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Second Mile 


Whosoever shall compel thee to 
go wne mile, go with him two 


Publishers :: New York 
By arrangement with Association Press 


Copyright, 1908, by 

The International Committee of 
Young Men s Christian Associations 

Printed in the United States of America 

The Second Mile 

HEN lago says about 
Desdemona that " she 
holds it a vice in her 
goodness not to do more 
than is requested," he lays his dis 
criminating finger on a trait of char 
acter not ordinarily worked up in the 
systems of ethics. Nowhere does he 
better justify his own comment on 
himself, " I am nothing if not criti 
cal." And it is precisely this trait of 
character on which lago with his dev 
ilish ingenuity lighted for his evil pur 
pose, that Jesus made the crown of 
the moral life. The distinctively 
Christian quality is to hold it a vice 
in our goodness not to do more than 
is requested. 

Indeed, when it comes down to do 
ing the bare stint of requirement, and 

The Second Mile 

nothing more, Jesus calls that " un 
profitable." When he describes the 
servants who, after their day s work 
in the field, wait upon their lord at 
supper, he takes obvious satisfaction 
in the paradox that, though they have 
fulfilled their obligations from plow 
ing in the morning to serving at night, 
they deserve no thanks at all. Lest 
his disciples should doubt the appli 
cation, he says distinctly and peremp 
torily, " Even so ye also, when ye shall 
have done all the things that are com 
manded you, say, We are unprofit 
able servants; we have done that 
which it was our duty to do. " Not 
until a man s willingness overflows 
his obligation, so that what he has 
to do is seen as a segment in the cir 
cle of what he would be willing to do, 
does he become what Jesus would 
call profitable nor even what Shake 
speare would count worthy a character 
like Desdemona. 

Now, when the Sermon on the 
Mount faces us with those strict and 
startling injunctions to give coat and 

The Austere Truth 

cloak when a coat is wanted, or to 
take two blows when one is offered, 
or to travel two miles when but one 
is compulsory injunctions that are 
either stark nonsense or supernally 
divine sense we are manifestly deal 
ing with a dramatic presentation of 
this favorite and characteristic truth 
of Jesus, that only an unstinted will 
ingness to do more than anyone can 
ask makes possible a liberal and Chris 
tian character. 

To be sure, he stated his truth in an 
austere and formidable way. His fig 
ures of speech startle us with their 
severe requirements, and to those who 
first heard them they must have been 
bewildering in their difficulty. When 
Jesus said, " Whosoever shall compel 
thee to go one mile, go with him. 
two," a concrete picture rose before 
his Jewish audience, a hateful picture 
of a Roman soldier, under the sanc 
tion of his military law, compelling 
a Jew to the defiling business of carry 
ing his burden for a mile. To hear 
this new Rabbi say that under such 

The Second Mile 

compulsion a Jew should be willing to 
go two must have clashed with the 
Jewish temper, as it would with the 
American. This sounded like gratu 
itous surrender of a man s just rights. 
This looked like generosity gone to 
seed. And any hearer, knowing the 
history of that Roman word " an- 
gario," whose Aramaic equivalent 
Jesus doubtless used when he said 
"compel," must have found acquies 
cence in Jesus command even more 
unreasonable. As though it were the 
badge of tyranny, that word had been 
handed down by the Persian Empire 
to the Greek, and by the Greek to the 
Roman, and from the beginning it had 
stood for military power to impress 
into unwilling service all men or 
horses whose help the soldiery de 
sired. The word was saturated with 
the hatefulness of age-long tyranny. 
The unrelenting visages of Persian 
satraps, Greek governors, and Roman 
generals were conjured up by its 
ominous sound, and Jesus injunc 
tion to superabundant willingness was 

Roman Law Unrepealed 

made by its use to seem impossibly 

Nevertheless, the aptitude of the 
principle to our experience is obvious 
at least in this regard, that while the 
old military empires long since have 
gone and Roman soldiers no longer 
draft into grudging service, compul 
sion, as a permanent factor in human 
life, remains. Whether we face it 
Jesus way or not, we must face it 
somehow. We do have our Roman 
couriers that light upon us trudging 
our chosen path and, whether we will 
or no, take us along with them. The 
word " must " belongs in our lives as 
truly as in any Jew s forced into serv 
ice by an imperial messenger. 

Young folk, like rollicking colts in 
a lush meadow, have preeminently 
the sense of freedom, but no colt ever 
pranced far without coming to a fence. 
One of the signs of dawning matur 
ity appears when this first conscious 
ness of liberty gives place to per 
ception of limitations, to insight into 
the compelling power of necessity* 

The Second Mile 

to audience that often hears the mag 
isterial words " You must ! " The 
body says " Must " ; the demands of 
social life say " Must " ; the necessi 
ties of business say " Must " ; at every 
other milestone we meet a courier to 
impress us into service. Like springs, 
bubbling up in a first ecstasy of un 
fettered freedom, but soon finding that 
every brook has its banks, so men out 
of the youthful sense of unrestricted 
liberty flow into a life-course, held in 
on either side by unescapable neces 
sities. Sooner or later every man 
finds his boundaries, and while poets 
may sing their songs of pathos over 
the fact, practical people have a more 
serious problem: to find out, that is, 
how a man ought to face life s com 
pulsions, in what attitude of mind and 
spirit he should meet the " Must " of 
the world. And Jesus said, " Who 
soever shall compel thee to go one 
mile, go with him two." At first 
sight that is about the strangest 
prescription for the trouble a man 
could well imagine. It proceeds upon 

A Plant Parable 

the homoeopathic principle that "like 
things cure like," and would drive 
out the poison of a disease by in 
jecting more of the same kind. If 
you are compelled to go one mile, of 
your own free will go two, it says, 
and so defeat the malice of the ne 
cessity by voluntarily going it one 

Indeed, it is clear that if the earth 
should say to two plants in a garden, 
" You must grow," and if one plant 
should accept the bare necessity, and 
sullenly grow its stint and no more, 
that would be slavish business with 
no glory in it. But if its companion 
should say : " It is my delight to 
grow! Come on, O Earth, with all 
your bounty! You say I must grow, 
but lo! I am twice as willing as you 
are to make me ! " that would be a 
free plant, with worth and distinction 
in its growing. It is found true at 
even a cursory glance that the sting 
of compulsion is gone when a man is 
twice as willing to act as necessity is 
to make him. 


