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´╗┐Title: Sermons for the Times
Author: Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875
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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SERMONS FOR THE TIMES



Contents:
   Fathers and Children
   Salvation
   A Good Conscience
   Names
   Sponsorship
   Justification by Faith
   Duty and Superstition
   Sonship
   The Lord's Prayer
   The Doxology
   Ahab and Naboth
   The Light of God
   Providence
   England's Strength
   The Life of God
   God's Offspring
   Death in Life
   Shame
   Forgiveness
   The True Gentleman
   Toleration
   Public Spirit



SERMON I.  'FATHERS AND CHILDREN'



Malachi iv. 5, 6.  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before
the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  And he shall
turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the
children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a
curse.

These words are especially solemn words.  They stand in an
especially solemn and important part of the Bible.  They are the
last words of the Old Testament.  I cannot but think that it was
God's will that they should stand where they are, and nowhere else.
Malachi, the prophet who wrote them, did not know perhaps that he
was the last of the Old Testament prophets.  He did not know that no
prophet would arise among the Jews for 400 years, till the time when
John the Baptist came preaching repentance.  But God knew.  And by
God's ordinance these words stand at the end of the Old Testament,
to make us understand the beginning of the New Testament.  For the
Old Testament ends by saying that God would send to the Jews Elijah
the prophet.  And the New Testament begins by telling us of John the
Baptist's coming as a prophet, in the spirit and power of Elias; and
how the Lord Jesus himself declared plainly that John the Baptist
was Elijah who was to come; that is, the Elijah of whom Malachi
prophesies in my text.

Therefore, we may be certain that this text tells us what John the
Baptist's work was; that John the Baptist came to turn the hearts of
the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the
fathers; lest the Lord should come and smite the land with a curse.

Some may be ready to answer to this, 'Of course John the Baptist
came to warn parents of behaving wrongly to their children, if they
were careless or cruel; and children to their parents, if they were
disobedient or ungrateful.  Of course he would tell bad parents and
children to repent, just as he came to tell all other kinds of
sinners to repent.  But that was only a part of John the Baptist's
work.  He came to be the forerunner of the Messiah, the Saviour, the
Redeemer.'

Be it so, my friends.  I only hope that you really do believe that
John the Baptist did come to proclaim that a Saviour was born into
the world--provided only that you remember all the while who that
Saviour was.  John the Baptist tells you who He was.  If you will
only remember that, and get the thought of it into your hearts, you
will not be inclined to put any words of your own in place of the
prophet Malachi's, or to fancy that you can describe better than
Malachi what John the Baptist's work was to be; and that turning the
hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the
children to the fathers, was only a small part of John the Baptist's
work, instead of being, as Malachi says it was, his principal work,
his very work, the work which must be done, lest the Lord, instead
of saving the land, should come and smite it with a curse.

Yes--you must remember who it was that John the Baptist came to bear
record of, and to manifest or show to the Jews.  The Angels on the
first Christmas Eve told us--they said it was _The Lord_, 'Unto
you,' they said, 'is born a Saviour, who is Christ, _The Lord_.'

John the Baptist told you and all mankind who it was--that it was
The Lord.  'The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye
the way of _the Lord_!'

_The Lord_.  What Lord--Which Lord?  John the Baptist knew.  Simeon,
Anna, Nathaniel, all righteous and faithful hearts who waited for
the salvation of the Lord, knew.  The Pharisees and Sadducees did
not know.  The men who wrote our Creeds, our Prayer Book, our Church
Catechism, knew.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees in our day, who
fancy themselves wiser than the Creeds, and the Prayer Book, and the
Church Catechism, do not know.  May God grant that we may all know,
not only with our lips, but with our hearts, our faith, our love,
our lives, who The Lord is.

Jesus Christ, the babe of Bethlehem, is The Lord.  But who is He?
The Bible tells us; when we have heard what the Bible tells us we
shall be able better to understand the text.  The Lord is He of whom
it is written, 'And God said, Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness.'  And who is God's image and God's likeness?  The New
Testament tells us--Jesus Christ.  In Him man was made.  He is the
Son of Man, who is in heaven--the true perfect pattern of man:  but
He is also the image and likeness of God, the brightness of His
Father's glory, and the express image of His person.  He is The
Lord.  He is the Lord who instituted marriage, and said, 'It is not
good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help-meet for
him.'  He is the Lord who said to man, 'Be fruitful and multiply:
fill the earth and subdue it.'  He is the Lord who said to the first
murderer, 'Thy brother's blood crieth against thee from the ground.'
He is the Lord who talked with Abraham face to face as a man talks
with his friend; who blest him by giving him a son in his old age,
that he might be the father of many nations.  He is the Lord who, on
Mount Sinai, gave those Ten Commandments, the foundation of all law
and right order between man and God, between man and man:--'Thou
shalt honour thy father and thy mother.  Thou shalt do no murder.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt
not bear false witness in courts of law or elsewhere.  Thou shalt
not covet thy neighbour's property.'

This is The Lord.  Not a God far away from men; who does not feel
for them, nor feel with them; not a God who despises men, or has an
ill-will to men, and must be won over to change his mind, and have
mercy on them, by many supplications and tears, and fear and
trembling, and superstitious ceremonies.  But this is The Lord, this
is the babe of Bethlehem, this is He whose way John the Baptist came
to prepare--even He of whom it is written, that He possessed wisdom,
the simple, practical human wisdom, useful for this everyday earthly
life of ours, which Solomon sets forth in his Proverbs, in the
beginning before His works of old; and that when He appointed the
foundations of the earth, that Wisdom was by Him, as one brought up
with Him, and she was daily His delight; rejoicing alway before Him;
rejoicing in the _habitable_ parts of the earth; and her delights
were _with the sons of men_.

In one word, He is the Lord, in whose likeness man is made.  Man's
justice is a pattern of His; man's love is a pattern of His; man's
industry a pattern of His; man's Sabbath-rest, in some unspeakable
and eternal way, a pattern of His.  Man's family ties are patterns
of His.  God the Father is He, said St. Paul, from whom every
fathership in heaven and earth is named, that we may be such fathers
to our children as God is to us.  God The Son is He who is not
ashamed to call us brethren, and to declare to us the glorious news,
that in Him we, too, are the sons of God, that we may be such sons
to our heavenly Father--ay, and to our earthly fathers also, as the
Lord Jesus was to His Father.

Yes--and even more wonderful still, and more blessed still, the Lord
is not ashamed to call himself a husband.  Our human wedlock and
married love is a pattern of some divine mystery.  'Husbands love
your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for
it, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not
having spot or wrinkle, but that it should be holy and without
blemish.'  Blessed words, which we cannot pretend to explain or
understand, but can only believe and adore, and find, as we shall
find, in proportion as we are loving and faithful in wedlock, that
God's Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that they are
reasonable, blessed, true; true for ever.

This, then, was the Lord who was coming to judge these Jews; not
merely a god, but _The_ God.  The Lord, in whose likeness man was
made; who had appointed men to be fathers, sons, husbands, citizens
of a nation, owners of property, subject to laws, and yet _makers_
of laws; because all these things, in some wonderful way, are parts
of His likeness.  He was coming to this nation of the Jews first,
and then to all the nations of the earth, to judge them, Malachi
said, with a great and terrible day.  To lay the axe to the root of
the tree; to cut down from the very root the evil principles which
were working in society.  His fan was in His hand; and He would
thoroughly purge His floor; and gather His wheat into the garner,
for the use of future generations:  but the chaff, all that was
empty, light, and useless, He would burn up and destroy utterly out
of the way, with unquenchable fire.  He would inquire of every man,
How have you kept my image; my likeness, in which I made you?  What
sort of husbands, fathers, sons, neighbours, subjects, and
governors, have you been?  And above all, Malachi says, the root
question of all would be, what sort of fathers have you been to your
children?  What sort of children to your fathers?  Does that seem to
you a small question, my friends?  Would you have rather expected to
hear John the Baptist ask, what sort of saints they had been?  What
sort of doctrines they were professing?

A small question?  Look at these two little words, Father and Son.
Father and Son!  Are they not the most deep and awful, as well as
the most blessed and hopeful words on earth?  Do they not tell us
the very mystery of God's being?  Are they not the very name of God,
God The Father and God The Son, knit together by one Holy Spirit of
Love to each other and to all, who proceeds alike from The Father
and from The Son?  And then, will you think it a light matter to ask
fallen creatures made in the likeness of that perfect Father and
that perfect Son, what sort of fathers and sons they have been?  God
help us all, and give us grace to ask ourselves that question
morning and night, before the great and terrible day of the Lord
come, lest He come and smite this land with a curse.

I have been led to think deeply and to speak openly upon this solemn
matter, my friends, by seeing, as who can help seeing, the great
division and estrangement between the old and the young which is
growing up in our days.  I do not, alas! I cannot, deny the
complaints which old people commonly make.  Old people complain that
young people are grown too independent, disobedient, saucy, and what
not.  It is too true, frightfully, miserably true, that there is not
the same reverence for parents as there was a generation back;--that
the children break loose from their parents, spend their parents'
money, choose their own road in life, their own politics, their own
religion, alas! too often, for themselves;--that young people now
presume to do and say a hundred things which they would not have
dreamed in old times.  And they are ready enough to cry out that all
this is a sign of the last days, of which, they say, St. Paul speaks
in 2 Tim. iii. 4--when men 'shall be disobedient to parents,
unthankful, boasters, heady, high-minded, despisers of those who are
good, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.'  My friends, my
friends, it is far better for us who have children, instead of
prying into the times and seasons which God has kept in His own
hand, to read our Bibles faithfully, and when we quote a text, quote
the whole of it, and not just those bits of it which help us to
throw blame on other people.  What St. Paul really says, is that 'in
the last days evil times will come;' just as they had come, he
shows, when he wrote; and what he means I will try and show you
presently.  And, moreover, remember that Malachi says, that the
hearts of the parents in Judea needed turning to their children, as
well as the hearts of the children to their parents.  Take care lest
it be not so in England now.  Remember that St. Paul, in that same
solemn passage, gives other marks of 'last days,' which have to do
with parents as well as with children, and some which can only have
to do with parents--for they are the sins of grown-up and elderly
people, and not of young ones.  He says, that in those days men
shall also be 'covetous, proud, without natural affection, breakers
of their word, blasphemers; having a form of godliness, but denying
the power thereof.'  Will none of these hard words hit some grown
people in our day?  Will not they fill some of us with dread, lest
the parents now-a-days should be as much in fault as the children of
whom they complain; lest the parents' sins should be but too often
the cause of the children's sins?  Read through St. Paul's sad list
of sins, and see how every young man's sin in it has some old man's
sin corresponding to it.  St. Paul does not part his list, and I
dare not, and cannot.  St. Paul mixes the parents' and the
children's sins together in his words, and I fear that we do the
same in our actions.

Oh! beware, beware, you who complain of the behaviour of children
now-a-days, lest your children have as much cause to complain of
you.  Are your children selfish, lovers of themselves?--See that you
have not set them the example by your own covetousness or laziness.
Are they boastful?--See that your pride has not taught them.
Incontinent and profligate?--See that your own fierceness has not
taught them.  If they see you unable to master your own temper, they
will not care to try to master their appetites.  Are they
disobedient and unthankful?--See, well, then that your want of
natural affection to them, your neglect, and harshness, and want of
feeling and tenderness, has not made the balance of unkindness
fearfully even between you.  Are your children disobedient to you?--
See that you have not taught them to be so, by breaking your word to
them, by letting them see you deceitful to others, till they have
lost all trust in you, all reverence for you.  Above all, are your
children lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?--Oh! beware,
beware, lest you have made them so,--lest you have been blasphemers
against God, even when you have been fancying that you talked
religion.  Beware lest you have been teaching them dark, cruel,
superstitious thoughts about God,--making them look up to Him not as
their heavenly Father, but as a stern taskmaster whom they must
obey, not from gratitude, but from fear of hell, and so have made
God look so unlovely in their eyes that 'there is no beauty in Him
that they should desire Him.'  Can you wonder at their loving
pleasure rather than loving God, when you show them nothing in God's
character to love, but everything to dread and shrink from?  And
last of all, are your children despisers of those who are good,
inclined to laugh at religion, to suspect and sneer at pious people,
and call them hypocrites?  Oh! beware, beware, lest your lip-
religion, your dead faith, your inconsistent practice, has not been
the cause of it.  If you, as St. Paul says, have a form of
godliness, and yet in your life and actions deny the power of it, by
living without God in the world, and following the lowest maxims of
the world in everything but what you call the salvation of your
souls, what wonder if your children grow up despisers of those who
are good?  If they see you preaching one thing, and practising
another, they will learn to fancy that all godly people do the same.
If they see your religion a sham, they will learn to fancy all
religion false also.  Oh! woe, woe, most terrible, to those who thus
harden their own children's hearts, and destroy in them, as too many
do, all faith in God and man, all hope, all charity!  Woe to them!
for the Lord Himself, who came to lay the axe to the root of the
tree, said of such, 'If any man cause one of these little ones to
offend, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about
his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.'

