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FOREWORD .... . . . vii 





AGAINST THEE . . . . 30 


V BE STILL AND KNOW . . . . 58 

VI DON'T BE AN Ass! 74 


VIII Lo, HERE is FELLOWSHIP! . . . 102 



VITALITY . . . . - 115 

B MY TEXT 129 






IN all the glory that is England no place has 
been so chanted by poets and nature lovers as 
the Lake country in Cumberland and West- 
morland that district which Lowell aptly called 
c Wordsworthshire.' Where else in the world is 
beauty more thickly sown where is there such 
unity in variety as in the sweep of landscape which 
greets the eye from the shores of Coniston or from 
Kirkstone Pass? Wordsworth, the laureate of 
Lakeland loveliness, has described the eight val- 
leys seen from the top of Scawf ell, diverging like 
spokes from the nave of a wheel. The scenery 
of Lakeland is a succession of delightful surprises 
and of ever changing forms and colours. Rugged 
mountains rise amid velvety valleys; there is the 
sparkle of myriad waterfalls and the shimmer of 
ruffled lakes 5 glowing foxgloves and other wild 
flowers in rich profusion bedeck verdant carpets 
of ferns and lichen-covered rocks are adorned with 
colours of vivid beauty. Little wonder that such 
seers as Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, De 
Quincey, Arnold and Ruskin fed their souls in this 
earthly paradise and littered its winding ways and 
woodland paths with memories of their presence 
and poetic thought. 



Wordsworth was born in Lakeland, It gave 
him his cradle, his home and his grave. He loved 
it with a deep, penetrating, interpreting love. 
Every tiniest flower was full of deepest suggestion 
to him. He listened to the music of its running 
streams, to the song of the skylark and the cuckoo's 
call, to the whispering leaves and the wind in the 
trees and caught the deeper accents of a voice 
divine and saw the Unseen in the seen. 


On a summer day in the year 1908 there came 
to this haven of quietness and tranquil beauty a 
clergyman from Philadelphia, smitten with a sense 
of failure and futility. He was a Lutheran minis- 
ter, sick at heart because of the felt lack of the 
power of God in his life and ministry. A man 
cannot give what he does not possess and the high 
calling of the ministry is to give men God. Religion 
must be infectious $ it is, as Dean Inge insists, 
caught rather than taught. Of all the wretched 
men in this world, the most to be pitied is a minis- 
ter spiritually uncontagious. He may be an elo- 
quent preacher, an efficient organizer, a social 
success, but if he is a failure in the main issue of 
his life, he is of all men the most miserable. 

This pilgrim, Dr. Frank Buchman, went to 
Lakeland seeking if haply he might find the secret 
of the missing power. Not in the many meetings 
of the Keswick Convention, instinct with spiritual- 
ity though they were, did he gain that for which 
he was hungering. Not yet was his heart open 


and receptive. Then one afternoon he attended 
a service in a little chapel outside Keswick town 
and there to a congregation numbering less than 
twenty an unknown woman, a modern Dinah 
Morris, told, in simple, artless words, the story 
of 'Jesus Christ the Crucified.' As she spoke the 
pilgrim saw the Cross as he had never seen it 
before and through the Cross he saw himself. 
That is what the Cross does for us. It throws the 
searching light of God into the dark places of our 
hearts and lays bare the things we try to hide even 
from ourselves. It strips us of the silken robes of 
self-excusing and tears off the masks wherewith 
we disguise our condition. 

This is the light that hurts and heals. If a man 
seeks to go on sinning in smug complacency he 
must contrive to keep out of sight of the Cross 
if he can. Frank Buchman remembers little that 
the nameless preacher said; it was the Word of 
the Cross he heard. Could there be nobler testi- 
mony to a sermon than that? It calls to mind an 
experience which deeply moved John Henry 
Jowett. Early one morning he went out from 
Northfield to conduct in the woods a camp meeting 
for men drawn from the Jerry McAuley mission 
for 'down and outers' in New York. Before 
Jowett spoke one of the men prayed for him: c Oh, 
Lord we pray for our brother. Now blot him 
out! Reveal Thy glory to us in such blazing 
splendour that he shall be forgotten.' They 
desired to see c no man save Jesus only. 5 


There in the little Cumberland chapel Frank 
Buchman had a sight of the Cross. Truly, a man 
may look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine 
times and not see it once, and then look for the 
thousandth time and see it for the first time. He 
had resigned his charge after a brush with the 
trustees. Grudges against these men rankled in 
his mind. He thought they had been high-handed 
and hard-hearted in their opposition to him. 
Resentment was choking his soul, and love, peace 
and joy cannot abide in a mind rankling with bitter- 
ness. With the Cross before his eyes he saw it all. 
Whatever wrong he had suffered at the hands of 
others he was not right in himself. There is light 
in the Cross and there is love the love that burns 
to bless. And in the fire of the love of God the 
sin of pride in this man 7 s heart was burned away. 

Thus dawned the creative day in his life. 
Indeed, life really began for him that day. Thor- 
valsden, the sculptor, who was born at sea between 
Iceland and Copenhagen, when questioned as to 
his birthplace, replied: C I do not know but I 
arrived in Rome on March 8, 1797,' dating his 
real birth from the commencement of his artistic 

career. Frank Buchman was born in . I need 

not cross the room to make sure. He saw the Cross 
in 1908. 

He walked back exultingly to the house where 
he was a guest. He had made a great discovery 
the greatest discovery that a man ever makes 
and he could not keep it to himself. At the tea 
table he related his experience, simply and quietly 


but with the contagious gaiety of one who has 
found what he has long been seeking. Among 
those who listened to his story was a son of the 
house, a Cambridge fresher, who suggested a walk 
after the meal. For hours they walked by Der- 
wentwater, and as they walked, Dr. Buchman told 
what had happened how he had seen that to 
retain his consciousness of God his heart must be 
empty of all sin and free from the angry past. 
There by the lake-side that shining youth with a 
legal mind surrendered his life to Christ. 

Dr. Buchman was now a happy man but a self- 
contained happiness soon evaporates. Next day 
he sat down and wrote six letters of honest apology 
to the trustees with whom he had quarrelled, and 
at the top of each he wrote a verse of the hymn 
which that lover of Lakeland, Matthew Arnold, 
regarded as the finest in the English language: 
When I survey the wondrous Cross 
On which the Prince of Glory died) 
My richest gain I count but loss, 
And four contempt on all my pride. 

The relief which came to him with this action 
had a determining effect on his life, for he had 
learnt that there can be no living and transforming 
sense of unity with the divine Will, no 'God 
Consciousness,' so long as the heart nurses bitter- 


His letters struck no answering chord across the 
Atlantic 5 he received no replies, but this silence 
could not diminish his new-found happiness nor 


his inward sense of the Divine Presence. That 
evening walk had brought light to another man 
and his way was now clearly opening before him. 
He had been changed; he could be used to change 
others. This new experience of power working 
through him led Dr. Buchman to witness to others 
of the release which had come to him. 

Let us pause here for a moment to grasp clearly 
what had happened to our pilgrim in Lakeland: 

1 . He had caught a vision of the Cross. 

2. He had been convicted of sin in his life. 

3. He had made an unreserved surrender to 
Jesus Christ. 

4. He had made frank confession and restitu- 

5. He had witnessed to the renewing power 
of Christ. 

From these germinal seeds sprang the principles 
of his work as a life-changer. 

Dr. Buchman returned to America, where, on 
the recommendation of Dr. John R. Mott, he 
became what one might call a Chaplain in one of 
the State Universities. There he had ample 
opportunity to test the validity of his spiritual 
experience in meeting the needs of modern youth, 
and within three years, mainly by personal wit- 
ness, he had gathered twelve hundred men into 
his Bible Study Class. Those University years 
were a period of experiment and preparation for 
his life work. 

Between 1915 and 1919 Dr. Buchman travelled 
in India and the Far East, all the while growing 


increasingly sure of the guidance of God. The 
principles of life changing were gradually formu- 
lated in his mind. In the light of what has hap- 
pened, we can see the guiding hand of Providence 
in those preparatory years. The very simplicity 
of the spiritual technique which is meeting the 
needs of twentieth-century men and women could 
only have crystallized through brooding quietness 
and patient waiting. Chesterton apologizes for 
the length of one of his essays and explains that he 
had not time to make it shorter. An essay can be 
written in a hurry but it takes time to carve an 
epigram. Not that the principles of life-changing 
are a cluster of clever epigrams they are a tech- 
nique for spiritual power. 

One evening a young woman who was a fellow- 
passenger crossing the Pacific asked Buchman how 
an ordinary person like herself could change lives 
for Christ. 'But,' she warned him, c if you tell 
me, you must tell me very simply,' That demand 
was the means of defining in his mind the prin- 
ciples which have formed the basis of the amazing 
work which he has been able to accomplish. 


Again, Dr. Buchman saw clearly that he must 
apply Christ's own method of changing the world 
through individuals. In a letter written at this 
time he set down his conviction as follows: c This 
principle (of personalized evangelism) is the 
essential of Christianity and the absolute essential 
of all progress. The depersonalization of all 


activity is one of the great problems of our day. 
In business, education and in every mission activity 
we must return to the fundamental principle of 
Christ as a constant and get into touch with men 
individually. Those whom we long to win must 
be in touch with the soul of the movement, which 
is any human heart aflame with the vital fire.' 

Amid all the irreligion, sensualism and reckless 
abandon of the post-war years, Dr. Buchman felt 
that the storm troops for a colossal campaign of 
world changing were to be found in the Univer- 
sities. Young, athletic, educated, they were for 
the most part bewildered and nauseated with 
things as they were, tumbling over one another 
to get a new sensation, tolerating conventional 
religion or despising it outright. He knew that 
no ecclesiastical machinery, no mob missions for 
youth could capture them for Christ. They 
wanted neither creed nor argument but they would 
listen to witness. How to make vital contact with 
this splendid youth that was the problem and 
the opportunity challenging Dr. Buchman. Church 
services would not answer the purpose religious 
meetings were taboo. Some fresh and original way 
must be found. He attained what he was looking 
for in the week-end house party, a well-established 
feature of social life in Britain and America. 


The first house party gathered in Ruling, a 
summer resort in Central China, where a group 
of Chinese, British and Americans missionaries, 


business men, doctors and politicians spent a fort- 
night in sharing deeply their experiences, owning 
up to their failures and then surrendering abso- 
lutely to Christ to be searched, cleansed, directed 
and used. In that inaugural party were two 
Bishops who asked Dr. Buchman to call on their 
sons in Cambridge when he returned to England. 

Thus it came about that in 1921 he visited Cam- 
bridge, where he captured two undergraduates for 
Christ. With these he went to Oxford, and in that 
University also men surrendered to Christ. In the 
following year a house party was held for men of 
both Universities and from the number of those 
who were won to Christ have come many of the 
leaders in the Group Movement to-day. 

One of the men whose life was changed was a 
Rhodes scholar from South Africa, and he carried 
the message to his home University. In 1927 a 
team of six Oxford men and one from Holland 
visited South Africa. There was a widespread 
demand for a much larger Group, which was 
answered in 1929 by the visit of a team of nineteen 
under Dr. Buchman's leadership. In that land of 
varied and inflamed nationalisms astonishing things 
happened. After one Group meeting three hun- 
dred British and Afrikaans stood and solemnly 
pledged themselves: c Sooner shall this limitless 
veldt pass away, sooner shall this endless sunshine 
cease, than we Dutch and English-speaking South 
Africans break the peace which we swear at the 
feet of Jesus Christ.' 


Lives were changed through personal testimony 
to Jesus Christ by those who had been changed. 1 
Recently, an advocate of the Supreme Court 
declared: South Africa without the Oxford 
Group is unimaginable. There has come a new 
hope and the promise of racial and class reconcilia- 
tion on a national scale.' 

Three years ago thirty-five men and women 
went to Canada, and the Prime Minister has said 
that the influence of the Oxford Group has been 
felt in every town and village of the Dominion. 

Last year, at the invitation of Stortings Presi- 
dent, Hambro, an international team of one hun- 
dred and fifty visited Norway and in the words 
of one of her leading editors c the whole mental 
outlook of the country has changed.' 

The Group has assumed national proportions 
in Scandinavia and Switzerland. In Switzerland 
the leaders were received by the President of the 
Confederation and his Cabinet, and the Presi- 
dent of the League of Nations presided over the 
luncheon which he gave to delegates to the 
Assembly and members of the Oxford Group 
International Team. Among those who witnessed 
at this luncheon in the Hotel Des Bergues were 
Mr. Louden Hamilton, of Christ Church, Oxford ; 
Brigadier David Forster, of the British Armyj 
Baroness Connie Hahn, of Vienna} the Rt. Hon. 
C. J. Hambro, President of the Norwegian Parlia- 
ment; Dr. Frank Buchmanj Ma Nyein Tha, 

1. The South African press christened them the Oxford Group, 
The name has stuck and become world-wide. 


from Burma, Mr. Bemer Hofmeyr, from South 
Africa 5 Baroness Diana Hahn, o Latvia, and Mr. 
James Watt, a former member of the Executive 
of the Young Communist League of Great Britain. 
After this luncheon a leading delegate to the 
Assembly said: c Unless this message is accepted 
there can be no solution of our problems, national 
or international.' 


Groups are now in operation in forty-eight 
countries stretching from the Arctic Circle to New 
Zealand, from Britain to Burma, from the Medi- 
terranean to the Far East. The Group entered 
Copenhagen in March, 1935. In October twenty- 
five thousand Danes assembled in the Forum and 
two other halls for a Group Meeting arranged 
entirely by their fellow-countrymen and that 
on the very eve of a general election. 

This Movement is girdling the globe, lives are 
being changed everywhere. And what is its mes- 
sage and method? Nothing more than personal 
witness to what Christ is doing for men and women 
who have absolutely surrendered their lives to 
Him. Not since John Wesley's day has such a 
religious movement spread throughout the world. 
But what is happening is quite understandable to 
those who know the New Testament. It has 
jolted us, who regarded ourselves as good church 
people, out of our complacency and forced us to 
face up to the quality of life set forth in the Book 


of Acts. The declared purpose of the Oxford 
Group is c a maximum experience of Jesus Christ.' 

The world is seething with problems greater 
than human statesmanship can solve. But there 
is an answer there is a solution and we can find 
it if we will. We must recover the conviction that 
God has a plan for His world, which was such a 
passionate belief with the first Christians. 

God's plan operating in God's world that is 
our objective, and nothing less will meet the needs 
of our world. 




I cannot invent 

New things, 
Like the airships 

Which sail 
On silver wings; 

But to-day 
A wonderful thought 

In the dawn was given, 
And the stripes on my robe, 

Shining from wear, 
Were suddenly fair, 

Bright with a light 
Falling from Heaven 

Gold, and silver, and bronze 
Lights from the windows of Heaven. 
And the thought 

Was this: 
That a secret plan 

Is hid in my hand; 
That my hand is big, 


Because of this plan; 
That God, 

Who dwells in my hand, 
Knows this secret plan 

Of the things He will do for the 

Using my hand! 


Songs From the Slums (Student Christian Movement), 



GOD has a plan for the world. But the 
Divine order can find expression only 
through our individual lives. The world 
is made up of individuals each life a thought 
of God. This truth was made luminous by one of 
the speakers at the luncheon in the Hotel Des 
Bergues, Geneva. Mr. Henry Armistead told 
the story of a boy sitting in his father's study, at 
a loose end with nothing to occupy his mind. 
Weary of doing nothing the most tiring of all 
tasks he asked his father to give him something 
to do. The father, who was absorbed in his work 
and irritated at being disturbed, picked up a sheet 
of paper on which was printed a map of the world, 
tore it into fragments and threw them on the floor. 
c There is a puzzle for you, 5 he said, c pick them 
up and put them together again.' In a surpris- 
ingly short time he reassembled the pieces and 
triumphantly brought the map of the world. 
c Well,' said his father, c you have a better know- 
ledge of geography than I thought.' c Oh, no,' 
explained the boy, c there was a picture of a man 
on the other side, and I found that when I got the 
man right, the world came right.' Which things 
are a parable. Get the individual right and the 
world will be set right. There is no other way. 


The Oxford Group is telling the world what 
Christians have always theoretically believed 
that God has a plan for every man and woman 
and that no life need walk with aimless feet. That 
plan can be definitely known if we fulfil God's 

What would be thought of a builder who went 
on constructing a house without reference to the 
architect's plan? There is as surely a design 
plotted out for each one of us as ever there was for 
Abraham, Joseph, David or St. Paul. The weavers 
of tapestries rejoiced when they had a genius like 
Raphael 1 to paint picture patterns for their weav- 
ing. What a discovery for us to make that there 
is a plan for our lives made by the Eternal Wisdom 
who c seeth the end from the beginning! * For 
lack of this knowledge millions of men and 
women are mentally sick, blase, disgusted with 
themselves and the world at large. If life has no 
meaning it is not worth living. 

There is a story of a man who was waiting on 
a platform for his train and was struck by the 
wretched appearance of a dog tied to a post. He 
called the porter, and said: 'That dog looks 
miserable. Where is it going to? ' c That's the 
trouble,' said the porter. * I don't know, and you 
don't know, and the dog don't know. He's chewed 
up his label.' How many people are like that, 
miserable because they have lost all sense of 

1. Several of Raphael's cartoons for tapestry weavers are in the 
British Museum. 


direction in life. They don't know where they 
are going. The sense of futility is slowly destroy- 
ing them. 

The greatest of human miseries, the most deadly 
disease, is not cancer but boredom. There is more 
wretchedness, more torment driving men to folly 
due to boredom than to anything else. To all the 
disappointed, disillusioned, weary children of men 
the Oxford Group proclaims in the name of Christ: 
c God has a plan for our lives and the real adven- 
ture of being alive is to find it and achieve it.* 
Well did Woodrow Wilson say that, when you 
have settled what is the chief end in life, you have 
settled everything else. It is better to have some- 
thing to live for than to have much to live on. 

One of the noblest sermons in the English lan- 
guage is that of the American saint, Dr. Horace 
Bushnell, entitled, ' Every Man's Life a Plan of 
God.' It is not mere preaching but the witness of 
a great man's personal experience. Here is the 
heart of it: 

( What do the Scriptures shew us, but that God 
has a particular care -for every man, a personal 
interest in him, and a sympathy with him and his 
trials, watching for the uses of his one talent as 
attentively and kindly, and approving him as 
heartily, in the right employment of it, as if He 
had given him ten; and what is the giving out of 
the talent itself, but an exhibition of the fact that 
God has a definite fwrpose, charge, and work, be 
it this or that, for every man! . . . 


f There is a definite and proper end, or issue, 
"for every man's existence; an end which, to the 
heart of God, is the good intended for him, or 
for which he was intended; that which he is 
privileged to become, called to become, ought to 
become; that which God will assist him to become, 
and which he cannot miss, save by his own fault. 
Every human soul has a complete and perfect 
plan cherished for it in the heart of God a 
divine biography marked out, which it enters into 
life to live. . . . 

' But there is, I must add, a single but very 
important and even fearful qualification. Things 
all serve their uses, and never break out of their 
place. They have no power to do it. Not so with 
us. We are able, as free beings, to refuse the 
place and the duties God appoints; which, if we 
do, then we sink into something lower and less 
worthy of us. . . / 


( How inspiring and magnificent to live, by 
holy consent, a life all discovery; to see it unfold- 
ing, moment by moment, a plan of God, our own 
life-plan conceived in His paternal love; each 
event, incident, experience, whether bright or dark, 
having its mission from Him, and revealing, either 
now or in its future issues, the magnificence of 
His favouring counsel; to be sure, in the dark 
day, of a light that will follow, that loss will 
terminate in gain, that trial will issue in rest, doubt 
in satisfaction, suffering in patience, patience in 


purity y and all in a consummation of greatness and 
dignity that even God mil look on with a smile! 
How magnificent, how strong in its repose, how 
full of rest is such a kind of life! * 

Yes! but to read all this avails nothing unless 
we can prove it for ourselves. Is there a technique 
of finding one's life plan? There is. The initial 
step and the indispensable step in the quest is: 

TO GOD. Surrender is 'life under new 

Surrender is not something to be done once and 
for all at the start, but a process to be sustained, 
alike in mood and in action, all the way through. 
Indeed, it must be more than sustained $ it must 
be continuously deepened and informed. Every 
new day must be surrendered to God. The only 
surrender that has value is the surrender of life 
in its totality. Anything consciously kept back 
mars everything. All that is in self, good, bad 
and indifferent, must be handed over to God. He 
will then give back whatever is fit for us to use. 

It may reasonably be asked how it is possible 
to surrender the bad self. If an evil habit, for 
instance, can be exorcised by mere surrender, it 
would then seem that we can save ourselves. But 
can we? No! for the surrender is made possible 
by the operation of the Holy Spirit within us so 
that while we play our own part in it, we can in 
no case suppose that we are saving ourselves. 



A man asks why he should be required to sur- 
render what is obviously good in his life. For 
example, there is his love of his child, and, surely, 
it was never intended that he should surrender 
that. But it is intended so, for a father can do 
nothing better, either for himself or for his child, 
than to yield his natural affection, good as it is, to 
Christ. If we do not trust Christ with undisputed 
use of all that is already pure and true in human 
life, we do not trust Him at all. Christ makes 
a difference even to what is naturally good in our 
lives. We speak of darling sins which keep men 
out of the Kingdom, but there are darling virtues 
which may keep them out just as effectively. The 
man who was ' not far from the Kingdom of God ' 
was yet not in it. This may seem hard doctrine, 
but it is the inescapable demand of Christ. Any 
man who would follow Christ must surrender to 
Him all that he is and has the whole man and 
his outfit. Christ claims all. He asks no more 
and He will take no less. Hudson Taylor used 
to say: ( If you don't crown Him Lord of all 
you don't crown Him Lord at all.' 

The man who asks what is the least he can give 
up in order to be a Christian has not even bggun 
to see what surrender means, Christianity is an 
uncalculating moodj for when a man has counted 
the cost and resolved to meet it, he has done with 
the prudential and bargaining spirit. 

Surrender is bound to be shallow and frag- 
mentary where it is not accompanied by repentance. 


Until a man knows himself to be a sinner, he is 
unaware of the real tragedy of his life and unable 
to make an intelligent surrender. Repentance is 
the very breath of surrender. And this is the first 
thing the Cross does for us as it did for a man 
in Lakeland. In the searching sight of Christ 
we see sin not as a transgression of law, not as 
rebellion against light 5 but as a blow struck at love. 
It is not so much our concern as to what Christ 
will do to us but what we have done and are doing 
to Him. I used to be afraid that God might hurt 
me; but when I saw the Cross I saw how I had 
hurt God who wills me good and not evil. 

Repentance requires a recognition of the facts 
about ourselves. 'Not carefully manufactured 
self-depreciation, but sincerity with ourselves is 
the true condition of penitence,' says Dr. John 
Oman. The capacity of the human mind for self- 
deception is unlimited. The Cross enables us to 
be sincere with ourselves it is the one place in 
life where we cannot play the hypocrite. 

The trouble with us is not a list of wrongs that 
can be added up but the general state of wrong- 
ness. We may point to this or that in our lives 
and say that we will have done with it and doubt- 
less we mean it. But we soon begin to find that 
our lives are not made up of separate pieces that 
can be separately mended. Life is of one piece. 
If we make no radical change except to mend some 
particular fault we find ourselves giving way to 
it again because of some weakness at another point. 
It is the whole of life that must be turned and 


Bishop Westcott maintained that repentance is 
an entire revolution of our view of God, ourselves 
and the world. Repentance is really a change of 
mind. It is not only a change of thinking but a 
change of the thing with which we think. c Repent! > 
said Jesus. Change the character of your mind! 
Get a new way of looking at things. Literally 
think the other way. To repent is to substitute 
Christ's viewpoint in place of our own. It means 
a complete revaluation of all things including those 
which we are inclined to think good. 

Repentance is more than fickle regret. Tears 
may be as cheap as raindrops or they may be as 
costly as pearls. Again, it is more than remorse, 
which is only self -accusation and self-loathing, 
issuing in despair. Remorse may become destruc- 
tive morbidity. Regret which remains only regret 
is useless. Repentance is unto life. It is vital to 
effective living. Repent and live! 

Change of mind a new way of looking at 
things reveals to us that we belong to God and 
must therefore absolutely surrender ourselves and 
be entirely at His disposal. The surrender of self 
must include every interest, possession and rela- 
tionship. If self is kept back from God, life will 
be a series of reluctances and irritations. And that 
is often the trouble. We try to be religious in 
patches while the great surrender has not been 
made. These smaller surrenders encounter curbs 


and restraints and the soul is irritated and divided 
against itself. Until we surrender, praying and 
waiting will avail nothing. We shall be disap- 
pointed and we must expect to be. 

Are we willing to make a full surrender? to 
yield ourselves absolutely to God? That is the 
great question. What God wants is not praising 
lips, nor reverence and prayers only but our- 
selves, our powers and capacities and possessions 
not a tenth of our income and one-seventh of our 
time, but all our income and all our time. And He 
will show us give us guidance as to what He 
wants us to spend upon ourselves and in the exten- 
sion of His Kingdom. The clear ringing challenge 
of the Oxford Group Movement is this: are you 
willing to let God run your life, or will you keep it 
in your own hands? Are you wanting to use God 
for your purposes or are you willing to let Him use 
you for His purposes? How much of prayer is an 
attempt to induce God to further our wishes 
instead of lifting our wishes into the range of His 

The Group takes the uncompromising line that 
every Christian ought to be a life-changer and that 
the thing that keeps the nominal Christian from 
being the force which he ought to be is the pres- 
ence of sin in his own life, and nothing else. c Sin,' 
says Frank Buchman, c is anything that keeps one 
from God or from another person.' Sin is whatever 
unfits us to do God's will. 


