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Full text of "Sermons of Rev. Franklin S. Bliss ; together with a sketch of his life"

THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 




THE COLLECTION OF 

NORTH CAROLINIANA 

ENDOWED BY 

JOHN SPRUNT HILL 

CLASS OF 1889 



CB 

B6U9m 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00032193769 



This book must not 
be taken from the 
Library building. 



SERMONS 



REV. FRANKLIN S. BLISS; 



TOGETHER WITH 



A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE. 



BY 

MOSES MARSTON. 



BOSTON; 
UNIVERSALIST PUBLISHING HOUSE. 

1878. 



TIu Riverside Press, Cambridge : 
Printed by H. 0. Houghton and Company. 



PEEFAOE. 



This little book has been prepared in the hope 
that it may help to perpetuate the memory and 
influence of one whose saintly life and work our 
whole church may well look upon with affection- 
ate interest. The fact that Mr. Bliss was my 
friend, whom I loved as a brother, and whom for 
years I knew very intimately, has in some respects 
rendered the writing of his Memoir a more diffi- 
cult task. For while it has been a work of love, 
it has also been one in which the heart has de- 
manded more than could be done. I am conscious 
that this sketch is but an imperfect outline of a 
noble and saintly life, and that those who knew 
Mr. Bliss intimately will not be entirely satisfied, 
as I am not, with the way the work has been 
done. But if I have succeeded measurably in 
writing what will suggest to his friends the most 
essential spirit of his life, and what will carry to 
others who knew him not somewhat of that spirit, 
I must be content. 



IV PREFACE. 

It lias been my aim to write a plain and truth- 
ful narrative, and not to do violence to the humil- 
ity and truthfulness of my friend's character by 
any exaggeration of his virtues or extenuation of 
his faults. I believe I have not overdrawn the 
picture of his consecrated life. 

To those who have assisted in furnishing mate- 
rials for the Memoir, and to Prof. W. R. Shipman 
for valuable aid in seeing the book through the 
press, I return hearty thanks. 

Minneapolis, Minn., May U, 1878. 



COJ^TENTS, 



MEMOIR. 
CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Early Life and Education 1 

CHAPTER K. 

Life at South AVoodstock and at Enfield . . 14 

CHAPTER HL 

Life at Baere 21 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Last Year of his Life 56 

SERMONS. 

I. Confessing Christ 67 

11. Spiritual Growth 80 

in. Our Part in the Work of Salvation . . 99 

IV. The Mind of Christ 113 

V. The Method of the Christian Life . . 122 

VI. Acceptance with Christ 131 

VIL The Greatness of Christ 141 

VIII. The True Service of Christ . . . .151 

IX. Christian Faith and Christian Profession • 159 



VI CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

X. Faithful unto Death 169 

XI. The Greatness of the Christian's Work . 178 
XII. Another Comforter 193 

XIII. Tidings of Great Joy 204 

XIV. The Victory that overcometh the World . 21.5 
XV. Meditation of God 223 

XVI. Out of Great Tribulation 231 



xMEMOIR. 



CHAPTER I. 

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 

Franklin Samuel Bliss was born in Chesh- 
ire, Mass., September 30, 1828, and died in 
Greensboro, N. C, March 23, 1873. 

He was the son of Samuel and Polly Knapp 
Bliss, and grandson of Col. Nathaniel Bliss of 
revolutionary memory. He had two sisters, both 
older than himself, — Mary J., wife of Rev. A. A. 
Gilbert, of Lanesboro, Mass., and Amanda, wife 
of R. G. Green, of Elizabeth City, N. J. ; and one 
brother, younger than himself, — Darius M., of 
the firm of Porter and Bliss, of New York. 

His father was a farmer, and trained his chil- 
dren to those habits of industry and frugal econ- 
omy which are characteristic of the farmers of New 
England. At an early age his children were put 
to such work as was suited to their age and 
strength. For a short term, summer and winter, 
they were sent to the district school, where they 



2 MEMOIR. 

learned the rudiments of reading, writing, spell- 
ing, geograpky, arithmetic, and grammar. Out 
of school hours the inevitable " chores " in the 
house and at the barn were to be done, and each 
had his allotted task. 

Franklin was an active, nervous child, fearless 
almost to recklessness, very persistent and deter- 
mined, firm in resisting opposition, but tender- 
hearted and affectionate, and easily moved by ap- 
peals to his sympathies or his conscience. He had 
the common foibles and roughnesses of boys of like 
aoe and circumstances, and we may be sure that 
his quick, decisive, persistent nature would at 
times lead him into faults which would be trying 
to parents and teachers. 

At the age of eight years he had scarlet fever 
so severely that his recovery w^as for a time de- 
spaired of, and his voice, his hearing, and his sight 
were impaired for life. For three years he was 
nearly blind, and some of the time he had to be 
shut up in a dark room with a bandage over his 
eyes. At eleven his sight was so far improved 
that he could distinguish objects and do some work 
on the farm, but not sufficiently to enable him to 
read or attend school. These were years of great 
dejection and trial ; but in his memory they were 
brightened by recollections of his mother's love and 
sympathy. 

His mother was a Calvin istic Baptist, of an 
earnest and lively piety, a patient and gentle spirit. 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 3 

Her influence over her sadl}^ afflicted son was very- 
great. Her presence was light and peace to him. 
She understood him, and in her he confided. She 
was his counselor, his comforter, his joy. She 
sympathized with his sufferings, anticipated his 
wants, and ministered to him with that gentleness, 
patience, and wisdom which a Christian mother's 
heart knows so well how to use. She was, for 
some years, herself an invalid, and endured great 
suffering. In 1838 the family removed to a larger 
farm in Lanesboro, and two years later this lov- 
ing, devout mother died. *' Never shall I forget," 
writes his sister Mary, '' when I went to Frank- 
lin's room on the morning after she died, and told 
him of her death, how overwhelmed he was with 
grief, although she had been so low for some time 
that we had not expected her to live from one day 
to another." Ever}^ day, for years, as the evening 
twilight came on, he would withdraw from the 
family and give himself up to paroxysms of grief. 
Her death made a deep and life-long impression 
on his mind. 

He now felt himself more alone than ever. 
Kind friends were around him, but his life was 
different from theirs. By reason of his physical 
infirmities he could only to a limited extent busy 
himself with the things which occupied their atten- 
tion. He was shut out from their hopes ; he must 
lead a different life from theirs. He doubtless 
had many sources of happiness, but no one who 



4 MEMOIR. 

knew him can doubt that he led a more solitary 
and contemplative life than is common to boys of 
his age. It is known that he at times felt keenly 
his isolation and his inability to be usefully em- 
ployed. 

Two years after his mother's death, his father 
was married to i\lrs. Ann Porter, " one of the best 
of women, and as true and kind to him as an own 
mother." He frequently, in after life, bore earnest 
testimony to her worth and to her kindness to 
himself. 

At the age of sixteen years, while playing in 
the garret of his father's house, he found a pair of 
his grandmother's spectacles, and in boyish sport 
adjusted them to his own e^^es. What was his 
surprise to discover that, with the help of the 
glasses, he could see much more distinctly than he 
had been accustomed. It had not been known 
before that his eyes needed glasses adapted to 
an old person. This discovery opened a new 
world to him. He could now read and study, 
and make himself useful. His health was uncer- 
tain, and at times so poor as to keep him from 
school ; but, as health and circumstances permit- 
ted, he attended the high school at Lanesboro, of 
which his brother-in-law, Mr. Gilbert, was princi- 
pal. As a student he was conscientious, persever- 
ing, and fond of discussion. He took great inter- 
est in writing and declamation. His declamations, 
as was afterwards learned, were all of his own 
composition. 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 5 

When sixteen or seventeen years of age, not 
long after his discovery of the spectacles, he was 
prostrated for some weeks with a fever. As has 
been the experience of many others, the enforced 
rest and quiet of convalescence led to much devout 
meditation. With child-like docility and trust he 
laid open his heart to his Heavenly Father, read 
his Bible, questioned its meaning, and prayed for 
light. And the promise, " Ask and ye shall 
receive, seek and ye shall find," was graciously 
fulfilled. The dawning light of faith then first 
began to break in upon him, although the full 
day did not come until some time after. He al- 
ways looked back to this sick-bed experience as 
the turning-point in his life. He then began to 
be a Christian, and from that time he renounced 
profanity and every form of thoughtless irrever- 
ence, and began a life of humility and prayer- 
fulness. 

His views were crude and unformed, and in 
many things amounted to little more than tenden- 
cies and questionings. But the germs of faith and 
spiritual life had begun to quicken within him, 
and the great lines of truth were clearly seen by 
him. From the first moments of his awakening 
to newness of life, faith in the power of divine 
grace and in the completeness of the final result 
of Christ's mission to the world kept even pace 
with his progress in a Christian experience. The 
light which shone in upon his heart was the light 



6 MEMOIR. 

of universal love and universal redemption. In 
so far as his life was changed and renewed, tliis, as 
he always claimed, was the transforming power. 
He often told his friends that he became a Uni- 
versalist by the prayerful study of the Bible while 
lying on a sick-bed ; and used to speak with much 
feeling of the new life which then dawned upon 
him. But a long, earnest struggle was before him. 

From his mother he had imbibed a strong sym- 
pathy with some of the doctrines of the Baptists. 
His father was a passive Universalist, but stead- 
ily attended, with all his children, the Episcopal 
church. The children attended Sunday-school, 
and Franklin found in his lessons many points for 
argument and discussion. Baptism by immersion 
was one of his favorite doctrines, and a subject of 
frequent discussion between him and his father. 
His step-mother was a member of the Congrega- 
tionalist church, and would also hold arguments 
with Franklin on religious subjects. He grew 
more and more decided in his convictions and in 
his dissatisfaction with the Episcopal church, and 
finally ceased attending that church, and on Sun- 
day morning would leave the rest of the famil}^ 
and go a mile further on to the Baptist church. 
He did not think of joining the Baptist church, 
nor had he lost his faith in Universalism, bat he 
sympathized more with the doctrines of the Bap- 
tists than with those of the Episcopalians. 

Meanwhile he was also earnestly discussing the 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. i 

doctrines of Universalism. His compositions at 
school were tinged with this faith ; he argued with 
his friends in its behalf. With avowed Univer- 
salists he often took issue on some point, with the 
purpose, sometimes, of gaining light, and at other 
times of overthrowing what he thought to be 
error. Among those with whom he reasoned on 
religious subjects was his cousin, A. A. Bliss, a 
Universalist of decided opinions, who delighted 
in discussion. The two cousins often took oppo- 
site grounds and held many earnest arguments 
together. They frequently attended church to- 
gether, and on their way home discussed with 
youthful ardor the sermon to which they had lis- 
tened. Their residences were two miles apart, and 
they usually separated in a piece of woods. It is 
related that A. A. would sometimes go back after 
they had parted and secretly follow Franklin, who, 
on reaching a secluded place, would kneel and 
offer a fervent prayer, asking for light and guid- 
ance in his search for truth. 

All the while he was growing in faith and 
knowledge. His convictions were becoming clearer 
and deeper. The light of divine grace was shining 
into his soul with steadily increasing brightness. 
He was asking, seeking, finding. 

As he became more outspoken and decided in 
his doctrinal views he met with much strong and 
bitter opposition. He stood almost alone in the 
town in which he lived. His thorough earnest- 



8 MEMOIR. 

ness and his deep sense of the importance of rehg- 
ious truth, we may well believe, led him to be, 
not a flippant and noisy, but an outspoken and 
persistent defender and advocate of whatever doc- 
trines he embraced. Many were the slights and 
sneers heaped upon him; but these, although 
keenly felt, served only to make him the more 
bravely patient and steadfast. It required firm- 
ness and courage as well as faith to resist other 
less positive but no less powerful influences. The 
young man who breaks away from old habits of 
irreligion and thoughtlessness, and turns to a life 
of thoughtful piety and devotion, often finds open 
argument and even bitter sarcasm less powerful 
enemies than the good-natured irreverence and 
ridicule of his companions. This is mortised into 
his own past life and is hard to shake off. But 
Franklin's faith was strong, deep, and true, and 
his firm, decisive will held him to his purpose and 
his duty. He quietly pursued his chosen way, 
and won the respect of all. 

After years of study, discussion, and prayer, 
when twenty-one years of age, he openly avowed 
himself a Universalist, and, in accordance with his 
earnest and resolute nature, began at once attend- 
ing the Universalist church in Cheshire, four miles 
away. He was constant in his attendance, over- 
coming all obstacles, which, considering the dis- 
tance, the climate, and his delicate health, were 
neither few nor small. He had now become es- 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 9 

tablished in the leading principles of the Univer- 
salist faith. He had .found that rest and peace 
which he had been so long seeking, and which 
never, in life or in death, forsook him. June 23, 

1850, he applied for admission to the Universalist 
church in Cheshire, of which Rev. A. W. Mason, 
now of Markesan, Wisconsin, was then pastor ; 
was baptized by immersion September 1, 1850, 
and was admitted to the church February 24, 

1851. Father Mason, in communicating these 
dates, says, " For virtue, integrity, and a desire to 
grow in grace he was a model young man." 

On the day he was baptized, his cousin, A. A. 
Bliss, with boyish curiosity, crept back, after their 
separation in the woods, to hear the prayer Frank- 
lin was accustomed to offer in that place. He 
relates that when Franklin, after offering a prayer 
of the most joyful devotion, arose from his knees, 
his face shone as though transfigured by his com- 
munion with his Maker ; and he turned to the 
trees around him and discoursed to them as to a 
listening multitude, telling them of the riches of 
divine grace and of the joy that filled his heart. 
His prayer and his discourse to the trees were so 
earnest and unaffected, so expressive of a deep 
and joyful faith and of the indwelling of the Holy 
Spirit, that his cousin was awed and filled with 
deep and lasting wonder. This was but the be- 
ginning of that remarkable life of faith and prayer, 
of joyful trust in God, whose influence made 



10 MEMOIR. 

many hearts glad with a wondering joy, and 
which had strange power to quicken the con- 
sciences of men, to awaken faith, and to bring 
men to Christ and newness of life. 

From this time his devotions were never discon- 
tinued for one day. He was often heard praying 
in the fields and farm-buildings, and preaching to 
the trees of the wood, and to the stanchions in the 
stables. On retiring at night he always engaged 
earnestly in prayer, — not always audibly, lest he 
should disturb his room-mates. His brother and 
step-brothers were all younger than himself, and 
were sometimes careless in their words, not show- 
ing quite the proper respect for his devout ways. 
But his evident sincerity, uncomplaining gentle- 
ness, and unwavering persistence soon conquered 
them, and he was permitted to follow his inclina- 
tions without annoyance. It was probably during 
this same year, when he was about twenty-two 
years of age, that he was put with a phj'sician in 
the town of Adams to study medicine. It was 
hardly expected he would become a practicing 
physician. His bodily infirmities were so great 
that it had been a serious question witli the fam- 
ily whether he could succeed in any calling. It 
was finally decided however that he should become 
a druggist, and to this end he was put to the study 
of medicine. 

The whole business proved distasteful to him. 
In a few months he came home of his own accord. 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 11 

greatly against the wishes of his parents, espe- 
cially of his father. He then, for the first time, 
avowed his determination to become a minister of 
the gospel. Those who knew him can well imagine 
how earnest, decisive, and clean-cut that avowal 
must have been. But he was strongly and hon- 
estly opposed in this by all his family. It was 
thought a preposterous notion, not to be coun- 
tenanced in the least. He was assured that no 
assistance would be given him for that purpose. 
He was urged to return to the study of medicine, 
and assistance was offered, if he would comply with 
the wishes of his parents. He finally yielded to 
the affectionate appeals of his step-mother so far 
as to consent to return. But he was not convinced. 
He went from love to his mother and from a de- 
sire to please his family. He had no heart in it. 
His brother's account of what followed bears the 
marks of vivid and tender memory, and would 
only be injured by any attempt to change it into 
the language of another. '' I took him back," he 
says, "one bright, beautiful Sabbath afternoon. 
Although I had no sympathy with his ministerial 
ideas, I v.'ell remember my pity for him in being 
sent back to duties so distasteful. He remained a 
few weeks and then walked home (a distance of 
nine miles). I well remember how broken down 
and despondent he looked as he approached the 
house. As he entered he could no longer restrain 
his feelings, but burst into tears, and begged to be 



12 MEMOIR. 

left to follow his own inclinations ; said that it 
was a sin for him to pursue a calling for which 
he had no taste, and at the same time to leave 
undone a work which he beheved he was called to 
perform. He was excused from returning to 
Adams, and work on the farm was offered as a 
substitute. He accepted the alternative, and 
worked cheerfully to the full extent of the task 
allotted him, arising in the morning long before 
his brothers, that he might accomplish his task 
early and then devote himself to his books." 

After the farm-work of the autumn was mostly 
done, he attended school in Lanesboro for a short 
time. In November he went to Virginia to en- 
gage in teaching school at a good salary. After 
teaching long enough to earn the money necessary 
to support him at school for a term or two, he 
started for Clinton, N. Y., with the purpose of 
attending the Universalist academy at that place. 
This was probably in February or March, 1851. 

At Greenbush, opposite Albany, the river had 
to be crossed on the ice. It was evening when he 
arrived there, and, in going down to the ice from 
the railway station, owing to his imperfect vision 
he mistook the path, walked off the abutment at 
the ferrj^ crossing, and fell a great distance, strik- 
ing on his head and shoulders. When he came 
to himself, he was lying on the ice, covered with 
blood from a severe wound in the head, and sur- 
rounded by hackmen who were earnestly at work 



EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION. 13 

to restore him. He at once requested them to 
send him on to CHnton ; but on being informed 
that the cars had gone while he lay unconscious, 
he consented to be taken to the hotel to await the 
next train. His wounds were dressed, he drank a 
cup of tea, and, with characteristic decision and 
perseverance, took the cars the same evening and 
pushed on in his journey. 

On arriving at Clinton he entered the Institute 
and made an attempt to pursue his studies. But 
his fall had given him too great a shock, and he 
was compelled to go home, where he arrived in 
the night, sick, lame, bruised, disfigured, and al- 
most heart-broken. " I then thought," says his 
brother, " he was permanently broken down, and 
feared he would never rally. He was greatly dis- 
couraged, but soon began to recover, and all that 
he gained of health and strength was once more 
devoted to study. No sooner was he out than he 
again entered Mr. Gilbert's school. He now made 
great progress, and especially enjoyed declaiming, 
discussion, and writing compositions." 

Not being strong enough to work at farming, 
and feeling the need of money to enable him to go 
on with his studies, he acted as book-agent for a 
time, and in the following winter taught a small 
district school. In the autumn of 1852, he went 
to New Jersey, where he obtained a good situation 
as teacher, and remained until the next March. 



CHAPTER II. 

LIFE AT SOUTH WOODSTOCK, VT., AND AT EN- 
FIELD, N. H. 

In March, 1853, Mr. Bliss, then in his twenty- 
fifth year, went to South Woodstock, Yt., and en- 
tered the Green Mountain Liberal Institute, then 
and for some years under the charge of Rev. John 
S. Lee, one of the most persistent and successful 
pioneers in denominational education, now a pro- 
fessor in the theological school at Canton, N. Y. 
At my request Dr. Lee wrote the following ac- 
count of Mr. Bliss's life at South Woodstock and 
of his first work in the ministry. The whole ac- 
count is so much to the purpose of this memoir 
that I quote the greater part of it with but slight 
omissions and changes. 

" In January, 1853," says Dr. Lee, '' I received 
a letter from a young man in Clarksburg, N. J., 
requesting the privilege of connecting himself with 
our Institute for the purpose of pursuing his stud- 
ies. The request was not an unusual one, but I 
was surprised that he expressed a wish to enter 
' as a student of theology.' Ours was not a the- 
ological school, but simply a country academy. 



LIFE AT SO urn WOODSTOCK, VT. 15 

designed for students who wislied to pursue the 
languages, the sciences, and the ordinary Enghsh 
branches. I had not received any theological stu- 
dents up to this time. He wrote thus : ' Having 
determined to devote my days to the work of the 
ministry, I am desirous of engaging in a course of 
preparatory studies for the responsible duties of 
that high vocation.' 

"His letter was so sincere and earnest that I 
concluded to receive him. He was then teaching, 
but would return to his home in Lanesboro, Mass., 
in a few weeks. From Lanesboro he wrote me 
again, expressing his wish to join the hterary as- 
sociation and the Bible class. In March he reached 
South Woodstock, and came directly to my house. 
He was a pale-faced, feeble-looking man of twenty- 
four years. His appearance seemed to indicate 
that he could not endure much vigorous study or 
hard work of any kind. His defective sight and 
hearing and his poor health gave him an appear- 
ance altogether unfavorable as a student for the 
ministry. Some of the student boarders began to 
make sport of his defects and to laugh at his idio- 
syncrasies. I was advised by a friend, who had 
talked with him and noticed his deafness and want 
of sociability, to try to induce him to give up the 
ministry and go home. But on further acquaint- 
ance with him, I discovered that he possessed good 
natural abilities which ought to be developed. He 
had the stern materials that make the hero and 



16 MEMOIR. 

the martyr. He had devotion, self -consecration, 
and persistence steadily to pursue his object until 
he had accomplished it. 

*' Heretofore he had met with so much discour- 
agement that he afterwards said, if I had not en- 
couraged him then, he should have abandoned his 
design of entering the ministry and returned home 
to engage in some other work. He could not be 
idle. He must be engaged in some good work. 
In our school he found kind friends who sympa- 
thized with him in his plans and bade him God- 
speed. He persevered amid great difficulties, 
overcame them, and pushed on to success. He 
was a thorough scholar, and patiently and success- 
fully wrought out the problems presented to him. 
He studied the ancient languages, got some knowl- 
edge of mental and moral philosophy, and recited 
to me privately in theology. He made astonishing 
progress. His industry and perseverance removed 
all obstacles. He was a good thinker and fluent 
speaker. He took great interest in our debating 
society. I remember how concerned I felt when 
he rose for the first time to debate a question that 
was under discussion. All e^^es were fixed upon 
him. He hesitated not, nor wavered, but entered 
immediately upon the discussion of the question 
and handled it most skillfully. His ideas were 
clear, his arguments sound, and his sentences were 
so accurately put together that every one came 
out of his mouth fit for the press. However com- 



LIFE AT SOUTH WOODSTOCK, VT. 17 

plicated the sentence he would always bring it out 
correctly. We were astonished and delighted. 
He had passed the Rubicon, and was ready for 
effective service. This fluency characterized all 
his pulpit efforts during his whole life. If he had 
an important idea to express, he never lacked the 
right word to express it. 

" Owing partly to his defective hearing, he was 
not at this time social with strangers; but to 
familiar friends and acquaintances he was always 
courteous and genial. He became a favorite among 
the students. Even those who at first made sport 
of him became his fast and sympathizing friends. 
When any special public service was wanted in the 
school, he was the first one to be called on to per- 
form it. 

" Mr. Bliss preached his first sermon in West 
Windsor, Vt., a town adjoining Woodstock. He 
was anxious to commence preaching, and I pro- 
cured for him this appointment in June, 1853. 
He walked over to West Windsor, a distance of 
five miles, on Sunday morning, in a cold rain. On 
arriving at the church, he was cold and wet, and 
went to the stove to get warm. As he stood there, 
some of the congregation looked at him and ex- 
pressed surprise that I should have sent such an 
inferior-looking man to supply the pulpit. ' He 
could not preach ! ' He entered the pulpit, con- 
ducted all the services to the satisfaction of the 
audience, and preached and able an interesting ser- 

2 



18 MEMOIR. 

mon. But again his hearers doubted, and ex- 
pressed the opinion that he did not write the ser- 
mon, but that I wrote it for him. The truth was, 
that he wrote both of the sermons which he de- 
livered on that day without consulting me at all, 
unless it was concerning the choice of subjects. 
After writing them out in full, he submitted them 
to me, and I found it necessary to make only a 
few verbal corrections. The general plan and 
thought were admirable, and the style was lucid, 
simple, and vigorous. The spirit of Christian ear- 
nestness pervaded them. He often spoke of how 
much he enjoyed preaching at West Windsor, and 
walking to his appointment. He preached here 
ten Sundays and received twenty dollars. 

" He was naturally a good writer and an inter- 
esting speaker. His whole soul was in the work, 
and he brought all his natural and acquired abili- 
ties to bear upon it. He soon became a popular 
preacher, and his services were sought after more 
than those of any other young man I have known 
with so brief an experience. He made friends of 
everybody, and interested all by his preaching; 
thus justifying a remark once made by Dr. Isaiah 
Buckman, of South Woodstock : ' Brother Bliss, 
more than any young man of my acquaintance, 
w^as made to be a preacher.' All who heard him 
acknowledged the justness of the remark. 

" In April, 1854, after studying with me a year, 
he made an engagement with the Universalist 



ENFIELD, N. H. 19 

society in Enfield, N. H., and went there to re- 
side. He entered heartily upon the work to which 
he had consecrated his energies and his life. He 
was ordained at Enfield, January 18, 1855. I 
preached the sermon, and Rev. John Moore gave 

the charge, and presented the Scriptures 

'* Here Mr. Bliss labored with untiring devo- 
tion and a good degree of success. He took a 
deep interest in the Sundaj^-school and Bible class 
which he organized, reorganized the society and 
infused new life into it, preached and lectured in 
the school-houses in different sections of the town, 
formed a church and introduced the Christian or- 
dinances, interested himself earnestly in education, 
working for the elevation of the common schools 
and inducing many young people to attend our 
denominational school at South Woodstock. He 
sometimes felt a little discouraged at the indiffer- 
ence of many to the deeper experiences and the 
higher life of the Christian religion, and at times 
thought it his duty to go to some other field of 
labor, but was encouraged by his friends to work 
on in this field for nearly three years. In Feb- 
ruar}^, 1857, having received a flattering call to 
settle in Barre, Vt., he resigned his charge, and 
early in March removed to the latter place. On 
his way to Barre, he was married by me at White 
Eiver Village, Vt., March 5, to Mrs. Nancy 
Bailey Spalding, with whom he had become ac- 
quainted at Enfield, where she had been a faith- 



20 MEMOIR. 

fill co-worker with him in the church. She was 
educated at South Woodstock, and her attain- 
ments were such as eminently to fit her for her 
peculiar work as a pastor's wife, and she proved 
to be a true help-meet to him through his life. 
She still survives him." 



CHAPTER III. 

LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 

It was at Barre, in the midst of the beautiful 
hills and valleys of one of the most charming sec- 
tions of Vermont, in a busy little village of one 
thousand inhabitants, and among the neat white 
farm-houses which dotted the hillsides around, in 
the midst of an intelhgent, hard-working, warm- 
hearted, and thrifty people, that Mr. BUss was to 
do his principal life-work and win his crown. 

The society in Barre is one of the oldest in the 
State. As we learn from the sermon preached by 
Mr. Bliss on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 
society, the town records certify that sixteen men 
under the leadership of Rev. William Farwell, 
Elder, on the 27th day of October, 1796, " formed 
themselves into a religious society, professing 
themselves to be of the Universalist denomina- 
tion, viz. believing in universal redemption and 
salvation by the merits of Jesus Christ." There 
is ample testimony to the fact that these were 
men of marked character, and we know that a 
religious society whose " elder " for many years 
was " the saintly Farwell " must have caught 



22 MEMOIR. 

something of liis warmth of devotion and ear- 
nestness of faith. Father Lemuel Willis wrote 
Brother Bliss, in October, 1871, the following ac- 
count of this early apostle of our faith, which I 
quote to show the impression Father Far well made 
upon those who saw him and listened to his words : 
" I never saw that saintly man but once ; that 
was at the ever memorable convention in Warner, 
N. H., in 1822. He then had much of that joy 
which is unspeakable. I saw the good old man 
weep, he was so happy ; and I heard him sing and 
pray ; and such a prayer as he offered up at the 
close of that convention I never heard before or 
since. We were all in tears ; our hearts were full 
of a divine influence while he bore us near the 
great white throne. And when we separated at 
that convention, he told us he should never more 
meet with us in annual convention, but that we 
all should meet again to part no more. His pre- 
sentiment that this was his last meeting was veri- 
fied. The next year he passed within the veil. 
His memory is blessed." 

In the year 1808 Rev. Paul Dean was settled 
over the society, and in 1810 organized a church, 
but in 1811 removed to Whitestown, N. Y. 
Father Farwell continued to reside in Barre, and 
to preach at times to the society there, but was 
principally engaged in missionary labors. 

In 1821 Rev. John E. Palmer, one of the ablest, 
most devout, and humble preachers any church 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 23 

ever had, " was settled as pastor of the society," 
and exerted an influence which is still felt for 
good. Under his ministry the society prospered, 
the church revived, and a substantial brick edi- 
fice was erected as a house of worship. Father 
Palmer continued to reside here until 1843 or 
1844, but did not preach here all that time, the 
pulpit being supplied a part of the time by Rev. 
Thomas Browning, John Moore, Eli Ballon, and 
others. From 1844 to 1848 Rev. Rufus Sanborn 
was pastor. He was succeeded in 1848 by Rev. 
Joseph Sargent, whose pastorate continued until 
the close of the year 1856. 

The brick church built during Father Palmer's 
ministry was in what is known as the South 
Village. Previous to Brother Sargent's settle- 
ment a new village had sprung up midway be- 
tween the South Village and Twingville, and was 
now fast becoming the principal place of business. 
During Mr. Sargent's pastorate, and through his 
tact and energy, a new church was built in the 
Center Village. Of Mr. Sargent and his work Mr. 
Bliss speaks in his anniversary sermon as follows : 
" When he came here the prospects of the society 
were not bright. The church had run down and 
was not active. The meeting-house was out of 
repair. The population and the business of the 
town were leaving the South Village and center- 
ing in this. He and many others felt that the 
only salvation for the society was in having a new 



24 MEMOIR. 

church, and having it in this vilhige, where the 
other churches stood and where the business of the 
town was done. So, after repeated efforts to re- 
pair the old church had failed, Brother Sargent 
applied himself to the raising of funds to build 
this one. As we understand, he circulated the 
subscription paper and led the movement, and 
we believe it is the unanimous opinion among 
you, that, if it had not been for Brother Sargent, 
you could not have built this church. As we look 
over the field to-day, it seems to us that this was 
Brother Sargent's great work among you, and we 
know that he so regarded it. I shall never forget 
the charge he gave me one day when he and I 
alone were in this church together, soon after I 
came here. Putting his hand upon my shoulder, 
while in his expression there was such a blending 
of satisfaction and regret as touched my heart, he 
said, ' Brother Bliss, I have built this visible 
earthly temple ; now you must go on and build 
up the invisible, spiritual temple. Organize the 
church, start the conference and prayer-meeting, 
look after the children and get them into the 
Sunday-school. This is your especial work, as 
the building of this church was mine.' " 

There is every reason to believe that Mr. Bliss 
with the utmost earnestness accepted the work 
thus set before him. Until compelled by fatal 
disease to give up his charge, he never for a day 
slackened the tension of his purpose or of his toil. 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 2^ 

His every energy of body and mind was conse- 
crated with the most saintly devotion to this one 
end, — of building up among his people an " invis- 
ible, spiritual temple." And when in a distant 
State he was step by step going down to the 
grave, so long as the power of speech lasted, he 
never ceased to pra}^, with his own peculiar ear- 
nestness and faith, for his beloved people, and for 
their spiritual growth and prosperity. 

To those who were intimate with Mr. Bliss and 
his work at Barre, there was from the first evi- 
dent in him a marked clearness and singleness of 
aim ; a fine spiritual insight, which enabled him 
to apprehend readily the great central truths of 
religion, and gave him a bold and fearless confi- 
dence in the results of a clear and faithful procla- 
mation of the truth ; a strong and decided denom- 
inational faith and sympathy, and a yet deeper 
love for Christ and his gospel, leading him to de- 
sire to have the denomination first of all true and 
righteous and faithful to Christ ; a steel-like keen- 
ness, elasticity, and strength of mind, and, con- 
sidering his apparent lack of bodily health, a 
marvelous power to work. These qualities soon 
attracted the attention of his colleagues in the 
ministry, and made him a center of influence. 
For years no other Universalist pastor in the State 
exerted so fresh and wholesome an influence upon 
other pastors and other churches as the pale-faced, 
humble-appearing, but clear-voiced and devout 



26 MEMOIR. 

young minister at Barre. Whenever he preached 
on exchange, or at a convention, or association, he 
surprised, awakened, and uplifted his hearers. His 
very infirmities of hearing, sight, and voice no 
doubt added to the surprise with which people 
listened to his clear, vigorous, and earnest unfold- 
ing of the truth, and to his direct appeals to their 
consciences. 

In his parish he began at once that system- 
atic and thorough work for which he became re- 
markable. His time was carefully distributed. 
Monday he spent in reading, letter-writing, mak- 
ing a few calls near home, and in recreation. 
Tuesday and Wednesday he principally devoted 
to the writing of a sermon, but generally also 
made several parish calls, and spent some hours 
in reading. Thursday was usually given to visit- 
ing among his parishioners out upon the hills. 
Friday and Saturday another sermon was regu- 
larly written, and much other work was done. He 
sawed his own wood, took care of his own garden, 
and walked more or less every day, for exercise. 
His sermons were always conscientiously written 
out, and never failed of a definite purpose. His 
aim was ever thoroughly practical and earnest. 
His preaching was not for theoretical discussion or 
for oratorical display, but for bringing men to faith 
in Christ, and to the righteousness which is by 
faith. He was himself an example of one who 
shows his faith by his works, — by his obedience 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 27 

to the law of Christ, and he was impatient of 
those who made any pretense of being Universal- 
ists, while they were not "doers of the word." 
In all his work he strove with great singleness of 
heart to lead men to a real, practical religious life 
in Christ. 

Besides his two regular services on Sunday, he 
held meetings at regular intervals in the school- 
houses in different parts of the town, and a por- 
tion of the time he held evening meetings in his 
church. 

In his own family morning and evening prayers 
were regularly held, and it is known to many 
besides the writer, that private prayer was his 
source of daily strength and joy. 

It is gratifying to know that very soon the peo- 
ple of Barre recognized the ability, earnestness, 
and spirituality of their new pastor, and that many 
gathered around him and encouraged him in his 
work. His audiences gradually increased ; the 
Sunday-school gained steadily in numbers and ef- 
ficiency, and the whole parish began to feel a fresh 
interest in religious affairs. 

It had been the custom to omit the Sunday- 
school during the winter, but Mr. Bliss induced 
the people to hold a session of the school every 
Sunday of the year. 

It may be of interest to note, that in the first 
year of Mr. Bliss's settlement in Barre the whole 
number of scholars in the Sunday-school was sev- 



28 MEMOIR. 

enty-five ; in 1871 the number of resident scholars 
was one hundred and sixty-five ; the whole num- 
ber on the roll, including students of Goddard 
Seminary, was two hundred and sixty-three. Of 
course this increase was in part owing to the 
natural growth of the town, but it indicates the 
faithfulness of pastor and people in doing the work 
set before them. 

Mr. Bliss often preached a series of sermons to 
the young people of the parish. These sermons 
were of the most wholesome and practical kind, 
and were listened to by many young people of 
other churches who were attracted by the ability 
and earnestness of the preacher. 

Whenever he was away on his summer vacation 
he never permitted his church to be closed on 
Sunday. He would either get some one to preach 
for him, or induce some one in the congregation to 
read a sermon and conduct the service. 