So it is too often now-a-days, and so it will be, until people
condescend to learn over again that simple old Church Catechism
which they were taught when they were little, and to teach it to
their children, not only with their lips but in their lives.

'The Church Catechism!' some here will say to themselves with a
smile, 'that is but a paltry medicine for so great a disease--a
pitiful ending, forsooth, to such a severe sermon as this, to
recommend just the Church Catechism!'  Let those laugh who will, my
friends.  If you think you can bring up your children to be
blessings to you,--if you think you can live so as to be blessings
to your children, without the Church Catechism, you can but try.  I
think that you will fail.  More and more, year by year, I find that
those who try do fail.  More and more, year by year, I find that
even religious people's education of their children fails, and that
pious men's sons now-a-days are becoming more and more apt to be
scandals to their parents and to religion.  If any choose to say
that the reason is, that the pious men's sons were not of the number
of the elect, though their fathers were, I can only answer, that God
is no respecter of persons, and that they say that He is; that God
is not the author of the evil, and that they say that He is.  If a
child of mine turns out ill, I am bound to lay the fault first on
myself, and certainly never on God,--and so is every man, unless the
inspired Scripture is wrong where it says, 'Train up a child in the
way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.'
And the fault _is_ in ourselves.  Very few people really teach their
children now-a-days the Church Catechism; very few really believe
the Church Catechism; very few really believe that God is such an
one as the Church Catechism declares to us; very few believe in the
Lord, in whose image and likeness man is made, whose way John the
Baptist prepared by turning the hearts of the fathers to the
children.  They put, perhaps, religious books into their children's
hands, and talk to them a great deal about their souls:  but they do
not tell their children what the Church Catechism tells them,
because they do not believe what the Church Catechism tells them.

What that is; what the Church Catechism does tell us, which the
favourite religious books now-a-days do not tell us; and what that
has to do with turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, I
must tell you hereafter.  God grant that my words may sink into all
hearts, as far as they are right and true; if sooner or later we are
not all brought to understand the meaning of those two simple words,
Father and Son, neither Baptism, nor Confirmation, nor Schools, nor
this Church, nor the very body and blood of Him who died for us, to
share which you are all called this day, will be of avail for the
well-being of this parish, or of this country, or any other country
upon earth.  For where the root is corrupt, the fruit will be also;
and where family life and family ties, which are the root and
foundation of society, are out of joint, there the Nation and the
Church will decay also; as it is written, 'If the foundations be
cast down, what can the righteous do?'

And whensoever, in any family, or nation and church, the root of the
tree (which is the conduct of parents to children, and of children
to parents) grows corrupt and rotten, then 'last days,' as St. Paul
calls them, are indeed come to it, and evil times therewith; for the
Lord will surely lay the axe to the root of it, and cut it down and
cast it into the fire:  neither will the days of that family, or
that people, or that Church, be long in the land which the Lord
their God has given them.  So it has been as yet, in all ages and in
all countries on the face of God's earth, and so it will be until
the end.  Wheresoever the hearts of the fathers are not turned to
the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, there
will a great and terrible day of the Lord come; and that nation,
like Judaea of old, like many a fair country in Europe at this
moment, will be smitten with a curse.



SERMON II.  SALVATION



John xvii. 3.  This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.

Before I can explain what this text has to do with the Church
Catechism, I must say to you a little about what it means.

Now if I asked any of you what 'salvation' was, you would probably
answer, 'Eternal life.'

And you would answer rightly.  That is exactly what salvation is,
and neither more nor less.  No more than that; for nothing greater
than that can belong to any created being.  No less than that; for
God's love and mercy are eternal and without bound.

But what is eternal life?

Some will answer, 'Going to heaven when we die.'  But what before
you die?  You do not know? cannot tell?

Let us listen to what God Himself says.  Let us listen to what the
Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, says.  Let us listen to what He
who spake as man never spake, says.  Surely His words must be the
clearest, the simplest, the most exact, the deepest, the widest; the
exactly fit and true words, the complete words, the perfect words,
which cannot be improved on by adding to them or taking away one jot
or tittle.  What did the Lord Jesus Christ say that eternal life
was?

'This is eternal life, that they may know Thee the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.'

To know God and Jesus Christ; that is eternal life.  That is all the
eternal life which any of us will ever have, my friends.  Unless our
Lord's words are not complete and perfect, and do not tell us the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about eternal
life, that is all the eternal life any one will ever have; and we
must make up our minds to be content therewith.

To which some will answer, almost angrily, 'Of course.  The way to
obtain eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ; for if we do
not, we cannot obtain it.'

What words are these, my friends? what rash words are these, which
men thrust into Scripture out of their own carnal conceits, as if
they could improve upon the speech of the Son of Man Himself?  He
says, not that to know God is the way to eternal life:  but rather
that eternal life is the way to know God.  He does not say, This is
to know God and Jesus Christ, _in order that_ they may have eternal
life.  Whatever He says, He does not say that.  Nay, more, if we are
to be very exact (and can we be too exact?) with the Lord's words,
He says, that 'This is eternal life, _in order that_ they may know
God and Jesus Christ.'  Not that we are to know God that we may
obtain eternal life, but that we must have eternal life in order
that we may know God; that eternal life is the means, and the
knowledge of God the end and purpose for which eternal life is given
us.  However this may be, at least He says what the noble collect
which we repeat every Sunday says, 'That our eternal life stands in
the knowledge of God,' depends on it, and will fall without it.

'That we may know God.'  Not merely that we may know doctrines about
salvation, and the ways of winning God's favour, and turning away
His vengeance; not merely to know what God has done ages ago, or may
do ages hence, for us:  but to know God Himself; to know His person,
His likeness, His character; and what He is, and what He does, now
and always; to know His righteousness, His goodness, His truth, His
love, His mercy, His strength, His willingness and mightiness to
save; in a word, what the Bible calls His glory; and therefore to
admire and delight in Him utterly.  That is what our eternal life
stands in; that is why God has given to us eternal life in His Son,
that we may know that.  Oh, believe your Saviour simply, like little
children, and enter into the joy of your Lord.  Acquaint yourselves
with God, and be at peace.

To know God; and also to know Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  For
St. John, when he tells us that God has already given to us eternal
life, says also, that this life is in His Son.  To know the Son of
God, in whom the Father is well pleased, because He is His perfect
Son; His exact likeness, the likeness of that glory of His, and the
express image of that person and character of His, which I described
to you just now; One whose life was and is and ever will be
eternally all love, and mercy, and self-sacrifice, and labour, for
lost and sinful men; all trust and obedience to His Father.  To know
Him and His life, and to come to Him, and receive from Him an
eternal life, which this world did not give us, and cannot take away
from us; which neither man, devil, nor angel, nor the death of our
bodies, the ruin of empires, the destruction of the whole universe,
and of time, and space, and all things whereof man can conceive or
dream, can alter in the slightest, because it is a life of goodness,
and righteousness, and love, which are eternal as the God from whom
they spring; eternal as Christ, who is the same yesterday, to-day,
and for ever; and nothing but our own sinful wills can rob us of
them.

This is eternal life, and therefore this is salvation.  A very
different account of it (though it is the Bible account) from that
narrow and paltry one which too many have in their minds now-a-days;
a narrow and paltry notion that it means only being saved from the
punishment of our sins after we die; and a very unbelieving, and
godless, and atheistical notion too; which, like all unbelief hurts
and spoils men's lives.

For too many say to themselves, 'God must save me after I am dead,
of course, for no one else can:  but as long as I am alive I must
save myself.  God must save me from hell; but I must save myself
from poverty, from trouble, from what the world may say of me or do
to me, if I offend it.'  And so salvation seems to have to do
altogether with the next life, and not at all with this; and people
lose entirely the belief that God is our deliverer, our protector,
our guide, our friend, now, here, in this life; and do not really
think that they can get on better in this world by knowing God and
Jesus Christ; and so they set to work to help themselves by cunning,
by covetousness, by cowardly truckling to the wicked ways of the
very world which they renounced at baptism, by following after a
multitude to do evil, and standing by, saying, 'I saw it not,' when
they see wrong and cruelty done upon the earth; afraid to fight
God's battles like men of God, because they say it is 'dangerous.'
And so, in these evil days, thousands who call themselves Christians
live on, worldly and selfish, _without God in the world_; while they
talk busily enough of 'preparing to meet God,' in the world to come;
dreaming, poor souls, of arriving at what they call 'salvation'
after they die, while they are too often, I fear, deep enough in
what the Scripture calls 'damnation,' before they die.

'But,' say some, 'is not salvation going to a place called heaven?'
My friends, let the Bible speak.  It tells us that salvation is not
in a place at all, but in a person, a living, moving, acting person,
who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let the Psalmists
speak, and shame us, who ought to know (being Christians) even
better than they, that The Lord Himself is Salvation.  The whole
Book of Psalms, what is it but the blessed discovery that salvation
is not merely in a place, or a state, not even in some 'beatific
vision' after men die; but in the Lord Himself all day long in this
world; that salvation is a life in God and with God?  'The Lord is
my light, and my salvation, of whom then shall I be afraid?  The
Lord is the strength of my life, and my portion for ever.'  This is
their key-note.  Shame on us Christians, that we should have
forgotten it for one so much lower.  'The name of the Lord,' says
Solomon, 'is a strong tower:  the righteous runneth into it, and is
safe.'  Into it:  not merely into some pleasant place after he dies,
but all day long; and is safe:  not merely after he dies, but in
every chance and change of this mortal life.  My friends, I am
ashamed to have to put Christian men in mind of these things.
Truly, 'Evil communications have corrupted good manners; awake to
righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God.'
I am ashamed, I say; for there are old hymns in the mouths of every
one to this day, which testify against their want of faith; which
say, 'Christ is my life,' 'Christ is my salvation;' and which were
written, I doubt not, by men who meant literally what they said,
whatever those who sing them now-a-days may mean by them.  Now what
do those hymns mean by such words, if they mean anything at all?
Surely what I have been preaching to you, and what seems to some of
you, I fear, strange and new doctrine.  And what else does the
Church Catechism mean, when it bids every child thank God for having
brought him into a state of salvation?  For mind, throughout the
whole Church Catechism there is not one word about what people
commonly call heaven and hell; not one word though 'heaven and hell'
are now-a-days generally the first things about which children are
taught.  Not one word is the child taught about what will happen to
him after death, except that his body will rise again, and that
Christ will be his Judge after he is dead as well as while he is
alive:  but not one word about that salvation after he is dead,
which is almost the only thing of which one hears in many pulpits.
And why, but because the Catechism teaches the child to believe that
Jesus Christ is his salvation now, in this life, and believes that
to be enough for him to know?  For if Christ be eternal, His
salvation must be eternal also.  If Christ's life be in the child,
eternal life must be in the child; for Christ's life must be
eternal, even as Christ Himself; and that is enough for the child,
and for us also.