The Second Mile 

Now among all the ways in which 
we feel the Roman hand upon our 
shoulder, none is more unescapable 
than the compulsion of time. This is 
the most inevitable of all inevitable 
things. Tie what you will to the tail 
of the seconds, they are sublimely in 
different to your hindrances. If you 
watch the passing days closely, you 
find a tyrannic oppression in their 
noiseless and unceasing march. The 
Valley of Ajalon where the sun stands 
still and the retreating shadow on 
Ahaz s dial have long vanished into 
the limbo of the eternally lost. When 
in Congress the sergeant moves back 
the hands of the government clock, 
making an artifice of time to pass the 
last bills in, he must do it with a sar 
donic grin, for he knows what a futile 
fraud he is perpetrating on the sun, 
and how the constellations laugh at 
him. This slow inevitableness of 
time is a small matter indeed to the 
youth, but it puts compulsion on a 
man not easy to be glad about. So 
Jesus said to Peter, " When thou wast 

Fretful Man 

young thou girdedst thyself and 
wentest whither thou wouldst, but 
when thou shalt be old another shall 
gird thee and carry thee where thou 
wouldst not." 

How men rebel against this un- 
evadable fatality ! How they fret over 
declining powers, and grudgingly sub 
mit to limitation, like free lakes 
poured into narrowing canyons and 
tumbling upon themselves in fury! 
Because men take it so, because they 
enter their cramped confines with 
such ill grace, they make sorry busi 
ness out of age, with never a touch 
of Rabbi Ben Ezra s mellow and ra 
diant spirit: 

" Grow old along with me, 
The best is yet to be; 
The last of life for which the first 
was made ! " 

Rabbi Ben Ezra had the spirit of the 
second mile. His years were no less 
implacable in their compulsion and 
his limitations no less carking than is 

The Second Mile 

the lot of other men, but he could see 
in both years and limitations 

" Machinery just meant 
To give thy soul its bent; 
Try thee and turn thee forth 
Sufficiently impressed." 

And whenever you seek the secret of 
this kind of age, you will not fail to 
find a man who has gone the second 
mile; who has faced time and said, 
" O Time, you are a stern fellow, 
but you have a godlike power of 
beauty in you. You can make souls 
deep and rich and fruitful, as you 
make old violins musical with the 
stored-up melodies of years; as you 
make old wine perfect with the ripe 
ness of long generations. You say 
that I must go this mile with you, 
but I am wise enough to look upon 
my necessities as though they were 
my luxuries, and I will go with you so 
willingly that men shall learn from 
me to say anew, * The hoary head is a 
crown of glory ! " The more one 

The Elemental Must 

considers it, the more it is clear that 
when a man must go one mile, the 
only spirit that can save his soul from 
bitterness is the willingness to go 

There is another Roman also, who 
levies his draft upon us, and that is 
the Roman of work. Underneath 
every other practical necessity, is this 
elemental " must " of the breadwin 
ner: and unless a man has been so 
hapless as to receive a legacy, youth s 
heaviest handicap, he needs no one to 
tell him what an inexorable master 
this necessity is. Now this compul 
sion, which sooner or later most men 
are sure to encounter, may be faced 
in one of two ways. If he will, a man 
may accept it doggedly and go about 
the demanded labor like the Sultan s 
Janizaries under the lash. He may 
take work as an unfortunately neces 
sary part of life, and let himself be 
beaten to it by the cat-o -nine-tails in 
the hand of Need. He may skimp- 
ingly perform the bare requirements 
and, hating his taskmaster as a ran- 

The Second Mile 

corous old Jew hated a Roman cour 
ier, may bitterly trudge that one scant 
mile, as unwilling as Bryant s " quar 
ry-slave at night scourged to his dun 
geon." That is one way to face the 
necessity of work and thousands of 
men with their eyes on the clock are 
working that way to-day. Or if he 
will, a man may rise to the measure 
of Antonio Stradivari, in George El 
iot s poem, and say of his humblest 
daily tasks what Stradivari said about 
his violins: 

" If my hand slacked 
I should rob God, since he is fullest 


Leaving a blank instead of violins. 

He could not make 
Antonio Stradivari s violins 
Without Antonio." 

Whenever a man glorifies his work 
in that way he has gone the second 
mile; he has translated duty into 
privilege. He has seen that while 
God supplies quarries he never carves 

My Work My Friend 

statues or piles cathedrals save by the 
hand of a man; he has perceived that 
the earth was not built like Aladdin s 
Palace, by magic spells for lazy oc 
cupancy, but is an unfinished world 
into which men are ushered in time 
to bear a part in its completion; and 
he has reached the dignity of believ 
ing that every honest piece of work 
is cooperation with God in building 
the universe. Such a man can fol 
low the Master s word and can give 
glad welcome to the necessity of 
work, as it accosts him on the road. 
He can say, and mean it too, " O 
Work, you are my best friend in dis 
guise. God sent you to me. You come 
with a stern face, but your heart is 
full of strength and courage and good 
cheer. You demand that I travel with 
you that one hard mile? Then, my 
task, doff that scowl, for to the limit 
of my strength I am twice as willing 
to work as you are to make me." 
Work, greeted like that, loses the 
frown of compulsion and begins to 
smile. When a man works that way 

The Second Mile 

because he thinks it is his Father s 
business, feels that it is his meat and 
drink to do the will of him that sent 
him, wishes there were more hours in 
the day than twenty-four, and dreams 
of Heaven as a place where a man 
can work all the time at his best and 
never be tired all the slavery of work 
has vanished for such a man and he 
and his task, good friends, walk arm 
in arm, and will be sorry when the 
second mile is done. It looks as 
though Jesus were right, after all. 
The way to avoid the slavishness of 
necessity is of your own accord to be 
willing, if possible, to do more than is 
demanded. The first mile alone is 
drudgery. The glory comes with the 
second mile! 