The most common sin among us is compromise. 
Our state is one of half-surrender. Our service is 
largely self -effort, self-chosen and self -directed. 
We have particular sins which we want God to deal 
with, but others which we propose to reserve to 
ourselves. Punch has a story of a little boy who got 
his prayer muddled and said: 'Let my friends be 
all forgiven. Bless the sins I love so well.' Our pet 
sins keep us from God. That is why He isn't 
real to us and why we are unhappy and so patheti- 
cally useless. Until the last sin has been bared to 
God for surgical treatment there can be no real 
victory in our lives. A young man in one of the 
Groups said that at first he wanted to c hand-pick 
his sins,' giving over to God what he wanted to be 
rid of but keeping certain comfortable indulgences 
for himself. 

When the Saxons were baptized in the time of 
Charlemagne they insisted upon keeping their right 
arms above the water. They were willing to conse- 
crate * all except ' their fighting arms. How that 
incomplete surrender explains much that is thwart- 
ing God's plan for the world to-day! 

If we wholly surrender ourselves to God, that is, 
bring our wills into agreement with God's will, 
God will work through us for the salvation and 
right development of humanity and the perfection 
of its environment. Of this there is no doubt. 
How then can we look out on the world with its 
war and unemployment, greed and selfishness, 
without being convicted? Our unsurrendered lives 


have denied God the use of us in changing the 
world. Are we not responsible to God for the con- 
dition of the world to-day? How can we have a 
better world? Where shall we begin? Plainly, with 
the surrender of our own lives. And, when we 
become life-changers all, it will surprise us to see 
how a movement spreads and captures the imagina- 
tion of nations once it wins its way. 

Well did Austin Dobson pray: 

c Make this thing plain to us, O Lord! 

That not the triumph of the sword 
Not that alone can end the strife, 

But reformation of the life 
But full submission to Thy word! 

Not all the stream of blood outpoured 
Can peace the long desired afford} 

Not tears of mother, maid or wife 
Make this thing plain! 
* We must root out our sins ignored, 

By whatsoever name adored: 
Our secret sins, that, ever rife, 

Shrink from the operating knife, 
Then shall we rise, renewed, restored 

Make this thing plain! ' 

Despite the ardent longing for peace on earth 
and the utter disgust with war, peace will never be 
established so long as our lives are poisoned by 
hatreds, jealousies, resentments and greed the 
very things, which, multiplied by millions, make 



God has entrusted us with the risky gift of 
freedom, the power to choose our own way, thus 
limiting Himself to the extent of respecting our 
personalities. The way God works in the world 
without destroying our freedom is through our 
personalities. He does not hang miracles upon 
nothing He is ever watching and waiting for 
men and women whom He can use as instruments 
no, as something more than instruments, as 
fellow-workers. The best answer I know to the 
question, c Why are we here? ' is that of St. Paul: 
* We are God's fellow-workers.' What light and 
leading, what power and peace are denied to the 
whole human family because we are not co-operat- 
ing with God! 

A new world order the Divine order can 
come only through surrendered lives. The creative 
experience in the life of Dwight L. Moody, the 
founder of Northfield, was when he he.ard a lay 
preacher say: 'The world has yet to see what God 
will do with, and for, and through, and in, and by, 
a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to 
Him.' * He said " a man," ' soliloquized Moody. 
c He did not say a great man, nor a learned man, 
nor a rich man, nor a wise man, nor an eloquent 
man, nor a " smart " man, but simply cc a man." 
I am a man, and it lies with the man himself 
whether he will, or will not, make that entire and 
full consecration. I will try my utmost to be that 
man.' And Dwight L. Moody became one of the 
most successful life-changers of the nineteenth 


It is wonderful what God can do with even a 
broken life if He is given all the pieces! Sur- 
render has to be inclusive rather than exclusive. 
We have suffered from a religion of mutilation. 
If I become a Christian must I give up dancing, 
theatres, smoking, sport? The answer is that we 
must surrender everything to God and then receive 
back from His hands whatever He gives and use 
it for His Kingdom. George Muller tells us how 
we may check whether we are entirely surrendered. 
c ln everything you do ask yourself this question: 
"Why do I do this? " and if the answer is always 
every time, "For the glory of God," you are 
entirely consecrated.' 

Christianity surely means the consecration of the 
whole life work, pleasure, money, everything. 
The highwaymen of olden time used to hold up 
their victims and demand 'your money or your 
life.' Christ demands our money and our lives. 
Christianity means devotion to a Person issuing 
in a new spirit, a new purpose, and a new 

The Christian life is not narrow and sickly and 
impoverished it is a rich, ample, radiant life. It 
is not a fumbling, crippled, dingy existence, full of 
suppressions and prohibitions and exclusions, but 
a life of buoyant virility and disciplined action. It 
certainly rejects c anything that defileth J or c work- 
eth abomination or maketh a lie.' But all that is 
clean and joyous and wise and beautiful may be 


welcomed and brought under the sway o the King- 
dom. Christ does not want to silence our music and 
kill our poetry and deaden our imagination; for He 
is not to be the ruler of a mere corner of our life. 
Everything must come under His rule. Christian- 
ity does not call us to a timid acquiescence in a 
chilling, bloodless, passionless existence it sum- 
mons us to great adventure, to stern conflict, to 
glorious service. 

The temptation to Church people so subtle 
that it may quite escape notice, yet so insidious that 
it may be mastering us all the while is that of 
being content, after a beginning made in enthusi- 
astic fervour, with a victory half-won. The 
Christian above all others needs to remember the 
searching truth stern and awful in its implications 
that the good may be the enemy of the best 
The Christian man is so far from the worst that he 
may fail to realize how far he is from the best. 

That maximum Christian, Dr. F. B. Meyer, 
shared this intimate experience. He was, he con- 
fessed, a minister in a Midland town in England, 
not at all happy, doing his work for the pay he got 
and holding a good position amongst his fellows. 
Hudson Taylor and two young students came into 
his life. He watched them. They had something 
that he had not. Those young men stood before 
him in all their strength and joy. One of the 
students was Charles Studd, a Cambridge Blue 
and a Test cricketer. 


c What is the difference,' asked Meyer, c between 
you and me? You seem so happy, and I somehow 
am in the trough of the wave.' Studd replied: 
c There is nothing that I have which you may not 

c But how am I to get it? ' 

c Well,' he said, c have you given yourself right 
up to God? ' 

c I winced,' said Dr. Meyer, c I knew that, if it 
came to that, there was a point where I had been 
fighting my deepest convictions for months. . . * 
I thought I would do something with Christ that 
night which would settle it one way or the other, 
and I met Christ .1 knelt in my room and gave 
Christ the keys of my will with the exception of the 
key of a cupboard in one back storey in my heart. 
He said to me: 

<Are they all here? " 

< And I said: "All but one." 

< "What is that? " He asked. 

c "It is the key of a little cupboard," said I, " in 
which I have got something with which Thou 
needest not interfere, for it is mine." 

c Then, as He put the keys back into my hand, 
and seemed to be gliding away to the door, He 

c "My child, if you cannot trust Me with all, 
you do not trust Me at all." ' 

There and then Dr. Meyer yielded the last 
key of the last secret and his life became like a mill- 
race of Divine power. 


How the good may easily become the enemy o 
the best was set in startling light when Christ said: 
c Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the 
harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you.' 
The little religion we have may be an illicit shel- 
ter, a means of evading the realism of Christ's 

He told a story of two men, the one a Pharisee 
and the other a publican, who went up to the 
Temple to pray. In the eyes of their fellows, the 
Pharisee was the saint, the publican the sinner. 
But Jesus turned the world's verdict upside down: 
c This man,' He said the publican, not the Phari- 
see, the sinner, not the saint went down to his 
house justified' accepted of God rather than 
the other. 

Again c Whosoever hateth his brother is a 
murderer.' One man, in a frenzy of sudden pas- 
sion, when the blood in his veins is running liquid 
fire, smites and slays a fellow-man, and his crime 
lands him in the murderer's dock. Another shoots 
the viewless shafts of his malice and hate. But if 
Jesus is right, whose is the greater sin? 

There is to use one of Sapling's phrases 
c a damnable streak ' in most of us that always leads 
us to listen for the man in the next pew. That is 
the trouble with so much of our sermon-hearing. 
Even in Church we put up the ample umbrella of 
self-complacency, and all the rain of Christ's 


condemnation His condemnation o our sins 
runs off on to the shoulders of our neighbours. 

Nor can it be forgotten that it was a group of 
religious people, priests and Pharisees, who sent 
Christ to the Cross. They did not want to be 
disturbed, but to be left alone in the snugness of 
their half-faith. They were respectable citizens, 
regular churchgoers. Read the story again. It is 
all so human, all so understandable. Now the 
Cross shows us to ourselves, exposes our excuses, 
unmasks our motives. This is what private sins 
in religious people are capable of murdering the 
very Son of God. The Cross makes us see the 
desperate nature of sin. Behind the tragedy of 
Calvary are the ordinary lives of men and women 
to whom little sins seemed harmless until at last 
they tried to murder God. The Cross gives the 
truth a chance to operate on our consciences. To 
see sin in the light of the Cross is to see that there 
is not a thing on earth worth sinning for. 



WE have seen how Dr. Frank Buchman 
learned the value of c sharing' when, on that 
memorable day, he opened his mind to the 
Cambridge fresher as they walked the lake side 
together. He was greatly helped by the unburden- 
ing of his soul and so was his companion. What he 
did was to rediscover the value of the spiritual 
prescription which St. James gave in his Epistle, 
* Confess your faults one to another, and pray one 
for another that ye may be healed.' 1 Dr. Buchman 
prefers the more familiar word ' sharing ' instead 
of confession, but the experience is the same. 

Again and again we have said that c Confession 
is good for the soul, 5 but have we ever paused to 
realize the vital truth contained in that easy plati- 
tude? Confession is not only good for the soul, but 
is essential for the soul. There is continuous and 
widespread testimony to the value of St. James's 
advice, but there are thousands of men and women 
whose lives will never be clean, confident and effec- 
tive until they have bravely confessed their sins. 

A story is told that round the gates of heaven 
hangs an uneasy crowd of five or six hundred 
people. They all come from one English village, 

I. St James 5: 16. 



and the gatekeeper has orders to let them all in at 
once if any one of them will admit that he or she 
ever made a mistake. Not one of them, however, 
will lower himself J so far before the rest, so there 
they all are and are likely to remain. Is it not true 
that crowds of people keep themselves outside the 
Kingdom of God with all its wonderful forgive- 
ness, peace and joy, because some poisonous pride 
or silly fear prevents them finding release by con- 
fession of their sins? Unless we are prepared to 
give ourselves away, we shall soon find that in the 
service of God we have very little to give. 

The value of confession has been spoiled for 
many of us, by enforcing it when it should be spon- 
taneous and by allowing it to become a substitute 
for real penitence and life changing. But we must 
not permit any prejudice to oflfend us or to make us 
unwilling to examine the plain teaching of the New 
Testament regarding confession. 


The counsel given by St. James is evidence that 
mutual confession was practised in the early Chris- 
tian groups. The practice, however, fell into such 
sad abuse that the Reformation abolished it. In the 
eighteenth century, Wesley had the wisdom to see 
that the Reformers in their zeal had thrown away 
some valuable customs of the early Church and 
he bravely recovered them. Among the practices he 
revived was confession. He instituted c bands > or 
groups for those who were seeking a maximum 
experience of Christ. Wesley laid great stress on 


what he called, being 'open.' At every meeting 
members asked each other: (1) * What known sins 
have you committed since our last meeting? ' (2) 
'What temptations have you met with? 5 (3) 
c How were you delivered? ' (4) c What have you 
thought, said or done of which you doubt whether 
it be sin or not? ' 

Once a week the united bands held a meeting for 
Christian witness. Wesley regarded those who met 
in these bands as the vanguard of Methodism. It is 
no small loss to the effectiveness of Methodist dis- 
cipline and spiritual efficiency that these bands 
gradually died out. 

The Oxford Group Movement has rendered 
inestimable service to the Church in rediscovering 
the importance of confession. By open confession 
groups of men and women have gained victory in 
their lives and a new sense of spiritual fitness and 
gladness. The Group insists on the power of sharing 
to fill the spirit with an entirely new sense of life. 
And this is not at all mysterious. Sharing comes of 
a willingness to be absolutely honest about one- 
self; it is a sign that the long attempt to comprom- 
ise is over, an indication that the personality is no 
longer divided within itself, an evidence that the 
soul really means what it says. Directly we are 
honest with God, with ourselves and with other 
people, we are born again. There cannot be any 
vital experience of religion while selfishness 
remains, whatever form it takes. All selfishness is 


sin and all sin is a form of selfishness. It is surpris- 
ing that so many good people can go on deceiving 
themselves men and women who are moral and 
generous but with some root of selfishness in their 
hearts which prevents them from experiencing a 
vital religion and being life changers. 

Confess therefore your sins one to another that 
ye may be healed.' St. James did not say, c Confess 
your sins to God only.' We must confess to God 
we must begin with Him c Against Thee and 
Thee only have I sinned.' Sharing is not a substi- 
tute for confession to God who alone can forgive. 
But as a matter of experience it is a relatively 
uncostly thing to fall on our knees and confess our 
sins to God in secret. We may glibly repeat the 
General Confession: 'We have done those things 
which we ought not to have done and we have left 
undone those which we ought to have done, and 
there is no health in us.' That is a terrible thing to 
say c There is no health in us,' but it is most 
terrible of all when we do not keenly feel how 
terrible it is, as though we had never heard of 
victory over sin. It is not difficult to confess to sin 
in general, for then we do not confess any sin in 
particular. It is very costly, however, to say these 
things in the presence even of an entirely loving 
human being whom we can trust but as a matter 
of experience it is extraordinarily effective in put- 
ting the knife to our sins. Almost every vital 
movement in Christian history has made some use 
of this practice. 


We cannot feel the reality of forgiveness until 
we have confessed. To very many people God is 
unreal. It is so hard for them to realize that He 
is present and to tell them to confess to God alone 
is to deprive them of the relief and sense of reality 
which sharing confers. Their solitary search for 
forgiveness is generally unsuccessful. The forgive- 
ness of God is an amazing gift but it is hard to 
believe and accept the gift. Sharing makes God's 
pardon real. Peace without forgiveness is impos- 
sible and confession is the way to forgiveness and 
therefore the way to peace. Forgiveness does not 
depend upon confession but its appropriation does. 
St. James certainly did not say, c Confess other 
people's sins.' There is always hope for a man 
when he confesses his sins. It is the man who con- 
fesses other men's sins for whom it is difficult to 
hope. When Moody visited St. Andrew's, the 
whole community was stirred from the lowest to 
the highest. Dr. A. K. H. Boyd wittily summed up 
the results of the campaign by saying that even 
two Principals had been confessing their sins 
Principal Tulloch confessing the sins of Principal 
Shairp and Principal Shairp confessing the sins of 
Principal Tulloch! That is a way we have and 
very frequently the sins we confess for others are 
the very sins we hide in our own hearts. Shake- 
speare makes Timon of Athens ask. 'Wilt thou 
whip thine own faults in other men? ' This is what 
the psychologists call compensation the condemn- 
ing in others of what we refuse to admit in our- 


selves. Paul told the Romans: c Therefore thou 
art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that 
judgest, for wherein thou judgest another thou 
condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest 
the same things.' The power of self-deception is 
terrible and we need to be absolutely honest with 
ourselves lest the light in us be darkened. 

The emancipating effect of sharing, or mutual 
confession, is universally admitted by psycholo- 
gists. We say: c Get it off your chest and you'll 
feel better.' Confession is the pouring out from 
the soul of all its repressed and hidden sins, to- 
gether with its burdens, griefs and sorrows. To 
throw them off is necessary for spiritual health, for 
unless sin is confessed, it produces a brooding and 
depression which paralyze effort and slay hope. 
Many who yearn to live good lives are held up by 
some unacknowledged sin, which festers within. 

There they are those hidden sins fraud, the 
burden of lives, thefts, treachery, slander, impurity 
and the subtle duplicity of conflicting ideals. There 
they are like subterranean fires, periodically break- 
ing out in fits of depression, weeping, temper or 
in physical breakdown. 

The open acknowledgment of weaknesses and 
sins has a remarkably liberating effect in most cases 
of troubled conscience, despondency over failure, 
fear of human opinions and the like. When a timid 
seeker after God breaks through the inhibitions of 
moral cowardice, there comes an inrush of divine 
life and light and he becomes conscious of being 
possessed and guided by a power not his own the 
power of the Holy Spirit. 


We must not forget that James was speaking of 
sickness and he recommended confession as a real 
part of the healing. A man would be far more 
likely to benefit by medical treatment and prayers 
for healing if he unburdened his soul and cleared 
up differences between himself and other people. 
Many a life would tingle with health and gladness 
by obeying this injunction of St. James. We wear 
out our hearts in estrangements and friction is 
created by our native stubbornness in defending 
a fault rather than confess it. Far be it from me to 
suggest that all nervous storms and breakdowns are 
due to sin 5 but every psychologist testifies to the 
fact that many of them are. Dr. Schofield, a 
Harley Street nerve specialist, has said: 'I believe 
that many go mad, more relapse into melancholia, 
and multitudes get confirmed in evils of all sorts, 
for want of an outlet to their hidden thoughts and 
troubles. . * . I am convinced by long experience, 
that a man who did nothing else but listen with 
interest and kindness to the troubles of broken 
hearts would thereby do much good and relieve 
much suffering.' 

Confession is an instinct of the soul. As sin is 
the symptom of spiritual sickness, so confession is 
the appointed means for the recovery of health. 
The story of the heart of Robert Burns the un- 
uttered sob in the poet's soul is an example of 
how tragic life may become for want of sharing. 
Burns lamented that he could not pour out his 
inmost soul without reserve to any human being. 


He commenced a journal of his own mental history 
c as a substitute,' he said, c for a confidential friend. 3 
He felt that he must have 'something 3 in which 
he could unbosom himself, * without peril of hav- 
ing his confidence betrayed. 3 We all need someone 
with whom we can be perfectly frank. 

Then consider the story of Lucy Snowe as 
related by Charlotte Bronte who was probably 
weaving from her autobiography when she wrote 
the confessional scene in Vilette. Lucy was a poor 
English governess in Belgium, left alone in school 
during the long vacation. One evening she heard 
the church bells. Sick and lonely at heart she 
strayed into church and almost mechanically 
entering the confessional box poured out her 
distress into the ear of an old French priest. Instead 
of commencing with the usual prelude she said: 
* Mon Pere, Je suis Protestante! 3 He inquired, 
not unkindly, why, being a Protestant, she came 
to him. She told him that she was perishing for 
a word of advice and comfort. She had been living 
alone for weeks, had been ill, and was sorely 
depressed in mind; indeed, she could no longer 
endure the strain. But she was out of the old 
priest's depth* He knew only the routine work. 
c You take me unawares, 3 he said, c I have not had 
such a case as yours. . . . Go, my daughter, but 
return again to me. 3 She had not expected more* 
But the mere act of telling her troubles gave her 
relief. She was already solaced and returned to the 
priest no more. 


What is Lucy Snowe a Protestant in a Belgian 
Confessional but a witness to the heart's instinc- 
tive cry to confess, to unburden itself? Our natural 
reticence, however, and our desire for the good 
opinion of others, make us shrink from taking 
a course apparently so opposed to proper self- 
respect. c What will be thought of me,' we argue, 
' if I confess to such internal rottenness? ' We are 
all in desperate need of forgiveness 5 but we do not 
receive it because we are insanely anxious to keep 
up a good appearance. Our reluctance to confess is 
as marked as our longing for it. And this holding 
back takes some strange forms. The more resent- 
ful a man is at the suggestion that it is necessary, 
the more likely it is that his own conscience is nett- 
ling him. Probably the greatest hindrance is fear 
of betrayal. So confession is not made and the 
transgression remains unf orgiven. 


Now the experience of the Group is totally 
different. If others have not committed the same 
deeds, they have been guilty of others just as bad. 
There is not much to pick and choose among sins 
except that the sins of the spirit are even more 
stubborn than the sins of the flesh as Jesus showed. 
In the friendly contacts which the Group offers, 
mutual confidence is engendered and an atmos- 
phere created in which specific and definite confes- 
sion can be mutually made. The sense of relief is 
immediate. The soul, c disburdened of her load/ 
as Wesley sings, rises exultant. The way is cleared 


for the inrush of Divine energy and there springs 
up a buoyancy of spirit, a sense of freedom and of 
power which makes witness natural and spon- 
taneous, and life-changing a congenial and even 
necessary field for self-expression. It is wonderful 
to be simple and sincere, and the joy of it is so 
profound, that those in the Group voluntarily con- 
fess what an Inquisition could not have dragged 
from them. Many people long hindered by a sense 
of guilt have had the stain of guilt removed 
through sharing, and so have been liberated to live 
freer and happier lives. Others, whose lives have 
been maimed by a haunting memory of some 
unworthy experience, have found marvellous relief 
through sharing. 

No part of the Oxford Group Movement has 
been so severely criticized, and so wildly misrepre- 
sented as sharing. That there are dangers no one 
need deny. But then all living things are danger- 
ous. Only dead things are safe. Public sharing 
is dangerous. Even surrendered people put frills 
on an experience if they tell it often. Repetition 
robs it of spontaneity and reality. Public confession 
of disreputable sins may lead to the moral sin of 
spiritual pride. Such confession may degenerate 
into prurient exhibitionism. To rehearse one's 
past sins may give the same gratification as the 
actual commission of the sins, only without a sense 
of guilt. Again, it may give to the individual a 
sense of importance which he or she has never 
before been able to achieve. The Groups them- 
selves are more alive to these perils than their 




WE have made so much, though not enough, 
of Christ reconciling man to God that we 
have not sufficiently grasped His gospel of 
reconciliation between man and man. Let a man 
be right with God, and the love of man will inevit- 
ably follow so we should say. 

But Christ takes pains to state the contrary. 
f Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and 
there rememberest that thy brother hath aught 
against theej Leave there thy gift before the altar, 
and go thy way j first be reconciled to thy brother, 
and then come and offer thy gift.' 1 He vividly 
pictures for us a worshipper before the very altar. 
There in the silence, out of the hallowed hush 
comes a voice saying solemnly and searchingly, 
c Has thy brother aught against thee? ' While the 
priest is in the very act of offering his sacrifice, a 
sudden flash of awakened memory shows him a 
brother man who is offended* The solemn sacrifice 
is interrupted while he seeks the offended brother 

1. Matt. 5: 23, 24. *So if you remember, even when offering 
your gift at the altar, that your brother has any grievance against you, 
leave your gift at the very altar and go away; first be reconciled to 
your brother, then come back and offer your gift* (Moffatt). 



and makes up the quarrel 5 then he comes back and 
takes up the interrupted worship. Such a strange 
and startling action was a breach of liturgical 
propriety. Yet that, our Lord teaches, is better 
than the blight of an unforgiving spirit. We can- 
not make effective contact with God, we cannot 
truly worship while our hearts are choked with 

Jesus denounces ritual only when it becomes a 
refuge from the ethical demands of His teaching* 
Coming to the altar is good, for it awakens mem- 
ory, but it will be futile unless we act immediately 
upon the revelation which comes to us. True wor- 
ship enables us to test our conduct by God's will 
for us and for others. It redeems from blindness, 
listlessness and self-concern, and gives us new 
insight into our obligations to God's other children. 
When it fails to do this, our worship is ineffective. 
We are told to leave the altar when we know we 
have offended anyone and seek his forgiveness. 
Jesus insists that the altar must be related to life 
and that His teaching shall dominate our com- 
munity relationships. Our task to-day is to look 
at the Sermon on the Mount not as the wild dream 
of a Galilean visionary, but as a piece of realism 
the only plan upon which men can live together in 
peace and security. 

We are all human, liable to give and take 
offence so that love is soured with hatred and good- 
will cools off and freezes into icy indifference. Mis- 


understandings do and will arise and estrangements 
are bound to happen. In a world like this, being 
what we are, it is impossible but that offences 
should come. But because anger is such a destruc- 
tive thing Jesus points out the urgency of recon- 
ciliation and restitution. So urgent is it that a man 
had better leave even the worship of God to right 
any wrong. Jesus does not suggest that Christians 
will not fall out, but the test of their Christianity is 
how quickly they seek to make up the quarrel. c It 
takes two to make a quarrel, but one can always end 
it.' The Christian must take the initiative. c A more 
glorious victory cannot be gained over another man 
than this, that while the injury began on his part 
the kindness should begin on ours,' said Tillotson. 

Jesus saw that one o the most prolific sources 
of human misery lies in the spirit that harbours 
grudges for wrongs inflicted. So He taught for- 
giveness, not as a luxury, but as an inescapable 
necessity. He bids us c agree with thine adversary 
quickly 7 quickly, so that enmity will not have 
time to grow. Settle your differences before you 
separate, or a difference becomes a hatred and a 
hatred a passion for revenge. Nurse a grievance 
and it grows like Jack's beanstalk. Half a day's 
steady thinking upon some slight makes it appear 
one of the greatest crimes in the history of a cen- 
tury. Once we have formed the habit of nursing 
grievances we shall never lack one to nurse. 
There will always be someone to injure us, sting 
us and betray us. 


St. Paul, who stands next to Jesus in his clear 
insight into human nature, and who read men like 
open books, warned us, <Be not overcome with 
evil but overcome evil with good. 5 Of course, the 
other party is to blame Paul assumes that, but 
our just resentment may become a longing for 
revenge and satisfaction which opens the gate to 
a flood of unrestrained passion. Jesus went beyond 
the old law: c 7 say unto you forgive your enemies.' 
It is the only practical solution. No other method 

Vindictiveness does not succeed. It cannot suc- 
ceed. Trying to cure evil with evil is as futile as 
trying to put out a fire with kerosene. Any passing 
zip of false delight that we experience in c getting 
even ' is soon eaten up by the fierce acids generated 
by an unsympathetic outlook. 

Anger is a waste of nerve force, vitality, and 
spiritual life. If we allow things to rankle, they 
poison our minds, disturb our sleep and pauperize 
our lives. 

