
middle-aged ? For myself I can say that up to 
my present year I have found every year of my 
life more exciting than the year before, and the 
idea that there is something dreary and dull about 
middle-age necessarily dreary and dull seems to 
me fundamentally mistaken. 

After all, when we reach the watershed of life, 



which divides the growing up from the descent, 
we ought to have learned a great deal about our- 
selves. It has been said that a man of forty who is 
not able to act as his own doctor must be a fool. 
I do not think that is altogether true, but there is 
something in it. He ought to know by that time, 
more or less, what physically agrees with him, 
what he can eat without having indigestion, and 
how much he can eat, what holidays he needs, and 
so on. And forty is hardly middle-aged. Surely, 
then, by the time we are approaching fifty we ought 
to know something about our own personality ! 
We ought to know, roughly speaking, what kind of 
people we are. 

Now one of the most harassing things about 
youth is our complete uncertainty as to what kind 
of a person we are. Whether one is very remarkable, 
extraordinarily good, or very commonplace, or very 
bad is all uncertain. Personally I never could be 
at all certain, and I believe I generally hoped that 
I was the kind of person that I had just read about 
in some book if it was an attractive person, a 
great saint, or a great adventurer, or somebody 
who had excelled in some role of life ! Or perhaps 
somebody whose life was one long act of self- 
sacrifice of which nobody would ever know until 
after I was dead. It was most harassing, this 
uncertainty, because although there is a certain 
natural conceit in young people (it is natural, and 
nobody ought to be irritated by it) there is also a 
recurring sense of inferiority. Are your opinions 


yours, or. have you simply accepted them from 
somebody else ? Have your most cherished con- 
victions been thrust upon you by somebody you 
specially admire, or by the circle in which you 
grew up, or by the tradition, that was in your family ? 
Those ideals in which you believe, are they really 
utterly foolish and unreal ? Are they opinions 
which only very young and ignorant people could 
hold, or is there some truth in them ? Perhaps 
before the world we put up a bluff of being abso- 
lutely certain more certain than anyone ever 
could be ! and yet how often there comes into our 
minds a fear that perhaps .we are only an empty 
shell with nothing really our own in it at all, and 
that neither our ideals, nor our principles, nor our 
convictions, nor even the virtues that the world 
ascribes to us, are really ours. 

What kind of people are we going to be ? We 
make false starts, try to be all sorts of different 
people, and then find we cannot. We are not 
such people at all, and there comes to us a terrible 
sense of failure. Life seems so short when one is 
very young. I can remember feeling that twenty- 
two (the august age to which one of my friends 
had attained) was very old, and that it really could 
not matter what happened to anyone after they 
were thirty. When one is young, how short life 
is, and how urgent it is that one should know the 
sort of person he wants to be and whether he has 
the capacity to be that person. 

Now when we are middle-aged there is one great 



factor in our favour. We either know what sort of 
person we are, or at least we have the materials 
for knowing. Perhaps some day psychology will 
have reached a point of wisdom at which it will 
be able to help us while we are much, much younger, 
to guide our lives and to know the aim that we 
ought to set before us; for if there is one lesson 
that life teaches more than another, I think it 
is this that we must try to be the very best kind 
of person of the kind that we are, but that it is fatal 
to try to be some other kind. That lesson psychology 
is teaching us to-day that we must be ourselves, 
we must devote ourselves to being the very best 
that is in us, we must carry the powers we have to 
their highest point ; but we must not waste our 
time and strength in trying to be some other kind 
of person altogether. 

If then, by the time you are middle-aged, you 
know what sort of person you are, how much more 
direct, how much more smooth, how much more 
sure your path can be in the future ! Instead of 
wasting your strength in a vain effort to be some- 
body quite different from any person that is implicit 
in you at all, you know now the sort of person 
that you are. You do not know at all how greatly 
you may be that person. You do not know that, 
even when you are middle-aged. You do not know 
how far you may go along that path ; but you do 
know what path it is. I am not speaking of one's 
career. Sometimes that changes, even in middle- 
age. But your temperament, your character, your 


psyche, you know that by now. Or if some of you 
do not yet know what kind of person you are, you 
have at least got the materials for knowing. You 
have lived how long ? Let us say fifty years. 

In fifty years you have made enough mistakes 
and achieved enough successes and followed your 
path in life sufficiently, with all your false starts, 
to know, if you choose, what kind of person you 
are, and while psychology is still in its present 
rather inchoate condition, that is something that 
we may be thankful for. Take stock of yourself. 
If you are discouraged, if you feel that middle-age 
is rather dreary, if you would like to go back even 
to those false starts, since, after all, they meant 
the possibility of a start, take stock of yourself. 
Why did you make all those mistakes ? What 
are the obstacles that you were or are up against ? 
Are they outside you, or are they within you ? 
Have you chosen wrong ? Is it possible for you to 
choose again ? If it is not, what can you make of 
life where you are ? You have all the material ; 
the young have not. They have to make their 
adventures and take their risks, because all their 
experience is before them ; but you have got that 
experience. Set it down, even, if you like, on 
paper : the things you have succeeded in, the 
things you have failed in, the things you might 
have done once, and did not, and why you did 
not. Think in a dispassionate and coldblooded way. 
Consider where you stand, and if you do that faith- 
fully, honestly, sincerely, you will be in a position 



to move with much greater certainty, to be a much 
more steady, poised and effective person than 
you could while you were making shots in the 
dark, as you had to do when you were young. 
There will come into your life the sense of effective- 
ness, the sense of knowing what you are about and 
where you are going, and the fret and fever, the 
heartbreaking sense of failure which pursued you 
when you were making one false start after another, 
will pass away. I asked myself this morning, as 
honestly as I could, would I go back now to be 
young again if I could? If I could be twenty 
again, would I ? For a moment I thought, " Yes, 
I would if I could," and then I asked myself why, 
and do you know what the reason was ? It was 
because I was imagining myself going back to 
twenty with all the knowledge of myself that I 
have at forty-seven. I figured to myself that I 
would not waste my time again trying to be some- 
one quite other than anything I ever could be. I 
imagined myself going back to be twenty with all 
that I have gained in the process of years. I 
wanted to go back and avoid all the mistakes I 
have made, and all the time that I have wasted, 
with the knowledge of myself that middle-age has 
given to me. Well, anyone would like to do that, 
because all of us have mistakes we wish we had 
not made, and lost opportunities we wish we had 
not lost ; and if anyone were to say, " Go back now, 
and avoid all those errors," who that has any 
penitence in him at all would not say, " Thank 


God. I will go, and no more make these mistakes." 
But when I asked myself, would you go back and 
be twenty as you were at twenty ? Would you do 
it then ? No, indeed I would not. Why should I 
go again through all those blunders and stupidities, 
through all that fret and anxiety, and lose what I 
have learned ? 