And with this agrees that great text of Scripture, 'When the wicked
man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful
and right, he shall save his soul alive.'  People now-a-days are apt
to make two mistakes about that one text.  First they forget the
'when,' and read it as if it stood, 'If the wicked man turn away
from his wickedness in this life, he shall save his soul in the next
life:' but the Bible says much more than that.  It says, that when
he turns, then and there, that moment he shall save his soul alive.
And next, they read the text as if it stood, 'he shall save his
soul.'  Here again, my friends, the Bible says a great deal more; it
says, that he shall save his soul alive.  Perhaps that does not seem
to you any great difference?  Alas, alas, my friends, I fear that
there are too many now, as there have been in all times, who do not
care for the difference.  Provided 'their souls are saved,' by which
they mean, provided they escape torment after they die, it matters
nothing to them whether their souls are saved alive, or saved dead;
they do not even know the difference between a dead soul and a live
soul; because they know nothing about eternal death and eternal
life, which are the death and the life of eternal persons such as
souls are; they say to themselves, if they be Protestants, 'I hope I
shall have faith enough to be saved;' or if they be Papists, 'I hope
I shall have good works enough to be saved;' valuing faith and works
not for themselves; yea, valuing--for I must say it--Almighty God
Himself, not for Himself and His own glory, but valuing faith and
works, and the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, only
because, as they dream, they are so many helps to a life of pleasure
beyond the grave; not knowing this, that living faith and good works
do not merely lead to heaven, but are heaven itself, that true, real
eternal heaven wherein alone men really live; that true, real
eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested in Jesus
Christ, whom St. John saw living upon earth that same Eternal Life,
and bore witness of Him that His life was the light of men; that
eternal life whereof it is written, that God hath brought us to life
together with Christ, and raised us up, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus:--not knowing this, that the only
life which any soul ought to live, is the life of God and of Christ,
and of the Spirit of God and Christ; a life of righteousness, and
justice, and truth, and obedience, and mercy, and love; a life which
God has given to us, that we may know and copy Him, and do His
works, and live His life, for ever:--not knowing this also that
eternal death is not merely some torture of fire and worms beyond
the grave:  but that this is eternal death, not to live the eternal
life which is the only possible life for souls, the life of
righteousness and love; a death which may come on respectable
people, and high religious professors, while they are fancying
themselves sure to be saved, as easily and surely as it may on
thieves and harlots, wallowing in the mire of sins.

For what is this same eternal death?  The opposite surely to eternal
life.  Eternal life is to know God, and therefore to obey Him.
Eternal life is to know God, whose name is love; and therefore, to
rejoice to fulfil His law, of which it is written, 'Love is the
fulfilling of the law;' and therefore to be full of love ourselves,
as it is written, 'We know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren;' and again, 'Every one that loveth,
knoweth God, for God is love.'  And on the other hand, eternal death
is not to know God, and therefore not to care for His law of love,
and therefore to be without love; as it is written on the other
hand, 'He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.'  'Whosoever
hateth his brother is a murderer;' and ye know that no murderer hath
eternal life abiding in him; and again, 'He that loveth not, knoweth
not God, for God is love.'  Eternal death, then, is to love no one;
to be shut up in the dark prison-house of our own wilful and wayward
thoughts and passions, full of spite, suspicion, envy, fear; in
fact, in one word, to be a devil.  Oh, my friends, is not that
damnation indeed, to be a devil here on earth, and for aught we
know, for ever and ever?

Do you not know what frame of mind I mean?  Thank God, none of us, I
suppose, is ever utterly without some grain of love left for some
one; none of us, I suppose, is ever utterly shut up in himself; and
as long as there is love there is life and as long as there is life
there is hope:  but yet there have been moments when one has felt
with horror how near, and how terrible, and how easy was this same
eternal death which some fancy only possible after they die.

For, my friends, were you ever, any one of you, for one half hour,
completely angry, completely _sulky_? displeased and disgusted with
everybody and everything round you, and yet displeased and disgusted
with yourself all the while; liking to think everyone wrong, liking
to make out that they were unjust to you; feeling quite proud at the
notion that you were an injured person:  and yet feeling in your
heart the very opposite of all these fancies:  feeling that you were
wrong, that you were unjust to them, and feeling utterly ashamed at
the thought that they were the injured persons, and that you had
injured them.  And perhaps, to make all worse, the person about whom
all this storm had arisen in your heart, was some dear friend or
relation whom you loved (strange contradiction, yet most true) at
the very moment that you were trying to hate.  Oh, my friends, if
one such dark hour has ever come home to you; if you have ever let
the sun go down upon your wrath, and so given place to the devil,
then you know something at least of what eternal death is.  You know
how, in such moments, there is a worm in the heart, and a fire in
the heart, compared with which all bodily torment would be light and
bearable; a worm in the heart which does not die:  and a fire in the
heart which you cannot quench:  but which if they remained there
would surely destroy you.  So intolerable are they, that you feel
that you will actually and really die, in some strange unspeakable
way, if you continue in that temper long.  Do not there open at such
times within our hearts black depths of evil, a power of becoming
wicked, a chance of being swept off into sin if one gives way, which
one never suspected till then; and yet with all these, the most
dreadful sense of helplessness, of slavery, of despair?--God grant
that may not remain, for then comes the mad hope to escape death by
death, to try by one desperate stroke to rid oneself of that self
which is for the time one's torment, worm, fire, death, and hell.
And what is this dark fight within us?  What does the Bible call it?
It is death and life, eternal death and eternal life, salvation and
damnation, hell and heaven, fighting together within our hapless
hearts, to see which shall be our masters.  It is the battle of the
evil spirit, who is the Devil, fighting with the good spirit, who is
God.  Nothing less than that, my friends.  Yes, in those hateful and
shameful moments of pride, or spite, or contempt, or self-will, or
suspicion, or sneering, on which when they are past we look back
with shame and horror, and wonder how we could have been such
wretches even for a moment,--at such times, I say, our heart is a
battle-field, on which no less than the Devil himself, and God
Himself are fighting for our souls.  On one side, Satan trying to
bring us into that state of eternal death in which he lives himself;
Satan, the loveless one, the self-willed one, the accuser, the
slanderer, slandering God to us, slandering man to us, slandering to
us the friends we love best and trust most utterly; yea, slandering
our own selves to us, trying to make us believe that we are as bad,
ought to be as bad, and must always be as bad as we seem for the
time to be; that we cannot shake off our evil passions, that we
cannot rise again out of the eternal death of sin into the eternal
life of righteousness.  And on the other side, the Spirit of God and
of His Christ, the Spirit of eternal life, the Spirit of justice,
and righteousness, love, joy, peace, duty, self-sacrifice, trying to
make us know Him and see His beauty, and obey Him, and be at peace;
trying to raise us again into that eternal life and state of
salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ has bought for us with His
most precious blood.

Oh, awful thought!  Life and death, the Devil himself, and the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself, fighting in your heart and in mine, and in the
heart of every human being round us!  And yet most blessed thought,
hopeful, glorious,--full of the promise of eternal victory!  For
greater is He that is with us, than he that is against us; and He
who conquered Satan for Himself, can and will conquer him for us
also.  No thing can separate us from the love of Christ; no thing,
yea no angel, or devil, principality, or power; no thing, but only
ourselves, only our own proud and wayward will and determination to
the Devil's voice in our hearts, and not the voice of Christ, the
Word of Life, who is nigh us, in our hearts, even in our darkest
moments, loving us still, pitying us, ready, able and willing to
help all who cast themselves on Him, and raise us, there and then,
the very moment we cry to Him and renounce the Devil and our own
foolish will, out of self-will into God's will, out of darkness into
light, out of hatred into love, out of despair into hope, out of
doubt into faith, out of tempest into peace, out of the death of sin
into the life of righteousness, the life of love and charity, which
abideth for ever.  Oh, listen not to the lying, slanderous Devil,
who tells you that by your own sin you have lost your share in
Christ, lost baptismal grace, lost Christ's love--Lost His love?
His, who, were you in the very lowest depths of hell, would pity you
still?  His love, who Himself went down into hell, and preached to
the spirits in prison, to show that he did care even for them?  Not
so:  into Him you have been baptized.  His cross is on your
foreheads, His Father is your Father:--and can a father desert his
child, even though he sinned seventy and seven times, if seventy and
seven times he turn and repent?  Can man weary God?  Can the
creature conquer and destroy the love of his Creator?  Can Christ
deny Himself?  Not so; whosoever thou art, however sorely tempted,
however deeply fallen, however disgusted and terrified at thyself,
turn only to that blessed face which wept over Jerusalem, to that
great heart which bled for thee upon the cross, and thou shalt find
him unchanged, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, the Lord of
life and love, able and willing to save to the uttermost all who
come to God through Him, and the accusing Devil shall turn and flee,
and thou shalt know that thy Redeemer liveth still, and in thy flesh
thou shalt see the salvation of God, and cry, 'Rejoice not against
me, Satan, mine enemy; for when I fall I shall arise.'



SERMON III.  A GOOD CONSCIENCE



1 Peter iii. 21.  The like figure whereunto baptism doth now save us
(not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a
good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These words are very wide words; too wide to please most people.
They preach a very free grace; too free to please most people.  Such
free and full grace, indeed, that some who talk most about free
grace, and insist most on man's being saved only by free grace, are
the very men who shrink from these words most, and would be more
comfortable in their minds, I suspect, if they were not in the Bible
at all, because the grace they preach is too free.  But so it always
has been, and so it is, and so, I suppose, it always will be.  Man
preaches his notions of God's forgiveness, his notions of what he
thinks God ought to do; but when God proclaims His own forgiveness,
and tells men what He has actually done, and bids His apostle
declare boldly that baptism doth now save us, then man is frightened
at the vastness of God's generosity, and thinks God's grace too
free, His forgiveness too complete; and considers this text and many
another in the Bible as 'dangerous' forsooth, if it is 'preached
unreservedly,' and not to be quoted without some words of man's
invention tacked to it, to water it down, and narrow it, and take
all the strength and life out of it; and if he be asked whether he
believes the words of Scripture,--for instance, whether St. Paul
spoke truth when he told the heathen Athenians that they and all men
were the offspring of God;--or when he told the Romans that as by
the offence of one, judgment came on all men to condemnation, even
so by the righteousness of One, the free gift came upon all men to
justification of life;--or when he told the Corinthians, that as in
Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;--or whether
St. Peter spoke truth when he said, that 'baptism doth also now save
us,'--then they answer, that the words are true 'in a sense;' that
is, not in their plain sense; true, if they were only true; true,
and yet somehow at the same time not true; and not to be preached
'unreservedly:' as if man could be more cautious and correct in his
language than the Spirit of God, who inspired the Apostles; as if
man could be more careful of God's honour than God is of His own; as
if man could hate sin and guard against sin more carefully than God
Himself.

Just in the same way do people stumble at certain invaluable words
in the Church Catechism, which teach children to thank God for
having brought them into that state of salvation.  Even very good
people, and people who really wish to believe and honour the Church
Catechism, and the Sacrament of Baptism, find these words too strong
to please them, and say, that of course a child's being in a state
of salvation cannot mean that he is saved, but that he may be saved
after he dies.

My friends, I never could find that we have a right to take
liberties with the Bible and the Prayer Book which we dare not take
with any other book, and to put meanings into the words of them
which, in the case of any other book, would be contrary to plain
grammar and the English tongue, if not to common sense and honesty.

If you say of a man, 'he is in a state of happiness,' you mean, do
you not, that he is happy now, not that he may perhaps be happy some
day?  If you came to me and told me that you were in a state of
hunger, you would think it a very strange answer to receive if I
say, 'Very well then, if you become hungry, come to me, and I will
feed you?'  You all know that a man's being in a state of poverty,
or of misery, means that he is poor or miserable now, here, at this
very time; that if a man is in a state of sickness, he is sick; if
he is in a state of health, he is healthy.  Then what can a man's
being in a state of salvation mean, by all rules of English, but
that he is saved?  If I were to say to any one of the good people
who do not think so, 'My friend, you are in a state of damnation,'
he would answer me quickly enough, 'I am not, for I am not damned.'
He would agree that a man's being in a state of damnation means that
the man is damned; why will he not agree that a man's being in a
state of salvation means that he is saved?  Because, my friends,
God's grace is too full for fallen man's notions; and therefore
there is an evil fashion abroad in the world, that where a text
speaks of wrath, and misery and punishment, you are to interpret it
exactly, and to the very letter:  but where it speaks of love, and
mercy, and forgiveness, you are to do no such thing, but narrow it,
and fence it, and explain it away, for fear you should make sinners
too comfortable,--a plan which seems wise enough, but which, like
other plans of man's wisdom, has not succeeded too well, to judge by
the number of sinners who are already too comfortable though they
hear the Bible misused, and God's grace narrowed in this way every
Sunday of their lives.

But, my friends, we call ourselves Englishmen and churchmen; let us
be honest Englishmen and plain churchmen, and take our Catechism as
it stands.  For rightly or wrongly, truly or falsely, it does teach
every christened child to thank God, not merely that it has some
chance of being saved, when it dies, but that it is saved already,
now, here on earth.