Without forgetfulness and forgiveness life is 
choked and poisoned by memories and antipathies. 
We lose the very qualities that make us human. 
The world is well-nigh exhausted trying to settle 
personal, political, industrial and international 
complications by an iron system of justice which is 
little better than legalized revenge. If this were 
the only way the outlook for men and nations 
would be hopeless. But there is a better and more 


effective method, and it is this: 'Overcome evil 
with good/ This is the Christian strategy. Truly 
there is time and place for righteous anger against 
wrong, but how easily it becomes clouded with the 
smoke of personal vindictiveness ! Two wrongs do 
not make a right they are incapable of ever doing 
so. Distressing things happen to most of us 
venomous attacks which seem hardly explicable 
save on the theory that everybody is mad at some 
point. Forgiveness is not easy. A deep personal 
wrong wounds and stings. But for our own sakes 
we must not harbour thoughts of revenge. If we 
are the injured party we must take the initia- 
tive because we are in the stronger position. Our 
innocence is our strength. The supreme example of 
the wronged taking the initiative is the Cross. 
c While we were yet sinners Christ died for us the 
just for the unjust.' He forgave the very men who 
drove the nails through His hands and feet. 

'Cut your losses/ said Jesus, c and make it up 
somehow5 being one of My disciples you should 
have friendliness and ingenuity enough to find 
some way of approach. 52 We should be able to take 
our stand with Paul and say: 'As far as in me lieth, 
(as far as it depends on me) I am at peace with 
all men. 3 


The Lord's prayer has a straight, strong word to 
say on this matter which we should keep before 
us. It is no use praying for forgiveness unless we 

2. Prof. J. A. Findlay, in Thi Realism, of Jesus. 


are prepared to practise it. A lingering bitterness 
towards others renders us incapable of being 
restored to fellowship with God. 

Now listen to this: c If ye forgive not men their 
trespasses, neither will your Father who is in 
heaven forgive you your trespasses.' What does 
that mean? Does it mean that God takes up an 
arbitrary attitude and declares that if we will not 
forgive those who have wronged us He will not 
forgive us? No! there is nothing arbitrary about 
God. In the day of my sin if I go to God and ask 
for forgiveness, and am willing to lead a revolution 
against myself, then God does forgive. But if, like 
some old Scrooge, I keep that forgiveness within 
my heart and fail to give it expression, then it 
perishes. This is sound psychologically. I must go 
out and share that forgiveness with those who have 
spoken ill of me, slandered me and spitefully used 
me, if I am to retain the sense of God's forgiveness, 
I must not shut the door against God and make it 
impossible for Him to bestow peace and tranquillity 
upon my spirit. Resentment and revenge are cheap 
and conventional, but forgiveness is constructive and 
God-like. We need not be afraid of forgiveness 
it is a powerful grace which never finally fails, 
whereas retaliation is a poor, weak thing which 
never succeeds. We have all given cause for 
offence dealt some wrong, inflicted some sorrow, 
and we have let the matter stand. We have been 
too proud to apologize, too cowardly to make 
amends. We have not made restitution. Others, 


again, may have offended us and we have not for- 
given them. In either case life is impoverished. 
If we have wronged anyone, therefore, let us make 
restitution. If anyone has wronged us, let us for- 
give him for our own sakes as well as his. And 
when we forgive we do this tremendous thing 
we make God's forgiveness real to those who find 
it difficult to believe. 

Jesus insists that our relations with one another 
and with God are interlocked. He declares that we 
cannot find God until we have made an honest 
effort to come to terms with anyone with whom we 
have for one reason or another lost contact. Before 
we can get right with God, we must leave no stone 
unturned to get right with men. We all know 
people who profess to believe in God who would 
be hurt if they were thought of as atheists and 
would loudly deny it, but who in their human 
relationships are as hard as flint, arrogant, unyield- 
ing and implacable. They walk among us believing 
in their god, but it is not the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ that they worship. One 
has only to think of the character of Mr. Barrett, 
in The Barretts of Wimpole Street, to confirm 

Shall we say, then, that if a man first loves God 
he will then spontaneously love his neighbour? 
The New Testament reverses the order. c He that 
loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot 
love God whom he hath not seen.* That is why 
religion is unreal to many people. They can make 


nothing of it, and they conclude that it must be a 
gift possessed by others but not by themselves. 
They argue that just as a man who is colour blind 
sees the scarlet pimpernel as green, and just as a 
person with no ear for music cannot distinguish 
one tone from another, so people without the 
religious sense utterly fail to make anything of 
religion. They regard themselves as spiritually 
defective. But the clear teaching of Jesus is that 
everyone has a soul and religion is for every soul. 
There can be no realization of God if we are 
wrongly related on the human plane. A cherished 
resentment, a harboured grudge, an unforgiving 
spirit, an unconfessed wrong so put the soul out 
of focus that we cannot see God, but God became 
immediately real to many of us when we made 
restitution for wrongs done to others. 

There is a very profound saying in the Book of 
Genesis: c Ye shall not see my face except your 
brother be with you.' You remember that it was 
spoken by Joseph who refused to have any dealings 
with his brothers until they brought Benjamin 
along with them. His presence was demanded 
before they could get the bread they needed. And 
it is abidingly true that without our brother the 
one whom we have treated badly, wrongly, 
inhumanely, sneeringly we cannot see the face 
of God. Religion means right relations, a right 
relation towards God and man. 

There is real teaching in that footnote of English 
history which relates how King George IV, desir- 
ing to receive the Sacrament, sent for the Bishop 


of Winchester to administer it. The messenger 
having loitered by the way, a considerable time 
elapsed before the Bishop arrived, and consequently 
some irritation was manifested by the King. When 
the Bishop appeared the King complained of his 
delay in coming. Whereupon the Bishop explained 
that he had come immediately when called. The 
King commanded the messenger to be brought 
before him. As he entered the room the King 
rebuked him sharply and dismissed him from his 
service. Having done this, he said to the Bishop: 
c Now, my lord, if you please, we will proceed.' 
The Bishop, with great mildness, but at the same 
time with quiet firmness, refused to administer the 
Sacrament whilst any irritation or anger towards a 
fellow-man remained in the King's mind. Where- 
upon the King, recollecting himself, said, c My 
lord, you are right.' He then sent for the offend- 
ing messenger, whose forgiveness and restoration 
he pronounced in terms of great kindness. We are 
not in the mood to worship God, nor is the soul 
sensitive or receptive while we are offended or 
have given offence. 

The insistence on restitution is one of the most 
penetrating things in the Oxford Group. The 
Group holds that it is little use our getting the wis- 
dom of what God's power and guidance can mean 
in our lives, to surrender to God and attempt to 
live a changed life, if that wisdom does not show us 
that it is absolutely essential that we should get 
understanding with those we love, work with or 


come in contact with in our daily lives; and we can- 
not get that understanding with them unless we are 
honest about our wrong thoughts and actions in 
connection with them. Restitution is openly cut- 
ting the cord of sin which has bound us to the life 
of wrong we have lived in the past, and the only 
way of doing this is to acknowledge our faults to 
the people concerned and to pay back by apology 
or in kind if necessary that which we have taken 
from them. 1 

Restitution is righting to the best of our ability 
wrongs which we have committed in the past. Such 
restitution is itself a witness and brings men and 
women face to face with the Divine Spirit who 
makes such an unpleasant action possible. It is 
always hard to humble ourselves before others, and 
particularly so, if we do not know how we shall be 
received. It is harder still if we know that we shall 
be ill received* But it is the right thing to do, and if 
a man wishes to be a Christian it is his bounden 
duty to do so. The sincerity of our religion can be 
tested by our willingness to make restitution. If 
we have stolen we must restore, if we have lied 
and slandered we must do everything in our power 
to make amends. A Dutch farmer, who was 
changed through the Oxford Group Movement 
in South Africa, and who had employed native 
labour on his farm, called the natives together and 
spoke to them as brothers from whom he sought 
forgiveness and with whom he desired to share 
his new-found happiness in Christ. 

1. What is The Oxford. Group? By The Layman With a Note- 



Professor Henry Drummond told a gathering 
of University students in Edinburgh of a man he 
knew who led a woman astray. * He was fast and 
evil then, but, a year or two after, he was changed, 
and became what he is one of the most prominent 
men in the religious world. But through all his 
success and apparent blessings there was the stain 
and the shadow of that woman's life upon him. 
Only three people ever knew about it, and it was 
twenty years ago. He preached all through Eng- 
land and Scotland and Ireland, in the hope, I fer- 
vently believe, that that woman might hear him 
and be saved. Every prayer he prayed, he prayed 
for her. Not long ago I was in London at a meet- 
ing which he was addressing, and after the meeting 
a woman there walked up to him with bent head, 
weeping. I saw them alone as they stood. That 
was the woman he had searched for in the restitu- 
tion of twenty years.' It is a hard path, but Christ 
will go with us as we tread it. If we have missed 
Christ on every other road we may find Him along 
the road of restitution. 

It is not the least part of the penalty of wrong 
doing that sometimes it is impossible to undo it. 
It is not always possible to retrace our steps and 
undo the past, and there is nothing for it mean- 
while but to leave it in humble contrition with God 
who knows the road we have travelled and how we 
were led astray, and who sees 'with larger other 
eyes than ours, to make allowance for us all,' trust- 
ing that one day in a better world we may find the 


opportunity which is denied us here. *Oh, the 
anguish,' says George Eliot, * of that thought that 
we can never atone to our dead for the stinted 
affection we gave them, for the light answers we 
returned to their plaints or their pleadings, for the 
little reverence we showed to that sacred human 
soul that lived so close to us, and was the divinest 
thing that God has given us to know! ' What we 
can do is to give greater love to those who are 
about us. That is the restitution those within the 
veil would have us make. In the meantime there 
is the tremendous saving power of intercessory 

In this matter of restitution the Groups recog- 
nize the importance of God's guidance. Mr. A. J. 
Russell admits that sometimes harm may be 
occasioned by unwise and unchecked restitutions. 
Answering the question: c Why stir up trouble 
unless you are in a position to make amends? ' he 
says, 'Each person must decide the thing to do 
on his own guidance checked perhaps by the guid- 
ance of others.' One of the guiding questions of 
restitution must be whether good will be accom- 
plished by it or whether the one who has done 
wrong is simply seeking a personal release from the 
burden of his sin at the expense of the one he has 
wronged. Such restitution may add to the load 
which the victim is already bearing through the 
offence. But in nine out of ten cases in which wrong 
has been done to another some kind of restitution 
can be made and the acid test of our religion is 
whether we are ready to make it or not. 



George Muller, that shining saint who * fath- 
ered ' hundreds of orphan children in Bristol, was 
guilty of stealing in his youth, and he found that 
confession and restitution were the avenue to 
spiritual power. 

Stephen Foot 3 tells of a party who went recently 
from Oslo to Copenhagen to apologize for their 
part in creating bitterness between Norway and 
Denmark. These men were members of the 
growing band in Norway who have accepted the 
challenge of the Oxford Group. 

I do not wonder that Christianity does not make 
much headway in the world. How can peace come 
into the world while we who profess to want peace 
are poisoned with private hatreds and jealousies? 
These hearts of ours multiplied by millions explain 
why war with all its savage horrors keeps breaking 

' If, therefore, thou art offering thy gift at the 
altar, and there rememberest thy brother hath 
aught against thee, leave there thy gift before 
the altar and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy 
brother, and then come and offer thy gift.' It 
means that if you are burning rubbish on your 
neighbour's washing day, and all her white sheets 
are smoked and begrimed, and you both lose your 
tempers and go at it tit-for-tat, your going to 
church will not soothe your ruffled feelings nor 
deliver you from your enemy. c First be reconciled 

3. See Life Sega Yesterday. 


to thy brother. 7 It is easier to give a coin to the 
collection than to give up the quarrel. It is easier 
to give a generous offering than to give up a 
grudge. Jesus warns us that a man who comes to 
Church like that is in danger. The peril is so 
desperate, the matter so urgent, he had better go 
out before the collection and be reconciled to his 
neighbour. What is he in danger of ? Hell. Not 
a ready-made hell into which God hurls him, but 
the hell he is making for himself and where he is 
his own tormentor. c Therefore' . . . 'Go* . . . 
Then Come.' It will be the same altar but not 
the same gift. The gift is never the same when 
he comes back he gives not only something but 
someone himself. 



IT is a fatal mistake to live at random, presuming 
that all is well when in reality we may be 
deceiving ourselves. c I am struck dumb/ writes 
Mark Rutherford, in his Journal, c with my own 
ignorance of myself.' Every sensible man in busi- 
ness spends several days in the year checking his 
financial position and the result of his trading. If 
he does not make out an accurate balance sheet 
every year, he may be heading for financial ruin 
without knowing it ; his expenses may be eating up 
his profits} people whom he trusts may be robbing 
him. If when a trader finds his way into the bank- 
ruptcy court, it is revealed that for years he has not 
taken stock, he is very severely censured and 
rightly so. 

Whittier prays: c Shine out O Light divine and 
show how far we stray.' That is the prayer of a 
man who is not satisfied to go on living a hap- 
hazard, unverified life. 

When we speak of self-examination, it suggests 
tests. It implies the selection of standards of judg- 
ment by which we measure ourselves. The result 
of a man's self -scrutiny will depend upon the kind 
of test he applies. The Pharisee who thanked God 
that he was not as other men, compared himself 
with other men. The saints are not people who are 



better than the rest, but those who are trying to be 
better than they are. 

The Group takes the four absolute standards of 
the life of Christ Absolute Love, Absolute 
Purity, Absolute Honesty and Absolute Unselfish- 
ness. These are applied as daily tests of life in all 
its issues. This practice of regular self-examination 
in the light of Christ has proved to be of genuine 
practical value in our Christian development. 


Are absolute 1 love, purity, honesty and unsel- 
fishness possible? The answer is that they are the 
standard which Jesus Christ set for those who 
would follow Him: 'Be ye therefore perfect even 
as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.' No 
authority, however great, has any right to demand 
the impossible of us. But does Christ ever ask the 
impossible? Surely, it is a poor reflection upon His 
understanding of us if we think He would ever set 
a standard which would foredoom us to failure. In 
all His teaching He gave no precept which could 
not be carried into life. What, then, did He mean? 
If we read the saying carefully, the explanation is 
there: *Be ye therefore perfect/ That word 
therefore evidently refers to what has been said 

c Ye have heard,' said Jesus, c that it was said, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine 

I. There is no need to raise questions of metaphysics or philosophy 
and argue about the word * absolute,' the real meaning of which 
nobody knows. * Absolute ' is used by the Group In the practical sense 
and means * perfect.' 


enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies 
(i.e., let no one be excluded from your love), and 
pray for them that persecute you 5 that ye may be 
the sons of your Father which is in heaven: for He 
maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, 
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.' 

He warns His hearers against ordering their con- 
duct by the prevailing standards love your friends 
and hate your enemies. If we love those only who 
love us in return, there is no special merit in that. 
Even disreputable people love their friends. If we 
are friends only with the people of our own set, 
that reveals nothing more than average good 
nature, for the very heathen goes as far as that. 
The world had been doing that for ages and yet it 
was sinking deeper and deeper into misery and 
despair. We are to be God's men. Our love must 
be as catholic as His. Love must take the initiative 
to produce a better relationship, for love is a crea- 
tive thing. We must be full of love. 

The mandate to be perfect like God, is often 
regarded as an extravagant command. The finite 
cannot reach the Infinite, man cannot attain the 
absolute perfection of God. Truly, we cannot 
emulate His wisdom or knowledge or power. But 
that is not what Christ asks of us. Observe what 
He did say. c Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your 
heavenly Father is perfect.' The personal note in 
reference to the Father makes all tide difference in 
the world to our quest of perfection. The first 
word to lay hold of in this saying is * Father' and 


then we shall understand the second word 'per- 
fect.* We are to emulate our Heavenly Father 
whose life is in us, whose Spirit gives us life we 
are to be possessed of His love which is kind to 
every member of the human family. 

God is perfect as Father, that is what Christ 
says. And when is a father perfect? He is perfect 
when he loves. He is perfect when he loves His 
children with a perfect love. And love in our 
Heavenly Father is no more an abstract, distant 
thing than is love in an earthly father. 


When we say 'Our Father * we utter a very 
wonderful, comforting truth, but at the same time 
we accept a new responsibility, for His children 
must be like Him. The perfect life is simply a life 
of perfect love. Love is all and in all. Jesus said 
that the whole law is summed up in the one word 
love. It embraces everything, as St. Paul teaches in 
his glorious hymn to love (1 Corinthians 13). 

And so we see that this neglected command, c Be 
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is 
in heaven is perfect 3 is at once a challenge to and 
a revelation of us. That is what Christ thinks of 
us. That is what Christ believes us to be capable 
of. It is a tremendous affirmation of human values. 
It makes inhuman all the mean views of man's 
worth and destiny. ' Ye shall be perfect.' It was 
the boldest word He ever spoke, and 'He knew 
what was in man. 5 


Jesus does not compromise with our weakness 
but believes us capable of rising to great heights. 
< Be ye perfect, 3 He says, c Merciful, as your Father 
in heaven is merciful.' He has boundless faith in 
man's possibilities* His call is in itself a tribute* 
He calls us to take up the Cross and follow Him 5 
to show the spirit of self-sacrifice, love, and hero- 
ism, and believes us capable of it* This call is not 
only a tribute, but bears witness to that link which, 
He felt, bound Him and all men together. 
c Father' reminds us of an essential relationship 
that we have with Him. 

We live so far below the level of our possi- 
bilities. There is a superlative in all of us if only 
we had the will to reach it. Nowhere do we get 
such a glimpse of our inherent greatness as in the 
presence of Christ. He reveals God to us and He 
reveals us to ourselves. 

When Christ shows us what we may become, 
how can we go on being what we are? ' We needs 
must love the highest when we see it.' There is a 
tendency to be content with conventional goodness. 
Our worst enemy is not the devil but decency. We 
ought not to measure ourselves with this one or 
that one 5 but with God. Jesus sets before us the 
absolute standard of perfect love. The Church is 
sick to-day because we have diluted His demands 
and dulled the keen edge of His requirements. 
The Church is languishing through a failure to 
preach absolute Christian standards. Unless that 
ideal shines like a luring star, and unless we have 
hitched our wagon to it, all the services and 



church-going in the world will avail us little and 
we shall quickly grow weary of them. 

The great exponent of perfection is John Wes- 
ley. He said: * The work of God does not prosper 
where perfect love is not preached.* 

The effectiveness of the Oxford Group is in no 
small measure due to the drastic process of con- 
fronting of men and women with an c absolute ' 

What Wesley understood by absolute love he 
well expressed in a letter to his brother Charles: 

* By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient 
love of God and man, ruling all the tempers, words 
and actions 5 the whole heart and life. 72 Of this 
state he says elsewhere, * Further than this we can- 
not go: and we need not stop short of it. 5 

It must not be thought, however, that this high 
teaching overlooks the limitations of human nature. 

* Christian perfection does not imply, as some men 
seem to have imagined, an exemption either from 
ignorance, or mistake, or infirmities, or tempta- 
tions. . . . Neither in this respect is there any 
absolute perfection on earth. There is no perfec- 
tion . . . which does not admit of a continual 
increase.' 3 

The only person who cannot be absolutely per- 
fect is he who claims to be. Humility is essential 
to perfection. I have found people who claimed to 

2. Letters of John Wesley, edited \xy George Eayrs, p. 83. 

3. Weslefs Sermons, p. 562. 


be entirely sanctified to be very difficult to live 
with. One man in particular who was for ever talk- 
ing about sanctification lost his temper if anyone 
dared to disagree with him. Beware of self- 
righteousness which is only one degree worse than 

* They who fain would serve Thee best 
Are conscious most of wrong within.' 

The paradox of perfection is that we can be per- 
fect whilst we are still imperfect. When a child 
comes home with a hundred per cent, for his 
arithmetic exercise it does not mean that he is a 
perfect mathematician but that he has done that 
day's work perfectly* That is what our Lord 
means. He desires that we shall be perfect sons 
of the Father, having the hearts of sons, loving 
as only the children of God can love. c Father, 
thou knowest that I love Thee.' This is the per- 
fection of the son. 

Dn Stanley Jones illustrates the difference be- 
tween perfect character and perfect love by the 
story of the father who came home after a long 
absence and was welcomed by his little boy with 
unbounded delight. As the father sat in the house, 
the little boy, scarcely able to contain himself 
with joy, came up to him, and eagerly said: 
Daddy, can't I do something for you?' The 
father, wishing to respond to the boy's eagerness, 
told him that he might bring him a glass of water. 
The little fellow, nearly tumbling over himself, 
ran across the room pell-mell to the water pitcher, 


poured some in the glass and some on the table, 
clutched the glass with a little finger on the inside 
of the glass, and then ran back across the floor 
with streams of water flowing from the glass and 
from the pitcher. When he pulled his finger out 
there tridded down the inside of the glass a muddy 
stream from his not very clean little finger. The 
father turned the glass around and drank every 
drop of it! The little fellow stood there rubbing 
his wet hands on his blouse and said: c Daddy, 
can't I do something else for you? * Now that can 
hardly be called perfect service, but it can be 
called perfect love. Perfect character is a growth, 
but perfect love is a gift, and that gift can be 
obtained now at the cost of our all. Perfection is 
not static but dynamic. Perfect love is a moment- 
by-moment holiness, a gay sanctity unaware of 

The Group insists on the indispensable necessity 
of a daily checking that we are absolutely yielded 
to love in thought, word and deed. The three other 
absolutes Honesty, Purity and Unselfishness are 
qualities of Love. Like light, love is a compound. 
Just as the scientist takes a beam of light, and by 
passing it through a crystal prism, splits it up into 
its component colours, so love may be broken up 
into the elements of Honesty, Purity and Unsel- 


Purity of mind and body are essential to perfect 
love. * Blessed are the pure in heart/ said Jesus, 
c for they shall see God.' There can be no outward 


purity unless we are clean at the heart's core. The 
carnally impure cannot see God, nor can they see 
others aright. ' And I say unto you, That whosoever 
looketh on a woman to lust after her hath com- 
mitted adultery with her already in his heart.' To 
see a woman primarily as an instrument of sex is to 
have a wrong attitude to her human value. She is 
not primarily a woman, a potential wife the first 
thing about her is that she is a living soul, and her 
sex is secondary to that. Jesus did not brand sex 
impulses as wrong in themselves; but He did assert 
that to regard any particular woman as if she were 
merely an object of desire was to degrade her 
personal worth, even though such an attitude goes 
no further than a thought. 4 

The New Testament paints sins in their primary 
colours and speaks straight out respecting adultery, 
uncleanness, fornication, lasciviousness and the like. 
But the impressive thing about the New Testament 
narrative is the widespread witness to men and 
women who had found victory over these sins. 5 In 
almost every Oxford Group there are people who 
have become strong because they have been made 
clean. Impurity is weakness it unfits us for 
achieving God's Life Plan for us. I have often 
seen in shop windows an article labelled c Slightly 
soiled. Greatly reduced in price.' Soiled lives are 
greatly reduced in value as constructive forces in 
the world. Purity is possible to every man and 

4. See The Realism of Jesus, by Findlay. 

5. An excellent book on personal sex problems is Men, Women 
wd God, by Herbert Gray (Student Christian Movement). 


woman no matter what their history or tempera- 
ment. Purity is a gift a quality of given love* 
Purity is positive and not negative. We do well to 
remember that there must be daily cleansing. We 
do not bathe once for a lifetime, but each morning, 
and so with every new day we must submit our- 
selves to spiritual cleansing and receive God's gift 
of purity. 


We proceed to check our love in the quality of 
honesty. Love cannot live in a life of lying, thiev- 
ing and shamming. That is why we must regularly 
scrutinize our motives, desires, fears and ambitions 
lest we come within the circle of moral disaster. 

Deceit always begins in self-deceit, in what Plato 
calls the c lie ' in the soul. If we deceive others it 
is because we have first deceived ourselves. Every 
lie a man tells proceeds out of a lie he has first 
told himself. He deceives others much, but him- 
self more. The lie recoils always and inevitably 
on the liar. He told the lie to save himself, to 
benefit himself, never doubting that he would 
profit by it, but in the end the lie did not profit him 
at all on the contrary, it infected him, poisoned 
him, ruined him. To face candidly the truth of 
this position is to have our self-confidence shat- 
tered. No liar recognizes that he is a liar, for he 
evades the issue by the use of such terms as 
diplomacy, discretion or tact mere camouflage. 
The thief does not regard himself as a thief, but 
rather as a dexterous artist in appropriation. The 
swindler defends his transactions as legitimate 


business. Does anyone ever commit a sin acknow- 
ledging it to himself as a sin? It is always due to 
force of circumstances or a tidal wave of passion 
or some grim necessity. The deadly nature of dis- 
honesty is revealed by Christ's white-flamed 
denunciation of hypocrisy in all its forms. c I am 
the Truth/ He said, and we constantly need to 
test our lives by Him. Let us beware of blurring 
moral distinctions. If we are true to Him, we shall 
be honest and honourable in ourselves and we shall 
not be false to any man. 

Further, if we are to be loving we must be abso- 
lutely unselfish. We can keep only that which we 
give. Whosoever thinks to save his life by indulg- 
ing it refusing to plant a cross of sacrifice at the 
red centre of his life is not saving his life but 
losing it. That is not a pretty paradox but an 
inescapable law of life. It is a law of human nature 
and works with absolute certainty. The self- 
centred man does lose his life the real life 
dwindles and dies within him. Shakespeare makes 
us see that in Shylock and Dickens in Scrooge. Both 
characters were shrivelled-up men. We call the 
selfish man mean and small. That is literally true 
for he is cribbed, cabined and confined. Some 
people who loudly demand the right to express 
themselves have no self worth expressing. All 
egoism is deliberate self-frustration, for the self 
which shuts itself off from others shuts itself off 
from the possibility of its own realization. If we 


do not use ourselves we lose ourselves. Strength 
comes by spending it. 

Every violation of the law o love sets up irrita- 
tions, resentments, suspicions and jealousies which 
tend to break out in collisions of will. 