To-day I have instead the knowledge which with middle-age, and which gives a thrill to 
the middle-aged. I realise that at this point of 
life, standing, so to speak, on the watershed of 
life, death becomes real in a sense that it cannot 
be real to the young. The young do not really 
expect to die, no, not when the chances of death 
are all round them. When men go into battle, 
ninety-nine out of a hundred expect that they will 
come out safe* They go into it, perhaps, with terror 
in their hearts, brave as they are. They know 
that they may be struck. And yet there is an 
invincible conviction in the minds of most that 
they will not that they are of those who will 
come out safe. But when we come to middle-age 
there comes suddenly a thrilling sense of the reality 
of death. It is not any longer a mere fact of 
common knowledge that we must die : it is a 
reality. We shall die and go on to some other life, 
and all that we do here and now has a significance 
there. What we are now, and what we make of 
the rest of our lives is part of our schooling for 
the life hereafter. Everything we do and say 
and think counts for that. Do you think your 



education at school and college for life in this world, 
with all its mystery, is half as wonderful as the educa- 
tion of life itself for death ? How little the young 
know of life ! How full of romance and mystery 
and wonder it is ! Yes, but they know more about 
life here than you and I know about life hereafter. 

This consciousness comes, I think, with a sudden 
reality, when we reach the middle of our life and 
perhaps reckon with ourselves, " I have lived now 
longer than I have yet, in the normal way, to live." 
When death becomes a reality to us so, it brings 
a sense of wonder, a background of infinity into 
this life, which makes the idea of middle-age being 
dreary or dull impossible. 

I never felt life half so romantic as I did the first 
time I realised not knew, for we all know it 
but realised that I should have to die, and that 
this life on earth is just a stage. 

" Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting, 

The soul that rises with us, our life's star, 
Has had elsewhere its setting, 
And cometh from afar." 

And, coming from afar, we pass on this earth for 
a while, and go on. That is what makes life so 
significant. What would life matter, after all, if 
this were all ? The significance and the wonder 
and the romance of life is in its preparation for 
another and yet greater adventure. Sir James 
Barrie, who has said more true and wonderful 
things than any man of this generation, never said 



anything more wonderful and true than this 
" To die must be an awfully great adventure." 
The radiance of that adventure shines on us when 
we begin to realise the significance of our lives as 
an episode here, in some infinite hereafter. 

So it matters tremendously when you are middle- 
aged and have made many mistakes, and are even, 
perhaps, in the wrong way altogether, that you 
should set to work here and now to use the rest 
of your life, not as though life were dreary and dull, 
but as an episode in a great journey, whose end 
is God. 

Set to work and discipline yourself. One of the 
dreadful things about being middle-aged is that 
other people do not discipline us in the way they 
used to when we were young. We can always have 
the most comfortable chair in the room. Nobody 
will tell us that we are eating too much, or that 
we are eating the wrong things ! I once knew an 
elderly lady who had so delicate a digestion that 
she could not eat bread : she could only eat hot 
scones. We used to say to one another that she 
was silly and greedy, but do you think we ever 
said that to her face ? If I had eaten hot scones 
at twenty and said I could not digest bread, I 
should have been told the truth about myself. 
But we can let ourselves go when we are middle- 
aged, because there are very few people in a 
position to pull us up. That is perhaps even more 
true of men than it is of women. They are " the 
head of the family," and how many of your 



families, gentlemen, are going to discipline you ? 
If the children do, you think they are merely 
impertinent. If the wife does, she has to do it so 
exquisitely carefully that it is not really as good 
discipline as it ought to be. Remember therefore 
that you can pull up the young people, or you can 
at least make them know that they are not exactly 
the ideal people in the home they might be ; but 
how about you ? How easy it is now to escape the 
discipline of life in little things ! I do not mean 
the great big things that overwhelm us all some- 
times but those little things which, properly treated, 
make us strong enough to deal with the big things. 

Really, most of us eat too much. That sounds a 
mundane thing to say from a pulpit, but it is not 
unimportant. When Dr. Julia Seton urged us to 
fast, she said it was especially good for those who 
were middle-aged, and quoted a certain saying of 
our Lord's : 

" Shall the children of the bride chamber fast 
while the bridegroom is with them " or the young 
fast while life is full and vigorous and strong and 
splendid ? The time will come when they will 
lose that. " Then shall they fast in those days." 

We middle-aged people have ceased to grow physi- 
cally. We shall not grow any more. Life is not 
demanding much of us in that sense. We should 
not clog our bodies by giving them what they 
do not need. Deny yourself, discipline yourself. 
It is a very ancient rule of the great religions of 
the world, that people should fast sometimes. It 



is not for nothing that they develop that discipline. 
In middle-age especially we should advance to a 
new and heroic mastery over our bodies. 

Discipline yourself intellectually. It is not too 
late to learn. Learning can be made a habit, and 
the longer you keep it up the younger you will be 
in spirit. Do not say it is too late for you to learn. 
Try and see whether you are not cleverer than 
you thought ! If you will feed your mind (which 
goes on developing after the demands of the body 
have ceased) it will go on growing. It is at the 
point at which you say or find yourself inclined 
to say " it is too late for me to learn this and 
that and the other" that you begin to grow old. 
Youth is full of curiosity and desire to learn, but 
by degrees we find that learning is difficult, and 
involves a good deal of energy and trouble. We 
begin to dread " the pain of a new idea " and the 
old ideas seem quite good enough. So at middle- 
age we are inclined to believe that it is too late. 
It is too late at that exact moment when you are 
resigned to its being too late ! For not to be able 
to change is to begin to die, and as long as you can 
change, as long as your mind can grow and your 
intellect take things in, your spirit is still young ; 
and being young, it keeps all the rest of you young. 

Then, because you know who you are and what 
you are, what your line in life is, you need not be 
in a state of anxiety and haste. A certain peace 
of mind should come to you, a certain sense of 
balance and serenity. Take time, even if you have 



to take it by violence. "The kingdom of heaven 
suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." 
Take time to be quiet. It is not displeasing, it is 
not offensive, for the young to be in a hurry. 
Perhaps they ought to cultivate quietness, but it is 
natural for them to be in haste. They have so 
much to do, so much to understand, so much to 
know. But there is something repellent about the 
middle-age that has no serenity and no poise, that 
is always racketting about mentally, that has no 
peace in its heart. After all, you have got away, 
or should have got away, from that fever and fret 
in return for what ? Not just vacancy, not just 
dulness, but peace. The peace which the world 
cannot give, but which you must take, have time 
to take, and keep your mind at rest. 

In that silence which is far, far more necessary 
to you than to the young, you will know yourself 
better, and you will know others also, and knowing 
them you will believe in them, for this certainly 
life has taught us, that every human being has 
capacities for goodness, and even for greatness, 
and that cynicism and disappointment and dis- 
illusion are simply the evidence of the egotist 
against all the history of humanity. The blows 
that have fallen upon you, the ideals that you 
found it so difficult to believe in, the disillusion- 
ment that sets in for you, the disappointments in 
other human beings, these things are your ex- 
perience. Look abroad, and see whether it is not 
a fact that it is goodness and love and brotherliness 


and friendship, and essential decency that holds 
the world together. What do these people mean 
who tell us that human nature is so evil ? Are 
they really so ignorant as to suppose that if the 
world were more evil than good it could hold to- 
gether at all ? The evidence of their own experience 
should at least include this great fact, that only 
good things can cohere, that only goodness binds 
and creates and holds together, and that therefore 
if the world holds together at all it is because there 
is more good in it than bad. These ideals that you 
find it so difficult to hold why do you find it 
difficult ? Because of your personal disappoint- 
ment ? Because people have disappointed you ? 
Because they have misjudged you and treated 
you unkindly and been ungrateful for the things 
you did for them ? Do you not realise if you look 
at yourself, how much it is your fault ? Those 
tilings that hurt most savagely when we are young 
will not hurt so much when we are older, and not 
because we have grown cynical and think it does 
not matter, but because we have begun to under- 
stand why these things happen. 