Whether that is true or false is another question.  I believe it to
be true.  I believe the text to be true; I believe that why people
shrink from it is, that they have got into their minds a wrong,
unscriptural, superstitious notion of what being saved, and saving
one's soul alive, and salvation mean.  And I beg all of you who read
your Bibles to search the Scriptures from beginning to end, and try
to find out what these words mean, and whether the Catechism has not
kept close, after all, to the words of Scripture.  It will be better
for you, my friends; it will be worth your while, to know exactly
what being saved means; for to judge by the signs of the times,
there are, very probably, days coming in which it will be as needful
for you and for your children to save your souls alive lest you die,
as ever it was for the Jews in Isaiah's or Jeremiah's time, or for
the Romans in St. Paul's time; and that in that day you will find
the Catechism wider, and deeper, and sounder than you have ever
suspected it to be, and see, I trust, that in these very words it
preaches to you, and me, and our children after us, the one true
Gospel and good news, which will stand, and grow, and shine brighter
and brighter for ever, when all the paltry, narrow, counterfeit
gospels which man invents in its place have been burnt up by the
unquenchable fire with which the merciful Lord purges the chaff from
His floor.

I told you this morning what I believe that salvation was,--to know
God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent.  To know God's likeness,
God's character, what God has shown of His own character, what He
has done for us.  To know His boundless love, and mercy, and knowing
that, to trust in Him utterly, and submit to Him utterly, and obey
Him utterly, sure that He loves us, that His will to us is goodwill,
that His commandments must be life.  To know God, and therefore to
love Him and to serve Him, that is salvation.

Now what hinders a little child, from the very moment that it can
think or speak, from entering into that salvation?  Not the child's
own heart.  There is evil in the child--true.  Is there none in you
and me?  There is a corrupt nature in the child--true.  Is there not
in you and me?  Woe to us if we have not found it out:  woe to us if
we dare to think that we are in ourselves--or out of ourselves
either--one whit better than our own children.  What should hinder
any child whom you or I ever saw from knowing God, and His Name, the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Has he not an earthly father, through whom he may know _The_ Father?
Is he not an earthly son; and through that may he not know _The_
Son?  Has he not a conscience, a spirit in him which knows good from
evil? holiness from wickedness--far more clearly and tenderly than
the souls of most grown people do? and can he not, therefore,
understand you when you speak of a Holy Spirit, a Spirit which puts
good desires into his heart, and can enable him to bring those good
desires into practice?

I know one hindrance at least; and that is his parents' sins; when
the parents' harshness or neglect tempts the child to fancy that God
The Father is such a Father to him as his parents are, and that to
be a child of God is to look up to his heavenly Father with dread
and suspicion as to a hard taskmaster whose anger has to be turned
away, and not with that perfect love, and trust, and respect, and
self-sacrifice, with which the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His
Father's will and proclaimed His Father's glory:  or when the
parents' unholiness and lip-religion teach the child to fancy that
the Holy Spirit means only certain religious fancies and feelings,
or the learning by heart of certain words and doctrines, or, worst
of all, a spirit of bondage unto fear; instead of knowing Him to be,
as He is, the Spirit of righteousness, and love, and joy, and peace,
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance:  or
when, again, parents by their own teaching, do despite to the Spirit
of Grace in their own child, and destroy their child's good
conscience toward God, by telling the child that it does not really
love God, when it loves Him, perhaps, far better than they do; by
telling the child that its sins have parted it from God, when its
sins are light, yea, are as nothing in the balance compared to the
sins they themselves commit every day, while they claim for
themselves clearer light and knowledge than the child, and thereby
condemn themselves rather than the child; when they darken and
defile the pure and beautiful trust and admiration for its Heavenly
Father, which God's Spirit puts into the child's heart, by telling
it that it is doomed to I know-not-what horrible misery and torture
when it dies; but that it can escape from that wretched end by
thinking certain thoughts, and feeling certain feelings; and so
(after stirring up in the child all manner of dreadful doubts of
God's love and justice, and perhaps driving it away from religion
altogether by making it believe that it has committed sins which it
has not committed, and deserves horrible tortures which it has not
deserved), do perhaps at last awaken in it a new love for God, but
one which is not like that first love, that childlike love; one
which, I fear, is hardly a love for God at all, but principally a
selfish joy and delight at having escaped from coming torments.
This is the reason, my friends; and this hindrance, at least, I
know.  I will not copy those parents, my friends, and tell them, as
they tell their children, that they are bringing on themselves
endless torture; but I must tell them, for the Lord Christ has told
them, that they are bringing on themselves something--I know not
what--of which it is written, that it were better for them that a
millstone were hanged about their necks, and that they were drowned
in the depth of the sea.  Oh, my friends, if I speak sternly, almost
bitterly, when I speak of parents' sins, it is because I speak for
those who cannot speak for themselves.  I plead for Christ's little
ones:  I plead for the souls and consciences of those little
children of whom Christ said, 'Suffer the little children to come
unto me;' not that they might become His, but because they were His
already; not that they might win His love, but because He loved them
from all eternity:  not that they might enter into the kingdom of
heaven, but, because they were in the kingdom of heaven already;
because the kingdom of heaven was made up of such as them, and the
angels who ministered unto them always beheld the face of our Father
who is in heaven.  Yes; I plead for those children, of whom the Lord
said, 'Except ye be converted,' that is, utterly turned and changed,
'and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the
kingdom of heaven.'  Deep and blessed words, which are the root-rule
of all true righteousness; which so few really believe at heart, any
more than the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and Herodians of old did.
Up and down, all over England, I hear men of all denominations
saying, not, 'Except we grown people be converted and become as
little children;' but, 'except the little children be converted, and
become like us, grown people.'  God grant that the little children
may not become like too many grown people!  God grant it, I say.
God grant that our children may not become like us!  God grant that
they may keep through youth and manhood, and through the grave, and
through all worlds to come, the tender and childlike heart, which we
too often have hardened in ourselves by bigotry and superstition,
and dead faith, and lip-worship!  And I can have good hope that God
will grant it.  I can have hope that God will teach our children and
our children's children truly to know Him whose name is Love and
Righteousness, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as long as
I see His providence preserving for us this old Church Catechism, to
teach our children what we forget to teach them, or what we have not
faith enough to teach them.

Yes, I can have hope for England; and hope for those mighty nations
across the seas, whose earthly mother God has ordained that she
should be, as long as the Catechism is taught to her children.

For see.  This Catechism does not begin with telling children that
they are sinners:  they will find that out soon enough for
themselves, poor little things, from their own wayward and self-
willed hearts.  Nor by telling them that man is fallen and corrupt:
they will find out that also soon enough, from the way in which they
see people go on around them.  It does not even begin by telling
them that they ought to be good, or what goodness and righteousness
is; because it takes for granted that they know that already; it
takes for granted that The Light who lights every man who comes into
the world is in them; even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, stirring
up in their hearts, as He does in the heart of every child, the
knowledge of good and the love of good.  But it begins at once by
teaching the child the name of God.  It goes at once to the root of
the matter; to the fountain of goodness itself; even to God, the
Father of lights.  It is so careful of God's honour, so careful that
the child should learn from the first to look up to God with love
and trust, that it dare not tell the child that God can destroy and
punish, before it has told him that God is a Father and a Maker; the
Father of spirits, who has made him and all the world.  It dare not
tell him that mankind is fallen, before it has told him that all the
world is redeemed.  It dare not talk to him of unholiness, before it
has taught him that the Holy Spirit of God is with him, to make him
holy.  It tells him of a world, a flesh, and a devil:  but he has
renounced them.  He has neither part nor lot in them; and he is not
to think of them yet.  He is to think of that in which he has part
and lot, of which he is an inheritor.  He is to know where he is and
ought to be, before he knows where he is not and ought not to be:
he is to think of the name of God, by which he can trample world,
flesh, and devil under foot, if they dare hereafter meddle with his
soul.  In its God-inspired tenderness and prudence, it dare not
darken the heart of one little child, or tempt him to hard thoughts
of God, or to cry, 'Why hast thou made me thus?' lest it put a
stumbling-block in the way of Christ's little ones, and dishonour
the name and glory of God.  It tells him of the love, before it
tells him of the wrath; of the order, before it tells him of the
disorder; of the right, before the wrong; of the health, before the
disease; of the freedom, before the bondage; of the truth, before
the lies; of the light, before the darkness; in one word, it tells
him first of the eternal and good God, who was, and is, and shall be
to all eternity, before and above the evil devil.  It tells him of
the name of God; and tells him that God is with him, and he with
God, and bids him believe that, and be saved, from his birth-hour,
to endless ages.  It does not tell him to pray that he may become
God's child; but to pray, because he is God's child already.  It
does not tell him to love God, in order that he may make God love
him; but to love God because God loves him already, and has loved
him from all eternity.  It does not tell him to obey Jesus Christ,
in order that Christ may save him; but to obey Christ because Christ
has saved him, and bought him with his own blood.  It does not tell
him to do good works, in order that God's Spirit may be pleased with
him, and come to him, and make him one of the elect; neither does it
tell him, that some day or other, if he is converted, and feels
certain religious experiences, he will have a right to consider
himself one of God's elect:  but it tells him to look man and devil
in the face, he, the poor little ignorant village child, and say
boldly in the name of God, 'I am one of God's elect.  The Holy
Spirit of God is sanctifying me, and making me holy.  God has saved
me; and I heartily thank my Heavenly Father, who has called me to
this state of salvation.'  It tells him to believe that he is safe--
safe in the ark of Christ's Church, as Noah was safe in the ark at
the deluge; and that the one way to keep himself within that ark is
to obey Him to whom it belongs, who judges it and will guide it for
ever, Jesus Christ, the likeness of God; and that as long as he does
that, neither world, flesh, nor devil, can harm him; even as Noah
was safe in the ark, and nothing could drown him but his own wilful
casting himself out of the ark, and trying to free the flood of
waters by his own strength and cunning.

It tells him, I say, that he is safe, and saved, even as David, and
Isaiah, and all holy men who ever lived have been, as long as he
trusts in God, and clings to God, and obeys God; and that only when
he forsakes God, and follows his own selfishness and pride, can
anything or being in earth or hell harm him.

And do not fancy, my friends, that this is a mere unimportant
question of words and doctrines, because a baptized and educated
child may be lost after all, and fall from his state of salvation
into a state of damnation.  Still more, do not fancy that if a child
is taught that he is already a child of God, regenerated in baptism,
and elect by God's Spirit, that therefore he will neglect either
vital faith or good works--heaven forbid!

Is it likely to make a child careless, and inclined to neglect vital
truth, to tell him that God is his Father and loves him utterly, and
has given His only begotten Son to die for him?  Is it not the very
way, the only way, to stir up in him faith, and real hearty trust
and affection towards God?  How can you teach him to trust God, but
by telling him that God has shown himself boundlessly and perfectly
worthy to be trusted by every soul of man; or to love God, but by
showing him that God loves him already?  Is it likely to make a
child careless of good works, to tell him that God has elected and
chosen him, and all his brothers and schoolfellows, to be conformed
into the likeness of Jesus Christ, and that every good, and
honourable, and gentle thought or feeling which ever crosses his
little heart, does not come from himself, is not part of his own
nature or character, but is nothing less than the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit, nothing less than the voice of Almighty God Himself,
speaking to the child's heart, that he may answer with Samuel--
'Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth?'  Is it likely to make a
child careless about losing eternal life, to tell him that God has
already given to him eternal life, and that that life is in His Son
Jesus Christ, to whom the child belongs, body, soul, and spirit?

Judge for yourselves, my friends.  Think what awe, what reverence,
purity, dread of sin, would grow up in a child who was really taught
all this, and yet what faith and love to God, what freedom, and
joyfulness, and good courage about his own duty and calling in life.

And then look at the fruits which in general follow a religious
education, as it is miscalled; and take warning.  For if you really
train up your children in the way in which they should go, be sure
that when they are old they will not depart from it--a promise which
is not fulfilled to most religious education which we see around us
now-a-days; from which sad fact, if Scripture be inspired and
infallible, we can only judge that such is not the way in which the
children should go; and that because it is a wrong way, therefore
God will not, and man cannot, keep them in it.



SERMON IV.  NAMES



Matthew i. 21.  And thou shall call his name Jesus.