Dean Inge reminds us of the Stoic saying that 
* the selfish man is a cancer in the universe/ and 
remarks that the parallel is scientifically exact, since 
a cancer is caused by * unchecked proliferation of 
cellular tissue by one organ independently of the 
rest of the body.' That selfishness is the bane of 
our fondest dreams and best plans and intents for 
the world to-day, few people who look on life 
with thoughtful eyes will be prepared to deny. 
Where self-interest is dominant it is impossible to 
have a true relation of personalities, whether it 
be in a small and intimate sphere like the home or 
in the larger extension where communities and 
nations are concerned. 

Because self-indulgence is so subtle a sin we 
must hold our lives steadily in the light of the 
revealing Cross. We need to keep ourselves fit by 
regular self-denial. It is necessary for our own 
spiritual good that we should break the chain of 
our self-indulgence. It was not in a sermon, or in 
a lecture on morals, but in a Textbook of Psycho- 
logy* ^at Professor William James said: 'Keep 
the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratui- 
tous exercise of it every day. That is, be systemati- 
cally ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, 
do every day or two something for no other reason 
than that you would rather not do it, so that when 


the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you 
not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.' 

Nine-tenths of our misery is due to self-centred- 
ness. To get ourselves off our hands is the essence 
of happiness. We do not find ourselves until we 
are thrown outside of ourselves into something 
greater than ourselves and set free. 

It is sometimes asked whether the habit of daily 
checking may not lead to a morbid introspection. 
The question cannot be better answered than in 
Moody's words: *If you want to be miserable, 
look within. If you want to be distracted, look 
around, but if you want to have peace, look up,' 


Now we come to the crux of the matter. I have 
shown how Purity, Honesty and Unselfishness are 
standards of Love. The question remains: How am 
I to love? How am I to love perfectly? How am 
I to love as my Father who is in heaven loves? 

The answer is: We learn to love, by receiving 
Christ into our hearts by faith. The love which we 
then have is not our love, it is the love of Christ 
expressing itself in us and through us. As St. Paul 
says, C I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,' 
so he might have said, and would have said had 
it occurred to him, * I love; yet not I, but Christ 
loveth in me.' It is not merely that we are trying 
to approximate to a standard without and separate 
from us, but God begins to dwell in us. He assimi- 
lates us to Himself. We are not called to con- 
form to an outward code, we work out a living 


principle that is within us. c We are not saved by 
the love we exercise,' said Forsyth, *but by the 
Love we trust.' 

In a letter written in the year 1761 Wesley said: 
*To say Christ will not reign alone in our hearts 
in this life, will not enable us to give Him all our 
hearts; this in my judgment is making Him a 
half-Saviourj He can be no more if He does not 
quite save us from all our sins. Who honours Him 
most? Those who believe He heals all our sick- 
nesses, takes away all our ungodliness ; or those 
who say, He heals only the greater part of it, till 
death does what He cannot do? 5 The logic of that 
is unanswerable. 

Principal Rainy once turned upon his students 
at the communion table with this challenge: *Do 
you believe your faith? Do you believe this I am 
telling you? Do you believe that a day is coming, 
really coming, when you will stand before the 
throne of God, and the angels will whisper together 
and say, "How like Christ he is"?' To believe 
less than that is to blaspheme Christ, 



' I ' HE Oxford Group Movement is not a new 
JL religion 5 it is religion anew. Every upsurge 
of spiritual life in the history of Christianity 
has been the re-discovery and re-emphasis of neg- 
lected truths. One of the most valuable features 
of the Group technique is c The Quiet Time.' Each 
member is urged to devote some time in the early 
morning to quietness, creating in the silence an 
atmosphere where one can be susceptible to Divine 
guidance and sensitive to the sway of the Spirit. 
The early morning is our own: after that the day 
belongs to other people. At the beginning of the 
day before we come into contact with others it is 
possible to have the mind illumined by unhurried 
reading of the Bible, by prayer and waiting upon 
God for guidance. Not only do we speak to God, 
but in the stillness we give God a chance to speak 
to us. 

The Quiet Time is not a new discovery. It has 
been practised by thousands of people who knew 
nothing of the Group, but it has been featured 
afresh and brought to the notice of many who had 
not previously experienced the strength and joy 
of it. 

The Groups are teaching multitudes of young 
people that prayer is, as Lancelot Andrews says, 



* colloquy with God* They are learning to be still 
and to wait for God. Many are finding a new joy 
in prayer and that it is something more than merely 
asking for things. 


If ever a generation needed to learn stillness it 
is ours. We live as though our lives were intended 
to exemplify the theory of perpetual motion. We 
live in an intense, over-driven, nervous age, hurried 
and bustling, noisy and restless. Carlyle said of 
his day: 'The world is in a desperate hurry $ woe 
unto the man who stops to tie his shoe-strings,' 
but what would he say of the greatly accelerated 
pace of to-day? Rush is taking a terrible toll of 
life. We are suffering from new diseases, not only 
of body but of spirit. 

How seriously we need to learn stillness is 
expressed by that modern Lakelander, Hugh Wai- 
pole, in his story Hans Frost i *I want quiet and 
silence. For a long time I've wanted those things, 
but I didn't know it. There are, I'm sure, millions 
of people to-day who want those things, but there 
is such a row going on that they can't hear them- 
selves think. Someone soon will found a new 
contemplative order. It will have nothing to do 
with any kind of religion. It will simply be for 
people who want a quiet hour or two.* That very 
need is being met by the Oxford Group in the 
cultivation of the Quiet Time. 

Like gamblers round a roulette table, we are 
too absorbed in this game of life. At break-neck 


speed we rush about altogether too busy to think 
of the consequences. Nevertheless, the consequences 
are emerging in a race of nervous wrecks in which 
idealism is submerged. 

'The world is too much with us; late and 

Getting and spending, we lay waste our 

Little we see in Nature that is ours; 

We have given our hearts away, a sordid 


That was what Wordsworth said amid the seques- 
tered vales of the Lake District. What would he 
think of noisy, perspiring, rushing cities like Mel- 
bourne? Our mental life is equally hustled. There 
is no leisure for quiet, mind-building reflection. 

Now, I know that we cannot slow down the pace 
of life. But, because life is such a rush, we must 
have oases of quietness, pools of silence. Action 
and reflection are necessary to each other. The 
more irons there are in the fire, the greater is the 
need to look after the fire. The greater the 
demands upon our strength, the greater the need to 
build up our strength. By quiet times we increase 
our efficiency, and fit ourselves for better work. 
We shall rise to the occasion when we learn how 
to sit still. 


Stillness is a real cure for the brain-fag to which 
the inhabitants of a machine age are always liable. 
Overstrain is as fruitful a cause of moral ruin as 

alcohol. When we acquire the art of being still, 
we recover that peace and serenity which brings 
the whole being into harmony. We restore the 
rhythm in the billions of cells which compose the 
brain and body. The remedy for a neurotic age is 
so simple that we can apply it if we are willing to 
become as little children and learn. 

A spedalist in nervous diseases recently stated 
that in all his long experience he had not had a 
Quaker patient. You know the Quaker method of 
quietness before God. Two facts go together 
constant retirement upon God in all things and an 
absence of nervous troubles. 

In stillness there is both hearing and healing. 
That is a very beautiful story recording the walk 
to Emmaus, where two weary travellers are con- 
soling one another in regard to the tragedy of the 
Crucifixion. As they walk, a stranger joins them 
and * beginning from Moses and all the prophets, 
He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the 
things concerning Himself.* The journey must 
have been a matter of hours and in the end their 
eyes were opened and they knew Him. Major 
John Findlay, in his book, A Pilgrim in Palestine, 
tells us that he made the journey to Emmaus by 
car in a few minutes! Ah, but he did not hear 
c The thought that breathes, the word that burns.' 
Speed makes the world smaller j stillness makes it 
immeasurably larger. 

We need hours of stillness to take our eyes off 
the glare of the road and enable us to see the 
beauty and the grandeur of the everlasting hills. 


William James tells of the visit of a company 
of accomplished Hindus to Harvard, during which 
more than one of them confided to him the fact 
that the sight of faces, contracted, as they are, with 
American over-intensity of expression, made a 
painful impression, * I do not see,' said one, * how 
it is possible for you to live as you do without a 
single minute of your day given to tranquillity and 
meditation.' There are no Western religions, all 
the great religions have come out of the brooding 

We are very busy we say, the maximum amount 
of work has to be packed into the day's programme. 
Yes! but consider Jesus Christ. He had only three 
short years in which to accomplish His work as a 
teacher. But so much did He achieve, that John, 
after twenty-one descriptive chapters, despairs of 
recording it all and says: *Now there is much else 
that Jesus did so much that if it were all written 
down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself 
could hold the written records.' If any man could 
plead a crowded programme surely Jesus could, 
yet it was said of the garden on the far side of the 
Kedron that c Jesus oftimes resorted thither with 
His disciples.' Again and again we read, * He was 
alone,' f He was apart.' It was because of the pres- 
sure of His work that He sought the soothing and 
sustaining stillness of the Father's presence. We 
shall never have more time than we have now and, 
if ever we are to know God, we must make regular 


appointments with Him in the secret place. I am 
not praising indolence nor extolling idleness j 
without industry we shall breed all the vices 
that stagnation brings. What I am pleading for is 
the renewal of our strength, the clearing o our 
vision, the deepening of our knowledge, that we 
may do bigger work and better work than we have 
done before. But there is a time for action and a 
time for quiet, and only in the proper balance of 
both can we preserve the rhythm of life. It is 
stillness for observation that we require. 

* Be still and know that I am God.' There is a 
reciprocity between the two statements in that sen- 
tence. To know God we must be still. To be still 
we must know God. There must be silence in order 
to know God. The hurried mind and the distracted 
heart make a vital knowledge of God impossible. 
The ruffled lake gives no true reflection of the 
stars, but, when it is calm and smooth, it mirrors 
the firmament. When we are ruffled, troubled 
about many things, in a state of agitation and 
flutter, we are not conscious of God} there is no 
receptive quietness. 

c Be still and know.' We cannot know unless we 
are still. Philip Cabot, in sharing his own trans- 
forming experience, 1 says: 'The deepest form of 
worship is communion with God in order that our 
souls may be fed and the course of our lives 
directed in true accord with His will. For this the 

1. The August Atlantic Monttty, 1923. 


"seeing eye" and the "listening ear" must be 
developed by an utter concentration of all our 
spiritual powers which requires time. Silent 
attention, with every spiritual sense alert, is the 
attitude of the worshipper who would hear the 
word of God.' That is very sound advice, based on 
the writer's own experience. It is no wonder that 
God and the spiritual universe seem unreal when 
we give them no opportunity to reveal themselves 
in us. Music would be unreal, and so would poetry 
and the arts to anyone who gave no more thought 
or concern to them than most of us do to the dis- 
covery of God in our lives. As Dean Inge has well 
said: c It is quite natural and inevitable that if we 
spend sixteen hours daily of our waking life in 
thinking about the affairs of the world, and about 
five minutes in thinking about God and our souls, 
this world will seem about two hundred times more 
real to us than God or our souls. That must be 
so, however real and important the spiritual world 
may actually be. The fact that it seems unreal 
to us is no argument that it is unreal, if we only 
think about it occasionally. Things that we do not 
think about always seem unreal to us. Do not then 
argue that God is unreal because He seems unreal 
to you. Ask yourselves whether you have given 
Him, or rather yourselves, a fair chance.' 2 

The lack of spiritual energy in the Church is 
simply the symptom of exhaustion. A non- 
meditative religion is a shallow religion. This fact 

2. Religion and Life, p. 8. 


explains many things the formalism and super- 
ficiality of professing Christians, why so many 
Christians are fighting a losing battle against their 
temptations, why they lack power and influence 
and fruitfulness, why the world is not being 
changed. We hear and read the eternal truths of 
God but we do not keep them in our hearts by 

We say, c I believe in God the Father Almighty.' 
Now, do we? Is there almighty power possessing 
our lives? Have we not lost the sense of God in the 
hurly-burly? c Be still and know that I am God/ 
The test of religion is the secret thing the quiet 
communion between man and God. One day we 
may awaken to find that we have never known 
God though we have heard a great deal about 
Him. Religious truths are conserved through 
reflection. It is what we dwell upon that we live 

It takes time to know God. It takes time to 
believe. It takes rime to know God's will. It 
takes time to learn the mind of Christ. To know 
God requires more than a hurried nod and a pass- 
ing glance. Regular quiet times are essential. 

God has a plan for every life. He will make 
known to us His plan day by day if we give Him 
a chance. But how can God teach us if we have no 
time to sit in the school of stillness? God can 
scarcely work an idea edgeways into our pre- 
occupied minds. 'Oh! how rare it is,' remarks Fene- 
lon, ' to find a soul still enough to hear God speak.' 


Even when we pray we do not so much say 
* Speak Lord, Thy servant heareth/ but 'Hear 
Lord, Thy servant speaketh ! ' Much of our pray- 
ing is like speaking into the mouth-piece of a tele- 
phone without ever lifting the receiver to our ears. 
There is a voice always waiting to speak, but very 
few are able to hear it. You have not heard the 
whisper of it? That proves nothing, for thousands 
have heard it. But they may be deluded? Yes, but 
they may not To those who heard, something 
distinctive was added to their personality Moses, 
Samuel, Elijah, Amos, Isaiah, Gautama, Socrates, 
Paul, Augustine, Mahomet, Francis, Dante, Joan 
of Arc, Pascal, Bunyan, Wesley, Kagawa, Schweit- 
zer. In the face of their testimony we ought at least 
to listen. 

< If chosen men had never been alone 

In deep mid-silence open-doored to God, 
No greatness had been dreamed or done.' 3 

A secondhand knowledge of God will not suffice. 
George Fox once said to Cromwell, c What does it 
matter if we have the Scriptures, if we have lost the 
Silent Spirit that wrote them? ' The Bible is not 
an encyclopaedia about God, but a case-book telling 
how men and women like ourselves have found 

It is in the Quiet Time that we come to know 
God personally and to be very sure of Him. 

3. James Russell Lowell. 


Yielded and supple before Him, waiting in still- 
ness we hear, for c Spirit to spirit doth speak.' The 
silence becomes a sacrament wherein God comes to 
us. We are never less alone than when we are 

Many of the astronomical discoveries of recent 
times have been made by means of photography. 
A prepared plate is laid in the base of the telescope, 
and the glass, turned towards the desired point in 
the heavens, is kept by clockwork in the right 
position, while the globe on which it rests is steadily 
revolving. By its own light the heavenly body 
records itself on this artificial retina, and things 
which the human eye cannot see are faithfully 
photographed and opened to leisurely inspection. 
In the same way the soul can subject itself to the 
quiet contemplation of the Divine Will and adjust 
its motion to those revolutions which, in times of 
feverish excitement, are forgotten or ignored. God, 
the soul, the purpose of existence, the proper 
objects of desire, the wisdom which moves and 
works in the universe towards the splendid goal, 
and the means by which our rapid and fitful lives 
can fulfil their purpose in harmony with the 
Divine idea are realities which never can be grasped 
in hasty glances or by feverish clutches. But by a 
process which God Himself maintains, they quietly 
reveal themselves to those who wait upon Him, 
and record their real though visionary outlines on 
those who have learned to meditate. 

*Some there are that have no silence, 3 says 
Maeterlinck, ... ^ to them it is not given to cross 


the zone of revelation, the great zone of the firm 
and faithful light. 3 


<Be still' c Leave off 5 c Let be.' c Desist 
from your own attempts and know that I am God.' 
God cannot do very much for us so long as we 
insist on playing the part of Providence to our- 
selves. Things begin to happen when we ' let go ' 
and c let God/ He is God not you. We need what 
Wordsworth calls a 'wise passiveness' we have 
to be still until our receptiveness is developed. 

c I deem that there are powers 

Which of themselves our minds impress; 
That we can feed this mind of ours 

In a wise passiveness. 
Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum 

Of things for ever speaking, 
That nothing of itself will come, 

But we must still be seeking? ' 

The Quiet Time as taught by the Group is 
psychologically sound. It brings a new sense of 
order into untidy lives and a sense of tranquillity, 
but it is more than that- It is the way to the 
empowered life. We cannot create power, we must 
receive it. 

Let me tell you how I spend my Quiet Time. 
First I read the Bible preferably the life of 
Christ, the Book of Acts or the Psalms. I also make 
use of a hymn book which is a wonderful manual 


of devotion. I am greatly helped by a verse like 

this one of Bishop Ken's: 

c Direct, control, suggest, this day. 

All I design, or do or say, 
That all my powers, with all their might, 
In Thy sole glory may unite.' 

I then kneel and wait in silence. Before I speak, 
I let God speak. I wait in self-forgetting silence, 
contemplating the presence of God. Then I recol- 
lect one or two attributes of God, but not morej 
that He is Love, that He is Spirit, that limitless 
spiritual forces are in Him and will flow out from 
Him to me and from Him through me to others 5 
that He is truth and desires that I shall know His 
truth and see things as He sees them, 


Next I pray, using the Lord's Prayer as an out- 
line.* I pray for spiritual development, growth in 
grace, strength for service and temporal needs. 
I expose my life to the four absolutes of the life of 
Christ Absolute Love, Absolute Honesty, Abso- 
lute Purity and Absolute Unselfishness, checking 
up where I have failed seeking pardon and 
power. Then I surrender the day to God that 
I may be completely at the disposal of His will. 
Surrender is not one life-long act but a daily 

Finally, I wait again in passive silence. God 
speaks as well as listens. It is proverbial that the 

* See my little book, Tke Craft of Praytr, j>. 41 (The Book Depot, 


good talker must be a good listener. It is equally 
true that the good petitioner must learn to listen. 
How much of our praying is like the pranks of 
little boys who ring door-bells and then run away 
before anyone answers! While we wait in silence 
God gives guidance. One of the best case-books of 
daily guidance is the Journal of John Wesley. He 
sought for it in his quiet time from 4 to 5 a.m. each 
day. He prayed for it, waited for it and it was 
given to him. 

It is surprising how, while apparently thinking 
our own thoughts, difficulties are cleared away, 
problems solved, how doubt and uncertainty, 
trouble and despondency and mental disquiet give 
place to a sense of peace and joy. 

The Group strongly recommends the keeping of 
a Guidance Book wherein we write the inspired 
thoughts that come in waiting. I used to smile at 
this as a very kindergarten method. But I can 
now testify that it is abundantly worth while. I had 
no idea how well it works until I tried it. Sugges- 
tions are soon crowded out in the day's business 
unless we make a note of them at once. There is 
a page in Balzac's biography which tells how he 
once mystified his tailor by ordering a pair of 
trousers sewn at the ends to cover his feet. Finally, 
the novelist explained to the poor man that he 
wanted this weird garment so that he could slip 
into it quickly in the middle of the night and be 
kept warm while he wrote down the inspiration that 


came to him. If inspirations are not captured and 
acted upon they soon evaporate. I wait there 
and set down as they come duties to do, service 
to render, letters to write, witness to give, confes- 
sions and restitutions to make. The prayer that 
matters most is not petition but co-operation. In 
prayer we become fellow-workers with God. 

It is absolutely necessary that this should be 
leisurely and unhurried. Haste is the death of 
prayer. I tell the simple truth when I say that it 
becomes so fascinating that one lingers in it and 
leaves it as reluctantly as one parts from a lover. 

At first you may be bored. You will want to do 
something or talk to someone. You are probably 
an activity fiend, a noise drunkard. But keep on. 

Of course, all sorts of irrelevant, material 
thoughts come tumbling into the mind. They do 
into everybody's mind. Do you remember Christo- 
pher Robin saying his prayers? 

c God bless Mummy, I know that's right 

Wasn't it fun in the bath to-night? 
The cold's so cold, the hot's so hot, 
Oh! God bless Daddy I quite forgot.' 

Distracting thoughts do come while the mind 
is being hushed. Don't worry about them. Just 
pause and then go on. The only real failure in 
prayer is to give up praying. 

We all love bed. There is only one thing that 
will get us out in time that is a greater love. The 
Quiet Time is so precious, the communion with 
God so real, the sense of tranquillity so sustaining 


that one is glad to be up and in it* Frankly, one 
does not always feel in the mood there are times 
when I feel absolutely wooden but the light 
comes and joy rises as I tarry. Miss it and we 
become irritable and liable to storms of temper, 


If you are uncomfortable in kneeling, sit in a 
comfortable chair. The attitude is not essential 
use whatever method best lifts you above time and 
sense. But remember that not one in a thousand 
can pray in bed and you are not likely to be that 
one. Many find it better to write their prayers 
rather than say them. Alfred Deakin, one of the 
greatest Prime Ministers Australia ever had, used 
this method. If you cannot be quiet at home start 
earlier for work and use a church or find a quiet 

I want to say to all who have known life's 
frustrations, its failings and its heaviness and 
weariness, who feel themselves unequal to life, 
surrender each day to God and begin with a quiet 
time. Jesus taught a fundamental lesson in mental 
hygiene when He bade us live one day at a time. 

Hush thee ! Hearken ! c Be still and know that 
I am God.' You will know God for yourself. You 
will find God. There are some sounds which be- 
come audible only when all others are still* In the 
old story of Elijah on the Mount, it was only after 
the wind and the earthquake and the fire had ceased 
that he heard 'the still small voice.' That story 


is a parable. It is only when the noisy shuttles of 
our workaday life are stilled to silence in the act of 
worship, that we are aware of that inward Presence 
which is c the life of God in the soul of man.' Be 
still and know thy Maker for < in the knowledge of 
Him is eternal life.' 

' They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their 
strength 5 they shall mount up with wings as 
eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall 
walk and not faint. 5 




guidance must become the normal 
experience of ordinary men and women/ 
says Dr. Buchman. c Any man can pick up 
divine messages if he will put his receiving set in 
order. Definite, accurate, adequate information can 
come from the Mind of God to the mind of men. 
This is normal prayer.' 

The crux of the Oxford Group Movement is 
its insistence upon the possibility and necessity of 
the guided life. It is easy to believe that God is 
interested in world tendencies, in the rise and fall 
of nations, but it is not so easy to imagine Him hav- 
ing a personal concern for each individual member 
of the many-millioned human race. A cross section 
of a thousand years of history reveals the hand of 
God in it, but the human unit is so insignificant in 
the scale of astronomical magnitudes. 

Yet, from the beginning men have caught hints 
of an Eternal Power directing them they have 
called it variously Fate, Chance, Destiny, God. 
Dim, hazy, uncertain, it may have been, but men 
have felt at times a sense of leadership* Socrates 
called it a * divine somewhat. 7 He told his judges 
in his defence that c the sign * was one which he had 
experienced ever since he was a child. 



No one can read the Bible without being 
impressed by the constant references to Divine 
Guidance. Abraham was guided to leave Ur and 
become a pioneer pilgrim. We find that same sense 
of guidance in all the patriarchs Isaac, Jacob, 
Joseph, Moses. A study of the life of David or of 
any of the other Old Testament heroes is a study 
in Divine guidance. So also with the prophets. 
There are numerous passages in the Psalms empha- 
sizing the same experience. The inescapable con- 
clusion is that the Old Testament teaches not 
merely a general providence, but a personal provi- 
dence and that Divine guidance is available for 
individuals in all situations. We find the same 
evidence in the New Testament. The life of 
Christ was emphatically a guided life 3 at all times 
He is sure that He is fulfilling the Father's will 5 
in every crisis He is guided. The Acts of the 
Apostles are really the Acts of the Holy Spirit. 
All this is very clear in the missionary work of 
Paul. His human purposes are often baulked by 
the contrary leading of the Spirit. 


There is nothing in the New Testament more 
dramatic than Paul's silent journey across Asia. 
He had planned the planting of Christianity in the 
stately commercial capitals of the Eastern world. 
But in each place he was ' forbidden of the Holy 
Spirit to preach the Word,' and trudged on in 
silence. c The Spirit suffered him not.' As the 
Quakers say * there was a stop in his mind against 


it. 3 And the result of Paul's obedience to that 
inward guidance was Europe! It shifted the 
balance of power, and altered the face of the world. 
Benjamin Kidd has demonstrated that the great 
Western empires sprang out of that extraordinary 

There is scarcely a page of Scripture which does 
not witness to the fact of guidance. The plain 
promise of the Bible is that in all perplexities and 
anxieties we may expect illumination and direction. 

Christian people generally accept the fact of 
Divine guidance but many believe that it only 
comes unconsciously. It is not possible, they feel, 
to know the will of God definitely in the present 
but only in retrospect. Newman sang: 

' So long Thy power hath blest me 
Sure it still will lead me on.' 

The marks of God's providential leading as seen 
in retrospect are the grounds of our faith that in 
the unknown to-morrow He will see us through. 
That is gloriously true but it is not the whole 
truth. There is always a danger of limiting the 
possibilities of life to our own experience. There 
are more things in heaven and earth than our 
limited experience has discovered. Definite daily 
guidance is available to us. 

One of our difficulties of believing that God cares 
for each of us is that there are so many of us 
countless multitudes. But so to limit God is to 
make Him in our own image and to think of Him 
in terms of our limitations. It is difficult for us 


to keep individual interest in many people there- 
fore it must be hard for God! 

* There was an old woman, who lived in a 

shoe 5 
She had so many children, she didn't know 

what to do.' 

Does that nursery rhyme represent our conception 
of God that He has so many children that He 
cannot think of each one? 


We must grasp the principle that the greater the 
knowledge the more it breaks up masses into units. 
I was shown over a glorious garden recently 
acres of flowers, shrubs, trees, ferns and mosses. 
All that remains with me is a joyous emotion of 
colour. But the woman who owns that garden 
knows every individual plant. A friend of mine 
collects butterflies. He has scores of drawers filled 
with these exquisite creations of varied sizes and 
colours. When I think of them I say to myself: 
c Very beautiful * and perhaps recall a gorgeous one 
or two with vermilion and sapphire wings. But he 
knows the name of each one and the fine points of 
its structure and markings. When we think of God, 
we are confronted with a knowledge so vast that 
the attention to detail is amazing. He works not 
only in nations, but in individuals. Jesus assured 
us of God's personal interest in the individual. He 
told us that God not only counts heads but in His 
vivid way He said that He counts the very hairs on 
our heads. St. Augustine said, c He loves every one 


of us as if there were but one of us to love.' 
I believe and indeed I know that the humblest of 
us may have the personal, intimate guidance of 
God in all the details of our lives. It is the privi- 
lege of each one of us to be fully assured of the 
will of God. 