In the spring of 1858 ^Irs. Bliss had a notice 
read from the pulpit calling a meeting of the 
ladies for the purpose of organizing a social circle. 
Ten ladies responded to the call. Mrs. Bliss pre- 
sented a constitution, which was adopted, and the 
Ladies' Circle began its career of financial useful- 
ness by holding a festival in March, 1859, and 
thereby paying off the debt of the parish. In 
1860 the ladies bought a parsonage, and in 1865 
made the last payment. They have laid out 
several hundred dollars at different times in re- 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 29 

pairing the parsonage, have often paid a portion 
of the minister's salar}^ have contributed a thou- 
sand dollars to Goddard Seminary, and a like sum 
for repairing the church. After recounting these 
facts, Mr. Bliss in his anniversary discourse says, 
" Such is the financial history of their work, while 
their moral influence in the society, in the Sunday- 
school, and in the church has been above all esti- 
mate." 

At the time Mr. Bliss came to Barre the church 
organization was inactive. Indeed, this was then 
the condition of many of the church organizations 
connected with Universalist parishes in Vermont. 
Various causes had conspired to this sad result, 
and it would not be easy to distribute justly the 
responsibility ; but that the ministers were in part 
responsible there can be no. question. Mr. Bliss 
saw very clearly the importance of the church and 
its rites, and was strongly convinced of the duty 
of behevers to join themselves together in Chris- 
tian fellowship, and to commemorate the Lord's 
death in the way He had appointed. He often 
preached upon the subject, and often talked with 
individuals about it, and made it the subject of 
earnest and frequent prayer. On the 6th of Oc- 
tober, 1859, he administered the Lord's Supper, 
and from that time on regularly once in three 
months; but there was no church organization 
until November, 1860, when a branch of the state 
church was formed, consisting of about fifty mem- 



80 MEMOIR. 

bers. "April 24, 1867," said Mr. Bliss, in his 
discourse previously quoted from, " we met and 
formed ourselves into an independent or local 
Universalist cliurcb, the state church having be- 
come inoperative. At this meeting we adopted a 
covenant much like that of the state church, un- 
der which we acted until June T, 1869, when we 
adopted what is known as the Roxbury Confession 
and Plan of Church Organization. AVe work un- 
der that now, and believe it the best ever brought 
forward in our church." In the same discourse, 
we are informed that in 1871 the church numbered 
one hundred and eighteen members. 

In regard to the conference meeting, Brother 
Bliss was not so successful, although he deeply 
felt the importance of it, and tried to get his 
people interested in the work. They generally 
approved of such meetings and enjoyed attending 
them, but were unable to overcome their reluctance 
to speak in a public religious meeting. 

In the year 1863 a movement was started by 
the Universalists of Vermont to establish and 
endow an academy, to be located in such place as 
a committee, consisting of three gentlemen not 
residing in the State, should decide to be on the 
whole the best place for the school. This com- 
mittee consisted of Rev. A. A. Miner, D. D., of 
Boston, Rev. G. W. Bailey, then of Lebanon, 
N. H., and Hon. Eliphalet Trask, of Springfield, 
INIass. During the years 1864-65, agents canvassed 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 31 

the State and secured subscriptions to what was 
thought to be the requisite amount, and in Decem- 
ber, 1865, the committee, after visiting the various 
competing points, met at Montpeher, and listened 
to the offers and arguments presented by the rep- 
resentatives of the various towns bidding for the 
location of the school. From the first. Brother 
Bliss and his parish were very much interested in 
the movement, and in securing, if possible, the 
location of the school at Barre. 

At the meeting of the committee Mr. Bliss made 
a very clear and effective statement of the claims 
of Barre, and there is no doubt that his words 
and his known efficiency as a pastor, preacher, 
and rehgious teacher of the young had much 
to do w^th the decision by which the school was 
located at Barre. Those who were intimate with 
Mr. Bliss at the time will remember how deeply 
he felt the responsibility laid upon him and his 
people by this decision, and how faithfully at that 
time, and from time to time after the school was 
established, he urged that responsibility upon his 
congregation. The people of Barre have contrib- 
uted something over twenty thousand dollars to 
the school, and of this Mr. Bliss gave his full 
share. But he felt that he and his people owed 
the school something higher and better than lands 
or money ; and it was his prayer and his deep de- 
sire that in every way proper a wholesome moral 
and rehgious influence might be thrown around the 



32 MEMOIR. 

school by his church. He had an almost painful 
sense of the responsibility resting upon him and 
his people to fulfill the expectations of those who 
had favored the location of the school at Barre. 
In a sermon preached on the Sunday preceding 
the opening of the school he said : " For myself, I 
must confess that the responsibility seems great. 
I feel like accepting my share of it with uncovered 
head and on bended knees." I doubt not that 
his people still feel his influence in this regard, 
and will continue to be faithful to all the interests 
of Goddard Seminary. 

In the year 1868 Mr. Bliss put forth his little 
book entitled " Steps in the Pathway from Youth 
to Heaven." In the Preface he says : " The au- 
thor of these pages, during a ministry of fifteen 
years, has preached man}^ sermons to the young. 
He has ever aimed to elevate their views of life, 
to establish in their minds principles of morality 
and religion, and to inspire their hearts with love 

to God and man The following chapters 

. . . . may be considered as comprising the sub- 
stance of what he has said to the young at dif- 
ferent times, rewritten with such modifications as 
his present convictions suggest. He believes they 
treat of what is of vital importance to them. He, 
therefore, sends them forth, hoping and praying 
that, with the blessing of God, they may benefit 
those for whom they have been prepared." 

The larger portion of the edition he ventured to 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 33 

have printed was sold by subscription, in Barre 
and the adjoining towns, previous to the publica- 
tion. Such was his reputation in those towns, that 
the book was subscribed for by people of other 
churches with almost the same readiness as by 
Universalists. The book was fragrant with the 
ver}^ breath of the gospel, and no Christian who 
reads it can fail to catch inspiration from its clear 
and lofty views of our relations to God and to each 
other, and of the duties which grow out of those 
relations. 

As the book is, unfortunately, out of print, I may 
be justified in trying to convey some impression of 
its tone by brief quotations. From the chapter on 
" Love " I quote the following : — 

" What, then, are tlie natural, the legitimate 
works of love ? 

" First, we say that love is a reformatory power, 
a progressive spirit. You cannot have thought 
much upon the state of society, or examined closely 
the elements that are at work in it, without having 
discovered two strong currents in its life, setting in 
opposite directions. One is a current of grossness, 
opposing all progress in society, all changes in 
political and religious thought or institutions. It 
is set against every movement for freedom, tem- 
perance, the elevation of woman, the abolition of 
aristocratic distinctions among men, arbitrary and 
unjust institutions, war, dueling and similar forms 
of grossness We need not say that we 



34 MEMOIR. 

have no sympathy with that insane, destructive, 
irreverent spirit which pours contempt upon every- 
thing old, not sparing even the word of God. Let 
the young be admonished that, however much this 
spirit may boast of love, there is not one of the 
elements of love in it. It contains the gall of bit- 
terness, and, when fully developed, annihilates God, 
disorganizes his government, obliterates moral dis- 
tinctions, and leaves man without soul, duty, or 
destiny. But there is in society a gross disposition 
to worship the dead past ; to hold on stubbornly 
and blindly to everything old, and to reject every- 
thing new. It is against this we warn the young. 
Be assured, young friends, that so wicked a world 
as ours is may be improved. Where there is so 
much ignorance and error and crime and suffering, 
progress is possible. There has been advancement 
in past ages in the arts and sciences, in social life, 
in the laws and institutions of nations, and in re- 
ligious ideas. And you may be certain there will 
be farther advancement. Human governments 
are not yet so just or liberal or well established 
that they can be made no better. We have not 
yet arrived at a perfect understanding of the Bible. 
It will modify our creeds and revive our moral 
codes more and more. And this is what we mean 
when we say that love is a reformatory power. It 
believes in progress. It hopes and labors for a bet- 
ter condition of humanity. It calls continually for 
more light, and urges men to make improvement 
by assuring them of their capacity for progress. 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 35 

" Now which of these tendencies do the young 
desire to follow? Will you join the friends or the 
foes of mankind ? Will you be found in the com- 
pany of the living, progressive spirits of our age ; 
those who are toiling to bring in a better era, 
whose hearts are all warm with love for man, and 
who are sacrificing and praying for his salvation ? 
Of, will you take sides with the foes of society, 
and give pride, oppression, intemperance, and 
grossness your support ? We call on the young to 
awake, to open their hearts to the divine spirit of 
love, and join the advancing army in the world's 
progress. Let every benevolent reform have your 
hearty support. Do all you can to help the world 
out of its lost condition. Give it your time, your 
labor, your wealth, your prayers. These you will 
give if your hearts are warm with the love of God. 
.... Many abound in religious professions, in 
ceremonies and doctrines, who are not willing to 
do anything to help a suffering world, who never 
seem to think that sheltering the homeless, feed- 
ing the hungry, and clothing the naked is a part 
of their duty as Christians. Let no young persons 
understand us as even intimating that it is not 
their duty to make a public profession of religion, 
or that they may innocently neglect any of its 
outward forms and observances. Christ requires 
these of you. They are a part of his religion. 
. ... But they are no more, taken alone, than 
the dry trunk of the tree without limbs, foliage, 



36 MEMOIR. 

and fruit. They will not be accepted in the place 
of love, and if they do not lead to a life of Chris- 
tian charity, they fail of their legitimate effect 
upon the heart." 

One of the most characteristic chapters in the 
book is that on " Religion," and it is one which 
most deserves to be read as a whole. But difficult 
as it is to make the selections, I must quote here 
a few passages. 

"You cannot draw into your characters from the 
earth, or from any or all the objects that exist upon 
it, the elements of true life. They exist alone in 
God, and He must give them. Your souls must 
reach up towards Him as the flowers turn towards 
the sunbeams. All your earthly culture can avail 
but little until it is crowned and perfected by 
heavenly or religious culture. Without this, your 
progress is like the growth of plants in cold, dark 
cellars 

" The religious faculties are the highest endow- 
ments of our being. They are the windows 
through which we may look into heaven, the eyes 
with which we see the Invisible. Our other fac- 
ulties open to our perception things of time and 
sense ; but these, when used, open to our view the 
spiritual world. Whenever, therefore, they are 
darkened, the dimness must fall on all those fac- 
ulties that lie underneath them, as when the sky 
is covered with clouds the lowly earth seems 
clothed in gloom 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 37 

" This cry of the soul is natural and irrepressi- 
ble. It is one that has gone up from the great 
heart of humanity in every age and clime and con- 
dition. The question is not whether you shall 
recognize God, acknowledge his existence, and 
sometimes feel your dependence upon Him. This 
you must do from a necessity of j^our nature. It 
is true, ' the fool hath said in his heart, there is no 
God ; ' but this is a depth of degradation to which 
nature is seldom brought in youth. It is the re- 
sult of a long hardening process of doubt, unbelief, 
and sin. But even if you could be so foolish, so 
debased, as to say with your lips, or in your god- 
less lives, to the Almighty, ' Depart from us, for 
we desire not the knowledge of thy ways,' yet 
your hearts in their desolation will often turn to 
Him with sighs and tears. They will grieve over 
their own wretchedness, and their sadness will be 
the child's sobbing for the absent parent, the in- 
fant's cry to sleep upon the mother's bosom, the 
prodigal's home-sickness when perishing far from 
the father's house. Yes, God made the human 
soul in his own image. It is of great value in his 
sight. He will not permit it to drift out of his 
sight, or wholly beyond his influence. His truth 
and Spirit often seek it in warnings, admonitions, 
and encouragements, even in its most wayward 
life. There are many ties that bind the soul to 
God, and by some one or more of these He holds 
on even to the vilest of our race. 



38 MEMOIR. 



I know not where his islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air ; 

I only know I cannot drift 
Bevond his love and care.* 



" And here let it be impressed upon your minds 
that you can see God and draw near to Him in no 
other way than the one He has appointed. You 
may, indeed, see intimations of Him in nature and 
providence. Your own hearts may call for Him, 
but not until you look to ' Him in whom dwelleth 
all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,' who is 
' the brightness of the Father's glor}^ and the ex- 
press image of his person,' can you obtain a clear 
and satisfying view of your Creator 

" In Christ, the Lord, the Only Begotten Son of 
God, and the Saviour of the world, you have the 
response which your Heavenly Father makes to 
the cry of your souls for the Living God. When 
they exclaim with the patriarch, ' Oh, that I 
knew where I might find Him ! that I might 
come even to his seat ! ' the gospel replies : ' You 
shall find Him in Christ ; you may come unto 
God by Him.' .... 

" Here, perhaps, we ought to stop. Here, in our 
view, our theme is exhausted. We have reached 
the uppermost round in the celestial ladder. In 
telling you to look to Christ, believe in Him, re- 
ceive his spirit, obey Him, we have told you all. 
We have taken you into the Heavenly Presence. 
We have led you along step by step in the upward 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 39 

pathway until you have come even to the seat of 
the Most High. 

. ..." In pointing you to Christ we have told 
you all that is essential to Christian faith and life. 
Follow Him, and you do everything. Follow 
Him, and your heaven begins below. You walk 
with God on earth, are clothed with angel purity 
even here amidst the dust that soils the garments 
of this world. 

" But oh, how far above the loftiest human ex- 
cellence is this divine ideal of life ! Like the sun 
in heaven, bright and glorious, it rises far above 
us, but we cannot reach it. It is not in man alone 
to live this divine life. It is not in human wis- 
dom to conceive it, or in human strength to attain 
unto it. God has given us the ideal in the gospel 
of his Son. We can live in its light, behold its 
glory, as we do the glory of the sun, but by our 
own unaided powers it is no more in us to reach 
it than to ascend to the orb of day 

" How are you to come to Christ ? . . . . 

" God has appointed the means as well as the 
end 

" The natural sense of right and wrong, the 
voice of conscience, is the voice of God. If you will 
take the first step towards Christ, you must listen 
to this voice within ; you must hear this cry and 
call of your religious nature. Obedience to the 
heart's sense of duty, the quick and cheerful re- 
sponse to what you feel to be right, is the only 



40 MEMOIR. 

condition on which you will be permitted to know 
anything of a true religious experience. The 
humility and the purity that with child-like sim- 
plicity go where they feel they ought to go, are 
the starting-point on the way to Christ 

'' Consult your natural religious impulses, and 
while they will reveal religious wants, religious 
aspirations, they will also make you painfully con- 
scious of natural weakness, short-sightedness, and 
proneness to error and sin. If you are true to 
them, they will soon make you feel your need of 

a clearer light than theirs As soon as your 

souls begin to hunger and thirst after righteous- 
ness, they find food and drink in the Scriptures to 
refresh them. 

" Here you have the second step. If you will 
come to Christ in the sense of being his disciples, 
come unto God by Him, and find peace and rest, 
you must have a loving faith in the word of God. 
You must take it as your guide, your rule of faith 
and practice. It must speak to your minds as 
having authority. You must hide it in your 
hearts that you may not sin against Him 

" But, while the Scriptures will be your guide to 
Christ, they will soon make you feel your need of 
help to understand and obey them 

" The Scriptures will open the way that leads 
to the Saviour, if you study them ; but how are 
you to acquire the power or the will to walk in 
it? ... . 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 41 

" Our Saviour promises to send the spirit of truth 
into the hearts of those who are seeking Him, to 
guide them into all truth. We read that God will 
give his Holy Spirit to them who ask Him for it. 
The work of the Spirit is to interest us in divine 
and heavenly things, to quicken and enlighten the 
soul, renew it in the likeness of God, and fill it 
with holy love and peace. Its fruits are ' love, 
joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, 
faith, meekness, temperance.' The Holy Spirit, 
dwelling in your hearts, will make you love the 
study of the Scriptures, and enable you to perceive 
in their teachings a divine wisdom, ' able to make 
you wise unto salvation.' It will inspire delight 
in prayer, make your communion with God con- 
stant and sweet It inspires faith in prayer, 

enables us to feel its power, humbles our souls 
before God, fills them with the desire to draw near 
to Him, and warms them with love for Him. . . . 
But you will not stop with this personal experi- 
ence. ' The love of God shed abroad in your 
hearts ' will not permit you to be selfish or exclu- 
sive. If you are indeed the followers of Christ, 
you will love not only Him but his. The fellow- 
ship of believing souls will be prized and sought. 
The Sabbath, the sanctuary, the Sabbath-school, 
the conference and prayer meeting, the church, 
will all be valued as means of personal growth 
in grace, and of religious influence 

" When you attain unto the new life in Christ, 



42 MEMOIR. 

feel a nearness to Him, a oneness with Him, you 
will esteem it no less a privilege than a duty to 
make this fellowship known by an open profes- 
sion of your faith in Him. You will delight in 
observing ' all things whatsoever He has said unto 
you.' In imitation of his example, and in com- 
pany with his true followers of every age, you 
will seek to fulfill all righteousness. You will not 
delay to take upon yourselves the solemn baptis- 
mal vows which will be to you at once the sign 
and seal of your faith, love, and devotion, and the 
symbol of spiritual cleansing. You will improve 
each opportunity^ to eat and drink at the table of 
your Lord, and you will do it with warmer affec- 
tion and greater delight than glows in your hearts 
when sitting with your best earthly friends. You 
will fully join yourselves with the company of 
his open followers, as a pledge of fervent love to 
Him, for their encouragement and for your own 
strengthening. In a word, you will strive, by a 
faithful use of all the means the gospel provides, 
not only to grow in grace yourselves, but to bring 
all men to the knowledge and the freedom of the 
truth as it is in Jesus." 

The last chapter of the book bears the title 
" Heaven," and glows with the author's ardent 
faith in immortality. 

" The fact of man's immortality stands out con- 
spicuously on the inspired page. It is inwoven 
with all the interests of human life. It is held up 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 43 

to our view to lure us from the way of evil and to 

encourage us in the practice of virtue It is 

the element that gives value to the human soul 

and dignity to human character The young 

should early bring themselves to realize that they 
are immortal now, that they now have in their 
own souls the germs of an endless life, which, un- 
der God, is their own. Remember, young reader, 
that you have a separate life, a personal identity, 
which will never vanish into nothingness, or fade 
into unconscious existence, or be lost in the life of 
other beings. And if you follow out this thought 
to its legitimate conclusion, it will teach you that 
life is not a shadow or a vision, but a reality, that 
it brings you a work to do, a mission to fulfill, and 
assigns you a place to occupy both in time and 
in eternity. We know of no opinion more de- 
grading in its influence upon character than that 
life is of little worth, a transient, meteoric phe- 
nomenon, with no abiding significance. Convince 
a man that his life may be put out like the blaze 
of a candle, by a breath of air or the stroke of a 
hand ; that thought and affection, hope, virtue, and 
vice are only illusions that pertain to this world 
and will all vanish forever at the grave, and what 
has he more to live for than the brute ? If this is 
true, he is a brute. He has only earthly parts, 
and fidelity to his nature requires that he shall live 

solely for earthly things Pride, selfishness, 

and grossness come not from perceiving immortal 



44 MEMOIR. 

dignity and worth in our endowments, but from 
forgetting what we are by nature, and placing the 
highest vahie upon the accidents, the mere circum- 
stances of life, — the beauty of our person, it may 
be, the richness of our attire, the splendor of our 
dwellings, or the greatness of our possessions. 
But when we look within and venerate the death- 
less faculties and powers which God has given us 
all alike, we are humbled. We stand in awe at 
the shrine of our own being. We realize that our 
lives are sacred, not for anything we have done, 

but for their own intrinsic value Is it not 

a startling thought that every one of you has be- 
gun this immortal life ? . . . . And what are the 
influences of this sublime truth upon your conduct 
and character ? . . . . Does it not teach you a les- 
son of humility, self-control, and personal purity ? 
Does it not reveal the criminality of your giving 
up such powers to be driven before the tempest of 
unhallowed passion? Oh, it is an awful deed for 
men to give the divine, the immortal life which 
God has bestowed upon them into the possession 
of vile purposes, wicked principles, and vicious 
practices, to let it sink down into ignorance, gross- 
ness, and folly ! . . . . 

" We therefore urge the young to ' remember 
life eternal,' to ' look up to Heaven,' as they press 
on through life. If you stud}^, remember that 
you are educating immortal faculties. If you 
associate with your fellow-beings, remember that 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 45 

you are dealing with deathless spirits which will 
feel the effects of your treatment, your example, 
your words, your hatred, or your love, forever. 
Remember that every influence you send out into 
society will sweep on, a blessing or a curse to 
countless immortal souls. You know not where 
it will pause ; for the affections, the moral convic- 
tions, the spiritual aspirations, all the endowments 
that bind the race in one common life, are im- 
mortal." 

It was thought by some that Mr. Bliss was too 
severe and puritanical in some of his opinions and 
tastes. His standard of Christian life was high. 
He was very earnest in his antagonism to what- 
ever seemed to tend towards immorality or irre- 
ligion. His whole soul was bent to one great 
purpose. He judged everything with reference 
to its practical tendency — to its influence on 
morals and religion. He himself was willing to 
renounce every pleasure and every selfish aim 
for the sake of Christ and his fellow-men ; and 
he could hardly understand those who were not 
equally conscientious and devoted. He so utterly 
abhorred a life of mere pleasure-seeking, that he 
was, perhaps, sometimes too impatient of those 
who had not his fine perception of truth and error, 
of right and wrong. But was he not right in 
calling upon all who claim the Christian name to 
deny themselves, to seek after the best things, 
and to give up all practices whose moral tendency 



46 MEMOIR. 

is doubtful ? And although one may differ with 
him in regard to the tendency of certain amuse- 
ments, like dancing, card-playing, novel-reading, 
yet who does not respect the lofty moral earnest- 
ness with which he called upon all who loved 
the Lord Jesus and their fellow-men to give up 
whatever seemed to him to keep them from the 
highest life and from the noblest influence upon 
the world ? 

That he was right in this, every man's con- 
science bears witness ; that he misjudged the gen- 
eral influence of the practices in question, as he 
had observed that influence, is at least doubtful ; 
and it must be remembered that it was of the 
practical influence, the general tendency of these 
amusements, as practiced under his observation, 
that he assumed to judge and to speak. 

Mr. Bliss had been trained to conservative 
views in politics, and when he entered the min- 
istry was strongly opposed to the free-soil move- 
ment. His friend. Rev. H. A. Philbrook, used 
often to discuss with him the merits of the anti- 
slavery cause, and finally induced him to read the 
" Liberator." The clear and vigorous arguments 
and the moral earnestness of Garrison, as Mr. 
Philbrook had expected, soon opened his eyes to 
the great wrong of slavery, and to the responsi- 
bility of the whole American people for suffering 
this evil to be extended or perpetuated. It is 
hardly necessary to add that he ever after took a 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 47 

deep interest in the antislavery cause, and did all 
he could by word and act in its behalf. He 
preached plainly and vigorously on the subject, 
distributed tracts, acted as agent for antislavery 
publications, and often contributed money to the 
cause. 

Early in his ministry he also became convinced 
that war is never under any circumstances justifi- 
able, and that Christians should never engage in 
it or encourage it. He preached against war with 
as much zeal and earnestness as against slavery 
and intemperance. All through the Civil War he 
was a consistent Quaker. While he took the 
deepest interest in the antislavery results of the 
war, and did not pretend to say what the govern- 
ment could do, in the present state of human 
society, but to raise armies and seek to crush the 
rebellion, he yet advocated the principles of peace, 
and continued to declare that the servants of 
Christ must not fight. He grieved at the terrible 
suffering the war produced ; but, Aost of all, at 
the wickedness of war itself, and at the low con- 
dition of Christian life which made war necessary 
or possible. His position on this question was 
from no lack of firmness or courage in adhering to 
the truth ; it came from no maudlin sentimental- 
ism. He opposed war on principle, as antago- 
nistic to both the letter and the spirit of the 
gospel of Christ. 

In this, as in many other things, he was in 



48 MEMOIR. 

entire accord and sympathy with Father Pahiier, 
"whom he greatly loved and revered. Those who 
were intimate with Mr. Bliss will remember how 
tenderly he always spoke of Father Palmer, and 
how sincere and deep was his admiration for 
that humble, devout, and consecrated minister of 
Christ. 

In education Mr. Bliss ever manifested the 
deepest interest. He often deplored his own lack 
of college training, and earnestly urged upon the 
young to seek the best education their means and 
opportunities allowed. He was a warm friend of 
the school at South Woodstock, and I have already 
spoken of the interest he took in Goddard Semi- 
nary. But while he saw the importance of denom- 
inational schools, his interest in education was by 
no means limited to these, but was as broad as his 
interest in humanity. He was for several years 
town superintendent of schools in Barre, and by 
his efficiency in that position won the respect and 
friendship of the people generally throughout the 
town. 

He loved knowledge and enjoj^ed keenly the 
pure delights of the scholar. His receptive mind 
would have been wonderfully enlarged and en- 
riched by a systematic course of study. But the 
prevailing tendency of his mind was religious and 
practical. His professional duties naturally led 
him to read principally in the field of theology 
and ethics. Devotional and practical religious 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 49 

books, of whatever name, were, next to the Bible, 
his chief dehght. His sermons were chiefly char- 
acterized by an earnest, devout, practical spirit, 
and his whole manner was that of one who " dwelt 
with God" and who spoke what he saw "in the 
Spirit." Learning would have broadened his views 
and enlarged the field of his thought, — probably 
it would have added to his usefulness. But no 
learning could have added to the devout earnest- 
ness of his life and work, or to the clearness of his 
insight into the central spirit of the life that " is 
hid with Christ in God." In his sermons and 
in his conversation on religious subjects there was 
no perfunctory use of words, no meaningless cant. 
His face shone with a far-off light, and his voice, 
clear and high, had a penetrating charm, an awak- 
ening force, which no mere elocutionist could ex- 
plain. 

His style of composition was clear and forcible ; 
but it was the simple truthfulness, earnestness, 
and spirituality of the man which made people 
listen with such interest to words which cut con- 
science to the quick, and called men to repentance, 
faith, godliness, and brotherly love. 

By careful and conscientious economy Mr. Bliss 
was enabled to be a systematic and generous giver. 
Whenever a subscription paper was started for 
any purpose of which he approved, he could be 
depended on for help in proportion to his means. 



50 MEMOIR. 

He needed no urging ; lie sought the opportunity. 
He was a leader in every good work. 

He was a kind and sympathetic friend to the 
poor, the sick, the afflicted. He was the first to 
call upon those in any trouble without regard to 
social rank or religious sect, and he gave both 
money and religious comfort with such warmth 
and sincerity of heart as to win the love and 
gratitude of all. 

During his pastorate of fifteen years at Barre, 
he became well known in the surrounding towns, 
and was called upon to preach a great many 
funeral sermons. 

As the years went by his labors increased and 
gradually wore upon his health. At various times 
he talked of leaving Barre and seeking a new field 
of labor, on the ground that he was getting weary, 
and that it would be better for his people as well 
as for himself that he should make a change. But 
his people would not listen to such a thought, and 
his friends urged him to remain where he was 
doing so good a work. 

In February, 1871, feeling the need of rest and 
a change of climate, he went, in company with 
Rev. Q. H. Shinn, on a missionary tour to West 
Virginia. At Wheeling he preached eight Sun- 
days, and while there organized a church and held 
the communion service. On week days he visited 
various places and held evening services wherever 
he found opportunity, Mr. Shinn often accompany- 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 51 

ing him. Wherever he preached the people lis- 
tened with marked attention, and oftentimes after 
the sermon many would rise and express their 
gratitude and interest. 

On his way to Virginia and on his return, Mr. 
Bliss preached at Hightstown, N. J., was invited 
to settle there, and agreed to do so provided his 
society at Barre would release him. He felt that 
his health was giving way, and did not doubt that, 
on this account, his people would consent to his 
making the change. On his return to Barre, he 
laid the matter before his parish and tendered 
his resignation. But the ties which bound their 
hearts to him were too strong. If his health was 
failing, he had spent his strength in their service, 
and they could not allow strangers to take their 
places in smoothing his pathway to the grave. But 
they hoped he could yet regain his health and 
still remain with them. After a long session they 
unanimously voted not to accept his resignation, 
but to lighten his labors by omitting the Sunday 
morning sermon, putting the Sunday-school in the 
place of the usual morning service. 

The deep feeling of attachment manifested by 
his people moved him from his purpose, and, con- 
trary to his calmer judgment, induced him to with- 
draw his resignation and to remain with his be- 
loved people. But the weariness and depression 
continued. His work dragged heavily upon him. 
He was exacting with himself and could not be 
content with less than the utmost he could do. 



52 MEMOIR. 

On the 27th day of October, 1871, the society- 
celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of its or- 
ganization. For some months previous, Mr. Bliss 
worked diligently in making the requisite prep- 
aration for this meeting. He consulted the town 
records, took down inscriptions from grave stones 
in different parts of the town, conversed with all 
the old residents of the town, wrote letters of 
inquiry to distant States, and, in every possible 
way and at great pains, gathered the materials for 
a full and correct history of the society. Many 
clergymen were present, and took part in the vari- 
ous exercises of the occasion. Besides the histor- 
ical discourse, and the religious exercises at the 
church, there was at the town hall a dinner, and 
after the dinner short addresses by several clergy- 
men on various subjects appropriate to the occa- 
sion. It was a part of the original plan to have 
the whole proceedings published in a permanent 
form. It was a great disappointment to Mr. Bliss 
that this was not done, and is to be regretted by 
our church everywhere. Such local histories fur- 
nish important materials for the general history of 
our church, and for the study of the principles of 
its development. May we not hope that this vol- 
ume, as prepared by our lamented brother, may 
yet be published? 

The extra labor of these anniversary services 
and of preparing the volume for the press was a 
severe strain on the already enfeebled energies of 



LIFE AT BARBE, VT. 53 

this faithful servant, and, as he ever after thought, 
was the proximate cause of his decHne. Soon after 
this his ehisticity and strength began rapidly to 
fail. His Tt^ork and its responsibilities began to 
give him acute anxiety and pain ; but he still kept 
on, and could not think of giving up in the midst 
of a year's duties. During the winter, as usual, 
he attended one or more funerals nearly every 
week, often driving twenty or thirty miles over 
the hills and through deep snows, and, as is the 
custom in that region, preaching a regular sermon 
in nearly every case. In the latter part of Febru- 
ary, he attended in one week four funerals in as 
many different towns, and the weather was very 
cold and the snow very deep. It cannot be won- 
dered at that a serious hemorrhage of the lungs 
followed, and that he was much prostrated. For 
two or three Sundays he did not attempt to 
preach ; but he was unwilling to close his church, 
and finding it difficult to get any one to preach in 
his stead, he soon was again in his pulpit doing 
the best he could. But his nerves became more 
and more sensitive and weak, hemorrhages again 
set in, and at last, in great grief, he was compelled 
to give up his task and to resign his pastorship. It 
was plain that his nerves were in too sensitive a 
state for him to remain safely in the scene of his 
wearisome toil, where everything reminded him of 
his anxious strivings, and of what he regarded as 
his unfinished and very imperfectly accomplished 



54 MEMOIR. 

work. It was decided that be should seek quiet- 
ness and rest at the home of a brother-in-law who 
was a farmer, and lived in Springfield, New Hamp- 
shire. 

The excitement of seeing his furniture and 
books packed, and of parting with his parishioners 
and other friends, taxed him severely and brought 
on his former alarming symptoms. He was com- 
pelled to rest for a few days at the house of his 
faithful friend and parishioner, Mr. L. F. Aldrich, 
but soon seemed better, and, on the morning of 
the eighth day of May, 1872, he bade farewell for- 
ever to the beautiful valley and the surrounding 
hills, where for fifteen years he had toiled so faith- 
fully in his Master's work, and, in company with 
his wife and adopted daughter, started on his jour- 
ney to New Hampshire. 

His last sermon in Barre was at a funeral held 
in the church on Sunday, April 28th, from this 
text : " Lord, make me to know mine end, and the 
measure of my days, what it is ; that I may know 
how frail I am." Ps. xxxviii. 4. 

Just before retiring to rest that evening he 
wrote in his diary as follows: "I have finished my 
ministry in Barre of fifteen years and two months 

this afternoon As I look over my work 

here, it seems to me very imperfect. I have been 
with this people in weakness. I have often erred 
in judgment .... and been imprudent in word 
and act. Still, I can truly say that my strongest 



LIFE AT BARRE, VT. 55 

and prevailing desire has been to point and lead 
them to Christ, to make them, so far as God should 
give me the power, a Christian people. I have 
prayed for them much, both in secret and in pub- 
lic. I have not spared myself in laboring for them. 
I have never intentionally flattered or deceived 
them. I have loved them sincerely and tried to 
comfort and help them." The page is blotted 
with tears. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE LAST YEAR OF HIS LIFE. 

On his way to Springfield, N. H., Mr. Bliss 
went to Hanover to consult the professors of the 
medical school in that place. They gave him 
but little encouragement and advised perfect rest 
from speaking. On reaching his brother-in-law's 
he seemed for some weeks to be refreshed and 
strengthened by the rest from mental toil and by 
out-of-door exercise. But in July the heat de- 
pressed him and caused such a thirst that he be- 
gan to long for the springs of Saratoga, and on 
the loth of July started for that place. At Bel- 
lows Falls, at Rutland, and at Saratoga, his former 
symptoms returned, but in a few days he began 
to recuperate. At Saratoga his physician spoke 
more hopefully of his case, and expressed the opin- 
ion that he might occasionally preach without dan- 
ger to his health. August 7th, he and his family 
went to Cornish, N. H., and thence to Hanover, 
where a distinguished medical professor assured 
him that he had no serious disease of the lungs, 
but that his trouble was a worn-out condition of 
the nerves and a weak stomach. August 16th, he 



THE LAST YEAR OF BIS LIFE. 57 

went with his family to Barnard, Vt., where 
friends had arranged for him to preach two Sun- 
days. Sunday evening, August 18th, he wrote in 
his diary: "A pleasant day, and all the more 
pleasant to me because in the good providence of 
God I have been permitted to preach again." 

From Barnard he returned to Springfield, N. H., 
visiting at Lebanon and Enfield on the way. Sep- 
tember 8th, he preached for his brother-in-law, 
Kev. Lorenzo Bailey, a worthy minister of the 
Christian denomination. He also preached three 
Sundays in Waterbury, Conn. 

On the 30th of September he went to the house 
of his brother Darius in New York city, where on 
the 8th of October he was joined by his wife and 
child. During the month of October he preached 
several times at Plympton Hall, at Williamsburg, 
and elsewhere. He preached for the last time 
October 27, 1872, at Branchville, N. J. In the 
night he had a hemorrhage, but did not call the 
people where he was staying, as he did not like to 
disturb them. Even after this he had appoint- 
ments to preach, but he could not meet them. 

About the last of October, Mrs. Bliss, worn out 
with care and anxiety, was prostrated by a danger- 
ous illness, and Mr. Bliss was at the same time 
attacked with alarming hemorrhages. It was a 
time of great mental suffering for both. Each 
was filled with anxious fears for the other. It 
was thought that neither could live many weeks. 



58 MEMOIR. 

When Mrs. Bliss began to recover it was thought 
best that Mr. Bliss should go into the country, 
where he could be more quiet, and that she should 
follow him when she should be able. This sepa- 
ration was a very great trial to Mr. Bliss, but, as 
it was deemed best, he submitted. A week later 
Mrs. Bliss joined him, and after a few weeks' rest 
they both returned to their brother's house. 

The hemorrhages continued at intervals until 
December 10th, when they ceased and a cough set 
in. 

Late in December heav}^ snows began to fall, 
and made it difficult for him to take his accus- 
tomed walks. He accordingly decided to go south, 
and on the first day of January, 1873, he and his 
family started, with the intention of going to At- 
lanta, Georgia. He was so feeble that he had to 
take the journey in short stages, stopping several 
times to rest; and, on reaching Greensboro, N. C, 
he became so weary that he said he could go no 
further. He had reached the last station in his 
earthly pilgrimage. 