Did it ever seem to you a curious thing that the Catechism begins by
asking the child its name?  'What is your name?'  'Who gave you this
name?'  I think that if you were not all of you accustomed to the
Church Catechism from your childhood, that would seem a strange way
of beginning to teach a child about religion.

But the more I consider, the more sure I am that it is the right way
to begin teaching a child what the Catechism wishes to teach.

Do not fancy that it begins by asking the child's name just because
it must begin somehow, and then go on to religion afterwards.  Do
not fancy that it merely supposes that the clergyman does not know
the child's name, and must ask it; for this Catechism is intended to
be taught by parents to their children, and masters to their
apprentices and servants; by people, therefore, who know the child's
name perfectly well already, and yet they are to begin by asking the
child his name.

Now, why is this?  What has a child's name to do with his Faith and
duty as a Christian?

You may answer, Because his Christian name is given him when he is
baptized.

But _why_ is his Christian name given him when he is baptized?  Why
then rather than at any other time?

Because it is the old custom of the Church.  No doubt it is:  and a
most wise and blessed custom it is; and one which shows us how much
more about God and man the churchmen in old times knew, than most of
our religious teachers now-a-days.  But how did that old custom
arise?  What put into the minds of church people, for the last
sixteen hundred years at least, that being baptized and being named
had anything to do with each other?  Men had names of their own long
before the Lord Jesus came, long before His Baptism was heard of on
earth;--the heathens of old had their names--the heathens have names
still;--why, then, did church people feel it right to mix a new
thing like baptism with a world-old thing like giving a name?

My friends, I feel and say honestly, that there is more in this
matter than I understand; and what little I do understand, I could
not explain fully in one sermon, or in many either.  But let this be
enough for to-day.  God grant that I may be able to make you
understand me.

Any one's having a name--a name of his own, a Christian name, as we
rightly call it--signifies that he is a person; that is, that he has
a character of his own, and a responsibility, and a calling and duty
of his own, given him by God; in one word, that he has an immortal
soul in him, for which he, and he alone, must answer, and receive
the rewards of the deeds which it does in the body, whether they be
good or evil.  But names are not given at random, without cause or
meaning.  When Adam named all the beasts, we read that whatsoever he
called any beast, that _was_ the name of it.  The names which he
gave _described_ each beast, were taken from something in its
appearance, or its ways and habits, and so each was its right name,
the name which expressed its nature.  And so now, when learned men
discover animals or plants in foreign countries, they do not give
them names at random, but take care to invent names for them which
may describe their natures, and make people understand what they are
like, as Adam did for the beasts of old.  And much more, in old
times, had the names of men each of them a meaning.  If it was
reasonable to give names full of meaning to each kind of dumb
animal, which are mere things, and not persons at all, how much more
to each man separately, for each man is a person of himself; each
man has a character different from all others, a calling different
from all others, and therefore he ought to have his own name
separate from all others:  and therefore in old times it was the
custom to give each child a separate name, which had a meaning in
it, was, as it were, a description of the child, or of something
particular about the child.

Now, we may see this, above all, in The adorable Name of Jesus.
That name, above all others, ought to show us what a name means; for
it is the name of the Son of Man, the one perfect and sinless man,
the pattern of all men; and therefore it must be a perfect name, and
a pattern for all names; and it was given to the Lord not by man,
but by God; not after He was born, but before He was conceived in
the womb of the blessed Virgin.  And therefore, it must show and
mean not merely some outward accident about Him, something which He
seemed to be, or looked like, in men's eyes:  no, the Name of Jesus
must mean what the Lord was in the sight of His Father in Heaven;
what He was in the eternal purpose of God the Father; what He was,
really and absolutely, in Himself; it must mean and declare the very
substance of His being.  And so, indeed, it does; for The adorable
Name of Jesus means nothing else but God the Saviour--God who saves.
This is His name, and was, and ever will be.  This Name He fulfilled
on earth, and proved it to be His character, His exact description,
His very Name, in short, which made Him different from all other
beings in heaven or earth, create or uncreate; and therefore, He
bears His name to all eternity, for a mark of what He has been, and
is, and will be for ever--God the Saviour; and this is the perfect
name, the pattern of all other names of men.

Now though the Christian names which we give our children here in
England, have no especial meaning to them, and have nothing to do
with what we expect or wish the children to be when they grow up,
yet the names of people in most other countries in the world have.
The Jewish names which we find in the Bible have almost all of them
a meaning.  So Simeon, I believe, means 'Obedient'; Jehoshaphat
means, 'The Lord will judge'; Daniel, 'God is my judge'; Isaiah
means, 'The Salvation of the Lord'; Isaac means, 'She laughs,' as a
memorial of Sarah's laughing, when she heard that she was to have a
child; Ishmael means, 'The Lord hears,' in remembrance of God's
hearing Hagar's cry in the wilderness, when Ishmael was dying of
thirst.

Especially those names of which we read that God commanded them to
be given, have meanings, and to tell the persons who bore those
names what God expected of them, or would do for them.  So Abraham
means, 'The father of many nations.'  So the children of both Isaiah
and Hosea had names given them by God, each of them meaning
something which God was going to do to the nation of the Jews.  And
so John means, 'Given by the Lord,' which name was given to John the
Baptist by the Angel, before his strange birth, in his mother's old
age.

But we must remember that the heathens also gave names to their
children, though they did not know that their children owed any duty
to God, or belonged to God, and therefore we cannot call their names
Christian names.  Yes, the heathens did give their children names;
some of them give their children names still.  And there is to me
something most sad and painful in those heathen names, and yet most
full of meaning.  A solemn lesson to us, to show us what the fall
means; what man becomes, when he gives way to his fallen nature, and
is parted from Christ, the Head of man.

First, these heathens had a dim remembrance that man was made in the
likeness of God, and lived by Faith in God, and therefore that men's
names were to express that, as indeed many of their old names do.
But, alas! the likeness of God in fallen man is like a tree without
roots, or rather a tree without soil to grow in.  God's likeness in
man can only flourish as long as he is joined to Christ, the perfect
likeness of God, the true life and the true light of men, the
foundation which is already laid, and the soil in which man was
meant to grow and flourish for ever, and as long as he is fed by the
Spirit of God, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds--never
forget that, or you will lose the understanding both of who God is
and what man is--proceeds not only from God the Father, but also
from God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And therefore, in the
heathen, God's likeness withered and decayed, as a tree withers and
decays when torn up from the soil.  And first, they began to call
themselves after the names of false gods, which they had invented
out of their own carnal fancies.  Then they called themselves after
the names of their dumb animal's.  So, Pharaoh means, 'The Sun-God';
the Ammonites mean, 'The people who worshipped the ram as a god';
Potiphar means, 'A fat bull,' which the Egyptians used to worship;
and I could tell you of hundreds of heathen names more, like these,
which are ridiculous enough to make one smile, if we did not keep in
mind what tokens they are of sin and ignorance, and the likeness not
of God, but of the beasts which perish.

Then comes another set of names, showing a lower fall still, when
heathens have quite forgotten that man was originally made in God's
likeness, and are not only content to live after the likeness of the
beasts which perish, but pride themselves on being like beasts, and
therefore name their children after dumb animals,--the girls after
the gentler and fairer animals, and the boys after ravenous and
cruel beasts of prey.  That has been the custom among many heathen
nations; perhaps among almost all of them, at some time or other.
It is the custom now among the Red Indians in North America, where
you will find one man in a tribe called 'The Bull,' another 'The
Panther,' and another 'The Serpent,' and so on; showing that they
would like to be, if they could, as strong as the bull, as cruel as
the panther, as venomous as the serpent.  What wonder that those Red
Indians, who have so put on the likeness of the beasts, are now
dying off the face of the earth like the beasts whom they admire and
imitate?

And this was the way with our own heathen forefathers before the
blessed Gospel was preached to them.  It is frightful, in reading
old histories, to find how many Englishmen, our own forefathers,
were named after fierce wild beasts, and tried, alas! to be like
their names--children of wrath, whose feet were swift to shed blood,
under whose lips was the poison of adders, and destruction and
bloodshed following in their paths, not knowing the way of peace.
The wolf was the common wild beast of England then; and there are, I
should say, twenty common old English names ending in wolf, besides
as many more ending in bear, and eagle, and raven.  Fearful sign!
that men of our own flesh and blood should have gloried in being
like the wolf, the cruellest, the greediest, the most mean of savage
beasts!  How shall we thank God enough, who sent to them the
knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ, and called them to be new men in
Christ Jesus, and called them to holy baptism, to receive new names,
and begin new lives in the righteous likeness of God Himself?--that
as by nature they had been the children of wrath, so in baptism they
might become the children of grace; that as from their forefathers
they had inherited a corrupt nature, original sin, and the likeness
of the foul and ravenous beasts which perish, they might have power
from the Spirit of God to become the sons of God, conformed into the
likeness of Jesus Christ, in peace, and love, and righteousness, and
all holiness.

And yet, in names there is a lower depth still among fallen and
heathen men; when they lose utterly the last dim notion that God
intends men to be persons, even as God the Father is a person, and
God the Son a person, and God the Holy Spirit is a person, and so
lose the custom of giving their children personal names at all;
either giving them, after they grow up, mere nicknames, taken from
some peculiarity of their bodies, or something which they have done,
or some place where they happen to live; or else, like many tribes
of heathen negroes, just name them after the day of the week on
which they were born, as some way of knowing them apart; or, last
and most shocking of all, give them no names at all, and have no
names themselves, knowing each other apart as the dumb animals do,
only by sight.  I can conceive no deeper fall into utter brutishness
than that; and yet some few of the most savage tribes, both in
Africa and in the Indian islands, are said--God help them!--to live
in that way, and to have no names;--blotted, indeed, out of the book
of life!

But is this the right state for men?  No; it is the wrong state.  It
is a disease into which men are fallen; a disease out of which
Christ came to raise men; and out of which He does raise us in Holy
Baptism.  Baptism puts the child into its right state--into the
right state for a human being, a human soul, a human person.  And
baptism declares what that right state is--a member of Christ, a
child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.  A member
of Christ, and therefore a person, because Christ is a person.  A
child of God, and therefore a person, because a child's duty is to
love and trust and obey his father--and only a person can do that,
not an animal or a thing.  An inheritor of the kingdom of heaven,
and therefore bound to cherish all heavenly thoughts and feelings,
all righteousness, love, and obedience, which only spirits and
persons, not animals or things, can feel.

Now can you not see why baptism is the proper time for giving the
child a name?  Because then Christ claims the child for His own;--
because having a name shows that the child is a person who has a
soul, a will, a conscience, a duty; a person who must answer himself
for himself alone for what he does in the body, whether it be good
or evil.  And that will, and soul, and conscience were given the
child by Christ, by whom all things are made, who is the Light which
lights every man who comes into the world.

Thus in holy baptism God adopts the child for His own in Jesus
Christ.  He declares that the child is regenerate, and has a new
life, a life from above, a seed of eternal personal life which he
himself has not by nature.  And that seed of eternal life is none
other but the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Father and of
the Son, the Lord and Giver of Life, who does verily and indeed
regenerate the child in holy baptism, and dwells with his soul, his
person, his very self, that He may educate the child's character,
and raise his affections, and subdue his will, and raise him up
daily from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.

Therefore, when in the Catechism you solemnly ask the child its
name, you ask it no light question.  You speak as a spirit, a
person, to its spirit, to its very self, which God wills should
never perish, but live for ever.  You single the child out from all
its schoolfellows, from all the millions of human beings who have
ever lived, or ever will live; and you make the child, by answering
to his name, confess that he is a person, an immortal soul, who must
stand alone before the judgment seat of God; a person who has a duty
and a calling upon God's earth, which he must fulfil or pay the
forfeit.  And then you ask the child who gave him his name, and make
him declare that his name was given him in baptism, wherein he was
made a member of Christ and a child of God.  You make the child
confess that he is a person in Jesus Christ, that Christ has
redeemed him, his very self, and taken him to Himself, and made him
not merely God's creature, or God's slave, but God's child.  You
make the child confess that his duty as a person is not towards
himself, to do what _he_ likes, and follow his own carnal lusts; but
toward God and toward his neighbours, who are in God's kingdom of
heaven as well as he.  And then you go on in the rest of the
Catechism to teach him how he himself, the person to whom you are
speaking, may live for ever and ever as a person, by faith in other
Persons beside himself, even in God the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, as you teach him in the Creed; by doing his duty to other
persons beside himself, even to God and man, as you teach him in the
Ten Commandments; and by diligent prayer to another Person beside
himself, even to God his heavenly Father, to feed and strengthen him
day by day with that eternal life which was given to him in baptism.
Thus the whole Catechism turns upon the very first question in it--
'What is thy name?'  It explains to the child what is really meant,
in the sight of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the whole
Church in earth and heaven, by the child's having a name of his own,
and being a person, and having that name given to him in holy
baptism.