Another kind of compulsion faces 
every man in some degree the com 
pulsion of limiting circumstances and 
restricted powers that shut him up to 
narrow and obscure activities. There 
are more people than perhaps we 
think, whose aspirations for preemi 
nence have been snuffed to a smoul- 

Jail Limits 

der. Some aspired to be musicians, 
some authors, others teachers, preach 
ers, missionaries; they had perhaps 
to start with talents equal to their 
dreams; but the thwarting circum 
stance, the broken health gradually 
closed them in and shortly they found 
themselves hedged around, with a 
stern Roman peremptorily saying, 
" You must live your lives here ! " 
We all face this one way or another. 
If not the external circumstance, it is 
that unescapable limitation of our 
own individuality, the most vexatious 
handicap of all. For a man to accept 
himself and start with only one talent, 
if God has not given him ten, is dif 
ficult business. " Das verdammte 
Ich," cried Goethe, and we all know 
what he meant. 

Some one has compared man to an 
actor able to play many roles but re 
stricted to one; and any virile man, 
facing the fascinating opportunities 
of the world s work and feeling the 
latent possibility of many accomplish 
ments and ministries, knows that the 

The Second Mile 

necessity of choosing one role, or hav 
ing it thrust upon him, of playing 
that and not another, is no less tyran 
nic than a Roman courier to a Jew. 
Other compulsions may be more 
grievous to a feeble man, but to the 
nobler character it is the limitation 
of life s possible investment that 
presses hardest. He wants the whole 
farm and is confident that he could 
farm it, but lo ! this small garden plot 
with a hedge all around. 

Now one solution of the problem 
is both popular and easy. He may 
raise his little crop of vegetables in 
that narrow garden plot and sit down 
in bitterness behind his hedge to eat 
them. He may look over his meager 
boundaries at the bigger farms of 
stronger men and envy their more ex 
tensive operations. He may take his 
spite out by a cynical disparagement 
of the whole business of living any 
how, or he may wax melodramatic 
with Henley and talk about his head 
being " bloody but unbowed." He 
may even assume the Titanic pose and 

The Titanic Pose 

grandiloquently dare high heaven, de 
claiming like Thompson in his " City 
of Dreadful Night," 

" I vow 
That not for all Thy power, furled or 


For all the temples to Thy glory built, 
Would I assume the ignominious 

Of having made such men in such a 

world ! " 

In a word, he may incarnate the one- 
mile spirit and grow surly, rebellious 
and morose within his narrow hedges. 
If, however, that does not seem a 
knightly attitude, there appears no 
alternative short of Jesus way, who 
evidently would have us say about 
this same meager plot, " Well, it is 
not much to start with, but, O Roman 
of Necessity, you need not think that 
I am going to do only what you com 
mand, merely live here and raise 
enough to eat. I am going to make 
this little place so beautiful that pas- 

The Second Mile 

sers-by will stop to enjoy it. It is not 
large, but fair flowers grow in small 
places. You require me to live here, 
but I will go twice as far as that. I 
will not only live here, but I will make 
it worth while living here; and these 
very hedges which you say must al 
ways bind me in, I will husband until 
they are as fragrant as English haw- 
thorne or Scotch heather, and people 
who cried, What cruel limitations ! 
shall yet say, What a beautiful 
hedge! " 

History loves to record the names 
of men who conquered the malice of 
their fate by this spirit of the second 
mile men like the old Greek chosen 
in a joke to be town scavenger, who 
filled the office with such high service- 
ableness that thereafter in all Greece 
the office was an honor ; men like blind 
Huber becoming the great scientist, 
or blind Fawcett becoming Postmas 
ter-General of England; men like 
Cervantes using an imprisonment to 
begin " Don Quixote," or Bunyan 
glorifying Bedford Jail with the " Pil- 

The Most of It 

grim s Progress " ; men of the spirit 
of those four marines from the Brit 
ish ship " Wager " of whom Steven 
son tells us, who, compelled to remain 
on a desert island because the lifeboat 
could hold no more, stood on the shore 
and gave three cheers when the boat 
pulled off with a " God save the 
King ! " for a tiger. These men his 
tory delights to honor, for, in the end, 
time endorses God s evaluations. And 
where in humbler expressions this 
same spirit of the second mile is 
found, as when the young woman 
wrote her friend out of her invalid- 
ism, " At first I thought somehow to 
make the best of it, but now I am 
planning how to make the most of it," 
every man with a heart for chivalry 
pays homage. These folk of the more 
abundant willingness travel with us 
the first hard mile of compulsion, but 
they make it beautiful with the sec 
ond mile of consecration. That bare 
compulsion, taken alone, is grim, but 
when we rise to say " I will make 
my narrow boundaries a garden of 

The Second Mile 

the Lord where he may walk as he 
did in Eden in the cool of the day," 
the cruel necessity glows with a di 
vine meaning, and a glory appears in 
the limited life the glory of the sec 
ond mile. 

