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Title: The Empire of Love
Author: Dawson, William J., 1854-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Empire of Love



New York  Chicago  Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company

London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1907, by


  New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
  Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
  Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
  London: 21 Paternoster Square
  Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

  M. M. D.,

  who, during the last two years
  of our residence in London,
  practiced the teachings of this book
  before I taught them:

  proving daily
  in her compassionate toil for others
  the divine efficacy of simple love
  to redeem the lives,
  that were most estranged from virtue,
  and most lost to hope.

Love feels no burden, regards not labours, would willingly do more than
it is able, pleads not impossibility, because it feels that it can and
may do all things.






  _So kindly was His love to us,
    (We had not heard of love before),
  That all our life grew glorious
    When He had halted at our door._

  _So meekly did He love us men,
    Though blind we were with shameful sin,
  He touched our eyes with tears, and then
    Led God's tall angels flaming in._

  _He dwelt with us a little space,
    As mothers do in childhood's years,
  And still we can discern His face
    Wherever Joy or Love appears._

  _He made our virtues all His own,
    And lent them grace we could not give,
  And now our world seems His alone,
    And while we live He seems to live._

  _He took our sorrows and our pain,
    And hid their torture in His breast,
  Till we received them back again
    To find on each His grief impressed._

  _He clasped our children in His arms,
    And showed us where their beauty shone,
  He took from us our gray alarms,
    And put Death's icy armour on._

  _So gentle were His ways with us,
    That crippled souls had ceased to sigh,
  On them He laid His hands, and thus
    They gloried at His passing by._

  _Without reproof or word of blame,
    As mothers do in childhood's years,
  He kissed our lips in spite of shame,
    And stayed the passage of our tears._

  _So tender was His love to us,
    (We had not learned to love before),
  That we grew like to Him, and thus
    Men sought His grace in us once more._




In the history of the last two thousand years there is but one Person
who has been, and is supremely loved.  Many have been loved by
individuals, by groups of persons, or by communities; some have
received the pliant idolatries of nations, such as heroes and national
deliverers; but in every instance the sense of love thus excited has
been intimately associated with some triumph of intellect, or some
resounding achievement in the world of action.  In this there is
nothing unusual, for man is a natural worshipper of heroes.  But in
Jesus Christ we discover something very different; He possessed the
genius to be loved in so transcendent a degree that it appears His sole

Jesus is loved not for anything that He taught, nor yet wholly for
anything that He did, although His actions culminate in the divine
fascination of the Cross, but rather for what He was in Himself.  His
very name provokes in countless millions a reverent tenderness of
emotion usually associated only with the most sacred and intimate of
human relationships.  He is loved with a certain purity and intensity
of passion that transcends even the most intimate expressions of human
emotion.  The curious thing is that He Himself anticipated this kind of
love as His eternal heritage with men.  He expected that men would love
Him more than father or mother, wife or child, and even made such a
love a condition of what He called discipleship.  The greatest marvel
of all human history is that this prognostication has been strictly
verified in the event.  He is the Supreme Lover, for whose love,
unrealizable as it is by touch, or glance, or spoken word, or momentary
presence, men and women are still willing to sacrifice themselves, and
surrender all things.  The pregnant words of Napoleon, uttered in his
last lonely reveries in St. Helena, still express the strangest thing
in universal history: "Caesar, Charlemagne, I, have founded empires.
They were founded on force, and have perished.  Jesus Christ has
founded an empire on love, and to this day there are millions ready to
die for Him."

Napoleon felt the wonder of it all, the baffling, inexplicable marvel.
Were we able to detach ourselves enough from use and custom, to survey
the movement of human thought from some lonely height above the floods
of Time, as Napoleon in the high sea-silences of St. Helena, we also
might feel the wonder of this most wonderful thing the world has ever

That the majority of men, and even Christian men, do not perceive that
the whole meaning of the life of Christ is Love is a thing too obvious
to demand evidence or invite contradiction.  I say men, and Christian
men, thus limiting my statement, because women and Christian women,
frequently do perceive it, being themselves the creatures of affection,
and finding in affection the one sufficing symbol of life and of the
universe.  It is a St. Catherine who thinks of herself as the bride of
Christ, and dreams the lovely vision of the changed hearts--the heart
of Jesus placed by the hands that bled beneath her pure bosom, and her
heart hidden in the side of Him who died for her.  It is a St. Theresa
who melts into ecstasy at the brooding presence of the heavenly Lover,
and can only think of the Evil One himself with commiseration as one
who cannot love.  It is true that Francis of Assisi also thought and
spoke of Christ with a lover's ecstasy, but then Francis in his
exquisite tenderness of nature, was more woman than man.  No such
thought visited the stern heart of Dominic, nor any of those makers of
theology who have built systems and disciplines upon the divine poetry
of the divine Life.

Love, as the perfect symbol of life and the universe, does not content
men, simply because for most men love is not the key to life, nor an
end worth living for in itself, nor anything but a complex and often
troublesome emotion, which must needs be subordinated to other
faculties and qualities, such as greed, or pride, or the desire of
power, or the dominant demands of intellect.  Among men the poets alone
have really understood Jesus: and in the category of the poets must be
included the saints, whose religion has always been interpreted to them
through the imagination.  The poets have understood; the theologians
rarely or never.  Thus it happens that men, being the general and
accepted interpreters of Christ, have all but wholly misinterpreted
Him.  The lyric passion of that life, and the lyric love which it
excites, has been to them a disregarded music.  They have rarely
achieved more than to tell us what Christ taught; they have wholly
failed to make us feel what Christ was.  But Mary Magdalene knew this,
and it was what she said and felt in the Garden that has put Christ
upon the throne of the world.  Was not her vision after all the true
one?  Is not a Catherine a better guide to Jesus than a Dominic?  When
all the strident theologies fall silent, will not the world's whole
worship still utter itself in the lyric cry,

  Jesu, Lover of my soul,
  Let me to Thy bosom fly.

Is it then not within the competence of man to interpret Christ aright,
simply because the masculine temperament is what it is?  By no means,
for such a statement would disqualify the evangelists themselves, who
are the only biographers of Jesus.  But in the degree that a
temperament is only masculine, it will fail to understand Jesus.
Napoleon could not understand; he was the child of force, the son of
the sword, the very type of that hard efficiency of will and intellect
which turns the heart to flint, and scorns the witness of the softer
intuitions.  Francis could understand because he was in part
feminine--not weakly so, but nobly, as all poets and dreamers and
visionaries are.  Paul could understand for the same reason, and so
could John and Peter; each, in varying degrees, belonging to the same
type; but Pilate could not understand, because he had been trained in
the hard efficiency of Rome; nor Judas, because the masculine vice of
ambition had overgrown his affections, and deflowered his heart.  What
is it then in Paul and John and Peter, what element or quality, which
we do not find in Pilate, Judas, or Napoleon?  Clearly there is no lack
of force, for the personality of these three first apostles lifted a
world out of its groove and changed the course of history.  Was it not
just this, that each had beneath his masculine strength a feminine
tenderness, a power of loving and of begetting love in others?  John
lying on the bosom of Jesus in sheer abandonment of love and sorrow at
the last Supper; Peter, plunging naked into the Galilean sea, and
struggling to the shore at the mere suspicion that the strange figure
outlined there upon the morning mist is the Lord; Paul praying not only
to share the wounds of Jesus, but if there be any pang left over, any
anguish unfulfilled, that this anguish may be his--these are not alone
immortal pictures, but they are revelations of a temperament, the
temperament that understands Jesus.  He who could not melt into an
abandonment of grief and love over one on whom the shadow of the last
hour rested; he who would spring headlong into no estranging sea to
reach one loved and lost and marvellously brought near again; he who
can share the festal wine of life, but has no appetite for agony, no
thirsting of the soul to bear another's pain--these can never
understand Jesus.  They cannot understand Him, simply because they
cannot understand love.



  _The great obdurate world I know no more,
  The clanging of the brazen wheels of greed,
  The taloned hands that build the miser's store,
  The stony streets where feeble feet must bleed.
  No more I walk beneath thy ashen skies,
  With pallid martyrs cruelly crucified
  Upon thy predetermined Calvaries:
  I, too, have suffered, yea, and I have died!
  Now, at the last, another road I take
  Thro' peaceful gardens, by a lilted way,
  To those low eaves beside the silver lake,
  Where Christ waits for me at the close of day.
  Farewell, proud world!  In vain thou callest me.
  I go to meet my Lord in Galilee._



Christianity, as it exists to-day, is in the main a misrepresentation
and a misinterpretation of Christ; not consciously indeed--if it were
so the remedy would be easy; but unconsciously, which makes the remedy
difficult.  One need not stop to define Christianity, for there is only
one sincere meaning to the word; it implies a _kind of life whose
spirit and method reproduce as accurately as possible the spirit and
the method of the life of Jesus_.  It would seem that if this
interpretation of the term be correct there could be no difficulty in
adjusting even unconscious misinterpretation of Christ to the true
facts of the case: but here we are met by that perversity of vision
which springs not from ignorance, but from thoughtlessness, and is in
its nature much more obdurate than the worst perversity of ignorance.
Ignorance can be enlightened; thoughtlessness, being usually associated
with vanity, recognizes no need of enlightenment.

The life of Jesus, freshly introduced to a mind wholly ignorant of its
existence may be trusted to convey its own impression; but the
thoughtless mind will be either too proud, or too shallow, or too
confident, to be sensitive to right impressions.  Thus the trouble with
most people who call themselves Christians is not to educate them into
right conceptions of the life of Christ, but to destroy the growth of
wrong impressions.  "Surely," they will say, "we know all about the
life of Christ.  We have read the biographies of Jesus ever since the
days of infancy.  We have heard the life of Jesus expounded through
long years by multitudes of teachers.  We have a church which claims to
have extracted from the life of Jesus a whole code of laws for life and
conduct; is not this enough?"  But what if the teachers themselves have
never found the true secret of Jesus?  What if they have but repeated
the error of the Pharisees in elaborating a code of laws in which the
vital spirit of the truth they would impart is lost?  And does not the
whole history of man's mind teach us that one simple truth known at
first-hand is worth more to us, and is of greater influence on our
conduct, than all the second-hand instruction we may receive from the
most competent of teachers?  It is just this first-hand thought which
we most need.  We need to see for ourselves what Jesus was, and not
through the eyes of another, whatever his authority.

Suppose that we should read the Gospels in this spirit, with an
entirely unbiassed and receptive mind, capable of first-hand
impressions, what would be the probable character of these impressions?
The clearest and deepest of all, I think, would be that the Jesus
therein depicted lived His life on principles so novel that we are able
to discover no life entirely like His in the best lives round about us.
We should probably be struck first of all by certain outward
dissimilarities.  Thus He was not only poor, but He did not resent
poverty--He beatified it.  The things for which men naturally, and, as
we think, laudably strive, such as a settled position in society and
the consideration of others, He did not think worth seeking at all.  He
made no use of His abilities for private ends, which has been the
common principle of social life since society began.  He asked nothing
of the world, being apparently convinced that nothing which the world
could give Him was worth having.  Strangest thing of all in one who
must have been conscious of His own genius, and of the value of His
teachings to mankind, He made not the least effort to perpetuate these
teachings.  He wrote no book, provided no biographer, did none of those
things which the humblest man of genius does to ensure that distant
generations shall comprehend and appreciate his character and message.
He was content to speak His deepest truths to casual listeners.  He
spent all His wealth of intellect upon inferior persons, fishermen and
the like, who did not comprehend one tithe of what He said.  He was the
friend of all who chose to seek His friendship.  He discriminated so
little that He even admitted a Judas to His intimacy, and allowed women
tainted with dishonour and impurity to offer Him public tokens of
affection.  In all these things He differed absolutely from any other
man who ever lived beneath the public eye.  In all these things He
still stands alone; for who, among the saintliest men we know, has not
some innocent pride in his ability, or some preference in friendship,
or some instinctive compliance with social usage, or some worldly hopes
and honourable aims which he shares in common with the mass of men?

But these outward dissimilarities of conduct disclose a dissimilarity
of soul.  Men live for something; for what did Jesus live?  And the
answer that leaps upon us like a great light from every page of the
Gospels is plain; He lived for love.  If He did not care for praise or
honour; if He regarded even the preservation of His teachings with a
divine carelessness, it was because He had a nobler end in view, the
love of men.  He could not live without love, and His supreme aim was
to make Himself loved.  And yet it was less a conscious aim, than the
natural working out of His own character.  Fishermen by the sea saw Him
but once; instantly they left their boats and followed Him.  A man
sitting at the receipt of custom, a hard man we should suppose, little
likely to be swayed by sudden emotions, also sees Him once, and finds
his occupation gone.  A beautiful courtesan, beholding Him pass by,
breaks from her lovers, and follows Him into an alien house, where she
bathes His feet with tears and wipes them with the hairs of her head.
Mature women without a word spoken or a plea made, minister to Him of
their substance, and count their lives His.  When He sleeps wearied out
upon a rude fishing-boat, there is a pillow for His head, placed there
by some unknown adorer.  The men He makes apostles, all but one, count
His smile over-payment for the loss of home, of wife, of children.
Countless throngs of ordinary men and women forget their hunger, and
are content to camp in desert places only to listen to the music of His
voice.  Wild and outlawed men, criminals and lepers and madmen, become
as little children at His word, and all the wrongs and bruises
inflicted on them by a cruel world are healed beneath His kindly
glance.  Does it matter greatly what He taught?  This is how He lived.
He lived in such a way that men saw that love was the only thing worth
living for, that life had meaning only as it had love.  And this is the
imperishable tradition of Jesus:

  This is His divinity,
  This His universal plea,
  Here is One that loveth thee.