And if this is true of our children, my friends, it is equally true
of us.  You and I are persons, and persons in Christ; each stands
alone day and night before the judgment-seat of Christ.  Each must
answer for himself.  None can deliver his brother, nor make
agreement unto God for him.  Each of us has his calling from his
heavenly Father; his duty to do which none can do instead of him.
Each has his own sins, his own temptations, his own sorrows, which
he must bring single-handed and alone to God his Father, as it is
written, 'The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger
intermeddleth not with its joy.'  There is a world, a flesh, and a
devil, near to us, ready to drag us down, and destroy our personal
and spiritual life, which God has given us in Christ; a flesh which
tempts us to follow our own appetites and passions, blindly and
lawlessly, like the beasts which perish; a world which tempts us to
become mere things, without free-wills of our own, or consciences of
our own, without personal faith and personal holiness; the puppets
of the circumstances and the customs which happen to be round us;
blown about like the dead leaf, and swept helplessly down the stream
of time.  And there is a devil, too, near us, tempting us to the
deepest lie of all,--to set up ourselves apart from God, and to try,
as the devil tries, to be persons in our own strength, each doing
what he chooses, each being his own law, and his own master; that
is, his own lawlessness, and his own tyrant:  and if we listen to
that devil, that spirit of lawlessness and self-will, we shall
become his slaves, persons in him, doing his work, and finding
torment and misery and slavery in it.  Awful thought, that so many
enemies should be against us; yea, that we ourselves should be our
own enemies!  But here baptism gives us hope, baptism gives us
courage; we are in Christ; God is our Father, and He can and will
give us power to have victory, and to triumph against the world, the
flesh, and the devil.  His Spirit is given to us in baptism--that
Spirit of God who is not merely a force or an influence, but a
person, a living, loving, holy Person.  He is with us, to give our
persons, our souls, eternal life from His life, eternal holiness
from His holiness; that so, not merely some part of us, but we our
very selves and souls--we the very same persons who were christened,
and had a name given us in holy baptism, and have been answering to
that name all our life, and were reminded, whenever we heard that
name, that we had a duty of our own, a history of our own, hopes,
fears, joys, sorrows of our own, which none could share with us,--
that we, I say, our own persons, our very selves, may be raised up
again at the last day, free, pure, strong, filled with the life of
God, which is eternal life.

And then, what blessed words are these from the Lord Jesus, which we
read in the book of Revelation?  'And I will give to him that
overcometh, a new name.'  A new name for him that overcometh world,
flesh, and devil; that shall be our portion in the world to come.  A
new name, perfect like the name of the Lord Jesus, which shall
express and mean all that we are to do hereafter, and all that we
have done well on earth.  A name which shall declare to us our
calling and work in God's Church triumphant, throughout all ages and
worlds to come:  and yet a name which no man knoweth saving he who
receiveth it.  Yes, if we may dare to guess at the meaning of those
deep words, perhaps in that new name shall be recorded for each man
all that went on, in the secret depths of the man's own heart,
between himself and his God, unknown and unnoticed even by the wife
of his bosom.  The cup of cold water given in Christ's name; the
little private acts of love, and kindness, and self-sacrifice, of
which none but God knew; the secret prayers, the secret acts of
contrition, the secret hungerings and thirstings after
righteousness, the secret struggles and agonies of heart, which he
could not, dare not, ought not to tell to any human being.  All
these, he shall find, will go to make up his character in the life
to come, to determine what work he is to do for God in the world to
come; as it is written, 'Be thou faithful over a few things, and I
will make thee ruler over many things.'  All these, perhaps, shall
be expressed and declared in that new name, the full meaning of
which none will know but the man himself, because none but he knows
the secret experiences and struggles which went toward the making of
it; none but he and God; for God will know all, He who is the Lord
and Saviour of our souls, our persons, our very selves, and can
preserve them utterly to the fulness of eternal life, because He
knows them thoroughly and utterly; because He judges not according
to appearance, but judges righteous judgment; because He sees us not
merely as we seem to others to be, not even as we seem at times to
ourselves to be;--but searches the heart, and can be touched with
the feeling of its infirmities, seeing that He himself has been
tempted even as we are, yet without sin; because, blessed thought!
He can pierce through the very marrow of our being, and discern the
thoughts and intents of our hearts, and see what we long to be, and
what we ought to be; so that we can safely and hopefully commend our
spirits to His hand, day by day and hour by hour, and can trust Him
to cleanse us from our secret faults, and to renew and strengthen
our very selves day by day with that eternal life which He gives to
all who cast themselves utterly upon Him.



SERMON V.  SPONSORSHIP



1 Cor. xii. 26, 27.  Whether one member suffer, all the members
suffer with it; or whether one member be honoured, all the members
rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in
particular.

I have to tell you that there will be a confirmation held at . . .
on the . . . All persons of fit age who have not yet been confirmed
ought to be ready, and I hope and trust that most of them will be
ready, on that day to profess publicly their faith and loyalty to
the Lord who died for them.  I hope and trust that they will, as
soon as possible, tell me that they intend to do so, and come to me
to talk over the matter, and to learn what I can teach them about
it.  They will find in me, I hope, nothing but kindness and fellow-
feeling.

But I have not only to tell young persons of the Confirmation:  I
have to tell all godfathers and godmothers of it also.  Have any of
you here ever stood godfather or godmother to any young person in
this parish who is not yet confirmed?  If you have, now is the time
for you to fulfil your parts as sponsors.  You must help me, and
help the children's parents, in bringing your godchildren to
confirmation.  It really is your duty.  It will be better for you if
you fulfil it.  Better for you, not merely by preventing a
punishment, but by bringing a blessing.  Let me try to show you what
I mean.

Now godparents must have some duty, some responsibility or other;--
that is plain.  If you or I promise and vow things in another
person's name, we must be bound more or less to see that that other
person fulfils the promise which we made for him:  and so the
baptism service warns the sponsors as soon as the child is
christened, 'Forasmuch as this child has promised,' &c.; and then we
have a plain explanation of what a godfather and godmother's duties
are.  'And that your godchild may know these things the better,'
&c.:  and finally, 'you shall take care that this child be brought
to the bishop to be confirmed.'

That is the duty of godfathers and godmothers.  Those who stand for
any child do it on that understanding, and take upon themselves
knowingly that duty.

Now, I will not threaten you, my friends; I will not pretend to tell
you how God will punish those godfathers and godmothers who do not
do their duty; because I do not know how he will punish them.  He
has not told us in the Bible; and who am I, to deal out God's
thunders as if they belonged to me, and judge people of whose real
merits and dements in God's sight I have no fair means of judging?
I always dread and dislike threatening any sinner out of this
pulpit, except those who plainly break the plain laws which are
written in those Ten Commandments, and hypocrites:  because I stand
in awe of our Lord's own words--'Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites, for ye bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and
lay them on men's shoulders, while you yourselves touch them not
with one of your fingers.'  There is too much of that now-a-days, my
friends, and I have no mind to add my share to it.  And sure I am,
that any godfathers and godmothers who do their duty, only because
they are afraid that God will punish them if they do not, will not
do their duty at all.  But sure I am also, and thankful to God, that
we cannot neglect any duty whatsoever without being punished in some
way or other for our neglect of it.  That is not a curse, but a
blessing:  it is a blessing to us to be punished.  The only real
curse of God in this life is to be left unpunished for our sins.  It
is a blessing for us that our sins find us out.  For if our sins did
not find _us_ out, we should very often, I fear, not find our sins
out.  And, therefore, when I tell godfathers and godmothers, not
that God will perhaps punish them for their neglect, but that He
does punish them for it already, I am telling them good news, if
they will only open their hearts to that good news.

For God does punish people for neglecting their godchildren.  Those
who have eyes to see may see it round us now, in this very parish,
and in every parish in England, in the selfishness, distrust,
divisions, and quarrels which prevail.  I do not mean that this
parish is worse than others, or England worse than other countries.
That is no concern of ours:  our own parish, and our own evils, are
quite concern enough for us.

Are people happy together?  Do they pull well together?  Look at the
old-standing quarrels, misunderstandings, grudges, prejudices,
suspicions, which part one man from another, one family from
another; every man for his own house, and very few for the kingdom
of God;--no, not even for the general welfare of the parish!  Do not
men try to better themselves at the expense of the parish--to the
injury of the parish?  Do not men, when they try to raise their own
family, seem to think that the simplest way to do it is to pull down
their neighbour's family; to draw away their custom; oust them from
their places, or hurt their characters in order to rise upon their
fall? so that though they are brothers, members of the same church,
nation and parish, the greater part of them are, in practice, at war
with each other--trying to live at each other's expense.  Now, is
this profitable?  So far from it, that if you will watch the
history, either of the whole world, or of this country, or of this
one parish, you will find that by far the greater part of the misery
in it has sprung from this very selfishness and separateness--from
the perpetual struggle between man and man, and between family and
family:  so that there have been men, and those learned, and
thoughtful, and well-meaning men enough, who have said that the only
cure for the world's quarrelling and selfishness was to take all
children away from their parents, and bring them up in large public
schools; ay, and even to try plans which are sinful, foul, and
wicked, all in order to prevent parents knowing which were their own
children, that they might care for all the children in the parish as
much as if they were their own.

A foolish plan, my friends, and for this one reason, that it is
driving out one evil by a still greater one.  It destroys the root
to get the fruit; by destroying family life, and love, and
obedience, to get at the communion of saints, or rather at some
ghost of it.  The real communion of saints is founded on the Fifth
Commandment--'Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother;' and
grows out of it, not by destroying it, but by fulfilling it, as the
tree grows out of the root, without taking away from the life of the
root, but rather by nourishing and increasing it.  Now, the ancient
institution of godfathers and godmothers would, it seems to me, if
it were carried out honestly and really, do for us what we certainly
have not done for ourselves as yet, and bind us all together as one
family.  It would do all the good which those fanciful philosophers
of whom I first spoke, have dreamt, without any of the evil; and it
would do it because it goes simply on the belief that the foundation
is already laid, and that that foundation is Christ.  It says,
because this child is not merely the child of his father and mother,
but the child of God, the universal Father, therefore other people
besides his parents have an interest in him:  all who are children
of God as well as he have an interest in him; for they are all his
brothers, and have a brother's interest in his welfare.  Because
this child is not merely a member of the family whose surname he
bears, but a member of Christ, a member of God's great adopted
family, in the hearts of every one of whom His only begotten Son,
Jesus Christ, is working; therefore this child ought to be an object
of awe, and of interest, and love, and care to every other member of
Christ's Church.  Moreover, the child is an inheritor of a heavenly
kingdom--a kingdom of grace--a kingdom of God,--which is love and
justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit--all personal,
spiritual, heavenly, God-given graces;--and he cannot have them
without being a blessing to all around him; and he cannot be without
them, without being a curse to all around him.  If, in after life,
when he comes to be confirmed, he claims his inheritance in this
heavenly kingdom, he will be full of love, justice, peace, joy in
the Holy Spirit.  If he refuses to claim his inheritance, and
despises his heavenly birthright, and lives as if he were a mere
earthly creature, only to please himself, and help himself, he will
not be full of those graces.  And what then?  That he will be full
of their opposites, of course.  If he has not love, he will be
unloving, selfish, hard, cold--to _you_ and yours.  If he has not
justice he will be unjust--to you and yours.  If he is not at peace
he will be at war, quarrelling, grudging, envying, backbiting--you
and yours.  If he has not joy in the Holy Spirit, he will have joy
in an unholy spirit, for he must have joy in some spirit; he must
take pleasure in some sort of way of thinking and feeling, and some
sort of life--in short, in some sort of spirit; and whatsoever is
not holy is unholy, whatsoever is not good is bad, whatsoever is not
of God's Holy Spirit is of the Devil;--and therefore, if the child
as he grows up has not joy in the Holy Spirit, and does not enjoy
doing right and pleasing God, and being like the Lord Jesus Christ,
then he will enjoy doing wrong, and pleasing himself, and being
unlike the Lord Jesus Christ; and so he will set a bad example, and
be a temptation to all young people of his own age, ready to lead
them into sin, and draw them away to those sinful and unholy
pleasures in which he takes delight,--whether it be to rioting and
drinking, or to uncleanness and unchastity, or to sneering and
laughing at godliness, and at good people.  And that, as you know by
experience, may be the worse for you and the worse for your
children.  Is that the sort of young person with whom you would wish
to see your children keeping company?  Is that the sort of young
person next door to whom you would wish to live?  Is not such a
person a curse, just because he is a person, a spiritual being with
an evil spirit in him, which can harm you, and tempt you, and act on
you for evil; just as if he had been a righteous person, with the
holy and good Spirit in him, he would have helped you, and taught
you, and worked on you for good?  But so it is:  we are members one
of another, and if one member goes wrong, and gets diseased, and
suffers, all the other members are sure to suffer more or less with
it, sooner or later:  you feel it so in your bodies--be sure it is
so in God's church.  But if one member is sound and healthy, all the
other members must and will be the better for its health, and
rejoice with it, and be able to do their own work the more freely,
and strongly, and heartily.