When we carry this principle out 
from the realm of such inevitable ne 
cessities as time and work and per 
sonal limitation, into the sphere of 
moral obligation, its applicability be 
comes all the more clear. Some things 
are sternly demanded of men by the 
regulations of the social life. The for 
mal obligations of the marriage cov 
enant, for example, can be enforced. 
There is an irreducible minimum of 
duty which Public Opinion insists on 
expecting from wives and husbands, 
parents and children. Like some old 
Roman, the Social Conscience, some 
times speaking with the voice of legal 
enactment, comes to every one of us, 
and says of the absolutely necessary 
duties of family relationship, " You 
must do these things." 

There are households, moreover, 

The One-mile Home 

where this minimum marks the outer 
boundary within which the whole life 
of the family moves. They do just as 
much as they have to do and no more. 
The household is run in the spirit with 
which a miser pays taxes. Any over 
flow of spontaneous love, any volun 
teering of surplus kindliness is un 
known. They keep the prohibitions 
of the law, and look for a home to 
come of it, like Gasparoni, the Italian 
bandit who hoped for heaven because 
he had never committed murder on 
Friday. They are one-mile folk and 
they make a one-mile home. 

But it is the unnecessary courtesies, 
the unexpected presents brought from 
the city, the uncalled-for thoughtful- 
ness of lovers, the surprises of kind 
liness over and above what can be 
required this superabundance makes 
a real home. Here the difference 
lies between a parent and a father; 
between progeny and sons; between 
a housewife and a mother. Let a 
housewife be never so faithful about 
her tasks, determined to do them well, 


The Second Mile 

with resolution keeping the home 
neat, the children well provided; yet 
any man who has had a real mother 
knows at once that such description 
leaves the glory out. The real mother 
did her duties too, but there was 
something more a radiance that 
glowed through her simple tasks like 
a quiet dawn in summer, an ampleness 
of love as though she moved in realms 
where rules had been forgotten, that 
made her human affection liberal like 
the love of the Eternal God. Her 
ministries could not be so common 
place as to let you utterly escape the 
secret influence of the fact that with 
unsearchable desire she had prayed for 
you first. Her spirit was greater than 
her deeds and suffused them; and as 
you remember her now, you think not 
so much of her particular ministries 
as of that unwearied willingness to 
overpass all boundaries in loving you. 
The last thing you can ever forget is 
that luminous tenderness which, like 
God s sunshine on the just and the 
unjust, sought you out in whatsoever 

Surplus Tenderness 

merit or demerit you might be, to find 
you as Christ found the world, not 
that he might condemn it, but that 
the world through him might be saved. 
All true mothers live in the spirit of 
the second mile. 

Like the Word of God brooding 
over chaos and making a world of it, 
this surplus tenderness creates homes 
out of households. There are few 
things more pathetic than a one-mile 
family, but the crown of all human 
relationships and the hope of the coun 
try is the two-mile home, where al 
ways " the cup runneth over." 

What this principle of Jesus does, 
then, when applied to our moral life, 
is clear. It divides a man s conduct 
into two parts, the compulsory and 
the voluntary, the things he must do 
and the things he chooses to do, the 
first mile and the second. It says, 
moreover, that only as the voluntary 
overspreads and saturates the neces 
sary can life cease to be slavery and 
come to its full meaning of dignity 
and value. There is an essential no- 

The Second Mile 

bility that belongs only to the soul 
who can say with Jesus, " No man 
taketh my life from me. I lay it down 
of myself." Until willingness over 
flows obligation, men fight as con 
scripts instead of following the flag as 

Now, with reference to this spirit 
of the second mile, men are divided 
into well-defined classes, of which the 
lowest are clearly those miserable folk 
who like Shylock are forever after 
their rights. Their attitude toward 
men is that of a collector seeking pay 
ment on protested bills. They are spe 
cialists in the exaction of what is due 
them. They interpret duty as a cus 
toms officer does to mean not what 
he owes men, but what men owe him. 
Such men reveal themselves by their 
instinctive attitude toward clearly stat 
ed moral obligations, such as, "Thou 
shalt not bear false witness against 
thy neighbor." Facing this command, 
some will cry, desiring all their rights, 
" Is my neighbor, then, bearing false 
witness against me ? " and some will 

Privilege First 

search their souls with the question 
of duty, "Am I bearing false witness 
against my neighbor?" Rights or 
duties, you can interpret any com 
mandment either way, and it is the 
relative emphasis a man places here 
that measures the first stage in his 
character building. Not till duty looms 
larger than rights is a man truly mor 
al. But neither the one nor the 
other is the test of Christian char 
acter. Christianity begins when the 
sense of privilege in service becomes 
greater than both rights and duties. 
For us to be Christian is to be more 
willing to serve a man than he is to 
demand it; to go the second mile; to 
forgive seventy times seven; to pray 
on our Calvaries for the men who put 
us there; to act, that is, as no one has 
the right to require of us, and to feel 
about it all that our meat and drink 
are to do the will of him that sent us. 
The essential word of Christianity is 
love and that means superabundant 
willingness to help. A man becomes 
really Christian when the sense of joy 

The Second Mile 

in ministry overflows both rights and 
duties and submerges them. 

And just here is the real worth of 
the moral life. So long as Words 
worth sings Duty, " Stern Daughter 
of the Voice of God," he is but on the 
threshold of the matter. It is only 
when he rises in his climax to say: 

" Yet thou dost wear 
The Godhead s most benignant grace; 
Nor know we anything so fair 
As is the smile upon thy face: 
Flowers laugh before thee on their 

And fragrance in thy footing treads," 

only then has he come to the heart 
of it. Duty is never worthily done 
until it is performed by a man who 
loves it so that he would gladly do 
more if he could. Some men say of 
their duties, "I must"; some men 
say, " I ought " ; some men say, " I 
want to, let me at it." These are the 
three tones of life. One man is the 
slave of his necessities; one, the grim 

Duty and Duty 

moralist doing his duty; one, the man 
of an abounding sense of privilege in 
life, who feels all blessings large with 
God s favor, all trials meaningful with 
purpose, all duty a glorious preroga 
tive. Though the gross output of 
moral living may seem in each case 
to be the same, these lives are not of 
one spiritual family. A duty done 
grudgingly and the same duty done 
willingly are after all not the same. 
All sense of compulsion and of obli 
gation is only underground founda 
tion for the real temple, whose altar- 
song is forever, " I delight in the law 
of the Lord." 