The Oxford Group stresses the reality of Divine 
guidance in all the affairs of life sacred and 
secular, spiritual and temporal. God has a plan 
for every life and He will reveal it to us day by 
day when we fulfil the conditions. 

The great task of life is to find out what that 
plan is and how it is to be worked out. This is 
where the Oxford Group Movement helps us. 

God guides us when we are willing to do His 
will. So the Group insists upon absolute surrender 
to God our selves, our sins, our will, time, posses- 
sions, ambitions, everything. He will guide us into 
His will for us. Gladstone was constantly quoting 
Dante's line: c His will is our peace.' All our feel- 
ing of frustration comes from wanting to do some- 
thing else with our lives than the purpose for 
which God gave them to us. 


God can only guide us effectively when we are 
going His way. In that lovely Old Testament 
idyll Abraham sent his faithful steward on the 
delicate errand of finding a wife for his son Isaac. 
Upon that choice hung the welfare of his master's 
home and we can imagine what doubts and fears 
would assail him. He came at sunset to a village 


well as the women were drawing water and was 
guided to Rebecca. This old retainer lived so near 
to God that he saw His hand in everything. The 
trifling action of a kindly woman giving him a 
drink and then watering his camels was to him a 
Divine leading. The presence of the maiden by the 
village well was providential. And it was then that 
he said a profound thing, c I being in the way, the 
Lord led me.' He was treading the path of duty, 
doing the Divine will and the Lord led him in his 
difficult mission. 

We all need guidance, for life is so strangely 
perplexing, appearances are so misleading, we are 
often at the cross-roads tortured by indecision. But 
we are not left to muddle through. 

God's personal leadership, however, requires 
spiritual receptivity. The Quiet Time, reading the 
Bible slowly, praying and then lingering, waiting 
upon God, makes us receptive and sensitive to the 
Divine leading. Petition is not the whole of prayer. 
We must practise the other great form of prayer, 
the openness of the soul to God so that the light 
and power and grace which 'cometh down from 
above 1 may enter. 

We have to become sensitive to God. c The 
natural man receiveth not the things of God: for 
they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know 
them, because they are spiritually discerned. 5 
God's guidance is conditioned by the material 
through which He works. 

In the thirty-second Psalm there is this bit of 
' horse-sense': c Be not like mules and colts that 


do not understand the bridle, unbroken creatures 
that require a halter's curb or they will not come 
near you' (Moffatt). 1 A colt has to be made to 
understand. He kicks, bucks, rears, jumps the 
traces and has to be c broken in ' until he becomes 
susceptible to his master's will. A mule is ever 
the symbol of stubbornness and stupidity. 

When the Psalmist says c Be not like mules and 
colts ' he means very much what we mean when 
we say * Don't be an ass.' 

An old Egyptian proverb says: c The ear of the 
boy is on his back and he hearkeneth when he is 
beaten.' There are many people who are unaware 
of God in their lives until they are pulled up, 
checked by failure, adversity, disappointment, sick- 
ness and sorrow. Don't be a mule destitute of 
moral sensibility. God appeals to our reason. 
* I have not called you servants, but friends.' 

The Psalmist recorded this precious promise: 
*I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way 
which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine 
eye.' 2 Between two people who are intimate 
friends a mere expression of the eyes conveys a 
message. A glance is often enough to transmit a 
wish. The flicker of an eyelid, a gleam that flits 
across the face conveys a world of meaning to one 
who is watching for it. A child soon learns to read 
the heliography on his mother's face. The lan- 
guage of the eye is the language of lovers. Guid- 
ance with the eye, therefore, suggests fellowship, 

1. Psalm 36: 9. 

2. Psalm 36: 8. 


a relationship between God and man, so sensitive 
and subtle and delicate that others would not 
appreciate it. God can guide us with His eye only 
if we are looking to Him. 

The conviction of guidance in our outward life 
is in proportion to the realization of guidance in 
our inward life. c Commit thy way unto the Lordj 
trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.* 
Having made that committal we become increas- 
ingly conscious of Divine guidance as the days go 
by. More and more do we become aware that our 
minds are fed from a higher intelligence. 


c I will guide thee.* God honours that promise 
whenever we give Him a chance. It is a promise 
from God that He will give personal, private and 
unmistakable direction to those who open their 
lives to His control. When that chivalrous 
journalist, W. T. Stead, was offered the editorship 
of the Pall Mall Gazette, he went to talk it over 
with his friend, Dean Church. As they shook hands 
on parting, Stead said he was sure he would be 
Divinely guided. The Dean expressed some 
astonishment at his tone of certainty. * I should 
feel swindled if I were not Divinely guided, 3 said 
Stead. ' How so? 'asked the Dean. c Why, I read 
in the Book of Proverbs, u In all thy ways acknow- 
ledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." I have 
acknowledged Him and I know I shall be directed/ 
The man who acknowledges God in his life can be 
certain of guidance. 


How is guidance given? Not by an audible 
voice, not by the sudden flutter of white-winged 
angels, but through the working of our own minds. 
God acts upon the prepared mind. No one learned 
the secrets of Divine Guidance more intimately than 
George Muller, of Bristol. Here is his testimony: 
c God guides us, not by a visible sign, but by sway- 
ing the judgment. To wait before Him, weighing 
candidly in the scales every consideration for or 
against a proposed course, and in readiness to see 
which way the preponderance lies, is a frame of 
mind and heart in which one is fitted to be guided; 
and 'God touches the scales and makes the balance 
to sway as He will. 3 

God has always honoured the human mind. 
Guidance comes to us in various ways$ sometimes 
in answer to prayer, sometimes through the exercise 
of reason and judgment, and sometimes through 
the circumstances of life. It may be either immedi- 
ate or mediate. When we suffer the Spirit of God 
to take possession of us He enlarges all our facul- 
ties of the mind. Reason, for instance, reaches its 
highest possibility when it is submitted to God. 
If we are to be guided by the Spirit we must live 
the life of the Spirit. 

Sometimes God guides us by unreasoned im- 
pulses and at other times by unexpected inspirations 
and revelations. Experience is another way by 
which God guides us. Whenever Dr. John Clifford 
was perplexed he turned to the Gospels and read 
the example of Christ until some word or deed of 
the Master gave Him direction. Often we are led 


and we know not how it seems the merest acci- 
dent, a casual meeting, a sentence in a book. God 
uses all manner of means to give us the guidance we 
need provided we are prepared to follow His 

It is important to bear in mind that we are also 
directed by obstacles and delays. God closes every 
other door that He may open the right one. 
Livingstone wanted to go to China but God closed 
the door and guided him to Africa where he 
achieved his great missionary enterprises. 


Those who look to God for guidance accept 
God's plan, even though it cuts clean across their 
own purposes. We must beware of trying to use 
God instead of being used of Him. Guidance is 
not simply a convenient way of living, it is for 
life changing, and world changing. If guidance is 
sought and used for selfish purposes it will gradu- 
ally become uncertain and unreliable. And the 
reason for this is in us. 

The Group teaching on guidance has been 
severely criticized. Now we admit that some very 
foolish things have been claimed in the name of 
guidance. Any great truth or valuable experience 
can be caricatured. People have claimed that they 
have been guided to do and say things that we are 
sure God would not commend. Even those who 
listen most intently admit their liability to error. 
We are not infallible not even the youngest of 


us! But we must not abandon such a precious prac- 
tice because some distort it and we ourselves are 
sometimes mistaken. 

The Group witnesses that guidance comes 
through a careful study of the Scriptures, a clear 
conscience, the cultivation of the mind of Christ in 
all things, the exercise of reason, illuminating 
thoughts, the circumstances of life and through 
the corporate fellowship of guided lives in the 
Church and the Group. Guidance must be checked 
by the highest standards we already possess; in 
the light of our duties and responsibilities to others 
and by the Fourfold Standards of the life of Christ. 

I am told of a minister who surrendered. A week 
later he thought that he had guidance to go and 
tell a certain member of his congregation that he 
had long held very unfavourable opinions regard- 
ing his personal character. He went and shared his 
guidance, with the man, telling him, with evi- 
dent relish, what he had thought of him. That 
interview threatened to end in personal violence 
a striking instance of unchecked guidance. He was 
absolutely honest, but he was destitute of love. 

Others have been known to make use of the 
word * guidance' to justify a gay cancelling of 
solemn engagements at a moment's notice. Such 
a use of guidance may easily become a facile means 
of getting our own way, and justifying anything 
we want to do. The Group recognizes that guid- 
ance needs to be checked in various ways. If it is 
God's guidance it will be in accord with the mind 
of Christ revealed in the New Testament, and in 


harmony with the four standards Absolute Love, 
Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity and Absolute 
Unselfishness. And because the individual may be 
swayed by personal facts such as lack of knowledge, 
the Group further emphasizes the need for check- 
ing with other surrendered Christians. With these 
safeguards we may expect guidance as to what 
letters to write, visits to pay, restitutions to make 
and so forth. 

We have to guard against thrusting our own 
will upon God when we pray to Him to guide us. 
We need also to be warned against too readily tak- 
ing for granted any idea that jumps into our heads 
as Divine inspiration. A strong impulse is not neces- 
sarily a Divine guidance. It may arise from strong 
desire or a disordered imagination, 


One of the commonest fears felt about simple 
faith in Divine guidance is that it will lead to 
unchecked individualism. That the danger is a 
real one it is impossible to deny. The Quakers, 
who know the power and peril of guidance, say: 
Inward guidance does not mean unchecked indi- 
vidualism, for the follower of the light will be 
continually correcting his first perception of it by 
a fuller experience, and by that of others who have 
followed it more f aithfully.' 3 

A woman wrote to Gipsy Smith saying that she 
had thirteen children and had been guided that she 
ought to preach. He replied congratulating her on 

3. The FriemPs Book of Discipline. 


her call to preach and pointed out that God had 
already provided her with a congregation! God 
will not guide us on a course which is absurd. If 
we are guided by the Spirit we shall be loving, 
judicious and rational, not flighty, precipitate and 

How does guidance come? Why does not guid- 
ance come to you? It may be because you are an 
ass or a mule, lacking sensibility. If you are prayer- 
less and careless God's message cannot reach you. 

The story of Helen Keller may help you to 
understand. Helen Keller was only a baby when 
she became blind and deaf as the result of a serious 
illness. Loss of speech followed. There she lived 
in silence and darkness hearing nothing, seeing 
nothing. Her mother lovingly and patiently tried 
to teach her to understand, but without success. 
A red-letter day dawned on her terrible night 
when Miss Sullivan, an apt and sympathetic 
teacher, came to hen Helen was not quite seven 
then. The morning after her arrival, Miss Sullivan 
gave her charge a doll to play with. Then after a 
while she spelt slowly into her hand the word 
* d-o-l-L* Helen was at once interested in the finger 
play and tried to imitate it and, when she finally 
succeeded in making the word, she was flushed with 
delight. So she began to learn the names of simple 
things. One day they went to the well-house 
covered with honeysuckle. Some one was drawing 
water and Miss Sullivan placed Helen's hand on 
the spout. As the cool stream gushed over her hand, 
she spelt the word * w-a-t-e-r.' Helen knew then 


that water was the wonderful cool something flow- 
ing over her hand. Gradually her imprisoned 
spirit was set free. Miss Sullivan taught Helen 
about the beauty of the flowers and trees and sky 
and the sounds of bird music which she could not 
see nor hear. Everyone knows the subsequent 
story how she went to the University, became 
a well-educated woman, a writer of books, and 
how she learned to speak. 

But I think of Helen Keller's mother and father 
watching over her cot trying to signal to her, try- 
ing in one way after another to make her under- 
stand their love and not receiving so much as a 
smile of understanding or a word in response. Is 
not the little Helen Keller, blind, deaf and dumb 
an epitome of all mankind? God bending over us 
in infinite tenderness, seeking to direct us and we, 
deaf and blind, sobbing, c Oh, that I knew where 
I might find Him! * 

When a man keeps every avenue of his being 
open to Divine guidance, he acquires a firm con- 
viction that he is being led, not always because of 
remarkable events but through daily, hourly, gifts 
of grace to meet every need. 


* Be stilP That is the only way to know God. 
We are then tuned to receive God-given thoughts. 
We need a relaxed frame of mind, a freedom from 
tenseness and strain, fear and worry. Read the life 
of Professor Henry Drummond. The record of 
how this charming saint sought and found and 


followed the will of God is rich in suggestion for 
every man. Henry Drummond wrote on the fly- 
leaf of his Bible some notes on how to know the will 
of God: * First, pray 5 second, think j third, talk to 
wise people, but don't regard their judgment as 
final. Fourth, beware of the objection of your own 
will, but don't be too much afraid of it. God never 
unnecessarily thwarts a man's nature and likings $ 
it is a mistake to think that His will is always in the 
line of the disagreeable. Fifth, meanwhile do the 
next thing, for doing God's will in small things is 
the best preparation for doing it in great things. 
Sixth, when decision and action are necessary, go 
ahead. Seventh, you will probably not find out 
until afterwards, perhaps long afterwards, that you 
have been led at all.' 

God guides I give you my word for it, but 
you alone can prove it for yourself in the labora- 
tory of your own experience. 



CHRIST'S strategy for the Christianizing of 
the world is one of the unexpected things in 
history. It seems, at face value, to be posi- 
tively ridiculous. After three years of teaching, 
during which He had gathered round Him a group 
of twelve friends, He was brutally done to death on 
a Roman cross. His cause seemed wiped out and 
his enemies were crowing at their success in getting 
rid of Him and His gang. But what seemed to be 
thei end of everything proved to be the beginning 
of everything. After His death He proved to His 
friends beyond all possible doubt that He was alive 
powerfully present and vitally active. 

In those three marvellous years He had revealed 
God, He had witnessed by word and deed to the 
love of God, He had given men and women vic- 
tory over sirt and opened to them the Kingdom of 
God. But He had only made a beginning. The 
news about God had to be given to the world* 

Jesus entrusted this task to the group of eleven 
friends one of the twelve had let Him down. 
They were an unlikely set of men some of them 
uneducated, all of them slow to understand 
c slow in the uptake, 7 as the moderns would say* 
Read the story of the schooling of these men, at 

H 89 


first so dull-minded and dense. At times the Divine 
Master almost lost patience with them. Not long 
before He died, they squabbled among themselves 
as to what they were going to get out of the King- 
dom who would be Prime Minister sitting on His 
right hand, who the Treasurer sitting on His left. 
He told them pointedly that whoever would be 
greatest in the Realm of God must be servant of 
all, and, to get it into their minds He gave an 
almost kindergarten demonstration, taking a towel 
and basin He washed their feet. There they were 
on the eve of His departure, an insignificant, 
uninfluential group, without status or backing. 
Their cause was discredited and as far as the world 
knew, their Leader had perished. Under such 
circumstances how could Christianity become a 
world force? 


c Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusa- 
lem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the 
uttermost part of the earth.' 1 That was the plan 
of campaign. They were to begin where they were 
and then go out in radiating circles to tell the world 
what they knew of Christ and what He had done 
for them. Well, that is what they did. They 
began as a small c team. 5 They declared what they 
knew of Himj how He had changed their lives 
and given them a fresh outlook and a new sense of 
values. They testified that He had filled them with 

1. Acts I: 8. 


joy and peace, hilarity and courage. That is the 
clear and rousing story of the Acts of the Apostles* 

Personal witness to Christ appeared to be a 
method too simple to overthrow the forces of 
materialism and agnosticism and yet there stands 
the Captain's commission with the definite promise 
of power a promise which was abundantly ful- 
filled on the Day of Pentecost with astonishing 
results. It was the simple witness of Spirit-filled 
men to the crucified, risen and ascended Christ that 
turned the world upside down, or should we not 
say right-side up? 

In his famous chapter on the cause of the wide 
and rapid spread of the Christian religion in the 
inhospitable soil of the Roman Empire, Gibbon, 
who was by no means a special pleader, assigns the 
first place to the fact that *it became the most 
sacred duty of a new convert to diflFuse among his 
friends and relations the inestimable blessing which 
he had received,' 2 

On all the great roads of the Empire these 
Christians were to be found, in strategic cities and 
in remote towns and villages. Tradesmen, arti- 
sans and travelling peddlers missed no opportunity 
of speaking a good word for Jesus. Though perse- 
cuted they could not be silenced; though driven 
from pillar to post they went everywhere telling, 
with enthusiasm, the good news of Christ. 

'Into all these great divisions of the world, 3 
says Dr. T. R. Glover, *came men eager to tell 
the "good news" generally quite commonplace 

2. Decline and Fell of tie Roman Empire, Ch- XV. 


and unimportant people with a "treasure in 
earthen vessels." Their message they put in 
various ways, with the aphasia of ill-educated men, 
who have something to tell that is far too big for 
any words at their command. It was made out at 
last that they meant a new relation to God by 
virtue of Jesus Christ. . . . They were astonishingly 
upright, pure and honest; they were serious; and 
they had in themselves inexplicable reserves of 
moral force and a happiness far beyond anything 
that the world knew. They were men transfigured 
as they owned. Some would confess to wasted and 
evil lives, but something had happened, which they 
connected with Jesus or a Holy Spirit, but every- 
thing in the long run turned upon Jesus.' 


Take one glowing example from the men of the 
early Church. Justin Martyr that hero soul who 
placed his splendid gifts of learning at the disposal 
of Christ and who was put to death for his faith. 
He has told the story of his conversion in an 
illuminating little book, known as the Dialogue 
with Trypho. Like many other men of his age 
Justin had sought for satisfaction in the philoso- 
phies of the time. He had met with disappointment 
after disappointment. He could not find the light. 
He used to walk along a lonely road within sight 
of the sea, pondering over the mysteries of life. 
One day he was met by an old man, who told him 
of the Jewish prophets and of the Christ in whom 
their words had found fulfilment. c Pray,> he said 


to Justin, c pray that over everything the gates of 
light may be opened to thee.' They parted and 
Justin never saw him again, but that word by the 
roadside brought him to Christ. Of his later life 
he was able to declare, c I glory in being a Chris- 
tian, and take every pains to prove myself worthy 
of my calling.' An old man spoke to a young man 
along a lonely road and the influence has lived for 
nearly 2,000 years. 

The early Christian groups were hunted and 
harassed by cruel persecution. Meetings had to be 
held in secret. Yet they rejoiced and their perse- 
cutors complained that their teachings spread like 
wildfire. c We are but of yesterday,' wrote Tertul- 
lian, c yet we have filled your cities, islands, towns 
and boroughs j we are in the camp, the Senate, and 
the Forum. Our foes lament that every sex, age 
and condition, and persons of every rank are con- 
verts to the name of Christ.' 

The twentieth-century world, deeply dis- 
appointed and disillusioned, bored and blase is 
wilting for this fearless witness to the living Christ 
who enables men and women to gain victory over 
their sins and empowers them to tell others what 
He has done for them and through them. Here is 
the secret of the remarkable power and world-wide 
growth of the Oxford Groups. In the Groups the 
cumulative effect of witness not to themselves but 
to Christ is demonstrated by lives transformed 
and by the energizing of nominal believers into 
vital, propagating Christians. 



How is the world to be changed? The world is 
an aggregate of units every heart crammed with 
problems and yearnings. They must therefore be 
won as individuals. Andrew must find his brother. 
We must realize the pathetic need of men and 
women without Christ. In the last century earnest 
souls sought to save men and women lest they 
should go to hell. The urge to witness to-day is 
that men and women are already living in hell. 

Christ committed the world task to His friends 
and they were to win the world through the power 
of witness. Christ works through human person- 
alities. If you do not speak for Christ, who will? 
What if every Christian were just like you? A girl 
who went to China as a missionary, explaining why 
she volunteered, said: C I seemed to see Christ 
standing alone among the heathen dumb! No 
one to speak for Him, no one through whose life 
He could pour the love of His heart j waiting for 
someone to come to His side to be lips for him. 3 
Truly, He has no hands but ours; no lips to speak, 
if ours are sealed. He is counting on us. There are 
those who cry, c Christ is coming. 5 Butlo! Christ 
is here, beseeching the surrender of your life and 
mine. Let us tell ourselves at each new dawn 
c You are responsible for representing Jesus Christ 
to-day. 3 

I am not afraid of Christianity being blown up 
by its opponents but I am afraid of it being sat on 


by Its friends. The trouble is with the c Christian 
Nobody Knows.' A minister, who was coining to 
grips with a boy in his confirmation class, was met 
with the remark, *Oh, I want to be a Christian 
like my father 5 nobody knows that he is one.' 
Nominal Christianity is useless. The dictionary 
meaning of nominal is c unreal.' Peter denied Jesus 
with oaths and curses, but we let Him down by 
silence and concealment. We betray Him under 
social pressure. We shall have to give an account 
of every silence. 

Sir Evelyn Wrench, founder of the Overseas 
League, says, in his autobiography, 3 concerning his 
long friendship with Lord Northcliffe: c I always 
regret that I did not discuss the things of the spirit 
with the Chief. . . , In the hundreds of hours 
I must have spent in his company we never dis- 
cussed the soul. I think he just left that side of 
life aside and his spiritual nature became atrophied. 
. . . He was much too busy "running the world" 
to bother about the world unseen.' If Northcliffe 
had been won for Christ the history of modern 
Europe might have read differently. 

When I was a boy I used to be regaled with 
stories of Charles Peace, one of the most infamous 
criminals in the English calendar. My father used 
to tell me of seeing the black flag hoisted at the 
Leeds Gaol the morning Peace was hung. As he 
was led to the scaffold to expiate his crimes, the 
prison chaplain offered him what are called *the 
consolations of religion.' The wretched man 
turned upon him and said: *Do you believe it? 

3. Uphill (Ivor Nicholson). 


Do you believe it? If I believed that, I would 
crawl across England on broken glass on my hands 
and knees to teU men it was true! y Peace was a 
clever man. If only he had been capitalized for 


Only when we can transmit the Christian life 
can we be sure that we have it. c Ye shall be My 
witnesses. 3 Witness comes from the Anglo-Saxon 
word witan, to know. A witness is summoned to 
tell what he knows. It is to a large extent a legal 
term. A witness is one who testifies to a cause ; he 
is acquainted with the facts and upon his testimony 
depends the decision. Secondhand evidence is never 
so convincing. But this word has other meanings. 
It is a Greek word which really means c martyr.* 
Our reservation of the word ' martyr ' to connote 
those who lay down their lives for what they know 
is significant. Real witness is costly. And the kind 
of witness which costs us little or nothing effects 
little or nothing. 

' Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusa- 
lem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto 
the uttermost part of the earth/ 

'In Jerusalem' they were to begin at home 5 
in Judea among their neighbours 5 in Samaria 
among those with whom nominally they had no 
dealings '} and even unto the uttermost parts of 
the earth. 

This has been the strategy of Christian advance 
from the first days, and St. Paul, the great mission- 


ary pioneer, instinctively followed this principle in 
his attack upon the great world of Roman civiliza- 
tion. Paul's preaching was a tremendous asset but 
it was reinforced by a myriad men and women 
whose lives were changed. 

When we witness when we tell what has hap- 
pened to us, we help others. Mark Rutherford 
tells of the revelation which came to him after 
he had published his Autobiography > of how "an 
individual cry may voice a universal need. Thous- 
ands of letters reached him telling how he had 
stated just their particular case, while he imagined 
he had been stating only his own. When men and 
women c share' what Christ has done for them, 
giving them victory over their private sins, they 
help others who are fighting the same battle. 

There is a lady in my church who, when she 
came to me, was a hopeless, helpless, nervous 
wreck. She had lost the power to sleep, her mind 
was hot and fear driven- Life had ceased to be 
worth living. Then she came and shared all her 
burden telling me of the way that she had trod- 
den, the ache, the worry and the weariness of it all. 
I began to teach her slowly how to surrender 
everything to God her life, her mind, her fears 
and how to let Him undertake for her. Gradu- 
ally the power of sleep returned and she now 
contributes to the philanthropic work of the Mis- 
sion the money she formerly spent on sleeping- 
powders. But there came to me another woman, 
in a worse condition. I talked and prayed and 
sought to guide her into the way of healing peace. 


I came to a point where I felt I could do nothing 
more. Then the inspiration came to me to let my 
first contact witness to her. She did so, telling of 
what she had come through, giving an assurance 
of victory. That is what witness does. 


There is a reticence in speaking about the soul. 
In some aspects it is a healthy instinct against 
hypocrisy. Christ Himself drew a contrast between 
those who conduct their religious exercises in public 
c that they may be seen of men ' and such as c enter 
into their inner chamber, and having shut the door, 
pray to their Father who is in secret.' But we ought 
to recommend Christ in a simple, straightforward, 
natural way. Grenfell of Labrador relates how at 
a largely-attended afternoon tea, given by the 
Dean of an Oxford College, he spoke of Christ's 
attitude on some subject which came up for dis- 
cussion. After the others had gone, the Dean took 
young Grenfell by the hand and said quietly, ' My 
dear Grenfell, we never speak of these things in 
general conversation. 5 Now, why should there be 
this conspiracy of silence about Christ? If we know 
the secret of victory, how can we keep silent? Have 
we really learned anything of vital Christianity 
worth passing on? A man is responsible to men for 
what he knows and responsible to God for telling 

Henry Drummond, who had all the reticence of 
a Scot, once declared that he would rather break 


stones by the roadside than speak to a stranger 
about his soul. And yet Drummond was so 
oppressed by the sins and needs o men that he 
became an expert in personal evangelism. So great 
was his enthusiasm for Christ, so real his love for 
men, that he overcame his diffidence in speaking 
to men personally and he found that few men 
resent a tactful approach by one whom they believe 
to be seeking their highest good. A few days before 
Drummond died, Dr. Hugh Barbour played to him 
the old Scots melody, c Martyrdom/ to which he 
beat time with his hand and joined in the words, 
feeble though he was: 

c I'm not ashamed to own my Lord, 

Or to defend His cause.' 