What then is a true Christianity but the accurate reproduction of this
spirit of love, the creation of loving and lovable men and women, who
attract and uplift all around them by the subtle fascination of the
love that animates them?  What is a Christian Church but a
confraternity of such men and women?  What is a Christian society, but
a society permeated by this spirit, and bringing all the affairs of
life to its test?  And what place have social superiorities and
inferiorities; pride, scorn, or coldness; harsh theologies, breeding
harsh tempers and infinite disputes; the egoism that wounds the humble,
the strength that disregards the weak, the vanity that hurts the
simple, in any company of men and women who dare to wear the name of
such a Founder?  It was as a Bridegroom Christ came, anointed with all
the perfumes of a dedicated love, and until the last bitter hour of His
rejection, He moved with such lyric joyousness across the earth, that
life became festive in His presence.  It is as a Bride the church
exists on earth, and if no festive smiles are awakened by its presence,
and no gracious unsealing of the founts of love in human hearts, then
is it not Christ's Church, for He has passed elsewhere with another
company to the marriage-feast, and His Church stands without, before a
barred and darkened door.



  _When the golden evening gathered on the shore of Galilee,
  When the fishing boats lay quiet by the sea,
  Long ago the people wondered, tho' no sign was in the sky,
  For the glory of the Lord was passing by._

  _Not in robes of purple splendour, not in silken softness shod,
  But in raiment worn with travel came their God,
  And the people knew His presence by the heart that ceased to sigh
  When the glory of the Lord was passing by._

  _For He healed their sick at even, and He cured the leper's sore,
  And sinful men and women sinned no more,
  And the world grew mirthful hearted, and forgot its misery
  When the glory of the Lord was passing by._

  _Not in robes of purple splendour, but in lives that do His will,
  In patient acts of kindness He comes still;
  And the people cry with wonder, tho' no sign is in the sky,
  That the glory of the Lord is passing by._



One strong peculiarity of the teaching of Jesus--we might even call it
its outstanding feature--is that it is frequently disclosed in a series
of incidents.  Unlike most teachers He philosophizes little about life.
A single chapter of the Gospels, or at most two, would contain all the
maxims about life which He thought necessary for wise and lofty
conduct.  His method is rather to put Himself in relation to the
crucial occurrences of life, and to reveal the true way of regarding
them by His own attitude towards them.  When He would teach the beauty
of humility it is by putting a little child in the midst of His
arrogant and vainglorious disciples, that the child may become the
living and memorable parable of His sentiments.  When He would teach
humanity, He does so by His own conduct to lepers.  When He would
discredit and expose the barbarism of the Mosaic Sabbatarian laws as
interpreted by scribes and Pharisees, He does so by healing the sick
and blind upon the Sabbath day.  He is all for the concrete, teaching
not by theory, but by example.  The method is novel, and its advantages
are obvious.  The best conceived discourses on humility, mercy, or
sympathy, might be forgotten, but no one can forget the child among the
disciples, nor the raptured gaze of the blind man when his purged eyes
open to behold the face of his miraculous Physician, nor the picture of
Jesus touching without fear or disgust the leper whose unclean
contagion made him an object of aversion even to the pitiful.

It is a wonderful method of instruction; it makes every other method
seem trite and wearisome.  Its effect is to make the Gospels a series
of tableaux, which dwell in the memory as things actually seen.  The
groups upon the stage perpetually shift and rearrange themselves; each
represents some phase of life, some problem, some combination of
circumstance more or less common in the experience of men, something
that is typical, for Jesus chooses only the typical and essential
things of life for these occasions.  The lesser things of life He
passes over; it is the great and crucial matters which attract Him.

But what are the great things of life?

They all fall into one category, they all present problems in human
relationship.  No problems are so difficult.  They are not speculative,
but practical.  A man who may be wise as the world counts wisdom, and
able to pierce with acute analysis to the depth of the abstrusest
philosophic problem, may nevertheless find himself hopelessly baffled
by some quite common fact of life, such as how to treat a wayward son,
or a sinful woman.  I am not likely to lose a night's rest because I am
unable to define the Trinity but with what sore travail of heart do I
toss through midnight hours when I have to settle some course of action
towards the friend who has betrayed me, the brother who has brought me
shame, the child who scoffs at my restraint, and hears the call of the
far country in every swift pulsation of his passionate heart!  And why
cannot I settle my course of action?  Because my mind is confused by
something which I call justice, to which custom has given authority and
consecration.  Justice prescribes one course of action, affection
another.  The convention of the world insists that wrong-doing should
be punished, which is manifestly right; but when it insists that I
should be the punisher, I suspect something wrong.  The more closely I
study conventional justice the more I am conscious of something in
myself that distrusts and revolts from it.  The more I incline to the
voice of affection the more I fear it, lest I should be guilty of
weakness which would merit my own contempt.  The struggle is one
between convention and instinct, and I know not which side to take.
But one thing I do know; it is that I have no certain clue to guide me,
no clear determining principle that divides the darkness with a sword
of light, no voice within myself that is authoritative.

Now the wonderful thing in Jesus is that He is always sure of Himself.
Nothing takes Him by surprise, nothing produces the least hesitation in
His judgment.  Therefore He must have had an unfailing clue to which He
trusted in the maze of life.  Behind all consistency of judgment there
must exist consistency of principle.  The principle that governed all
the thoughts of Jesus was _that love was the only real justice_.  He
came not to condemn, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
There was no problem of human relationship that could not be solved by
love; there was no other principle needed for the regulation of
society; and no other could produce that general peace and good-will
which He called the Kingdom of God.

Thus, on one occasion Jesus tells a story which is so lifelike in every
touch that we may accept it, without doubt, as less a parable than an
incident.  A father has two sons, one of whom is industrious and
dutiful, the other wayward and rebellious.  The wayward son finally
casts off all pretense of filial obedience, goes into a far country,
and wastes his substance in riotous living.  Here we have one of the
saddest of all problems in human relationship, for presently the
disgraced son comes home a beggar.  The elder brother who represents
the average social view, has no doubt whatever as to what should be
done.  He is offended that the disgraced son should come home at all;
he would have thought better of him if he had hidden his shame in the
country that had witnessed it.  Probably his sense of pride and
respectability is offended more than his love of virtue, though he
characteristically gives his jealous anger the illusion of morality.
This, I say, is the average social view.  There are few things more
cruel than affronted respectability.  The elder brother is an eminently
respectable person, totally unacquainted with wayward passions, and his
only feeling for his brother is disdain.

Jesus tells the story, however, in such a way as to discredit the
average social view.  He begins by making us feel that whatever follies
the prodigal had committed, he had already been punished for them in
the miseries he had endured.  It is not for man to punish with his whip
of scorn one who has already been flaggellated with a whip of scorpions
in the desert places of disgrace and shame.  Jesus makes us feel also
that whatever sins might be laid to the charge of the disgraced son,
there is nevertheless in his heart a warmth of feeling of which the
elder brother gives no sign.  The boy loves his father, otherwise he
would not have turned to him in his anguish of distress.  The elder
brother's attitude to his father is arrogant and harsh; the younger
brother's is humble and tender.  Lastly the father himself is revealed
as the embodiment of love.  He asks no questions, utters no reproaches,
imposes no conditions; he simply takes his son back, in the rush of his
affection cutting short the boy's pitiful confession, and calling for
shoes and new robes and festal music, as though his son had returned in
dignity and triumph.  In the last scene of all, implied rather than
described, the restored prodigal sits at the feast, leaning on his
father's bosom, but the respectable son stands without in a darkness of
his own creation--the darkness which a harsh spirit and an unlovely
temper never fail to create in men of his unhappy temperament.

It is a very strange story, if we come to think of it; almost an
immoral story, as no doubt it was considered by the Pharisees, and
persons of their cold and mechanical type of virtue.  But Jesus
anticipates their criticism with one of the most startling statements
that ever fell from inspired lips, "There is more joy in heaven among
the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and
nine righteous persons who need no repentance."  Heaven approves the
story, if they do not.  Thus God Himself would act, for God is love.
Thus love must needs act, if it be the kind of love that "suffereth
long and is kind, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own,
is not provoked, taketh not account of evil, beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."  And if
we ask what becomes of justice, Jesus assures us that love is the only
real justice.  For the main object of justice is not punishment but
reclamation.  A truly enlightened justice is less concerned with the
punishment of wrong than its reparation.

The gravest question in the case of this unhappy boy is not what he has
made of himself by sin and folly, but what can yet be made of him by
wise and tender treatment.  Had the father coldly dismissed the
prodigal with some bitter verdict on his past folly, he himself would
have been unjust to the boy's possibilities, and thus would have sinned
against his son with a sin much less capable of excuse than the son's
sin against him.  The worst sinner in the story is not the son who went
wrong, but the son who had never done anything but right, yet had done
it in such a way that it had begotten in him a vile, censorious,
loveless temper.  No one can be just who does not love; and so, once
more removing the story into that unseen world which Christ called in
to redress the balance of this visible world, we sinful men and women
build our hopes upon the great saying that God's forgiveness is God's
justice: if we confess our sins, He is not only faithful, but JUST in
forgiving us our sins.



  _He touched the leper tenderly,
  So in His hands there came to be
    Wide wounds that were not wrought with nails.
  Alas, my hands are smooth and fair,
  No wound is on them anywhere,
    Nor any scarlet scar of nails._

  _His lips lay on the mouth of death,
  God's healing dwelt within their breath,
    Wherefore his lips grew pale with pain,
  And no man shall that pain divine;
  Alas, my lips are red with wine,
    And they have scorned His draught of pain._

  _His feet were torn of stone and thorn,
  Full slow He moved on roads forlorn,
    But joyous hearts accompanied Him;
  Alas, my feet are softly shod,
  And on the road that leads to God,
    They have not sought to move with Him._

  _And so all wounded by the way,
  He came home at the close of day,
    And angels met Him at the Gate.
  Alas, His way I have not known--
  The road forlorn, the wounding stone--
    And no one waits me at the Gate._



Love is the only real justice--never was there a more revolutionary
ethic!  If Christianity is to be judged by its institutions, it must be
reluctantly confessed that twenty centuries of Christian teaching have
almost wholly failed to make this strange ethic acceptable to mankind.
The elder brother still makes broad his phylacteries in the home, in
the Church, and on the seat of justice.  The elder brother's sense of
offended respectability still masquerades as virtue.  Who forgives as
this father forgave, with such completeness that he who has wrought the
wrong is encouraged to forget that the wrong was ever wrought?  Where
is the loving and tolerant spirit of the father less visible than in
the Church, which crucifies men for a word, and makes a difference of
opinion the ground for deadly enmity?  Of what administration of law
can we say that its chief object is not the punishment of the
wrong-doer, but his reclamation?  No existing society is organized on
these principles, and the only defense the apologists of a bastard
Christianity make is that it is totally impossible to apply the
principles of Jesus to the administration of society.  That is, at all
events, an intelligible defense, but is it a legitimate one?  Was Jesus
merely a romantic dreamer, with entirely romantic views of love and
justice?  Was He a moral anarchist, whose teachings, if interpreted in
laws, would destroy the basis of society?  A strange thing indeed in
human history if One who has been loved as no other was ever loved by
multitudes of men and women through the ages, should prove after all to
be an impracticable dreamer or a moral anarchist!

But if Jesus was a dreamer, He dreamed true, and the very reason why He
is loved with such wide and deep devotion is that men do dimly, but
instinctively, perceive that His life presents the only perfect pattern
of life as it should be.  Life, as it exists, is clearly not ordered on
a social system which any wise or good man can approve.  Hence the wise
and good man is perpetually urged to the enquiry whether Jesus may not
after all have been right?

Jesus certainly acts as one who is right.  He acts always with the
assured air of one for whom all debate is closed and henceforth
impossible.  He knows His way, and the great moral dilemmas of life
yield instantly to His touch.  He penetrates to their roots and makes
us feel that He has touched the essential element in them.  The dreamer
vindicates himself by making it manifest that he sees deeper into the
problem than the moralist, and that his is after all the better
morality because it is of higher social value, and makes more directly
for social reconciliation.

Let us take, for example, the judgment of Jesus upon the woman who was
a sinner in the house of Simon the Pharisee.  The social dilemma of the
fallen woman is much more difficult of solution than that of the
prodigal son.  We expect a certain power of moral convalescence in
youth which has been betrayed through folly.  Sooner or later the manly
nature kindles with resentment at its own weakness.  Moreover, social
law allows a certain opportunity of recuperation to man which it denies
to woman.  The sin of the woman seems less pardonable, not because it
is worse in itself, but because it outrages a higher convention.  Hence
the strict moralist who might make some allowance for the hot blood of
youth, makes none for woman when she is betrayed through the affections.

But this is the very point on which Jesus fixes as essential.  "_The
woman loved much, therefore let her many sins be forgiven_," He says.
And a true reading of the story would seem to show that in uttering
this sublime verdict Jesus is not thinking of the woman's sudden and
pure love for Him; He is rather reviewing the entire nature of her
life.  She had loved much--that is her history in a sentence.  Cruelty
and unkindness, malice and bitterness, had no part in her misdoing.
She had been undone through the very sweetness of her nature, as
multitudes of women are.  That which was her noblest attribute--her
power of affection--had been the minister of her ruin through lack of
wisdom and restraint.  By love she had fallen, by love also she shall
be redeemed.  Her sins were indeed many, but behind all her sins there
was an essential though perverted magnanimity of nature, and for the
sake of an essential good in her, which lay like a shining pearl at the
root of her debasement, she shall be forgiven.