As the real worth of the moral life 
lies in this attitude of more abundant 
willingness, so the whole joy of the 
moral life lies there too. It is because 
of their unwillingness to go the sec 
ond mile that men make such desper 
ate labor out of going the first. When 
Paul finds himself with his hard road 
to travel an arduous journey all the 
way from the midnight escape at Da 
mascus to the headsman s axe at Rome 

The Second Mile 

he does not, like the lesser souls, 
spoil it by desiring to go half instead. 
" I must " is alien from his spirit ; " I 
ought," an occasional but not domi 
nant tone ; " Thanks be to God who 
counted me worthy, appointing me to 
be his minister," that is Paul s over 
flowing zeal which took the sting from 
the first mile s obligation. If a friend 
ask a favor, saying, " I have a right 
to demand that as a friend," and you 
reply, " Man, stop talking about 
rights. I am more willing to make 
that sacrifice than you are to ask me," 
by that you have transformed obliga 
tion from drudgery to privilege. So 
Paul wrote to Philemon, making re 
quest of service from him, and said, 
"Without thy mind I would do noth 
ing, that thy goodness should not be 
as of necessity, but of free will " ; and 
thereby he suggested the only way 
to find joy in duty. The penurious 
moralist stingily expending himself 
no farther than the law requires, is a 
pitifully sad fellow, who has never 
learned that it is hard work serving 

Our Stewardship 

as a drafted man in a battle you would 
like to avoid, but that it is glorious 
business fighting as a volunteer for 
a cause you love. 

There are a thousand little ways in 
which we can put this to the test: If 
we have money and are pestered by 
requests for its expenditure, what a 
cure for impatience to recognize that 
it is more to our interest to have our 
stewardship rightly accomplished than 
it can be to any other man s, so that 
even if we cannot give to a particular 
cause we can send the petitioner away 
with the feeling that we were more 
willing to give than he was to ask us! 
If we have talents and are worn 
threadbare by the continual demands 
upon us, what a cure for the require 
ment s malice to know that it is more 
to our interest to do all the good we 
can than it can be to any other man s 
and so to meet each request with a 
willingness to do even more if we are 
able. Any child knows the magic of 
this divine remedy if he has ever 
dragged his reluctant feet toward the 

The Second Mile 

berry patch under orders to pick two 
quarts, and then has solved the prob 
lem of his uncomfortable duty by cry 
ing, "What fun! I ll surprise the 
family by picking four ! " Drudgery 
is all redeemed by that. 

When a man, however, attempts 
this attitude toward all the duties of 
his life, tries to make it the solvent 
for his moral drudgeries, he finds that 
reasonably to be more than willing to 
do all he ought to do, so that his vol 
unteering outruns the demands of men 
upon him, implies a view of life that 
taxes the limit of his faith. A man 
can say, " I must " in atheism ; he can 
say, " I ought " in bare morality ; but 
to say " I want to " as though there 
were a great privilege in living, as 
though it " means intensely and means 
good/ as though purpose were there 
because the world had been thought 
through and willed through and loved 
through by a Father, as though des 
tinies were ahead in which the mean 
ings of all sacrifice would come to 
their apocalypse in glory " exceeding 

Whom I Serve 

abundant above all we can ask or 
think" that means a religious view 
of the world. Only when a man be 
lieves that there is a Person to receive 
our consecration, whose service is per 
fect freedom, and whose love con- 
straineth to that noblest motive for all 
duty doing, the gratitude of love to 
One who loved us first; only then can 
he reasonably feel the more abundant 
willingness in sacrificial service. If 
there is some one able to "keep that 
which we commit unto him," so that 
nothing is ever wasted, no serviceable 
deed, no love, no aspiration, but 

" All we have willed or hoped or 

dreamed of good shall exist, 
Not its semblance, but itself," 

then we can say, "I want to." Only 
the man of Christian faith, who sees 
the Eternal God mirrored in the char 
acter and purposes of Christ can rea 
sonably accept the privilege of Chris 
tian service. A man can stumble the 
first mile almost anyhow, but no man 

The Second Mile 

can travel the second mile without 

Indeed here we enter the very Holy 
of Holies of religious living. As the 
spirit of the second mile so inevitably 
demands the Christian God to make 
it reasonable, so the same spirit is the 
best interpreter of the life which such 
a God inspires. To many people re 
ligious living is an affair of negative 
prohibitions, and they walk in the 
presence of God like an embarrassed 
courtier at the salon of Louis XIV, 
conscious chiefly of what they must not 
do. Their righteousness is exhausted 
in what they refrain from. " They 
are just as good as trying not to be 
bad can make them." Or if a man has 
graduated from this idea of God as a 
Sinaitic Lawgiver, who spends his odd 
moments checking up the accounts of 
folk who have transgressed his prohi 
bitions, he may still conceive religious 
living as a matter of positive rules 
and regulations, ceremonial and moral, 
whose observance is the whole of 
duty. This man is the kind of char- 

Celestial Credit 

acter who stereotypes his courtesy 
into a list of memorized rules, who 
keeps account of his good deeds and 
bad deeds by number and charts them 
at night, who figures his hopes of 
heaven by the balance of credit on the 
celestial ledger, and who so punctil 
iously goes his round of the com 
mandments that his friends would 
offer a hecatomb if only the man 
would do a single impulsive and hearty 
deed, were it even to be guilty of 
spontaneous sin. Whichever way he 
goes at it, negatively or positively, 
this man is the legalist, living by rule 
the man of the one-mile spirit living 
the one-mile life. 