At first they were troubled to find a suita- 
ble boarding-place, but soon, in answer — as he, 
with childlike gratitude, believed — to his trustful 
prayer, they found just such a place as they de- 
sired, and he seemed very happy. He and his 
family formed many pleasant acquaintances among 
their neighbors, and received many kind atten- 
tions and tokens of sympathy from all. 



TEE LAST YEAR OF HIS LIFE. 59 

Mr. Bliss continued to take long walks daily, 
spending much of his time out of doors. He 
attended the Methodist church regularly, and be- 
came much attached to the pastor. Rev. J. A. 
Cunningham, who used to call upon him and pray 
with him. He was delighted with the people and 
the climate, and for a time thought he was to 
be benefited by the change. But his cough 
continued, he grew thin in flesh, and by and by 
it became evident that he must soon finish his 
earthly course. At first, he had a strong desire, 
for his wife's sake, to return to his brother's, but 
when she assured him that she preferred to stay 
where they were rather than that he should under- 
take the journey, he said no more. 

During the last weeks of his life, he often said 
to his wife : " This is the happiest winter of my 
life." She said to him : " I wonder that you can 
be so cheerful and willing to go." " Why," said 
he, "I long to go. There are no failures in 
heaven, no blind eyes, no deaf ears. I know my 
Heavenly Father has work for me to do there, and 
I long to be about it. It will be hard for you, 
but think of it as my release. The separation 
will be but short. Heaven is our home." 

Morning and evening, under all circumstances, 
he read a chapter in the Bible, and knelt with 
his family in prayer. His prayers were so earnest, 
so full and specific, so childlike in trust, as to lift 
every oite up with devout feeling. His prayers 



60 MEMOIR. 

" had wings." He continued this family worship 
to the last ; and when he no longer had strength 
to kneel, he sat in his chair, and with bowed head 
prayed so earnestly and tenderly for his people in 
Barre, for each of his friends, and for the world, 
as to almost break one's heart to hear him, sick 
and feeble as he was. 

About the last of February he began to show 
symptoms of rapid decline. But he still took his 
walks, and kept up his usual habits. On Satur- 
day, March 15th, he walked a mile and a half, but 
from this time had to give up walking, and on 
Sunday, the 16th, for the first time during his stay 
in Greensboro, remained at home from church. On 
Monday, on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, 
he rode with his physician into the country a few 
miles, and rested with a family to whom the phy- 
sician introduced him, returning in the afternoon 
very tired, but delighted with his ride, and with 
the family whose brief acquaintance he had made. 
Thursday morning he felt too unwell to rise ; to- 
wards night was dressed for the last time, and sat 
up two hours. After this he failed rapidly. His 
mind was calm and clear and full of trust, until 
Sunday morning, when the stupor of death settled 
down upon him, and his mind became a little 
wandering, but he knew his friends, although too 
weak to talk. At nine o'clock on the morning of 
March 23, 1873, just as the church bells were call- 
ing the children to Sunday-school, in the forty- 



THE LAST YEAR OF HIS LIFE. 61 

fifth year of his age, he breathed his last, and 
" was taken home." 

He had foreseen the long and sorrowful jour- 
ney which his devoted wife must take, and had 
planned all the details of it and of the funeral ser- 
vices. The people in Greensboro were deeply im- 
pressed with his serene faith, and were very kind 
and sympathetic towards his family. On Monday, 
Rev. Mr. Cunningham held a brief funeral service, 
and the bereaved widow, bidding farewell to her 
kind friends, started, in company with her daugh- 
ter, for New York, where she arrived on Tuesday 
evening, greatly worn with sorrow and the fa- 
tigues of the journey. On the next morning, at 
the house of Mr. Darius Bliss, Rev. E. C. Sweet- 
ser held funeral services, speaking from the words 
of Isaiah : " My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." 
In the afternoon of the same day, Mrs. Bliss and 
daughter, accompanied by Mr. Darius Bliss, again 
took up their mournful journey, and arrived in 
Enfield, N. H., on Thursday morning, March 27th. 
The body was carried directly to the little church 
where Mr. Bliss had received his ordination, and 
where he had first regularly preached. His old 
parishioners, whom he always loved with peculiar 
affection, gathered in the church ; listened to ap- 
propriate words of Christian faith and consolation, 
spoken by Rev. S. C. Hay ford, their pastor, by 
Rev. J. H. Little, of an adjoining parish, and by 



62 MEMOIR. 

Rev. Mr. Chase of the Methodist church ; took 
then- last look of his pale and wasted features, 
and bore his body to its resting-place. It was his 
wish to be buried here. Only two days before 
his death, he said that there was no place in the 
world where he would rather rest than in the 
beautiful yard back of the little church in En- 
field. 

" How revered 
Had been that pious spirit, a tide 
Of humble mourners testified, 
"When, after pains dispensed to prove 
The measure of God's chastening love, 
Here, brought from far, his corse found rest, — 
Fulfillment of his own request ; — 

*' Less for the love of stream and rock, 
Dear as they were, than that his flock, 
When they no more their pastor's voice 
Could hear to guide them in their choice 
Through good and evil, help might have, 
Admonished, from his silent grave, 
Of righteousness, of sins forgiven. 
For peace on earth and joy in heaven." 

I cannot do better in concluding this memoir 
of my friend than to quote the words of one who 
has himself lately passed from his faithful service 
on earth to his heavenly reward, and who nobly 
exemplified what he earnestly desired that our 
ministry should be. In " Our New Departure," 
speaking of the noble and consecrated men of our 
ministry whose "faces shine out of the past," 
Dr. Brooks says: "And only a little while ago, 



THE LAST YEAR OF HIS LIFE. 63 

after a long and weary struggle with disease, 
another passed on to these faithful ones, — Franklin 
Samuel Bliss, a man of no brilliant gifts or con- 
spicuous position, and of many bodily infirmities, 
but a man of faith and prayer, who in spite of 
numerous physical impediments, which most per- 
sons would have regarded as insuperable, gave 
himself to Christ, and the endeavor to lead others 
to him, with a sincerity and unction so impressive 
and a consecration so entire, and loved our whole 
church with a heart so large and warm, and a 
response so ready, and supplemented all with a 
life so penetrated with the spirit and power of our 
faith, and therefore so pure and Christian, that his 
very feebleness became mighty, and the fields in 
which he toiled bore fruit in spiritual harvests 
which will long attest how effectually he wrought. 
Devoted and sainted one ! with what pathos come 
to us who knew him and the limitations by which 
he was hindered, those words among his last, as 
he thought of the work God had for him to do 
on the other side, 'I shall not be deaf or blind 
in heaven; no weakness, no weariness there.' 
Rather a thousand times would I choose the rec- 
ord of this humble, unpretending, comparatively 
obscure servant of the Lord, as it stands in God's 
reckonings, than that of many another man of far 
greater gifts and more commanding power and 
wider fame, but without his love for Christ and 
his zeal for souls." 



SERMONS. 



I. 

CONFESSING CHRIST. 



" Whosoever therefore shall confess rae before men, him will I 
confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoso- 
ever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my 
Father which is in heaven." — Matt. x. 32, 33. 

The Saviour gave this warning to his disciples 
under very peculiar circumstances. He was about 
to send them forth to preach, and He foresaw and 
foretold them of cruel persecutions. "Behold I 
send you forth," He said, " as sheep in the midst 
of wolves. They will deliver you up to the coun- 
cils, and they will scourge you in their syna- 
gogues. Ye shall be brought before governors and 
kings for my sake. The brother shall dehver up 
the brother to death, and the father the child ; 
and the children shall rise up against their parents 
and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall 
be hated of all men for my name's sake." 

This was, indeed, a dark picture of the future, 
before which the bravest hearts might falter. All 
these sufferings were to come upon them solely be- 



68 SEE^WNS. 

cause they were the disciples of Christ ; and it 
would seem that the Saviour's love for them 
would lead Him to throw around them every pos- 
sible protection. We might at first think that He 
would be willing they should shield themselves be- 
hind the veil of secret discipleship, if not of open 
denial. But we find that He manifests his love for 
them in no such way. So far from showing any 
disposition to screen them from public scorn and 
persecution, He seems desirous to bring them out 
in the boldest manner. He thrusts them against 
the severest prejudices and hostility of their en- 
emies ; requires them to take an open, unequiv- 
ocal position before the world as his disciples. 
Only those who confessed Him before men would 
He confess before his Father in heaven. Such as 
denied Him would He deny. He would not own 
them as his followers ; He would deny them the 
blessedness and peace of his fellowship. 

Stern requirements, exacting conditions, we may 
say, under such circumstances. How could one 
whose cause was apparently so weak and insignif- 
icant set up such high claims ? How could He 
afford to drive men from him by demanding of 
them such sacrifices ? 

Yet these have been the requirements and con- 
ditions on which He has made disciples in every 
age. The one test of his religion is, and ever has 
been, that men confess Him before the world. He 
will not own them as his followers until they own 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 69 

Him as their Lord and Master and Saviour. They 
must stand out before the world, openly, taking 
his name, professing faith in his gospel, seeking to 
do his work, cherishing his spirit, and striving to 
be like Him. 

In making this demand, the Saviour requires 
nothing unusual or extreme. He simply founds 
his church on a universal test of friendship and 
fidelity. He recognizes a principle which we rec- 
ognize and apply in all our social, political, and 
religious relations. There is not a man or woman, 
of the least discernment or self-respect, who will 
own as a friend one who, under any circumstances, 
would deny the friendship. There are people 
enough who will own our friendship when we en- 
joy the public favor, and are able to serve their 
personal interests. But when misfortune over- 
takes us and we can do no more for them, they 
deny us to the face. Are such people friends ? 
Are we willing to own and trust them as friends ? 

But Christ has a great many such friends and 
followers. When it requires no sacrifice of posi- 
tion or profit to profess his religion, when it brings 
friends and wealth and ease, then will such friends 
confess Him before men, unite with his church, 
and be zealous for his cause. But if his church is 
small and weak, if it has not a proud position in 
society, and does not enjoy the patronage of wealth 
and learning, they forsake it and give it no sup- 
port. 



70 SERMONS. 

It was to teach us that such selfishness would 
never be owned as Christian love and discipleship, 
that Christ made the high claim upon his early 
and persecuted followers. He wanted to lay the 
foundation of his church upon a rock. He wanted 
to work into the Christian temple only such ma- 
terials as could withstand the severest shock of the 
tempest. Hence He said to the multitude around 
Him, " Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my 
word in this sinful generation,- of him shall the Son 
of Man be ashamed;" and, "Whosoever will not 
forsake all and follow me cannot be my disciple." 
This was only asking proof of sincerity. We all 
ask as much of those with whom we associate in 
every sphere of life. If a person's professions of 
friendship will not stand this test they are worth- 
less. 

Our acknowledgment or confession of Christ, to 
be accepted of Him, must be direct and natural, 
such as we make of other friends and principles. 
People sometimes reason strangely upon this sub- 
ject. They say, " We will confess Christ in our 
lives ; we will show the world by our integrity 
and charity and purity of life that we are Chris- 
tians." This is well. We must confess Him in 
our lives to be accepted of Him. If we deny Him 
in life, it is equivalent to denying Him in every- 
thing. But is this enough ? Is it such a confes- 
sion, or rather is such a confession all that Christ 
demanded of his disciples, to whom He addressed 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 71 

the words of our text ? No, it certainly is not. 
He required them to go out among his enemies 
and their enemies, and in the face of persecution 
declare themselves to be believers in Him and in 
his religion ; to confess before the world that they 
were his disciples and followers ; and to commit 
and consecrate themselves fully to his cause. It 
was a direct, verbal confession that they made. 
This was the offense. They would not have been 
molested merely for their upright, Christian lives. 
But their open discipleship of Christ moved the 
wrath of their enemies as nothing else could. His 
name, which they boldly assumed, was hateful to 
unbelievers, and inspired their persecutions. 

Simply exemplifying the virtues and adopting 
the principles of another is not, in a plain and 
direct sense, acknowledging him. One question 
will show this : Is it all the acknowledgment we 
want from one who professes to be our friend ? 
Here is a person who agrees with us in opinion 
and practices all our virtues. Yet he never notices 
us. He never expresses to us or to others senti- 
ments of respect or feelings of friendship for us. 
He never says that he is indebted to us for his 
opinions, or virtues, or anything else. He never 
makes any direct effort to help us or to honor us. 
Now does that person acknowledge us ? Are we 
satisfied with the confession which he makes of his 
friendship ? If we love him, do not our hearts 
long for a direct response from him? Can we 



72 SERMONS. 

bear his distance and cold indifference ? We ex- 
claim to ourselves, " If he loves me, why does he 
not tell me of his love ? Why does he not come 
and open his heart to me, and bless me with his 
smile ? " 

You may tell me that though we, on account of 
our ignorance of each other's heart, need these 
direct confessions, Christ does not need them, for 
He knows t hearts of all men. But we think 
He does need them. We think He revealed that 
need when, just before his crucifixion. He insti- 
tuted the supper, and said to his disciples, " Do 
this in remembrance of me." He knows whether 
men remember Him, but He wants them to give 
some proof, some token, of their remembrance, — 
to make some confession of it. We think He re- 
vealed this need when, just after his resurrection 
from the grave, and before his ascension. He said to 
Peter three times, "Lovest thou me?" He knew 
whether Peter loved Him, but He wanted to draw 
out a direct confession of his love. And this is 
what He wants of us and of all his disciples. What 
reason have we to think that his loving heart, so 
perfectly human while it was so perfectly divine, 
can be satisfied with less of personal communion 
and personal affection than our own ? The thought 
deprives Him of half the attractiveness and beauty 
of his character. It makes Him passionless and 
rigid. 

That something more is implied in confessing 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 73 

Christ than merely living a good life is shown by 
the fact that we may hold the opinions and prac- 
tice the virtues of another, and yet know nothing 
of him personally. A man may believe in many 
of the doctrines of Plato who never heard of Plato, 
and is in no sense his disciple. There are princi- 
ples in the constitution of our country ; we have 
laws and institutions, social and moral maxims, in 
which we all believe, but which were the original 
thoughts of men we know nothing about. And 
do we become the disciples of these men simply 
by believing their thoughts ? Some of the ancient 
philosophers, who never heard of Christ, taught 
substantially many of the doctrines of the gospel 
before Christ was born. Was this a confession of 
Christ on their part ? We repeat, confession im- 
plies direct acknowledgment of Christ as our Sav- 
iour, Lord, and Master. To own a friend is to 
show him personal respect and friendship. To 
confess the principles of a party or sect is to join 
it and help on its work. And to confess Christ 
is to join ourselves to the company of his open 
followers, to call ourselves by his name, and in 
every way He requires to espouse and help his 
cause. Says the apostle, " With the heart man 
believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth 
confession is made unto salvation." 

This doctrine of confessing Christ has been the 
foundation of the Christian church in every age. 
The form of confession has varied in different 



74 SERMONS. 

churches, and at different times ; but the idea has 
never been left out. From the ceremonies of Ro- 
manism down through all the Protestant sects, to 
the almost formless worship of the Quaker, con- 
fession of Christ, as the test and proof of disciple- 
ship, is everywhere made. 

And is not the doctrine based on a fundamental 
necessity of our nature ? What do we hold our 
convictions for ? Is it simply to cherish them for 
ourselves ? Or is it to publish them as truth for 
the world, that they may bless others as they have 
blessed us ? Can a conviction be fully formed and 
firmly held in the mind before it is expressed ? 
The utterance of our thoughts strengthens them. 
We believe a truth more firmly by acknowledging 
our belief in it. We love men more by telling 
them the love we already have for them. It is a 
law of our being that our characters grow by ex- 
pression. Our principles, dispositions, and affec- 
tions are unfolded by it. The child may be able 
to distinguish the letters of the alphabet, but he 
has not learned them until he can call them by 
name. We may understand what we see on the 
printed page, but we must be able to read it to 
others before we can be said to have a real knowl- 
edge of it. 

And, my friends, we must be able to speak the 
name of Christ ; like Thomas, we must be able to 
cry, " j\Iy Lord, and my God," before our faith 
in Him stands firm and our love is perfected. 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 75 

Our tlieme involves the whole subject of the 
Christian church and our relation to it. In every 
ao-e it has been founded upon a confession of faith 
in Christ. This is the chief corner-stone, the rock 
on which it is built. When the eunuch was bap- 
tized by Philip, his confession was, "- I believe 
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Peter's 
confession to his Master was, " Thou art the 
Christ, the Son of the living God." Everywhere 
and always the early disciples baptized in the 
name of the Lord Jesus. In the beginning, the 
church signified the aggregate body of believers in 
Christ. Acknowledgment of Christ as man's re- 
deemer from sin was the distinctive characteristic 
of those who composed it. 

And thus, through the successive Christian ages, 
by this confession, converts have been made, dis- 
ciples won, believers confirmed, and the church has 
retained its independent and organized form, and 
achieved its glorious triumphs. It has continued 
and increased, and been identified with all that 
concerns the advancement of God's spiritual king- 
dom. It has satisfied the consciences and given 
peace to hundreds of thousands of the most devout 
and faithful followers of Christ. Under its benign 
influence many beautiful plants of righteousness 
have bloomed and borne fruit in the garden of 
the Lord. It has been a power in the world to 
make men '' steadfast, unmovable, always abound- 
ing in the work of the Lord." It has been the 



76 SERMOXS. 

watch-word that has called forth Christian heroism, 
sympathy, and sacrifice. The sentiment of human 
brotherliood has found its highest expression in the 
church of Christ. 

But after all that it has done for the world, is 
there not a disposition in the public mind, even 
in the Christian world, to ignore the church of 
Christ? Do we not offer excuses for not uniting 
with it which are plainly equivalent to saying that 
it is of no importance ? It seems to us that there 
is a wide-spread indifference and skepticism upon 
this subject which is paralyzing the power of our 
religion. How many speak lightly of the church ! 
How many who claim to believe in Christ refuse 
to confess Him before men, in the simple ordi- 
nances of the gospel! Now we are aware that 
the church is somewhat responsible for this state 
of things. We know that it is often cold and 
dead to the interests of humanity ; that on the 
questions of freedom and temperance and all moral 
reform it has not brought its united power to work 
in the right direction. We know that in too many 
instances it is not a live and active body, inspiring 
its members with zeal for God, and giving them 
work to do in the vineyard of Christ. We admit 
all that may be said truthfull}^ of the imperfec- 
tions and unfaithfulness of its members. But with 
all its faults, is not the church of Christ above all 
human institutions ? Has it not done more for the 
enlightenment and salvation of the world than all 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 77 

other institutions ? It lias stood the shocks of 
time without being overthrown. It has sent the 
word of God into every land upon which the sun 
shines. It has shaken to their foundations the 
shrines of idolatry, stanched the blood of human 
sacrifices, and reared the peaceful altars of the one 
living and true God among savage tribes. It has 
established the home. It has organized human so- 
ciety. It has softened the asperities of contending 
nations, ameliorated the cruelties of war, and mod- 
ified the severity of law. It has built school-houses 
and colleges and asylums and churches. And in 
the church of Christ to-day are being generated 
those benevolent sentiments and principles which 
are elevating and blessing mankind. 

Now it cannot be that any man or woman who 
loves God or mankind can be indifferent to an in- 
stitution which has done so much. Nor is it just 
to condemn it because it has not done everything. 
It can be shown that it has done far more than 
any other or all other institutions for the salvation 
of the world. It has not done all that it could 
have done or should have done. It has often erred 
and been corrupted. But was not this to be ex- 
pected ? Was it not inevitable in the condition 
of human society ? When we look at the intel- 
lectual and moral state of the world through the 
ages past, the wonder is not that the church has 
done so little, but that it has done so much, for 
mankind. In its achievements we find the proph- 



78 SERMONS. 

ecj of its final victory. The passage of years can 
only strengthen this organization, which has for its 
foundation the words and deeds, the life and death, 
of the Son of God. 

And do we not, in turning away from the 
church, do ourselves and do the world great 
wrong ? Is not our own faith weakened ? Is not 
our connection with Christian institutions held by 
looser ties ? Do we not deprive ourselves of those 
means of grace which we have no right to neglect ? 
And are we not living worldly, unspiritual lives 
because we neglect them ? 

But we are not the only sufferers. Our exam- 
ple discourages others, especially the young. Par- 
ents who neglect the church tell their children, in 
plainer words than lips can utter, that they may 
neglect it. Every person who unites with the 
church of Christ casts his vote for Christianity ; a 
captive is taken from the army of the world, and 
enlisted in the army of Christ. The work of 
Christ in the world is called a warfare. He is 
called the captain of our salvation. His church 
is now the church militant. And this warfare will 
never be ended until Christ, subdues all things 
unto Himself ; until every knee bows and every 
tongue confesses to Him. 

We do not wish to stand in a false position. 
There is not a man or woman who would will- 
ingly take sides against Christ and his gospel, who 
would wish to be found in opposition to Christian 



CONFESSING CHRIST. 79 

institutions. But have we considered in just what 
direction and how far our influence goes when we 
stand aloof from the Christian church ? We may- 
no t mean to exert it against Christ, but it cer- 
tainly is not for Him in the highest sense. It is 
not open, positive, and direct, such as He requires 
in our text. 

The question is simply, Are we willing to be 
Christians ? Are we willing to hold our principles, 
dispositions, habits, all our life-powers, possessions, 
and business, under the control of Christ? Are 
we willing to enter the school of Christ and learn 
of Him all our days ? Then should we unite with 
his church immediatel}^, confess to Him what little 
faith and love we have, and He will give us more. 
We need not wait to become perfect, for a Chris- 
tian in this world is nothing but as inful man or 
woman who has entered the school of Christ with 
the honest purpose of becoming better. We can- 
not in a moment reconstruct our characters, change 
our conduct, alter our relations to things that are 
wrong, and be perfect Christians. But we can 
begin to be imperfect Christians at any time. 
And it is our duty to do this now. It is every 
person's present duty to say, " I will try ; " "I 
will do the best I can ; " " God help me." This is 
the spirit in which we should confess Christ. Thus 
confessing Him, He will confess us before his Fa- 
ther in heaven. 



II. 

SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 



" But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ." — 2 Peter iii. 18. 

Perhaps no term more frequently occurs in 
the Bible, especially in the New Testament, than 
the word grace. We read much of '' the grace of 
God," " the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," 
''the gospel of the grace of God." The apos- 
tolic salutation in most of the epistles is, " Grace 
to you, and peace from God our Father and the 
Lord Jesus Christ." We are "justified freely by 
his grace;" "by grace are we saved through faith, 
and that not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God." 
Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds ; 
and the assurance is, that " as sin hath reigned 
unto death, so grace shall reign through righteous- 
ness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." 

Frequently as this term is employed, no word 
so variously applied could have greater uniformity 
of meaning. It is defined as signifying "favor, 
kindness, good will, benignity, the unmerited love 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 81 

of God as bestowed on sinful men." This is its 
original and literal import, and tlie Scriptures sel- 
dom or never give it a meaning not involved in 
the word itself. At one time they employ it to 
denote the favor, kindness, and agreeableness of 
men in their social relations. Often it expresses 
the love of God to all men ; frequently, the divine 
light and life which flow into the world through 
Jesus Christ, and the gracious influences and as- 
sistance of the Holy Spirit in the soul. 

In our text we are admonished to grow in grace 
and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ. What is it to be in a state of grace ? Do 
all men experience or enjoy the grace of God ? 
Grace signifies, as we have seen, the love of God, 
the influence of the Divine Spirit ; and it is often 
said that these are elements of the divine nature 
not in any sense dependent on human character, 
always and everywhere the same, and therefore 
that all men do actually enjoy and are in a state 
of grace, that all possess in some degree the Holy 
Spirit, and need no new communications of divine 
life, but only a quickening or development of what 
is in them. 

But let us apply this doctrine to our other ex- 
periences. It is true the grace, the love, the truth, 
the purity of God, always and everywhere abound 
over sin, over sorrow, over death ; no human power 
or act can change them ; they are infinitely full 
and perfect. But is not our relation to them, 



82 SERMONS. 

our participation in them, our enjoyment of them 
dependent on our spiritual condition, our charac- 
ter and conduct ? The nature of the sun is never 
changed : it is always full of light and heat ; it 
alwaj^s shines in glorious splendor ; its rays per- 
petually fly through space in every direction. But 
does it follow, as a fact of our experience, that all 
men dwell in a state of sunshine ? Do those who 
spend their days in dark cellars and mines enjoy 
its light and warmth ? Do not countless thousands 
perish for want of them ? The earth is always 
the same. Nothing that man does can change its 
elements. It is ever a firm foundation, ever send- 
hig forth its fruits and flowers. The refreshing 
fountains flow and the air breathes around as 
freely as possible. But all are not in a state to 
enjoy them. There are certain conditions on our 
part to be complied with before we can be nour- 
ished by the earth's rich fruits, or refreshed at her 
cooling fountains, or breathe her balmy air. We 
must place ourselves in right relations to these ob- 
jects, or they will not bless us. On the contrary, 
as experience teaches, if we do not receive these 
free gifts of nature, or if we pervert and abuse 
them, they turn against us fierce instruments of 
torture and powerful agencies for our degradation. 
So the free grace of God, the divine spirit of 
Jesus, may flow out to us, inviting us to the rich- 
est spiritual blessings ; but if we will not receive 
them, will not place ourselves under their influ- 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 83 

ence, how can we be benefited by them ? "We 
may not indeed be able to close up all the chan- 
nels by which they seek to flow into our souls ; but 
we can steel our hearts against them, quench the 
Spirit that strives with us, close our ears to the 
appeal of truth, harden our feelings against a 
sense of duty, and thus practically exclude our- 
selves from their divine enjoyments. 

It is possible, then, for men not to be in a state 
of grace, and all talk about growing in grace be- 
fore we enter this state is premature. The person 
who is living chiefly for the things of this world, 
for material treasures ; whose mind is under the 
control of avarice and pride, whose soul is filled 
with hatred, and whose mouth is full of cursing 
and bitterness ; who takes the name of his God in 
vain, scoffs at religion, and rejects all the means of 
moral and spiritual improvement, — that person 
cannot properly be said to be in a state of grace. 
On him the grace of God is bestowed in vain, as 
the sunlight is upon the toiler in the mine ; he 
does despite to the spirit of grace, and turns it 
into shame. 

To be in a state of grace, then, is to bring our- 
selves under the influence of the love, the purity, 
the truth, and the spirit of God, as revealed in 
Jesus Christ. It is to come into harmony and re- 
conciliation with Him. It is to be a partaker of 
his divine life, or, as the apostle expresses it, to 
" dwell in Him and He in us." 



84 SERifOXS. 

The attainment of such a state implies, first, a 
positive renunciation of sin. There must be a de- 
liberate, calm, full, and firm determination that, 
with the help of God, we will henceforth renounce 
and refrain from what we deem to be wrong in 
the sight of God ; deem to be forbidden in the 
gospel of Jesus Christ. This determination must 
not be any mere impulse, but the result of thought, 
of serious, prayerful reflection, impressing us 
deeply with a sense of the " exceeding sinfulness 
of sin," and taking such strong and permanent 
hold upon our feelings and convictions as to work 
a complete revolution in our lives. We can be no 
more indulgent or tolerant of wrong, no more 
careless or indifferent, but in ver}^ deed, in sin- 
cerity, and in truth we are to break off from sin 
by righteousness ; we are to make it the first and 
leading purpose of our lives to cultivate a keener 
sense and gain a clearer view of right and wrong. 
Until we bring ourselves to this point, until we 
have established the determination within our own 
hearts always to be on the side of right, against 
the Avrong, sin has dominion over us ; we are en- 
slaved to the world, to the lusts of the flesh, and 
the pride of life, and cannot be the subjects of 
the grace of God, the love, the truth, the purity, 
and the divine spirit of Jesus. We do not say 
that this determination will at once and forever 
save us from all sin. We shall still be subject to 
the weaknesses of our earthly condition, and may 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 85 

often fall ; but it will change our relation to 
them. Whereas before we were not established 
either in good or evil, but were drifting, first be- 
fore virtuous and then before vicious impulses, 
now in heart and purpose, in intention and desire, 
we are continually seeking the right, — seeking to 
do the will of God, to follow Christ. There is a 
voluntary, determined, positive consecration of the 
life to them ; a leading, earnest effort to bring our- 
selves under the control of the Divine Spirit. 

To this state of mind must we come before we 
can claim to be in a state of grace. And this is 
not enough alone ; other steps must be taken. 
To enter into a full and joyous participation of 
the divine life there must be not only a positive 
renunciation of sin and consecration of the heart 
to God in secret, but a positive confession of Christ 
before men. " With the heart man believeth unto 
righteousness, and with the mouth confession is 
made unto salvation." The salvation is not prom- 
ised until the confession is made. And Christ 
Himself says ; " Whosoever shall confess me before 
men, him will I confess also before my Father 
which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me 
before men, him will I also deny before my Father 
which is in heaven." It cannot be that the heart 
which is unreservedly given to Christ, which from 
deep conviction and abhorrence of evil has re- 
nounced the hidden things of darkness, has been 
renewed in the spirit of its mind, and has tasted 



86 SERMONS. 

the heavenly gift, can fail to make acknowledg- 
ment of the divine power by which the change has 
been effected, and of the glorious life into which it 
has been brought. It will do it, not only as an act 
of obedience and honor to Christ, but from an irre- 
pressible, overflowing desire to make its blessedness 
known and shared by others. And it cannot be 
that when the soul has once entered into so blessed 
an experience it can long enjoy it, can live and 
grow in it, in utter concealment. It is not the 
nature of the Divine Spirit to hide its light. Those 
who partake of it are said to be like a city set on 
a hill, which cannot be hid ; like a candle giving 
light to all in the room. And if they do not come 
forward and confess themselves, both in word and 
deed, the friends and disciples of Christ ; if they do 
not humbly, yet sincerely and plainly, declare their 
faith in Him, and intention by the help of God to 
follow Him and make Him their Lord and Master ; 
if they do not publicly join themselves to him by 
numbering themselves with the members of his 
body, which is the church, they will not, in a will- 
ful neglect of these duties, long " continue in the 
grace of God." Spiritual life will die out of their 
souls, coldness and indiffer'^nce will creep over 
them, and instead of growth there will be decay 
and death. 

These statements wo believe are authenticated 
not only by tlie word of God, but by the whole 
experience of the Christian church. Seeming ex- 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 87 

ceptions no doubt there are, but the rule holds 
good universally. From time to time sects have 
arisen repudiating open confession, repudiating the 
church and its ordinances ; but what has been 
their history? That they have had good men, 
eminent Christians, we do not deny ; but that they 
have succeeded in elevating the masses of their 
followers into a high spiritual condition is not true. 
That they have been able to make their Christian 
influence felt far and wide and permanently is not 
true. That their efforts to disseminate their doc- 
trines and obtain a commanding, influential posi- 
tion among other sects have been eminently suc- 
cessful is not true. And that they have not been 
able long to sustain a vigorous growth, and have 
generally begun to decay and lose zeal and power 
as soon as the first impulse of opposition and nov- 
elty passed awa}^, is a historic fact. And the in- 
efficiency of the organic body is symbolic of the 
spiritual decrepitude of the individual life. No 
doubt true and devoted Christians have lived and 
died, sustaining a fervent piety unto the end, with- 
out forming an outward connection with the visible 
church of Christ. But these are the exceptions, 
not the rule. They have been people of some 
peculiarities of organization, or they have been 
unfortunately associated in life, — excluded by big- 
otry or conscientious scruples on particular points. 
But we affirm that the great body of all true be- 
lievers in and sincere followers of Christ have 



88 SERMOXS. 

esteemed, and "will in every age esteem it both 
their duty and their privilege to make a public 
profession of faith in Him, to unite with his church, 
to number themselves v^ith the people of God. 
And so few are the exceptions to this rule that 
our feelings in regard to it may safelj^ be relied 
upon as another test by which we may determine 
whether we are in a state of grace. We know 
that the most saintly men and women in every age 
of the Christian era have rejoiced in this privilege; 
we know that but very few comparativel}^ have 
been able to sustain a living, growing piety with- 
out it ; we know that an open profession of devo- 
tion and loj^alty to any cause is deemed essential 
to sincerity and manly courage ; we know that 
Christian union and sympathy strengthen our 
Christian faith and feeling, and that Christ has 
enjoined it upon us as a means of giving efficiency 
to our efforts. And knowing this, can we feel sat- 
isfied with ourselves that we are full believers in 
and mean to be sincere followers of Christ while 
we do not confess Him before men ? No, we repeat ; 
this is another sign of our being in a state of grace, 
and we ought to examine our hearts very closel}^, 
and feel very doubtful of our religious condition, if 
we are satisfied without it. 

But by the grace of God, having attained unto 
a positive renunciation of sin and a positive con- 
fession of Christ, how are we to continue and grow 
in this grace ? Our work is now but just begun. 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 89 

We are now, as it were, infants, just born into 
spiritual life. How are we to be supported and 
nourished into spiritual growth and strength ? Our 
feet are now upon the way of life, and our faces 
set heavenward. How are we to make progress ? 
Too many think that if they are once converted, 
once in a state of grace, they have nothing more 
to do. But in truth, it is at this point that activ- 
ity should begin. We have just attained a condi- 
tion where our efforts for Christian growth will be 
effectual. Here is where the command is given : 
" Grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord 
and Saviour Jesus Christ." 

Let it be first observed that this is a command, 
and hence it is something we are to do, and impUes 
the use of means. Our spiritual life can no more 
grow than our natural life unless we nourish it, 
feed it with the food God has provided for its 
strengthening. 

The first condition of our growth in grace is 
that we make it our great business, and do not 
leave it to chance. As spiritual progress, constant 
assimilation to God and Christ, is the hio^hest con- 
ceivable good, it must be sought with the great- 
est earnestness, with a desire corresponding to its 
desirableness. We must seek first the kingdom 
of God and his righteousness. Business, wealth, 
pleasure, fame, must all be made of secondary 
importance. To draw nearer to God, to bear 
more of his gracious image, to have a greater full- 



90 SERMONS. 

ness of his spirit, a closer and increasing fellow- 
ship with Christ, and an ever-deepening peace and 
joy in Him, will be the one absorbing object of our 
lives. 

To this end we shall make constant use of those 
means which imply dependence on God. His 
words will be in constant requisition. The gos- 
pel will be delighted in and daily studied, so that 
we can say with David, " Oh, how I love thy law ; 
it is my meditation all the day." The character of 
Christ, his works, his love, and precepts will be 
investigated, that we may grow in the knowledge 
of Jesus Christ. An increase of spiritual life in 
the soul depends in some measure upon an increase 
of knowledge. The more we know of God and 
Christ the deeper and broader will be the religious 
experience of the soul. Hence the Bible will not 
be a neglected book with us. Its contents will be 
treasured in the memory. We shall give ourselves 
to reading, hearing, studying, searching the Script- 
ures. The public ministry of the word will be 
faithfully attended, and we shall thankfully accept 
all the assistance in investigating it which learning 
and piety can afford. One reason why we have 
so little grace in our hearts, so little interest in 
spiritual things, and make so little progress in di- 
vine life, is that we do not read our Bibles. How 
can the stream be full and fresh and sparkling if 
not fed by the fountain ? The Bible is the fount- 
ain of spiritual life in the soul, it is the gospel 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 91 

of the grace of God ; and if we will grow in grace, 
if we will feel an ever-deepening interest and 
delight in spiritual things, if we will have an 
increasing sense of the love and purity of God, 
an increasing knowledge and enjoyment of Jesus 
Christ, we must study it ; study it devoutly, ear- 
nestly, daily; study it alone, together; question 
each other and all the wise and good about its 
meaning^. We must consult it as we would a 
chart guiding us to a place we are very desirous to 
reach ; as we would a rule in mathematics directing 
how to solve a problem. Oh, yes, my friends, the 
Bible contains the only rule by which the difficult 
problem of life can be solved ; and we must study 
it, understand it in all its applications, or life will 
be a mystery and a failure. " Search the Script- 
ures," is the injunction, " for in them ye have 
eternal life." Search them as you would search 
for a lost treasure, carefully, earnestly, with strong 
desire to discover the pearl of great price. None 
but those who have done this have found that eter- 
nal life which is to know God aright and Jesus 
Christ whom He has sent. 