Why do people seem ungrateful ? I will tell you. 
Almost always it is because they have not under- 
stood what you have tried to do for them. When 
people do understand, their gratitude is almost 
pathetic. Some little tiny thing that costs you 
nothing will bring you a world of gratitude, because 
the person for whom you did it understood the 
thing you did. The thing which does not bring 



you gratitude either you have done badly, and 
therefore did not deserve any, or the apparently 
ungrateful person does not understand. Have you 
always understood ? Have you not a thousand 
times received benefits and not had the faintest 
notion what they cost to other people ? If you are 
such a good, kind, decent person and can in your 
own conscience count a thousand times when you 
were ungrateful, and yet you know you were trying 
to behave decently, why should you be so bitter 
against others ? Perhaps they are trying to behave 
decently, just as hard as you are, when they mis- 
judge you. Do you never misjudge them ? How 
can you possibly judge anyone without knowing 
them, and you do not know anyone perfectly, not 
anyone at all, and yet you utter a judgment every 
time you open your lips. Do you remember that 
moving passage in one of George Eliot's novels, 
in which she says, " Perhaps at the very moment 
that you are criticising someone for his failure, 
he is suffering an agony of regret for the thing he 
did wrong." You would not misjudge him you 
would not judge him at all if you knew that. If 
the world misjudges you, why need you be cynical 
about it ? After all, would you like people to know 
everything about you ? They cannot be perfectly 
just unless they do. Do you want them to ? You 
know you do not. There is not one of us that has 
not got some reserves that only God can know. 
Well, then, why should you be discouraged or 
cynical, or think evil of the world because people 


do not judge you quite wisely and are not always 
as grateful as you think they should be ? 

Middle-age should bring a deep kindliness of 
view, and a deeper understanding of oneself and 
a deeper understanding of other people. Listen, 
be silent, pray ; because your time is shorter than 
it was twenty years ago, it is all the more necessary 
that you should direct it rightly now. Life and 
death are to you greater adventures than when 
you were young. You had more time then to make 
your mistakes. Now you have less time, more 
knowledge. Go directly on your path, and re- 
member that death is not the end. It is only the 
beginning of something else. 

Does not that bring back to you the romance 
and the glory of youth ? Christ, as I reminded you 
at the beginning, knew no middle-age in our sense 
of the word, but His experience in that com- 
paratively short life went so deep that we find 
Him at the heart of all experience. He went 
through all the gamut of human experience, and 
in the end He said what we must all learn to say, 
"Father, into Thy hands I trust My spirit." All 
that you are doing, learning, being now is an 
education for that moment, and beyond it. Into 
the hands of God trust your spirit. 




As a child of eight he started to work on a farm, 
but always passionately fond of reading, he was 
able to enter both the University and the Baptist 
College at Bristol, and in 1883 he entered the 
Ministry at Nailsworth. He became President 
of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in, 1910, 
and of the National Free Church Council in 1912. 
Since 1890 he has occupied the pulpit at Ferine 
Park Baptist Church, London. He is the author 
of the following : " Talks to Children on Bunyan's 
Holy War," " The Wonderful Journey," " Children 
on the King's Highway," "Letters of Christ," 
" The Message of God," " Devotional Commentary 
on James and Ephesians and Acts." 



" God who in many portions and in many ways 
spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets 
hath in these last days spoken unto us by His 
Son . . . by whom also He made the worlds." 

Hebrew i, 1-2. 

A MOST impressive beginning to a truly great letter. 
A statement which may be said to be the foundation 
on which Holy Scripture rests. If it be not true it 
is not too much to say that the Bible is a fraudulent 
book from cover to cover. Because from Genesis 
to Revelation it insists upon the statement made 
solemnly here, viz. that God, the author of the 
universe, who made the worlds, as this writer says, 
speaks to man. You ask, how ? And the answer 
of the text is, " In many ways " and that is really 
the answer of the Bible. In a dream, a vision of 
the night or of the day. By works of power. By 
storm and wind. By the mysterious order of the 
universe as the Psalmist says, " The heavens declare 
the glory of God," and by the still small voice which 
speaks in a man's conscience and in his soul, con- 
vincing him of wrong and right and by history, the 
fate of nations and individuals. Then it will be 
observed that the writer divides the past from the 



present " Of old time by the prophets, in these 
days by His Son." He speaks to some persons 
through other persons. That does not mean, as I 
understand it, that He was unwilling to have direct 
intercourse or communion with these other persons. 
It may possibly mean that they had not the capacity 
or the fitness to receive direct communications, 
that they would disbelieve or misunderstand them, 
that they had no ear for the music and no eyes 
for the glory save as each was interpreted by one 
who understood. 


You know what Mrs. Browning says about the 
burning bush : 

" Earth's crammed with heaven 
And every common bush afire with God, 
But only he who sees takes off his shoes, 
The rest sit round and gather blackberries." 

It is highly probable that many a Midianite 
shepherd, seeing the bush burning with fire which 
Moses saw, would have seen nothing in it but the 
glow of the sunset or the sunrise. The prophet of 
old time was called a seer, we read ; and you may 
say with equal truth, that he might have been called 
a hearer. You will not doubt that some men have 
capacities which other men do not seem to have, 
and that these capacities, as capacity for music, or 


mathematics, or languages, being zealously culti- 
vated, may place these men in a category apart 
from other men. You do not deny that certain 
men have a genius for certain things, though the 
same genius may be slumbering in others, and the 
faculty or gift being constantly and diligently 
exercised may make them authoritative teachers of 
others. Why should not that be true in the things 
of the spirit ? It is true. It has always been true. 
A spiritual genius is as great a fact as a literary 
genius or a commercial or even a political genius. 
Extraordinary powers diligently used in this direction 
give a man superior authority in this sphere. 
" Behold, I have given thee as a witness to the 
people, a leader and commander to the people." 

Who were these prophets to whom and through 
whom God spoke? Take a few of them Moses, 
Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and John the Baptist. 
Men of great character, whose lives were far above 
the life of their times. Men who brooded over the 
great mysteries and problems which lay heavy on 
human life, with a quick eye for wrong and a clear 
vision of right and marvellous insight ; who 
wrestled in solitude with great questions ; who 
prayed and groped ; who gave themselves with 
wondrous self-abandonment to the service of their 
kind, asking no honour or reward for themselves 
and with a marvellous consciousness of God. What 
wonder if along the line of their brooding and 
wrestling God met them and revealed to them truth 
that other men were unable or unfit to see ? It 



would be a wonder, indeed, if that did not happen. 
Do you question or doubt the fact of revelation ? 
How, then, do you think these men arrived at their 
sure knowledge of the character of God, that He 
was one, that He was righteous and pure, holy and 
merciful? They certainly never got it from the 
prevalent reh'gious ideas of their time, for the gods 
whom men worshipped not only in the ancient 
East, but in Greece and Rome, were often no better 
than men. They had the human passions and even 
vices in a superlative degree. 