It was in escaping from this legalism 
that Paul said he became a Christian. 
No man is really a Christian until he 
has escaped it. If a boy, adopted into 
a strange home, and unruly in his new 
surroundings, should perforce be given 
a set of regulations which he must ob 
serve, he might become more orderly, 
but he would hardly by that alone 
become a true son. But if some day 

The Second Mile 

the love of the father or mother should 
be persuasively revealed to him, so 
that the love that had been there al 
ways laid masterful hold on him, and 
his love, newly born, should spring 
up in answer, flooding his spirit with 
its loyalty, and if, knowing the new 
life in him, he should take the rules 
and tear them up, saying " Because 
I love you I will do all these and much 
more beside," then a true son would 
have been begotten. He would have 
been " born again." " If ye love me, ye 
WILL keep my commandments," said 
Jesus and this statement of inevitable 
consequence is summed up in Paul s 
sublime word, " Love is the fulfilling 
of the law." Apart from love a man 
cannot keep so many rules or do so 
many deeds as to make himself a 
Christian. "If I give all my goods 
to feed the poor and have not love," 
said Paul, " it profiteth me nothing ! " 
This does not mean the destruction of 
the moral law; it means that the 
Christian life so far outruns the moral 
law, so far overflows commandment 

Law the Molehill 

with compassionate willingness to 
serve, that rules of conduct are to its 
wide domain what the obligations of 
a civil marriage ceremony would be 
to the love of Robert Browning and 
Elizabeth Barrett. They would keep 
the contract as one would walk over 
a molehill in climbing a mountain! 
Love does all that the commandments 
say, and counts that the mere begin 
ning. Love is not love until it has 
forgotten rules. The Christian s 
" royal law " fulfils all lesser laws like 
the Atlantic flowing into the Bay of 
Fundy when the sky calls to the tide. 
Nor does this mean that conduct is 
to be left to the unregulated expres 
sion of a compassionate heart. A man 
may be in spirit truly courteous and 
still need instruction in the conven 
tions of society. Love in the soul does 
not make inevitable a judicious and 
intelligent expression. So the old 
proverb has it that " the chief business 
of the wise is undoing the mistakes 
made by the good." It is the prime 
thing to be courteous and kindly at 

The Second Mile 

heart, but important, too, to make the 
outer symbol truly signify the inner 
reality. " What is the use of being 
gold, if you look like brass ? " is only 
partly true, but that part is of conse 
quence. The love of God may be 
shed abroad in our hearts and still 
through ignorance that love s expres 
sion may be indiscreet and mischie 
vous. While the primary matter, 
therefore, is that the branches abide 
in the vine, the trellis of command 
ment is a needful device that the fruit 
shall have guidance in normal growth. 
Nevertheless the trellis alone is so fu 
tile, and the training of a live vine so 
easy as compared with getting fruit 
from a dead one, that the necessity of 
the trellis should not blind us to the 
main issue which is the vital junction 
of the branch and vine. Moral instruc 
tion in details of conduct must never 
hide the fundamental matter, that there 
is no Christianity apart from a love 
which goes the second mile. Christ is 
witness that there is such a love, God 
himself underground in a man s life, 

Second-mile Society 

rising in artesian wells of living water 
a love so exhaustless in its willing 
ness to serve, that he who knows it un 
derstands the safety of St. Augustine s 
profound injunction, " Love God and 
do as you please ! " 

This love that goes the second mile, 
however, is more than a solvent for 
moral drudgeries in the individual 
life. It is distinctly a force of social 
revolution. For here is the testing of 
this principle in its application to so 
ciety: that in the home it is entirely 
possible to exercise this superabun 
dant willingness to serve; in the neigh 
borhood, even, it is possible for a man 
to outrun the demands upon him by 
the volunteering of his own kindli 
ness; but who by any possibility can 
live the spirit of the second mile in 
the industrial world where the funda 
mental principle is 

" The good old rule, the simple plan, 
That he should get who has the 


And he should keep who can." 

The Second Mile 

Your business man will tell you frank 
ly that it is hard enough to run an 
enterprise successfully and be scrupu 
lously honest honest, that is, not ac 
cording to the letter of the statutes, 
but according to the dictates of a sen 
sitive and instructed conscience. But 
when it comes to loving, loving in 
Jesus sense of being twice as will 
ing to help men as they are to ask 
you; as willing to give coat and cloak 
together as they can be to take your 
coat alone; willing to take two blows 
if two there must be, rather than give 
one; when it comes to overflowing all 
sense of duty with spontaneous kind 
liness, who does not see that the prin 
ciples of Jesus and the principles of a 
competitive system where men throt 
tle each other for bread come into ab 
solute and unavoidable collision? 

Even yet many Christians are in 
credulous that Christ ever intended 
that his principles should control the 
business world. The idea they work 
on is: Let love control in home, and 
school, in church and neighborhood, 

A World Half-free 

but let business be governed by the 
rules of battle. Yet is such a division 
of the world s life conceivably perma 
nent? If the nation could not con 
tinue " half slave and half free," can 
the world continue so forever? Can a 
thoughtful man imagine as the ulti 
mate state of society, the Kingdom of 
God on earth, a regime where home 
and neighborhood life shall be Chris 
tianized by the spirit of love and where 
the commercial world shall still be 
mastered by the spirit of " Every man 
for himself"? Surely it is manifest 
that Christ will not accept half a world 
for his demesne any more than he 
will accept half a man; and this is 
manifest, too, that before the spirit of 
the second mile, which now is possible 
in the home, shall come to its full pos 
sibility in the realm of business, our 
industrial system must be something 
other than it is to-day. 