But again, to grow in grace and in the knowl- 
edge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ we 
must use unceasing prayer. This point, as it 
seems to us, needs only a simple statement. Will 
any claim that the prayerless person can be a 
Christian ; be a follower, disciple, and have the 
spirit of Him whose whole life was bathed in an 



92 SERJfONS. 

atmosphere of devotion ; who taught that " men 
ought always to pray and never to faint" ? Prayer 
is the very breath, the vital spark, of the divine 
life in the soul. It is the most natural and direct 
way of access to God. In other religious exer- 
cises we think, hear, and learn of Him. In prayer 
we come directly to Him, as friend addresses 
friend. And how can it be that the soul can lift 
itself up unto the Father in humble adoration, in 
sincere confession, in earnest petition and joyful 
thanksgiving, without receiving a new baptism of 
his Spirit ? The more we are in communion with 
God, the brighter will the illumination of his pres- 
ence fall upon us. Our dispositions and desires 
bend towards the objects with which they are 
most familiar. Thus constant prayerfulness turns 
the current of our being upward ; while, on the 
other hand, God has promised to give his Holy 
Spirit to them that ask Him, to reward them who 
diligentl}^ seek Him, and to bestow all things 
whatsoever we ask in prayer, believing. Worship, 
then, is a mighty agenc}'' to bring us into spiritual 
union with God. It not only lifts the soul up to 
Him, but it brings down blessings to the soul from 
Him. It avails both with God and with men ; it 
has power both in heaven and on earth ; and hence 
it is so often and urgently enjoined upon all who 
would increase in divine wisdom and purity. Can 
it be that we can grow in grace and in a knowl- 
edge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ while 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 93 

we neglect so important an agency ? It is impos- 
sible. The history of man affords not a single 
example. The prayerless individual and church 
always sink into spiritual decay. If we will draw 
near to God, if we will learn of Christ, grow in 
grace, have a living, increasing sense of divine 
purity and love, we must pray unceasingly, live 
in a devout, a reverent state of mind. We must 
pray in secret, we must pray in our families, we 
must pray in the worshiping assembly ; pray for 
ourselves, our friends, our enemies, for the good, 
the bad, for all men. The more we pray the 
stronger will be our love for God and for men, 
the greater our desires to improve ourselves and 
others ; the less of selfishness and avarice and gross 
passion shall we have. Let us remember, then, 
that all talk about our being Christians, about our 
being enlightened and liberal and progressive, is 
idle and deceptive, while we live careless, worldly, 
prayerless lives. If we know the grace of God 
in truth, if we are spiritually joined to Christ, we 
shall delight to think of God, meditate upon his 
loving kindness, study his word, commune with 
Him in prayer, observe his Sabbath day to keep 
it holy, join with kindred spirits in public wor- 
ship in the Sabbath-school and in the church. 
And in the use of all these means we shall humbly 
wait for and seek the illumination and guidance 
of the Holy Spirit. Christ promised that after his 
departure He would send it, to guide his disciples 



94 SERMONS. 

into all truth, to be their comforter and quick- 
ener. And do we need it less than they did? Oh, 
do we not often feel our blindness, our weakness, 
the deadness of our souls to spiritual interests, 
the perverse inclinations that draw us away from 
our Father and Saviour ? Do we not then need 
the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us, to 
strengthen, guide, and comfort us ? It will be 
given if we seek it, if we will open our hearts and 
let it enter. Indeed, without it all these other 
means will but partially succeed. They will be, as 
it were, a body without life. This is what lights 
up the path of Christian progress, and gives living 
power to the word, to prayer, and to the public 
ministry. If we have a divine revelation, surely 
we need a divine spirit to carry it home and inter- 
pret it to the soul. And the Father, who knoweth 
all our spiritual needs, will not fail to give it. Oh, 
how divine its light, how pure its joy, how sweet 
its comfort, how unerring its guidance ! 

" Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove, 
"With all thy quickening powers ; 
Come shed abroad a Saviour's love 
In these cold hearts of ours." 

Having shown what it is to be in a state of 
grace, and some of the means of growth therein, 
let us, in closing, notice some of its fruits, its re- 
sults. Progress in spiritual life will be evinced 
both by inward experiences and by outward graces. 
Where there is growth in grace, there will also be 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 95 

an increase and strengthening of faith, — -faith in 
God, in Christ, in man, in spiritual realities. In 
the exercise of faith the Christian life commences ; 
it lays hold on Christ, and receives pardon and 
acceptance with God, adoption into his spiritual 
family, and sweet reconciliation to his will. But 
it is a progressive grace; it not only commences 
but instrumentally it consummates the Christian 
experience when it is lost in sight. It operates in 
every intervening state, conflict, and trial through 
which the Christian is called to pass ; and as we 
grow in grace it will not only establish us in a firm 
belief of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, 
not only make us true and faithful in defending 
them, but it will blossom forth in a calm, peaceful, 
child-like trust, holy resignation, and satisfying 
hope. In all our trials it will enable us to kan 
upon our Father's arm, and feel that in the Saviour 
we have a sympathizer and helper who will not 
fail or be discouraged. 

And this confidence will lead us to a full conse- 
cration of all our powers to promote the Redeem- 
er's kingdom in the earth. We shall feel that we 
owe this to the Saviour, and that He has a right to 
expect it of us. It is eminently the work of faith 
to spread the cause of Christ, and an evidence that 
grace is alive and growing in the soul. As we 
daily drink new draughts from the fountain of love 
and purity, we shall long to have others share in 
our blessedness, long to communicate the joyful 



96 SERMONS. 

tidiDgs of grace and salvation ; and we shall be 
willing to spend and be spent for Christ. The 
talents of our mind, the labor of our hands, our 
time, our means, will all be given as duty and the 
interests of truth require. He who will follow 
Christ must sell all, hold everything in readiness 
for his service. The more faith discovers of the 
beauty and glory of the Saviour, and the splen- 
dors of that heavenly country to which he points, 
the more worthless will this world's treasures ap- 
pear, except as they are devoted to Him. 

Growth in grace will be witnessed by an ever- 
increasing charity and love. Where faith grows 
love will abound, for faith works by love. They 
are connected together as cause and effect. The 
same principle that attaches men to the truth of 
Christ will attach them to one another for the 
truth's sake. Christ is the center of union to his 
followers. As we love and draw near to Him, we 
shall love and draw near to each other. As we 
each receive his spirit, we shall all be of the same 
spirit. As we have the mind of Christ, we shall 
be of one mind and one heart, " striving together 
for the faith of the gospel."' Hence discord and 
contention and evil speaking are banished from 
among Christians. They love one another ; they 
live in peace ; they are not only friends but broth- 
ers and sisters in Christ. 

But their love is not exclusive. While it is dis- 
criminating, it is impartial and universal. While 



SPIRITUAL GROWTH. 97 

they love Christians as Christians, and the sinful 
as lost and erring fellow-beings, they none the 
less love man as man, as a child of God, an heir 
of immortalit}^ and heaven. Through the eye of 
faith they see the grace of God bringing salvation 
unto all men, and teaching them to live soberly 
and righteously in this present life. Hence their 
love extends to all ; to bond and free ; to black 
and white. They go out to seek and to save the 
lost, the intemperate, the abandoned, the profane. 
There are none so weak, so insignificant, so de- 
graded, that Christian love does not reach them. 
It sends out missionaries and bibles and tracts to 
the most barbarous tribes. It sacrifices friendship 
and home and ease and comfort and life itself, 
that it may carry the light of heavenly truth to 
darkened minds. It never tires or faints ; its re- 
sources never fail ; its hopes never grow dim, 
because its trust is in God. 

And where we see the most zeal in these and 
similar benevolent works, there, we may be sure, is 
the most growth in grace ; the most saving knowl- 
edge of the Lord Jesus Christ. By their fruits ye 
shall know them. By these men will take knowl- 
edge of us that we have been with Jesus. None 
but those who are filled with the love of God, 
who have the divine spirit of Jesus in their 
hearts, engage heartily and continue perseveringly 
in efforts to save their fellow-men. Seeking the 
inward life and inspiration, that vital, growing 



98 SERMONS. 



spirit of faith and love which will arm us against 
all discouragements and make us faithful unto 
death, making our lives exemplary, our works 
Christ-like, and our intentions just, let us "grow 
in grace, and in a knowledge of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ." 



III. 

OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. 



" What must I do to be saved 1" — Acts xvi. 30. 

This question implies that we have something 
to do to secure salvation. And this we all believe, 
though we differ in our views of the nature of sal- 
vation, and of the precise thing to be done, to 
obtain it. While all Christians agree in believing 
that man cannot save himself, that he needs a 
Saviour, and must trust in Christ alone for salva- 
tion, all are also united in the opinion that men 
have something to do themselves, that they have a 
cooperative agency in the work of salvation. 

This is evidently the doctrine of the New Tes- 
tament. It characterizes Christ as the Saviour of 
sinners, the Saviour of the world ; assures us that 
his is the only name given under heaven among 
men whereby we must be saved ; and at the same 
time, it tells us to work out our own salvation, to 
repent, believe, confess, in order that we may be 
saved. It is easy to reconcile these two agencies 
in securing human salvation. As God is the author 



100 SERMONS. 

of natural life, yet we receive it through hunian 
agency ; so the grace and truth which alone can 
save us is given by Christ, yet we must accept 
and apply that grace and truth before it will save 
us. As God gives us the fruits of the earth, yet 
requires us to cultivate them before we can have 
them, so Christ is the author of our salvation, yet 
we receive it through faith and obedience. And 
the question is, what are the steps we are to take, 
what attainments are we to make, what duties 
perform, in order to obtain salvation ? 

The answers to these questions are not specu- 
lative, but revealed. Perhaps no other question is 
so often, so directly, and so explicitly answered in 
the Scriptures as this one, " What must I do to be 
saved? " And we purpose in this discourse to say 
little more than to repeat the inspired answers to 
this inquiry. 

In all religious thought and experience the ex- 
istence of God is the primary and fundamental 
truth. God is ; God exists as the Creator, the 
Upholder, the Sovereign, and the Judge of the 
world ; He is infinitely holy and wise and good, 
— these are the rudimentary truths of revealed re- 
ligion. They are the first and simj)lest thoughts 
of the Bible, and also of our minds when we begin 
to feel our need of spiritual illumination. And 
hence it was by pointing man to this fundamental 
truth, that God is, that this question of our text 
was first answered, '•'• Look unto me and be ye 



OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. 101 

saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and 
there is none else." " Who hath declared and told 
this from ancient time? Have not I, the Lord, 
and there is no God else beside me, a just God and 
a Saviour." 

This is the first answer given us in the Script- 
ures to the question, '^ What must I do to be 
saved ? " " Look unto me and be ye saved, all the 
ends of the earth." To look to God is to believe 
in Him and to trust in Him. It is to reverence 
and obey Him. It is to acknowledge Him as a 
holy, just, and perfect being, and to bow submis- 
sive to his will. It is to feel our dependence upon 
God, to realize our weakness and sinfulness and 
blindness, and to be humble before Him. 

In thus looking to God we are saved ; saved 
from disobedience to his requirements ; saved from 
ignorance of his character ; saved from alienation 
from his spirit ; saved from the moral and spirit- 
ual darkness of those who know not God. 

Now, in this first answer which the Scriptures 
make to the question, '' What must I do to be 
saved ?" we have the germ, the essential principle 
or condition of salvation. Whenever we truly 
look to God or turn to Him with full purpose of 
heart, we are saved. Waiting upon God and obe- 
dience to Him is salvation. We are saved to the 
extent we look to Him with the inward eye of faith 
aud love. 

But in all ages men have failed to look to God 



102 SERMONS. 

with that steadfast gaze which saves them from 
ignorance of Him and disobedience to Him. Prac- 
tically it has been demonstrated that men have 
not the power in themselves alone to turn to God. 
He is infinite and they are finite. They cannot 
comprehend Him. He is an invisible spirit, while 
they dwell in tabernacles of flesh and eartlily ob- 
jects veil Him from their sight. Hence we cannot 
approach the Infinite directly or look to Him with 
a clear vision. We need to have Him brought 
down, as it were, to our comprehension, and rep- 
resented to us in a form that is visible to our dim 
eyes. When God calls to us, " Look unto me and 
be ye saved," our yearning hearts respond in the 
language of the old patriarch, " Oh, that I knew 
where I might find Him." This deep need of our 
souls that God should be brought near to us by 
some visible token has been felt in all ages. The 
idolatry of pagan nations is the effort of the mind 
to bring the Infinite and Invisible near and within 
its comprehension. And God partly answered this 
need when He gave the law with its signs and sym- 
bols, its solemn rites and sacrifices. These helped 
men to look to God with a clearer vision, and to 
enjoy more of his salvation than they ever had 
before. They brought human hearts into closer 
union and holier communion with God. They 
gave the world a higher religious life than it had 
known before. 

But they had not the power to save humanity 



OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. 103 

from all error and sin and suffering. They were 
chiefly outward rules of life. They were laws 
regulating the conduct in specific cases, and deal- 
ing less with the spirit and motives of our con- 
duct than with each separate act. Hence they 
could not reach down to the center of life, and 
renovate the springs of action. They made God 
the ruler over our lives and the judge of our con- 
duct, but they did not bring Him into our souls, 
as an indwelling presence and life. And therefore 
a more vital and spiritual ministry was needed to 
bring salvation to all men. God must be revealed 
in a life before men could see Him. 

And this revelation was made in Jesus Christ. 
In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead. He 
was the brightness of the Father's glory, so that 
he could say to men, " He that had seen me hath 
seen the Father ; " "No man cometh unto the 
Father, but by me." He came forth from the 
bosom of the Father, full of grace and truth. He 
stands to us in the place of God, so that we look 
to God when we look to Him. 

Hence, now, under the Christian dispensation, 
faith in Christ is equivalent to looking to God for 
salvation. This truth is fully brought out in con- 
nection with our text. We are all familiar with 
the circumstances. Paul and Silas had been im- 
prisoned for preaching the gospel. " At midnight 
they prayed and sang praises unto God. And 
suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the 



104 SER3fONS. 

foundations of the prison were shaken : and im- 
mediately all the doors were opened and every 
one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the 
prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the 
prison doors open, drew out his sword, and would 
have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners 
had fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, say- 
ing, Do thyself no harm : for we are all here. 
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came 
trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 
and brought them out, and said. Sirs, what must 
I do to be saved ? And they said. Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, " and thou shalt be saved and 
thine house." 

This is sufficiently definite. As they were at 
first told to look to God and be saved, so now they 
are told to believe on Christ, and they shall be 
saved. We have no reason to think there was smj- 
thing special or peculiar in this promise to the 
jailer. The faith that would save him would save 
us all. This is not the only passage in which sal- 
vation is promised to faith. Says the Saviour, 
" By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." 
" He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." 
'' If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord 
Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God 
hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be 
saved." The passages are almost innumerable in 
which, by one form of speech or another, it is prom- 
ised that those who believe on Christ shall be saved. 



OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. 105 

Here, then, we have another direct and positive 
answer to the question, " What must I do to be 
saved? " '' Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
thou shalt be saved." And this answer is sub- 
stantially the same as the first one, " Look unto 
me and be ye saved." We are to see the Father 
in the Son. We are to look to God, by faith in 
Christ, who is the image of the invisible God. 

But what is faith in Christ ? How are we to 
believe on Him so as to be saved by Him ? Faith 
in Christ is substantially what faith in any other 
being or object would be. If we were to say of 
a person, I believe in that man, what should we 
mean ? Something more, certainly, than a simple 
belief in his existence. I believe that a great 
many men exist, or have existed, and yet I have 
very little faith in the men themselves. To say 
that I believe in a man is equivalent to saying 
that I believe in his principles, in his character, 
in his words and deeds. 

And when we say that we believe in Christ, we 
must mean something more than that we believe 
He once existed on earth. This is not believing in 
Him, but it is believing something in reference to 
Him. It is well to believe this. But to believe 
in Him we must believe that He was all that He 
claimed to be. We must believe that He was a 
truthful teacher. We must believe in his religion, 
and in its supreme excellence and authority. We 
must accept Him as our Saviour, and his rehgion 



106 SERMOXS. 

as our religion. We must own Him to be our 
teacher and guide, our lord and master. 

This is believing on Christ, and when we have 
this faith in Him, He saves us. He was without 
sin, and when we have received Him, his spirit 
and principles, into our hearts and lives, we are 
saved from sin. His teachings are absolute truth, 
and when we have received them we are saved 
from error and falsehood. 

His spirit is the spirit of God, and when we 
have received it into our hearts, we are filled with 
all the fullness of God. Christ was saved from 
all evil, and to the extent we are Christ-like we 
are saved. Faith in Christ is appropriating Christ 
to our hearts and lives, so that He, by his truth 
and spirit, dwells in us ; He lives in us and we in 
Him. 

There is much implied, then, in a saving faith 
in Christ. It means the giving up of our lives to 
be moulded and directed by Him. It is the sur- 
render of our reason, our affections, our aims, and 
hopes to be taught by Him. Not that we become 
less individual or free or rational by our faith in 
Him. On the contrary, the more fully our lives 
are swallowed up in his life the more are we our- 
selves. When we live out of Christ, we live false 
lives ; we are not true to our own natures. We 
are dead while we live to the highest and best 
purpose of life. But in Christ we are made alive 
to the design of our being. As the prodigal son 



OUR PART IN TEE WORK OF SALVATION. 107 

came to himself when he argse and went to his 
fathei*, so we come to ourselves when we come 
unto God by the way of Christ. Christ is the 
perfection of true manliness. He took upon Him- 
self our nature, that he might sanctify and glorify 
it in a sinless life. He shows us what we may be 
and what we must be to enjoy the power of God 
and the felicity of heaven. 

A saving faith in Christ implies repentance of 
sin. Christ began his ministry by calling on men 
to repent. His disciples went out and preached 
that men should repent. Speaking of the new 
dispensation of grace given the world in Christ, 
in comparison with former and less enlightened 
ages, the apostle says, " The times of this igno- 
rance God winked at, but now commandeth all 
men, everywhere, to repent." 

If the faith in Christ which saves us is spirit- 
ual union with Him, it is evident that we cannot 
exercise this faith until we have renounced and 
put away all sinful dispositions and practices. 
Repentance is that sorrow for sin which arises in 
the mind from a sincere dislike of sin. It is put- 
ting away sin because we do not love it, but hate 
it, and realize how offensive it is to God, and how 
great a wrong it is to ourselves and our fellow- 
beings. Repentance is deep regret that we have 
sinned and offended against God and his creatures. 
It is a full and solemn determination to sin no 
more, to watch and pray and seek the help of God 



108 SERMONS. 

to overcome sin and to obey Him. We do not 
truly look to God, or believe on Christ, until we 
have thus repented of sin. We cannot be saved 
while there is one, and that the least and most 
secret sin, cherished in our hearts and not repented 
of. One sin unrepented would be endless misery. 
There is no peace to the wicked. Where there is 
sin there must be torment forever. You and I 
and every person must bow down before God in 
true repentance before we can truly believe on 
Christ or be saved by Him. 

And we must not only repent, but we must be 
forgiven our sins. We must feel assured in our 
hearts that God has forgiven us ; that He has 
accepted our repentance and our faith in Christ ; 
that He knows them to be sincere and enduring. 
Our hearts cannot have the peace of God until we 
have this assurance. 

If we have offended against a fellow-being, it 
does not satisfy us simply to repent of the wrong 
we have done. We want to know that our of- 
fended brother is reconciled to us again. We 
want to know that he is still our friend ; that he 
has confidence in our repentance and will love us, 
as if we had never offended. Can we look him in 
the face, can we enjoy his company or be fully at 
peace with him, until we have this assurance ! 

Now our sinfulness has been an offense to God. 
It has trampled upon his requirements ; it has 
blinded our eyes to a knowledge of Him ; it has 



OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. 109 

alienated our hearts from Him, and robbed Him 
of the worship and love and obedience which we 
owe Him. And we need not only to repent of this 
sinfulness, but to have evidence that God in his in- 
finite love has forgiven it, put it away out of sight 
and remembrance, so that He now loves us as much 
as though we had never sinned, so that there is 
perfect reconciliation between us. We cannot 
feel that God is reconciled to us before we repent 
and are forgiven. But after this the soul rests in 
a peaceful assurance of the divine favor. Before, 
there is a " certain fearful looking for of judgment 
and fiery indignation ; " but afterwards, there is 
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
We have this assurance of forgiveness in Christ : 
" God so loved the world, that He gave his only 
begotten Son, that the world through Him might 
be saved." " While we were dead in trespasses 
and sins Christ died for us." " Herein is love, not 
that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent 
his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," " that 
we might live through Him." And the sense of 
God's forgiving love comes into our hearts through 
faith in Christ. " In whom," says the apostle, "we 
have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, through 
his blood, according to the riches of his grace. 
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, 
through faith in his blood, to declare his right- 
eousness, for the remission of sins that are past, 
through the forbearance of God ; that He might 



110 SERMONS. 

be just and the justifier of him which believeth 
in Jesus." How evident it is that a sense of for- 
giveness is included in a saving faith in Christ. 
We cannot be saved until we know that our sins 
are forgiven. 

And this leads us to say, finally, that a saving 
faith in Christ implies newness and consecration 
of life. If we live by faith in the Son of God, we 
shall be quickened by the Spirit. That must be 
a dead faith which is not vitalized bj^ the Holy 
Spirit and strengthened by prayer. Faith grows 
by exercise. When we are brought into possession 
of a true Christian faith, a faith which includes 
repentance and forgiveness of sins, then we are 
simply born again, or of the Spirit. We have just 
begun the Christian life. And now, we must go 
on to live in Christ, to grow in grace, to develop 
the new life which is given us in Christ. This 
must be nourished by the word of God and prayer. 
It must be exercised by active service of our Mas- 
ter. Having called us, he says to us, " Go work to- 
day in my vineyard." '' Take up your cross and 
follow me." And this cross must be borne openly, 
before the world. Not only faith, but confession, 
is made a condition of salvation. " If thou shalt 
confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe 
in thine heart, thou shalt be saved." " He that 
confesseth me, him will I confess before my Father 
which is in heaven." " He that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved." Those that hide their 



OUR PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION. Ill 

talent lose it. But those who let their light shine 
lead men to glorify God. 

We have here given you the Scriptural answer 
to the question, " What must I do to be saved? " 
It is briefly this, — Look to God, through faith in 
Jesus Christ. Repent of sin and seek the forgive- 
ness of sin. Open your hearts to the new and di- 
vine life of the Holy Spirit, and having received 
that life, consecrate it to the work of Christ. It is 
impossible that one soul shall ever be saved until 
it is thus renewed and sanctified and fitted for 
heaven. " Without holiness, no man shall see the 
Lord." 

Who, then, can be saved ? With men it is 
impossible, but with God all things are possible. 
We answer this question, Who can be saved ? 
just as the gospel answers it. It could not make 
the conditions of salvation plainer. There is not 
a promise or a hope of salvation held out in the 
gospel to the unbelieving, unrepentant sinner. 
" Repent and believe the gospel that your sins may 
be blotted out," is the call of God to all men. 
But, on the other hand, the gospel as positively 
assures us that Christ is the Saviour of the world, 
that he is the Lamb or Sacrifice of God to take 
away the sin of the world ; that He tasted death 
for every man, and will draw all men unto Him ; 
that God will reconcile all things unto Himself, and 
have all men to be saved and to come unto the 
knowledge of the truth. Here are the conditions 



112 SERMONS. 

of salvation, — faith, repentance, newness of life, 
holiness ; and here are the promises of salvation to 
all men. Will the promises fail ? or will the con- 
ditions, finall}^, be complied with ? One or the 
other must be. Oh, blessed be God, it is the work 
of Christ to bring all men to comply with the 
conditions of salvation. He saves us by fulfilling, 
not for us, but in us, the conditions of salvation. 
So while our salvation is wholly of Christ, we re- 
ceive it through our voluntary acceptance of Him. 
If we do not repent and believe now, or in this 
world, Christ's work, as our Saviour, will not be 
done till He draws us unto Himself. But this we 
know, that neither in this world nor the next will 
there be any other or easier terms of salvation. 
We are therefore called to repent and believe now. 
" Now is the accepted time ; now is the day of sal- 
vation." 



IV. 

THE MIND OF CHRIST. 



'* Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." — 
Philippians ii. 5. 

These earnest words, orginally addressed by 
the apostle to the Philippian Christians, may be 
received as addressed to all Christians, and indeed 
to all men. We are all called upon to possess 
ourselves of the mind, disposition, desires, feelings, 
affections, and character of Christ. The apostle 
frequently urges men to know Christ, to follow 
Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him, and in 
Him. These expressions show us how great a 
work must be wrought in us before we can know 
the fullness of Christ's salvation. We must be 
like-minded with Christ before we can have peace 
and be fully satisfied. This is the lesson which 
this discourse is intended to teach. 

The human soul is the most excellent and glo- 
rious work of God. Nothing in all his limitless 
creation so clearly and forcibly displays his wisdom 
and might, his love and goodness. The sun in the 



114 SEP.MONS. 

heavens, the mighty ocean, the delicate and beau- 
tiful flower, speak of his skill and benevolence, but 
the soul of man is made in his image. A right- 
eous soul has enstamped upon it, not only his spir- 
itual likeness, but his eternity. It outshines and 
will outlive all material things. Great in capacity, 
wonderful in ability, inexhaustible in resources, 
beautiful in nature, divine in origin, and glorious 
in destiny, it stands at the ver}^ summit of crea- 
tion. 

And its character, the manifestations of its life, 
may be as glorious as its endowments. 

But they are not always glorious. They are 
sometimes dark, unlovely, and sinful. It is impos- 
sible to disguise the fact of moral evil. Nor can 
we palliate or excuse it. There is radical, pre- 
vailing sinfulness in the world. Traces and evi- 
dences of it are visible all over the earth. Society 
is weakened, burdened, convulsed by the wicked- 
ness that finds a home in human hearts. All men 
have their besettinof sins. Sometimes the minds 
that are strongest and soar the highest will grovel 
the lowest. Imperial genius and rarest gifts and 
attainments will bury themselves in the dust. 
The strongest in virtue have sometimes fallen. 

When we consider men's capacity for good and 
evil it almost seems that they have two natures, — 
one angelic, struggling upward to light and heaven, 
and the other demoniac, plunging into darkness, 
mocking virtue, and delighting in evil. Standing 



THE MIND OF CHRIST. 115 

side by side, we behold man's divinity and his de- 
pravity. All the circumstances of life, all condi- 
tions, plans, and purposes develop them, and both 
must be taken into the account in judging of man's 
responsibility. 

Whatever develops, ennobles, and perfects man's 
higher and immortal nature should be chosen, en- 
couraged, and followed. Whatever ministers to 
the excessive desires and passions of his lower or 
earthly nature should be rejected. The greatest 
injury which error and sin can do is wrought upon 
the higher nature of man in blinding, paralyzing, 
and degrading it. Man was created to be edu- 
cated, to know truth and right, to understand his 
relations to God and his fellow-beings, to have 
enlarged and ever enlarging ideas of his own dig- 
nity and spirituality, and of the relations, obliga- 
tions, and duties of life. A true education is that 
which draws out, develops, and strengthens the 
life within us, and opens in the soul eternal fount- 
ains of thought and devotion. The less of such 
culture we have, the more closely are we allied to 
the earthly, the more is the spirit in bondage to 
the flesh. 

In this one fact we see the greatest evil of sin. 
The degrading, brutalizing power of wrong upon 
the soul is what makes it so offensive to God. 
The outward injury is but a slight thing compared 
with the evil wrought within. 

And in this fact, also, are seen the great need and 



116 SERMONS. 

worth of education. It develops the inestimable 
value, the inexhaustible resources of man's higher 
nature. But intellectual education alone is not 
sufficient to perfect a man. It does much for him. 
It gives him great power. It opens many fount- 
ains of thought and enjoyment in his soul. But 
it does not unseal all the fountains of his human 
and divine nature. Nor is a mere negative virtue, 
the mere abstaining from vice and crime, sufficient. 
Something more is needed to make us perfect, to 
create within us the true ideal of goodness and 
greatness. In the life of man's moral and spiritual 
nature there is needed an inspiration which the 
knowledge of material things can never impart. 
Science and philosophy enlighten and broaden the 
mind. They do much to qualify it to appreciate 
religious truth, but they can never fill the place of 
religion. The one great need of the soul, after it 
has been nourished and expanded to the utmost by 
science and philosophy, remains unsatisfied. It is 
yet a hollow vessel. It is yet an altar without fire. 
And this one great need is expressed in our text : 
" Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ 
Jesus." In addition to natural life, the life of the 
senses, the life of the intellect, and of the human 
affections, we need what our Saviour calls eternal 
life, the life quickened in the soul by the truth and 
spirit of God. The moral and spiritual nature 
needs to be penetrated and stimulated by a holy 
love and holy desires that pervade and illu- 



THE MIND OF CHRIST. 117 

minate the whole being, and subdue and mould it 
after the divine image. The character and truth 
of Christ need to be enstamped upon every feature 
of our religious nature, developed in all our acts, 
and to be the great principle to move and actuate 
the whole man. 

In all our enterprises and ambitions it is the 
mind and spirit of Jesus Christ that we need to 
perfect the development and education of our nat- 
ures, and to make our happiness complete. Let 
us strive to be conscious that Christ must be and 
dwell within us to produce harmony and fullness 
of all that is good, lovely, and spiritual in man. 
We must become like Him in character, disposi- 
tion, desire, thought, feeling, and action. His 
spirit must pervade our spirits till they glow with 
the warmth of his love. 

We can learn the true philosophy and purpose 
of life only from Christ. And He alone can teach 
us the ideas and principles that give the highest 
significance to life. In this fact lies the secret of 
Christ's power. He grasps a new conception of 
life. This conception is not visionary, but grows 
out of fundamental ideas. He gives us new views 
of the character, government, and purposes of 
God ; of the nature, duty, and destiny of man ; of 
the agencies, processes, and principles by which 
man is to be saved from sin and restored to holi- 
ness and happiness. 

It is by vitalizing his thoughts upon these fun- 



118 iSERMONS. 

damental questions in the hearts of men, as ele- 
ments of their moral and spiritual experience, that 
Christ makes all things new. We can easily per- 
ceive what a change would be wrought in the 
world's life by the introduction of Christ's view 
of God, as the Eternal Goodness, the Universal 
Father, and Everlasting Friend. Before He came 
God had been worshiped chiefly as the Creator, 
the king, the judge of men. And as such, men 
did not, could not love Him, as they have loved 
Him since they have been permitted to say, " Our 
Father who art in heaven." This satisfies us. 
He is all to us that we desire. We can draw near 
to Him, and trust Him fully, and love Him with 
all the tenderness of our filial nature. What a 
new life this thought imparts to our souls ! We 
obey and worship in a new spirit. When we 
fully receive Christ's view of the divine love and 
fatherhood, we are new creatures. We live in a 
new world. We think new thoughts. We have 
new joys and sorrows, desires and hopes. 

Equally well does Christ's view of the nature of 
man illustrate our theme. We put a different es- 
timate upon ourselves, when we see ourselves in 
the light of Christian truth to be the children of 
God, created in his moral and spiritual likeness. 
If we have not the mind of Christ upon this sub- 
ject, what are we but mere creatures of earth and 
sense, born to labor and suffer and perish ? This is 
the best view of his own nature and destiny man has 



TEE MIND OF CHRIST. 119 

ever attained without tlie light of Christian truth. 
But where the gospel is received he rises at once 
into the light of immortality. He perceives the 
infinite possibilities of his nature, his need of in- 
struction, ^guidance, and holiness. And all the dis- 
cipline of life has meaning. Every labor, joy, and 
sorrow is sent as the ministry of the Father's love, 
to teach us higher wisdom and to prepare us for 
higher blessedness. 

How important to our highest welfare is it, that 
we have the mind which was in Christ, in refer- 
ence to our own nature. It exalts and dignifies 
the life God has given us. It makes it sacred. 
And it makes duty sacred ; and joy and sorrow, 
hope and fear, life and death, are all sacred in a 
life that is divine and immortal. 

And what can be so great a blessing to us as to 
have the mind which was in Christ, in reference 
to the infinite future, beyond the grave. There 
stretches out before us a vast, a boundless sea of 
being, of conscious life and ever increasing joy or 
sorrow. What will be the character of that life ? 
Will it be dark and desolate, an infinite waste of 
the powers of being ? Or will it be bright and 
glorious, a perpetual fulfillment of the wisdom and 
love of God in creating us. 

If we have the mind which was in Christ, we 
shall not doubt the triumphant and glorious issue 
of God's work of creation and of grace. Christ 
never doubted it. He threw no dark shadows over 



120 SEHMONS. 

the future. He gives us the most cheering prom- 
ises, and inspires the brightest hopes. How often 
does He point on to his own victory over error and 
sin and death, and exult in the prospect of a world 
restored to God. 

Now in reference to this question of destiny, as 
to all other questions, the apostle says, '" Let this 
mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." 
We need this view of the future to explain the 
existence of evil in harmony with the wisdom and 
just'ce and goodness of God. It is needed to make 
Christ's mission a success. It is needed to up- 
hold and strengthen us in the conflicts of life, to 
comfort us in sickness and bereavement, and to 
enable us to die in peace. 

So of all the great questions of life there is one, 
and only one satisfactory explanation. It is that 
which Christ gives us in the gospel. By this we 
may interpret every experience through which 
God calls us to pass, and find it consistent with 
the highest wisdom and goodness. In the light 
and spirit of the gospel all earthl}^ scenes, trials, 
and enjoyments are transfigured, and seem to be 
pervaded b}^ divine and spiritual influences. God 
is brought very near to us, and his providence is 
recognized in all the events of life. 

But it is only as we have the mind of Christ 
that we can take this exalted, spiritual view of 
life. We must look at it from his stand-point. 
We must meet its experiences in his spirit, with 



THE MIND OF CHRIST. 121 

his faith in God, with his love for man, with his 
respect for truth and right, with his devout and 
reverent heart, and with his bright hopes for im- 
mortahty. We must stand above the world, not 
permitting it to enslave us or embitter our hearts 
with its gross spirit. We must command its forces 
to obey and serve us, make them all tributaries 
and ministers to our spiritual life. Our Saviour 
did this. He was made perfect through suffering. 
As He labored and sacrificed and prayed, the more 
He grew in favor with God and men. He seemed 
to have the power to gather up all the experiences 
of his life and make them minister to the increase 
of his spiritual power. And we may do this, if we 
have his mind in us, if, like Him, we watch and 
pray and keep our hearts open towards God and 
heaven. And this is what all must do before they 
can enjoy his salvation. Certainly no one can 
ever be saved who has any other mind than the 
mind of Christ. In Him we are to be made alive ; 
there is no heavenly life out of Him. There is no 
peace but the peace of Jesus. 

Let us strive for oneness with Him, — oneness 
in thought, in spirit, in deed, and in truth. May 
we ever be able to say with the apostle, " I have 
the mind of Christ." 