Again a strange verdict, and one that must have seemed to the Pharisees
entirely immoral.  "What becomes of justice?" is their whispered
comment.  Jesus asserts His sense of justice by an exposition of the
character of Simon.  Simon is destitute of love, of magnanimity, even
of courtesy.  In his hard and formal nature there has been no room for
emotion; passion of any kind and he are strangers.  Which nature is
radically the better, his or "this woman's"?  Which presents the more
hopeful field to the moralist?  The soil of Simon's heart is thin and
meagre; but in "this woman's" heart is a soil overgrown with weeds
indeed, but delicately tempered, rich and deep, in which the roots of
the fair tree of life may find abundant room and nourishment.
Therefore she shall be forgiven for her possibilities, and such
forgiveness is justice.  To ignore these possibilities, to allow what
she has been utterly to overshadow the lovely vision of what she may
be, when once the soil is clear of weeds, and the real magnanimity of
her temperament is directed into noble uses, would be the most odious
form of injustice.

Such is the justice of Jesus, but, alas, after two thousand years we
still stand astonished at it, more than half doubtful of its validity,
and, if truth be told, secretly dismayed at its boldness.  It is
romantic justice, we say, but is it practicable justice?  We might at
least remember that what we call practicable justice has never yet
attained the gracious results of Christ's romantic justice.  Simon the
Pharisee knows no more how to deal with "this woman" than the elder
brother knew how to deal with the prodigal.  Such sense of justice as
they possessed would have infallibly driven the penitent boy back to
the comradeship of harlots, and have refused the penitent harlot the
barest chance of reformation.  Is not this enough to make the least
discerning of us all suspect that Pharisees and elder brothers, for all
their immaculate respectability of life, are by no means qualified to
pass judgment on these tragedies of life with which they have no
acquaintance, and cannot have an understanding sympathy?  Does not the
entire failure of legal justice with all its apparatus of punishment
and repression, to give the sinner a vital impulse to withdraw from his
sin, drive us to the conclusion, or at least to the hope, that there
must be some better method of dealing with sinners than is sanctioned
by conventional justice?  There is another method--it is Christ's
method.  And the thing to be observed is that whereas conventional
justice must certainly have failed in either of these crucial
instances, the romantic justice of Jesus--if we must so call
it--completely succeeded.  The woman who was a sinner sinned no more,
and the penitent son henceforth lived a new life of purity and
obedience.  In each case love is justified, and proves itself the
highest justice.



  _What profits all the hate that we have known
    The bitter words, not all unmerited?
  Have hearts e'er thriven beneath our angry frown?
  Have roses grown from thistles we have sown?
    Or lucid dawns flowered out of sunsets red?
        Lo, all in vain
  The violence that added pain to pain,
  And drove the sinner back to sin again._

  _We had been wiser had we walked Love's way
    We had been happier had we tenderer been,
  We had found sunlight in the cloudiest day
  Had we but loved the souls that went astray,
    And sought from shame their many faults to screen
        Lo, they and we
  Had thus escaped Life's worst Gethsemane,
  And found the Garden where the angels be._

  _For One there was who, angry, drew no sword,
    Derided, wept for those who wrought Him wrong,
  And at the last attained this great reward,
  That those who injured Him acclaimed Him Lord,
    And wove His story into holiest song.
        So sinners wrought
  For Him the Kingdom He had vainly sought,
  And to His feet the world's frankincense brought._



In these instances it is the singular completeness of Christ's
forgiveness which is the most startling feature.  It would be a libel on
human nature to say that men do not forgive each other, but human
forgiveness usually has reservations, reticences, conditions.  Jesus
taught unlimited forgiveness, and what He taught He practiced.

"_Then came Peter, and said to Him, 'Lord, how oft shall my brother sin
against me and I forgive him?  Until seven times?'  Jesus said unto him,
'I say not unto thee, until seven times; but until seventy times seven.'_"

It is a vehement reply, in which a quiet note of scorn vibrates; not
scorn of Peter, but scorn of any kind of love that is less than
limitless.  But whose love is limitless?  Do we not commonly speak of
love as being outworn by offense or neglect?  In the compacts which we
make with one another in the name of love, do we not specifically name
certain offenses as unpardonable?  Thus one man will say, "I can forgive
anything but meanness," and another says, "no friendship can survive
perfidy"; and in the relations between men and women unfaithfulness is
held to cancel all bonds, however indissoluble they may seem.  Now and
again, it is true, some strange voice reaches us, keyed to a different
music.  Shakespeare, for example, in his famous one hundred and sixteenth
sonnet, boldly states that

      Love is not love
  Which alters when it alteration finds,
  Or bends with the remover to remove.

But who listens, who believes?  Yet, if it should happen to us to be
placed in the position of the offender, we need no one to convince us
that a true love should be, in its very nature, unalterable.  How
astonished and dismayed are we, when eyes that have so many times met
ours in tenderness harden at our presence, and lips which have uttered so
many pledges of affection, speak harshly!  We do not deny our fault,
indeed; but we think we can discern reasons why it should be regarded
mercifully, why the very memory and sacredness of old affection should
make harsh judgment impossible; nay, more, why a deeply generous love
should even rejoice in the opportunity to forgive, and so should sanctify
our very shame with the healing touch of pity, and pour our tears into
the sacramental cup which ratifies a new fidelity.

It is so the sinner argues, his vision of what love ought to be growing
clearer by his offense against love.  It is he alone, the sinner, who can
really sympathize with Christ's conception of love, for he alone feels
that this is the kind of love he needs.  The elder brother does not
understand, Simon the Pharisee does not understand, because neither has
sinned in such a way as to be flung helpless at the feet of love.  Peter
did not understand when he put his question to Christ.  He spoke just as
the average man would speak, who has never sounded the tragic depths in
life, has never known the misery of weakness, and therefore has no fellow
feeling for the weak.  Love as such men know it is less a passion than a
compact.  It is a bond of mutual advantage, guarded from abuse by swift
penalty and forfeit.  It is the reward of qualities, it gives no more
than it gets, it exists by an equal equipoise of service.  If this
equipoise is disturbed its obligations are dissolved.  It is easily
affronted, and under affront becomes resentful, bitter, even vindictive.
How oft shall I forgive my brother?  Only as oft as a sense of duty shall
demand, only up to the point which is sanctioned by social custom, so
that I may save my reputation for magnanimity, always excepting certain
sins for which no pardon can be legitimately asked.  But the hour was not
far off when Peter himself was to commit the very sins for which
customary love has no pardon.  He was to be guilty of those offenses
which just and good men say they cannot forgive--meanness, cowardice,
perfidy, denial.  That bitter hour revealed the true nature of love to
Peter.  He knew that in spite of his sin against Jesus, he still loved
Him, and since love was unalterable in him, he expected an unalterable
love in Christ.  It was the seventy times seven forgiveness that he
needed then; and how sweet to recollect in that hour that Jesus had
taught a love that knew no limit.  "_Lovest thou Me_?" was the one word
his Master uttered when they met in the quiet morning light beside the
sea.  "_Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee_," was the
swift reply.  Storms disturb the sea but the central tides run on.  Peter
found with equal astonishment and gratitude that not even perfidy was
able to separate him from the love of Christ, for that love was
unalterable as the morning star which hung above the lake, and cleansing
as the soft waves that lapped its shore.

The self-righteous man will never understand these things.  Men and women
of meagre natures, with whom love is a compact, not a passion, will
vehemently disapprove them.  People of smooth lives, ignorant of strong
temptations, will refuse even to discuss them.  Jesus was well aware of
their implacable indifference or cold hostility, and boldly said that for
such people He had no gospel.  His mission was not to the whole, but to
the sick.  The Gospel of Jesus is in truth not designed for people of
comfortable lives.  He has little to say to the children of compromise,
whose emasculated lives attain the semblance of virtue by the cautious
exercise of niggard passions.  They can take care of one another, these
righteous ones, whose very righteousness is a negation.

But Christ's Gospel is for a tragic world.  It is for the disinherited,
the weak, and the strong who have become weak; for those who have been
wrecked by folly and passion, and too much love of living; for those
whose capacities for good and evil, being both rooted in passion, are
equally a peril and a potency--it is to these Christ chiefly speaks.  To
them the Gospel of unlimited forgiveness and unalterable love is the only
vital, because the only efficacious Gospel.  The man whose very virility
of nature makes him the easy prey of murderous joy; the man shut up in
prison, who hears from the lips that once spake love to him, the sentence
of inexpiable disgrace; the outcast from honour, gnawing the bitter husks
of hated sin in far lands, and tortured in his dreams by the sweetness of
recollected happiness; these, and all like these, will understand Jesus,
for it is to them He speaks.  Their very sin interprets Him.  To their
forlorn ears the love He teaches will sound not strange, for it is the
only kind of love that can redeem them; nor foolish, for it is the only
love that dare stoop low enough to lift them up.  These will not fail to
understand what conventional righteousness finds so difficult; these, and
also all good women who have had acquaintance with either deep love or
real grief, because it is a loving woman's sweet prerogative and divine
disposition to forgive, and to draw from her grace of forgiveness a more
tender and maternal power of loving.



  _When men of malice wrought the crown for Thee
    Didst Thou complain?
  Nay; in each thorn God's finger Thou didst see,
    His love thro' pain._

  _His finger did but press the ripened Vine,
    Thy fruit to prove,
  That henceforth all the world might drink the wine
    Of Thy great love._

  _So when the darkness rose about Thy feet
    Thy lips met His,
  Amid the upper light, in Death's long sweet,
    Releasing kiss._

  _And shall I cry aloud in anger when
    Men make for me
  A Cross less harsh?  Nay, I'll remember then
    Thy constancy._

  _And if the darkness hide me from Thy sight
    At God's command,
  I'll talk with Thee all thro' the prayerful night,
    And touch Thy hand;_

  _Greatly content, if I whose life has been
    So long unwise,
  May, wounded, on Thy wounded bosom lean
    In Paradise._



So convinced was Jesus that love alone was the master law of life, that
He based His own life wholly on His conviction, cheerfully accepting
all the risks which were implied.  He was perfectly aware of the
consequences to Himself and His reputation when He made Himself the
friend of publicans and sinners.  These consequences He ignored, making
Himself of no reputation, that He might uplift by His love those who
needed His love the most.  Under the constant contradiction of those
who mistook His spirit, and even libelled His character, He manifested
neither bitterness nor resentment.  He suffered injuries without
retaliation, and went so far as to denounce all forms of retaliation as
a wasteful expenditure of spirit, wrong in themselves, and attaining no
end but the worse injury of those who employed them.  He might easily
have used the miraculous power which He possessed for His own defense,
and for the confusion of His enemies.  Had He been selfishly ambitious,
He might have organized a party so strong, that it would have become an
irresistible force, which would have shattered the old order whose
evils He denounced, and have made Him the dictator of a new order,
based on the ideals in which He believed.  He did none of these things,
not through lassitude of spirit or failure to perceive their possible
issues, but simply because these were not the things to do.  In His
judgment the only abiding kingdom belonged to the meek.  He who
suffered injustice with patience would prove the ultimate conqueror.
There was an irresistible might in love and meekness against which the
people raged in vain.  Love was a working and practicable law of life;
in the long issue of things it was the only law that justified itself.

Was Jesus right in these conclusions?  Can human life proceed along the
lines He indicated?  Certainly it has never yet done so.  The woman who
is a sinner finds no Jesus to absolve her utterly among the priests of
His religion.  The resentment of injury is regarded even by good men as
entirely justified when injury to the person involves the rights of
social order.  Force is regarded by persons of the highest amiability
as necessary to the defense of society, and the Church applauds the
punishments inflicted by the civil magistrate, and even hastens to
bless the banners and baptize the deadly weapons of the warrior.
Meekness, which endures injury without resentment, is regarded as the
sign of a servile and cowardly spirit, and is the subject of ridicule
and contempt.  No Christian society exists in which a Peter would be
freely pardoned his offense; the best that could be hoped would be the
infliction of humiliating penance, and a reluctant reinstatement in the
apostleship after a long period of bitter ostracism.  Yet who would
venture to challenge the conduct of Jesus in these respects?  Who would
not find his opinion of Jesus tragically lowered, and his adoration
practically destroyed, if some new and more authentic Gospel were
discovered by which we learned that Jesus smote with leprosy the
Pharisees who resisted Him, as Elisha smote Gehazi: that He sanctioned
the stoning of the adultress taken in the act of sin; or that He
branded Simon Peter for his perfidy, and drove him out forever from the
apostleship he had disgraced, denouncing him as a son of hell and a
predestined citizen of the outer darkness?  Could such acts be
attributed to Jesus, though each act in itself would precisely
represent the common temper of Christian courts and so-called Christian
men under circumstances of similar and equal provocation, the worship
of Jesus would at once cease throughout the world.

The dilemma is truly tragic.  A Jesus who should be proved to have
lived according to the conventions we respect, who did not rise above
conventional ideals of either love or justice, who approved force, and
resented injuries, who repudiated the friend who had betrayed Him, who
shunned the contact of persons whose touch dishonoured Him--such a
Jesus would cease to be our Jesus.  He would no longer attract us, He
would not touch our hearts, He would barely command our respect.
Astounding fact!  Those very things in the life of Jesus which we
disapprove are the things for which we love Him; and those tempers
which we ourselves disallow are in Him the sources of our adoration.

We are bound therefore to ask, can that method of conduct be wrong
which has won this triumphant issue?  It may be ironically true that we
love Him most for those very acts of His which we are least likely to
imitate; but is not this our tacit testimony to the essential rightness
of these acts?  In our better, or our softer moments; or in those
moments when we are most conscious of the cruelty of life, and most in
need of love, do we not feel, as the life of Jesus grows before us,
that this is how life should be lived?  Dare we question that a world
governed wholly by the ideals of Jesus would be a far happier world
than this we know?  Love, as the one necessary law of life, clearly
stands justified in Jesus, since it has produced the most adorable
character in history.  If we admit this, it is foolish to speak of
Christ's ideals as impracticable.  What we approve in another's life we
cannot wholly repudiate in our own.  Let it be added also, that a life
lived by another is always a life that others can live.  We may seek to
cover our failure, and the world's failure, to reproduce the life of
Jesus, by the plea of incompetence, but against our plea Jesus records
His verdict, "_Behold I have left you an example_."