When the hymn was sung, he said: c There's noth- 
ing to beat that, Hugh.' 

I know that some are halting at the threshold 
of surrender because they dread witness. The idea 
of introducing words about Christ in the ordinary 
ways of life seems so objectionable. Let me say 
that I understand that feeling and profoundly 
sympathize with it. But at every Group meeting 
I listen to the witness of young people who assured 
me when first we met that they could never do that 
sort of thing! 

Then there is the fear of being crude in our 
approach to people. Our danger does not, as a rule, 
lie in the direction of outraging the laws of 
courtesy by inappropriate testimony, but in per- 
suading ourselves that a later time will provide a 
better opportunity. We never speak to anyone 


without the side-tracking thought that we may be 
harming the cause by introducing it just then. We 
ought to give everyone with whom we are in con- 
tact the chance of a spiritual adventure. But wit- 
ness is not by word of mouth only. There is no 
eloquence so persuasive as the life that is genuinely 
Christlike. What we want is men and women who 
will live their religion so that it is a natural, living 
part of themselves. Grace means beauty, it means, 
in fact, charm. To win some we must be winsome. 


It is a great task to plan, to plot for the capture 
of a soul. Did not Francis Thompson think of 
Christ as ' The Hound of Heaven '? Set yourself 
like a hunter to win one man. Make him a target, 
a test case. You will need not only a hunter's 
persistence in pursuit but also the angler's skill, 
ingenuity and tact. C I will make you fishers of 
men.' Clumsy handling loses many a fish. There 
is room for endless diversity of methods. Be will- 
ing and you will be used in terms of your own 
temperament. The witness will vary according to 
disposition. Conventional witness has little worth. 
There are hints in the first Corinthian Epistle that 
there had been an attempt on the part of some 
people to confine witnessing to certain standardized 
phraseology. St. Paul gave his strong ruling that 
the witness to Christ should be as varied as the 
idiosyncrasies of the men and women whom Christ 
has gripped. Charles Kingsley used to find out 
what men were interested in. He said, c I try to 


catch men by their leading ideas, and so draw them 
off insensibly to my leading idea. And so I find 
shall I tell you? that God is really permitting 
me to do His work.' 

One of the most successful personal evangelists 
I ever knew used to go round the slums getting 
men interested in gardening. Sometimes they had 
only half-a-dozen square feet of back yard and 
that a rubbish heap. Sometimes they hadn't even 
one square foot. In that case he would enthuse 
them with the possibilities of window boxes. He 
would give them seeds and plants, show them how 
to set to work, watching the main chance all the 
while, to drop in a seed for the Kingdom. 

If we place ourselves at Christ's disposal He will 
use us. I can understand the atheist, I can under- 
stand the heathen, but I cannot understand the 
Christian in this day of the world's hopelessness, 
who is content to be a mere looker-on. Life chang- 
ing on a colossal scale is the one hope of the world 

Power is promised} power is available. Our 
Lord promises that just where we are defective He 
will supply the needed help. He told the apos- 
tolic group to tarry at Jerusalem until they received 
the power of the Holy Spirit. *Ye shall receive 
power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.' 
The Holy Spirit is the Life giver and He alone 
enables us to become effective witnesses. c When 
the Holy Spirit is come upon you,' says Christ. 
What does this mean except that we let Him con- 
trol us absolute surrender. 


ONE man is no man. We need each other to 
realize ourselves. The story of human life 
on this planet is the record of man's slow 
learning of life's law of fellowship. First came the 
family, then the tribe, then the clan, and finally 
the nation. 

The motives of fellowship are varied and they 
are not always marked by good will and pure 
intention. Sometimes fellowship is sought for 
mutual protection, sometimes for mere pleasure 
and often to gain power over others outside a par- 
ticular class. But, whatever be the motive, fellow- 
ship of some sort is seen to be a sheer necessity of 
human life. Living to himself man is weak, poor, 
joyless, limited. In fellowship he becomes strong, 
rich, happy and expansive. It brings to him a 
greater fulness of life and a comradeship of spirit 
which means personal enrichment to all. 

I remember hearing of a visitor to a large lunatic 
asylum who expressed astonishment at the small 
number of warders provided for the hundreds of 
inmates. When he mentioned the fact, the Super- 
intendent explained why so few warders were 
needed. Lunatics never co-operate. Lunatics 
believe absolutely in themselves. William Morris 
was right when he made John Ball say, 'Fellow- 
ship is lifej lack of fellowship is death j fellowship 



is heaven; lack of fellowship is hell.' The supreme 
need of the world is to replace the loneliness of 
isolation and the rivalry of hate by Christian 
fellowship on every plane of human life, indi- 
vidual, commercial, religious and international. 


But fellowship cannot be manufactured or 
organized. We cannot simply say: c Go to, now, 
let us have fellowship.' There cannot be brother- 
hood among unbrotherly people. No amount of 
* getting together ' will fuse us into fellowship. 
An Oxford graduate tells how he used to be regu- 
larly disturbed by a gathering of men in the rooms 
under his. The chief object of this little company 
was the joy of getting drunk. They sang the kind 
of songs so often sung by men who are tricking one 
another with counterfeit companionship: 'For he's 
a Jolly Good Fellow,' c The More We Are To- 
gether,' 'For Auld Lang Syne.' The company 
became increasingly rowdy. They usually broke up 
about midnight. One of the men, who had kept 
himself fairly sober, went up and sat by the stud- 
ent's fireside. They talked. c You had a good time,' 
said the first. He was answered with a laugh. c Yes.' 
Then, after a few moments' silence, he added: 
c You know, friendship's impossible in that atmos- 
phere. We don't really get to know one another. 
We're a lonely lot.' And if some spiritually sensi- 
tive stethoscope could register the inward thoughts 
of human hearts crowded together in superficial 
merriment or dull sobriety, this is what we should 


hear: c We're a lonely lot! ' What are many of our 
so-called pleasures save attempts to forget for a 
little while the haunted loneliness of the soul? 
Loneliness is the most terrible tragedy of the 
human spirit. It affects us with homesickness, 
nervousness and fear and makes us quarrelsome, 
sullen and irritable. There are so many who have 
no refuge 5 so many whom sorrow, disappointment 
or loss has left naked and destitute and whom 
loneliness besets like a black night unlit by a single 
star. ' Religion,' says Professor Whitehead, of 
Harvard, 'Religion is what a man does with his 
loneliness.' But the heart-breaking fact is that 
multitudes of people do not know what to do with 
their loneliness. 

One of the greatest things the Oxford Group 
Movement is doing is to make fellowship possible. 
Everywhere, there are these happy people who 
have come into the comradeship of a world adven- 
ture. People who were living ingrowing lives have 
found a new power for making friends. To know 
one another on the other side of convention, with 
an intimacy which is only possible when we are 
surrendered to absolute honesty, purity, love and 
unselfishness, is a gladdening experience. There 
is no melting-pot like the fellowship of great things 
seen together, great things felt together and done 
together. The Groups are showing the way to a 
practising fellowship which departs from tradition 
and returns to the way of life and naturalness. 

Fellowship is one of the great words of the New 
Testament as it is also one of the great facts of 


Christian history. Now, the New Testament makes 
it quite clear that fellowship is in the Holy Spirit. 
When the apostolic benediction is being said at the 
close of a religious service and we hear the phrase 
c the fellowship of the Holy Spirit/ I wonder what 
it conveys to us? Do we think it refers to having 
fellowship with the Holy Spirit? In a sense, no 
doubt, it does. But even more it means having 
fellowship with one another in and through the 
Holy Spirit It refers to a certain quality, intensity 
and power of fellowship, which is indeed the 
highest form of human fellowship, and which is, 
as it were, created by the presence of the Holy 
Spirit in a group of people and by His action upon 
them. The New Testament fellowship was always 
warm because its flame was fed by Divine fires. To 
leave out the Holy Spirit is as foolish as to expect 
a train to travel swiftly when the electric power is 
switched off. 


Jesus never wrote a book, He organized no 
society, but He gathered a group of people united 
in closest fellowship to one another through allegi- 
ance to Him. To them was given the very energy 
of the Holy Spirit. They were a fellowship of 
mutual service through sacrifice and their task was 
to win all men to the fellowship of the love of God 
revealed by Jesus Christ- That was how Christian- 
ity started. It began with Jesus, who created a new 
kind of fellowship which included both sexes and 
all classes. It took in a Bolshevist (Simon the 


Zealot) and his deadly opponent (Matthew the 
tax-collector). It found a place for the chief lady 
of the North Country the wife of Herod's stew- 
ard, and for a * lost ' woman Mary Magdalene. 
The brilliant and glorious strength, the rich, full- 
blooded vitality of the first Christian fellowship 
lay in the fact that the team included such person- 
alities as the gentle Andrew, impatient Peter, 
sceptical Thomas and visionary John. Jesus actually 
achieved the impossible, and created such a society 
as the world had never seen. In it all racial and 
political and national and social differences were 
harmonized, so that St. Paul could say: ' There 
is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, 
neither bond nor free, but ye are all one in Christ 
Jesus. 3 Do we realize what a miracle that was? 

This close, intimate communion with Christ 
drew them to each other in mutual affection and 
mutual helpfulness 5 each seeking to share with the 
other his own resources in Christ Jesus. In those 
days to be cold to the brotherhood was a mark of 
disloyalty to the Lord. To be independent of the 
-Christian society was not a mark of spiritual suffi- 
ciency; it was a sign of waning faith. 

In the pages of the New Testament we can see 
this fellowship at work. The first picture of the 
Christian society after the day of Pentecost is that 
of a happy family, where all ate their bread with 
gladness and had everything in common. 

How is it that so many sincere people, honest 
seekers, devoted churchpeople, have not found the 
radiance which they instinctively feel religion 


should produce? One reason is their lack of real 
spiritual fellowship they have no congenial 
atmosphere in which it is easy to talk about Christ 
and share experiences with others. 

' It is pitiable,' as Dr. James Denney once said, 
* to see the substitutes that are found for fellowship 
in the Church and the importance which is given 
them, only because the real thing is not there.' 
You can be lonely in a congregation just as you can 
be lonely in a crowd. That many-gifted novelist, 
who assumed the name of John Oliver Hobbes, 
wrote in her diary in the heyday of her social 
popularity: c The silence of my life overwhelms 
me. I dined out last night and met very charming 
people. I have seen visitors to-day . . . but the 
silence. I cannot face the loneliness of a crowded 
drawing-room, the host of mere acquaintances, the 
solitariness of the return. I must not be too 
depressing, but God only knows how I need a 

friend I choke my soul with work, and yet . . . 

and yet. . . .* Many a churchgoer could make a 
like confession. Little by little we have laid too 
much stress on the formal means of worship, to the 
neglect of that fellowship wherein the door of 
loneliness swings open and faith is fed in kindly 
company with those who had fears and hopes and 
sins like our own, but have found happy victory. 


There are heartfelt needs which the pulpit can- 
not meet. Sermons and books without fellowship 
are dead letters. What are the fears that haunt 


your heart, what the doubts that disturb your 
mind? What the failures that plague your con- 
science, what the visions that lure you on? Suppose 
you could talk heart to heart with sympathetic 
souls who have had those very experiences and 
found a remedy, what strength and hope would 
come into your life. Well, that is exactly the 
spiritual climate which the Groups provide. 

A few years ago the Louvre authorities took 
steps to sell the magnificent pearl necklace 
bequeathed by Mme. Thiers, for had it remained 
on exhibition much longer, it might have perished 
entirely. Over thirty years ago the Thiers neck- 
lace began to suffer from a mysterious disease to 
which pearls are liable and which experts define 
as a form of starvation. Pearls thrive by contact 
with the human body and for this reason jewellers 
maintain that they must be worn if they are to 
retain their lustre. Otherwise they become shrivel- 
led and unsightly. Why has our religion lost its 
lustre? Why has our spiritual power declined? Is 
it not because we have forgotten that faith needs 
fellowship and because we have tried to hold our 
faith apart from one another? 

I read that on the day of Pentecost ' they were 
all with one accord in one place . . . and they were 
all filled with the Holy Spirit.' There is a power 
born in fellowship which seldom comes to the 
solitary soul. Read this surprising promise: c I say 
unto you that if two of you shall agree on earth 
as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall 
be done for them of My Father who is in heaven.' 


What does this mean but that when we pray 
together a vaster grace is available to us than our 
individual supplications can command? It dearly 
implies that concerted action in prayer produces 
a greater spiritual momentum than the sum-total o 
the units of power exerted by the same people 
praying separately. A company is greater than the 
aggregate of individuals who compose it. Then 
read this: 'Where two or three are gathered 
together in My name, there am I in the midst of 
them.* Hasn't our glib repetition of that promise 
blinded us to its mystery? When two or three come 
together in thought and prayer, the blessing 
realized is not simply an aggregate of their desire 
and petitions, but there is something more. They 
arrive together at a stage of power which they 
could not reach separately. Those who know claim 
that revelations are made, problems solved and 
moral power won which is far beyond the range 
of the separate soul. 

Through the power of fellowship separate 
personalities blend in a society of friends that has 
a characteristic quality and a power of concerted 
action which increase the potentialities of the indi- 
viduals. Such a book as MacDougalPs Group Mind 
shows how great are the possibilities of increased, 
even of vastly and miraculously increased, power 
and activity in any group of people who are under 
the sway of a common purpose. Christ can work 
miracles of reconciliation through groups of men 
and women absolutely surrendered to His will for 


The strength of fellowship comes from the fact 
that to men of limited view and partial capacity 
there is given immense enrichment of personal 
power and service. Sharing their lives and dedica- 
tion to a common aim give added strength. 


The solitary unattached believer almost always 
becomes eccentric. We all need checking. We 
cannot see ourselves, but others see us plainly 
and can set us right. We see faults in other people 
while we are blind to our own. Even when we are 
living a guided life we need to be checked. 
Extravagances need to be corrected, self-will elimi- 
nated and the whole of our personality made 
sensitive to God. 

Nothing could be further from the truth than to 
suspect that the Group encourages rank religious 
individualism. It is said that people claim guidance 
and then close their minds and become impervious 
to reason. This is not so, for there is regular check- 
ing among members. That, of course, is necessary. 
Almost everybody knows in these days why we 
have two eyes. A simple experiment provides the 
reason. Close the right eye and point to a given 
object. Hold the finger in that position, then open 
the right eye and close the left. You will find that 
the finger is pointing inches away from the object. 
And so vice versa. The two eyes do not look 
at ^everything from the same, but from different 
points of view. But the vision taken by two eyes 
helps us to see correctly and judge distances truly. 


So different minds approaching a subject from their 
own angles produce a wider knowledge and wisdom 
than a single mind is capable of. 

One Christian is no Christian. When John Wes- 
ley was acting as curate to his father at Ep worth, he 
was told of a Lincolnshire villager who, even in 
those dark days, had won respect from his neigh- 
bours by reason of his goodness. Wesley, ready 
as always to learn even from the humblest, visited 
him. One sentence the old man spoke could not be 
forgotten: c Sir, you wish to serve God and go to 
heaven. Remember, you cannot serve Him alone: 
you must therefore find companions or make them: 
the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.' The 
words went deep, and, when the time came for 
Wesley to make provision for the spiritual needs 
of the awakened multitudes in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, he made fellowship the very foundation of 
the Methodist Society. 

The riches of Christian character grow not by 
hoarding but by spending. Fellowship is not an 
end in itself but only a means to an end. It is very 
pleasant to meet and talk and pray in company with 
like-minded people but we have to watch lest it 
become a form of selfish indulgence. What we 
have found we must share what we have seen we 
must tell. In a volume of early reminiscences, Mr. 
Frank Kendon has described the delicious sensa- 
tions which the first cuckoo call of the year aroused. 
* Before I was eight,' he says, ' I found I could not 
bear to hear it and remain alone. ... It is terrible 
to be in an ecstasy of joy alone.' Many of us feel 


that same regret if we are alone in the presence of 
natural beauty, or as we listen to some soul-stirring 
music, or are moved by a great play or picture. 
We want so much to share it that it becomes a pain 
in the mind to be alone. What is this but the Spirit 
of God revealing to us that no enriching experience 
can be fully enjoyed until it is shared? Beauty, in 
every one of its manifold forms, thus lays on its 
worshippers a social liability to draw back the cur- 
tain for others to catch the vision. 


John writes in his first Epistle c That which we 
have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you 
also may have fellowship with us; yea, and our 
fellowship is with the Father and with His Son 
Jesus Christ. 31 

c I thank my God,' says St. Paul, in writing to 
the Philippians, * for your fellowship in further- 
ance of the Gospel.' That is what fellowship is for 
the furtherance of the Gospel. The Oxford 
Group fellowship is committed to witnessing and 
life changing. Christ's message: c The Son of Man 
came not to be ministered unto but to minister,' is 
the national anthem of the Kingdom of fellow- 

I say in all sincerity that as I see it the Group 
is God's gift to the world to meet the needs of the 
twentieth century. God has a plan for each one of 
us and He has a will for the world. That will 
can be known and realized if we will absolutely 

1. Chapter t: 3. 


surrender to Him and be loving, honest, pure, and 
unselfish. He will direct us, if we give Him a 
chance by making time to be quiet every morning. 
God will become real to us, we shall be cleansed 
and enter into God's sorrow for the world's sin 
and share His sympathy for the world's need, 
God's design will be made plain and all hindrances 
in us removed. Christ's definite promise is that 
His Spirit will guide us into all the truth. 

I feel it my simple duty as a Christian teacher 
to witness to what I have seen and felt of the new 
Movement which is spreading across the world 
because I want all to be in it, headlong for Christ. 

As I understand it, Christianity is above all 
religious, and religion is not a method, it is a life, 
a higher and supernatural life, mystical in its root 
and practical in its fruits, a communion with God, 
a calm and deep enthusiasm, a love which radiates, 
a force which acts, a happiness which overflows. 
Religion, in short, is a state of the soul. 



'TtHE New Testament is the smallest book of 
JL any religion in the world. What is the New 
Testament about? The answer is one word 
Life. Not only that part of life which we think 
of as religious, but life in all its relationships* The 
problem of all problems, the mystery of all 
mysteries is this thing which is so nigh unto us, 
this thing which we all have but do not know what 
to make of it LIFE. <Lif e,' says Bernard Shaw, 
*is a thing of which it is important to have a 
theory: yet most people take it for granted, and go 
on living for no better reason than that they find 
themselves alive.' Life,' says John Masefield, ' is 
the daily thing man never heeds.' 

What does the New Testament say about life? 
It says that men and women are missing it, losing 
it, wronging it. That is why they are unhappy; 
they are not properly alive. And the condition to 
which the New Testament addresses itself is this 
that what keeps people from life is sin. What- 
ever keeps us from God who is Life is sin. 
Sin is not an arbitrary taboo set up to limit our 
pleasures, but is whatever hinders us from the full 
enjoyment of God, the Giver of Life. Separated 
from Him we are like cut flowers, temporarily gay, 
but doomed to wither. 

It is told how President Calvin Coolidge, a man 
frugal in speech, returned from a church service. 



c What was the sermon about? * his wife enquired. 

c Sin, 3 he said. 

What did the preacher say about it? ' she asked. 

c He was against it,' was the laconic reply. 

All great souls have been against sin they have 
protested against it and grieved over it. But the 
New Testament is the only book in the world that 
has a remedy for sin. The only remedy for sin, 
it declares, is the Son of God, who came into this 
world at a definite point of time in its history, in 
the likeness of men, who was tempted in all points 
like as we are, yet without sin; who taught and 
showed men and women how to live victoriously 5 
who poured out the rich red wine of His life, His 
very blood, in a career of sacrifice which culminated 
in the Cross. It was impossible for death to hold 
Him and He triumphed in death as He did in life, 
shewed Himself unmistakably to His friends and 
continued to give them His victorious vitality. 


The New Testament is about Jesus; that is, it is 
about Him specifically; it is about Him above 
everything else. Those who write in the New 
Testament are concerned only about one thing 
that those who read may see Him and be drawn 
to Him. c These things are written ' we can hear 
them all saying it c that ye may believe that Jesus 
is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing 
ye may have life in His name.' ' I am come,' He 
said, c that ye might have life and have it more 


abundantly* 3 'Life 3 was His keyword; and of 
Himself He always spoke, not as One who 
preached life or explained it, but as one who gave 
it. Salvation, as He taught, is not primarily a 
protection against future punishment nor the 
guarantee of future reward. It concerns life here 
and now. 

When we pass from the Gospels to the book 
which stands next, the Acts of the Apostles, it may 
seem at first as if the centre of interest has shifted, 
first to Peter and later to Paul. But it is not really 
so. Luke, the writer, certainly did not mean that 
it should be so. c The former treatise I made, 3 he 
says, referring to the Gospel which bears his name, 
c concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to 
teach 3 began to do and to teach. Then what is 
the inference? Surely, that this new writing is the 
story of that which Jesus continued to do and to 
teach; so that if Luke himself, instead of someone 
else, had had the naming of his book, he might 
have called it 'the Acts of Jesus through the 
Apostles. 3 


The writers of Gospels, Letters and various 
other treatises which compose the New Testament 
are all concerned with this life, this new power to 
live, this ecstasy of liberation which had come to all 
sorts and conditions of men and women. Apostles 
went forth on heroic journeys, suffering hardship 
and persecution to witness to it. Groups composed 
of freemen and slaves, aristocrats and artisans, 


who had found in Christ victorious life, sprang up 
in cities and towns. 

St. Paul waded through a world reeking with 
moral filth, but he never lost heart because he was 
in fellowship with Christ who caused him to 
triumph and who could change the world. In a 
world upon which disgust and loathing had fallen 
there came this newness of life. The pagans were 
impressed by the freshness, the vitality, the joyous- 
ness of the Christians. Their men were pure and 
honest, their women had the bloom of virtue upon 
them, so that one pagan was led to exclaim: c What 
women these Christians have! ' 

Now all this is ancient history and we have been 
too much inclined to leave it at that. But groups 
of people across the world have discovered to their 
amazement that this thing works that it is verifi- 
able to-day. They have proved that Christ is con- 
tinuously active and gives this new quality of life 
to all who will surrender their lives to Him day by 
day and make a quiet time each day in which they 
become receptive to the infilling of His Spirit. 

c Be of good cheer,' said Jesus. c I have over- 
come the world. Andlo! I am with you always.' 
He knew that by another set of sun He would be 
hanging upon the Cross between two thieves. Was 
that victory? Most surely it was. He made the 
very cross an asset and made use of it for His own 
purpose. He made it His throne so that it has 
become the cherished symbol, the very sceptre of 
sovereignty. Such was the quality of this life in 



* Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.* 
What does that matter to us? For Him to tell us 
who fail that He did not fail might seem to mock 
us. But He felt that what He had done had a 
significance for His followers beyond that of being 
an inspiring example. 

c 1 have overcome the world and I will come 
and put my overcoming Spirit into your weakness 
and fill you with my own victorious life and be in 
you the overcoming and conquering power.' 
Christ's victory is ours, and we are victors in it, 
because He is more than an example, because He 
is the Son of God, who gave Himself for us and 
gives Himself to us, and dwells in us, our strength 
and righteousness. We have to take the step of 
faith which sets us in the circle of Christ's victory. 
Recognize that He has overcome sinj therefore 
this very sin this personal sin of ours has been 
overcome. What happens? The soul is charged 
with a strength not its own. 

Ruskin said that c the Christian pulpit fails in its 
effect, because it speaks so much of what men must 
do to obtain salvation and so little of what God has 
done to give it.' The Christian has to receive the 
victory of Christ. It is no longer a lonely fight, 
doubtful to the end. Just as after the abolition of 
slavery every negro was born into a world made 
free, so the victory of Christ means that we are in 
an emancipated world. But some slaves could not 


believe that they were free and were afraid to 
leave the old plantations. And there are many of 
us living on as whipped slaves when we might be 


There is no promise that life will be c roses, 
roses, all the way.' c In the world ye shall have 
tribulation/ said Jesus. No blinking of difficulties 
there. Hardy has painted the stark tragedy of life 
in his novels, but there he left it, he showed no way 
out j the rest is silence. Jesus alone brought tribula- 
tion, peace and cheerfulness together and showed 
us how to win victory out of tragedy. He discov- 
ered it in His own experience and He communi- 
cates it to those who share His spirit. c In the 
world ye shall have tribulation.' Jesus did not 
guarantee immunity from pain and sickness, loss 
and death, monotonous toil, blighted hopes and 
disappointed ambitions but He did promise such 
victorious living, such hilarious joy as nothing 
could defeat 

The religion of Jesus means these three things: 
Victory over sin, victory over self, victory over 
suffering. It is in the fitness of things that Jesus 
cried out, a In the world ye shall have tribulation, 
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' 1 
This is cheer indeed, a cheer that has faced all the 
facts of life good, bad and indifferent and has 
let those facts say their worst, and then in the face 
of it all bursts into laughter a gay, glorious 


victorious laughter a hallelujah chorus out of 
unhallowed conditions. 31 

The Book of Acts reveals how this life was avail- 
able. St. Paul may or may not have seen and 
heard Jesus in the days of His flesh, but he proved 
the victorious life of Christ in his own experience. 
The seventh and eighth chapters of his letter 
to the group in Rome are to a large extent 


The seventh chapter portrays, with remarkable 
subtlety of analysis, the strivings and struggles of 
one who is convicted of sin, and who seeks to attain 
to a good and serviceable life. But we see only 
the helpless movements of some struggling crea- 
ture that would rise* Beaten and baffled, writhing 
in the mire, the soul at length sinks into utter 
despair of self. * Wretched man that I am! who 
shall deliver me out of the body of this death? * 
But then a new note is struck: C I thank God 
through Jesus Christ our Lord! * Help has come 
into his helplessness. The secret of a new life thrills 
his being. Now he can rise $ now he can soar and 
sing. C AU things are possible to him that believeth.* 
The eighth chapter unfolds these new possibilities, 
It is a psean of praise. We hear the buoyant and 
rhythmic tread of victors. Just because * there is 
now no condemnation/ because he is already * in 
Christ Jesus/ he breathes a new atmosphere, and is 
vitalized with a Divine energy. c What the kw 

1. Ckrisf **d Hanm Safermg, Stanley Jones, p. 142. 


could not do' what no commandments, no 
resolutions, no stragglings could accomplish is 
now fulfilled by the impulse and inspiration of the 
Spirit. Instead of the laboured servitude, there is 
the willing surrender that finds its congenial ele- 
ment in c the glorious liberty of the children of 
God.' Against this obedience great forces are at 
workj but on behalf of this obedience greater 
powers are working, and are working so mightily 
that even the things which threatened to be evil, 
and only evil, are compelled to work for good. So 
mighty are these powers, and so effectual is the 
deliverance already wrought, that we may well be 
* persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, 
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to 
come, nor powers (of whatsoever sort), nor height, 
nor depth, nor any other creation (of unexpected 
circumstance or condition), shall be able to separate 
us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus 
our Lord/ 


In a letter which St. John wrote to the Christian 
groups in the cities and towns of the Empire, he 
said, c And this is the victory that overcometh the 
world even our faith ' (1 Jn. 5: 5). What did he 
mean by c the world '? We read in the glorious 
Genesis poem of creation that c God saw everything 
that He had made, and, behold, it was very good/ 
Jesus loved the world and His teaching is full of 
exquisite reference to fields and flowers, birds and 
trees, sunsets and seasons. Jesus was no ascetic. 