V. 

THE METHOD OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. 



" And we know that all things work together for good to them 
that love God, to them that are the called according to his pur- 
pose." — Romans viii. 28. 

An early interpretation of Christianity taught 
that when the apostle, in our text, speaks of 
" them that are the called according to God's pur- 
pose," He means such as are elected or chosen to 
be saved, as distinguished from those who are eter- 
nally reprobated to be lost. A better understand- 
ing of the apostle's thought is, that he refers to 
those who now love God, who have been called by 
his grace out of the darkness of a sinful life into 
the light and blessedness of a Christian experi- 
ence. 

In the divine purpose or plan of redemption all 
men are called to a life of holiness, a life of sub- 
mission and obedience to God. He has purposed 
in Himself to gather together in one all things in 
Christ. He has called the world '' from the rising 
of the sun unto the going down of the same." 



THE METHOD OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. 123 

" Look unto me, all the ends of the earth, and be 
ye saved, for I am God and there is none besides 
me." 

This is the call and purpose of God in Christ. 
It is both universal and specific. It relates to the 
race as a whole, and to each individual in particu- 
lar. While we are assured that " the Father sent 
the Son to be the Saviour of the world," we are no 
less positively assured that " He tasted death for 
every man." 

But there is method, order, and progression in 
the work of grace. The mission of Christ is not 
yet fulfilled. His kingdom is gradually being 
built up in the earth, his reign extended from 
heart to heart and realm to realm. It was in ac- 
cordance with the divine plan that the offer of the 
gospel should first be made to the Jews. They 
were first called according to his purpose. It was 
first published to them and afterwards to the Gen- 
tiles. To call is to invite, to urge. The Jews 
and then the Gentiles were invited by the mes- 
sages of truth to participate in all the blessings of 
the gospel. They are likened to a feast and men 
are called to come in and partake. It is prepared, 
the prophet tells us, for all people. When the 
Saviour called sinners to repentance ; when the 
apostles and disciples called men to believe the 
gospel, to be saintly and blameless and holy, such 
were the called. And those who heeded these in- 
vitations and yielded their hearts to the love and 



124 SERMONS. 

service of God were, in an especial sense, the 
called. This point is illustrated by the apostle's 
language, " We trust in the living God who is 
the Saviour of all men, especially of them that be- 
lieve." God is the Saviour of all men because He 
calls all men to receive his salvation, and it is his 
purpose to bring them to receive it. But He is, in 
an especial sense, the Saviour of the believer, be- 
cause He has obeyed or accepted his call and now 
enjoys salvation. Those who love God are the 
called according to his purpose, because the grace 
of God has won them from sin to a new and 
Christ-like life ; they have been called out of dark- 
ness into the marvelous light of the gospel. 

Whenever, then, we read in the gospel of those 
who are " the called of God," we may know that 
they are those who have been translated into the 
kingdom of his Son, who have been brought to 
experience the love of God, and to give their 
hearts and lives in submissiveness and obedience to 
his will. All things work together for the good 
of those who are thus called, who thus love God. 

But what is implied in being called into an ex- 
perience of the love of God ? Those who obey this 
call are brought into heart-communion and fellow- 
ship with God. The child's love for its parent im- 
plies the spirit of obedience, the warm attachment, 
the desire to be with him, the undoubting confi- 
dence and confiding intercourse. So love to God 
implies that those who experience it become the 



THE METHOD OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. 125 

willing and happy subjects of God. They have, 
in an especial sense, become his people ; charac- 
teristically, they are his children ; the love of God 
is shed abroad in their hearts by the indwelling of 
the Holy Ghost. A new and divine element or 
principle of life is in their souls. They love God 
from an inward experience of his love, because He 
first loved them. They love Him as their Cre- 
ator, Preserver, but especially as their Redeemer. 
They love his name, his worship, his word, his 
people, his ordinances. They love Him truly and 
fervently in spirit. They love to meditate upon 
Him and to commune with Him, and they desire 
to love Him more and to serve Him better. Such 
are the dispositions and feelings of those who are 
the called of God. 

And to such, says the apostle, all things work 
together for their good. Not always to secure 
them present happiness and outward prosperity; 
not to give immediate gratification to all their 
desires; not to save them from all temptations 
and trials ; nor to make their lives one of ease and 
sloth. We remember that Jesus was led up by 
the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the 
devil. So the love of God shed abroad in the 
human heart often leads its possessor into sever- 
est conflicts with evil. The Christian often feels 
called to do and say those things which will bring 
him only enmity, reproach, and loss. He must 
take positions that are unpopular with the multi- 



126 SERMONS. 

tude. He must stand up boldly for the right. 
He must utter stern Avords of rebuke to sin. He 
must be ready to separate from fast friends, and, 
like the apostle, if necessary, suffer the loss of all 
things for Christ's sake. 

But in all these difficulties he is permitted to 
fall back upon God for help. He knows that God 
lives and rules ; that He is the Lord Almighty, 
and that his arm is not shortened that it cannot 
save. In the broad sweep of the divine govern- 
ment, whatever partial and transient evils it may 
involve, it directs all events for the permanent 
well-being of those who conform to its require- 
ments. In saying that all things work together 
for good to them that love God, the apostle 
means, not present enjoyment, but the permanent 
moral and spiritual good of the soul ; he compre- 
hends all its interests as they relate to time and 
eternity, he recognizes its need of discipline and 
growth and spiritual quickening. When our 
hearts are anchored in God, when our affections 
cluster around and cling to Him, the more they 
are chastened, the purer do they become. When 
the storm beats upon them, they hold so firmly to 
Him that they seem to draw his life into them- 
selves. Thus even temptations and trials work 
together for their good. If God be for us, and 
we are for God, who or what can be against us ? 
There is not an element or atom in the vast uni- 
verse that is not made to minister life and strength 



THE METHOD OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. 127 

to the faithful soul. There is not a thought nor 
an affection in the human or the divine mind that 
will not quicken to new life and joy the soul that 
is filled with the love of God. All that genius has 
discovered or wisdom wrought in science and art ; 
all that learning has written ; all that piety has 
thought and prayed and done ; all that enterprise 
has accomplished in every department of human 
action ; the theories and institutions, the truths 
and falsehoods, the virtues and vices, the joys and 
sorrows of men in every age and every clime ; ab- 
solutely all things in heaven and earth work to- 
gether for good to them that love God. 

And is it not an inspiring thought that in the 
holy heights above us, God, Christ, angels, the 
spirits of just men made perfect, are all helping us 
in our struggles, all interested in our victory ; that 
in the broad world around us all events, all men, 
— good men with their example and prayers and 
love, bad men by the warning of their crimes, by 
the patience and benevolence they require us to 
exercise, — are helping us in our efforts to come 
nearer to God. 

Yes, absolutely, all things work together for the 
good of them that love God. And consider what 
a positive, active force is here implied. It is not, 
all things permit our good ; or all things may be 
overcome to secure our good, but all things work 
for it. All things are enlisted on our side when 
we are enlisted on the side of God. There is 



128 SERMONS. 

nothing in the mental or moral universe at rest. 
All things work, — thoughts, desires, affections, 
convictions, all work and produce results. All 
events tend to some end. As in nature all the 
elements are active, — the air, the light, the rain, 
the tempests, — so all things in providence and 
grace are moving forward in majestic order to one 
*' far off divine event." 

And let us not overlook this suggestion of har- 
mony, order, and completeness. All things, not 
only work, but work together ; work as one whole. 
There is diversity of elements, but the operation 
and the end are harmonious. As in the musical 
instrument all the notes and sounds are different 
and yet produce harmony ; as in the Hght the pris- 
matic colors are distinct and unlike, yet working 
together all unite and form the soft and radiant 
beams in which we walk ; as in natural scenery 
there is the mountain with its craggy summit, the 
verdant valley, the flowing stream, and the roar- 
ing cataract all uniting to form the landscape and 
please the eye ; or as in the piece of mechanism 
the various parts in their action are opposites, yet 
all work together and fulfill its design, so in the 
government of God all objects and events and 
experiences are one in the impression they make 
upon the pure and loving heart. They all work 
together and that for its good. We do not always 
see this. We look upon this event by itself, and 
upon that event by itself, and we say, these are 



THE METHOD OF THE CnRISTIAN LIFE. 129 

against us ; they are not good. But it is not so. 
Separately some things appear to work for good 
and others for evil, but when viewed in the great 
whole and purpose of the divine government, 
they are all seen to tend to one blessed end, — the 
real and eternal good of them that love God. So 
to the old patriarch the loss of his favorite son, 
the desolating famine, the giving up, one after 
another, of Joseph and Benjamin and Simeon, 
the removal into Egypt, — all these things seemed 
against him. But they were not. They all 
worked together for his good. So did all the con- 
flicts in the life of Moses and David and Jeremiah 
work together for their good. Behold the suffer- 
ings and death of the Son of God exalting Him 
far above all thrones and dominions, to be a Prince 
and a Saviour. And how often does the experi- 
ence of every Christian heart repeat the words, 
'' All things work together for good to them that 
love God." We thought that severe loss would 
ruin us ; that bereavement, the death of that 
lovely child, or dear mother or sister, would crush 
us ; that sickness destroy us. But they did not. 
They all worked together for our good ; they were 
all necessary to fill out the plan of our lives, to 
mature our experience, and fit us for the higher 
love and enjoyment of God. O blessed assurance ! 
Christian, amid all thy conflicts, tears, and prayers, 
bind it to thy heart. When a thoughtless, sinful 
world scoffs at thine appeal, and turns from thy 



130 SERMONS. 

holy ecstasy and consecrated life to sordid pleasure 
and selfish aims, oh, then look up, let not thy spirit 
fail. God's own hand shall guide through the 
deepening gloom ; his love shall cheer thee, his 
wisdom cause all things to work together for thy 
good. 

" Know, my soul, thy full salvation, 
Rise o'er siu and fear and care ; 
Joy to find in every station 
Something still to do or bear. 
Think what spirit dwells within thee ; 
Think what Father's smiles are thine; 
Think what Jesus did to win thee, — 
Child of heaven ! canst thou repine '^ 

" Haste thee on from grace to glory, 
Armed with faith and winged with prayer ; 
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, 
God's own hand shall guide thee there. 
Soon shall cease thine earthly mission. 
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, 
Hope shall change to glad fruition, 
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise." 



VI. 

ACCEPTANCE WITH CHRIST. 



" He came unto his own, and his own received Him not. But as 
many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons 
of God, even to them that believe on his name." — John i. 11, 12. 

We have here in a few compreliensive sentences, 
as it were, a summary of the gospel. This passage 
of Scripture treats of the Saviour's coming, of his 
inheritance in men, of their refusal to receive Him, 
of the blessing He brings them, and of the means 
by which they come into actual possession of the 
blessing. 

It is not important to our theme that we should 
dwell upon the fact or events of Christ's appear- 
ance on earth. Let us turn our attention first to 
the statement here made, that " He came unto his 
own." Who were his own ? To whom did the 
Saviour come? 

There are two answers to this question. One 
is contained in the text, the other is found in the 
uniform testimony and spirit of the gospel ; one is 
explicit and positive, the other is inductive. 



132 SERMONS. 

We are informed in our text that '' Christ's 
own " are those to whom He came, and who '' re- 
ceived Him not." He came unto his own, and 
they received Him not. 

Probably there is particular reference to the 
Jews in this language. Christ came personally to 
them, and they were his own kindred and country- 
men. When He sent out his disciples to preach, 
He said to them at first, " Go not in the way of 
the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans 
enter thou not, but go unto the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel." His own countrymen were also 
the first to reject Him. They misunderstood, per- 
secuted, and crucified Him. 

But this is only the literal application of the 
text. It has a broader meaning, for the Saviour 
came not only to one, but to all nations. " The 
heathen " have been " given Him for an inherit- 
ance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a pos- 
session." All nations, families, and kindreds of the 
earth are to be blessed in Him. The Father sent 
Him to be the Saviour of the world. Power was 
given Him over all flesh that He might give eter- 
nal life to all. His religion is a universal religion, 
embracing the well-being of all mankind. 

These plain statements of the gospel make evi- 
dent one fact that has not always been understood. 
It is that Christ has an interest in men before they 
have an interest in Him, that He has an inherit- 
ance in the wicked as well as in the righteous. It 



ACCEPTANCE WITH CHRIST. 133 

is believed by some that only those are Christ's 
who receive Him, believe on Him, and obey Him. 
But our text explicitly affirms that those who do 
not receive Him are his. " His own received Him 
not." He claims an inheritance even in such as 
do not acknowledge his claim, who have no faith 
in his divine character and office, and cast off his 
authority. 

Objection to this view is frequently made, on 
the ground that we are also told in the gospel that 
such as "have not the spirit of Christ are none of 
his." But this statement does not refer to Christ's 
office and work, as the Saviour of the world, in its 
fulfillment, but to the present relation of the un- 
believing and sinful to Him. Those who have not 
Christ's spirit are not his disciples, they are not 
Christians, and have not Christ's purity and peace. 
If a man is not influenced by the meek, pure, and 
holy spirit of the Saviour, if he is not conformed 
to his image, if his life does not resemble his, he is 
a stranger to his religion. In this view he is none 
of Christ's. But there is a broader and more im- 
portant sense in which all men are Christ's. The 
angel testified that He should save his people from 
their sins. They were his people while they were 
sinners. The Father gave Him power over all 
flesh, that He might give eternal life to as many 
as He gave Him. All were given to Him before 
they became partakers of eternal life. They were 
given Him for the special purpose that He might 



134 SERMOl^a. 

bestow that life upon them. In this important 
sense, all men are Christ's, even before they are 
converted to Him, and while they live in sin. 
They are his to save from sin, to enlighten and bless. 
But they are not his in the sense of discipleship, 
Christian character, and spiritual life. 

We should not forget that the Saviour came into 
the world to fulfill a specific mission and purpose. 
His work was with men, and for men, in fulfillment 
of the Father's will in reference to them. If we 
glance at the moral and spiritual condition of man- 
kind in his time, and in all time, we learn the 
world's great need. Men have lost sight of God. 
Their hearts are alienated from his life by wicked 
■works. Even when they know Him, they glorify 
Him not as God, and their foolish hearts are dark- 
ened. Three kinds of selfishness have blinded 
them. Three rank roots have struck into the soil 
of j the human heart, sending up growths of super- 
stition and sensuality which overshadow and en- 
feeble the higher life. Self-love, self-will, and 
self-indulgence have made our intellects, our con- 
sciences, and our passions rebels against God. " The 
whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." 

In this threefold corruption, in the time of Christ 
the world was preeminently godless. Curiosity was 
all that was left as the aim of science ; war, as the 
work of enterprise ; and a sensuous enthusiasm 
for the beautiful, as the inspiration of art. Alex- 
andria, Rome, and Athens represented these three 



ACCEPTANCE WITH CHRIST. 135 

ambitions. In losing a knowledge of God, man 
had lost himself. Faith in God and the dignity 
of man went down together. Human rights and 
liberty failed with the failure o{ the worship of the 
true God. The scholars and the priests mystified 
the people ; the Epicureans tempted them ; the 
Stoics flattered and despised them. Seneca stood 
for the world's idea of learning, CaBsar for its idea 
of politics, Corinth for its idea of pleasure. 

The world's need of the Saviour and the pur- 
pose of his coming are apparent, when we take 
this survey of human society as it was and as it 
is. The world by wisdom knew not God. Christ 
came to show us the Father. He was a manifesta- 
tion of God. He enshrined the divine in the hu- 
man as it never had been before. He came to 
cause the heart of man to touch the heart of God ; 
to blend them in that holy, spiritual union which 
made Him and the Father one. He came that 
the Spirit of God, through faith in Him, might 
enter, quicken, and sanctify the human soul. His 
mission is, if the expression may be allowed, to 
establish God in the practical possession of man, 
who is really and forever his own. He did not 
spend his life in establishing an original right of 
possession. God signed and sealed that right 
when He sent Him. " He came unto his own." 
Neither scholar nor priest. Epicurean nor Stoic, 
Seneca nor Corinth, man nor devil, had any right 
to man. He belonged to Christ, as the represent- 



186 SERMONS. 

ative of God, liis Creator. God's image was upon 
his soul. The breath of his own life was in his 
body. His own right arm was outstretched to 
uphold and shield him. The Saviour did not 
create in man new religious faculties, but He en- 
lightened and sanctified those He had, with his 
" grace and truth." He came to save man, such 
as he was and is by nature. He fills nature with 
grace. He inspires the faith, He quickens the 
love of the human heart. He does not desire a 
mere legal title to men's bodies, but the free sur- 
render of their hearts. The one thing needful is 
living goodness. It is produced in the heart only 
by the indwelling of Christ. As we have said, in 
every age there has been a threefold hindrance to 
his reception into the hearts of men. Pride, will- 
fulness, and indulgence have ever stood in his way. 
It is easy to receive Him by outward professions 
and services, but to receive Him as a spirit and 
life is a radical and difficult work. 

As these hindrances are threefold, so a full re- 
ception of Christ implies the three elements, faith, 
love, service. These together establish Christ in 
the soul, and impart the peculiar richness and 
glory of a Christian character. 

There must be, first, a belief in Christ. We 
must be convinced that He is what He claimed to 
be. He called Himself the only begotten of the 
Father, the Saviour of the world, the giver of eter- 
nal life, the owner of all souls, the friend of the 



ACCEPTANCE WITH CUEIST. 137 

sinnner, tlie foe of sin. Is He all these to us ? Do 
we in our hearts believe that He came forth from 
the bosom of the Father, full of grace and truth, 
to restore a fallen world to God ? This is the first 
action of our minds in receiving Him. We doubt 
his veracity until we are convinced of this. The 
Saviour knew who and what He was, or He did 
not know. If He knew, He is all that the titles 
which he applied to Himself mean. If He did 
not know, as another has said, his ignorance or de- 
ception make Him less than one of the honest sol- 
diers who led Him away to the judgment hall. 

But simple belief in Christ is not a full recep- 
tion of Him. We believe in many things that we 
care very little about. There must be love to 
make our faith a bond of union between our hearts 
and Him. A mere bearer of dispatches from one 
court to another would not need this. He may 
not have any interest in either party, or they in 
Him. But when the messenger comes with a 
moral, spiritual purpose, to kindle a new life, there 
must be love awakened in the hearts of both par- 
ties. Their interests must be one. As there is no 
stability in government until loyalty binds the 
subject to his king, as there is no efficiency or 
power in a party until the leader's name awakens 
enthusiasm, so the Saviour's purpose to fill all 
hearts with divine love can never be fulfilled until 
we love Him. We do not receive Him in the full- 
ness of his mission, we are not his in the highest 



138 SERMONS. 

sense, until we give Him onr heart's purest, warm- 
est affections. And even faith and love alone are 
not a full reception of Christ. They must be 
wrought out into service, as the heated iron is 
made into an instrument of use. It amounts to 
nothing to make the iron solid and strong. This 
is simply faith. It avails nothing to heat it red- 
hot. This is love. But if we take the solid iron 
when it is hot, and mould it into the swiftly rolling 
wheel and the machine to gather in the harvests, 
then it is of value. So our faith and love must 
develop in the active service of Christ before we 
fully receive Him. Not a reluctant service, but 
such as the loving heart bestows, cheerful and free. 
In the gospel this idea of service is closely 
blended with all that is there said of experimental 
religion. " Lovest thou me ? Then feed my sheep," 
said the Saviour to Peter. " He that keepeth my 
commandments, he it is that loveth me." " This 
is the love of God, that ye do whatsoever I have 
commanded you." Obedience is demonstrative 
proof of faith and love. Receiving Christ in his 
fullness is a work. He has a cross of self-denial and 
self-sacrifice which we must receive with Him. 
The hungry, the naked, the sick, the ignorant, 
the intemperate, are all around us. The Saviour 
comes to us bearing all these upon his heart. 
If we receive Him, we must receive them. '' In- 
asmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of 
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The 



ACCEPTANCE WITH CHRIST. 139 

Saviour is not received by us as individuals, or as 
liis cliurch, until all within the sphere of our influ- 
ence are blessed by our faith and love. 

And as many as do receive Him with sincere 
faith, fervent love, and cheerful obedience, to them 
gives He power to become the sons of God. Have 
we received this gift of spiritual power ? Have we 
so fully received Christ into our hearts that we are 
indeed the children of God by faith in Him ? Have 
we been adopted into his spiritual family, made 
heirs according to the promise ? We may know 
ourselves to be the creatures of God. It may be 
that we are his servants. But are we children, 
sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty ? Have 
our hearts been opened, and has Christ in all the 
plenitude of his grace entered, to abide with us ? 
Those who thus receive Him are the conquerors 
who overcome the world. They are able to re- 
joice in the midst of affliction. They come spot- 
less and beautiful out of great tribulations, having 
washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. 
Persecution strengthens them. Contempt makes 
their regeneration perfect. Temptations, trampled 
down, bring angels to minister unto them. They 
are a multitude whose praises no unbelieving heart 
can join, whose joy no unrepentant soul can un- 
derstand. 

The questions for us to ask ourselves individ- 
ually, suggested by our theme, are these : Am I 
among those who have received Christ ? Has He 



140 SERMONS. 

given to me power or grace to cry, Abba, Father, 
to call myself the child of God ? Is his love shed 
abroad in my heart ? Am I willing to be known 
as his disciple, to confess Him before the world, 
and in my closet ? Does He live in me, and am I 
made alive in Him ? 

These are thoughts to be pondered often, — 
thoughts that will reveal to us the secrets of our 
hearts, and cause us to feel our weakness, and the 
Saviour's sufficiency for all our spiritual necessi- 
ties. I confess that I can never read these words, 
*' He came unto his own, and his own received 
Him not," without feeling that there is much of 
tenderness and reproof in them. They are not 
a weak complaint, but they do reveal the sadness 
of repulsed affection, they show us the sorrow of 
God's pity for sinful souls. 

Let us go on repeating this language, pondering 
these thoughts, until our hearts are moved to pen- 
itence, until we open them to receive our friend 
and Saviour, and are able to claim our place 
around our common Father's board as the dear 
children of his love. 



VII. 

THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST. 

A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 



" He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest." 
Luke i. 32. 

Comparatively few men have lived of whom 
it may be truly said that they were great. Com- 
paring men with one another, some are found to 
be greater than others, some stand above the 
masses in the community or the age in which they 
live. They are comparatively but not absolutely 
great. The great man is the original man, orig- 
inal not in the substance of his thought and action 
merely, but in his life as a whole, in his manner of 
thinking and acting. He is the man who exerts a 
fresh influence and breathes a new spirit into the 
world's life. He does what other men have not 
done before him. He elevates the plane of human 
life, he heightens our ideas of the capabilities of 
our common nature. He sees things that are in- 
visible to other eyes, and describes them so that 



142 SERMONS. 

henceforth the world beholds them in his light. 
He does what has heretofore been impossible to 
other men, and does it so that hereafter it is pos- 
sible for all men to do it. 

This is the great man, a gift rarely bestowed 
upon the world ; never, indeed, but once in the 
broadest sense. There have been men who have 
quickened the world's life in certain directions ; 
but only one man, " the man Christ Jesus," has 
quickened it in all directions. It was given to Him 
to touch the springs of life, to know what is in 
man and all his needs, and to have power to stir 
and purify the waters at the fountain-head of his 
being. All the currents of human thought and 
action have felt, directly or remotely, the renovat- 
ing power of his life. The old crystallized and de- 
caying thoughts and institutions of the world gave 
up to Him what truth there was in them, and they 
went forth from his life charged with divine energy 
and power to sanctify and save. 

It was in view of these wonderful endowments 
that the angel said of Christ before his birth, " He 
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the 
Highest." How wonderfully have all the ages 
since his birth confirmed and illustrated the truth 
of this prophecy. His greatness, glory, and power 
have appeared in clearer light as the race has made 
progress. The discoveries of science, the improve- 
ments of art, the diffusion of knowledge, the ex- 
tension of freedom, have all helped to make known 



THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST. 143 

his greatness. While all departments of knowl- 
edge owe their promotion to Christ, to the quick- 
ening, enlightening influences of his gospel, they 
have in turn borne witness to the truth of his re- 
ligion, and crowned him with increasing glory. 
The fame of most of those whom the world has 
called great has waned after a few centuries. We 
begin, in a short time, to speak of them as the 
great men of their age. But greater men have 
arisen since. Discoveries have been made which 
in some instances disprove, and in others surpass, 
their theories or systems. The world outgrows 
them, goes beyond them. But Christ leads the 
ages. All the progress that the world makes is 
simply approaching Him, coming nearer to the 
ideal of his religion. We are learning all the time 
how imperfectly we have known Him. Our esti- 
mation of his greatness enlarges with the enlarge- 
ment of our thought and virtue. 

This is true of both the social and the individ- 
ual estimate of the Saviour. He never appeared 
in such greatness and grandeur of character to the 
eye of the world as at the present time. Not 
even in those darker ages when He was worshiped 
as God and served with superstitious rites, was He 
so truly honored as now. Then He was shut out 
of the world and imprisoned in cloisters. Then 
only a few ascetics communed with Him, and even 
their spirituality, deep and fervent as it often was, 
lacked the healthful, sinewy strength of practical 



144 SEEilONS, 

Christianity. It was not hopeful and cheerful. It 
was not pervaded by genial human sympathies. 
It was not helpful to the suffering and sorrowing 
beyond the pale of the church. But now the name 
of Christ is honored everywhere, in the courts of 
kings and emperors, in the councils of presidents 
and governors, among statesmen and legislators, 
by teachers and scholars, in literature and art, in 
business, in society, and in the family. We do not 
mean to say that Christ is duly honored and fully 
obeyed in all or any of these departments of life. 
But He is recognized in them all. The conviction 
prevails that He has a right to rule in them all ; 
that every sphere and work of life should be Chris- 
tian. It is acknowledged that a man should be a 
Christian in his family, or in society, when he 
votes or trades, as much as when he attends church, 
or reads his Bible, or prays. Public sentiment has 
come to acknowledge this right of Christ to su- 
premacy in all departments of life. We speak of 
our Christian institutions, our Christian civiliza- 
tion, our Christian education. And to express our 
disapproval of an institution or law or theory or 
practice, we say that it is Christless. 

These simple facts show us how closely inter- 
woven Christ is with our secular life. Within the 
memory of some of us it was thought to be a des- 
ecration to connect his name with politics. The 
claims of the higher Christian law were boldly 
thrust aside, and its intrusion into legislative halls 



THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST. 145 

and secular literature was stoutly resisted. But 
now the statesman or the scholar whose appeals 
are made in the name of Christ and upon the 
authority of his religion influences the greatest 
number. Christ is great in the respect and honor 
and reverence which public sentiment accords Him. 
Once his religion was a reproach and his name 
despised. But now to profess it is a distinction, 
and to bear it is a badge of honor. Even crime 
and folly seek respectability by assuming his garb. 
"We do not realize how great a place He fills, how 
almost omnipresent He is in the life of the world. 
And the greatness of his power grows from age to 
age. His name is more and more '' the name above 
every other name." His religion in no sense ex- 
hausts its vitality and energy. None of its doc- 
trines become impracticable. None of its precepts 
are out-dated. Its lessons are as applicable to this 
age as to the first age, and its spirit is as fresh and 
sweet to-day as in any former time. There is, 
indeed, much unbelief in society now, as there 
always has been. But even the skepticism of our 
time accords much honor to Christ. It has not 
escaped the elevating influences of the gospel. 
Some of it, even in its denials, claims with amaz- 
ing inconsistency to be Christian. It speaks of 
Christ as a " model man," as " the best develop- 
ment of humanity," as " a son of God," and as 
" God's best beloved son." All the utterances of 
modern unbelief are, in a great degree, subdued 

10 



146 SERMONS. 

and chastened, as compared with the coarse and 
defiant assaults upon Christianity of earlier times. 
Evidently the name of Christ is a great name, 
commanding respect and reverence, and having 
irresistible influence, even among his enemies. 
Those who would arrest and crucify Him now, as 
when He was on earth, go backward and fall on 
the ground, saying, '' Never man spake like this 
man." If they do not acknowledge Him to be the 
Son of the Highest, if they will not own Him as 
their Lord and Master, they are constrained to 
confess his superiority, his greatness above all 
other men. 

But this prophecy, " He shall be great," finds 
its best fulfillment and most beautiful illustration 
in Christ's all-sufficiency for the believing heart. 
He is all in all to the believer. The respect and 
honor which the world pays Him is but the reflec- 
tion of the truer and intenser love of individual 
hearts. As when we see the surface of the earth 
green and blooming with flowers, we know that 
there are living roots unseen by us feeding upon 
the richness of the soil and drinking in the rain- 
drops and sunbeams through every pore ; so when 
Christ is honored in society, and the fruits of his 
religion spring up in its institutions, customs, and 
prevalent opinions, it is because individual hearts 
are in communion with Him and drawing life from 
Him. It is not possible for the rich clusters to 
gladden our view in autumn unless the branches 



THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST. 147 

which bear them abide in the vine. It is only as 
we are personally united with Christ by faith and 
the renewing of the Holy Spirit, that his religion 
prevails in the world. He is great in the estima- 
tion of society only as He is great in the faith and 
affection of the individual soul. 

And what words can describe how great a place 
the Saviour fills in the hearts and lives of his fol- 
lowers ? He dwells in them, and they in Him. 
The language of Christian experience is, " I live, 
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ; and the life 
which I live, I live by faith in the Son of God." 
Christ is great to the believer as " the author and 
finisher of his faith," as the ground of all his 
strength and confidence and hope. He is great to 
him as the teacher and enlightener of his under- 
standing, the guide of his reason, the sanctifier of 
his affections, the exemplar of the truest obedience. 
He is great to him as the fountain of spiritual 
life, as the way of access into the presence of the 
Father, as a sweet and blessed fellowship in the 
hour of prayer, as a friend and comforter in trouble, 
as a joyful and hallowed presence in seasons of 
quiet meditation. Christ is great to his followers, 
not only as their present helper, but as the one on 
whose promises they rely for future blessedness. 
He reveals to the eye of faith life and immortality 
for all men. The true believer beholds in Him not 
only a personal Saviour, but the Saviour of the 
world. He gave his life a ransom for all; He 



148 SERMONS. 

promises by the power of his cross to draw all 
men unto Him. He now reigns in the spiritual 
realm to subdue and reconcile all things to God. 

The Saviour is great, therefore, not only for 
what He has done for the world, not only for the 
work of grace He is continually performing in in- 
dividual hearts, the hope and comfort, the peace 
and sanctity He sheds upon the life of faith, but 
He is great in the purpose of his mission, great in 
the work given Him of God to do. How great 
must be the Saviour of the world ! How great the 
Being who can drive darkness and error and sin 
from the hearts of men ; who can regenerate and 
sanctify them ; who can reconcile them to the will 
of the holy God and Father of our spirits ; who 
can make them free in the truth and fill them with 
the felicity of heaven. Our Saviour has done this 
work in countless hearts, and his mission is to do 
it in all hearts. No mere human being has this 
power. Can the greatest among men drive sin 
out of a single heart ? Is there one among all the 
wise and good of earth who can make a soul love 
God, and obey Him from the highest motive ? No, 
we cannot point to a philosopher, or sage, or teacher 
who has done this work. Therefore Christ must 
be greater than all. He is greater because He is 
more than philosopher, sage, or teacher ; because 
He is the " Son of the Highest." He was born, 
not after the will of the flesh, but according to the 
miraculous exercise of divine power ; He was the 



THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST. 149 

brightness of his Father's glory and the express 
image of his person. In Him dwelt all the fullness 
of the Godhead bodily. His birth, his childhood, 
his miracles, his teachings, his resurrection, his as- 
cension, all attest his divinity, his greatness. And 
the farther we go on in Christian thought and ex- 
perience, the deeper we enter into his life and 
spirit, the clearer does his greatness appear. The 
Christian cannot live without a divine Saviour. 
His faith and hope and joy all spring from Him. 
In whatever heart the divine spirit dwells, it re- 
veals such a Saviour. 

We have thought these reflections on the great- 
ness of Christ not inappropriate to this anniver- 
sary season. As we meet for worship this morn- 
ing, we are carried back by the associations of the 
day to the birth of our Redeemer, and lowly as 
that event was, it was witnessed by glorious signs 
of his greatness. The angels shouted in prophetic 
song. Peace on earth, good will to men, and glory 
in the highest. Kings upon their thrones were 
troubled, but saints magnified the Lord and were 
ready to depart in peace. God does not signalize 
mere human greatness by such tokens. The birth 
of no man is " glad tidings of great joy unto all 
people." Only when there is born unto us a Sav- 
iour, which is Christ, the Lord, can men dismiss 
all their fears and angels sing for joy. Oh, then 
how much this day signifies ! It is not a mere his- 
torical event, but a spiritual conception. Christ 



150 si:r3ions. 

should come to our souls to-day, in spirit and 
power. We should acknowledge Him, receive 
Him. Like the shepherds, we should go and see 
Him with our own eyes ; or, hke the wise men, 
follow his star and finding Him, open to Him the 
treasures of our hearts. We should transfer his 
birth from the manger to our own souls. He 
should be formed in us, and abide in us, and his 
day-star should arise in our hearts. Then out of 
our darkness will arise a brightness clearer than 
that which flooded the night-sky above the lonely 
plains of Judea ; then the glory of the Lord will 
be risen upon us, and we shall serve Him with- 
out fear. 



VIII. 

THE TRUE SERVICE OF CHRIST. 



" Verily I say unto yon, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one 
of the least of these, ray brethren, ye have done it unto me." — 
Matthew xxv. 40. 

If we read the chapter in which this language 
is found, it will teach us that a prominent and 
essential part of loyalty and obedience to Christ 
is being mindful of and ministering to the neces- 
sities of men. The Saviour regards the poor and 
suffering as his representatives, and what we do 
for them we do to Him. Feeding the hungry, 
clothing the naked, hospitality to the stranger and 
destitute, visiting and comforting the sick and the 
bereaved, are works highly commended and often 
enjoined throughout the Scriptures. Neglect of 
these duties is always represented as unfaithful- 
ness to Christ. The kingdom of God and the 
gates of heaven are barred against those who de- 
spise and neglect their fellow-beings. 

This is the lesson of our text. Kindness shown 
to men in their distress is accepted as kindness 
shown to Christ. Christ is served whenever the 



152 SERMONS. 

suffering are served. He is rejected, insulted, and 
abused -whenever any for whom He died are 
wronged. He gives us this negative view of our 
theme when He says, " Inasmuch as ye did it not 
to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." 

The Christian religion does not consist wliolly 
or chiefly in rites and ceremonies. It is not all 
comprehended in acts and exercises of devotion. 
Faith, repentance, the new birth, though a part of 
a Christian experience, are not all of it. 

It does not make us disciples of Christ to re- 
frain from overt acts of sin. It is not enough for 
us to be passively virtuous. We must be actively 
obedient. We must not only refrain from wrong- 
doing and direct transgression, but we must love 
both God and man, and engage in those works 
that help to relieve the world from sin and misery 
and restore it to holiness and happiness. We 
must contribute, as God has given us time and 
means, in words and deeds of sympathy, to the 
salvation of man from all that debases and tor- 
ments him. 

They who regard deeds of charity, kindness, and 
mercy as no essential part of Christ's religion are 
sadly mistaken. And we sometimes fear there are 
many such, even in the Christian church. There 
is too little kindness and charity among profess- 
ing Christians. They too often forget the poor 
and suffering. Our selfishness puts in its plea, and 
we excuse ourselves from giving and ministering 



TEE TRUE SERVICE OF CHRIST. 153 

for their relief by a thousand little pretenses which 
we dare not look in the face. And then, how we 
neglect these social evils around us. How little 
we do to promote temperance, to relieve the poor, 
and to encourage the unfortunate ; to prevent 
Sabbath- breaking, profanity, and disorderly con- 
duct. 