You wonder at some of the ideas prevalent in 
Israel. From your point of view Israel was often 
a very bad lot ; and so they were from their own 
prophet's point of view. But do let us remember 
that God's revelation of Himself is always condi- 
tioned by man's capacity. Even you cannot impart 
your loftiest ideas and ideals to a man of base and 
perverted mind. You can only give him what he 
can take. What you carry away from the fountain 
depends on the size of your vessel. And the Bible 
is a record of a progressive revelation, of men's 
struggles after God and God's revelations of Himself 
to men, and here and there all through the history 
you have men with astonishing insight, with clear 
vision of the truth ; clean, pure and true men like 
Samuel and Isaiah, who become absolutely certain 
of God ; who see the invisible God and endure ; 
who know that He speaks and who speak to Him 
and who are moved by His Spirit to put on record 
what they have found, who say with perfect assur- 


ance to their fellows : " Thus saith the Lord," and 
who are often carried beyond themselves by visions 
which surpass their understanding and which come 
true in after ages 


But secondly, this writer says God has spoken to 
us in these last days by His Son, and he goes on to 
say what St. John says in his gospel and what 
St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, " By 
whom also He made the worlds," and of course if 
that be true you will begin there. You will begin, 
I mean, with that completer and fuller revelation. 
That is, you will begin with the New Testament, 
which is the record and the only authentic record of 
the revelation which has come to mankind in Jesus 
Christ. An altogether extraordinary book, all pro- 
duced in one age and not like the Old Testament, 
covering 1,500 years of production. And not an 
original age either. The first century of the 
Christian era was a decadent century, Greece had 
no original thinkers nor had Rome. It was an age 
of slavish imitations, of worship of the past ; and 
in that age this book came because Christ came, and 
it centres in Him. From oral tradition it was 
committed to writing and, save St. Paul, it was not 
written by great men. But it is a great Book. The 
greatest book in the world because it deals with 
the greatest life a life miraculously great, a life of 



flawless original perfection and of every sort of 
perfection. St. Paul uses a remarkable word in 
speaking of Jesus. He speaks of the " many coloured " 
wisdom of Jesus Christ, and it would be equally 
permissible to speak of His many coloured goodness. 
The world has had many samples of character and 
conduct presented to it which have been labelled 
goodness, or holiness. We might think of some of 
them. Asceticism was one : cloistered seclusion or 
desert solitude, the bare, joyless life, holding aloof 
from all social pleasures and indeed from human 
society ; refusing what were apparently good 
gifts of God intended to cheer and comfort men, 
torturing and starving the body, depriving it of 
sleep and ease, accounting every sort of pleasure a 
sin. That is not the type which you see in the 
New Testament, least of all of Him who said of 
Himself, " The Son of Man came eating and drinking," 
and of whom His enemies said, " He receiveth sinners 
and eateth with them." 

Another type of goodness is the insipid, meek, 
mild, harmless, never interfering with men's ways 
of living, never using strong or passionate speech, 
a kind of flaccid good nature, unmoral, beneficent, 
smiling on everything good or evil, with only 
smooth and gracious words. And that is not the 
goodness which speaks to men in Jesus Christ. 
I have often said that the Christ of the New Testa- 
ment is very different from the Christ of current 
thinking and representation. The meekness and 
gentleness and grace are there, but there is far 


more, something more virile. I can see in the New 
Testament the record and portrait of a person of 
tremendous moral majesty. A stern Christ, a 
Christ in the depths of whose personality passion 
slumbered and could be awakened by hypocrisy 
and wrong ; Who spoke words of burning rebuke 
and indignation before which bad men quailed or 
became furious with hate. I do not know whether 
we realise that no one has ever lived who was hated 
as our Lord was hated and no one has ever been 
loved as He was. And neither would have been 
true if He had been the unoffending, unresenting, 
mild and gentle person which some have thought. 
His words were, in prophetic language, a hammer 
and a fire, or in the Baptist's language, a fan that 
winnowed the threshing floor and separated the 
chaff from the wheat. And it is the strength and 
the gentleness, the sweeping storm and the sunshine, 
that make up the perfect character of the Son of God. 
And now accept for a moment this perfect char- 
acter, as manifestly all His early disciples believed, 
and worshipped Him accordingly. And not only 
His own disciples but Himself believed. Suppose 
for a moment that it is true that He uttered the 
challenge, " Which of you convinceth Me of sin ? " 
Suppose He declared, " I do always the things that 
please the Father." Suppose Him to have said, 
" He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father ! " 
Do you not think that when you have such a person 
He will do some extraordinary things ; that He 
will be possessed of extraordinary powers, even that 



there might be something quite extraordinary about 
His birth ? Does not some light shine from this 
doctrine of our Lord's perfection upon the miraculous 
element in the gospels ? It is so easy to dismiss the 
miraculous and to say, "It is impossible/' but 
however clever such a course may seem it is really 
very unscientific. The real scientific temper does 
not begin by saying what could or could not happen. 
It requires no wisdom to say that. True science 
investigates. It inquires whether a thing really 
did happen and what is the value of the records. 
There are plenty of people who are apt to think 
that a perfect man, morally and spiritually, had 
no more power over nature, or over pain, or over 
matter, or over a disordered mind, than they have. 
And there are people who so surround the Creator 
with invariable laws that He cannot move without 
breaking something. To their mind He can only 
move along certain lines and has no liberty to 
move outside them. Take the central miracle of 
the New Testament, as well attested as any fact 
in history. I mean the resurrection of our Lord 
and there is no accounting for the Church or the 
New Testament scriptures apart from the resur- 
rection St. Paul does not speak a whit too strongly 
when he says that he and his fellow apostles are 
false witnesses, which of course means liars ; it is 
not a mere mistake, it is a lie that they have taught 
if the resurrection of Christ were not a fact : and 
there are more than five hundred people involved 
in the lie, and so far as this world's possessions 


and honour were concerned they had everything 
to lose and nothing to gain by the lie. 

But a person who rises from the dead and does 
not die again is an altogether extraordinary person, 
and it may be presumed will be possessed of powers 
which are not found in ordinary men. 

I am aware that there are people who hold by 
the teaching of Christ who stumble at His miracles, 
who especially hold by the teaching of the Sermon on 
the Mount. Well, now let this be said, that there 
is nothing in the miracles of our Lord nearly so 
marvellous as His personal claims. Even if you 
leave out the fourth Gospel for the sake of argument, 
because some people declare it to be more of a 
philosophy than a history. Take the Sermon on 
the Mount alone for a moment ; the words of Christ. 
They are not words merely of lofty morality or 
piety, but you detect a most unusual note of authority 
in them. They are the words of one who claims 
the right to revise the Old Testament scriptures ; 
and while you listen the preacher becomes the 
judge and arbiter of human destiny, whom men 
will call, " Lord, Lord," and who can pronounce 
judgment on mankind and dismiss men from His 
presence. You want to know what He thought of 
Himself. You need go no further than the Synop- 
tical gospels to discover the most amazing and august 
claims, which would be sheer blasphemy on any 
other lips. He claims to reveal the Father, to be. 
able to give rest to the human soul, to forgive sins, 
to be the King of Glory before whose throne the 



nations will be gathered. Is anybody daring enough 
to say he doubts whether our Lord uttered these 
words ? Well, they are in all the oldest MSS. and 
in the writings of the fathers, as truly as the Sermon 
on the Mount, and they show at least what the 
people who lived nearest to Him believed about Him 
while those were alive who remembered Him. They 
did not regard Him merely as a man of extraordinary 
goodness, who brought to them a higher knowledge 
of God, and with whom they shared a great faith 
in the reality and the saving love of God. They 
worshipped Him as God. It was His person they 
worshipped with awe and wonder as a great mystery, 
and as God manifest in the flesh between whom 
and themselves was a great gulf of moral distance. 