To be sure men can go the second 

mile always with certain individuals 

whom they know and like in business, 

but no one can make the spirit of the 


The Second Mile 

second mile his commercial principle, 
the underlying postulate of every 
business transaction, when the basal 
idea of the commercial system is ri 
valry for the necessities of life. To 
be sure men can always ameliorate 
the conditions of the competitive fight 
so as to make its appearance more re 
spectable; they can always pass laws 
to limit the degrees of exploitation 
and abolish its worst indecencies. 
Just so they smoothed out rough-and- 
tumble fighting into the respectabili 
ties of the duel, guarded by regula 
tions from brutality; but is duelling 
any less abhorrent in principle than 
thuggery? And is a system where one 
man knifes another for food and clothes 
any less abhorrent because restricting 
laws tone down its more repugnant 
features? No one doubts the benefi 
cent effect of making individual ap 
plication of the spirit of kindliness in 
business. But then, that is not the 
primary idea of business in a competi 
tive system. Mercy may be shown in 
war, by one foe to another, and mu- 

War and Christ 

tual courtesy between individuals 
upon the firing line is an occurrence 
in almost every battle only that is 
not what war means. And however 
many instances of kindliness between 
commercial rivals may relieve the 
fearful carnage of our industrial strife, 
the truth remains that men, instead 
of being in cooperative association to 
exploit the riches of the world, are 
rather engaged in exploiting one an 
other; and that the basal idea of a 
war between men for life s necessities 
is violently at variance with Christ s 
idea of superabundant willingness to 
help. What first is needed is the 
Christian spirit of cooperation in the 
hearts of individuals, but with that 
must come the gradual reformation of 
social structure that such a spirit may 
have freedom of expression. This is 
what makes the great truth of Christ 
revolutionary if once it be really be 
lieved in. Let individuals do their 
best at it now, yet only in a common 
wealth founded on cooperation can the 
second-mile spirit come to its full 

The Second Mile 

social utterance. And here is the 
question the twentieth-century Chris 
tian must settle whether he really 
believes more in the principles of 
Christ, or the principles of the present 
industrial order. For unless irrecon 
cilable enemies can live in the same 
house one or the other must go. 

Returning now to the individual 
application of this master truth of 
Jesus there remains at least this one 
thing more to say: that not alone do 
the moral worth and joy of a man s 
life lie in the second mile, but the in 
fluence of a man lies there too. Jesus 
evidently is speaking here especially 
of some man who dislikes us, criti 
cizes us, maliciously plans against us 
and seeks our hurt. What he says is 
that our love for that man should be 
so great that we should be more will 
ing to serve him than he is to make 
us yes, twice as willing; that no 
malice of his should ever reduce our 
souls to the level of hatred, or spoil 
our invincible love that pushes on 
through all his wrongs, still willing to 

The Natural Way 

serve him more and win him if w& 

There are many ways in which an 
unfriendly man can be treated, and 
every one has chances to try them 
all. " If he hurt me," it is possible 
to say, " I shall hurt him worse, un 
til, like Jason sowing dragons teeth 
and reaping a hostile army, he shall 
find his evil to me coming back upon 
him as many fold as I can manage 
it." That is vindictive vengeance. 
Or it may be said, " If he hurt me I 
shall, with level measure, return as 
much to him, and teach him the mean 
ing of the law, * Eye for eye, tooth 
for tooth. " This is retribution. Or 
it may be said, " If he hurt me I shall 
ignore him, and scorning to recognize 
his injury, treat him with the con 
tempt the moon gives to the dog that 
bays it." That is the disdain of hot 
resentfulness. Or it may be said, " If 
that man hurt me I will serve him 
still and try with undiscourageable 
love to do him good. Whatever 
comes, his hate shall never ruin my 

The Second Mile 

good will. I will take his unfriendli 
ness as my opportunity for unrequited 
service, and when the first mile of his 
unkindness has been traveled I will 
be there to say, Man, my master is 
Christ and Christ never let any man s 
unkindness spoil His love. I am try 
ing to follow Him and I am not going 
to let your unkindness spoil my love. 
You may not be my friend, but I am 
yours, and nothing you can ever do 
will stop it. " That clearly is the way 
Jesus lived, and clearly that is what 
he expects of his disciples. To be 
sure, there may be limits which love 
cannot overpass; but then we may 
be certain that none of us has ever 
come within reaching distance of 
them. Even Christ seems never to 
have discovered limits to love in all 
his wide horizons. 

Now this unconquerable compas 
sion is not alone the most profoundly 
joyful spirit in which to live. At the 
very least it is that. The niggardly 
soul who, when he must give a quart 
of kindliness measures it out by thim- 

The Only Hope 

blefuls to avoid the possibility of sur 
plus and does that only to the inner 
circle of his friends, has all the work 
and none of the joy of love. But this 
spirit of unwearied goodwill, that with 
a divine carelessness seeks just and 
unjust, is the great lifting power of 
the world, the secret not alone of joy 
but of spiritual effectiveness. 