Now we cannot be Christians and neglect these 
duties. The Saviour in our text shows that they 
are important and absolutely essential to Christian 
character and divine acceptance and salvation. 
And in harmony with it, the great apostle exhorts 
men to bear one another's burdens, or, in other 
words, to aid, assist, and relieve them of the bur- 
dens, trials, and privations of life, and so fulfill the 
law of Christ. We are told to be kindly affec- 
tioned one to another, with brotherly love, dis- 
tributing to each other's necessities, given to hospi- 
tality, supplying food to the hungry and drink to 
the thirsty. " This," says the apostle James, " is 
pure and undefiled religion, before God and the 
Father, to visit the widow and the fatherless in 
their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from 
the world." 

We know that our Saviour was much and dili- 
gently engaged in active sympathy with the suf- 
fering and in the performance of deeds of charity 
and benevolence. He went about doing good, 
comforting the mourning, relieving the distressed, 
visiting the sick and healing them. Those who 



15-4 SERMONS. 

will be his disciples must imitate Him in these 
works. Those who do, according to our text are 
accepted of Him, are placed on his right hand of 
approval, and become subjects of his kingdom of 
grace and salvation. 

We do not say that this active benevolence is 
the whole of true religion. Faith, repentance, de- 
votion, the love of God, purity of heart, patience, 
humility, forgiveness, and a holy life are included 
in the religion of Christ and required of his follow- 
ers. But these are not a substitute for, nor suffi- 
cient without benevolence. Without this no one 
can even approximate Christian discipleship, or 
experience the salvation of Christ, for his heart 
cannot be right before God. No religion can be 
genuine and saving that does not produce in the 
individual possessing it charitable and merciful 
fruits. True religion not only gives for the relief 
of the distressed, but visits them and personally 
ministers to their wants. It goes to their wretched 
homes, seeks them out in their obscurity or priva- 
tion or degradation, and speaks to their hearts 
words of encouragement, cheer, and sympathy. 
We affirm upon divine authority that the religion 
which does not commend itself by active sympa- 
thy with the needy and suffering, and by works of 
charity and mercy, is not of God, is not accounted 
to its possessor for righteousness, brings not peace 
and salvation to the soul, secures not the inherit- 
ance of the kingdom of heaven, nor confers eter- 



THE TRUE SERVICE OF CHRIST. 155 

nal life. It is the precise thought of our text, as 
nearly as we can think it, that those who refuse or 
neglect to visit and minister to the poor and needy- 
have no part nor lot in the inheritance of eternal 
life, divine approbation, Christian discipleship ; nor 
do they experience anything of the freedom and 
joy of the true children of God, and of Christ's 
heavenly kingdom. Instead of hearing the plau- 
dit, '* Well done, good and faithful servant, enter 
thou into the joys of thy Lord," they hear, or ex- 
perience in the darkness of their own lives, the 
sentence, " Depart from me, ye workers of iniq- 
uity," into the condemnation and darkness of your 
own selfishness, sensuality, and spiritual death. 
Whatever is done unto one of the least and the 
lowest of mankind, or whatever wrong or neglect 
he receives, is accounted as done unto or withheld 
from Christ Himself. The person who is in want, 
distress, or trouble, who is in darkness or bond- 
age, our Saviour assures us is his representative 
on earth, and whatever we do to such an one is 
regarded by Him as done to Him. It is honor 
or dishonor to Christ. It is serving or rejecting 
Christ. None enter into the kingdom of heaven 
but those who do the will of our Father who is in 
heaven. The doer of the word is blessed in his 
deeds, and not the forgetful hearer. You may 
come here and listen to this gospel of charity, but 
if you go away and live proudly and selfishly you 
are not Christians. You deny your Lord, you dis- 



156 SERMONS. 

own your Saviour, jon despise the humility and 
the love that came not to call the righteous but 

o 

the sinful to repentance. " Inasmuch as ye did it 
not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to 
me." 

Do we understand and appreciate this doctrine 
of our text ? What is the character of that relig- 
ion which Tve profess, exemplify, and live? Are 
we accustomed to look upon the poor, sinful, and 
suffering around us as Christ's representatives ? 
Here is the drunkard, lying in the ditch. Can we 
receive Christ in him ? Can we stoop and lift him 
up ? Can we lead him home ? Can we wash and 
clothe him, speak kindly to him, and do all we can 
to save him ? Here is the rumseller, the man who 
put the bottle to the drunkard's mouth, — the near- 
est approach to total depravity there is on earth. 
Can we receive Christ in him ? Can we love him 
still ? Can we be patient wdth him ? Can we look 
through all the darkness and depravity of his life 
to the divine image enstamped by the Creator upon 
his soul ? Here, too, is the drunkard's family : his 
poor, abused, and dispirited wife ; his uneducated 
and ragged and despised children. Oh, how meekly 
and imploringly Christ looks at us out of these 
blear eyes. Do we know him ? Will we receive 
him with these ? " Inasmuch as ye did it unto 
one of the least of these, ye did it unto me." We 
are under as great obligation to assist and relieve 
these as we should be the Lord Jesus Christ Him- 



THE TRUE SERVICE OF CHRIST. 157 

self, were He on earth without where to lay his 
head ; or sitting weary by the well should say to 
us, " Give me to drink ; " or sweating great drops 
of agony should say, " Watch with me." And we 
serve Him as well in serving these as though we 
did it for Him personally. 

This is, indeed, a searching and practical doc- 
trine, but we can draw no other from our text. 
We are all too prone to forget or disregard our 
obligations to our fellow-men, especially to the 
unfortunate and sinful. We excuse ourselves by 
pretending not to know of the wants of others, 
or not to be able to relieve them. But if we were 
as earnest to give as we are to get, we should know 
of others' sufferings and feel able to help them far 
more than we do. At other times we excuse our- 
selves by saying that the suffering are not worthy 
of charity, that they have brought their troubles 
upon themselves by indolence, or want of pru- 
dence, or crime. But this is the very reason why 
we should help them. They are the weak or the 
wayward children in God's great family, and the 
more fortunate brothers and sisters ought to help 
them. We know how the Father of these prodi- 
gals feels towards them, and how He receives them 
with open arms. We know how their Elder Brother 
feels towards them, and how He suffered and how 
He died to save them. And cannot we, younger 
brethren, we who need the same charity and for- 
giveness, cannot we also forgive, and exercise that 
compassion which we so much need ? 



158 SERMONS. 

We are not careful enough in tliese things. "We 
know not how many tender plants are crushed be- 
neath our careless feet. Many hearts, not vile, 
but perchance thoughtless and rude, are made to 
ache by our harsh words and judgments. Let us 
be considerate and generous with all, especially 
with the young, the inexperienced, and the friend- 
less. While it is never our duty to approve or 
uphold wrong, while we ought to rebuke it, yet 
let us do it in the spirit of meekness and love, 
considering ourselves, lest we also be tempted. 
Let us do it to save the wrong-doer if we possibly 
can, never forgetting that he is our brother, that 
for him Christ died, and that if we have the spirit 
of Christ we shall be willing to bear and forbear 
much for his sake. 

Let us try our professions of Christian faith and 
love by these words of our Saviour. Let them be 
the measure of our piety, the rule of our duty. 
As we go through the world and meet the sinful 
and the sorrowing, let us repeat as we pass along, 
" Liasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of 
these my brethren, ye did it unto me." 

" God, with sympathetic care, 
In others' joys and griefs to share 

Do Thou our hearts incline ; 
Each low, each selfish wish control. 
Warm with benevolence the soul, 

And make us wholly thine." 



IX. 



CHRISTIAN FAITH AND CHRISTIAN PROFES- 
SION. 



" For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness ; and 
A\-ith the mouth confession is made unto salvation." — Romans 
X. 10. 

The relative importance of Christian faith and 
Christian profession is a subject of much interest 
and vital concern to the cause of religion. Doubt- 
less all will concede that to attain a living prac- 
tical faith in Christian principles is the first and 
fundamental step in a religious life. Until " with 
the heart men believe unto righteousness," their 
professions are but mockery and lies. The root of 
our religion must be within us ; it must be planted 
in the soul and be there a growing conviction, ex- 
perience, hope, and joy. Before we can claim to 
be Christians in any sense we must have faith in 
God, faith in Christ, faith in the Holy Spirit of 
truth. And before we are Christians in a high 
and worthy sense, this faith must penetrate deeper 
than the intellect, into the heart, and there become 
a moulding, subduing, practical, renovating ele- 



160 SERMONS. 

ment of life. Not only must the understanding be 
convinced, and assent to the doctrines of the gos- 
pel, but the heart, the moral and the spiritual attri- 
butes of our nature must lay hold of them, believe 
them, and be quickened into life by them. They 
must produce in us the righteous purpose, the 
Christ-like spirit, the sanctified heart, the holy 
life. 

Here, all admit, is the starting-point, the founda- 
tion of Christian experience. But the question is. 
Is this all ? When the truth of Christ has entered 
and renewed the individual soul, reconciled the 
secret heart to God, is its work done ? Does it 
work privately and independently in each soul? 
Will it lead a person out, as it were, into the 
desert, suffer him to abandon the walks of men, 
and standing alone, isolated from all human inter- 
ests, pour into his soul the full cup of its blessed- 
ness? 

This is practically the position men often take ? 
What is more common than to hear people say. If 
I answer a good conscience ; if I do right, deal 
justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, 
nothing more is required of me. And this, in a 
broad sense, is true ; but it is offered not with any 
comprehensive view, but in justification of narrow- 
ing down human duty to mere individual recti- 
tude. It is a plea for the relinquishment of all 
social obligations in religious concerns. It is equiv- 
alent to saying. If I am right, it is nothing to me 



CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PROFESSION. 161 

whether the world is right or not. My duties are 
all owing to myself. I have nothing to do to make 
others what they should be. 

But is Christianity such a selfish principle ? Will 
it let a man enjoy its blessedness alone, with no 
effort to impart it to others ? Can a full-grown, 
symmetrical, living Christian be developed in soli, 
tude ? in the cave or the cloister ? Were the old 
ascetics of the mediaeval ages better Christians, 
better illustrations of what the gospel can do for 
men, than our philanthropists and reformers ? 

No other form of religion ever taught to man is 
so social, so humanitarian in its essential princi- 
ples, as that taught by Jesus Christ. While there 
is no other that reaches the heart so closely, that 
penetrates so deeply into the motives, principles, 
dispositions, and designs ; that so lays the soul 
bare, and makes it stand alone before its God, 
there is no other that so carries a person out of 
himself and makes him live and move and have 
his very being for others. The more fully it takes 
possession of the soul the less of selfishness, the 
more of personal sacrifice and devotion to the 
world's good, will exist there. It works within 
that it may reveal itself without. It is a seed 
which will take root and sprout only in the soil 
of the human heart, but it shoots up and branches 
forth into the broad world, and its rich fruits fall 
in delicious clusters in every human pathway. The 
man who has its spirit in his heart, who feels its 



162 SERMONS. 

blessedness and knows its worth, cannot hide its 
light or bury the treasure. His soul is not at rest, 
his salvation is not complete, until he makes con- 
fession of it before men. He longs to tell others 
what power it has to enrich and sanctify and save. 
Like the angels, he proclaims it as glad tidings of 
great joy unto all people. He commends it to the 
sorrowing as a source of comfort ; to the tempted 
as an element of strength ; to the fallen as a power 
to restore ; to the prosperous as a sanctifier of their 
joy ; to all classes and conditions as precisely 
adapted to their needs. There are none before 
whom he is unwilling to confess it. No pressure 
of circumstances leads him to deny it. 

It is upon just these two features of Christian 
character — the internal experience, the private, 
personal life of faith and holiness, and the out- 
ward confession — that the apostle treats in our 
text. " With the heart man believeth unto right- 
eousness, and with the mouth confession is made 
unto salvation." These two traits are not thrown 
together acciden.tally ; their union in this passage 
is not arbitrary, but is based on a natural and 
strictly philosophical connection. The}^ stand re- 
lated to each other as cause and effect. One is 
essential to the completeness of the other. How 
natural, how almost unavoidable it is that we ex- 
press in word and deed the real state of our mind. 
Character is always confessed before men sooner or 
later. We cannot cherish anger or love, falsehood 



CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PROFESSION. 163 

or truth, without betraying them to the world as 
elements of our life. Is it not equally certain that 
a living faith in Christ, a daily experience of his 
purity and peace, will seek utterance in our words 
and deeds. Thoughts, principles, feeling unex- 
pressed, have not the breath of life, and soon per- 
ish, as the seed which does not break open the soil. 
Hence it is, as the apostle says, that confession is 
made unto salvation. If confession is not made, 
the work of faith and personal holiness begun 
secretly in the soul is not matured ; it soon lan- 
guishes, grows cold, and dies. Why should it not ? 
Every endowment of our being is weakened by in- 
action. Your hands and feet, your lungs and voice, 
will not grow strong unless you use them. Your 
anger, your love, your fear, are increased by utter- 
ing them, and choked down by resolute silence. It 
is thus with your spiritual life. As naturally, as 
necessarily, as exercise is life-giving and invigorat- 
ing, so naturally and necessarily will the utterance 
of our religious experiences, the confession of our 
faith and hope, our reverence and spiritual joy, 
impart to them new life, strength, and beauty. 

But even if the inward inspirations of faith and 
devotion did not urge an open confession, a sense 
of affection, honor, and right would demand it. Is 
not that a doubtful kind of friendship of which a 
person is ashamed ? Would you value, confide in, 
and be proud of a pretended friend, who in the 
presence of certain individuals or in particular cir- 



164 SERMONS. 

cumstances would disown you, deny an acquaint- 
ance or intimacy with you ? Should you consider 
him a reliable member of your political party who 
when with those of an opposite party denied all 
faith in your principles ? 

Our sense of manliness, all our feelings of honor 
and right, view such meanness with contempt. 
We say it is cowardly, treacherous, and unprinci- 
pled. But if a person is a sincere believer in Je- 
sus Christ, if he really has Christ's spirit in his 
heart and knows by experience the power and 
blessedness of his truth, will he not look with the 
same disgust upon a disposition to repudiate all 
obligation to Him, to deny all responsibility for his 
cause, and even an intellectual faith in his gospel ? 
If we are believers in Christ why not own it, why 
not frankly and manfully acknowledge ourselves 
to be his disciples and pledge ourselves to his 
cause ? Do you believe Christ to be a true teach- 
er, a safe leader ? Why, then, do you not come 
and enlist in his cause, enroll your name as a 
soldier in his army, a member of his church? It 
is no more than you do in other enterprises. Are 
there several candidates for some office before the 
people ? How quickly will each one gather around 
him his zealous supporters. No one is afraid to de- 
clare himself in favor of one or the other of them. 
What enthusiastic partisans have the several mil- 
itary chieftains in our army. None of us are afraid 
of assuming the responsibility of sustaining some 



CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PROFESSION. 165 

one of them and bis policy. But what risks do 
we run in so doing of casting our influence on 
the wrong side. These are all fallible men. We 
have not a full statement of their principles. We 
merely know them, as it were, by rumor. And 
yet how we rush to their support. How we de- 
fend them against their opponents and advocate 
their supposed policy. 

And yet while we are doing this, in the face 
and eyes of such a course we refuse to avow to 
the world simple faith in Jesus Christ, whom we 
privately admit to be an infallible teacher and 
guide ; whose whole life and complete s^-stem of 
doctrines and morals we have in our possession. 
And we excuse ourselves for so doing with the 
plea that we are not equal to, and therefore dare 
not take upon ourselves, the responsibilities of such 
a profession. But we repeat, where are the greater 
responsibilities in those professions we do make in 
secular matters, or in those which Christianity de- 
mands ? In one case we become the defenders of 
fallible men and principles. In the other, by the 
very conditions of our faith, we espouse the cause 
of an unerrino^, divine beinor and doctrine. Should 
it be said that it is in the fact that Christianity is 
a perfect system that the objection lies to profess- 
ing it, that its requirements are so high we cannot 
live up to them, it may be answered. No man is 
required to profess that he is as perfect as Christ 
or his religion. That is not what Christ asks of 



166 SEEMOXS. 

US. No cliurch on earth ever demanded any such 
profession. We are simply called on to profess 
faith in Christianity as a fact ; to say to the world 
that we accept it as our religion, and that it is our 
desire and intention to defend, extend, and obey it 
to the extent of our ability. We say to the world 
as the apostle said to the Philippians : Not as 
though we had already attained, either were al- 
ready perfect ; but this one thing we do, reaching 
forth unto those things which are before, we press 
towards the mark for the prize of the high calling 
of God in Christ Jesus. We simply say that we 
are learners, that we have entered the school of 
Christ, that he is our teacher, something of whose 
wisdom and goodness we would acquire. 

And what less than this can we do, if we pro- 
fess to be Christians in any sense ? We place this 
question simply on the ground of consistency, of 
reason and right. Do not the best interests of the 
cause of Christ demand that his followers make an 
open profession of it ? Do not people lose respect 
for us, lose confidence in our independence, sin- 
cerity, and earnestness, when they see us appar- 
ently half ashamed of our religion, when in all 
our congregations only a handful, as it were, have 
ever, in any wa}', made any public acknowledg- 
ment of faith in Jesus ? Count up the number of 
baptisms, or the number who regularly go to the 
communion-table, compared with the whole popu- 
lation, and how small it is. How many will stay 



CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PROFESSION. 167 

from their place of worship when these rites are 
observed, that they may not witness or partake 
of them. Who can doubt that such practices do 
much to retard the progress of Christian truth, to 
undermine public confidence in the sincerity and 
devotedness of those who pretend to believe it. 
Nothing is more disgusting to an honest mind 
than to see people indifferent, cold, half skeptical 
about what they pretend to advocate. If a prin- 
ciple cannot inspire enthusiasm in those who pre- 
tend to have faith in it, why should others be in- 
terested ? 

But there is another consideration, higher than 
any yet mentioned and which alone should be con- 
clusive, Avhy we should confess Christ before men. 
He commands us to do it. In plain language He 
declares, " Whosoever shall confess me before men, 
him will I confess also before my Father which is 
in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before 
men, him will I also den}^ before my Father which 
is in heaven." He told his disciples to proclaim 
upon the house-top what they heard in secret ; 
and is it not the obvious meaning of the text that 
however strong our faith, we cannot realize salva- 
tion until we openly confess it to God and men ? 
What terms are used to describe Christ's ultimate 
triumph ? " Every knee shall bow and every 
tongue confess ; " "As I live, saith the Lord, every 
tongue shall confess to God ; " " Whosoever shall 
confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth 



168 SEEMOXS. 

in him, and be in God; " " If tbou sbalt confess 
witb tby moutb tbe Lord Jesus, and sbalt believe 
in tbine beart tbat God batb raised Him from tbe 
dead, tbou sbalt be saved." 

Are not tbese passages sufficiently explicit? 
Do tbey not make our duty plain ? Let us, tben, 
consider tbiswbole subject calmly, dispassionately. 
We know tbe intense prejudice in many minds 
against making a public profession of religion. 
We know it bas been abused and may be again. 
But ougbt we to give up ta prejudice? Will we 
reject every tbing liable to abuse? Sbould we not 
ratber let tbis, like all otber subjects, stand on its 
own merits ? We appeal to Universalists to take 
this matter up in earnest and answer it out of tbe 
New Testament. Let us be as willing to accept 
tbe teacbings of Cbrist on tbis point as on any 
otber. Let us be willing to know tbe trutb, to 
know our duty. Let every person in tbis con- 
gregation, especially tbose wbo bave never united 
witb tbe cburcb of Cbrist, give tbese tbougbts a 
candid consideration. Look tbem over in a prayer- 
ful, bumble spirit, witb a desire to do wbat will 
be best for yourselves, best for tbe world, most 
for tbe glory of God, and tbe Holy Spirit will lead 
you into all trutb. 



X. 

FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. 



" Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of 
life." — Revelation ii. 10. 

Faithfulness is the condition on which the 
victory of human life is achieved. This voice of 
the Spirit to the Ionian Church, " Be thou faith- 
ful," repeats its admonition to the men and women 
of every age and clime. Out of the deep conscious- 
ness of the rational mind, out of the unfoldments 
of Providence and inspiration, its words come forth 
to-day, to warn and teach us. From whatever 
point we view the conflict of life, whether in its 
secular, moral, or religious aspect, the question 
whether we shall succeed or fail is decided by our 
obedience or disobedience to this requirement, "Be 
thou faithful." 

Fidelity precludes the possibility of failure. 
Whatever may be its outward fortunes, it is in 
itself a crown and a victory. There is no defeat 
over which we have reason to indulge hopeless sor- 
row but that of the disloyal, recreant spirit. The 



170 SERMONS. 

soul cast down from the tlirone of moral and spir- 
itual supremacy, Tanquished by the temptations 
and difficulties of life, is ever a failure. But when 
our manhood, through trial and conflict, maintains 
its sovereignty ; when our purity, through the 
storm of sensuality and vice, sits arrayed in the 
glory and beauty of its own divinity, putting the 
whole army of evil passions beneath its feet, then 
is given unto us the crown, the victory of life. 

Faithfulness implies the activity of both intel- 
lectual and moral forces. It is integrity, loyalty, 
and in its development implies the presence of 
perseverance and self-sacrifice. To be faithful is 
to be true to our trust through all trials and dis- 
couragements. The faithful servant performs all 
his duties to his master. In the beautiful imagery 
of the Scriptures it is applied to the constanc}' and 
extent of the divine care, when it is said that " the 
faithfulness of God reacheth unto the clouds," and 
" endureth to all generations." The Saviour of 
the world is called the faitliful and true witness, 
the faithful High Priest ; his words are true and 
faithful. And in setting forth the duties of his 
followers, He represents them as the stewards of 
God, and says, " It is required in stewards that a 
man be found faithful." To such it will finally 
be said, " Well done, good and faithful servants." 

We perceive, then, how much is comprehended 
in this idea of fidelity. It implies the most intense 
loyalty of soul. It is unfaltering allegiance to dut}^ 



FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. 171 

It is veracity, strict conformity to every pledge ; 
constancy of affection, singleness of purpose, pu- 
rity of motive. It is trueness to ourselves, to our 
fellow-beings, and to God. The faithful soul sus- 
tains harmonious relations with its Creator and all 
his works. 

The theme here introduced for our consideration 
is of fundamental importance. We feel justified 
in presenting it, because this faithful spirit is the 
central element of all true life. Without a deep 
sense of moral obligation, without a determination 
to be true and pure in our inmost purpose, all su- 
perior endowments and advantages are of little 
worth in a rational and spiritual existence. These 
are the indispensable qualifications, the sure foun- 
dation of our manhood. To educate and refine the 
habits of the exterior man and leave the interior 
life destitute of deep moral convictions, is like 
planting the most beautiful flowers upon a barren 
soil ; it is only to see them droop and cover the 
ground with faded leaves. One of the saddest 
things we behold in this world is a richly endowed, 
highly cultivated intellect, destitute of moral and 
spiritual consciousness, without God and without 
hope, dead to a sense of obligation, indifferent to 
justice, truth, and humanity ; careless of its influ- 
ence upon the world. Such characters are the foes 
of society ; they are dangerous to the best interests 
of the race. We view them as wrecks stranded 
along the shores of time. 



172 SERMONS. 

If, then, we will win the victory of life, we must 
first seek to become profoundly conscious that we 
are subjects of moral and spiritual laws ; that we 
must have a living sense of duty and be faithful to 
it ; that it must hold and direct us always. The 
sense of right and of personal obligation must never 
be permitted to slumber. The root of all servility 
of mind lies in its loving pleasure or indulgence 
more than duty. The elements of true manhood 
and womanhood, the very soul of spiritual free- 
dom, consists in our having high aims which we 
love better than gratification ; in whose service 
hardship and death are honorable; to which we 
have consecrated all the powers of our being. In 
acknowledging the pleasurable to be supreme con- 
sists the degradation and disloyalty of our life. In 
our allegiance to deep convictions and established 
principles consist the power and freedom of the 
soul. 

There is in some minds a half conscious feeling 
that a disinterested reverence for the right is not 
entirely respectable ; that it is an undignified state 
of mind, born of eccentricity, indicating defect of 
endowment and narrowness of culture. We hear 
much said of a needed elasticity of mind and heart 
that can conform to circumstances and adapt itself 
to the demands of the times. This, in a high sense, 
is indeed a desirable attainment, but it too often 
means policy instead of principle. It is too often 
a betrayal of the right for the sake of gain. If a 



FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. 173 

crisis comes when interest and duty conflict, when 
the popular opinion or prejudice demands one 
thing and the law of God another, this elasticity 
too often means an ignominious retreat from the 
struggle. The man who can even think of such 
an escape from difficulty knows little of Christian 
fidelity. The heart is poisoned by the entrance 
into it of such a thought. The slightest touch of 
but the hem of Christ's garment in the press and 
crowd of life will cure the burning of this inward 
fever. Great and sacred is faithful, persistent 
obedience. He who is not able in the highest 
majesty of manhood to obey with clear and open 
brow a law higher than himself must be destitute 
of faith and love. All his efforts to be free draw 
around him more closely the chains of his own 
despotic soul. A child-like faithfulness of heart, 
such as can believe and endure all things, or grasp 
a guiding hand, and wondering walk in paths un- 
known, is the spirit needful to success. Let sin- 
cerity lead, and by winding ways, not without 
green pastures and still waters, we climb to the 
tops of everlasting hills, where the winds are cool 
and the sight is glorious ; where our souls are trans- 
figured into the likeness of heaven, and we receive 
the crown of life. 

In pointing out some of the specific and distin- 
guishing characteristics of this faithful spirit, we 
notice first that it develops itself in an intense ac- 
tivity. Those who are truly faithful, and there- 



174 SERMOXS. 

fore winners in the race of life, are the world's 
workers. We cannot be true to ourselves or to 
our race, without putting forth unceasing effort. 
The universe is a scene of movement. From the 
most distant orbs that swing in space to the low- 
est strata of the earth, there is nothing at rest. 
The insect tribes open to our view a world of toil. 
The feathered races are ever upon the wing. The 
flocks and herds move with restless diligence. In 
such activity these lower orders of creation find 
life and enjo^aiient. And can man, moving in a 
higher sphere, endowed with loftier gifts, fulfill 
the objects of his being in repose ? Slothfulness 
is the greatest unfaithfulness to our own nature 
and to God. They demand perpetual conflict and 
progress. Indolence would recline upon the green 
sod, or leisurely pace the even way. But Provi- 
dence throws us on a rugged universe and bids us 
make it smooth. It demands from us the unceas- 
ing action of a living power. Every way it urges 
our reluctant wills. It grows the thistles and the 
tares, but expects us to raise the wheat and corn. 
It leaves in each man's lot a thicket of sharp 
temptations, and expects him, though with bleed- 
ing feet, to pass firmly through. 

It is our duty then to go forth into the world, 
refusing to sit down and break bread with indo- 
lence. Amid the luxuries and repose of sloth the 
springs of moral soundness and spiritual vitality 
dr up. Guilty negligence, indulgent laxity, 



FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. 175 

plausible selfishness, eat into the faithful spirit and 
draw away its life. The battle of existence is not 
forced upon us from without only, it assails us 
from within. We must march to its conflict with 
quick and cheerful step. It is not alone with flesh 
and blood, with the great questions that arise 
among men in church and state, that we must con- 
tend. But it is with viewless passions and spir- 
itual wickedness clinging to the soul. We must 
capture the appetites, and make them willing to 
serve our higher faculties. We must change the 
heart of ambition, and turn its aspiring eye from 
the lamp of heathen glory to the sunlight of Chris- 
tian sanctity. We must seize anger, and yoke it 
under curb of reason to the service of justice and 
right. We must inspire the sluggish will to 
quicker and more earnest toil, charm the dull 
affections into sweeter and livelier moods, and 
tempt their timidity to break out in song and 
mingle voices with the melody of life. We must 
rouse pity from its sleep and compel it to choose a 
task and begin a work of mercy. To do all this 
requires vigilance, devotion, and endurance. Yet 
all this must be done if we will be faithful unto 
death and wear the crown of life. 

But while this activity should be the expression 
of inward life and force of soul, it should also have 
some well-defined form of development. Faithful- 
ness to life's opportunities requires that our pow- 
ers go out in some specific direction ; that our 



176 SERMONS. 

efforts be given to some definite work. Ever}^ per- 
son is sent into the world for something, — has a 
place to fill, a work to do. And to find that place 
and work, faithfully fill and do it, is our highest 
wisdom. Many there are who do work enough, 
but they work to no end, with no order. Ran- 
dom shots are most dangerous, but least sure to 
hit the mark. So labor without a purpose, effort 
without a plan, accomplishes nothing but harm. 
Let us be up and doing, but have a thorough un- 
derstanding of what we do. Convinced that our 
course in life is in the right direction ; that our 
work is useful, high, and honorable, we have noth- 
ing to do but to throw ourselves into it with all 
our might. If we will win the crown, we must 
let no consideration of policy, no fear of danger, 
or hope of favor move us in the least. The lesson 
of all human experience is, that every deviation 
from a sense of right is destructive to the most 
sacred interests of a rational soul. It may be but 
a trifling matter, — the mere bowing at an altar in 
whose worship our hearts cannot join ; the casting 
our vote for men or principles which our souls ab- 
hor ; the utterance of a single word in approval 
of what we deem false and wrong ; yet, sure as 
Heaven is just, such deeds will strip the crown of 
life from our heads, and cover them with dust and 
ashes. 

Faithfulness, then, is deeply interested not only 
in personally maintaining, but in promoting right- 



FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. 177 

eous principles. It loves man. It seeks to imbue 
the spirit of tlie times with holy influences. It 
feels the weight of social obligation, and bears a 
generous part in every enterprise for the enlight- 
enment and salvation of man. It knows there is 
no sphere of life secluded from the eye of God, or 
thrust out beyond his government. In its view 
nothing is so sad as a life of unhallowed levity 
and pleasure. Oh, a soul without wonder or ten- 
derness or inspiration, with superficial mirth and 
deep indifference, standing on the threshhold of 
immortality's awful temple with easy smile, cov- 
ered head, and unbent knee, is indeed in a fearful 
condition. Can we expect, my hearers, to live 
through this life thoughtless, careless, vain, and 
pass, in the twinkling of an eye, through the grave 
into the glory of the highest heavens ? How 
strange, how childish, to think that a wasted life, 
a life that ends in defeat, will open into victory ; 
that there is a crown prepared for it the moment 
it passes the brink of the grave. No, the sinful 
need not flatter themselves with this delusive 
hope. Only to the faithful soul is the crown of 
life given. And only when we receive into our 
souls the spirit of Him who is true and faithful ; 
only when we fight the good fight and keep the 
faith, will there be laid up for us the unfading 
crown of righteousness. 

12 



XI. 

THE GREATNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK. 



" And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great 
work, so that I cannot come down : why should the work cease, 
whilst I leave it, and come down to you? " — Nehemiah vi. 3. 

OuE, text refers to events which took place while 
the Jews were captives in Babylon. Nehemiah, a 
pious and devoted Jew, had received permission 
from Artaxerxes, the king, to retm-n to Jerusalem 
and rebuild it. Its walls were broken down and 
its gates burned witli fire. But the enterprise of 
repairing them was very offensive to some border- 
ing nations, and they did all in their power to 
prevent its success. Their opposition to it was 
probably excited by both personal and national 
considerations. During the captivity they had 
seized and occupied the vacant possessions of the 
Jews, and these they would be obliged to relin- 
quish if their owners returned. They also cher- 
ished a long-standing and inveterate prejudice 
against the Jews, which was excited and perpetu- 
ated by their different manners and religion. 



THE GREATNESS OF THE CHRISTIANS WORK- 179 

Three individuals, representing three tribes or 
nations, — Sanballat, the Horonite, Tobiah, the 
Ammonite, and Geshem, the Arabian, — were very 
active and malignant in their opposition. Their 
efforts were, at first, open and plainly hostile. It 
is said, that as soon as they heard of Nehemiah's 
approach with authority and aid from Artaxerxes, 
it '' grieved them exceedingly that there was come 
a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel." 
First, they ridiculed the undertaking. " What do 
these feeble Jews ? " said they. " Will they for- 
tify themselves ? Will they sacrifice ? Will they 
make an end in a day ? Will they revive the stones 
out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned ? " 
" Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he 
shall even break down their stone wall." Next 
they sought to make it appear that Nehemiah 
was plotting against Artaxerxes. "• Will ye rebel 
against the king? " they inquire. " Will you at- 
tempt to throw off the yoke of your conqueror, and 
to instate yourself in power?" 

Finding that Nehemiah was not intimidated, nor 
the work retarded by this course, they resorted to 
an artful scheme. All at once they became his 
friends, and deeply interested in his work. They 
sent to him, saying, " Come, let us meet together 
in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono." 
They pretended to want to counsel with him in 
reference to the best method of doinsr the work. 
They made common cause with him, assumed to 



180 SEEMONS. 

feel and to tliink as he did. But Nehemiah was 
too wise to be deceived by such pretensions. They 
were fooHsh and weak, and he did not Hsten to 
them. Like a sensible man he says, " They thought 
to do me mischief." He saw through their duplic- 
ity, and sent messengers to them saying, " I am 
doing a great work, so that I cannot come down : 
why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and 
come down to you ? " He did not enter into any 
controversy with them. Although he knew their 
mischievous design, yet he did not charge it back 
upon them. He had a sufficient reason in his own 
circumstances for not going down to them. His 
time was all well employed. He was engaged in 
the great work of rebuilding the city and temple 
where his fathers worshiped, of restoring the old 
altars and forms, so revered and sacred. He was 
making good progress. God was giving him all 
the instructions he needed, and why should he stop 
to counsel with men ? He was guided by a higher 
wisdom than theirs, and why should he turn from 
divine to human instruction ? 

Doctor Adam Clarke adds to his explanation of 
this passage the following practical suggestions : 
" I know not any language which a man who is 
employed on imjDortant labors can use more suit- 
ably as an answer to the thousand invitations and 
provocations he may have to remit his work, enter 
into useless or trivial conferences, or notice weak, 
wicked, and malicious attacks on his work and his 



THE GREATNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK. 181 

motives. I am doing a great work, so I cannot 
stoop to your nonsense, or notice your malevolence. 
Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and 
come down to such as you ? " 

In passing from the simple facts to the moral 
and religious instructions of this passage of sacred 
history, we find it has a lesson for us, as Christian 
believers, which we trust will not be wholly inap- 
propriate for this occasion. 

We are led first to consider the greatness of 
our work in the gospel. We are " doing a great 
work." The religion of Jesus Christ is great, viewed 
in an}^ light in which we may place it. It is great 
objectively ; great in its origin, coming from God, 
and being the highest revelation of his truth ; 
great in its agencies, its Author and Finisher being 
no less a personage than the only begotten Son of 
God ; the Holy Spirit, the power that quickens it 
in the heart, while it is wrought out in our lives 
by the exercise, on our part, of strong faith, fervent 
devotion, and humble obedience. It is great in its 
principles, treating of the character, government^ 
will, and purpose of God, of the great questions of 
duty, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, sin 
and holiness. It is great in its purpose, contem- 
plating the salvation of the world from sin and 
its restoration to God. These are, indeed, great 
themes. If we think upon them our minds are 
occupied with great thoughts. If wfe profess this 
religion we make a great profession. If in any 



182 SERMONS. 

degree we comprehend its ideas, or feel its spirit, 
or live its life, our whole being is elevated and 
ennobled by it : we are doing a great work. 