From that verdict there is no appeal.



  _When, for the last time, from His Mother's home
    The Son went forth, foreseeing perfectly
  What doom would happen, and what things would come,
    Was there upon His lips no stifled sigh
  For happy hours that should return no more,
    Long days among the lilies, pure delights
  Of wanderings by Galilee's fair shore,
    And converse with His friends on starry nights?
      Yet brave He stepped into the setting sun
      With this one word, "Father, Thy will be done!"_

  _With a low voice the stooping olive-trees
    Whispered to Him of His Gethsemane;
  The cruel thorn-bush, clinging to His knees,
    Proclaimed, "I shall be made a crown for Thee!"
  And, looking back, His eyes made dim with loss,
    He saw the lintel of the cottage grow
  In shape against the sunset, like a cross,
    And knew He had not very far to go.
      Yet brave He stepped into the setting sun,
      Still saying this one word, "Thy will be done!"_

  _So, when the last time, from His Mother's home
    The Son passed out, no choir of angels came,
  As long before at Bethlehem they had come,
    To comfort Him upon the road of shame.
  Alone He went, and stopped a little space,
    As one overburdened, stopped to look again
  Upon His Mother's pleading form and face,
    And wept for her, that she should know this pain.
      Then, silently, He faced the setting sun
      And said, "Oh, Father, let Thy will be done!"_



Just as Jesus called in the vision of the unseen world to redress the
balance of the visible world, when He said that there was more joy in
heaven over the penitent sinner than over ninety and nine just men who
needed no repentance, so in His final addresses to His followers He
again discloses the unseen world.  These final addresses deal with the
tremendous problem of a future judgment.  Over no problem does the
human mind hover with such breathless interest, such unfeigned alarm.
But with characteristic perversity the elements in Christ's vision of
the judgment on which men have seized most tenaciously, are precisely
those elements which are least intelligible, and least capable of
strict definition.  It is around the word "eternal" and the nature of
the punishment suggested, that the theological battles of centuries
have centred.  Yet the really central point of both the vision and the
teaching, is not here at all; and it is only man's habitual love of
enigma which can explain the passion with which men have opposed one
another over the interpretation of words and phrases which must always
remain enigmatic.

Let us turn to Christ's vision of the Judgment, as recorded by St.
Matthew, and what do we find?  First that the same Son of Man, whose
whole life was an exposition of the law of love, is Himself the final
judge of men and nations.  "_The Son of Man shall sit on the throne of
His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all the nations, and He
shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the
sheep from the goats_."  No alien judge, observe, unacquainted with the
nature of man, but one who knows human life so thoroughly that He is
the representative man--"the Son of Man"; and although He is now the
Judge, yet He still calls Himself by the tender name of the Shepherd.
The tribunal is therefore the tribunal of love, and the court is the
court of love.  He who shall judge mankind is He who judges Peter and
the woman who was a sinner, He of whose tenderness and sympathy we have
assurance in a hundred acts of mercy, pity, and magnanimity.  Yet for
centuries the Church has sung its terrible _Dies Irae_, has clothed the
judgment seat with thunder, has put into the hands of Jesus bolts of
flame, and has applauded and enthroned in His sanctuaries such
pictorial blasphemies as Michael Angelo's _Last Judgment_, which
represents Jesus as an angry Hercules, and even gratifies the private
spite of the artist by overwhelming in a sea of fire one who had
offered him a personal affront.

Blasphemy indeed, and falsehood too; for the second thing we find is
that the one principle which governs the entire vision of Jesus is that
Love judges, and that it is by Love that men are tested.  The men and
women of loving disposition, who have wrought many little acts of
kindness which were to them so natural and simple that they do not so
much as recollect them, find themselves mysteriously selected for
infinite rewards.  The men and women of opposite disposition, in spite
of all their outward rectitude of behaviour, find themselves numbered
with the goats.  A cup of cold water given to a child, a meal bestowed
upon a beggar, a garment shared with the naked--these things purchase
heaven.  One who Himself had been thirsty, hungry, and naked, judges
their worth, and He judges by His own remembered need.  It is love
alone that is divine, love alone that prepares the soul for divine
felicity.  With a beautiful unconsciousness of any merit, the people
who have lived lovingly plead ignorance of their own lovely acts and
tempers; but they have been witnessed by the hierarchies of heaven, the
morning stars have sung of them, they have made glad the heart of God;
and the reward of these humble servitors of love now is that having
added to the joy of God, henceforth they shall share that joy forever.

Never was there vision at once so exquisite and so surprising.  It is
like a child's dream of heaven and judgment, so untouched is it by the
conventions of the world, so innocent, so daring, so tenderly imagined,
and so impossibly probable.  Alas, that most of us are too wise to
understand it, and too worldly to receive it.  Yet in nothing that
Jesus uttered is there clearer evidence of deliberation.  And it is of
a piece with all He taught; so much so indeed that without it, His
teaching would be incomplete.

Truly, we may say, the Heaven of Jesus is a strangely ordered Kingdom;
for in it beggars are comforted for apparently no other reason than
that they need comfort; the doers of forgotten kindnesses are crowned
with sudden splendours of divine approval while the lords of genius and
the makers of empire are forgotten; and the very anthems of the blessed
are hushed into silent wondering and joy when solitary penitents turn
homewards from the roads of sin!  But it is not stranger than that
kingdom in which Jesus lived habitually, the kingdom He created round
Him in His earthly life.  In that kingdom also love was lord, and she
who anointed the tired feet of the Master against His burial was
promised everlasting remembrance, and she who out of her penury gave
her mite to the poor was praised as having done more than all the rich,
who from their abundance distributed careless and unmissed
benefactions.  In all that Jesus says and does the same sequence of
thought runs clear, the same master principle rules the various result.
Life is a unity either here or hereafter, and love is, and must
evermore remain, the one temper that gives significance to life.



  _When Galilee took morning's flame
  Thro' fields of flowers the Master came.
  He stopped before a cottage door,
  And took from humble hands the store
  Of crumbs that from the table fell,
  And water from the living well.
  He smiled, and with a great content
  Upon the road of flowers went._

  _Foredoomed upon the road of shame
  With bleeding feet the Master came,
  And found the cottage door again.
  "No wine have we to ease Thy pain,
  But only water in a cup."
  The Master slowly drank it up.
  "Thy kindness turns it into wine,"
  He said, "and makes the gift divine."_

  _Upon a day the Master trod
  The road of stars that leads to God,
  All tasks for men accomplished.
  "They gave Me hate," He softly said,
  "But Love in larger measure gave,
  And therefore was I strong to save.
  I had not reached the Cross that day
  But for the Well beside the way."_



If these things be true, if the whole tradition of Jesus is an
exposition of love as the law of life, the deduction is entirely
simple, and as logical as it is simple.  That deduction has been
already stated.  It is that Christianity is a method of life by which
men and women are taught and inspired to love as Jesus loved, and to
live loving and lovable lives.  It has little to do with creeds, and
still less with formal codes of conduct.  For this reason such a
definition of Christianity will satisfy neither the theologian nor the
philosopher.  Jesus never expected that it would.  He knew that the one
would regard it as heretical, and the other as so deficient in subtlety
as to seem foolish.  Therefore He made His appeal to simple and natural
people, saying that what was hidden from the wise and prudent, was
revealed to babes.

The simple and natural people understood Jesus; they always do.  The
sophisticated and artificial people did not understand Him; they never
will.  With scarcely an exception the people of intelligence and
culture regarded Him with disdain, withdrew from Him, or violently
opposed Him.  The reason for their conduct lay not so much in either
their culture or their intelligence, as in the kind of life that seemed
to be necessary to them as the expression of their culture.

Thus, they were full of prejudices, prepossessions, and foregone
conclusions, all of which had the sanction of their culture.  It was
enough for them to know that Jesus came from Nazareth and was
unlettered; this produced in them violent scorn and antipathy.  They
were still further offended because He used none of the shibboleths
with which they were familiar.  Nor could they conceive of any life as
satisfactory but the kind of life they lived, and that was a life of
social complexity, ruled by conventional usages and maxims, and
essentially artificial in ideal and practice.  Jesus, therefore, turned
from them to the simple and natural people, fishermen, artisans, and
humble women, in whom the natural instincts had fuller play.  His
reward was immediate; then, and ever since, the Common People heard Him

The reason why simple and natural people readily understand Jesus is
that in the kind of life they live the primal emotions are supreme.
The very narrowness of their social outlook intensifies those emotions.
They have little to distract them; they are not bewildered by endless
disquisitions on conduct, and religion itself is for them an emotion
rather than a systematized creed.  For the poor man home, children,
fireside affection, mean more than for the rich man, because they are
his only wealth.  This is the lesson which Wordsworth has so nobly
taught in his "_Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle_,"--

  How, by heaven's grace this Clifford's heart was framed,
  How he, long forced in humble walks to go,
  Was softened into feeling, soothed and tamed.

  Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
  His daily teachers had been woods and rills,
  The silence that is in the starry sky,
  The sleep that is among the lonely hills.

People who live thus, in wise simplicity, undistracted by the numerous
illusions of an artificial life, have no difficulty in accepting
Christ's teaching that love is the supreme law of life, because love
means everything to them in the kind of life they lead.  In the wisdom
of the heart they are more learned than the wisest Pharisee, who is
rarely "softened into feeling," whose whole social life indeed imposes
a restraint on feeling.  What peasant father would not welcome a
returning prodigal, what peasant mother would not open her arms wide to
gather to her bosom a penitent daughter, recovered from the cruel snare
of cities?  Certainly one is much more likely to find such acts of pure
feeling among peasant folk than among the rich and cultured, for the
peasant cares less for opinion, is less respectful of social etiquette,
and follows more closely in his actions the instincts of primal
affection.  Who has not discovered among poor and humble folk a strange
and beautiful lenience, the lenience of a great compassion, towards
those sins which in more artificial conditions of society are held to
justify the most violent condemnation, and do indeed close the heart to
pity?  In poor men's huts beside the Sea of Galilee Jesus Himself had
found love, love in all its divine daring, lenience, and magnanimity,
and He knew that among people like these He would be understood.  He
also knew that the only people fitted to interpret His doctrine of
sovereign love to the world were these simple folk of the lake and
field, and therefore to them He committed His Gospel, and from them He
chose His disciples.

It needed a peasant Christ to teach these things, for no other could
have imagined them, no other could have had the daring and simplicity
to utter them.  A peasant Christ He was, living, thinking, and acting
as a peasant even in His highest moments of inspiration.  It was
because He always remained a peasant that He was able to see so clearly
the defects of that more intricate social system to which His ministry
introduced Him.  He brought with Him a new scale of values, which He
had learned in the school of a more primal life than could be found in
cities.  Nature always spoke in Him, convention never.  In His
treatment of sin it is always the voice of Nature that we hear
triumphing over the verdicts of convention.  The sins which convention
regards as inexpiable are sins of passion; the sins which it excuses
are sins of temper, such as greed, malice, craft, unkindness, cruelty.
Jesus entirely reverses the scale.  His pity is reserved for outcasts,
His harshest words are addressed to those whom the world calls good.
Folly He views with infinite compassion--the foolish man is as a lost
sheep whose very helplessness invokes our pity.  But for the man of
hard and self-sufficient nature, whose very righteousness is a mixture
of prudence and egoism, He has only words of flame.  An offense against
virtue counts for less with Him than an offense against love.  No
wonder the Pharisees called Him a blasphemer!  Were the true nature of
Christ's teaching understood to-day many who profess to revere Him
would join in the same accusation.  What more offensive and unpalatable
truth could be presented to mankind than this on which Jesus constantly
insists, that sins of temper are much more harmful than sins of
passion, that they spring from a more incurable malignancy of nature,
that they produce far wider and more disastrous suffering?

Yet the truth is clear enough to all broadly truthful and simple
natures, which are not bewildered by conventional views of right and
wrong.  Who has occasioned more suffering, the youth who has sinned
against himself in wild folly and repented, or the man who has planned
his life with that cold craft and deliberate cruelty which sacrifices
everything to self-advantage?  Can any human mind measure the various
and almost infinite wrongs committed by the man who piles up through
years of sordid avarice an unjust fortune?  Who can count the broken
hearts in the pathway of that implacable ambition which "wades through
slaughter to a throne"?  These things may not be apparent to the man
whose nature is subdued to the hue of that artificial society in which
he lives, a society which permits such crimes to pass unquestioned.
They are certainly not perceived by the criminals themselves.  To-day,
as in the day of Christ, they "devour widows' houses, and for a
pretense make long prayers," save, perhaps, that more blind than the
ancient Pharisees, their prayers seem real, and they themselves are
unconscious of pretense.  Now also, as then, they give their tithes in
conventional benevolence, forgetting, and hoping to make others forget,
the sources of their wealth in their use of it.  How is it that such
men are so unconscious of offense?  Simply because they have never
grasped Christ's deliberate statement that sins of temper are much
worse than sins of passion; that cruelty is a worse thing than folly;
that the wrong wrought by squandering the substance in a far country is
more quickly repaired, and more easily forgiven, than the wrong of
hoarding one's substance in the avarice which neglects the poor, or
adding to it by methods which trample the weak and humble in the dust,
as deserving neither pity nor attention.