He was very different from Luther, who in his 
monkish days kept his eyes closed as he sailed down 
the Rhine lest the beauty o the landscape should 
seduce his heart from God. To Jesus the world 
was sacramental with God's presence. c The earth 
is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.' 

But as a matter of experience we know that even 
the good things which God has made, if used 
unspiritually may separate us from Him. As 
Emerson said, c Things are in the saddle and rule 
mankind ' whereas they should be the stirrup to 
help us to mount nearer to God. By c the world * 
John means c the arrangement/ the sum total of 
the forces of nature, our human bodies, our social 
relations, the conditions of our existence, all things 
which are either in themselves averse from life or 
may become so by our undue absorption in them. 
We may enjoy all things good and beautiful in the 
world and sincerely thank God for them, but even 
these things may lead us from God if they become 
our master-passion and side-track our surrender to 
Him. But other elements of the world are in 
themselves hostile to God c the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and the vain-glory of life * 
(1 Jn. 2: 15-17). 

Thus, on the one hand, we may turn the good 
things of the world into spiritual foes by making 
their pursuit our chief object: on the other hand, 
we may succumb to the deadening influence of 
things that tend of themselves to our injury its 
pomps, its noise and show and glitter. But victory 
over the world is possible. We may so triumph 


over it that the pure, good things in it shall only 
increase our grateful love to God, and not enthral 
our hearts. Its empty vanities, its toys, its seduc- 
tive offers will have no attraction for us. 

This faith in the living power of Christ is the 
victory the strength which enables us to master 
the world, c using the world but not abusing it.' 


And now read this: c Who shall separate us from 
the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or 
persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or 
sword? As it is written: For thy sake we are killed 
all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the 
slaughter* Nay, in all these things we are more 
than conquerors, through him that loved us.' 2 

The enemies conquered are c tribulation, anguish, 
persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword' 
gathered into one word, the sorrows of life. If 
these worked their full effect upon us they would 
break our faith in God. But the life that is surren- 
dered to God is victorious over them. So far from 
' alienating us from God they bring us nearer to 
Him: so far from destroying faith, they strengthen 
it: so far from withering our souPs harvest, they 
multiply its c peaceable fruits of righteousness.' 

We not only prevent these things destroying us, 
but we actually convert them into allies. The ' more 
than conquerors ' seems to mean the conversion of 
an enemy conquered into a friend and helper. Just 
as the American Indians thought that every scalp 

2. Romans 8: 35-37. 


taken increased the warrior's strength, and that the 
power of the slain foe entered into the brave's 
arm, so these tribulations may in very truth em- 
power the spirit. c In all of these things we are 
more than conquerors through Him that loved us.' 
It is something to be a conqueror. No one knew 
that better than the Romans in whose memory 
there still remained a vivid impression of the 
triumphs of Pompey and Caesar. But to a little 
group of c Christians ' the apostle had the insight 
to ascribe the title ' more than conquerors.' 

Yet victory is not our achievement, for these 
things would naturally sour us and make us cynical. 
We conquer through c Him that loved us.' Horace 
Walpole said, c Life is a comedy to those who think, 
and a tragedy to those who feel,' but, as Forsyth 
added, c it is a victory to those who believe.' On 
that last night of His earthly life Jesus took the 
cup, the symbol of His poured-out life, and said 
< Drink ye all of it.' 

* Drink? He said, for the whole world is as red 
as Ms wine with the crimson of the love of God. 
Drinky for the trumpets are blowing to battle and 
this is the stirrwp cup. Drink, for I know whence 
you came and why I know when you go and 
where* Truly He is the Way, the Truth, and the 

Christ can turn our defeats into triumphs. It is 
told of Morphy, the world-famous chess player, 
that he once saw a picture of a youth playing chess 

3. G. K. Chesterton, in Omar and The Sacred Vine. 


with Satan, doomed, to all appearance, to inevitable 
defeat* Morphy procured board and chess men 
and set the pieces out as they were in the picture 
and then with one move changed what looked like 
certain failure into positive triumph. And Jesus can 
take the problem of our lives, show us the next 
move and make us victorious. 

Then there is victory over death. c Thanks be 
unto God who giveth us the victory through our 
Lord Jesus Christ.' It is a shout of triumph. I am 
the resurrection and the life,' says Christ. * He 
who believes in Me will live even if he dies. 5 In 
His resurrection Jesus became a death-defying, 
death-defeating, life-giving Spirit. The seeming 
victory of the cold earth is no victory at all. The 
victory is with life. I have written enough to show 
that the New Testament is the book of victorious 


Hugh Redwood ends his book, God in the 
Slums, with these words: c The Christian religion 
must throw off its defeatism. Christ is not strug- 
gling for victory. The victory was won 1,900 years 
ago. That is what the ordinary man needs to be 
assured of, the daily victories of the living God/ 
It is this mood of victory that we need. Our 
religion has been too much the religion of effort. 
Instead of saying c I can do it ' we must affirm that 
*God can do it' *He is able to do exceeding 
abundantly above all we ask or think.' 


I have watched a fly struggling in a spider's web 
frantically flapping its wings, striving to dis- 
entangle its feet, twisting and pulling, but all in 
vain, for the spider has come and wrapped it round 
and round until it was helpless. But many a time 
I have rescued a fly just in time as the spider came 
hurrying out of his den. And Christ can set us 
free from the toils that entangle us, for 
c He breaks the power of cancelled sin 
He sets the prisoner free.' 

You may have resigned yourself to a poor, low 
level of living; and have come to acquiesce in 
things as they are. You may have practically no 
desire for a victory which you have found to be 
impossible. Just such a case Christ came to meet. 
He gained the victory of His Cross exactly to 
secure the victory which, you have told yourself, 
is impossible. Your only fault is despair, or, what 
is the same thing, unbelief. You are not allowing 
Him to do what He came to do and has indeed 
done. You lie in your helplessness and hopeless- 
ness while He is always holding over you the 
crown of victory and the palm which is the symbol 
of rejoicing. c I know,' you say, c but I cannot see 
it, I cannot grasp it. The thing seems too simple or 
too remote or too intangible.' My reply is: c The 
simplicity of it is intentional, the remoteness of it 
is due to your not facing it and realizing it. It is 
only intangible because you do not grasp it.' 

I say it again and yet again, the victory is yours 
if you will take it; it is achieved if you will believe 
it. Faith, in this connection, is simply receptiveness. 


The pledge of victory is conditioned by your 
absolute surrender to Christ. Practise the Quiet 
Time every morning. * Be still and know that I am 
God 7 not you. Come into the fellowship of 
those who have overcome sins and problems similar 
to your own and who can witness to victory. The 
Divine very often comes to us through the human. 
That was why Christ was born in Bethlehem and 
took upon Him the form of a man that He might 
speak to us in human words and heal us with the 
touch of a human hand. 



// a man 'mil do His will, he shall 
know of the doctrine, whether it be of 
God, or whether I speak of myself. 1 

A PREACHER during his lifetime takes many 
jfX texts but this text took me. The day 
when it leapt up with living power from 
the black and white of the Bible page and appre- 
hended me that is a red letter day in the calendar 
of my soul. This great saying saved me, like a 
lamp put into my hand in a night of darkening 
doubt and blank bewilderment. It showed me the 
way the way through the maze of conflicting 
creeds and schools. It gave me the key to my prob- 
lems. This word of Christ saved me and it has 
kept me. I have lived with it I have shared it 
with scores who have come to me with shattered 
faith seeking light and guidance. I am confident 
that it will bring certainty to any man or woman 
who applies it to life. 

The setting of the saying is this: Jesus had gone 
up to Jerusalem and begun to teach in the Temple. 
He made a profound impression. The virility of 
His teaching, His sure knowledge of God and man, 
His insight into life, were like the tang of a fresh 
wind suddenly blowing into the laden humidity of 
a limp day. Even the Pharisees were unable to 

I. St. John 7: 17. 



deny the power of His teaching. Smitten with 
amazement they said, c Where did this man get His 
knowledge of God He was not educated in our 
schools.* They were at a loss to account for His 
wisdom. His method, His obvious understanding 
of things Divine and eternal. c How knoweth this 
man letters having never learned? ' they enquired. 
They knew His history. He was the carpenter's 
Son. He was certainly not a graduate of any of the 
Rabbinical schools, and yet He showed an acquaint- 
ance with the Scriptures which left the ablest of 
the Rabbis breathless. 


It was natural that any one making special 
daims should be regarded with special caution. 
Jesus knew quite well that He would not be readily 
received on His own valuation. He knew how 
bewildered they were. His astonishing wisdom was 
not learned in any of the schools, nor was it self- 
originated $ it came from God. f My teaching, 5 He 
said, c is not mine, but His that sent Me. 3 But what 
evidence could He give for such a staggering 
claim? There had been many false prophets who 
claimed to be the spokesmen of God. Anyone who 
makes such a claim must expect to be challenged. 
Jesus did not object to such a challenge. It was one 
they had a perfect right to make. He met it. He 
told them how they could verify His statements 
and test the truth of His teaching. * If any man 
willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teach- 
ing, whether it be of God.* 

MY TEXT 131 

There Jesus gave them and us a transcript of 
His own history, the secret of His inward experi- 
ence. c You ask where I obtained my knowledge of 
God? I will tell you. I obtained it from doing 
God's will and that way is open to all earnest 
minds.' What Jesus said to His hearers was plainly 
this: c Put this truth that I teach into practice and 
you will know for yourselves whether it is of 

c How can I prove that Christianity is true? ' 
Only by subjecting it to the test of life. Things 
which are insoluble in thought often become dear 
in practice. Truth is proved in action, not by reason 
alone. That was the witness of Jesus and it is 
what multitudes need to learn to-day. Men and 
women of keen and eager minds have thought 
themselves to a standstill. Science has opened a 
new universe 5 criticism has subjected the Bible to 
ruthless enquiries. Men do not know what to 
believe or where to take hold: Christianity does 
not depend upon any one or all of the Churches, 
not upon any system of theology, not even on the 
Bible. Christ drives straight to the heart and 
demands the test of experience. 


We often make the mistake of thinking that we 
cannot act until we know. We forget that often 
we cannot know until we act. We cannot sit 
down and logically prove Christianity to ourselves 
first and then begin to practise it. The practice and 
proof of it go hand in hand. Action illumines the 

132 MY TEXT 

mind* c Do the truth you know,' said George Mac- 
Donald, * and you shall learn the truth you need to 
know. 5 

If any soul is bewildered by many things in the 
universe and in life, and even in the Christian 
scheme of belief, the best thing that soul can do is 
to begin to do the will of God, the highest known 
good, to obey the demand of conscience and take 
Christ at least as the Master of the art of living. 
Then gradually he will feel in himself the reality 
and divinity of the eternal things revealed through 
Christ. So the essential experiences of Christianity 
are repeated in us and the essential doctrines shine 
with morning freshness. 

' If any man will do His will he shall know 
of the doctrine whether it be of God.' All that 
really matters in the Bible for us, all that is worth 
contending for, is what can be reproduced and veri- 
fied in our own experience. What are the doctrines 
of God? According to Jesus they are the doctrines 
that can be lived. 

Dr. L. P. Jacks has well said that c no moral 
truth is ever learnt, or the meaning of it even 
faintly understood, until we are actually engaged 
in putting it into practice.' 

Action must precede understanding, knowledge 
is the consequence, not the cause of doing. Jesus 
did not say: * Here is a scheme of thought and 
doctrine. I have explained it in detail and 
answered every possible objection. Now I charge 
you to make your life accord with the doctrine 
which your intellect has approved.' Not thus did 

MY TEXT 133 

He teach us; but rather: c I have set before you a 
way of life. I have revealed it to you by word and 
by example. Now test its worth by experiment. At 
whatever seeming cost of sacrifice, live this life. 
Do that which I have shown you as God's will. 
For thus only shall you arrive at knowledge, thus 
grow sure that the words which I have spoken unto 
you are true. " If any man willeth to do His will, 
he shall know of the teaching whether it be of 
God." ' 

Shall we delay until as a result of prolonged 
intellectual investigation we satisfy ourselves at 
every point of the validity of Christ's claim? Well, 
hear Carlyle: c Doubt of any sort cannot be 
removed except by action. On which ground, too, 
let him who gropes painfully in darkness or un- 
certain light and prays vehemently that the dawn 
may ripen into day, lay this other precept well to 
heart, which to me was of invaluable service: Do 
the duty which lies nearest thee, which thou know- 
est to be a duty! Thy second duty will already 
have become clearer.' 

c If any man willeth to do His will he shall 
know of the doctrine.' Let him, with all his doubts, 
and with all his fears, plunge himself into the midst 
of life's realities, and he will discover in the doing 
of the will of God whether there is a God or not. 
But if he stands outside the doing, he will never 
know the doctrine. Only as he crosses the thres- 
hold of the doing, will he know the realities, the 
ultimate meanings of life. This, it seems to me, is 
backed up by the whole attitude of Jesus Himself. 

134 MY TEXT 

Have you ever thought how little Jesus argues? 
Jesus never undertook to reach the heart of man 
through the intellect. Jesus never tried to convince 
anybody against his will. He always tried to bring 
the will into the field, to release it in the direction 
of the thing He knew to be good. He always tried 
to keep the intellectual difficulties of His audience 
and His disciples in the background and to centre 
attention upon the doing. If only He could get 
men to do right, they would think right. 

A French infidel once said to Pascal, c If I had 
your principles, I should be a better man.' c Begin 
with being a better man, you will soon have my 
principles,' was the philosopher's apt reply. 


I propose now to take this text for a walk up the 
street and hear what it has done for other lives. 
Frederick W. Robertson, that gallant knight of 
God, that royal preacher, took this text when he 
preached before the Assizes at Lewes in 1 852. He 
called that sermon, which is one of the really great 
sermons in print c Obedience, the Organ of 
Spiritual Knowledge.' The title indicates the sub- 
stance of the discourse as a few sentences will 
indicate: c What is Truth? " Study," said the Jews. 
" Act," said Christ, " and you shall know." A very 

precious principle to hold by " He taught not 

as the scribes." . . . They dogmatized, " because 
it was written," stickled for maxims and lost prin- 
ciples. His authority was the authority of Truth. 

MY TEXT 135 

. . , He commanded men to believe, not because He 
said it, but He said it because it was true. . . . 
Obedience and self-surrender is the sole organ by 
which we gain a knowledge of that which cannot 
be seen.' 

Behind that sermon is the preacher and Robert- 
son preached it out of his own heart. He had 
passed through a period of heart-sickening uncer- 
taintyj he had trodden the via dolorosa of doubt 
with bleeding feet. c But in all that struggle, 3 he 
said, c I am thankful to say the bewilderment never 
told upon my conduct.' Mark that. c In the thick- 
est darkness, I tried to keep my eye on nobleness 
and goodness, even when I suspected they were 
will-o'-the-wisps.' He kept his will steadily doing 
the will of God from day to day and he came to 
know the doctrine as we all may do if we perse- 
vere and grow not weary in well-doing. 

In the year 1845, we find that courageous 
Christian, Charles Kingsley, tossed on a sea of 
doubt and clinging to this great saying of Jesus like 
a shipwrecked sailor holding on to a raft for very 
life. He writes in a letter: c " He that doeth the 
will shall know of the doctrine whether it be of 
God." Were it not for that text, I think I should 
sometimes sit down " astonished," and pray to die 
and get it all cleared up.' 

Then there is Horace Bushnell, one of the 
strongest intellects, one of the most lovable saints 
that America has given to the world. Bushnell 
lived near to God. When, towards the end of his 
life the Rev. Joseph Twichell, who was Mark 

136 MY TEXT 

Twain's minister, visited him, they sat out together 
under the starry sky. Bushnell said, c One of us 
ought to pray/ * You pray/ said Twichell, and 
Bushnell began his prayer with the words, c I have 
remembered all the way that Thou my God hast 
led me.' Then, said Twichell, * burying his face 
in the earth, he poured out his heart, until I was 
afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness lest 
I should touch God.' 

Another minister said to this radiant saint, 
c When Christ sees you nearing the gate, Dr. 
Bushnell, I am sure He will say " There comes a 
man I know." ' The great theologian's eyes flashed 
as he replied, c And I think I can say that I know 
Him, too.' 


How did Bushnell become so sure of God? 
For answer we must go back to the days when he 
was a tutor at Yale. He was the most popular 
teacher in the University but all at sea religiously. 
There was a spiritual quickening in the College 
but he was unmoved and a number of students were 
sheltering behind him. The minister who was 
leading the revival sought him out and challenged 
him: c Professor Bushnell, if these things that I am 
preaching are true, wouldn't you like to know it? 
If Christ does change men who trust Him, and 
forgive them and put a power superhuman into 
their lives, wouldn't you like to know it? '" And 
Bushnell, after a thoughtful pause, replied, c Cer- 
tainly I would like to know it, if the thing be 

MY TEXT 137 

reliable/ Then said the minister, * You can know 
it if you will just be candid.' c How? y c Take 
Christ's own challenge and here is that challenge: 
" If any man will do His will he shall know of 
the doctrine whether it be of God." . . . Take that 
clue and you will find God.' 

Pacing his room one day, there came up sud- 
denly the question, c Is there no truth that I do 
believe? ' c Yes,' he answered himself, c there is 
one, now I think of it 5 there is a distinction of 
right and wrong that I have never doubted. Have 
I then ever taken the principle of right for my 
law? No, I have notj consciously I have not. 
Here then,' said he, c I will begin. If there is a 
God, as I sometimes hope there is, and very dimly 
believe, He is a right God. If I have lost Him 
in wrong, perhaps I shall find Him in right.' And 
the young Yale professor dropped on his knees, 
chose to do the right he knew, and with what 
results I have shown. 

Then there is that remarkable English scholar, 
Professor George John Romanes. He had been 
brought up under narrow evangelical influences 
but, when he went to the university and was con- 
fronted with the new doctrine of evolution, he was 
unable to reconcile the findings of science with the 
doctrines of the Church. He forsook his faith with 
bitterness and tears and out of the pit of unbelief 
he sent forth a cry calculated to arouse those whom 
he thought to be the dupes of Christianity. That 
cry was his book, A Candid Examination of 
Religion. Years passed, and there fell by chance 


into his hands a little book of science, describing 
the researches of a missionary in China, Gulick by 
name, revealing an intimate knowledge of nature 
and a deep appreciation of the bearings of the 
current evolutionary hypothesis, Romanes was 
surprised, and wrote to Gulick asking him how a 
missionary, who believed in the supernatural, 
could make such a valuable contribution in the field 
of pure science. 

Gulick replied that he applied to the field of 
science exactly the same method he was accustomed 
to use in the domain of faith, proving all things 
through personal experience. This was a new 
thought to Romanes. He had never conceived that 
the claims of religion could be found false or true 
by definite experiment. He realized that he 
had started at the wrong end. He began to 
seek God by doing His will. He found that will 
most clearly expressed in the life and teaching of 
Christ and he began seriously the slow and patient 
effort of living the life and letting the belief take 
care of itself for the time. Starting with no confes- 
sion of faith, but with a very definite confession of 
duty he worked his way into the dear sunlight of 
faith in Christ. He withdrew his former book and 
wrote another, Thoughts on Religion, in which he 
took as his keynote the words of John Hunter, 
* Do not think; try/ c Christian belief,' he said, 
c is more due to doing than to thinking/ 

c If any man will do His will he shall know of 
the doctrine whether it be of God/ This is the 

MY TEXT 139 

scientific method. The text book formula is veri- 
fied by laboratory experiment. In the spiritual 
world we must fulfil the test conditions and make 
the experiment which leads to the experience of 
God. If the scientist describes to me an experiment 
which has to be carried out in a darkened room 
and I try it out of doors, am I entitled to deny the 
scientist's conclusions because the experiment didn't 
work? If God is not real to us, if we have not 
experienced His Fatherhood and proved His 
providence, let us candidly ask ourselves whether 
we have honestly fulfilled the test conditions? 

Lady Henry Somerset, the gracious lady who 
worked so hard in the cause of temperance reform, 
passed through her dark time like the rest of us. 
The heavens were brass. God seemed dead. He 
was, at any rate, deaf to her beseeching. She had 
no heart to go on with the tasks which she had 
undertaken in His name. But while she stood 
under a great tree on her estate at Reigate, the 
tree of decision as she subsequently called it, the 
tree which is still shown to visitors, she heard a 
voice which said, < Live as though I were, and you 
will know that I am.' Live as though God were, 
and we shall know for certain that He is, as Lady 
Henry Somerset did. Live the life. Think the 
kind thought. Speak the kind word. Do the kind 
deed. Give the witness. And in due season, if we 
fail not neither grow weary in well-doing, we shall 
c know in whom we have believed.' 

140 MY TEXT 

One of the voices of our time has been Dr. R. F. 
Horton, who turned his back on a promising career 
at Oxford to found a Christian group at Hampstead 
which grew into a fruitful church. In his Auto- 
biography he tells the story of a remarkable influ- 
ence in his life. When he was sixteen he went to 
spend a three-weeks' holiday with a friend at Hali- 
fax. That visit had a determining effect upon his 
religious faith, on the choice of a career and on his 
character. Arriving in Halifax he went with his 
friend's family to a temperance demonstration and 
there met the eldest sister. He tells what happened: 
* As we sat on the sunny slope and watched the 
procession pass I looked up and saw that face 
which from that day forward shone upon my life 
with a light which seemed to come from another 
world. It was a very beautiful face ... but the 
countenance was all aglow with pity for the suffer- 
ers whose lives were brought before her by the 
procession. All this I saw at once, the powerful 
influence of woman as the guiding star and inspira- 
tion of a man's life had flowed in upon me and 
rapidly flooded my whole soul.' She was at that 
time twenty-two. The next day, walking home 
from church she turned brightly to him and said, 
c I think we shall be friends? ' Recognizing at once 
what it meant to him, she told him that she was 
engaged to be married and that they could only 
be friends if he recognized the nature of her 
friendship. To have her friendship and interest 
was all that he desired. 

MY TEXT 141 

For forty years, until she died, that woman was 
the guiding star of his life. 

Soon after she was married, she went with her 
husband to visit Dr. Horton, who was then in his 
first term at Oxford. 


* I was telling her of all the difficulties,' he said, 
* and she quoted a verse which up to that time I had 
never noticed: " If any man willeth to do His will 
he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of 

God " She spoke out of the experiences she had 

gained in her own inward wrestles for faith. Those 
words sank into my heart* I got the conviction 
which has deepened ever since that Christ's doc- 
trine is not established by external arguments. . , 
I had not thought it out then, but the principle was 
discovered which leads to the conclusion that 
Christ's doctrine is not proved by an infallible Bible 
or an infallible Church. But when a man wills with 
all his might to do God's will, he finds that the 
doctrine of Christ is of God.' 

If we wait until every problem is solved or the 
date of every portion of the Bible fixed, that will 
not make us Christians. We become Christians 
when we set out to do God's will. Let religion be 
lived and it will cease to be doubted. The only 
way to know truth is by transmuting it into life. 
Truth is proved not by logic but by life. c The 
truth is what will work,' said James, of Harvard. 

Doing is the condition of knowing. c Whosoever 
loveth is born of God and knoweth God, for God 

142 MY TEXT 

is love.' God is not reason but love, and it is 
therefore as impossible for reason to know God as 
to see a picture with your ear. * The world by 
wisdom knew not God.' 

There is not a philosopher from Plato to White- 
head but may be clean bowled by the questions of a 
little child. The humblest man who actively trusts 
Jesus Christ knows more of His providence, sees 
more of His glory than the most learned theologian 
who is faithless. * If any man. . . .* I have known 
many simple saints who, without any schooling, 
were very sure of God and with remarkable mental 
clarity. They clung to the right 3 they prayed, they 
learned obedience. The paths which some philoso- 
phers have missed have been found by charwomen, 
Mary of Bethany and the fishermen of Galilee 
knew more of God than all the scholars of 

You will never think rightly if you live wrongly. 
, If you will to do His will desire sincerely to 
do it if only you will here and now make a 
beginning, the light of God's truth will shine in 
your mind, the assurance of God will come to your 
inmost soul. You will know God for certain. 


It has not come within the scope of this exposi- 
tion to chronicle the exploits of the Oxford Group 
Movement. The witness of changed lives and the 
international spreading of the Group may be read 
in the rapidly growing library of books on the 
Movement. But I cannot refrain from telling the 
story of my own heart and witnessing to what the 
Group has done for me. 