But, my hearers, are we not doing a great work, 
as followers of Christ, in what we are striving to 
accomplish for ourselves personally, and for the 
world, by our faith in Him ? As the disciples of 
the Lord Jesus, what do we profess, by the grace 
of God, to be doing for ourselves? Nothing less 
than working out our own salvation, given us in 
Him. We profess to have received the grace of 
God, to have passed from death unto life, to have 
been translated into the kingdom of God's dear 
Son. We claim to have received the truth as it 
is in Jesus ; that our hearts are the abode of the 
Holy Spirit, — in a word that we are the charac- 
teristic children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 
And is it not a great work for us to bring our 
hearts and lives into a full enjoyment of this 
grace, to work out what God has worked within 
us, so that it will pervade our entire lives, be our 
comfort in sorrow, our strength in weakness, our 
light in darkness our rescue in temptation, and our 
hope in death ? If we are true Christians we are 
constantly, earnestly engaged in doing this great 
work for ourselves. We are seeking the reconcili- 
ation of our hearts to God, the consecration and 
sanctification of our lives by the word of God and 
the Holy Spirit working and ruling in us. 

And what we are striving to do for ourselves 



THE GREATNESS OF THE CURISTIAN'S WORK. 183 

personally we are striving to do for the world. 
Christ came to be the Saviour of the world. He 
tasted death for every man, gave his life a ransom 
for all. Now, if we are truly his, if we have been 
born of his spirit, been made new creatures in Him, 
we shall be doing the great work He came to do 
for the world. The Christian cannot be indifferent 
to the welfare of men, to their moral and S23iritual 
condition. He cannot look upon a world lost in 
sin, alienated from the life of God, degraded and 
miserable, without thought or care. He loves men 
as the dear children of God, as the subjects of re- 
deeming grace, as the lost sheep whom the Sav- 
iour came to seek and save ; and he feels a solemn 
responsibility for them. The voice of God cries 
to him from the cross of Christ, " Where is thy 
brother? " Is he out in the cold, waste region of 
unbelief, living " without God and without hope 
in the world ? " Is he the prey of avarice, bend- 
ing all the energies of his immortal soul to the 
service of mammon, worshiping business, pleasure, 
fame, infatuated with the " lust of the flesh, the 
lust of the eye, and the pride of life ? " Is he a 
poor, reeling drunkard, a curse to himself, his fam- 
ily, and the world ? Is he a blasphemer, a robber, 
a murderer ? Is he poor and miserable, sick and 
in prison, homeless, without food and drink ? 

The Christian feels a responsibility for all such. 
He cannot despise his brother for whom Christ 
died. The blood of every fallen man and woman 



184 SERMONS. 

cries to him from the ground, and he cannot rest 
satisfied without doing all in his power to help 
them. He feels that God has called him to a great 
work. He remembers the Saviour's words, spoken 
of his disciples, but addressed to the Father, " As 
Thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I 
also sent them into the world." He feels called 
upon to work in the spirit and with the purpose of 
Christ for the salvation of men. He believes it 
possible for them to be saved. He believes that in 
Christ he possesses the power which alone can save 
them. And he feels it to be his duty, to the ex- 
tent of his ability, to apply that power to every 
sinner's case. He feels moved to carry the mes- 
sage of the gospel, its warnings, encouragements, 
and consolations, to all the sinful around him. 
His love to men is the rule by which he estimates 
his love to Christ. " Inasmuch as ye have done 
it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me." What he is willino; to 
do, to sacrifice for the spread of the gospel, for the 
conversion of men to Christ, indicates to his mind 
the strength of his faith and love. If he cares 
nothing for the world, if he is not willing to sur- 
render a moment of his time, a dollar of his money, 
an effort of his hands, or to give up one selfish, sen- 
sual desire for the sake of his religion, what are 
his professions worth ? If he is too full of business 
and pleasure to keep the Sabbath-day holy, or to 
go into the house of the Lord to worship ; if he 



THE GREATNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK. 185 

cannot find time to rend his Bible, or enter his 
closet, or worship around the family altar ; if he is 
so thoughtless as to take the name of God in vain, 
and in his general demeanor to set before his chil- 
dren an irreligious example ; if his faith in Christ 
is so weak and wavering that he dares not con- 
fess Him before men, then what claim has he to 
the Christian name ? He is not a Christian at all. 
He cannot have even an intelligent, intellectual 
belief in the gospel. He simply professes without 
thought, talks about what he does not understand 
or feel. 

These suggestions faintly indicate the greatness 
of our work as Christian believers. If we are such 
vre are engaged in a great work. 

Let us next consider the earnestness necessary 
to do this work. This is implied in its greatness. 
So great a work cannot be done by the slothful, 
the cold and indifferent. The Saviour has told us 
what it is to be Christians. It is to love the Lord 
our God with all the heart and soul and mind and 
strength. If we will follow Christ we must be 
ready to leave all, take up our cross, and conse- 
crate ourselves and all that we have to his service. 
'' What good thing shall I do, that I may have 
eternal life ? " inquired the young man. " If thou 
wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and 
give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in 
heaven, and come and follow me," is the Saviour's 
quick reply. Nothing but profound earnestness in 



186 SERMONS. 

our Christian life will lead us to surrender all, to 
consecrate all, to the love of Christ. Yet it is 
just this earnestness that characterizes a deeply re- 
ligious life. Kehemiah could not leave his work 
for a day or an hour to parley with men. Nor 
can the true Christian suspend his efforts for a 
moment to engage in useless speculations, personal 
controversies, or idle talk. He sees so much to be 
done for his own soul, so many passions to be sub- 
dued, so much darkness to be removed, so many 
errors to be corrected, so many sins to be repented 
of and forgiven ; he sees so much evil in the world 
around him, so many opportunities and calls to do 
good, how can he find time to be idle ? No, the 
stronger our faith, the greater is our zeal, the more 
we desire to do for ourselves and for humanity, for 
the glory of God. We watch and labor and wait. 
We pray without ceasing, and in everything give 
thanks. 

And especially shall we manifest this earnest- 
ness and zeal in our relation to the Christian 
church. We shall feel that here we have a great 
work to do, requiring our utmost exertions to ac- 
complish it. We shall be ready to work in every 
department of the church, — in the Sabbath-school, 
in the prayer and conference meeting, in sustain- 
ing the secular or pecuniary interests of the society, 
in allaying strife and closing up divisions among 
brethren, in seeking out the young and the stranger 
and providing them a home in the church. And 



THE GREATNESS OF TUE CHRISTIAN'S WORK. 187 

we shall desire to promote the prosperity and 
growth, not only of our own church or society, but 
of our whole denomination. We shall feel that 
we are all members of one body, and that we can- 
not exist as members without the bod}^ Cut off 
from it our churches die. All independent, unor- 
ganized work is thrown away, wasted, flows off 
into the turbid stream of unbelief and worldliness. 
It is the want of earnest denominational work, the 
presence of a lawless, speculative spirit among us, 
that is thwarting our best endeavors and crippling 
our energies. "VVe do not unite all our strength 
and means to build ourselves up as a Christian 
church. One turns aside in this direction and an- 
other in that to do outside work, and therefore we 
do very little in our own chosen household. 

Let us now consider some of the influences that 
are ever at work to abate this earnestness and to 
draw the Christian off from his work. Always 
there are personal or impersonal foes calling to 
him, " Come, let us meet together ; leave your work 
and come down to us, that we may counsel to- 
gether ; let us devise some new, some easier way 
to do it." In whatever form these influences ap- 
proach us, there is only one way through which 
they can gain admittance into our hearts ; that be- 
ing closed against them they are powerless. The 
Christian can never be drawn aside from his work, 
or become cold and indifferent while the Holy 
Spirit fills his heart. When we have living faith 



188 SERMONS. 

in Christ, when oui' hearts are warm with the love 
of God, full of the spirit of prayer, in fellowship 
with the Father and the Son, no outward influ- 
ences can turn us aside. The want of spiritual 
life is the poison root of all our weaknesses. This 
is where the tempter gains admission. The church 
never denies the faith, or tries to build on " other 
foundation," and the individual life never becomes 
worldly and irreligious when religion is nourished 
by watchfulness and prayer. As the human body 
is always warm, healthful, and vigorous when the 
blood is active and pure, so when the currents of 
spiritual life flow freely in the soul, when it is full 
of the Holy Ghost, there can be no outward de- 
formity, inactivity, or decline. 

Let it be understood then that the germ of our 
weaknesses and failures is the want of living faith 
and spirituality. But this germ grows up and 
branches out in many forms. Its first develop- 
ment is a disrelish for religious exercises, a neglect 
of the Bible, prayer, the Sabbath, and the sanctu- 
ary. As the love of these goes out of the heart, 
the love of the world will enter it. The heart 
will gradually fill up with the cares of this life 
and the deceitfulness of riches. The word, being 
choked, will become unfruitful. Thus the soul is 
brought down from the Christian eminence, leaves 
its great work. It does not at first renounce it 
openly, but it forgets it, does not find time to at- 
tend to it, being fully occupied with other things. 



THE GREATNESS OF THE CURISTIANS WORK. 189 

But tliis is only the first step in coming down. 
The next is an inclination to separate ourselves 
from the Christian church, to ignore the impor- 
tance of Christian faith, and to tolerate in the 
church and in the Christian ministr}^ all kinds of 
belief and unbelief. At this stage in the down- 
ward course we hear many and severe denuncia- 
tions of all efforts to build the church on positive 
statements of doctrine. This is declared to be in- 
tolerance and bigotry, and that, too, with a sever- 
ity that would almost seem like intolerance, were 
it not coupled with loud professions of liberality. 

Open doubt and unbelief soon follow this state 
of mind, if its tendency is not checked. It often 
is checked ; sometimes by pride, sometimes by fear 
of public opinion, and sometimes by the grace of 
God, showing the danger. But it goes on to its 
legitimate result ; it always drifts its votar}^ be- 
yond the pale of Christian faith. We think no 
one who has observed its course will deny this. 
It is first the cry of intolerance and loud profes- 
sions of liberality ; then worldliness, indifference, 
and neglect of the spiritual life ; then doubt, soon 
developing into open and shameless denial. This 
is what generally comes of the least departure 
from our Christian work, from coming down to 
counsel with worldly wisdom. There is no place 
where the Christian can stand firmly but on the 
Rock of Ages. 

There are innumerable other influences that 



190 ' SERMONS. 

creep in with these to bring us down from our 
great work. We are here in the church mihtant. 
There will always be conflicts, differences, and con- 
tentions, even in the church of Christ. The wheat 
and tares must grow together until the harvest. 
We shall often be tempted to come down and en- 
gage in small, personal controversies, or to yield 
to selfish ambition ; and in many ways solicited to 
seek our own and not Christ's. We should ever 
respond to all these solicitations in the words of 
Nehemiah, " I am doing a great work, so that I 
cannot come down. Why should the work cease, 
whilst I leave it, and come down to you ? " 

And let us never forget that this turning aside 
is always " coming down," descending from our 
lofty position as Christians, to a lower plane. If 
we could realize how great and lofty the service of 
Christ is, we should never want to do any other 
work ; we could never be induced to come down 
to meaner employments. 

And let us, on this annual occasion, seek to re- 
alize that we, as Universalists, have a great, a 
special work to do. Yes, as a branch of the 
church universal, we have a peculiar and specific 
work to do. If we have not, we have no right to 
an existence. We are striving to do what no other 
sect or party is doing. We are not a company of 
philosophers or religious adventurers. We are not 
eclectics, seeking truth everywhere, but with no 
test or standard of truth. We are professed Chris- 



THE GREATi\ESS OF THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK. 191 

tians, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, taking the 
word of God as our rule of faith and practice. 
But in this we are not pecuUar. Here we stand 
on common ground with all Christians. But we 
believe the gospel has been misunderstood, and we 
are striving to bring the church to a right under- 
standing of it. We aim to free it of traditions and 
false creeds, to restore the primitive faith. We 
would establish it on Jesus Christ, the only begot- 
ten Son of God and the Saviour of the world. 
This is our peculiar work. We hold that all other 
sects have either obscured or denied the great truth 
that " the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of 
the world ; " " that God was in Christ, reconciling 
the world to Himself." This truth, the great, all- 
important truth of the gospel, it is our mission to 
teach and enforce until it pervades the Christian 
life, and, by the quickening of the Holy Spirit, re- 
generates the world. It is a glorious theme. It 
warms our hearts with love and praise to God. 
There is life and power in it. Let us not be drawn 
away from it. Let us not come down from this 
sublime truth to a baseless, indefinite, aimless way 
of thinking and talking on religion. If we will 
have religious life, we must have a theology. We 
cannot separate them without destroying both. 
And all our efforts to arouse men to vital religious 
experiences will be thrown away, unless we give 
them definite ideas of God and his government, of 
Christ, his nature and mission, of the Holy Spirit 



192 SERJfOXS. 

and its work in tlie soul, and of man, his nature 
condition, duties, and destiny. This is a great 
work. And in no other way can we perform our 
mission as a branch of the Christian church but by 
adhering to this work. Let us not be deceived 
with sounding professions of liberalit}^ They may 
just now be popular catch-words, but they are 
short-lived. We come down, we fritter away our 
time, our means, our strength, by listening to them. 
There is no other way for us to prosper but to work 
on in the name and strength of our God and his 
Christ. Let us encourage ourselves with the words 
of Nehemiah, " The God of heaven, He will pros- 
per us ; therefore we, his servants, will arise and 
build." By and by, if we are faithful, the walls 
of Zion will be rebuilt and joined together, and its 
doors set up. The spirit of an unbelieving, worldly 
age may be against us. But we must not ^^ield to 
it. No ; by all our love for Christ, by all we de- 
sire to do for humanit}^ we must not yield to it. 
We must impart the spirit of our religion to the 
age. By firmly believing, by truly living, by ar- 
dently praying, we may do it. 



XII. 
ANOTHER COMFORTER. 

A FUXERAL SERMON. 



" And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another 
Comforter, that He may abide with you forever." — John xiv. 16. 

The interest Christ ever seemed to feel in the 
sorrowing is a marked feature of his character. Of 
them and to them He spoke with the greatest ten- 
derness. Whether the timid culprit was referred 
to Him for judgment, or the weeping parent came 
for relief, or the blind cried from the wayside, they 
were alike assured of his s^^mpathy, and they all 
shared in his blessing. In his presence the bright- 
ness of the Father's love broke through the clouds 
of grief, shedding light upon the soul, inspiring it 
with courage, hope, and cheerfulness. 

The time had come when his brief earthly life, 
so full of wonderful events, so fruitful of results, so 
fragrant with the flowers of purity, love, and com- 
passion, was to close amid the tragic scenes of the 
crucifixion. He had not failed to impart the try- 
ing intelligence to the chosen twelve. Because He 

13 



194 SERMONS. 

had said to them, '' I go away," sorrow had filled 
their hearts. It was indeed to them a trying hour. 
For Him they had relinquished other friendships, 
incurred poverty, persecution, and contempt. He 
had won their hearts, their lives ; all their material 
interests and possessions had been given to Him. 
And to be told that they were so soon to be left 
alone was indeed like the shutting out of the last 
ray of light, the fading of the last hope. The veil 
which hid the future and the beneficent intention 
of this trial could not then be parted before their 
eyes. They felt its present grief, its sting of be- 
reavement, the loss of counsel and encouragement, 
the disappointment of hope, the danger of expos- 
ure, but the brightening morning of coming time 
they could not see. Christ felt the burden of their 
grief, saw the gloom that was settling down upon 
them. This drew forth a new and beautiful ex- 
pression of his love. He would not leave them in 
despair. " Let not your hearts be troubled ; you 
believe in God," you have a Father, a Friend in 
heaven. Are you left alone, can you despair, have 
you not reason to hope while He remains to you ? 
What if I do leave you ? He is greater than I ; 
without Him I can do nothing, and I leave you the 
assurance of his presence, guardianship, and sup- 
port. Be not faithless but believing. Enter the 
shadow and the gloom with trusting hearts, and 
even " there shall his hand lead thee, and his right 
hand hold thee." 



ANOTHER COMFORTER. 195 

Can we not almost imagine that we see their 
hearts growing lighter, and their comitenances 
brightening as they listen to his words ? But 
these are not all, or the most inspiring ? So much 
encouragement and comfort they may have, even if 
the future is as dark as they conceive, and nothing 
more of earthly good remains to them. But this 
world is not the only province of the Lord, the only 
dwelling-place of God. " In my Father's house," 
continues the Saviour, "are many mansions; if it 
were not so, I would have told you ; I go to pre- 
pare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a 
place for you, I will come again and receive you 
unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be 
also." 

Their future was not so dark as they supposed ; 
it opened into light and glory, and the departure 
of their friend and Lord was simply preparatory 
for their entrance into the fullness of his joy. He 
had not been deceiving them in the glowing hopes 
He had inspired. Although they had but poorly 
understood Him, yet not one expectation had He 
awakened, not one promise had He made, that He 
would not more than fulfill. If less had been in 
store for them than they had hoped, He would 
have told them. But they could not, at first, at- 
tain to the sublimity of his purpose or comprehend 
his thought. While their minds had been linger- 
ing in the narrow, " earthly house of this taber- 
nacle," expecting to find there every apartment 



196 SEEJfONS. 

tlie Father's government, and all tlie provisions of 
his bounty, his mind had soared upwards to the 
''house of many mansions," ''the building of God, 
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 
The blessings He had promised were spiritual, 
and were to be enjoyed in a spiritual state of be- 
ing. He was about to rise into that condition, as 
the first fruits from the dead, as a demonstration 
of the fact of a resurrection into life immortal. 
During the brief period of their continuance here, 
after his departure, they were to think of Him as 
gone into heaven, there to appear in the presence 
of God for them, to prepare a place for them. 
Towards that heavenly home they might look for- 
ward amid all their labors, conflicts, and suffer- 
ings, and find strength to persevere. There would 
be his home, and there they should finally rest, se- 
cure from the tempests that beat upon the shores 
of mortality. And not only does He foretell this 
glorious destin}^ and picture this bright abode as a 
far off land difficult of access, but how familiarly 
he represents it as his home, and how positively 
He promises to come again and receive them unto 
Himself. 

What more could they ask for consolation ? 
Even their bereavement was not real, but only a 
temporar}^ separation, preparatory to an everlast- 
ing and beatific reunion. The Father was still to 
be with them and guard them in his absence, and 
finally He was to come, " the w^ay, the trutli, and 



ANOTHER COMFORTER. 197 

the life," to lead them to the bright mansions of 
rest above. It would seem that these considera- 
tions were enough ; as much as they could ask, 
or love could give for their consolation. And yet, 
after all these assurances, such is the plenitude and 
tenderness of the Saviour's compassion, that in our 
text He adds yet another assurance, " I will pray 
the Father, and He shall give you another Com- 
forter, that He may abide with you forever ; even 
the spirit of truth " which shall dwell with you and 
be in you. They were not only to know the truth 
in reference to the mission of Christ, the love of 
the Father, and the immortality and blessedness of 
the soul, but in answer to his prayer God would 
communicate his own Holy Spirit to their souls, 
carrying these truths home to their hearts, making 
them matters of experience, moral and spiritual as 
well as intellectual convictions. He would work 
in their inmost being such a change, impart to 
their religious nature such divine illumination and 
renovation, as would enable them to appreciate and 
enjoy, to make a personal application of the truth 
He had taught them, to relieve them in all their 
sorrows. 

As here presented, the lesson of this passage 
offers a threefold consolation to every mourner, 
and it must be accepted in all its parts, if we will 
enjoy its full blessedness. The doctrines of a 
present beneficent and universal providence, of an 
immortal beatific life to issue from the present. 



198 SERMONS. 

and of the Holy Spirit, the divinely appointed in- 
terpreter and quickener of all truth in the soul, 
are plainly involved. We do not say that no com- 
fort can be derived from either one of them when 
severed from its true relation with the others. 
Doubtless there is power in each to minister some 
relief to the disconsolate spirit in its hour of need, 
but it is only when they unite and throw their 
threefold light upon the soul that they give it full- 
ness of joy. 

We may take as an illustration the simple fact 
that God reigns over all ; that He watches over 
all the movements of his creatures ; that He up- 
holds and sustains them, mercifully provides the 
bounties we enjoy, and cares for us continually ; 
that even our afflictions are sent in mercy ; that 
the gift and close of life alike bear witness to his 
goodness. 

Now, to beings weak, sorrowing, and dying, as 
we are, there must be comfort in this thought 
alone. We feel a sense of need, of insecurity and 
fear. And if there is One stronger than we, who 
is interested in our welfare and attentive to us, 
surely to know and trust Him is a comfort. But 
out of this very consolation other questions will 
arise which will render it unsatisfactory. Why 
are such provisions made for man ? Why does 
the Infinite Father stoop to his necessities, so ten- 
derly watch over, and care for him ? Why has 
the earth been fitted for his comfort, and all the 



ANOTHER COMFORTER. 199 

laws of nature and providence arranged to promote 
his virtue and intelligence? Is this the end? Is 
it all to no purpose but present gratification ? Is 
there not an ulterior design ? Is not man thus 
tenderly cared for here because he has an here- 
after; to fit him for a higher life and purer enjoy- 
ments ? Does not God nurture him now, as the 
parent does its child in helpless infancy, that he 
may grow up into vigorous manhood and have a 
broader and deeper experience of good ? 

Thus there is in our present enjoyments, to say 
the least, a suggestion of immortality. They are 
linked to it by a natural necessity. They lose 
their highest meaning without it. It is what 
gives them completeness and unites wisdom with 
benevolence in their bestowment. That is the 
grandest work which is wrought for the sublimest 
purpose. The mechanism may be ever so compli- 
cated and beautiful, but if it has only a trivial 
design we do not admire it. So human life, with 
all its wonderful and beneficent adjustments, is 
comparatively worthless if it terminates in the 
dust. But if it rises into immortal existence and 
progress in knowledge and holiness, how sublime a 
work it is, how worthy of all the provisions made 
for its comfort here below, how worthy even of 
the watch-care of God Himself. 

Thus this thought of immortality is the comple- 
ment, the interpretation of a present providence. 
Without it, life loses meaning ; all the love and 



200 SERMOXS. 

care bestowed upon it seem comparatively pur- 
poseless. 

But it may be said these two facts — a present 
watchful providence and the certainty of a blessed 
immortality — are sufficient for all our necessities. 
But are we sure, that they, alone, can give us full 
consolation ? Have we not often found ourselves, 
and seen others plunged in grief, which even the 
strongest faith in the love of God and the im- 
mortal blessedness of the soul could not relieve ? 
Oh, how frequently have we all said in the hour of 
trial, " I know this is wisely ordered ; I know the 
merciful Father intends it for my good ; that He 
is wiser than I, and too loving to be unkind in 
anything ; of this my mind is fully convinced : and 
yet I cannot feel it ; I cannot bring these assur- 
ances to bear on this trying experience for my con- 
solation ; they do not take away the sting of sor- 
row as I feel they ought. I have no mental doubts 
or fears, but I cannot bring my feehngs into rec- 
onciliation ; my affections, my sensibilities rebel." 
Do not all our hearts testify to the reality of such 
experiences as these ? 

The same is true of our faith in immortality. 
We have stood by the bedside of the dying man 
ripe in years and in thought, whose reason had 
wrought long and earnestly upon this problem of 
a future existence ; we have held the hand of the 
almost frantic mother as she bent over the cold 
form of her lifeless child, and we have heard them 



ANOTHER COMFORTER. 201 

say, " Nature, reason, and revelation teach me 
that there is another and a better life ; of this my 
intellect is thoroughly convinced, and still I doubt ; 
I seem to lack heartfelt assurance ; I want more 
evidence ; I am afraid to trust my convictions and 
go forth alone." 

Now is there nothing in divine love and the 
gifts of grace to supply this want of experimental 
faith, to carry home these fundamental doctrines 
of the gospel and give them living, sustaining 
power in the soul ? Yes, the Saviour has prom- 
ised, " I will pray the Father, and He shall give 
you another Comforter, that he may abide with 
you forever ; even the Spirit of Truth, which shall 
be with you and in you, and teach you all things, 
and bring all things to your remembrance what- 
soever I have said unto you." If we continually 
seek, and open our hearts to receive the divine 
spirit ; if the love of God is shed abroad in them ; 
if we exercise humility and trust, call on the Fa- 
ther to enlighten us, and wait for his guidance, all 
these consoling truths will have power and life in 
our hearts. They will bless us abundantly in the 
time of trouble. They will be supports, matters 
of experience, wells of living water springing up 
within the soul unto life everlasting. 

And it is only this gift of the Spirit, this in- 
dwelling of God in the soul, " Christ in us the 
hope of glory," that can vitalize the truths of the 
gospel in our experience. We may have ever so 
much philosophy to convince us of the Father's 



202 SERMONS. 

love and care ; tlie reviving spring-time and the 
bursting clirj^salis, yea, even the strong desires of 
our own souls may prophesy of renewal of life 
beyond the grave, but these will not satisfy. Per- 
plexing doubts will tantalize our hopes and gloomy 
forebodings destroy our peace. But when that 
" other Comforter " enters the soul our hopes 
brighten, our fears fly away, and with the apostle 
we triumphantly exclaim, " We know that if this 
house of the earthly tabernacle were dissolved, we 
have a building of God, an house not made with 
hands, eternal in the heavens." " Now He that 
hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, 
who also hath given unto us the earnest of the 
spirit ; therefore we are always confident." Evi- 
dent is the foundation of the apostle's confidence. 
It is not any external proof, not even the word of 
revelation, but it is the earnest or pledge or fore- 
taste of immortal life, given by the presence of 
God's spirit in his soul. He had in his own blessed 
Christian experience the first installment, if we 
may so express it, of those incorruptible heavenly 
treasures which fade not away. And so may we 
have it. With all his assurance we may say, '' We 
know," " therefore we are always confident." The 
closer we draw near to God, the more of his spirit 
abideth in our hearts ; the more fully all our pow- 
ers are consecrated to Him ; the more living, sus- 
taining, comforting will be our faith and hope. 
It is by daily, hourly, unceasing cultivation of our 
spiritual powers that we enter into life. We must 



ANOTHER COMFORTER. 203 

watch and pray, labor and wait for the coming of 
the Son ot Man, the descent of the Spirit. 

In every hour of grief how much encourage- 
ment, how much tenderness and love, may we dis- 
cern in this promise, " I will pray the Father " for 
you. In all our trials the same compassion that 
wept at the grave of Lazarus is interceding for us, 
is striving to bring us to a comforting sense of the 
truth. This, when once awakened, will abide with 
us forever. There are no waves of sorrow that 
can overflow or quench it. 

" Sorrow and sin and death are o'er, 
And secret joys revive and bloom, 
The mourner weeps his loss no more. 

When Thou, the Comforter, art come. 
Of thee possest, in Thee we prove 
The light, the life, the heaven of love." 

Such thoughts we commend to this mourning 
congregation, and especially to this bereaved fam- 
ily circle, in view of the death of one who filled so 
large a place in their hearts. Although months 
have passed away since she was called home, and 
the cloud that then rested upon your dwelling has 
been so far lifted as to let in the light of health, 
yet you do not, we do not, we cannot cease to 
mourn for her ; to miss the light of her joyous 
spirit and the ministry of her pure life at home, in 
the worshiping assembly, and in the social circle. 
May the Father bless us and the Comforter be 
with us. 



XIII. 

TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 

A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 



" For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, 
which is Clivlst the Lord." — Luke ii. 11. 

The thought that this is the birthda}^ of the 
Son of God ought to awaken in our minds feelings 
of peculiar solemnity and joy. Eighteen hundred 
and sixty-four times, according to our chronolog3s 
has it been repeated since that memorable night 
•when the shepherds watched their flocks upon the 
plains of Palestine, beneath the starry sky. Assem- 
bled in our place of worship, our thoughts go back 
to the scenes amid which this anniversary began. 
We see the evening shadows disappear before the 
effulgent glories of the Lord. \ye gaze upon the 
bright angel form, Avhich, with meek and loving 
countenance, descends through the illuminated 
space to where the affrighted watchers sit. We 
hear the sweet music of his voice break upon the 
stillness in those words of blessed assurance: "Fear 



TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 205 

not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great 
joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is 
born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord." And now, as if earth 
had not enough voices worthily to celebrate this 
great event, " suddenly there is with the angel a 
multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and 
saying. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace, good will towards men." If beatified spir- 
its, all unwilling to part with Him who shared the 
Father's glory above, could leave the shining courts 
of heaven to cheer our earth with light and song 
at the Redeemer's birth, may not we, as an offer- 
ing of our devotion, when the anniversary of that 
event comes round, bring the glory of Lebanon 
unto Him ; the fir-tree, the pine-tree and the box 
together, to beautify the place of his sanctuary ? 
If heaven itself could add to its stellar beauty the 
brighter illumination of divine glory, may not we 
light up our earthly temples in feeble imitation of 
its supernal brightness ? 

But why this rejoicing in heaven and earth over 
the lowly birth of a peasant child ? Why do the 
stars sing together and the sons of God shout for 
joy when another seemingly friendless one is cast 
forth into a guilty world to find his first rest with 
the beasts of the stall ? Why have the successive 
ages treasured the memory of this event, and why 
do we to-night make it an occasion for spiritual 
exultation, prayer, and praise ? 



206 SERMONS. 

The explanation is in these words, *' Unto j^ou 
is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ, the 
Lord." Not as the poor and almost friendless 
one of Nazareth; not in any of his earthly rela- 
tions do we view Him, but in the light of his 
spiritual being, as the Saviour of the world ; as 
the anointed servant of God to redeem his rational 
creation ; as the chosen Lord of humanity. 

But if the birth of the Saviour is properly the 
occasion of so much exultation, it follows that the 
world is greatly in need of a Saviour. 'Why should 
it rejoice over the coming of one whose presence 
and work are not needed ? When sinking beneath 
some insupportable difficulty we welcome with 
gladness the hand stretched out for our relief. 
But if our burden is light and our condition favor- 
able, we feel no need of aid. The great impor- 
tance, then, ascribed to the advent of Christ, is 
proof of a pressing necessity on the part of the 
world of a Redeemer. If there is in its condition 
such an imperious demand for a Saviour, it must 
certainly be a lost condition. And such we find it 
really to be. Men are lost in ignorance, error, and 
sin ; to the knowledge of God, the possession of his 
holiness, and the enjoyment of his felicity. Look 
at the actual condition of humanity in this, or in 
any previous age, and how mournfully is this truth 
illustrated. Viewed in its social aspect we see 
whole tribes and nations given over to the gross- 
est barbarism ; ignorant of letters, the arts and sci- 



TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 207 

ences, without roads, permanent habitations, de- 
fined communities, or public improvements of any- 
kind. The home has never been established in 
their midst, and the sacred fellowship of kindred 
affection is but little known. Their worship is a 
degrading superstition, a blind idolatry, performed 
by acts of cruelty. Their pride and ambition de- 
velop fiery passions and flow in rivers of blood. 

Such is the actual condition of countless millions 
of our race. It is difficult for us to realize that so 
large a portion of it still lies under the dark cloud 
of heathenism ; that pilgrimages are performed, hu- 
man sacrifices offered, and idol temples thronged. 
Yet so it is, and the heart chills in view of tlie 
degradation and wretchedness, the cruel customs, 
the desperate deeds, the unholy passions of which 
those tell who explore these realms of overshadow- 
ing death. Oh, do not these benighted children 
of God need a Saviour ? Age after age have they 
groped in blindness, and what hope is there for 
them if a divine hand does not reach down and 
lift them up ? They are sunk in a horrible pit of 
pollution. They cannot save themselves. Only 
as God has mercy on them and gives them the 
light of life can they come up out of the realms of 
moral death. 

Turn now to professedly civilized nations, and 
do we not see need enough of a Saviour here ? 
Consider the terrible wars that so often sweep over 
them, in which the prejudices and passions of men's 



208 SER3I0NS. 

unsanctified hearts belch forth in jets of blood 
and flame ; in which every wickedness known to 
God or men is instigated, fostered, and protected ; 
of which almost every conceivable form of suffer- 
ing is a necessar3^ attendant. Look at the thou- 
sands and millions held in the most degrading ser- 
vitude, from whose minds the light of knowledge 
is shut out, who are worked and bought and bru- 
talized like cattle. Look at the great host over 
whom intemperance holds its frenzied sway, trans- 
forming them into idiots and demons, rendering 
them the curse of home, the desolators of society, 
the destroyers of themselves. Think what a vast 
army of wretched, fallen ones tenant gloomy dun- 
geons and prisons. Look at the condition of the 
toiling poor, even in Europe and America ; look 
into mines and factories and shops, and see how, 
not only flesh and bones, but mind and heart, must 
be wrought up into material substances in order 
to live. See this state of things not onl}^ per- 
mitted but often established, necessitated by the 
institutions of civilized life, sometimes the tenure 
by which rulers hold their power, and the condi- 
tion of that greatness which the world most glori- 
fies. 

And when we consider that these public evils 
are but the aggregate of individual crime and suf- 
fering ; that they are the expression of what se- 
cretly struggles in so many hearts, do we not see 
the lost condition of humanity more clearly? Oh, 



TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 209 

ho\Y far do most men live from God I He is not in 
all their thoughts. They forget Him in the trans- 
action of their business, in the fullness of their joy, 
in the heaviness of their sorrow. Their hearts are 
closed to the visitations of his Spirit. In their 
selfishness, their avarice, their pride, their profan- 
ity, their injustice, their neglect of prayer, of the 
Bible, of the Sabbath, in their deadness to spirit- 
ual interests, and their open irreligion, is painful 
evidence that they are in a lost condition and need 
a Saviour. They are lost to the life of God in the 
soul, lost to divine purity, love, and peace. 

Have we not reason, then, to rejoice that God 
has given the world a Saviour ? What would be 
its doom without one ? Six thousand years have 
demonstrated the fact that it is not onl}^ lost, but 
that it has not inherent power to save itself. We 
do not say there is no redeeming principle in hu- 
manity ; but we do say, and all history and philos- 
ophy of human nature sustains us in saying, that 
left to its own, unaided resources, it not only fails 
to rise, but continually sinks down in ignorance, su- 
perstition, and grossness. It must be strengthened, 
vitalized, and enlightened by an element higher 
than itself. An arm from above must be spread 
beneath it. A spirit from on high must quicken 
it. Men must have a Divine Saviour if they are 
ever saved. If it had been in the power of man 
to save himself or his fellows, would not some hu- 
man savior have arisen before now ? We have 

14 



210 SERMONS. 

had great and wise men, teachers of science and 
philosoph}^ who have done much to enhghten and 
reform the world, but none have had power to re- 
deem it, to reach, quicken, purify, and sanctify the 
heart ; fill it with the love and holiness of God, 
and the enjoyment of heaven. It is one thing to 
be learned in science and art, politics and busi- 
ness, and quite another to possess the wisdom from 
above, pure and peaceable, gentle and easy to be 
entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. The latter 
has an element in it that the former has not. We 
may have one and not the other. And no one can 
impart to us divine wisdom but a divine teacher, 
a teacher come from God. 

Hence, in the second place, we have reason to 
rejoice in the character of the Saviour who has 
been given to the world. He is no mere human 
teacher, well disposed but powerless ; no mere good 
man ; but He is a divine being, coming forth from 
the very bosom of the Father, filled with grace 
and truth, raised up, sent forth, sealed and sanc- 
tified, to be the world's Saviour. In Him dwelt 
all the fullness of God ; He was the brightness of 
the Father's glory ; the Christ, the anointed, the 
consecrated, the holy Son of God, the Lord of the 
spiritual universe. And because He is thus en- 
dowed and quaUfied by God, we know He can 
save ; because He is higher than we. He can lift 
us up ; because He is full of grace and truth. He 
can impart grace to our hearts, and by the Holy 



TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 211 

Spirit guide us into all truth ; because He is sealed 
and sanctified, He can seal us for glory and sanc- 
tify us in his heavenly kingdom. In Him all 
fullness dwells to reconcile the world to God. 
In Him shall all be made alive in holiness and 
heaven. Where sin abounds his grace much more 
abounds, that as the one has reigned unto death, 
the other, through Him, shall reign unto eternal 
life. 