Yet it needs but a very brief examination of society to prove the truth
of Christ's contention; very little experience of life to discover that
the utmost corruption of the human heart lies in lovelessness.  The
spiteful and rancorous temper, always seeking occasions of offense; the
jealous spirit which cannot bear the spectacle of another's joy; the
bitter nagging tongue, darting hither and thither like a serpent's fang
full of poison, and diabolically skilled in wounding; the sour and
grudging disposition, which seems most contented with itself when it
has produced the utmost misery in others; the narrow mind and heart
destitute of magnanimity; the cold and egoistic temperament, which
demands subservience of others and receives their service without
thanks, as though the acknowledgment of gratitude were weakness--these
are common and typical forms of lovelessness, and who can estimate the
sum of suffering they inflict?  Their fruit is everywhere the same;
love repressed, children estranged, the home made intolerable.  It does
but add to the offense of these unlovely people that in what the world
calls morality they are above reproach, for they instill a hatred of
morality itself by their appropriation of it.  Before them love flies
aghast, and the tenderest emotions of the heart fall withered.  Could
the annals of human misery be fairly written, it might appear that not
all the lusts and crimes which are daily blazoned to the eye have
wrought such wide-spread misery, have inflicted such general
unhappiness, as these sins of temper, so common in their operation that
they pass almost unrebuked, but so wide-spread in their effects that
their havoc is discovered in every feature of our social life.



  _I lived with Pride; the house was hung
    With tapestries of rich design.
  Of many houses, this among
    Them all was richest, and 'twas mine.
  But in the chambers burned no fire,
    Tho' all the furniture was gold,
  I sickened of fulfilled desire,
    The House of Pride was very cold._

  _I lived with Knowledge; very high
    Her house rose on a mountain's side.
  I watched the stars roll through the sky,
    I read the scroll of Time flung wide.
  But in that house, austere and bare,
    No children played, no laughter clear
  Was heard, no voice of mirth was there,
    The House was high but very drear._

  _I lived with Love; all she possest
    Was but a tent beside a stream.
  She warmed my cold hands in her breast,
    She wove around my sleep a dream.
  And One there was with face divine
    Who softly came, when day was spent,
  And turned our water into wine,
    And made our life a sacrament._



Nevertheless there are occasions in life when these things become
evident to even the least observant of us.  When we stand beside the
newly dead the most intolerable reflection of countless mourners is
that their tears fall on quiet lips to which they gave scant caresses,
in the days of health: their passionate words of love are uttered to
unhearing ears, which in life waited eagerly for such assurances as
these, and waited vainly.  All the purity and beauty of the vanished
human soul is revealed to us now, when it is no longer in our power to
gladden or delight it with our kindness or our praise.  All the willing
service rendered to us by those folded hands and resting feet, which we
so thanklessly accepted, is seen as a thing dear and precious to us
now, when the opportunity of thanks is past forever.  What would we
give now if but for one brief hour we might recall our dead just to say
the tender things we might have said and did not say, through all those
days and years when they were with us,--presences familiar and
accustomed, moving round us with so soft a tread that we scarce
regarded them, nor laid on them detaining hands, nor lifted our
preoccupied and careless eyes to theirs!

For most of us, alas, it is not Grief and Love alone who conduct us to
the chambers of the dead; the sad and silent Angel of Reproach also
stands beside the bed, and the shadow of his wings falls upon the
features fixed in their immutable appeal, their pathetic and unwilling
accusation.  Then it is that veil after veil is lifted from the past,
till in the pitiless light we read ourselves with a new understanding
of our faults.  We see that through some element of hardness in
ourselves which we allowed to grow unchecked; through vain pride, or
obstinate perversity, or mere thoughtless disregard, we repulsed love
from the dominion of our hearts, and made him the servitor of our
desires, but no longer the lord of our behaviour and the spirit of our
lives.  And now as we gaze on these things across the gulf of the
irreparable, we see our sin and how it came to pass; how we were unkind
not in the things we did but in those we failed to do; how, without
being cruel, our denied response to hearts that craved our tenderness
became a more subtle cruelty than angry word or hasty blow; how with
every duty accurately measured and fulfilled, yet love evaporated in
the cold and cheerless atmosphere of repression and aloofness with
which we clothed ourselves; and then the significance of Christ's
teaching comes home to us, for we know too late, that kindness is more
than righteousness, and tenderness more than duty, and that to have
loved with all our hearts is the only fulfilling of the law which
heaven approves.  None, bowed beside the newly dead, ever regretted
that they had loved too well; millions have wept the bitterest tears
known to mortals because they loved too little, and wronged by their
poverty of love the sacred human presences now withdrawn forever from
their vision.

But there are other and more joyous ways of learning the truth of
Christ's teaching, ways that are accessible to all of us.  The best and
most joyous way of all is to make experiment of it.  Here is a law of
life which to the sophisticated mind seems impossible, impracticable,
and even absurd.  No amount of argument will convince us that we can
find in love a sufficient rule of life, or that "to renounce joy for
our fellow's sake is joy beyond joy."  How are we to be convinced?
Only by making the experiment, for we really believe only that which we
practice.  "I wish I had your creed, then I would live your life," said
a seeker after truth to Pascal, the great French thinker.  "Live my
life, and you will soon have my creed," was the swift reply.  The
solution of all difficulties of faith lies in Pascal's answer, which is
after all but a variant of Christ's greater saying, "He that willeth to
do the will of God, shall know the doctrine."  Is not the whole reason
why, for so many of us, the religion of Christ which we profess has so
little in it to content us, simply this, that we have never heartily
and honestly tried to practice it?  We have accepted Christ's religion
indeed, as one which upon the whole should be accepted by virtuous men,
or as one which has sufficient superiorities to certain other forms of
religion to turn the scale of our intellectual hesitation, and win from
us reluctant acquiescence.  But have we accepted it as the only
authoritative rule of practice?  Have we ever tried to live one day of
our life so that it should resemble one of the days of the Son of Man?
Knowing what He thought and did, and how He felt, have we ever tried to
think and act and feel as He did--and if we have not, what wonder that
our religion, being wholly theoretical, appears to us tainted with
unreality, a thin-spun web of barren, fragile idealism which leaves us
querulous and discontented?

Such a sense of discontent should be for us, as it really is, the
signal of some deep mistake in our conception of religion.  It should
at least cause us alarm, for what can be more alarming than that we
should be haunted with a sense of unreality in religion, yet still
profess religion for reasons which leave the heart indifferent and
barely serve to satisfy the intellect?  And what can produce a keener
torture in a sincere mind than this eternal suspicion of unreality in a
religion whose conventional authority is acknowledged and accepted?

I am convinced that these feelings are general among great multitudes
of the more thoughtful and intelligent adherents of Christianity.
Religion rests with them upon a certain intellectual acquiescence, or
upon the equipoise of rational probabilities, or on the compromise of
intellectual hesitations.  Their tastes are gratified by the normal
forms of worship, and their sentiments are softly stirred and
stimulated.  But when the voice of the orator dies upon the porches of
the ear, and the music of the Church is silent, and the seduction of
splendid ceremonial is forgotten, there remains the uneasy sense that
between all this and the actual Carpenter-Redeemer there is a wide gulf
fixed; that Jesus scarcely lived and died to produce only such results
as these; that there must be some other method of interpreting His
life, much simpler, much truer, and much more satisfying.  Is it
wonderful that among such men the current forms of Christianity excite
no enthusiasm, and that the bonds of their attachment to it are lax and
easily dissolved?  And what is felt by these men within the Church is
felt with much greater strength by multitudes of sincere men outside
the Church, who do not hesitate to express their feeling and to
pronounce current Christianity a burlesque and tragic travesty upon the
real religion of the Nazarene.

But the moment we do begin to live, however inefficiently, as Jesus
lived, the sublime reality of His religion is revealed to us.  We do
actually find that in the postponement of our own desires for the sake
of others; in the abandonment of our own apparently legitimate
ambitions for the service of the poor; in the patient endurance of
affront and injury; in the forgiveness of those whose wrong seems
inexpiable; in the daily exercise of love that "seeketh not itself to
please," but hopeth all things, and believeth all things,--there is a
joy beyond joy, and an exceeding great reward.  We do actually find
that to forgive our brother freely is better both for him and us than
to judge him harshly, and the wisdom of Jesus is thus justified in its
moral and social efficacy.  We do actually find that in ceasing to live
by worldly maxims and by living instead according to the maxims of
Jesus, we have attained a form of happiness so incredibly sweet and
pure that the world holds nothing that resembles it, and nothing that
we would exchange for it.  For this is now our great reward, that peace
attends our footsteps, and that our hearts are no longer vexed with the
perturbations of vanity and self-love, of envy and revenge.  We find
human nature answering to our touch even as it answered to the touch of
Jesus, and revealing to us all its best and purest treasure.  We find
the very natures we thought intractable and destitute of all affinity
with ours, brought near our own; the very men and women we thought
wholly alien to us suddenly made lovable, and full of qualities that
claim our love.  And as we thus humbly follow in the steps of Jesus,
trying to live each day as He lived, we know that sublimest joy of
all--we feel Jesus acting once more through our actions, and we see in
the eyes that meet our own the same look that Jesus saw in the eyes of
those whom He had cured of misery and redeemed from sin.



  _'Tis something, when the day draws to its close,
  To say, "Tho' I have borne a burdened mind,
  Have tasted neither pleasure nor repose,
  Yet this remains--to all men, friends or foes,
        I have been kind."_

  _'Tis something, when I hear Death's awful tread
  Upon the stair, that his swift eye shall find
  Upon my heart old wounds that often bled
  For others, but no heart I injurèd--
        I have been kind._

  _Praise will not comfort me when I am dead;
  Yet should one come, by tenderness inclined,
  My heart would know if he stooped o'er my bed
  And kissed my lips for memory, and said
        "This man was kind."_

  _O Lord, when from Thy throne Thou judgest me,
  Remember, tho' I was perverse and blind,
  My heart went out to men in misery,
  I gave what little store I had to Thee,
        My life was kind._



In speaking thus I do but speak of those things which have been
revealed to me in my own experience.  For many years I preached the
truths of Christianity with a real sincerity, but with a fluctuating
sense of their authority and value.  Sometimes their authority seemed
supreme, and then I trod on bright clouds high above the world; at
other times they appeared to crumble at my touch, and then I walked in
darkness.  One thing I saw at intervals, and at last with complete and
agonized distinctness, that however I preached these truths, they had
little visible effect upon the lives of others.  Those to whom I
preached lived after all much as other people lived.  I did not find
them more magnanimous than the ordinary men and women of the world, nor
less liable to take offense, to utter harsh words, to indulge in
resentments, and to retaliate on those who injured them.  I did not
find that they loved humanity any better than their fellows; like all
mankind they loved those who loved them, and had domestic virtues and
affections, but little more.  It was impossible to say that
Christianity had produced in them any type of character wholly and
radically different from that which might be found in multitudes of men
and women who made no pretense of Christian sentiment.  Christianity
had no doubt imposed upon them many valuable restraints, so that
without it they might have been worse men and women, but this was a
merely negative result.  Where was the spectacle of a character
composed of new qualities, a life wholly governed by novel impulses and
principles?  I could not find such a life; nor ought I to have been
surprised; for I could not find it in myself.  I also lived much as
other people did, except that I had a higher theory of conduct.  Put to
the test, I also showed resentment and was moved with the spirit of
retaliation towards those who wronged me.  Nor, save as a matter of
theory and sentiment, did I love my fellows any better than the average
of mankind.  I sought those who were congenial to me, and had no
pleasure in the company of the common and the ignorant.  I liked clever
people.  I gave them my best, but I had nothing to bestow upon the dull
and stupid.  How many times have I borne the society of inferior people
with ungracious tolerance, and hastened from them with undisguised
relief?  How often when dealing with the poor and ignorant in the
exercise of conventional philanthropy, have I been careful to preserve
the sense of a great gulf that yawned between me and them?  And what
was my daily life after all but a life existing for its own purposes,
as most other men's lives were; and what credit could I take for the
fact that the nature of those purposes was a trifle more consonant with
what the world calls high ideals than theirs?

So the years went on, and the sense of unreality in my teaching grew
steadily more intense and intolerable.  I saw myself continually
expending all the forces of my mind on theories which left me and my
hearers alike unchanged in the essential characteristics of our lives.
I felt myself, like St. Augustine, but a "seller of rhetoric."  I was
inculcating a method of life which I myself did not obey, or obeyed
only in those respects that caused me neither sacrifice nor
inconvenience.  In order to continue such labours at all various forms
of excuse and self-deception were required.  Thus I flattered myself
that I was at least maintaining the authority of morals.  I did not
perceive that morals are of no value to the world until vitalized by
emotion.  At other times I preached with strenuous zeal the superiority
of the Christian religion, and dilated on its early triumphs.  This
pleased my hearers, for it always flatters men to find themselves upon
the winning side.  What I wonder at now is that they did not perceive
that my zeal to prove Christianity true was exactly proportioned to my
fear that it was false.  Men do not seek to prove that of which they
are assured.  Jesus never sought to prove the existence of a God
because He was assured of it; He simply asserted and commanded.  In my
heart of hearts I knew that I was not sure.  But I did not easily
discover the reason of my uncertainty.  I supposed the source to be the
destructive criticism of the Gospels which had reduced Jesus Himself to
a probability.  In my private thoughts I argued that it was no longer
possible to feel the intense reality of Christ.  Francis might feel it,
Catherine might feel it, because they lived in an atmosphere of poetry,
unchilled by criticism.  I could never feel as they felt because I
could not transport myself into their atmosphere.  Yet as often as I
turned to these great lives, something thrilled within me, some living
responsive fibre, so that I knew that I was not after all quite alien
to them.  Could it be that there was that in me that made me, or could
make me, of their company?  But how could I attain to their faith?
What could give back to a modern man, tortured by a thousand
perplexities of knowledge of which they never dreamed, the reality of
Christ which they possessed?  And then the answer came--not suddenly,
but as a still small voice slowly growing louder, more positive, more
intense--_Live the Life_.  Try to do some at least of the things that
Jesus did.  Seek through experience what can never come through
ratiocination.  _Be_ a Francis; then it may be thou shalt think like
him, and know Jesus as he knew Him.  Live the life--there is no other

Simple and far from novel as the answer seems yet it came to me with
the authority of a revelation.  It illumined the entire circumference
of life.  I could no longer hesitate: Jesus had never spoken from the
Syrian heavens more surely to the heart of Saul of Tarsus than He had
to me.  And in the moment that He spoke, I also, like Saul, found all
my feelings altered, altered incredibly, miraculously, so that I
scarcely recognized myself.  I no longer stood aloof from men, and
found pleasure in intellectual superiority; I was willing to "become a
fool for Christ's sake" if by any means I might save some.  I issued a
card of invitation to the services of my Church with this motto of St.
Paul's upon it, which I now felt was mine.  I had had for years
feelings of resentment towards one who I thought had wronged me; those
feelings were now dead.  In another case I had been harsh and
unforgiving under great provocation; but when I met after a long
interval of time, the one who had injured me, my heart had only love
and pity for him.  I sought out the drunkard and the harlot, and, when
I found them, all repulsion perished in the flow of infinite compassion
which I felt.  I prayed with fallen women, sought them in their
miserable abodes, fought with them for their own souls, and O exquisite
moment!--I saw the soul awake in them, I saw in their tear-filled eyes
the look that Jesus saw in the eyes of Magdalene.  On my last Sabbath
in London before leaving for America, one of these rescued girls, now
as pure of look and manner as those most sweetly nurtured, called at my
house to give my daughter a little present bought with the first money
she had earned by honest toil in many years.  On the day we sailed
another said a special mass for us, and held the day sacred for prayer,
in the convent where her bruised life had been nursed back to moral
beauty.  Love had triumphed in them, and I had brought them that love.
I had lived the life, I had tried to do something that Jesus did, and
behold Jesus had come back to me, and I knew His presence with me even
as Francis knew it when he washed the leper's sores, and Catherine when
she gathered to her bosom the murderer's guilty head, drew from him the
confession of his sin, and whispered to him softly of the Lamb of God.