From the standpoint of the giver it 
seems a severe requirement that he 
love and serve those who have no 
personal claim on him, as Living 
stone served Africa, or Paton the New 
Hebrides, but from the standpoint of 
Africa and the New Hebrides, which 
have no right to claim such devotion, 
the only hope lies in those souls who, 
like Livingstone and Paton, love of 
their own free will away over and 
above all right of demand. From the 
standpoint of the giver it is no easy 
matter to love regardless of the recip 
ient s moral worth, like Moses praying 
God for the apostate people holding 
bacchanalian rout about their golden 
calf, but from the standpoint of the 

The Second Mile 

people who are unworthy, their only 
hope lies in just such souls, baptized 
with the spirit of saviorhood, who 
understand that " they who are sick 
need a physician," and are willing to 
help especially the undeserving. And 
it is a peculiarly hard saying that a 
man should love regardless of the per 
sonal attitude of the recipient, whether 
it be recognition and gratitude or the 
lack of them; but from the standpoint 
of the man so far down in spiritual 
desolation that he does not even know 
enough to be grateful, there is no hope 
save in those souls who for the time 
will forego gratitude and will serve 
on through ingratitude, misunder 
standing, persecution even, if thereby 
they may be saviors of their fellows. 
The men with lifting power have al 
ways been men who served regard 
less of the right of the recipient to 
demand it, regardless of his moral 
worth, regardless of his personal in 
gratitude who served for only one 
reason, the love of saving. Since the 
time when the " Lamb was slain be- 

To Lift Man 

fore the foundation of the world," and 
the principle of sacrifice was im 
bedded in the fabric of the universe, 
there has been only one force with 
grip and lift enough in it to hoist the 
spiritual life of man, and that is the 
power Jesus used when he suffered, 
" the righteous for the unrighteous 
that he might bring us to God." 

Now, mystical and unpractical as 
these injunctions may seem, as a mat 
ter of fact no spiritual achievement 
ever yet was wrought without this 
unbought and unpaid for generosity 
of love. The hope of the world s sal 
vation lies in this spirit that, forgiv 
ing seventy times seven, keeps at the 
main issue which Jesus suggested 
when he said, " If thy brother hear 
thee, thou hast won thy brother." 
Whether in the individual s treatment 
of his private foe, or in society s treat 
ment of her public enemy, the crimi 
nal, any other principle than this is 
not only wrong, it is entirely inef 
fective. This mercy may sometimes 
be stern; it may even t^ke the out- 

The Second Mile 

ward form of punishment on the of 
fender. So Beecher said, " A mother 
may have all Mount Calvary in her 
heart and all Mount Sinai in her hand : 
and the child get both." But what 
ever may be the outward form that 
wisdom determines to be best, the 
inner spirit is always of one quality, 
the undiscourageable desire to save. 

This virtue of overflowing love that 
seeks alone the good of all men, is 
not too unpractical; it is too prac 
tical for this world of ours to under 
stand. This kind of love is the only 
force that really gets things done. 
Without it not even an eddy has ever 
been made in the spiritual history of 
man. The men who have struck hu 
manity s life as the shaft of water 
strikes the turbine at Niagara, saying, 
" Move," have been men who knew 
that " God does not always pay wages 
on a Saturday," and so were willing 
to serve on through all hostility, to 
help the very humanity that cursed 
them while they blessed. The roll- 
call of the world s spiritual heroes re- 

All of Saviorhood 

veals not a single one-mile man. For 
no man ever saved anybody, or served 
any great cause, or left any enduring 
impress who was not willing to forget 
indignities, bear no grudges, and, like 
Paul when the Jews had cast him out 
of their synagogues, had beaten, 
stoned, and all but killed him, say, 
"I could wish myself accursed for 
my brethren s sake, my kinsmen ac 
cording to the flesh. . . . My heart s 
desire and prayer to God for Israel 
is that they may be saved." The 
world s saviors have all, in one way 
or another, loved their enemies and 
done them good. All of saviorhood 
lies in the second mile. 

Clearly it is nothing less than this 
that Christianity means by love. The 
man who in his serving holds perpet 
ual inquisition, suspicious that some 
how he is being swindled out of love, 
and who, with the scrutiny of a de 
tective, searches the character of his 
fellows for some unworthiness to ex 
cuse his neglect, never really loves at 
all, as Christianity counts it, whose 

The Second Mile 

God " commended his love toward us 
in that while we were yet sinners 
Christ died for us." The man who 
serves for pay, and like a hireling loves 
with his eyes on Saturday noon, won 
dering if he will get his love s worth 
back again in the appreciation of his 
fellows, does not love at all, as Christ 
understood it who said, " Love your 
enemies, bless them that curse you, 
pray for them that despitefully use 

This is the note that Jesus struck 
when he told his disciples that if 
they merely loved those who loved 
them or saluted their brethren only, 
they were doing what any outcast 
Publican would do. It is in the 
" exceeding righteousness " alone that 
mankind feels the touch of God. It 
is the spirit of the second mile that 
makes them seek the cause in the 
superhuman. To-day in a certain Chi 
nese village, a strange deity receives 
incense at the pagan shrine. Long 
ago there came a Christian mission 
ary there, who, before he could make 

There God Is 

clear the Christian doctrine, died. 
But it was not before he could make 
clear the spirit of his Christian love, 
that brought him unasked and unre 
warded over seas to carry his good 
tidings and his ministry of help. 
And so they made him the village 
god and burn incense still upon his 
altar; for human nature is sure of this, 
that vicarious love is nearest deity. 
It is the instinct of the heart of man 
that where sacrificial love is, there 
God is also. There is one spirit whose 
divinity no man can deny and that is 
the unwearied compassion which in- 
defatigably keeps on loving when love 
goes unrewarded. Even a Roman 
centurion cries, " The Son of God ! " 
when a soul can bear the contumely 
and the pain of crucifixion and still 
pray, " Father forgive them." There 
is but one invincible power on earth 
and that is the unwearied spirit of the 
second mile. 

Only, a man must surely believe in 
God to have it in the God of Jesus 
and of immortality. For underneath 

The Second Mile 

such sacrificial compassion must lie 
the eternal love of God; and ahead of 
it must rise a vision radiant, a tri 
umphal day, whose songs are even 
now in hours of struggle quietly 

" As if some fair city were one voice 
Around a king returning from his