In these assurances is given another form of 
proof that the announcement of the Saviour's birth 
was glad tidings of great joy unto all people. 
Though the world is sunk down in spiritual ruin, 
help is laid upon one who is mighty to save ; who 
will not fail or be discouraged until He has raised 
up the last fallen one, drawn all men unto Him, 
and become the actual Saviour of every soul. Then 
will the kingdoms of the world become his king- 
doms and He will reign forever ; all nations shall 
serve Him, and men shall bless themselves in Him. 
Justice, mercy, and truth will be enthroned in every 
heart, his praise be on every tongue, and his salva- 
tion fill the spiritual universe. Then will be glory 
to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good 
will towards men. 

" The dimness gone, all eyes shall see 
His glory, grace, and majesty ; 
All eai's shall hearken, and the word 
Of life receive from Christ the Lord." 

But in this view of the world's condition and 



212 SERMONS. 

need of a Saviour, and of Christ's nature and suf- 
ficiency, is implied a cooperative and responsive 
work on the part of those who are saved. He did 
not come to do away the necessity of moral and 
spiritual activity, but to direct it in heaven's ap- 
pointed course. If men will be saved by Christ 
they must feel their need of Him ; feel that they 
are indeed lost and that He alone can save them. 
This feeling must lead them to apply to Him for 
help ; to study his hfe and teachings as they are 
made known to us in the gospel ; study them not 
merely with a critical eye, or to get an intellectual 
understanding of them, but with faith and prayer, 
seeking the ministry of the Holy Spirit to inter- 
pret and carry them home to the heart, to quicken 
them therein, and make them to us the power of 
God unto salvation. The word of Christ must be- 
come in us a principle of renewing life ; a divine 
element pervading and vitalizing our natural pow- 
ers and giving us a heavenly experience. It must 
root out selfishness, subdue passion, vanquish all 
unholy desires, and make our lives loving and pure 
like our Lord's. To the extent we have his spirit 
and practice his truth, we are saved, — saved from 
error and sin, saved from doubt and fear, saved 
from irreconciliation, bitterness of spirit, repining, 
and despair. We are prepared for every tempta- 
tion and trial ; in all difficulties we are conquerors 
and more than conquerors, through Him who loved 
us. 



TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. 213 

Oh, liow many believing hearts have found their 
Saviour near and precious amid conflict and suffer- 
ing. What salvation has He brought to their souls, 
what strength and victory, what peace and seren- 
ity when all was dark without. He has dispersed 
even the gathering gloom of death, and cast around 
the tomb a halo of immortal glory. His celestial 
radiance has penetrated the sick-chamber, and 
there, as the arm of flesh has failed, it has re- 
vealed the arm of the Lord stretched out to sus- 
tain; as the eyes have closed to earthly objects, 
heavenly scenes have dawned upon the vision of 
the departing spirit. Oh, will we not rejoice to- 
night for all that He .has done for our sorrowing 
world, and for the assurance that ultimately He 
will win all to a reception of his grace and truth ? 
He offers it to us here and now. Oh, let us receive 
Him. His invitation is to the young. He would 
make their early life bright and pure and joyous. 
Give your early aifections, young friends, to that 
Saviour who loves you. It is to the middle-aged. 
Consecrate to him your strength. It is to the 
old. Rest your faltering spirits on his abiding 
truth. It is to us all. In our poverty and in 
our abundance, in our sickness and in our health, 
among friends or bereaved, in life or in death. He 
calls to us, " Come unto me all ye who labor and 
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Let 
us hear and our souls will live. And may this 
anniversary season revive our hearts, inspire our 



214 SERMONS. 

devotions, deepen our faith, warm our love. May 
these evergreens be symbols of our living piety ; 
these lighted lamps, of the Spirit's illumination in 
our souls. Thus shall we walk in the light of 
life. 



XIV. 

THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE 
WORLD. 



" For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world ; and this 
is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who 
is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus 
is the Son of God." — 1 John v. 4, 5. 

There are two words which receive from Chris- 
tianity a new and peculiar meaning, — the words 
world and faith. How many warnings do the 
Scriptures contain against our yielding to the 
power of this world. They tell us to love it not ; 
that it is enmity against God ; and for admonition 
point to men of the world who have their portion 
in this life. 

And yet did not God make it and place us in 
it ? Are we not to love his works and our earthly 
home ? Are there not callings in life where the 
highest virtue consists in producing as much worldly 
prosperity as possible ? Is not this the mission of 
the husbandman, the mechanic, the physician, the 
statesman. These caUings are based upon a love 
of the world ; are they utterly proscribed by the 



216 SERMONS. 

Saviour when he says, *' If any man love the world, 
the love of the Father is not in him." 

The other word used in a peculiar sense is faith, 
and it fills a conspicuous pkice in the gospel ; it is 
a large element in the Christian system. It is said 
to work miracles, remove mountains, justify the 
soul, and overcome the world. 

We perceive that these two words are brought 
into opposition, arrayed against each other in our 
text. One is said to overcome the other ; one is 
the Christian's enemy, the other the strong right 
arm by which he conquers. What are the essential 
qualities of each ? 

By the world evidently is not intended the ma- 
terial structure, the kos7nos, emblem of order and 
beauty, on which we live, but the gross age, or dis- 
pensation of material, sensuous things ; the t^a-anny 
of present passion and desire ; the love of power, 
sense, and sight ; the brutal tastes, spirit, and habits 
of society. The apostle Paul, after his conver- 
sion, felt that Christ had " redeemed him from this 
present evil world," and he tells of one who forsook 
him because he loved more " this present world." 

It is easy to perceive the force of these terms. 
The worldliness condemned is the infatuation of 
sense, the choice of present, transient gratification, 
in place of future and abiding good. With child- 
ish spirit it lives in the present hour and for the 
present object. To-day is everything, to-morrow 
nothing. Like Esau, when it feels the pressure of 



TEE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE WORLD. 217 

desire, is hungry, worn and weary, it will part 
with a father's blessing ; part with God and heaven 
and holiness for a mess of pottage. It is impetu- 
ous, inconsistent, not without gleams of generosity 
and kindliness, but ever accustomed to immediate 
gratification. 

In this worldliness, also, may be seen the game- 
ster's spirit and practices. It is politic and shrewd. 
It calculates closely the chances. Excluding moral 
considerations, its life is on the surface, is moved 
and moulded by events, and cannot be touched by 
moral forces. Preaching is powerless to affect it 
while it braces and holds itself in this machinery 
of speculation. Perhaps fifty thousand preachers 
will this day declaim from the pulpits of America 
against the sin of worldliness, upon the vanity of 
riches, the uncertainty of life, the intrinsic folly 
and wickedness of giving up body and soul, time 
and strength, thought a-nd affection, to the affairs 
of this life. But what impression will they make ? 
Into how many of the twenty-five million hearts in 
this land will their message enter ? What they 
say of such a life is God's truth by almost universal 
consent. Yet not one in ten thousand will accept 
it, will feel its force, or yield to its 2:)ersuasion. 
Why this failure ? Why is the edge of truth so 
blunted that it will not cut the heart ? It is be- 
cause there has grown over the souls of men a 
granite crust of worldliness ; passion and avarice 
and lust have gathered there a scum which the 



218 SERMONS. 

light cannot penetrate ; the excitement of passing 
interests and material aims bewilders them so that 
they can neither see nor hear clearly. They can- 
not sacrifice to-day's pleasure, though they know 
the disgrace and bitterness it will bring to-morrow. 
This is the weakness of the inebriate, the libertine, 
the blasphemer, the miser, the liar, the swindler, 
of all the devotees of crime. They are under the 
tyranny of the senses, of earthly passions and prej- 
udices, of social and sordid influences. They do 
not see things as they are, but as they seem. As 
we cannot persuade our senses that we are mov- 
ing and not the trees which seem to flit by the car 
in which we ride ; as we cannot make ourselves 
realize that the apparently solid earth on which we 
stand, and which seems so immovable, is in reality 
flying through the regions of space ; as we have no 
consciousness that the color which the eye beholds 
resides not in the object itself, but in our own per- 
ception, so is it precisely with the excesses of this 
world. The man who died yesterday, and whom 
the world calls a successful man, for what did he 
live? He lived for this world. He gained this 
world, houses, land, name, position in societ}^ all 
that earth could give of enjoyments. Up to the 
very last, his mind was filled with plans how to 
pull down his barns and build larger ; how to add 
a few more acres to his possessions, how to put out 
a few more hundred dollars at interest. Now, put 
his gains into the balance with his losses, and 



THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETII THE WORLD. 219 

which goes down ? What did he gain ? The whole 
world, it may be. What did he lose ? His own 
soul, the light of heaven, the peace of God, truth, 
love, and joy, manly dignity, spiritual freedom, 
faith, hope, and charity. Balance his accounts, and 
how do they stand ? Keep in mind that he is 
human, rational, spiritual, — at least so by nature. 
Do not reckon for him as you would for a swine, 
whose life is to eat and drink ; or for a squirrel, 
whose work is done when its nest is filled with good 
things. What have this man's gains profited him ? 
Are the Saviour's words to him, " Thou fool," any 
too severe ? Is not his life destitute of the first 
principles of wisdom ? Are not the tokens of folly 
engraven upon its aim and purpose? Viewed as 
a rational life, a moral life, it is thrown away, 
wasted. He has loved the world, and the world 
has ruined him, made him a slave ; made him 
brutal, gross, pernicious ; benumbed his intellectual 
and moral faculties ; shut him up in the dark, cold 
apartments of sense ; turned away from him the 
sweet, pure light of knowledge, love, and devotion. 
Oh, whose heart does not bleed in view of the great 
numbers who thus throw life away, with its pre- 
cious freight of rational and spiritual endowments. 
Men and women there are in this congregation, in 
almost every congregation, who seem to live and 
move and have their being in earthly treasure, in 
the labors which secure it, in the anxieties which 
circle around it. But, my hearers, you who do this 



220 SER^WNS. 

do not well. You wrong yourselves, rob your fel- 
low-beings, insult your God. Material good is not 
the chief end of man. There is no such necessity 
for it as to excuse such a life. Your reason and 
your conscience, your Bible, and all the light you 
have, tell you that there is a higher and a holier 
aim of existence : that such servility to material 
things is base and sordid, unworthy of beings made 
in the image and owned to be the children of 
God. 

Such also is the doctrine of our text. It speaks 
of a higher life than this of the senses ; a life re- 
newed and transfigured by faith in the Son of God. 
A mere worldly life is, indeed, a life of faith, faith 
in things earthly. Faitli in religion is the same 
principle as faith in worldly matters, only the first 
has in it a divine element and centers upon a divine 
object which the second has not. The child exer- 
cises faith in the parent's word when it renders 
present obedience for the promised future reward. 
The sick man has faith in his physician when he 
takes the unpleasant medicine for the expected 
health. The inebriate has faith in temperance 
when he forsakes his cups to gain respectability 
and wealth. But in these forms of faith there is a 
selfish spirit and aim. We see them also in some 
of those forms which pretend to be religious. How 
often do we see a purely selfish feeling spreading 
over the whole life, transformed by the devotional 
sentiments into an angel of light. It serves God 



THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE WORLD. 221 

as the child obeys, or the sick man takes his medi- 
cine, with an eye upon gain, if not temporal, eter- 
nal gain. But this is simple worldliness in the 
guise of religion. It is but preferring happiness 
hereafter to happiness here ; eternal well-being to 
temporal well-being. It is but prudence, cunning, 
thrift, on a grand scale. It is making a good bar- 
gain, looking out for the chances. But oh, how far 
below that faith which renews the heart and over- 
comes the world is such calculating and selfishness. 
The one rests upon the Holy Son of God, and 
draws its life from Him. The other is earthly, 
sensual, and sordid. If we will enter into life, my 
hearers, we must lay hold upon Christ by living 
faith ; receive his spirit and truth into our hearts ; 
love Him as God's appointed and qualified mes- 
senger to men, and hope for salvation in Him 
alone. " Who is he that overcometh the world, but 
he who believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." 

We cannot fail to see the point here made. It 
is that the victory of life comes from the soul's be- 
ing lifted up above things material and temporal 
to faith in things spiritual and eternal. It is that 
the heart's highest affections must be removed from 
things earthly and placed on things divine. Oux 
faith in Christ is not faith in man ; is not faith in 
human power, wisdom, and goodness. If it were, 
it could not overcome the world, for then it would 
simply be a lever having its fulcrum on the object 
it would lift. But it is faith in God dwelling in 



222 SERMONS. 

him ; faith in divine power, wisdom, and goodness. 
He is set forth to elevate our thoughts and affec- 
tions to what is above the earthly, to what is 
heavenly. And to the extent they lay hold upon 
Him, form around Him, imbibe his spirit, embrace 
his truth, they rise out of the power of the world, 
out of its gross and selfish life. Its pride and sen- 
suality, its avarice and dishonest competitions, its 
frenzied materialism, all lose their hold upon them ; 
their charm is gone, for they are won by a sweeter 
influence. In emptying the soul of its worldliness 
Christ does not leave it vacant. He fills it with a 
new life, a new spirit, new enjoyments. Not one 
tie which bound it in legitimate union with the 
things of earth is severed. Not one cord of sym- 
pathy with humanity is broken ; not one deep, 
earnest thought, not one lofty aspiration, not one 
emotion of love departs, but they are all made to 
glow with the light of heaven, all imbued with the 
strength and purity of God. They are still in the 
world, its ruling forces, but not of it ; do not par- 
take of its spirit, but temper its life. 

It is thus that faith in Christ renews the soul 
and overcomes the world. Oh, let us exercise it 
that we may be victors, wear the crown, and walk 
in the white robes of the redeemed. 



XV. 

MEDITATION OF GOD. 



" My meditation of Him shall be sweet." — Psalm civ. 34. 

The degree of benefit we derive from meditation 
depends much upon the nature of the subjects on 
which we meditate. No one can be elevated by 
dwelling upon low and impure thoughts. The 
sensualist is not improved by meditating upon the 
pleasures of indulgence. The inebriate is not 
benefited by meditating upon dissipation and riot- 
ing. The dishonest man is not reformed by re- 
flecting on fraudulent schemes, nor the thief by 
plotting robbery, nor the murderer by planning 
assassination. 

There are innumerable subjects which the more 
we meditate upon the lower we become. They 
are degrading in themselves, and the fewer 
thoughts we expend upon them the better it is 
for us. 

So there are many subjects which, so far from 
increasing our happiness when we think upon them, 
tend to make us miserable. Who can sit down 



224 SERM ONS. 

and meditate upon war and not have his mind 
filled with gloom ? To think of the desperate con- 
flict, of the booming cannon and flashing steel and 
bursting shells ; to see in imagination whole ranks 
swept down before the deadly blast, the fields 
strewn with the dead and dying, with scattered 
limbs and mutilated forms ; to hear the groans 
and cries and behold the wide-spread desolation, 
— who can meditate upon this dreadful scene and 
not be filled with deepest gloom ? 

Again, is not the heart greatl}^ pained when we 
think long and exclusively upon the want and de- 
privations of the poor, upon the sufferings of the 
sick, upon the personal and domestic ruin of the 
criminal, upon the waste of the pestilence, the 
desolation of famine, the wrecks at sea, the ruin 
of the tempest? Many events which we might 
prevent and many which we cannot prevent are 
alike calculated to give us pain if we meditate 
upon them. 

But our text points out a theme or object for 
meditation sweet and pure in all its inspirations. 
'' My meditation of Him shall be sweet." The 
reference is to God, the Creator of all things. 
Upon Him the Psalmist could meditate and feel 
a blessed influence exerted upon his soul. But 
whether we can apply his words to our own ex- 
perience depends very much upon our views of his 
character. We think it would be difficult for us 
to find much sweetness in thoughts of God, if we 



MEDITATION OF GOD. 225 

believed Him to be a stern, revengful being who 
■will wreak eternal vengeance upon his sinful chil- 
dren. There can be no satisfaction or improve- 
ment in meditating upon such a God. The more 
we think of Him, the more will our passions be 
aroused, the more anger and resentment shall we 
feel, and our minds will be tortured with perpetual 
fear. Can the parent who believes that God has 
banished a poor, lost, prodigal child into everlast- 
ing despair say, " My meditations of Him shall be 
sweet?" Impossible. And can anyone feeling 
smitten with conscious guilt and believing that the 
Almighty is enraged against him think of Him 
with satisfaction? There can be no satisfaction 
in thoughts of an angry, resentful being. They 
are all bitterness and demoralization. 

But the author of our text did not think of Him 
as such a being. He regarded Him as his shep- 
herd, his portion, his defense, his help in times of 
need. He thought of his mercy, his truthfulness 
and compassion. He regarded Him as a being of 
love and tenderness ; and because He saw in Him 
so much to be desired, so many perfections, his 
meditations of Him were sweet. They brought 
Him into communion with high and holy attri- 
butes, with a divine spirit. It not only gave him 
pleasure to think of Him, but elevated and en- 
lightened all his feelings, expanded his soul, and 
made him a wiser and better man. 

But if the Psalmist could find so much in the 

15 



226 S£RMONS. 

character of God to attract and gratify his thoughts 
in those early days, when his character had been 
only partially revealed, should not we find there 
much more to win our love and frequent medita- 
tions, since Christ has revealed Him more fully 
and shown his parental relation to us ? If in those 
early days, when He was regarded chiefly as a 
king, a judge, a ruler; if even in later times, when 
to the minds of men He was clothed in the dyed 
garments of cruelty and rage, men could meditate 
sweetly upon Him, should not our thoughts of the 
universal Father, of the near and dear Friend of 
all, of the Being who is love, be of the most de- 
lightsome character ? How can we fail to medi- 
tate upon such a character, upon one so attractive 
in all his attributes ? 

And yet are we, with all our superior concep- 
tions of the Creator, as much inclined to think of 
Him as were our fathers ? They laid great stress, 
in all their teachings, upon the duties of self-exami- 
nation and prayer. It cannot be doubted that, in 
their scheme of life, the exercise of lonely thought 
filled a much larger space than it does in ours. It 
was deemed shameful and atheistic to enter the 
closet for nothing but sleep, and to quit it only 
for meals and trade, evading all earnest contact 
with the deep and silent God. A sense of guilt 
attached to those who cast themselves from their 
civil life into their dreams and back again. That 
the merchant or the statesman should be upon his 



MEDITATION OF GOD. 227 

knees ; that the general should pass from his dis- 
patches to his devotions, and turn his eye from the 
hosts of battle to the host of heaven, was not felt 
to be incongruous or absurd. Milton's mind gave 
itself at once to the discord of politics below and 
the symphonies of seraphim above. Vane min- 
gled with the administration of colonies and ac- 
counts of the navy hopes of a theocracy and med- 
itations on the millenium ; and it was no more 
natural for Cromwell to call his officers to council 
than to prayer. 

It cannot be denied that there is a great differ- 
ence now. Not that Christians may not be found 
who in meditation still have an open door between 
heaven and earth, and pass in and out with free 
and earnest heart, but these represent the char- 
acteristic spirit of a former rather than of the 
present age. The sentiments of our own time 
everywhere betray the growing encroachments of 
the outward upon the inward life. How few can 
stand alone with God and seek his pity to their 
solitary souls. How few can find satisfaction by 
direct contact of spirit with spirit. Everywhere 
strength seems to have gone out from the devo- 
tional element of life. 

Now, while we do not consider this change a fit 
subject for unmixed complaint, while we acknowl- 
edge that it has come about in quite a natural way, 
still we must also admit that the outward life does 
tyrannize over us ; that it does invade our private 



228 ISERMOKS. 

habits, narrow down our modes of thought and 
sentiment, benumb our consciousness of a spiritual 
nature, and impair for us the reality of God. We 
feel that the divine spirit is gone into distance 
and strangeness from us and is hard to reach ; that 
solitude brings no unspeakable meditation or con- 
verse, no ready consecration ; that the things of 
sense and understanding seem nearer to us than 
those that touch the soul ; that the crowd and 
noise are too close and constant on us, confusing 
our better perceptions and leading us always to 
look around and seldom to look up. 

But this despotism of the outward over the in- 
ward life, this suppression of every attribute not 
immediately wanted for business or society, is a 
misfortune which every noble mind will assuredly 
withstand. It is not right to live as if God were 
asleep and heaven only a murmur of his dreams. 
It should make some difference whether his Cre- 
ator be here in the present or gone off into the 
past ; whether he himself dwells in the hollow of a 
living hand, or with nothing beyond him but ne- 
cessity. And this difference will not be realized, 
nor any lofty truth of character attained, by those 
who disown the claims of meditation on the divine 
character. By thus communing with G(5d we are 
furnished with immediate perception of things di- 
vine, eye to eye with the saints, spirit to spirit 
■with God, face to face with Heaven. In thus being 
alone with the truth of things and passing from 



MEDITATION OF GOD. 229 

sho\YS and shadows into communion with the Ever- 
lasting One, there is nothing impossible or out of 
reach. He is not faded, or slow to bring his light 
any more than his sunshine which is bright and 
swift as ever. He was no nearer to Christ on 
Tabor or in Gethsemane than to us this day and 
every day. Neither the nature he inspires, nor his 
perennial inspiration, grows any older with the 
lapse of time. Every human being that is born is 
a first man, fresh in this creation, and as open to 
heaven as if Eden were spread around him. And 
every blessed kindling of faith and new sanctity is 
a touch of his spirit as living, a gift as immediate 
from his exhaustless store of holy power, as the 
strength that befriended Christ in his temptation 
and the angel-calm that closed his dying agony. 
Is it not promised forever to the pure in heart 
that they shall see God ? Let any true man en- 
gage in meditations upon God, let him strip himself 
of all pretense and selfishness and sensuality and 
sluggishness of soul, let him lift off thought after 
thought, passion after passion until he reaches the 
inmost deep of all, and it will be strange if he 
does not feel the Eternal Presence as close upon 
his soul as the breeze upon his brow ; if he does not 
say, O Lord, art thou ever near as this, and have 
I not known thee ? The true proportions and the 
genuine spirit of life will open on his heart with 
infinite clearness, and show him the littleness of 
his temptations and the grandeur of his trust. He 



230 SERMONS. 

will be ashamed to have found weariness in toils 
so light, and to have shed tears where there was no 
trial to the brave. He will discover with astonish- 
ment how small the dust that has blinded him ; 
and from the height of a quiet and holy love he 
will look down with sorrow on the jealousies and 
fears and irritations that have vexed his life. A 
mighty wind of resolution sets in strong upon him 
and freshens the whole atmosphere of his soul. 
The light flakes of difficulty are swept down be- 
fore it, till they vanish like snow upon the sea. 
H3 is imprisoned no more in a small apartment of 
time, but belongs to an eternity which is now and 
here. We behold God as the determining agent 
throughout the universe, conscious of all things 
actual and possible from the centre to the margin, 
excluded from neither air nor earth nor sea nor 
souls, but clad with them as with a vestment, and 
gathering up their laws within his being. The 
isolation of our spirits passes away, and with the 
countless multitude of souls we feel ourselves but 
waves of his unbounded deep. We are at one 
with Heaven and have found the secret place of 
the Almighty. Our meditation of Him is sweet ; 
our thoughts of Him are very precious. 



XVI. 

OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION. 



" These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have 
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day 
and night in his temple ; and he that sitteth on the throne shall 
dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst 
any more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For 
the Lamb Avhich is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and 
shall lead them unto living fountains of Avaters ; and God shall 
wipe away all tears from their eyes." — Revelation vii. 14-17. 

As we look upon the wide domain of human suf- 
fering, we are often led to inquire why a Being of 
infinite power and goodness should make his creat- 
ures subject to so many ills. This question we 
may not be able to answer to our full satisfaction. 
Indeed, it is a nice point whether it were possible 
even for the Infinite to create beings endowed to 
any extent as we are, and not exposed to suffer- 
ing. It makes little difference how this may be ; 
we have before us the solemn reality of evil. 
Whether from an infinite necessity or choice, God 
has seen fit to make man, in all his earthly condi- 
tions, subject to vanity. He is born unto trouble. 



232 SERMONS. 

Clouds of sorrow sail over every mortal pathway ; 
storms of adversity break along all the shores of 
time ; " great tribulations " are met in every pil- 
grimage from the cradle to the tomb. 

And taking life as we have it, it is less our duty 
to question why it is thus than rightly to use it 
and extract from it such good as it contains. To 
the thoughtful mind there are discovered many 
streams of blessing which issue from beneath the 
frowning cliffs of sorrow. And the refreshing 
which they bear to the weary soul is lost to those 
who sit down and repine over the misfortunes of 
their lot. 

One of the noblest virtues we can exercise is a 
patient, heroic endurance of the trials we cannot 
avoid. And one of the sweetest, purest pleasures 
we can know is a remembrance of the difl&culties 
over which, by our fidelity, we have triumphed, — 
a calm retrospect of the great tribulations out of 
which we have safely come, and through which we 
have reached our present security. A celebrated 
writer of fiction represents one of his characters as 
complaining because a supernatural being had de- 
prived him of his remembrance of earlier sorrows. 
In parting with it, he had lost the sweetest enjoy- 
ments of his life, and would fain have those darker 
shades restored, to set off the brighter hues in the 
picture of existence. This representation is not 
exaggerated or unnatural. It is true to life ; for 
we are so constituted that we cannot enjoy our 



OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION. 233 

present advantages unless we know they have been 
achieved by valorous deeds, obtained by hardships, 
deprivations, and dangers. Is not this a universal 
truth ? Does the brave soldier feel willing to lay 
off his armor and rest in peace before he has been 
in the hot strife and won the victory ? Will the 
gallant sailor abandon the seas before he has as- 
cended the mast, clung to the wreck, and outrid 
the storm ? Can we enjo}^ or value treasures which 
cost us no hardships, as we can those for which we 
have toiled and sacrificed ? Are not the mental 
fatigue and discipline of acquiring knowledge its 
chief instruments of good ? Are not the mother's 
love and enjoyment of her children enhanced by 
all her care and anxiety for them ? 

So is it in every department of human expe- 
rience. Trials are essential to give zest to our 
enjoyments. When they are passed by, when we 
have patiently endured them, learned to submit to 
them in humility, trust, and hope, then is there 
heartfelt satisfaction in reviewing the whole field 
of conflict. As extreme hunger gives to the most 
ordinary food an exquisite relish, or parching thirst 
a satisfying coolness to every draught, so deep 
aflfliction imparts a divine enjoyment to the relief 
which follows it. All our experiences in this world 
are relative. We suffer and enjoy by comparison. 
Trial or success prepares us for its opposite. And 
we have no doubt that this characteristic of our 
present experience is a development of permanent 



234 SERMONS. 

elements in our nature, and that the more satis- 
fying enjoyments of the future life will come in a 
great degree from a remembrance of the great trib- 
ulations out of which we rise to that better condi- 
tion. We believe that earthly trials are prepara- 
tory for heavenly rewards. 

This may be inferred, not only from the peace, 
but from the strength of mind developed by suf- 
fering. Some of the most genuine elements of 
character are unfolded by the ordeal of suffering. 
As the oak is made strong and beautiful by the 
storms which pelt it ; so when the heart is wrung 
with grief, when the mind feels intensest anguish, 
its pangs are but the birth-throes of a new life. 
From them will come forth more real and abiding 
convictions ; a deeper, a more serious thoughtful- 
ness ; greater stability and earnestness of purpose ; 
more ardent, rational, and consecrated affections ; 
a purer, more fervent devotion. Trials wake up 
the whole man. As the winds that sweep through 
the branches not only make them flexible and sin- 
ewy, but also try and strengthen the roots, so the 
storms of adversity, if we hold out against them, 
demand that the most central principles of our 
nature be brought into severest action. What 
can so reveal integrity and make it know its own 
strength or weakness as pressing inducements to 
fraud ? What so call out our charity as the sight 
of suffering thousands ? What so awaken peni- 
tence as a consciousness of guilt? What so unseal 



OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION. 235 

the fountains of affection as the death of a parent, 
sister, wife, or child ? What so call out patience, 
submission, and unreserved trust in God as to be 
laid low and helpless by disease ? Oh, how often 
do the most beautiful flowers of faith, resignation, 
and hope bloom and exhale sweetly out of the very 
bosom of earthly decay. In the midst of great 
bodily tribulation the spirit rises up and washes its 
robes in the blood of the Lamb ; finds forgiveness 
and solace in a Saviour's love ; stands waiting be- 
fore the throne of infinite compassion ; is fed with 
manna from the skies, led to living fountains of 
water, and its tears are all wiped away. A whole 
life of prosperity may have been spent with these 
treasures all sealed up in secrecy. The world 
knew nothing of them. Scarcely was their pos- 
sessor conscious that they were his. Never has he 
dared to claim or use them. But now afflictions 
have broken open the seal, and the casket is found 
to enshrine jewels of rarest worth. 

Thus often is it, in this world, that evil becomes 
the servant of good and sorrow the messenger of 
joy. As the cold breath of winter lights up the 
genial fireside, and the floweret peacefully sleeps 
beneath the assembled flakes of snow, so — 

" The fountain of joy is fed by tears, 

And love is lit by the breath of sighs ; 
The deepest griefs and the wildest fears 
Have holiest ministries." 

Like our Master, whose life, made perfect through 



236 SERMONS. 

suffering, touclies our humanity on ever}^ side, we 
must win our way to perfection in the sad path of 
suffering. And when we are made to realize that 
the uneven course of sorrow is indeed the high- 
way to glory, can we not welcome sickness, be- 
reavement, toil, and pain ; " the fear and fact of 
death ? " 

In the second place, the sorrows of this life serve 
to perfect the joys of the life to come. If their 
ministry is productive of such blessed results here, 
have we not reason to expect that when their full 
work is done, and their collective influence is 
brought to bear upon the soul, they will serve a 
much higher purpose. Often is it now that other 
and opposing influences counteract and defeat the 
salutary work of sorrow. But in the better life 
there will be nothing to resist its impression ; its 
whole design will be laid out before us ; we shall 
understand how essential its mission, how impor- 
tant its place, how benevolent its intention. And 
as we look back over the path we have trod, the 
burdens we have borne, the conflicts we have 
passed, and see how each one was an essential 
step towards our beatified condition, can the re- 
membrance of these griefs and wrongs fail to yield 
us sweetest pleasures? 

So is it now. The soldier delights to call up the 
dangers of the battle-field, the sailor the perils of 
the sea, the parent the weary nights of watching 
and anxiety. There was nothing romantic or de- 



OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION. 237 

lightful in these experiences when they were pres- 
ent ; but as we have sometimes seen the distant 
clouds tinged with mingled glories as they rolled 
away, so these conflicts brighten as they recede, 
until, as from the western horizon of life we look 
towards the east, they seem all brightness and 
beauty. And if the retrospect is so inspiring just 
this side the dividing line, can we believe it loses 
all its charms the moment we pass over ? Have 
we not reason, rather, to think it will become still 
more glorious and productive of still greater joy ? 
This is certainly the thought of our text. The 
question is directly put, " What are these which 
are arrayed in white robes? and whence came 
they ? " And the answer as directly affirms, 
" These are they which came out of great trib- 
ulation, and have washed their robes, and made 
them white in the blood of the Lamb. There- 
fore," that is for the reason that they have come 
out of great tribulation and washed their robes, 
" are they before the throne of God." We re- 
gard this as a positive assertion, that the remem- 
brance of life's sorrows makes up a part of the 
joy of heaven. The same truth is involved in that 
other pathetic passage which has given consolation 
to so many desponding hearts, " There the wicked 
cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." 
Is there not here implied a remembrance of for- 
mer ills ? a sweetness of rest that comes from the 
troubles and weariness of other days ? But how 



238 SERMONS. 

different this conclusion from the idea that eter- 
nity itself will be embittered by recollections of 
present imperfections. Oh, how quickly our minds 
turn from so gloomy a thought to the encouraging 
assurance that we are pressing onward, and ere 
long shall come up out of all our great tribulations, 
and stand before the throne of God, with robes 
washed white from ever^^ stain of earthly impurity 
in the blood of the Lamb. 

We do not say that memory will supply our 
only joy. Indeed, a recollection of our sorrows 
can afford us pleasure only when we are in a con- 
dition to view them with right feelings. We can- 
not come up out of our great tribulations until 
we have washed our robes and made them white, 
until we have learned to bear them as Christ 
bore his. Every stroke must deepen our humility, 
strengthen our faith, convict of sin, and impart fer- 
vor to our devotions, lead us to recline more fully 
on the all-sustaining arm of the Lord. We must 
be clothed in Christ's purity before our light afflic- 
tions will work out for us a far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory. Unless we meet them in 
his spirit and seek his help to bear them, they will 
drive us from the Father's presence and make us 
still more wretched. Often do we now witness 
this sad spectacle. But it shall not be so always. 
He who holdeth the hearts of all men in his hand 
has given to his Son power over all flesh, that He 
may give eternal life to as many as He has given 



OUT OF GREAT TRIBULATION. 239 

Him. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from 
all sin. He tasted death for every man, and will 
draw all men mito Him. 

And when at last this glorious consummation is 
reached, and we all stand in white robes before the 
throne of God, with what divine praises shall we 
crown Him ! How will all these mysteries which 
so perplex us now be explained ! What strength 
and gratitude will flow in from the rough currents 
of mortal sorrow ! That life will be one of un- 
spotted purity. This is the meaning of the white 
robes. We shall there love God and delight in 
holiness, be like the angels and the Saviour. It 
will be a life of triumphant joy. There we shall 
eat of the " tree of life," and the "hidden manna," 
serve in the temple of our God, and go no more 
out forever. He that sitteth upon the throne will 
abide with us ; we shall have no more sickness 
or pain, no more death or parting, no more temp- 
tation, fatigue, hunger, or thirst. We shall be led 
unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe 
away all tears from our e^-es. 

" Palms of glory, raiment bright, 
Crowns that never tade away, 
Gird and deck the saints in light ; 
Priests and kings and conquerors they. 

" Yet the conquerors bring their palms 
To the Lamb amidst the throne. 
And proclaim in joyful psalms 
Victory through his cross alone. 



240 SERM ONS. 

"Round the altar all confess, 

If these robes are white as snow, 
'T was the Saviour's love that blest, 
And his blood that made them so." 

Oh, as we look forward to this life where there 
shall be no more sorrow or tears, no funeral attire, 
no days of mourning, no night of sin, ignorance, 
affliction, and death, does it not appear worth liv- 
ing and striving for ? We can have a foretaste of 
it even now. If we will but live for heavenly 
things, live to glorify God and bless men, exceed- 
ing peace will be ours. And who that has had a 
foretaste of this celestial blessedness cannot say 
with the apostle. For me to live is Christ and to 
die is gain ? I have a desire to depart and be with 
Christ, which is far better. Oh, as we look up- 
ward to that glorified throng, the white robed mul- 
titude, the congregated hosts of God's redeemed, 
and catcli strains from their triumphant songs, we 
are ready to exclaim, — 

" I waut to put on my attire, 

Washed white in the blood of the Lamb 
I want to be one of your choir, 

And tune my sweet harp to his name ; 
I want, oh, I want to be there. 

Where sorrow and sin bid adieu, 
Your joy and your friendship to share, 

To wonder and worship with you." 



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