There is no sense of unreality in religion now for me.  There are no
weary uncertainties, no melancholy sense of beating the air in what I
teach.  He who will try to live the life of Jesus for a single day, and
in such few particulars as may lie within his scope, will at once
realize the presence of Jesus with him.  In the practice of love comes
the manifestation of the Lover, the drawing of the soul into the bosom
of that Christ who was the very love of God, and the exchange of our
poor proud carnal heart for the tender heart that yearned over
Magdalene, was moved with compassion for the people, and broke upon the



  _"What shall I ask for Thee, my child?"
    Said Mary Mother, stooping dawn
  Above the Babe all undefiled.
    "O let Him wear a kingly crown."_

  _From wise men's gifts she wrought the crown,
    The robe inwove with many a gem,
  Beside the Babe she laid them down.
    He wept, and would have none of them._

  _"What shall I get for Thee, my Child?"
    Unto the door she slowly went,
  And wove a crown of thorn-boughs wild,
    He took it up, and was content._

  _Upon the floor she gathered wood,
    And made a little Cross for Him;
  The Child smiled for He understood,
    And Mary watched with eyes grown dim._

  _"Since these He doth prefer to gold,"
    She sadly said, "Let it be so;
  He sees what I cannot behold,
    He knows what I can never know."_

  _That night the eyes of Mary saw
    A Cross of stars set in the sky,
  Which after it the heavens did draw,
    And this to her was God's reply._



When I recollect these experiences, and the almost breathless sense of
joy which accompanied them, I can only marvel that I lived so many
years without discovering the path that led to them.  The path was
quite plain, and nothing concealed it from me but my own pride.  I
could even see with distinctness those who trod it, not only the saints
of far-off days, but men like Father Dolling, and women whose pale
intense faces met mine from beneath the quaint ugliness of Salvation
Army bonnets.  These soldiers of the League of Service moved everywhere
around me in the incessant processions of a tireless love.  I knew
their works, and there was no hour when my heart did not go out to them
in sympathy.  Why was it that I was only sympathizer and spectator,
never comrade?

Partly through a kind of mischievous humility which was really pride.
They could do these things; I could not, nor were they required of me.
It needed special gifts for such a work, and I had not these gifts.
Besides, had I not my own work?  Was it not as important to educate
persons of some culture and social position in a knowledge of Christian
truth as to redeem lost people from the hell of their misdoing?
Certainly it was easier and pleasanter.  I found in it that most subtle
of all gratifications, the sense of ability efficiently applied, and
winning praise by its exertion.  There was no one who wished me to live
in any other way than that in which I lived.  Those to whom I
ministered were satisfied with me, and had I told them that I wished to
do the sort of things that Salvation Army people did among the slums,
they would have been shocked, and would certainly have dissuaded me.
And so to this mischievous humility which assured me that I had no
fitness for the kind of life which I knew was the life of the saints in
every age, there was added the dull pressure of convention.  Why should
I do what no one expected me to do?  Why could I not be content to
fulfill the common standard approved by the average conception of

I can see now how foolish and how wrong these thoughts were.  I saw it
even then at intervals.  Again and again, like a torturing flash of
fire, there ran through me illumining agonized dissatisfactions with
myself, my work, my whole position.  And again and again I let the
flame die down, knowing not that the Son of Man had walked amid the
fire.  Nay more, I deliberately smothered the holy fire, being in part
fearful of it, and of what its consequence might be, if once it were
allowed to triumph.  For I knew that if I followed these strange
impulses my whole life must be changed, and I did not want it changed.
I did not want to give up the ease of an assured position, the calm of
studious hours, the tasks which flattered my ability.  I did not want
to face what I knew must happen, the estrangement of old friendships,
the rupture of accustomed forms of life.  Besides, I might be wholly
wrong.  I might have no real fitness for the tasks I contemplated;
saints, like poets, were born, not made.  No one who knew me would have
believed me better fitted for any kind of life than that I lived.  I
had no friend who did not think my present life adequate and
satisfactory, and many envied me for the good fortune that had given me
just the kind of sphere which seemed best suited to me.

But now I see, as I look back, that at the root of all my inconsistency
there lay this one thing, I was not a lover of my kind.  I did not love
men as men, humanity as humanity, as Jesus did.  Of course I loved
individuals, and even groups of men and classes of men, who could
understand my thoughts, recognize my qualities, and repay my affection
with affection.  But to feel love for men as men; for those whose
vulgarity distressed me, whose ignorance offended me, whose method of
life repelled me; love for the drudge, the helot, the social pariah;
love for people who had no beauty that men should desire them, nor any
grace of mind or person, nor any quality that kindled interest; love
for the dull average, with their painful limitations of mind and ideal,
the gray armies of featureless grief, whose very sorrows had nothing
picturesque in them and no tragic fascination--no, for these I had no
real love.  I had a deep commiseration, but it was that kind of
romantic or aesthetic pity which begins and ends in its own expression.
I did not know them by actual contact; I could not honestly say that I
wished to know them.  And then the thought came to me, and grew in me,
that Jesus did love these people with an unconquerable passion.  The
multitudes to whom He preached were composed, as all multitudes are, of
quite ordinary immemorable people.  He also, to the eyes of those who
saw Him in the peasant garb of Galilee, and judged only by outward
appearance, was a common man.  And so it would appear that if I did not
love men after the fashion in which Jesus loved them, it was very
unlikely that I should love Jesus Christ Himself if He once more
appeared in the habit in which men saw Him long ago in Galilee.  A
Jesus, footsore, weary, travel-stained, wearing the raiment of a
village carpenter, speaking with the accent of an unconsidered
province, surrounded by a rabble of rude fishermen, among whom mingled
many persons of doubtful character--how should I regard Him?  Should I
discern the Light and Life of men beneath His gray disguise of
circumstance?  Should I have left my books, my studious calm, my
pleasant and sufficing tasks, to listen to One who seemed so little
likely to instruct me?  Would not the same spirit of disdain which made
me think lightly and even scornfully of persons whose lives had no
resemblance to my own, have made me disdainful of the Man of Nazareth?
I knew the answer and I quailed before it.  I saw that the temper of my
mind was the temper of the Pharisee, and had I lived two thousand years
ago in Jerusalem or Galilee, I should have rejected Jesus even as the
scribes and Pharisees rejected Him.

And I should have rejected Him for the same reason, because I had no
truly generous love of man as man.  I should have been no better able
to perceive than they that it had pleased God to clothe Himself in the
flesh of one who united in His own person all those disabilities which
incur the scorn of those who account themselves superior and
cultivated, such as lowly and doubtful origin, poverty and the lack of
liberal education, and methods of life which outraged social use and
custom.  Did not Jesus demand for the understanding of Himself
precisely that temper which enabled Him to understand others, the
temper which discerns the soul beneath all disguise of circumstance?
He discerned the splendid and divine beneath the sordid.  He saw
beneath the drift of sin the buried magnificence of human nature as men
discover the hidden temple beneath the sand-drift of the desert.  He
was able to love all men because all men were to Him living souls.  And
His own manifestation to the world was such that only those who had
this temper could at all perceive His divine significance.  The
Pharisee could not see that significance simply because he was not
accustomed to see men as men.  He had no real interest in man as man.
He was not a lover of his kind.  Hence, when the Son of Man came out of
Nazareth, the Pharisee was too careless or too supercilious to regard
Him with interest.  The divine wonder passed him by; all he saw was a
wandering fanatic with no place to lay His head.  He could not pierce
the disguise of circumstance, and bow in love and awe before the soul
of Jesus because he was not accustomed to discern the soul in common
people.  And so there came home to me the awful truth that I was not a
lover of my kind.  I was even as the Pharisees, and in denying my
regard and love to the lowliest of men and women I was rejecting Jesus
Christ.  That which had seemed to me a strange exaggeration or an
enigmatic sentence, now became a rational principle, a saying that had
its root in the deep truth and reality of things; inasmuch as I showed
not love to the least of these, my fellows, I denied my love to Jesus
Christ Himself.



  _Not for the things we sing or say
    He listens, who beside us stoops;
  Too worn the feet, too hard the way,
    Too sore the Cross wherewith He droops,
      And much too great the need that cries
      From these bruised eyelids and dim eyes._

  _He waits the water from the spring
    Of kindness in the human heart,
  The touch of hands, whose touches bring
    A coolness to the wounds that smart,
      The warm tears falling on His feet
      Than precious ointment much more sweet._

  _O Lord, the way is hard and steep,
    Help me to walk that way with Thee,
  To watch with Thee, and not to sleep
    Heedless of Thy Gethsemane,
      Till love becomes my worshipping,
      Who have no other gift to bring._

  _It is no hour for angel-harp,
    The sky is dark, the Cross is near,
  The agony of Death is sharp,
    The scorn of men upbraids Thine ear.
      Fain would I leave all empty creeds,
      And make a music of my deeds._



Thus to love our fellow men is a difficult business,--there is none
harder.  It is so difficult that only a few in any age succeed on so
conspicuous a scale as to attract prolonged attention.  Yet the secret
of success is not obscure; it lies in that temper of compassion which
is the most beautiful of all features in the character of Jesus.  When
He looked upon the multitude He was "moved with compassion"--never was
there more illuminative sentence.  It reveals an attitude of mind
absolutely original.  For the general attitude towards the multitude in
Christ's day was harsh and scornful.  All the splendid intellectualism
of Greece existed for the favoured few; beneath that glittering edifice
of art and letters lay the dungeons of the slave.  It was the same with
Rome; it was an empire of privilege, in which the multitude had no
part.  Jewish society was built after the same pattern, except that
with the Pharisee the sense of religious superiority bred a kind of
arrogance much more bitter than that which is the fruit of intellectual
or social exclusiveness.  With men of this temper the call to love all
men as fellows could only provoke anger and derision.  What possible
relation could exist between an Athenian philosopher and a helot, a
Roman noble and a slave, a Pharisee proud of his meticulous knowledge
of the law, and the common people who were unlettered?  The gulf that
yawned between such lives was as wide as that which separates the
scholar, the artist, or the aristocrat of modern Europe from the pale
toiler of a New York sweating-room, or the coal carriers of Zanzibar or
Aden.  When Jesus bade the young ruler sell all that he had and give it
to the poor, He proposed an entirely unthinkable condition of
discipleship.  He bade him discard all the privileges of his order.  He
proposed instead real comradeship with the poor, He Himself being poor.
For two thousand years the pulpit has denounced the young ruler for not
doing what no one even now would think of doing--not even those who are
most eloquent in denunciation.

We may waive the question of whether the advice of Jesus to the young
ruler was meant to be of particular or universal application, but we
cannot ignore the new law of life which Jesus formulated when He made
compassion the supreme social virtue.  For it is only through
compassion that we learn to understand those who differ from us in
social station or temperament, and can at all come to love them.  Let
me examine my own natural tendencies, and I am soon made aware of how
impossible it is to love _all_ my fellow men.  I commence my life, for
instance, under conditions which permit me to see only a small section
of society, which I imagine to be the world itself.  I know nothing,
and am told nothing, of those whose lives do not lie in the direct line
of my limited vision.  The process of education removes me at each
stage further from the likelihood of knowing them.  I acquire ideals,
habits, and manners of which they are destitute.  I come to regard an
acquaintance with various forms of knowledge as essential to life, and
I am naturally disdainful of those who do not possess this knowledge.
In the same way I regard a certain code of manners as binding, and the
lack of this code of manners in others as an outrage.  My very thoughts
have their own dialect, and I am totally unacquainted with the dialect
of those whose thoughts differ from my own.  Thus with the growth of my
culture there is the equal growth of prejudice; with the enjoyment of
my privilege, a tacit rejection and repudiation of the unprivileged.