And there is one thing more to be said, and said 
very emphatically, viz. that many of His great 
claims have been fulfilled in the experience of 
individuals. That wherever people have believed 
and acted upon the record they have invariably 
been made better. You have this to say of the 
speech of God to men as enshrined in the Bible, 
this which is contained in the Bible itself, " Holy 
Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation." 
And this, " Men are born anew by the word of God 
which liveth and abideth " and this, " It is able 
to save your souls." It is placed on record indis- 


putable that the story of Jesus and His gospel has 
transformed human life wherever it has been accepted. 
And yet I would not say that the book had done it, 
but Jesus Christ, whom it declares and whom apart 
from it we should not have known. Surely the 
greatest function and use of Holy Scripture is to 
lead men to Him. To Him it bears witness. Of 
Him prophets spoke and psalmists sang. The 
whole library the Divine library, which was one of 
the earliest names given to the Holy Scriptures 
bears witness to a revelation of God made to men 
as they were able and eager to receive it. And 
it is put on record for us " The things that were 
written aforetime were written for our learning." 
For what purpose? Why, surely to lead us to 
Christ, to bring us under His saving efficacy to 
bring the soul into vital and saving contact with 
Him. And the question this evening is not, What 
is your theory of inspiration or of revelation ? But 
has your theory of the Bible or your knowledge 
of the scriptures led you to Him ? You know 
what had happened in the time Q\ Christ. There 
was what might be termed a worship among the 
Jews of their sacred writings the law, the prophets 
and the Psalms. I suppose it was the one book the 
Jews had. It was history and law book, hymn 
book and worship book, and the book of wise 
maxims of life. They copied and re-copied it with 
religious care and devotion. They counted its 
letters, protected its interpretation and were in 
completest bondage to its outward letter. But 



they missed its spirit ; the breath of its inspiration 
went past them. The book became a kind of 
fetish and charm. They became blind to the very 
purposes of God revealed to the men who had 
written the books and strangers to the spiritual 
experiences and hopes which it recorded. They 
read the law as St. Paul says with the veil over 
their hearts, and a very thick veil it was, a veil of 
pride and prejudice, of self-satisfaction with their 
own ecclesiastical performances, which completely 
hid the face of God, and so this amazing thing came 
to pass. The supreme revelation of God came, the 
living Word, " The word became flesh and dwelt 
among them full of grace and truth," and they were 
blind to His glory and deaf to His appeals. Here is 
His own word to them : " Ye search the Scriptures, 
for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they 
are they which testify of me and ye will not come 
unto me that ye might have life." I do not think 
we are in the same condition as the Jews. I do 
not think that our people are searching the scriptures. 
There are plenty of people discussing the Bible 
who are almost entirely ignorant of its contents, 
who only know of two or three difficult passages 
and puzzling incidents and who know nothing of 
its great poetry, its impassioned pleas for righteous- 
ness, its noble examples of heroic courage and 
devotion in service and suffering, its tender and 
beautiful conceptions of the love and mercy of 
Almighty God. And they are just as ignorant of 
what the Bible has done its emancipating and 


elevating work, that it has destroyed tyrannies and 
created brotherhood, that it has been the champion 
of the poor and the oppressed, that it has broken 
the fetters of the slave socially and spiritually, 
that it has healed broken hearts and strengthened 
weary souls and built up noble and splendid char- 
acters ; and all because it has led men to Christ 
the Living Word, the Life indeed, the only Saviour 
and Lord of men. It is He who speaks in the 
scriptures not by His words only, but by His life 
and death and resurrection, and it is through 
the scriptures that men have come in all lands 
and ages to know Him, Whom to know is life 



(Rt. Rev. Herbert Hensley Henson, D.D.). 

DR. HENSON was educated privately and at 
Oxford, where he gained a ist Class in Modern 
History, and in 1884 he became a Fellow of 
All Souls' College. He has been Head of Oxford 
House, Bethnal Green ; Vicar of Barking ; 
Chaplain to the Lord Bishop of St. Albans ; 
Canon of Westminster Abbey ; Rector of St. Mar- 
garet's ; Sub-Dean of Westminster ; Dean of 
Durham ; Bishop of Hereford ; and Select 
Preacher at both Oxford and Cambridge. In 
1920 he was appointed Bishop of Durham. He is 
the author of : " Apostolic Christianity," " Puri- 
tanism in England," " The Creed in the Pulpit," 
" Robertson of Brighton," " Christian Liberty." 



" And this is the sign unto you : ye shall find 
a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying 
in a manger." St. Luke ii, 12. 


THE first picture of the world's Redeemer is this 
which presents Him as a newly born Infant in the 
hastily improvised cradle of a manger, tenderly 
guarded by His mother. Let us ask what for 
mankind is the significance of this " Sign." What 
for the Church is herein the revelation of Duty 
Two truths lie on the surface of the sacred story. 
Mankind receives two lessons of incomparable im- 
portance and supreme difficulty. First, a lesson 
about human nature ; next, a lesson about human 
fortune. The Sign of " the Babe wrapped in 
swaddling clothes and lying in a manger " tells us 
that the Creator has stepped forth from behind 
the Veil in order to rectify two obstinate errors of 
humanity, which have wasted the fair universe 
and darkened the life of man. The Infant in its 
manger-cradle raises before us the whole pageant 
of what we rightly emphasise as the natural relation- 
ships ; and regard as the occasion and basis of the 
domestic duties. We see that the Salvation of Man 



is not to be such as the pagan saints had imagined, 
and as misguided Christian saints, following pagan 
lights, have taught, a Salvation which does violence 
to human nature, and justifies neglect of domestic 
responsibilities. The grand delusion of asceticism 
is disallowed and discredited on the threshold of 
the Christian revelation. Marriage, child-birth, 
upbringing of children, all that goes to the making 
of home, are claimed, consecrated and commissioned 
by the Incarnate Redeemer. He Who comes 
" to save His people from their sins " begins by 
rescuing these easily abused and often despised 
relationships of nature from the woeful sophistry 
which has stamped them as intrinsically evil. He 
Who has come to liberate mankind from every 
servitude begins His grand campaign of enfran- 
chisement by demonstrating that the liberty of 
man is, not an " unchartered freedom " from social 
obligations, but a willing, self-respecting and affec- 
tionate response to all duty. God presents Himself 
before His creatures in this eloquent humility, 
rebuking their selfish scorn of natural limitations, 
and clothing the humble tasks which they would 
proudly disown with fresh sanctions and a sublime 