Just think for yourselves; consider, you who are grown up, and have
had experience of life, the harm you have known one bad man do, the
sorrow he will cause, even to people who never saw him; and the good
which you have seen one good man, not merely do with his own hands,
but put into other people's hearts by his example.  Is not both the
good and the harm which is done on earth like the ripple of a stone
dropt into water, which spreads and spreads for a vast distance
round, however small the stone may be?  Indeed, bold as it may seem
to say it, I believe that, if we could behold all hearts as the Lord
Jesus does, we should find that there never was a good man but that
the whole of Christendom, perhaps all mankind, was sooner or later,
more or less, the better for him; and that there never was a bad man
but that all Christendom, perhaps all mankind, was the worse for
him.  So fully and really true it is in everyday practice, that we
are members one of another.

Now this is the principle on which the Church acts.  For the little
unconscious infant is treated as what it is, a most solemn and
important person, who has other relations beside its father and
mother, as a person who is the brother of all the people round it,
and of all the Church of God, and who, too, may hereafter do to them
boundless good or harm, and they to it.

Therefore we must have some persons to bear witness of that, to
remind the child himself, and the whole Church, that he is not
merely a soul by itself to be saved, but that he is a brother, a
member of a family; that he is bound to that family henceforth, for
good and for evil.  And this the godfathers and godmothers do:  they
represent and stand in the place of the whole Church.  In one sense,
every Christian who meets that child through life, or hears of it,
ought to behave, as far as he can, as its godfather; ought to help
and improve it if he can.  But what is everybody's business, says
the proverb, is nobody's business; and therefore these godfathers
and godmothers are called out from the rest, as examples to the
rest, to watch over the child, and to help and advise its father and
mother in guiding and training it:  but not by interfering with a
parent's rights, God forbid! or by drawing away the child's
affections from its own flesh and blood; for if a child be not
taught first to honour its father and mother, there is little use in
teaching it anything else whatsoever; and a godfather's first duty
is to see that his godchild obeys its earthly parents for the Lord's
sake, for that is right, and God's will, whatever else is not.

Now just conceive--I am sure that you easily may--what a blessing to
this parish, or this part of the country, it would be, were the
duties of godfathers really carried out and practised.  Every child,
beside his father and mother, would have some two or three elder
friends at least, whom he had known from his childhood, whom he
could trust, to whom he could go in trouble as to his own flesh and
blood.  The orphan would have, if not relations, still godparents,
to comfort and protect him.  No one could go abroad without meeting,
if not a godparent, yet the godparent or godchild of a friend or a
relation; someone, in short, who had an interest in him, and he in
them.  All would be bound together in threefold cords of interest
and affection.  How many spites, family quarrels, mistakes, and
ignorances about each other would be done away, if people would but
thus simply enter into that communion of saints to which, by right,
they belong, and bear each other's burdens, and so fulfil the law of
Christ.--Unless you think that men are such ill-conditioned
creatures that the less they mix with each other the better.  I do
not.  I believe that the more we mix with each other, and the better
we know each other, the more we shall feel for each other:  that the
more we help people, the more we shall find that they are worth
helping; that the more, in a word, we try to live, not after the
likeness of the beasts, selfish and apart, but after the order and
constitution of God's Church, to which we belong, and which is, that
we are all fellow-members of one body, then the more we shall find
that God's order is the right, good, blessed order, by obeying which
we enter into comfort of which we never dream as long as we lead
selfish, separate, worldly lives; as it is written, 'Eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to
conceive, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'

This may seem a fanciful dream, too fair to be possible; but what
prevents it from being possible, save and except our own selfishness
and laziness?

And as for what fruit will spring from it, I have seen, by
experience, the blessing of godfathership and godmothership, where
it is really carried out; how it will knit together, in sacred bonds
of friendship, not merely the children, but the grown persons of
different families, and give them a fellow-feeling, a mutual
interest, which will prevent a hundred quarrels and coldnesses among
frail human creatures.  And to those who are childless themselves,
what a blessing to have their love and self-sacrifice called out, by
being bound in holy bonds, if not to children of their own, at least
to children of God!--to have young people to care for, to teach, to
guide, and so to win for themselves in the Church of God a name
better than that of sons and daughters.  And have no fear that by
bringing your kindness to bear especially upon your godchildren you
will narrow your love, and care less for children in general.  Not
so, my friends; you will find that your love to your godchildren,
like love to your own children, will make all children lovable in
your eyes:  you will learn how worthy of your love children are,
what capacities of good there are in them, how truly of such are the
kingdom of heaven; and their simplicity will often teach you more
than you can teach them.  Their God-given instincts of right and
wrong, truth and falsehood, which come from the indwelling Word of
God, Jesus the Lord, will often enough shame us, will teach us more
and more the depth of that great saying, 'Out of the mouths of babes
and sucklings, Thou, O God, hast perfected Thy praise.'

Now try, I entreat you, all godfathers and godmothers, to carry out
these hints of mine, and so fulfil your duty to your godchildren,
sure that you will find it a blessing to yourselves as well as to
them.

After all it is your duty.  But do not let the slandering Devil
slander to you that blessed word, Duty, and make you afraid of it,
and shrink from it, as if it meant something burdensome, and
troublesome, and thankless, which you suppose you must do for fear
of punishment, while you have a right to see how little of it you
can do, and try to be let off as cheaply as possible.  Beware of
that evil spirit, my friends, for he is very near you, and me, and
every man, whenever we think of our duty.  Very near us he is, that
evil Jesuit spirit, that spirit of bondage unto fear, which is
continually setting us on to find out with how _little_ service God
will be contented, how human slaves may make the cheapest bargain
with some stern taskmaster above, of whom they dream.  And from that
temptation there is no escape, save into the blessed name of God
Himself--our Father.

Our Father!--whenever you think of your duty to God or man, think
but of those two words.  Remember that all duty is duty to a Father;
your Father; and such a Father!  Who gave His only begotten Son to
die for you, who showed what He was in that Son--full of goodness,
perfectly loving, perfectly merciful, perfectly just; and then you
will not be inclined to ask how _little_ obedience, how _little_
love, how _little_ service, He will allow you to pay to Him; but how
much He will help you to pay to Him.  Then you will feel that His
service is perfect freedom, because it is service to a Father who
loves you, and will help you to do His will.  Then you will feel
that His commandments are not grievous, because they are a Father's
commandments, because you are bound to do them, not by dread and
superstition, but by gratitude, honour, affection, respect, trust.
Then you will not be thinking of what punishment will come if you
disobey--no, nor of what reward will come if you obey--but you will
be thinking of the commandment itself, and how to carry it out most
perfectly, and let the consequences take care of themselves, because
you know that your _Father_ takes care of them; that He loves you,
and therefore what He commands must be good for you, utterly the
best thing for you; that He only gives you a commandment because it
is good for you; that you are made in God's image, and therefore
God's will must be for you the path of life, the only rule by which
you can prosper now and for ever.

Do try, now, all you who are godfathers and godmothers, and for once
look on your duty in this light.  Be sure that in trying to do your
duty you will bring a blessing on yourselves, because your duty is
to a Father in heaven.  Be sure that, in trying to better your
godchildren, you will better yourselves; in trying to teach them,
you will teach yourselves; in trying to bring them to confirmation,
you will indeed confirm, root, and strengthen yourselves the more
deeply in all that is good; because your godchildren are indeed
God's children, and whatsoever you do for them you do for His only
begotten Son Jesus Christ, as He Himself says, 'Inasmuch as ye did
it unto one of the least of these little ones, ye did it unto Me.'
Do not be afraid of trying; you will have a hundred reasons for not
trying rise in your mind, the Devil will find you a hundred lying
excuses:  'It will be so difficult; and you do not like to interfere
with other people's children; and you have never cared about your
godchildren yet, and it will seem so odd to begin now; and the
children may not listen to you; and besides, you do not know enough
to teach them; you are not good scholar enough, good liver enough,
you can't preach where you don't practice.'  Oh, how ready the Devil
is to help a man to excuses for not doing his duty; how careful he
is to keep out of a man's mind the one thought which would sweep all
those excuses to the wind--the thought that this same duty, which he
is trying to make look so ugly, is duty to a loving Father.  Do not
listen to his lies; look up to your good Father in heaven; and try.
It is God's will that these children should be confirmed; it is His
will that you should help to bring them to confirmation; and if it
is His will, He will help you to do that will of His.  It may seem
difficult:  but try, and the difficulty will vanish, for God will
make it easy for you.  You may be afraid of interfering:  believe
that God's Spirit is working in the hearts of your godchildren, and
of their parents also; and trust to God's Spirit to make them kindly
and thankful to you about the matter, and glad to see that you take
an interest in their children.  You may seem not to know enough:  O,
my friends, you know enough, every one of you, if you have courage
to confess how much you know.  Ask God for courage to speak out, and
He will give it you.  And even if you are no scholar, be sure that,
as the old proverb says, 'Teaching is the best way of learning.'
Any parent, or godfather, or godmother, who will try to teach their
children God's truth and their duty, will find that in so doing they
will teach themselves even more than they teach the children.  I say
it because I know it from my own experience.  And for the rest,
again I say, is not God your Father?  Therefore, if any man be in
want of wisdom, or courage, or any other heavenly gift, let him ask
of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, and he shall
receive it.  For after all, when you ask God to teach you, and
strengthen you to do your duty, you do but ask Him for a part of
that very inheritance which He has already given you; a part of your
inheritance in that kingdom of heaven which is a kingdom of
spiritual gifts and graces, into which you were baptized as well as
your godchildren.

Try then, each of you, what you can do to bring your own godchildren
to confirmation, and what you can do to make them fit for
confirmation; for you are members one of another, and if you will
act as such, you will find strength to do your duty, and a blessing
in your day from that heavenly Father from whom every fatherhood in
heaven and earth, and yours among the rest, is named.



SERMON VI.  JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH



Ephesians ii. 5.  By grace ye are saved.

We all hold that we are justified by faith, that is, by believing;
and that unless we are justified we cannot be saved.  And of all men
who ever believed this, perhaps those who gave us the Church
Catechism believed it most strongly.  Nay, some of them suffered for
it; endured persecution, banishment, and a cruel death, because they
would persist in holding, contrary to the Romanists, that men were
justified by faith only, and not by the works of the law; and that
this was one of the root-doctrines of Christianity, which if a man
did not believe, he would believe nothing else rightly.  Does it not
seem, then, something strange that they should never in this
Catechism of theirs mention one word about justifying or
justification?  They do not ask the child, 'How is a man justified?'
that he may answer, 'By faith alone;' they do not even teach him to
say, 'I am justified already.  I am in a state of justification;'
but not saying one word about that, they teach him to say much more--
they teach him to say that he is in a state of salvation, and to
thank God boldly because he is so; and then go on at once to ask him
the articles of his belief.  And even more strange still, they teach
him to answer that question, not by repeating any doctrines, but by
repeating the simple old Apostles' Creed.  They do not teach him to
say, as some would now-a-days, 'I believe in original sin, I believe
in redemption through Christ's death, I believe in justification by
faith, I believe in sanctification by the Holy Spirit,'--true as
these doctrines are; still less do they bid the child say, 'I
believe in predestination, and election, and effectual calling, and
irresistible grace, and vicarious satisfaction, and forensic
justification, and vital faith, and the three assurances.'