How then am I ever to find myself in any relation of affection towards
these human creatures from whom I am alienated by the nature of my
education?  If, by any chance, I come in contact with them, it is
certain that they will arouse in me repugnance and perhaps disgust.  I
shall find them coarse, crude, and ignorant; their methods of speech
will grate upon me, their manners will repel me; they will be as truly
foreign to me as the natives of New Guinea, and their total incapacity
to share the thoughts which compose my own inner life will be scarcely
less complete.  It is a truly humiliating thing to admit that
differences of nationality separate men less effectually than disparity
of manners.  If I am at all fastidious I am more likely to be repelled
by coarse language, gross habits, or vulgar behaviour in my fellow
mortal than by all his errors in creed or morals.  So little parts men,
and is permitted to part them, that it is very likely that some mere
awkwardness of behaviour in my fellow man may extirpate effectually the
regard I might have had for him.  How little indeed is permitted to
part friends--often nothing more than a tone of voice, a word
misinterpreted, or something equally slight, the product very possibly
of shyness, or inability for right expression on a sudden call.  And
there is all that goes by the name of antipathy, the nameless and quite
irrational repulsions which we permit ourselves to cherish, for which
we have no better excuse than that they are instinctive.  With all
these forces against us how can we love our neighbour as ourselves?  It
is something if we do not detest him; if we tolerate him it should be
counted to us for a virtue.

Yet the method by which we may love him is quite simple; it is to
approach him not with judgment but compassion, to put ourselves in his
place, to see his life from his point of view instead of our own.  What
is his ignorance after all but lack of opportunity?  What are his bad
manners but the penalty of a narrow life?  What are these habits of his
which so offend me but things inevitable in that condition of servitude
which he occupies--a servitude, let me recollect, which ministers to my
ease and comfort?  To-day, not less than in earlier generations,
society resembles the palaces of the Italian Renaissance,--the feast of
life in the painted hall, and the groaning of the prisoner in the
depths below.  For every comfort that I have, some one has sweated.  My
fire is lit not only with coal from the mine, but with the miner's
flesh and blood; my food has come through roaring seas in which men
perished by hurricane and shipwreck; the very books from which I draw
my culture are the product not alone of the scholar and the thinker,
but of rude unlettered men in forest and at forge who helped to make
them by their toil.  If I were as educated as I claim to be I should
know myself debtor to the barbarian as truly as to the Greek, and as I
read my book I should see the forest falling that it might be woven
into paper, and men labouring in the heat of factories that the moulded
metal might become the organ of intelligence.  Nay, I should see yet
more; for would it not appear that these nameless toilers are richer in
essential life, and in the deep knowledge of what man's existence is,
than even the scholar and the writer, whose main acquaintance with life
is with words rather than acts?  They toil with tense muscles through
the summer heat and winter cold; they endure hardship and danger; and
week by week their scanty wage is shared by wives and children, who
excite in them tenderness and self-sacrifice, and repay them with
affection and devotion.  For it is so decreed that the sacred
magnanimities of the human heart come to flower as fully in lives of
crude labour as in lives of ease; these roughened hands grow gentle
when they touch the heads of little children, on these strong breasts
the wife rests her weariness, and these lips that speak a language so
different from mine have nevertheless known the sacramental wine of
love.  Were my life weighed with theirs might it not appear that theirs
was the richer in essential fortitude, in patience and endurance, in
all the final qualities that compose the finest manhood?

The spirit of compassion interprets these lives to me; it lends me
vision.  It enables me to see them not in their artificial disparities,
but in their deep-lying kinship with mine and all other lives.  And the
same thing happens when I survey lives stained with folly, wrecked by
weakness, or made detestable by sin and crime.  I also have known
folly, weakness, sin; but for me there were compulsions to a virtuous
life which these never knew.  Why am I not as these?  Perhaps because
my nature rests on a securer equipoise, or because there is in it a
certain power of moral recuperation which these have lacked, or because
I have the prudence that stops short of consummated folly, or because
my environment imposes and creates restraint, or because I have never
known the peculiar violence of temptation before which they succumbed.
There may be a hundred reasons, but scarce one which gives me cause for
boasting.  With their life to live, had I done better?  Exposed to
their temptations, deprived of all the helpful friendships that have
interposed between my life and ruin, should I have done as well?  In
those wakeful hours of night when all my past life runs before me like
a frieze of flame, how clearly do I see how frequently I grazed the
snare, hung over gulfs of wild disaster, courted ruin, and escaped I
know not how?  Remembering this, can I be hard towards those who fell?
Can I pride myself on an escape in which my will had little part, a
deliverance which was a kind of miracle, wrought not by virtue or
discretion, but by some outside force which thrust out a strong and
willing hand to save me?  And, as these thoughts pursue me, I find
myself all at once regarding these wrecked and miserable lives not from
the outside but the inside.  I penetrate their inmost coil of being,
and see with horror the crumbling of the house of life--with horror,
but also with a torturing pity.  And then because compassion lives in
me, I can at last separate between the sinner and his sin.  The sin
remains abhorrent, but I cannot hate the sinner.  I see him as one who
has fallen in a bad cause, but his wounds cry so loud for pity that I
forget the moral treason that has brought him to a battle-field so
ignominious and so disastrous.  And out of the pity grows love, for
love is the natural end of pity; and the magnanimity of love,
overleaping moral values, fixes only on the fact of suffering that
appeals for succour, misery that cries for help.  This was the vital
fact that Jesus saw when He had compassion on the multitude.

Jesus had compassion on the multitude, and He gives the reason; He saw
them as sheep having no shepherd.  It was the element of misdirection
in their lives on which Jesus fixed His glance--it was for lack of
guidance and a shepherd they had gone astray.  May not the same be said
of all the lives that fail, whether through ignorance or want, folly or
crime?  Rightly guided they might have attained knowledge and esteem,
wisdom and virtue; and if that be so, no man of right spirit can refuse
to feel the pathos of their situation.  It is to this point that Jesus
leads us.  He makes us conscious of "the still sad music of humanity."
No further incentive is needed to make us love humanity than the pathos
of the human lot.  A man may be a knave, a fool, a rogue; yet could we
unravel all the secrecies of his disaster we should find so much to
move our pity, so much in his life which resembles crises in our own,
that in the end the one vision that remains with us is of a wounded
brother man.  When once we see that vision all our pride of virtue dies
in us, and quicker yet to die is the temper of contempt which we have
nurtured towards those whose faults offend us.  A yet greater offense
is ours if we can behold suffering, however caused, without pity.
Worse than the worst crime which man can commit against society, or the
worst personal wrong he can inflict on us, is the temper in ourselves
which judges him without mercy, and refuses him the one medicine that
may reinvigorate him--the balm of pity and forgiveness.  And, after
all, of what wrong is it not true that the bitterest suffering it
creates falls not upon the wronged but the wronger, so that in the end
the sinner is the real victim, and like all victims should be the
object of compassion rather than of vengeance?



  _She wrought warm garments for the poor,
    From morn to eve unwearied she
  Went with her gifts from door to door;
    And when the night drew silently
  Along the streets, and she came home,
  She prayed, "O Lord, when wilt Thou come?"_

  _She was but loving, she could please
    With no rare art of speech or song.
  The art she knew was how to ease
    The sick man's pain, the weak man's wrong;
  And every night as she came home
  She said, "O Lord, when wilt Thou come?"_

  _The truths men praised she deemed untrue,
    The light they hailed to her was dim,
  But that the Christ was kind she knew,
    She knew that she must be like Him.
  Like Mary, in her darkened home,
  She sighed, "O Christ, that thou would'st come!"_

  _Her hair grew white, her house was bare,
    Yet still her step was firm and glad,
  The feet of Hunger climbed the stair,
    For she had given all she had.
  She died within her empty home
  Still seeking One who did not come._

  _She rose from out the wave of death,
    A Stranger stood beside the shore;
  The robe she wrought with failing breath,
    And staining tears, the Stranger wore.
  He drew her tired heart with His smile,
  "Lo, I was with thee all the while."_



But if this spirit of compassion were general, would virtue itself be
secure?  Would not a fatal lenience towards vice become the temper of
society?  Would not the immediate effect be the declaration of a
general amnesty towards every kind of wrong-doer, and from such an act
what could be expected but a rapid dissolution of the laws and
conventions that maintain the structure of society?

These are natural fears, and they are not altogether the fears of weak
and timid men.  They will certainly be shared by all tyrants, all
persons whose tempers incline to absolutism, all believers in force as
the true dynamic of stable social government.  To reason with such
persons is impossible, because their opinions are the fruit of temper,
and are therefore irrational.  But even such persons are not destitute
of powers of observation, and in the long history of the world there is
a field of observation which no person of intelligence can neglect.

Do we find, as we survey this field, that force has ever proved the
true dynamic of stable social government?  We find the exact contrary
to be true.  The great empires of the past were founded on force and
perished, even as Napoleon discovered in his final reveries on human
history.  Whenever force has been applied to maintain what seemed a
right social system it has uniformly failed.  The Church of Rome
applied force to produce a world consonant with her ideas of truth; she
was all but destroyed by the recoil of her prolonged persecutions.  The
Puritans were persecuted in the name of truth and virtue; they
triumphed.  The Puritans in turn persecuted, under the impulse of
ideals that an impartial judgment must pronounce among the loftiest and
noblest that ever animated human hearts, and in turn they were
overthrown.  Again and again, when crime has attained monstrous and
threatening proportions, laws of barbarous severity have been applied
for its repression; in not one solitary instance have they been
successful.  The more barbarous and severe the law against crime, the
more has crime flourished.  When men were hanged for petty theft, when
they were whipped at the cart's tail for seditious language, when they
were disembowelled for treasonable practices; theft, sedition, and
treason flourished as they have never flourished since.  The very
disproportion and hideousness of the penalty inflamed men's minds to
the commission of wrong.  On the contrary, the birth of lenience and
humanity was immediately rewarded by a decline of crime.  These are
lessons which we do well to recollect to-day when statesmen advocate
the death penalty for the anarchist, irrespective of his exact crime;
when city councils propose the same penalty for those guilty of
outrages on women; when indignant mobs, in spite of law, and without
trial, burn at the stake offending negroes.  If history teaches
anything with an emphasis at once clear and unmistakable, it is that
crime has never yet been abridged by brutal harshness, but has thriven
on it.  History also teaches with an emphasis equally clear and
positive, that the spirit of love, manifesting itself in lenience,
compassion, and magnanimity, has constantly justified itself by the
reduction of crime, and the taming of the worst kind of criminal.

Is not this in itself a justification of the spirit of Jesus?  Does it
not appear, on the review of nearly two thousand years of history, that
society has attained its greatest happiness and has reached its highest
condition of virtue, precisely in those periods when the gentle ideals
of Jesus have had most sway over human thought and action?  And if this
be so, is it possible to doubt that society will only continue to
progress towards happiness and content in the degree that it obeys the
counsels of Jesus, making not force but love the great social dynamic,
which shall control all its operations and guide all its judgments?

It may appear impossible and inexpedient for the human judge to say to
the offender, "Neither do I condemn thee; go, sin no more"; but it is
very clear that the opposite course does by no means lead to a
cessation of sin.  For what is the total result of all our punishments
in the name of law but the manufacture of criminals?  According to our
theory of punishment a jail should be a seminary of virtue and
reformation.  Men submitted to its discipline should come out new
creatures, cured of every tendency to crime.  On the contrary, in nine
cases out of ten, they come out a thousandfold worse than they went in.
If this is not the case, it is because some Christian influence, not
included in our legal system, has reached them.  But such influences
reach very few.  The influences that operate in the great majority of
cases are wholly demoralizing.  Those who enter a jail with genuine
intentions of reform speedily discover that they are not expected to
reform.  They are branded indelibly.  They are exposed to the
corruption of associates a hundredfold worse than themselves.  They
leave the jail with every avenue of honest industry closed to them,
every man's hand against them, and no career possible to them but a
life of crime.  When we consider these things we have little cause to
congratulate ourselves upon the results of our systems of justice.
Even a general amnesty towards every form of crime could scarcely
produce results more deplorable.  Fantastic as it may appear, yet it
seems not improbable that the abolition of the jail and of all penal
law, might produce benefits for humanity such as centuries of
punishment on crime have wholly failed to produce.

But no one asks this at present, though the day may come sooner than we
think, when society, tired of the long failure and absolute futility of
all its attempts to cleanse the world of crime by penal enactments,
will make this demand.  It is enough now if we press the question
whether there is not good ground in all this dreary history of futility
and failure, to make some attempt to govern society by the ideals of
Jesus?  Why should not the Church replace the jail?  Why should not the
offender be handed over to a company of Christian people, instead of a
company of jailers, paid to be harsh, and by the very nature of their
occupation trained to harsh tempers and cruel acts?  Who are better
fitted for the custody of the criminal than people whose lives are
based on the merciful ideals of Jesus?  How could such persons be
better employed than in devoting themselves to the restoration of
self-respect in the fallen, than in the attempt to nurture into vigour
his bruised or dormant instincts of right, than in the organized effort
to restore him to some place in society which should give him honest
bread in return for honest labour?  Few men are criminals by choice.
Crime is more often the fruit of weakness than intention.  Almost every
criminal would prefer an honourable life if he knew how to set about
it.  Can we doubt that if Jesus presided in the councils of His Church
to-day, this would be one of the first directions in which He would
apply His energy?  And who that surveys the modern Church with
undeflected judgment would not say that the Church would be a thousand
times dearer to the world, a thousand times more sacred, respected, and
authoritative, if instead of spending its time in spiritual
self-gratification, and its riches in the adornment of its worship, it
became the true Hospice of the Fallen and Unfortunate, thus
exemplifying in its action that love for men which was the essential
spirit of its Founder?