This lesson of the inherent excellence of human 
nature, and the eternal validity of the duty which 
grows therefrom, is accompanied by another lesson, 


scarcely less vital and scarcely less difficult. We 
observe with solemn wonder that the Creator has 
willed to " visit His people " in the unpalatable 
character of a poor, even a destitute, babe. The 
sacred story gives a reason for the strange cradle 
in which the new-born Jesus is laid. His blessed 
mother, we read, " laid Him in a manger, because 
there was no room for them in the inn." The 
manger of Bethlehem is the symbol of the world's 
neglect of the obscure, its hardness to the necessi- 
tous, its scorn of the poor. The Incarnate will pass 
among men as One " Who has no beauty that they 
should desire Him," who possesses none of the 
titles to regard which they are accustomed to 
recognise, Who presents no such credentials as they 
have been trained to expect. " Ye know the grace 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was 
rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." He 
Who has come to vindicate human nature from the 
dishonouring calumnies of asceticism has come also 
to break the degrading dominion of worldly con- 
ditions, and to make man master of his circum- 
stances, because he has first been made master of 
himself. Herein the Son of Man will satisfy the 
persistent demands of the human conscience. Two 
grand aspirations which almost infinitely depraved 
but never wholly unrecognisable have inspired 
the nature-worships of mankind and its most virile 
philosophies, are here disentangled from their 
historic associations with uncleanness and false- 
hood, and solemnly reaffirmed. Nature is good, 



and man is free. The franchise is complete within 
and without. " If the Son shall make you free ye 
shall be free indeed." " In His light we shall see 
light," and find in our experience also that service 
of others is not the rival, but the condition, of 


Respect for the natural relationships and superi- 
ority to fortune may have a familiar and common- 
place aspect to-day, but if we carry back our minds 
two thousand years, and consider the world as it 
was then, we cannot but admit that both were far 
from familiar or commonplace features of civilised 
society. There is perhaps some risk at the present 
time that we shall underrate the services of 
Christianity to the progress of mankind. It 
demands a real effort of the historic imagination 
to reproduce that ancient society into which, " in 
the fulness of the time," Jesus was born. We are 
easily cheated by superficial parallels into supposing 
that the world then was very similar to the world 
now, and the delusion is assisted by the unfortunate 
and irrational emphasis too commonly placed by 
Christians themselves on those features of their 
religion which are truly in no respect distinctive 
forms of government, methods of worship, popular 
devotions and the like. If, however, we take some 
characteristic feature of ancient society, such as 
the exposition of children, or the deliberate working 


to death of old slaves, or the association of religion 
with the public prostitution of men and women, 
or the gladiatorial shows, or the deification of the 
Emperors, or the practically unlimited liberty of 
divorce, and think out the ideas and beliefs which 
are implied in it, we shall perhaps be able to gain 
a juster view of that world into which Jesus was 
born. You may say, and say justly, that modern 
society also is stained by terrible scandals, that 
the records of the police courts and the disclosures 
of the divorce courts tell the story of a deep and 
widespread corruption ; but you know all the time 
that these scandals are now universally admitted 
to be scandals, and that the serious thought of 
Christendom is steadily directed towards the re- 
moval of the hardships and injustices which shadow 
life. I would be willing to stake the credit of 
Christianity as a social influence on the single issue 
of its handling of the natural relationships. The 
vindication of the union of the sexes from the 
taint of intrinsic impurity, the treatment of women, 
the honour paid to wifehood as the crown and 
climax of womanhood, and to motherhood as the 
crown and climax of wifehood, the tender regard 
for children, and the jealous wardship of the home 
these are the grand titles of Christianity to the 
gratitude of men and women even though they 
will not look beyond the interests of this temporal 
life. Extend your view ; admit the wider range of 
the life beyond; see all the natural relationships 
in the light of eternity; associate all human 



duty with the Final Judgment of God; and 
strengthen all human virtue with the power of 
His prevailing will ; and you will judge Christianity 
more fairly, but even on the limited and inadequate 
view of a reasonable scepticism you must admit the 
immense and invaluable services of that Gospel which 
on the first Christmas Day shone upon the world. 


Let none suppose that the ideas which the 
Gospel has carried into the general acceptance of 
civilised men are now so firmly rooted that in no 
conceivable circumstances can they be lost to 
mankind. The natural relationships are at once 
the strongest and the weakest point of modem 
civilisation ; the strongest manifestly, for it is 
because the great moral truths on which society 
rests are now enshrined in myriads of homes strongly 
built on the Christian conception of marriage, that 
the essential conditions of social permanence, order 
and liberty, are secured ; the weakest hardly less 
manifestly, for it is precisely with respect to the 
natural relationships that Christianity comes, into 
the most evident and violent conflict with deep 
currents of human selfishness, and bars passionately- 
held aspirations of modern men. Women, encircled 
by the traditional homage of Christendom, and 
still generally regarded from the standpoint of the 
Gospel, may forget the dangers and degradations 


from which they have been slowly set free, but 
the student of modern life knows too well that, 
close on the heels of the fashionable advocacy of a 
misnamed equality of the sexes, which ignores the 
facts of nature and the laws of God, presses the 
old licentiousness under which the ancient world 
sank. I will not pursue the subject further ; it is 
enough to have indicated by a few sentences one 
of the gravest " signs of the times," gravest of all 
in the opinion of those who hold that the basis of 
the State is the family, and that the only sound 
basis of the family is that pure and disciplined and 
lifelong union of man and woman which constitutes 
Christian marriage. 

From the witness to the world which Bethlehem 
bears, let us turn to the duties which it brings to 
the Church. What message does the " Sign " of 
" the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying 
in a manger " bring to us who are gathered here 
on the Birthday of Jesus to worship Him as our 
Lord ? First of all, surely, we are called to a 
greater reverence and a more solicitous regard for 
our own home life ; and, next, to a genuine respect 
for the home life of others. Perhaps we may find 
here a rough but not untrustworthy test by which 
to judge the quality of the social policies which are 
pressed on our support at the present time. How 



does any project affect the integrity, independence 
and strength of the family ? Especially in the 
treatment of children, this question will help us to 
distinguish the sound policy from the false, reform 
that is healthy from reform that is fallacious. 
There is, happily, at the present time a deep and 
widely-extended desire to improve the conditions 
of childhood, to shield the young from the perils 
to which their ignorance, or misfortune, or the 
circumstances of their life expose them ; to make 
sure that loving care watches over their earliest 
years, and that innocent joy lightens their brief 
period of irresponsible life. This great fund of 
goodwill towards children is itself mostly the 
creation of the Christian religion, and its existence 
makes possible almost unlimited improvements in 
the conditions of child-life in our society. Here 
surely is the right test of every project affecting 
children does it treat the child as primarily the 
member of a family, and therefore always to be 
dealt with through its divinely constituted guar- 
dians, its own parents ? Or does it really, if not 
avowedly, proceed on the false assumption that 
the child belongs primarily to the State, and that 
its own parents may be ignored in schemes for its 
welfare ? I confess that I am not satisfied with 
some present developments of political philan- 
thropy. I fear that the truly fundamental interest 
of the family is not sufficiently kept in view, and 
I know that there are strong currents of opinion 
definitely hostile to the integrity and independence 


of the home. Surely Christians should stand forth 
in the modern State firmly for the guardianship of 
the family, and work resolutely and unselfishly for 
the reform of whatsoever social conditions tend to 
weaken and degrade the home life of the people. 
There is very much in our industrial life which is 
hostile to the family. All the questions which we 
call economic, and which together constitute that 
social problem which weighs on modern communities 
with such threatening insistence, bear more or less 
directly and obviously on the family. Unemploy- 
ment, for instance, must degrade and may disperse 
the family of the artisan ; the inordinate cost of 
housing and its woefully inadequate character bear 
directly not only on the comfort but on the health 
and morality of the family ; the whole question of 
women's work at every point affects the birth and 
nurture of children, and the discipline of the family ; 
the due regulation of the traffic in alcohol bears 
cogently on the self-respect of the working classes, 
and thereby affects vitally the welfare of their 
families. It is the civic function of the Christian 
to insist, in season and out of season, on the in- 
tegrity, independence and well-being of the family. 
Let us take care that the new secularist enthusiasm 
for the State does not carry us back into the old 
pagan contempt for the home. Rather let us seek 
to realise the fine thought of St. Chrysostom when 
he described the home as " a little church." Yes, 
that is a true picture of the Christian home, how- 
ever humble be its circumstances or meagre its 



wealth. There God is worshipped in the way of 
common duty. There the discipline of Christ is 
expressed in loving authority and willing obedience. 
There parents are honoured and children treasured. 
The Christian home is an oasis of affection and 
cheerfulness in a society darkly shadowed by strife 
and sorrow. It is a beacon of guidance and hope 
to those who wander in a trackless world. As 
once above the lowly home in Bethlehem, there 
shines again the Star of a Divine Epiphany, for the 
promise finds fulfilment there that " where two or 
three are gathered together in Christ's name, there 
is He in the midst of them." 