I surrendered my heart to God in Sunday School 
days and I have never doubted the validity of that 
covenant, however unworthily my part of it has 
been lived. Two formative experiences which fol- 
lowed were firstly, the Whitsuntide when I came 
to know the Holy Spirit as a personal power 
realizable in the willing life and not merely the 
third person in an obscure doctrine of the Trinity, 
and, secondly, the day when I saw the Kingdom of 
God as the Divine Order yearning for expression in 
this world. It was the Kingdom of which Jesus was 
forever speaking, likening to the homeliest things 
such as baking and mending that the simplest might 
understand. When I saw the Kingdom I had a 
fresh vision of Christ and a new understanding of 
His mind. The time of my ordination to the minis- 
try was the occasion of deep heart searching and 
unreserved consecration to the will of God. I had 
no other motive than to serve Christ and make 



Him real to men and women. The professional 
parson I kept as a warning of what not to be. 

God used my ministry to a degree that kept me 
humble with gratitude. At an unusually early age 
I came to the Cathedral Church of my denomina- 
tion in the State and now for ten years, I have faced 
every week one of the largest regular congrega- 
tions in Australia. Here is a Church that speaks 
to the nation. Here is a Church expressing its 
faith in Christly deeds, supporting a hospital for 
unmarried mothers, a home for girls, a training 
farm for a hundred orphan and problem boys, a 
hospice for homeless men, a sunset home for 
elderly ladies j maintaining mission sisters who 
work in slum areas, feeding and clothing thou- 
sands of people every year. This surely was a 
congregation and a programme of practical Chris- 
tian service to rejoice the heart of any minister. 
And yet, as I look back to the days before the 
Group came, I can see how an insidious world 
sickness had affected me. I had preached a new 
world after the war the old order with its 
inflamed nationalisms and absurd militarism was 
dead and gone. Then the reluctance of the 
nations to disarm, the ineffectiveness of the League 
of Nations for want of spiritual support, and 
finally the economic blizzard known as the depres- 
sion, with its cruel unemployment, made me sick 
at heart. How could the world ever realize the 
Kingdom of God? I could scarcely bear to think 
about it. When I did, I took refuge in Luther's 
saying: < I tell God that if He wants the world 


saving He must do it Himself. 5 It was an illicit 
shelter. I found myself wishing that my lot had 
been cast in other days that I might have lived in 
the seventeenth century as rector of some quiet 
English village with a handful of people to love 
and teach with leisure for studious ways. Yet 
all the time I went on with my work, filling the 
flying minutes, preaching at the highest level 
I could attain and preaching in terms of my per- 
sonal experience of Christ. Not for a moment did 
I relax my zeal to win souls for Christ and there 
were regular conversions in the fellowship of prayer 
which we held regularly after evening service. In 
my early ministry, I had realized that a Church 
with a declining spiritual birthrate is a dying 
Church, no matter how healthy its present mem- 
bership may be. People came to see me frequently 
for spiritual counsel and I was used to lead hun- 
dreds of them to Christ. All the while I loved to 
pray and out of my experience in prayer came the 
little guide book, The Craft of Prayer. The needs 
of the world were heavy upon my heart. I was 
frequently upon my knees with an open atlas inter- 
ceding for all nations and peoples. Human wisdom 
had failed. The problems of the world were too 
great for the statesmen of the world. There were 
plans in plenty but so little power. 

And then one day there came to this Melbourne, 
twelve thousand miles from Lakeland, a strange 
evangelist. God keeps up His surprise power and 
here was something totally unexpected. The 
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera season was announced 


with Mr. Ivan Menzies cast for the leading roles. 
He came and booked his room in one of the hotels. 
Quietly he began to change people in the hotel. 
A hard-shelled journalist who went to interview 
him was changed. Ivan Menzies had been caught 
by the Group and surrendered absolutely to Christ. 
He is not a broken-down actor who has turned to 
religion as a last resort. He is a young man at the 
height of his powers as an exponent of Gilbert and 
Sullivan's operas. People wrote letters previously 
by the basketful to thank him for cheering them up 
and saying that his own happiness had infected 
them. * But, 5 he confesses, c I was not always as 
happy as I looked, nor as pleased with what I saw 
of myself inside as those who took me at face value. 
Why? Well, there were several reasons. One was 
that I really had problems in my life. Another was 
that I was a little uncertain of my ultimate goal, 
and so my direction and purpose was undefined. 
Again, although outwardly I was ranked a success- 
ful man, yet inwardly there was a good deal of 

Then Ivan Menzies met a Group friend who 
told him of the miracle that had happened to him. 
He had found truth at last for himself, and an 
answer to his own problems, and, therefore, to 
those of the whole world. 

c He so intrigued me,' said Ivan Menzies, that 
I felt I could not relapse into whole-hearted 
paganism again until I, too, had tried to see 
whether this would work for me. Because, I 
reasoned, if it would work for me it would work 


for anybody. So I sat with him far into the night 
being absolutely honest about myself. I carefully 
weighed the consequences such a step might entail 
loss of vocation, sneers, sarcasm and even 

' Well, I didn't break my neck, I didn't make a 
fool of myself. But I did make the most wonderful 
discovery of my life, that Christ could do to-day 
for me what He said He could do if I would let 
lems vanished one by one. My happiness became 
real and permanent . . . not just the frothy effer- 
vescence that comes from hitting a few high spots. 
A new power, purpose and direction came into my 
life, and oh, wonder at last, I could really bring 
others to happiness if they were willing not give 
them a palliative, but a real answer to their heart's 
desire. For myself, the big question mark vanished 
absolutely. At last I was able to live above irrita- 
tion, provocation, impatience, jealousy, and all 
those thousand and one things that had been trip- 
ping me up. In other words I found love the 
love that passeth all understanding, I found what 
men all over the world say they are looking for 
the Way to God. 

< Can you wonder then at my ardour to com- 
municate to my fellow-men what God has given 

Well, this changed man set about life changing 
in Melbourne. He went out to Pentridge Gaol and 
witnessed there, and among those whom he led to 
Christ was a prisoner serving a life sentence for 


murder* He won men and women in the Univer- 
sity, his fellow-actors, doctors, solicitors, society 
women, Communists and the most unlikely people* 
What he accomplished reminds me of Paul enter- 
ing a strange city and, by witnessing to first one 
and then another forming a Christian group, each 
member a vital witness. Here was the Book of 
Acts in action. 

I opened my pulpit to this wonderful little man, 
this radiant Christian, and he spoke over the air to 
the Australian continent. The response was an 
avalanche of appeals men and women in and out 
of the Church crying for what he had experienced. 
I gathered the ministers of all Churches together 
and turned Ivan Menzies loose upon us. Ministers 
were found confessing their own sins instead of 
one another's! 

One perfect spring afternoon we two drove 
along the Bayside and talked our hearts out. This 
untheologically-minded, unusual evangelist began 
to probe me about the Group. Where did I stand 
in relation to it? I welcomed it thanked God for 
it, at the same time being alive to its dangers. * Are 
you absolutely surrendered to God? ' he asked 
' Yes,' I said, without any fencing, c I can truth- 
fully say that I have no ambition in this world but 
to do the will of God.' We were silent awhile. 
Then he asked, c Do you absolutely surrender to 
God every day} * ' I have not consciously done so,' 
I confessed. Then he witnessed to what daily 
surrender had done for him. He begged me to 
check my life every day on the Four Absolutes 


Love, Unselfishness, Honesty and Purity. He 
crent on to ask about my work as a life changer. 
I told him how I had been constantly used in bring- 
ing men and women to Christ. c That's grand,' he 
said, c but are they life changers? ' * Well,' I 
replied, * some of them are but I don't know about 
"he others.' < No one is really changed until he 
Decomes a life changer,' he insisted, * for that is the 
Dnly way we can get God's plan working in the 

I saw it I humbly and gratefully saw it all. 

Much more we told each other. I went back to 
Melbourne committed to the Group, in it for all 
[ was worth. 

When I came to make a daily surrender I 
earned what a different experience this is from 
i general surrender. Daily checking on the four 
ibsolutes revealed to me things I had never ques- 
.ioned in myself. The Quiet Time was no new 
nethod of prayer to me but it became increasingly 
jearching. I came to a daily willingness to do any- 
iiing for God. I made amends where He gave me 
ight. Now I know how the spiritual inertia of the 
Churches can be quickened. Now my world sick- 
less has gone I know how the world can be 
:hanged. Evil social and international conditions 
ilways are everywhere caused through individual 
ivil lives. When individuals' lives are changed 
md brought together into groups these groups 
tre fellowships of reconciliation through which 
Christ can work. 


Well, amazing things have happened in Mel- 
bourne. I have never seen anything like it in my 
life. At one of our recent house parties the wit- 
nesses to Christ were a minister, a society woman, 
a University student, a prisoner recently released 
from Pentridge, an insurance agent, a former 
Communist, a shop assistant and an architect. Some 
witnesses could not be present because they are 
still in gaol. Appropriately enough, they were 
represented by a young Melbourne solicitor who 
had been instrumental in changing some of them. 
Groups have sprung up everywhere and are pene- 
trating the community far more vigorously than 
Communist cells. My office has become a soul 
clinic. Never a day passes but pagans and sub- 
Christians come asking how they can find a 
maximum experience of Christianity. My Church 
has become a dangerous place for those who want 
to be left alone, for anywhere the visitor may be 
challenged to an adventure with Christ. I am 
humbly grateful to have seen this day of God. The 
revival that we have been praying for is here 
though some are still blinking at it. The great day 
of Christ is here. The trumpets are sounding 
across the world. 

* Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, 
But to be young was very heaven! ' 


Group does not reply to criticisms. Lives 
that have been led to Christ by the Group 
witness are the positive answer. Questions 
are frequently asked at house parties and the 
following selection may prove of value: 

Q. Is there anything new in the Oxford Group 

A. It believes nothing that Christians of all 
creeds do not profess to believe. It teaches nothing 
that is not taught in the Gospels, the Book of Acts 
and the Epistles. It differs only in the uncom- 
promising manner in which it translates the prin- 
ciples of the New Testament into everyday life. 

Q. When people say that they belong to the 
Oxford Group, do they mean that they belong to 

A. Most certainly they do. The Group is mean- 
ingless apart from Christ. The Oxford Group 
stands for a maximum experience of Jesus Christ. 

Q. When the Group speak of God's direct 
guidance, how do they know that what they hear is 
really a message from God and not only a prompt- 
ing of the sub-conscious mind? May not this guid- 
ance be misleading and dangerous? 

A. It is possible to mistake the source of these 
impulses. But mistakes and dangers can be checked 
by applying a simple test to the guidance which we 



believe comes from God. He has given us the 
power to reason and compare. We are able to dis- 
cern spiritual values, the higher from the lower, 
the Divine from the human. God makes Himself 
known to a surrendered life in the light of His 
will for the world and His plan for our lives. 
Guidance is tested by the Divine scale and standard 
of values. 

Q. The Oxford Group appears to make salva- 
tion depend upon absolute surrender, whereas the 
New Testament puts the emphasis upon faith. Is 
this so? 

A. Such a question is in danger of putting 
asunder what God has joined. How could anyone 
absolutely surrender to Christ unless he had faith 
in Him? The man who jumps from a burning 
aeroplane, trusting to his parachute, surrenders and 
trusts at the same time. So those who surrender to 
Christ have absolute faith in His power to make 
all things new in them. 

Q. Does the Group forbid smoking, dancing, 
theatres, etc,? 

A. The Group is not a revival of Pharisaism 
which adds the commandments of men to the com- 
mandments of God, What the Group insists upon 
is absolute surrender of everything to God time, 
habits, pleasure included. Only those pleasures are 
fit which do not unfit. 

Those who seek guidance as to what things are 
expedient may well ponder the counsel which 
Susannah Wesley wrote to her famous son, John, 
when he was at Oxford. Whatever weakens your 


reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, 
obscures your sense of God or takes off the relish of 
spiritual things in short, whatever increases the 
strength and authority of your body over your 
mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it 
may be in itself.' 

St. Paul uses very stern language about buffet- 
ting the body. Yet he is astonishingly liberal about 
rules of abstinence. c He that eateth, eateth to the 
Lord, for he giveth God thanks 5 and he that 
eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth 
God thanks. He that regardeth the day, regardeth 
it unto the Lord, and he that regardeth not the 
day, to the Lord he doth not regard it ' (Rom. 
14: 6). We may choose our own methods of self- 
denial, and the less public they are the better^ so 
our Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount. But 
we must live in hard training. Each one must find, 
concerning each temptation, whether abstinence or 
temperance is the way of life for him. 

Q. Is inability to observe the Quiet Time a bar 
to Group membership or spiritual growth? 

A. Yes definitely. No Christian can be vital 
without the Bible, prayer and guidance. 

Q. Christianity has been tried and failed and 
therefore the Group message is out of date. 

A. Let G. K. Chesterton answer that: * Chris- 
tianity has not been tried and found wantingj it has 
been found difficult and not tried.* 

Q. How can one with no faith, without any 
real belief in God, come to know Christ? 

A. See c My Text > in this book. 


Q. Do people who are changed by the Group 

A. No they keep moving. 

Cromwell wrote on the fly-leaf of his Bible: 
c He who ceases to be better ceases to be good.' 
Those of the Group, like other Christians, fall 
backward when they fail to move forward. 

Q. Must we confess all our faults to somebody? 

A. When Dr. Buchman was asked this very 
question he replied: * Not necessarily. But every- 
one should be willing to do so if guided by the 
Holy Spirit. 5 

Q. Are the Groups critical of the Churches? 

A. Dr. Buchman has replied to this question: 
c Our business is not to criticize but to appreciate.* 
Those who belong to the Group are taught to live 
out that quality of life in their churchmanship as 
well as in their business. 

Q. Is there any danger of the Oxford Group 
becoming a< separate Church? 

A. Not unless it is persecuted and driven out of 
the existing Churches, which may God forbid. 
Surely the Church will not repeat the tragic blun- 
der of the eighteenth century and fail to recognize 
her children, leaving them to fend for themselves? 
This magnificent spiritual force ought to be incor- 
porated in normal Church life. The matter rests 
very largely with the ministers. I am unwill- 
ing to believe that ministers will refuse sympathy 
and direction to men and women who have mani- 
festly been e changed,' thus leaving them to build 
their own spiritual lives as best they can. The 


Groups cannot live without the discipline and the 
true sacramental life of the Church. Those in the 
Group are already in the Church or they are ready 
to enter it. 

Q. I cannot see why it is necessary to confess 
one's sins to another person. 

A. Confession as taught by the New Testament 
is two-way confession. Confess therefore your 
sins one to another that ye may be healed/ This is 
what the Group calls c sharing.' It is not a matter 
of theory but a fact of experience that well-mean- 
ing but unhappy Christians have found victory by 
this practice. Sharing must be mutual so that both 
are helped. But such sharing is not a substitute for 
confession to God who alone can forgive. 

If you are a Christian living victoriously over 
every known sin would you not be willing, if 
guided, to tell some poor struggler how Christ gave 
you power over a particular sin? If you are not 
living victoriously, try sharing. Sharing brings 
men and women face to face with Christ. 

Q. Does not the popularity of the Oxford 
Group Movement make one suspicious that it is 
not of God? 

A. What a question! Have you ever considered 
the extraordinary popularity of Jesus Christ and 
what a cause of offence that was to the Pharisees? 
It is not generally understood what an amazing 
success Jesus experienced among * His own.' Hun- 
dreds and thousands in Galilee were influenced by 
Him, believed in Him and loved Him dearly. It 
was this very popularity that helped to stir up the 


priestly class against Him* They were annoyed at 
His success and jealous of Him. * Woe unto you 
when all men speak well of you.' The Oxford 
Group is in no danger of incurring this woe. There 
is plenty of misrepresentation and uninformed 
criticism of it. 

Q. Don't you think it rather rude of a member 
of the Group to ask a clergyman if he has abso- 
lutely surrendered? 

A. Not at all so long as it is done with Chris- 
tian courtesy. Every minister in the Group is 
profoundly thankful that he was challenged. A. J. 
Russell says in Christ Comes to Town: c Take no 
one for granted whether bishop or infidel. All must 
be freed from fear and ambition and be brought 
under the direction of the Holy Spirit.' Good 
ministers must become maximum ministers. 

Q. Is not the Oxford Group's appeal largely 
in the promise of joy? 

A. Joy is a product of the Holy Spirit (Gala- 
tians 5: 22, 23). Remember the saying of Hennas: 
c The Holy Spirit is an hilarious Spirit/ Christian- 
ity is a religion of joy. No religious teacher ever 
spoke so much about j oy as Jesus. It radiated from 
Him: ' My joy ' * I am come that your joy might 
be full.' 

This question reminds me of two neighbours, 
one of whom asked the other: ' Was that the minis- 
ter going down your steps just now laughing? ' 
* Yes, Mrs. Sanders,' came the answer. * Religion 
isn't what it used to be,' observed the first neigh- 
bour. For that we may be very thankful. 


Q. Is the Group modernist? 

A. It is just as modern as Jesus Christ who is 
* the same yesterday, to-day and for ever.' Its 
message is, as Canon Grenstead has said, c the one 
Gospel breaking out in terms that the present 
generation can understand.' 

Q. Why insist on the Quiet Time in the 

A. Because we need strength and guidance to 
realize God's plan for us in all the affairs of each 

Q. Why is the Group necessary when the same 
ideals are preached in the Church? 

A. Because those very c ideals ' as you call them 
must be taken to those who are outside the Church 
and never hear them preached. The ' outsider ' 
will become an * insider ' through personal witness 
to Christ, Many of those who are in the Churches 
need to have their spiritual experiences re-vitalized. 

Q. If the Group has no new doctrines why is it 

A. Where have you been living? Read any 
history of the post-war years. Read the news- 
papers. Are you content with things as they are? 
Here is the testimony of that great Anglican 
scholar, Canon H. B. Streeter: 

c During the last two and a half years one 
has been affected by the world situation, and 
one has felt that the world situation has been 
one full of depression, full of despair. There 
is a great deal of goodwill, but there is not 
goodwill to solve tremendous problems war, 


class war, and the rest and the men of good- 
will are losing heart. And I think, speaking 
broadly, the Christian Church has been losing 
heart. . . * I have learned a good deal, or at 
any rate something, of why it is that this 
movement seems to be able not merely to 
change some bad people into good, but also to 
give new heart and a new courage and a new 
sense of direction to those who are already 
men of goodwill. 

* I have come to the conclusion that in an 
age of growing world despair I feel it to be 
my duty to associate myself with a movement 
which seems to have got on to the-secret of 
giving people new hope, new courage, and of 
increasing their number and their power,' 
Q. What is the difference between surrender 
as taught by the Groups and conversion as taught 
by the Church? 

A, Absolute surrender to which the Group wit- 
nesses includes all that the New Testament means 
by converting. It Is conversion with a definite pro- 
gramme of world changing through life changing. 
The Group is insistent that every Christian must 
be a life changer. The New Testament knows noth- 
ing of a self-contained conversion. 

Q. Does the Oxford Group regard Jesus Christ 
as the Saviour who gives them the victory over sin 
to which they witness? 

A. The Oxford Group is only a means of bring- 
ing men and women into vital relationship with 


Jesus Christ. He is the only Saviour. No one in 
the Group ever changed anybody. All that he can 
do is to introduce people to Christ and commend 
Him by personal witness. 

Q. What do the Groups believe about the 

A. The answer must be in terms of the Church 
to which the individual Group member belongs. 
It is the responsibility of the Church to teach doc- 
trine. The Group presents a changed life to the 
Church to ( be instructed and trained in the doc- 
trines, privileges, and duties of the Christian 

The Christian Church has never formulated a 
doctrine of the Atonement. Every conceivable 
interpretation can claim some high authority} 
there is no interpretation which can claim 

The theology of the Cross may divide; the 
experience of the Cross unites. It may be said that 
the experience common to all varieties of Church 
members within the Group is that the Christ of the 
Cross is the only Saviour* The Group, like the 
New Testament, knows no other. 

Q. Is not the Oxford Group more of a moral 
than a spiritual Movement? 

A. No. You can no more have morality with- 
out religion than you can have perfume without 
the flower. Without spiritual faith there cannot be 
a high and progressive morality. Faith and morals 
are bound together in a living union. A morality 
without faith is powerless. 


On the other hand, religious experience must 
find ethical expression. Let anyone examine the 
published sermons of so great an evangelist as 
John Wesley and observe how many of them are 
concerned with morality. Samuel Chadwick used 
to tell of a poor woman, who, not long after her 
conversion in the Leeds Mission, set off for her 
class-meeting. All the money she had in the world 
was the penny which she intended for her class dues. 
She had a long way to go, and it was raining in 
torrents. She therefore deliberated as to whether 
she would be justified in taking the tram, and 
came to the conclusion that under the circumstances 
that would be the wiser course. In the class-meet- 
ing she spoke of the goodness of the Lord, and 
told of her experience that very evening. She 
recounted how, after due deliberation, she had 
decided to take the tram, and concluded triumph- 
antly by saying: c But the Lord was good to me. 
When I had to get out He arranged for the con- 
ductor to be on top, and so I still have the penny 
for the class! ' A religious experience needs ethical 

Q. What is the aim of the Oxford Group? 

A. c Our aim is to see Jesus Christ, working 
through the Church, the one and only answer to 
personal, social, racial, national and international 
problems, perils and miseries ' (Dr. Frank Buch- 

To this may be added the testimony of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury when speaking to his 
Diocesan Conference: c The Oxford Group is most 


certainly doing what the Church exists everywhere 
to do. It is changing human lives* . . .' 

Q. Why do the Groups concentrate on the 
better classes? 

A. Which are the * better * classes? All sorts 
and conditions are in the Groups lawyers, char- 
ladies, doctors, domestics, Communists and unem- 
ployed. There is only one class distinction and that 
is fundamental the changed and the unchanged. 

Q. Is not sharing liable to be a form of exhibi- 

A. Yes, if it is not checked, but read 1 Thessa- 
lonians 2. 

Q. What is a Group? 

A. A Group is a company of people drawn into 
fellowship by a common desire for a richer experi- 
ence of the Living Christ and of the Holy Spirit, 
and united in the common task of winning souls for 
the Kingdom of God. 

Q. Does the Group give the Bible due promi- 

A. Yes. A woman went into a Melbourne book- 
shop recently and asked for the best book on the 
Oxford Group. The bookseller produced a copy 
of Moffatt's Translation of the Bible and said: 
c This is the book they are all buying.' 

In Oslo (Norway) after the arrival of the Group 
team, it was not possible to procure a single copy 
of the Scriptures. 

Those in the Groups are taught the indispensable 
necessity of daily Bible reading and meditation. 


Q. Is not daily self-examination likely to lead 
to an unhealthy introspection? 

A. Self-examination is of no avail unless the 
sight of our condition drives us to Christ. We shall 
be like the Highlander who bought a barometer 
and complained that it did not improve the 
weather. Introspection only reveals the condition 
the remedy is with Christ. When the sight of 
what we are distresses us we are then ready for 
the Gospel that there is forgiveness in Christ. For 
every c once 3 we look into our own hearts let us 
look up twice to Christ 

Q. Is not the Movement wrong in its insis- 
tence upon a definite conversion that can be pinned 
down to some specified time and place rather than 
upon the slow building-up of the religious life on 
a completely unemotional basis? 

A. Are you not confusing conversion with 
salvation? Conversion is turning the turning of 
the soul to Christ. Everybody needs conversion. 
The conversion of the Wesleys was the conver- 
sion of two very religious men. Conversion, or 
what the Group calls c life changing, 3 is the crisis 
when a man turns to Christ. That deep, initial 
experience cannot be skipped or slurred. Now 
while conversion is a crisis salvation is a process. 
The Book of Acts (2: 47, R.V.) says: < The Lord 
added to them day by day those that were being 
saved* The tense is emphatically present * Those 
who are being saved' are those who are being 
healed of all the tempers, passions and disturbances 
that are destroying their lives, * He who began a 


good work in you will perfect it until the day of 
Jesus Christ.' Conversion is a beginning, not a 
terminus. If we have converted turned 
changed, we need to ask ourselves whether our 
lives are * being saved/ growing in grace and in 
likeness to Jesus Christ. 

Q. Does the Group regard absolute surrender 
as everything? 

A. No. But absolute surrender is the beginning 
of everything. 

Q. Are not many people living the Christian 
life to which the Group witnesses without being 
in the Group? 

A. Yes. It is not that the Group is one method 
and that others have other methods. Either we are 
living the maximum experience of Christ or not. 

Q. Why do you not sing hymns at house 

A. There is not the slightest reason why hymns 
should not be sung, if Groupers feel guided to do 
so. Whenever a team conducts a service in a 
church, hymns are invariably sung. But a house 
party is not a formal religious service. It is just 
what the name suggests an informal party where 
religion is discussed with candour, frankness and 
naturalness. Men and women speak of what Christ 
has done and is doing for them. 

Q. What would you say to those who regard 
those in the Group as cranks? 

A. Cranks are little things that make revolu- 


It is inevitable that as the Oxford Group Move- 
ment continues to spread throughout the nations 
of the earth it will create a literature of its own in 
various lands. This is an Australian exposition and 
witness, born of the life and needs of the Group 
in Melbourne, 

It is a pleasure to record my thanks to Mr. 
Joseph Hocking, B.A., who generously read the 
manuscript and corrected the proofs. I invited 
Groups to check this book and I am indebted to 
them for valuable suggestions. Among the Group 
friends who read the manuscript are: Messrs* 
Alan Moyle, Geoffrey Littleton, F. Oswald Bar- 
nett, and the Revs. L. M. Thompson, M.A., John 
Sayers and W. H. Holloway. The Rev. C. O. 
Lelean co-operated with the above-named in sub- 
mitting questions asked at House Parties. 

Brown, Prior, Anderson Pty. Ltd., 480 Little Bourkc St. Mdb., CJL.