It will no doubt be replied that the Church already, by a thousand
institutions, of a philanthropic character, is attempting this very
work.  But this is an evasion of the point, for such institutions only
begin their work of redemption when the existing social systems have
accomplished their work of destruction.  Moreover, no institution,
however admirable, can be a substitute for the general action of the
Church.  It is precisely this practice of substitution that accounts
for so much of the weakness of the Church.  It is so much more easy and
pleasant to devolve upon others duties which to us are disagreeable, to
buy ourselves out of the conscription of personal duty, to persuade
ourselves that we have done all that can be asked of us when we have
given money for some worthy end, that it is not surprising that
multitudes of excellent and kindly people adopt such views and
practices.  But, in doing so, they miss not only the joy of personal
well-doing, but also the sense of reality in the good that is done.
And the spectator and critic of the life of the Church, although he may
not be ignorant of the kind of work done by these institutions,
nevertheless is keenly conscious of the lack of reality in the work of
the Church, when he finds that its individual members are leading lives
in no way distinguishable by any active love for their fellows.  For
the main reason why thoughtful men manifest aversion to the Church is
not found in dislike for her worship, or rejection of her creeds; it is
found rather in the sense of unreality in her life.  Who, such men will
ask, among all this multitude of well-dressed worshippers, offering
their adoration to the Deity, visits the fatherless and widow in their
affliction, lays restraining hands upon the tempted, uplifts the fallen
or instructs the depraved, and so fulfills the true ideal of religion
pure and undefiled?  What is the exact nature of their impact upon
society?  Are they more merciful, more compassionate, more sympathetic
than average mankind?  Do they not share the same social prejudices,
and guide their lives by the same social traditions as the bulk of men
and women?  And if nothing more than this can be predicated of them,
how is it possible to avoid that impression of essential unreality
which is inseparable from the subscription to social ideals infinitely
loftier and purer than any others in human history, united with lives
which in no way rise above the average?  Here is the true reason why
thoughtful men think lightly, and even scornfully of the Church.  It is
not the truths and ideals of Jesus that offend them, but the travesty
of those truths and ideals in the average life of Christians.

But whenever any man attempts to live in the spirit of Jesus, the first
to rally to him are the sincere recusants from the church.  He may be
satirised, and probably will be, as a moral anarchist, a fanatic, and a
hare-brained enthusiast; but nevertheless the best men will rally to
him.  They rallied to a Father Dolling, they rally to a General Booth.
The types represented by such men lie far apart.  One was so high a
ritualist as to be almost Catholic, the other is an ecclesiastic
anarchist so extreme that he dispenses with the sacraments.  But these
things count for little; what the world sees in such men is the
essential reality of their life.  One of the severest critics of
Dolling once went to hear him with the bitterest prejudice.  He found
him with a couple of hundred thieves and prostitutes gathered round
him, to whom he was telling the love of Jesus in the simplest language.
"Dolling may be a Roman Catholic, or anything else he pleases," said
his critic; "all I know is that I never heard any one speak of Christ
like that," and from that hour he was his warmest friend.  No doubt
similar conversions of sentiment have attended the ministries of all
apostolic men and women, of Francis and Catherine, of Wesley and
Whitfield, of Moody and General Booth.  Men know by instinct the lover
of his kind.  Men forgive a hundred defects for the sake of reality.
Perhaps the sublimest of all justifications of Christ's law of love is
that no man has truly practiced it in any age without himself rising
into a life of memorable significance, without immediate attestations
of its virtue in the transformation of society, without attracting to
himself the reverence and affection of multitudes of fellow workers who
have rendered him the same adoring discipleship that the friends of
Jesus gave to Him.

No doubt it will also be said that were the ideals thus indicated to
triumph, there would be nothing left for the direction of society but a
mischievous and sentimental spirit of amiability.  The general fibre of
virtue would disintegrate.  Pity for the sinner, pushed to such
extremes, would in the end mean tolerance for sin.  But to such an
objection the character of Jesus furnishes its own reply.  The
character of Jesus displays love in its supreme type, but it is wholly
lacking in that weak-featured travesty of love which we call
amiability.  His hatred of sin was at times a furious rage.  His lips
breathed flame as well as tenderness; "Out of His mouth proceeded a
sharp two-edged sword."  We may search literature in vain to discover
any words half as terrible and scathing as the words in which Jesus
described sin.  The psychological explanation is that great powers of
love are twin with great powers of hatred.  The passionate love of
virtue is, in its obverse, an equally passionate hatred of vice.  In
the same way the passionate love of our kind has for its obverse an
equally passionate hatred for the wrongs they endure.  For this reason
justice and virtue are nowhere so secure as in the hands of men who
love their kind intensely.  They are most insecure in the hands of the
cynic, who despises his kind, and therefore misapprehends their
conduct.  For love, in its last analysis, is understanding, and where
there is understanding of our fellows there can hardly fail to be
wisdom in our method of treating them.  That was the great secret of
Jesus in these examples which we have reviewed.  He understood Simon
Peter.  He understood the woman who was a sinner.  He therefore knew
the only wise method of treating them.  One with less pity might have
sent the harlot back to her shame, one with less love might have driven
Peter into permanent apostasy.  But Jesus, in His understanding of the
human heart, knew the exact limit of reproof, the exact point at which
magnanimity became efficacious in redemption.  Those who follow His
spirit will attain the same rare wisdom.  They will never sacrifice
virtue to compassion, nor will they put virtue in opposition to
compassion.  One question may suffice.  Would we be content to leave
the administration of society in the hands of Jesus?  Would we
confidently submit our own case to His jurisdiction?  If, in every
dispute between men and nations, in every case of wrong and crime,
Jesus were the one Arbiter, would the world be better ruled, would the
probable course of events be such as to increase the sum of human
happiness?  We can scarcely hesitate in the reply--we, who daily pray
that His kingdom may come.  And if to such questions we return our
inevitable affirmative, we cannot doubt that society has everything to
gain in being governed by those who live most closely in the spirit of
Jesus; that they, and they only, are the true leaders and judges of the



  _Lover of souls, indeed,
    But Lover of bodies too,
  Seeing in human flesh
    The God shine through;
  Hallowed be Thy name,
    And, for the sake of Thee,
  Hallowed be all men,
    For Thine they be._

  _Doer of deeds divine,
    Thou, the Father's Son,
  In all Thy children may
    Thy will be done,
  Till each works miracles
    On poor and sick and blind,
  Learning from Thee the art
    Of being kind._

  _For Thine is the glory of love,
    And Thine the tender power,
  Touching the barren heart
    To leaf and flower,
  Till not the lilies alone,
    Beneath Thy gentle feet,
  But human lives for Thee
    Grow white and sweet._

  _And Thine shall the Kingdom be,
    Thou Lord of Love and Pain,
  Conqueror over death
    By being slain.
  And we, with the lives like Thine
    Shall cry in the great day when
  Thou earnest to claim Thine own,
    "All Hail!  Amen."_



It may be long before the world recognizes this leadership of the
loving, and accepts their judgment, but nevertheless the world is
debtor to them for all that sweetens life, and makes society tolerable.
Such men and women move unrecognized, doing their kindly work without
praise, and not so much as asking praise from men; but theirs is a
securer triumph than earth can give, and on their brows rests a rarer
crown than earthly monarchs wear.  I know many of these men and women,
and I never meet them without the sense that the seamless robe of
Christ has touched me.  I meet them in unlikely places; I overtake them
on the road of life, oftenest in the places where the shadows lie most
thickly; but on each brow is the white stone which is the sign of
peace, and in each voice is that deep note of harmony that belongs
alone to those who walk through tribulations which they overcome,
griefs of which they know the meaning, sorrows which they have the
skill to heal.  Their very footsteps move more evenly than other men's,
as though guided by the rhythm of a music others do not hear; their
very hands have a softness only known to hands that bind up wounds and
wipe men's tears away; and in all their movements and their aspect is a
stillness and a sweet composure, as of hearts at rest.  Whence are
these, and why are they arrayed in white robes?  And we know the
answer, though no angel-voice may speak to us; these are they on whose
bowed heads the starlight of Gethsemane has fallen, in whose hands are
the wounds of service, in whose breasts is the heart that breaks with
love for men.

One such man I met some months ago, fresh from the forests of
Wisconsin.  Through a long spring day he told me his story, or rather
let me draw it from him episode by episode, for he was much too modest
to suppose anything that he had done remarkable.  After wild and
careless years of wasted youth, Christ had found him, and from the day
of his regeneration he gave himself to the redemption of his fellow
men.  He became a "lumber-jack," a preacher to the rough sons of the
Wisconsin forests.  He told me how he first won their respect by
sharing their toil--he, a fragile slip of a man, and they giants in
thew and muscle: how by tact and kindness he got a hearing for his
Master; how he travelled scores of miles through the winter snows to
nurse dying men, wrecked by wild excesses; how he had sat for hours
together with the heads of drunken men, on whom the terror had fallen,
resting on his knees, performing for them offices of help which no
other would attempt; how he had heard the confessions of thieves and
murderers, who had fled from justice to the refuge of the forest; how
he had stood pale, and apprehensive of violence in an angry drunken
mob, and had quelled their rage by singing to them "Anywhere with
Jesus"; how, finally, he had fallen ill, and had hoped in his extreme
weariness for the great release, but had come back from the gates of
death with a new hope for the success of his work; and as he spoke,
that light which fell upon the face of the dying Stephen rested also on
his face; for he also saw, and made me see, the heavens opened, and
Jesus standing at the right hand of the throne of God.  He was only a
lumber-jack, but to these men he was a Christ.  He was poor, so poor,
that I marvelled how he lived; but he had adopted into his home the
forsaken child of a drunken lumberman, whose wife was dead.  His life
was full of hardship, but never have I met a happier man.  For he had
found the one secret of all noble and tranquil living, the life of
service; and as I grasped his hand at parting and remembered how often
it had rested in healing sympathy upon the evil and the weary, I
thought of the words of the blessed Master, "He laid His hands upon
her, and the fever left her, and she rose and ministered unto Him."

Another man of the same order I have talked with as these concluding
lines were written.  He had begun life with brilliant prospects as a
lawyer, had been wrecked by drink, and one night while drunk had fallen
overboard into deep water, and had with difficulty been brought back to
life.  From that hour his life was changed.  He went to a Western city
and became a missionary to drunkards and harlots.  He told me of a
youth of nineteen he had recently visited in prison.  The youth was a
murderer, and the woman he had loved had committed suicide.  He was
utterly impervious to reproof, did not want to live, and said that if
his mistress had gone to hell he wanted to go there too, for she was
the only human creature who had ever loved him.  "God loves you," said
my friend; "yes, and I love you too.  I know how you feel.  You want
just to be loved.  Come, my poor boy, let me love you."  And at that
appeal this youth, with triple murder on his conscience, melted, and
flung his arms round the neck of his visitor, and sobbed out all the
story of his sin and shame.  O exquisite moment when the heart melts at
the touch of love--could all the heaped-up gains of a life of pleasure
or ambition yield such felicity as this?  For this man's face, rough
and plain as it was, glowed as he spoke with the same light that
beatified the features of my friend the lumber-jack--"the Lord God gave
them light," and the Lamb upon the throne was the light of all their

A little while ago to this man came the offer of restoration to the
social place which he has lost.  He might have gone back to his
forfeited career, with an ample income.  He put the case to his wife
and to his boys; with instant unanimity they said, "Never; this work is
the best work in the world."  And so the once brilliant lawyer is happy
on a pittance, happier than he ever could be on a fortune, because he
is doing Christ's work of love among his fellow men.  And these
instances are typical.  In every corner of the world are those who
belong to the true Society of Jesus--the Order of Love and
Service,--and the happiest lives lived on earth are lived by these men
and women.  For Jesus will not suffer any man to be the loser by Him;
He overpays those who truly follow Him with a happiness that worlds
could not buy; and "even in the present time," so enriches with the
love of others those who love, that they are unconscious of any
deprivation in their lot, knowing in all things, amid poverty, insult,
violence, hardship and pain, that their gain exceeds their loss by
measureless infinitudes of joy.

We may be neither wise nor great, but we may be loving, and he who
loves is already "born of God, and knoweth God, for God is love."  We
may have but a poor understanding of conflicting theologies and
philosophies, and may even find our minds hostile to accepted creeds;
but we can live lives of pitiful and serviceable love.  He who does
these things is the true Christian and no other is.  Against the man
who loves his fellows Heaven cannot close its doors, for He who reigns
in Heaven is the Lover of men, and the greatest Lover of them all.  We
know now why He is loved as no other has been loved.  We know now what
His religion truly is; it is the religion of Love.  To accept this
religion requires in us but one quality, the heart of the little child
which retains the freshness and obeys the authority of the emotions;
but unless we become as little children we cannot enter this kingdom.
This is the condition of entrance, and the method is equally simple.
It is to follow Jesus in all our acts and thoughts, to allow no temper
that we do not find in Him, to build our lives upon His ideals of love
and justice, remembering always that He is more than the Truth,--He is
the Way in which men may confidently tread, and the Life which they may

All things in the intellectual and social life of men move, as by a
fixed law, towards simplification.  May we not hope that this same
tendency may permeate the universal Church of Christ, dissolving the
accretions of mistaken and conventional piety, combining the vital
elements into a new synthesis, at once simple and convincing,--the new
which is the oldest and the earliest,--that the Church is the organ of
the Divine Love, and that love alone is the Christian equivalent of

May we not even anticipate that the visible decay of many symbols that
once were authoritative, of many forms of creed that are now barely
tolerated rather than respected, may work towards this issue; that
gradually the test of service will supplant the test of intellectual
belief, and that a new Church will arise founded not on creed at all,
but on a real imitation of the life of Jesus?  If this should happen we
need not regret the dissolution of the forms of religious life which is
so evident to-day, for though the older kingdom be shaken, we shall
arrive in God's time at the better kingdom which cannot be shaken.

When the Church does manifestly become the organ of the Divine Love,
visibly creating a type of loving and lovable men and women found
nowhere else, whose lives are as lamps borne before the feet of the
weary and the lost, then the world, now hostile or indifferent to the
Church, will love the Church even as by instinct it loves the Christ.
Such lives have been lived, and they are, even to those who have the
least instinct for religion, the most sacred memories of history, and
the most inspiring.  Such lives may still be lived by all who love the
Lord Christ Jesus in sincerity.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Empire of Love" ***

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