MINISTER of St. Cuthbert's Parish Church, Edin- 
burgh. Amongst his publications are : " Dwellers 
in the Mist," "Can the World be Won for 
Christ ? " " Stand Up Ye Dead," " Victory out 
of Ruin," " The Burnt-Offering." 



" Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life : and I will dwell in the 
house of the Lord for ever." Psalm xxiii, 6. 

THIS Psalm is probably the first we ever learned ; 
it is the last we shall forget. There are probably 
none in this church this morning who remember 
the time when they could not repeat the twenty- 
third Psalm. More than any other it has woven 
itself into the very texture of the human soul. 
When we think of all the generations that have 
sung it, voicing their aspirations heavenward, what 
an appeal it makes to the imagination. Catholics 
and Orthodox, Anglicans and Presbyterians, Baptists 
and Wesleyans have sung it, and singing forgot 
everything except that God's Providence was around 
them like a shepherd with his rod and staff. Secretly 
in the catacombs, cobblers and slaves, " the most 
vulgar and illiterate of mankind," sang it. It was 
so often sung amid the flames that it gained for itself 
the name of the martyrs' Psalm. Here in Edin- 
burgh on a winter day in 1681, two honest lasses, 
as Peden calls them, stood on the scaffold ready to 
die for conscience' sake Isabel Alison and Marion 
Harvie. " Marion," said Bishop Paterson, " you 

u 293 


would never hear a curate ; now you shall hear one," 
and he called on one of his clergy to pray. " Come, 
Isabel," was the girl's answer (she was only twenty 
years of age), " let us sing the twenty-third Psalm." 
And their young voices as they sang 

" Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale, 
Yet will I fear none ill," 

drowned the voice of the curate. It was not merely 
the simple and the unlearned on whom this Psalm 
cast a spell ; for it was with these same words that 
vSir William Hamilton, the only earnest man Carlyle 
found in Edinburgh, composed his mind for the last 
journey : "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with 
me." For two thousand years the soul of man 
with the words of the psalmist's triumphant faith 
on the lips, has defied death and made the valley 
of the shadow of death luminous with the radiance 
of immortality. We may well try this morning to 
get at the heart of this song of praise and ponder 
the imagery of green pastures and waters of stillness 
and paths of straightness and wandering sheep, 
which render it the most exquisite of lyrics. 


If we were asked when this Psalm was composed 
we would probably most of us answer that it was 
sung by David when he tended his father's sheep. 
But such an answer would be inevitably wrong. 



It would be impossible for a boy to experience 
the intensity of faith which finds expression here. 
If we hear a youth using language beyond the reach 
of his own experience, it grates on us. We have a 
little word of one syllable by which we designate 
him. It would be unnatural for a boy to sing of the 
valley of the shadow of death ; or to celebrate the 
bounty that prepared a table for him in the presence 
of his enemies. For he had no enemies then to 
triumph' over. 

The whole Psalm pulsates for us with a new life 
when we realise that it expresses the triumph of 
faith in the midst of dire calamity. If the Psalm 
was written by David, it was at the time of Absalom's 
rebellion. It was then that the King fled down the 
stony and dark gorge to the Jordan on his way to 
Mahanaim, with the curses of Shimei in his ears. 
Well might that narrow gorge become to his stricken 
heart a symbol of the valley of the shadow of death. 
Around the exile in Mahanaim friends gathered, 
and food was supplied by the faithful, so that the 
table of the King was provided with delicacies 
even in the presence of his enemies. And there the 
sight of the shepherds leading their flocks to the 
pastures, by the still waters, revived the faith of 
his youth in the heart of the disillusioned King, and 
he awoke again to the realisation that God was his 
shepherd, guiding him with His rod and staff. 

It was perhaps in the little chamber over the gate, 
alone with his grief, that David poured out his heart 
in this song. We can see him even now, across the 



dim years, staggering up the stone steps to the 
empty chamber over the gate (where the guard 
waited for their time to go on duty) with the words 
of doom ringing in his ears : Absalom dead ! dead in 
the midst of his sin ; with no place for repentance 
under the sun ! Dead. Irretrievable as fate. A 
little bare room, but it does not need a very big 
room for a broken-hearted man to cry in. And 
from that room there has gone forth through the 
ages the sob of anguished fatherhood : " 0, my son 
Absalom, my son, my son Absalom ! Would God 
I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son ! " 
It was then that the waves and the billows tossed 
the broken King once more to the feet of God, and 
laying hold on the Eternal his faltering lips sing the 
song of faith : The Lord is my shepherd ... 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the 
days of my life. 


It is when we remember these things that we 
realise the grandeur of the faith that can in the 
direst calamities see the goodness and the mercy of 
the Lord. They may seem strange words at the 
first in circumstances like these ; but when we 
ponder them we realise their truth. For every 
experience in life that brings a man to see a glimpse 
of the eternal and to say the Lord is my Shepherd, 
is of the goodness and the mercy of God. Life is 


filled with experiences just like that. When the 
house is unroofed the stars appear ; when the life 
is made solitary, the Great Companion draws nigh. 
There is no alchemy like the alchemy of faith. It 
can turn ruin into victory, and death itself into 
the life immortal. 

It has been so all down the ages. Every genera- 
tion of God's children can show a soul triumphing 
just like this. When the head and the hands of 
Richard Cameron, the Covenanter, were carried to 
Edinburgh in a sack, they were shown to his father, 
who was then a prisoner in the Tolbooth. The old 
man was asked if he knew to whom they belonged. 
Stooping down he kissed the brow of his fair-haired 
son, and then he said: "I know them; I know 
them ; they are my son's, my dear son's ; " and then 
he added : " It is the Lord ; good is the will of the 
Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has 
made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days." 
Think of David in the little room over the gate, 
sobbing over Absalom ; of the old man in the 
Tolbooth kissing the brow of his murdered son ; 
of these two, with the blood-drenched centuries 
between, at one in their trust in the mercy and 
goodness of God, and you will realise the heights 
of grandeur to which it is possible for the soul of 
man to arise. 




It is one thing to see the beauty of a Psalm such 
as this : another to set our own lives to the melody 
of it. What was it that enabled the psalmists and 
saints to exult and triumph so in the very shadow 
of death ? It was this the living trust in God. 
For them, God was not isolated from the creatures 
that he made ; He was not merely a Shepherd but 
my Shepherd. Now the question for us is this : 
how can we anchor our souls in this same great 
conviction ? There are doubtless many roads by 
which it is possible for us to arrive at it. There 
are at least two suggested in this Psalm. We can 
come to this living trust (i) by contemplating the 
loveliness and the goodness wherewith the world is 
filled ; and (2) by recalling the way along which 
God has led us and His goodness towards us in the 

(i) We do not sufficiently realise that there is 
a way back to the feet of God starting from every 
spot on which we see some glimpse of the loveliness 
wherewith the earth is filled. That is one of the 
elements by which this song has sung itself into the 
heart of humanity for two thousand years its 
feeling of the beauty in the world. The singer had 
a heart sensitive to the appeal that a still lake can 
make to the heart ; he knew what it was to gaze 
with eyes growing moist on green downs billowing 
away to the horizon ; he felt the mystic atmosphere 
that came at eve as shepherds led their flocks to 


the folds. It was just because he allowed his heart 
to be filled by that sense of the Divine in the world 
that it was natural to him to say, " The Lord is my 
Shepherd . . . His goodness is around me like a 
rod and a staff." 

When we find ourselves released from the yoke 
of the daily task and we steal away to the hills, 
around whose base the waves of earthly din and 
striving die away into silence, what a feast of loveli- 
ness is spread before our eyes. We are as David in 
Mahanaim. The world in the darkest age has ever 
been filled with beauty and radiance and green 
pastures ! Still waters ! How that tarn, like 
polished silver among the hills, with the little 
asphodel clouds playing in its far depths, and the 
wine-red slopes rising steep around leaps up before 
our minds ! We remember the strange state into 
which we fell as we gazed at it. The silence that is 
among the lonely hills wrapped us round like a 
mantle of peace. The body seemed to fade away 
and we became a living soul. Strange feelings 
stirred within us and an awe as if in the presence 
of the Unchangeable. 

Speak to Him thou for He hears, 
And spirit with spirit shall meet, 
Closer is he than breathing ; 
Nearer than hands or feet. 

Why is it that we are so moved ? It is just because 
the spirit of the great Artist who created all that 
beauty is also in us. Just as when we are suddenly 



arrested by a picture in a gallery, and we find 
ourselves transported into other realms as we gaze 
at the beauty glowing on the canvas, what stirs our 
hearts is not the canvas nor the paint, but the soul 
of the artist that finds expression through these. If 
we had not the spirit that inspired him, his handiwork 
would hang there for us in vain. So also is it with 
the loveliness of the world. If the spirit of the 
Supreme Artist were not also in us, we should see 
nothing any more than the ox sees as he stands 
in the meadow. We have only to ponder the 
mystery of the earth's loveliness, to feel the goodness 
of God with an overwhelming realisation. When 
John Thomson, the artist minister of Duddingston, 
accompanied Sir David Brewster up Speyside 
and came at last to the spot where the full 
glory of Glenfeshie opened out before their gaze, 
Thomson gasped forth: "Lord God Almighty." 
That surely is the perfection of artistic sensibility. 
In that radiance we are co-workers with God. Each 
time our hearts are thrilled as we behold, we create 
it afresh. The elements of beauty are there, but 
we beholding create the beauty. God is indeed 
very near, working with us and in us. He is no 
longer an abstraction. He is a Reality. David felt 
that dimly ; Jesus felt it supremely as he stood on 
the hill top with face transfigured, or as He watched 
the clouds curtaining the heavens with splendour ; 
and on moor, shore, or mountain-side we can see 
such a banquet of beauty spread before our eyes, 
that we can truly say : This is the work of our 


God ; surely goodness and mercy do follow 

(2) It is not merely in the contemplation of the 
beauty of the world that we can realise the good Provi- 
dence of God, but we can do so also in stirring up our 
memories and recalling the way in which we have 
been guided even until now. If each worshipper in 
this great congregation this morning could be brought 
to write down the story of their lives, what wonderful 
tales they would tell of the goodness of the Lord. 
Why is it that we are here this morning in this 
sanctuary, waiting on God ? We might so easily 
have been elsewhere. We might have been with 
the noisy pursuers of pleasure who are rushing over 
the face of the land, but who alas ! cannot with all 
their swiftness escape from themselves ; we might 
have been numbered with the revellers who pour 
the vulgarity and slime of the cities over the 
quiet and beautiful places of our fair land ; we 
might have been with those who are sacrificing 
the Lord's Day rest to their base self-indulgence. 
We are, however, here, following in the foot- 
steps of our Fathers, worshipping and praising 
God, just because of this, that the Lord has 
been our shepherd, and that He has guided our 
steps. One is interested in the sudden arrest the 
Spirit of God often makes ; in the souls that are 
snatched as brands from the burning. There is a 
spice of peril and adventure about their tale when 
they are prevailed upon to tell it. But far more 
important than that is the story that most of us 



can tell the story of how the simple things of life 
guide the feet God-ward. Our feet have been 
guided into the ways of peace by things so common 
that we have scarcely noticed them : by a parent 
who filled our minds with the songs of faith and hope 
so that the songs of vulgarity were ever sung to us 
in vain ; by the teacher who made us see the history 
of the world as a great scroll flaming with the provi- 
dence and the judgments of God; by a sudden 
flashing of the beauty of God as a great throng of 
worshippers rose to pour out their hearts before the 
eternal throne; by a sentence heard in a little 
whitewashed meeting house that wandered straight 
to the heart ; by a page in a book, as Wesley by 
Law's " Serious Call." ... By these and a thousand 
common things for all God's great things are 
common, as love is common and the sunlight 
common have multitudes no man can number been 
led to the hour when they said with the rapture 
of self-surrender : " The Lord is my Shepherd . . . 
goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days 
of my life." 


This Psalm is the medicine for all depressed and 
all despondent souls. The true remedy for pessimism 
is to remember the days of old. We cannot 
recall the past without being brought to confess 
that the Lord has been our Shepherd. If He has 


been, He now is, and surely will continue to be, 
our Shepherd. For God is not a bungler ; He brings 
to perfection whatever He begins. Every blessing 
and every deliverance in the past is a promise for the 
future. The waters of stillness and the green 
pastures are but a faint image of the glory awaiting 
the souls that trust in our God. For this God is 
our God for ever and ever : "He will be our Guide 
even unto death." I like the quaint story told by 
Luther : " When sorely vexed by the wickedness 
of the world and the dangers which beset the Church, 
seeing my wife dressed in mourning I asked the 
reason. ' Do you not know/ she said, ' that God 
in heaven is dead ? ' I exclaimed, ' How can God 
die ? He is immortal and will live through all 
eternity.' ' And yet,' she said quietly, ' you are so 
hopeless and so discouraged.' And then I mastered 
my sadness." Truly the soul that can say the Lord 
is my Shepherd has nought to do with fear and 
despondency and trembling for the Ark of God. 
He is pressing to the goal where he shall dwell 
in the house of the Lord for ever. Where else 
could he dwell at last but just there in the house 
of the Lord for ever ? For if anything be certain this 
is certain, that God does not create loveliness and 
souls that thrill as they behold it just to crumble 
them all into dust and nothingness at the last. . . . 
The house of the Lord for ever ! Towards that we 
press with head erect, undaunted, undismayed. 




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