Whether these things be true or false, it seemed to the ancient
worthies who gave us our Catechism that children had no business
with them.  They had their own opinions on these matters, and spoke
their opinions moderately and wisely, and the sum of their opinions
we have in the Thirty-nine Articles, which are not meant for
children, not even for grown persons, excepting scholars and
clergymen.  Of course every grown person is at liberty to study
them; but no one in the Church of England is required to agree to
them, and to swear that they are true, except scholars at our old
Universities, and clergymen, who are bound to have studied such
questions.  But for the rest of Englishmen all the necessary
articles of belief (so the old divines considered) were contained in
the simple old Apostles' Creed.

And why?  Because, it seems to me, they were what Englishmen ought
to be--what too many Englishmen are too apt to boast of being in
these days, while they are not so, or anything like it--and that is,
honest men and practical men.  They had taught the children to say
that they were members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of
the kingdom of heaven; and they had taught the children, when they
said that, to mean what they said; for they had no notion that 'I
am,' meant 'I may possibly be;' or that 'I was made,' meant 'There
is a chance of my being made some time or other.'  They would not
have dared to teach children to say things which were most probably
not true.  So believing really what they taught, they believed also
that the children were justified.  For if a child is not justified
in being a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the
kingdom of heaven, what is he justified in being?  Is not that
exactly the just, right, and proper state for him, and for every
man?--the very state in which all men were meant originally to be,
in which all men ought to have been?  So they looked on these
children as being in the just, right, and proper way, on which God
looks with satisfaction and pleasure, and in which alone a man can
do just, right, and proper things, by the Spirit of Christ, which He
gives daily and hourly to those who belong to Him and trust in Him
and in His Father.

But they knew that the children could only keep in this just, and
right, and proper state by trusting in God, and looking up to Him
daily in faith, and love, and obedience.  They knew that if the
children, whether for one hour or for their whole lives, lost trust
in God, and began trusting in themselves, they would that very
moment, then and there, become not justified at all, because they
would be doing a thing which no man is justified in doing, and fall
into a state into which no man is justified in remaining for one
hour--that is, into an unjustifiable state of self-will, and
lawlessness, and forgetfulness of who and of what they were, and of
what God was to them; in one word, into a sinful state, which is not
a righteous, or just, or good, or proper state for any man, but an
utterly unrighteous, unjust, wrong, improper, mistaken, diseased
state, which is certain to breed unrighteous, unjust, improper
actions in a man, as a limb is certain to corrupt if it be cut off
from the body, as a little child is certain to come to harm if it
runs away from its parents, and does just what it likes, and eats
whatsoever pleases its fancy.  So these old divines, being practical
men, said to themselves, 'These children are justified and right in
being what they are, therefore our business is to keep them what
they are, and we can only do that as long as they have faith in God
and in His Christ.'

Now, if they had been mere men of books, they would have said to
themselves, 'Then we must teach the children very exactly what faith
is, that they may know how to tell true faith from false, and may be
able to judge every day and hour whether they have the right sort of
faith which will justify them, or some wrong sort which will not.'
And many wise and good men in those times did say so, and tormented
their own minds, and the minds of weak brethren, with long arguments
and dry doctrines about faith, till, in their eagerness to make out
what sort of thing faith ought to be, they seemed quite to forget
that it must be faith in God, and so seemed to forget too who God
was, and what He was like.  Therefore, they ended by making people
believe (as too many, I fear, do now-a-days) not that they were
justified freely by the grace of God, shown forth in the life, and
death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ; no:  but that they
were justified by believing in justification by faith, and that
their salvation depended not on being faithful to God and trusting
in Him, but in standing up fiercely for the doctrine of
justification by faith.  And so they destroyed the doctrine of free
grace, while they thought they were fighting for it; for they taught
men not to look to God for salvation, so much as to their own faith,
their own frames, and feelings, and experiences; and these, as
common sense will show you, are just as much something in a man, as
acts of his own, and part of him, as his good works would be; and so
by making people fancy that it was having the right sort of feelings
which justified them, they fell back into the very same mistake as
the Papists against whom they were so bitter, namely, that it is
something in a man's self which justifies him, and not simply
Christ's merits and God's free grace.

But our old Reformers were of a different mind; and everlasting
thanks be to Almighty God that they were so.  For by being so they
have made the Church of England (as I always have said, and always
will say) almost the only Church in Europe, Protestant or other,
which thoroughly and fully stands up for free grace, and
justification by faith alone.  For these old Reformers were
practical men, and took the practical way.  They knew, perhaps, the
old proverb, 'A man need not be a builder to live in a house.'  At
least they acted on it, and instead of trying to make the children
understand what faith was made up of, they tried to make them live
in faith itself.  Instead of saying, 'How shall we make the children
have faith in God by telling them what faith is?' they said, 'How
shall we make them have faith in God by telling them what God is?'
And therefore, instead of puzzling and fretting the children's minds
with any of the controversies which were then going on between
Papists and Protestants, or afterwards between Calvinists and
Arminians, they taught the children simply about God; who He was,
and what He had done for them and all mankind; that so they might
learn to love Him, and look up to Him in faith, and trust utterly to
Him, and so remain justified and right, saved and safe for ever.

By doing which, my friends, they showed that they knew more about
faith and about God than if they had written books on books of
doctrinal arguments (though they wrote those too, and wrote them
nobly and well); they showed that they had true faith in God, such
trust in Him, and in the beauty and goodness, justice and love,
which He had shown, that they only needed to tell the children of
it, and they would trust Him too, and at once have faith in so good
a God.  They showed that they had such trust in the excellencies,
and reasonableness, and fitness of His Gospel, that they were sure
that it would come home at once to the children's hearts.  They
showed that they had such trust in the power of His grace, in His
love for the children, in the working of His Spirit in the children,
that He would bring His Gospel home to their hearts, and stir them
up by the spirit of adoption to feel that they were indeed the
children of God, to whom they might freely cry, 'My Father!'

And I say that they were not deceived.  I say that experience has
shown that they were right; that the Church Catechism, where it is
really and honestly taught, gives the children an honest, frank,
sober, English temper of mind which no other training which I have
seen gives.  I have seen, alas!  Church schools fail, ere now, in
training good children; but as far as I have seen, they have failed
either because the Catechism was neglected for the sake of cramming
the children's brains with scholarship, or because the Catechism was
not honestly taught:  because the words were taught by rote, but the
explanations which were given of it were no explanations at all, but
another doctrine, which our forefathers knew not:  either Dissenting
or Popish; either a religion of fancies, and feelings, and
experiences, or one of superstitious notions and superstitious
ceremonies which have been borrowed from the Church of Rome, and
which, I trust in God, will be soon returned to their proper owner,
if the free, truthful, God-trusting English spirit is to remain in
our children.  I know that there are good men among Dissenters, my
friends; good men among Romanists.  I have met with them, and I
thank God for them; and what may not be good for English children
may be good for foreign ones.  I judge not; to his own master each
man stands or falls.  But I warn you frankly, from experience (not
of my own merely--Heaven forbid!--but from the experience of
centuries past), that if you expect to make the average of English
children good children on any other ground than the Church Catechism
takes, you will fail.  Of course there will be some chosen ones here
and there, whose hearts God will touch; but you will find that the
greater part of the children will not be made better at all; you
will find that the cleverer, and more tender-hearted will be made
conceited, Pharisaical, self-deceiving (for children are as ready to
deceive themselves, and play the hypocrite to their own consciences,
as grown people are); they will catch up cant words and phrases, or
little outward forms of reverence, and make a religion for
themselves out of them to drug their own consciences withal; while,
when they go out into the world, and meet temptation, they will have
no real safeguard against it, because whatsoever they have been
taught, they have not been taught that God is really and practically
their Father, and they His children.

I have seen many examples of this kind.  Perhaps those who have eyes
to see may have seen one or two in this very parish.  Be that as it
may, I tell you, my friends, that your children shall be taught the
Church Catechism, with the plain, honest meaning of the words as
they stand.  No less:  but as God shall give me grace, no more.  If
it be not enough for them to know that God, He who made heaven and
earth, is their Father; that His Son Jesus Christ redeemed them and
all mankind by being born of the Virgin Mary, suffering under
Pontius Pilate, being crucified, dead, and buried, descending into
hell, rising again the third day from the dead, ascending into
Heaven, and sitting on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, in
the intent of coming from thence to judge the living and the dead;
to believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy universal Church in which
He keeps us, in the fellowship of all Saints in which He knits us
together; in the forgiveness of our sins which He proclaims to us,
in the resurrection of our body which He will quicken at the last
day, in the life everlasting which is His life,--if, I say, this be
not enough for them to believe, and on the strength thereof to trust
God utterly, and so be justified and saved from this evil world, and
from the doom and punishment thereof, then they must go elsewhere;
for I have nothing more to offer them, and trust in God that I never
shall have.



SERMON VII.  DUTY AND SUPERSTITION



Micah vi. 6-8.  Wherewith shall I come before the Lord and bow
myself before the most High God?  Shall I come before him with burnt
offerings? . . .  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? .
. .  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression; the fruit of my
body for the sin of my soul?

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God?

There are many now-a-days who complain of that part of the Church
Catechism which speaks of our duty to God and to our neighbour; and
many more, I fear, who shrink from complaining of the Church
Catechism, because it is part of the Prayer-book, yet wish in their
secret hearts that it had said something different about Duty.

Some wonder why it does not say more about what are called
'religious duties,' and 'acts of worship,' 'mortification,'
'penitence,' and 'good works.'  Others wonder no less why it says
nothing about what are called 'Christian frames and feelings,' and
'inward experiences.'

For there is a notion abroad in the world, as there is in all evil
times, that a man's chief duty is to save his own soul after he is
dead; that his business in this world is merely to see how he can
get out of it again, without suffering endless torture after his
body dies.  This is called superstition:  anxiety about what will
happen to us after we die.

Now if you look at the greater number of religious books, whether
Popish or Protestant, you will find that in practice the main thing,
almost the one thing, which they are meant to do, is to show the
reader how he may escape Hell-torments, and reach Heaven's pleasures
after he dies:  not how he may do his Duty to God and his neighbour.
They speak of that latter, of course:  they could not be Christian
books at all, thank God, without doing so; but they seem to me to
tell men to do their Duty, not simply because it is right, and a
blessing in itself, and worth doing for its own sake, but because a
man may gain something by it after he dies.  Therefore, to help
their readers to gain as much as possible after they die, they are
not content with the plain Duty laid down in the Bible and in the
Catechism, but require of men new duties over and above; which may
be all very good if they help men to do their real Duty, but are
simply worth nothing if they do not.

Let me explain myself.  I said just now that superstition means
anxiety about what will happen to us after we die.  But people
commonly understand by superstition, religious ceremonies, like the
Popish ones, which God has not commanded.  And that is not a wrong
meaning either; for people take to these ceremonies from over-
anxiety about the next life.  The one springs out of the other; the
outward conduct out of the inward fear; and both spring alike out of
a false notion of God, which the Devil (whose great aim is to hinder
us from knowing our Father in Heaven) puts into men's minds.  Man
feels that he is sinful and unrighteous; the light of Christ in his
heart shows him that, and it shows him at the same time that God is
sinless and righteous.  'Then,' he says, 'God must hate sin;' and
there he says true.  Then steps in the slanderer, Satan, and
whispers, 'But you are sinful; therefore God hates you, and wills
you harm, and torture, and ruin.'  And the poor man believes that
lying voice, and will believe it to the end, whether he be Christian
or heathen, until he believes the Bible and the Sacraments, which
tell him, 'God does not hate you:  He hates your sins, and loves
you; He wills not your misery but your happiness; and therefore
God's will, yea, God's earnest endeavour, is to raise you out of
those sins of yours, which make you miserable now, and which, if you
go on in them, must bring of themselves everlasting misery to you.'
Of themselves; not by any arbitrary decree of God (whereof the Bible
says not one single word from beginning to end), that He will
inflict on you so much pain for so much sin:  but by the very nature
of sin; for to sin is to be parted from God, in whose presence alone
is life, and therefore sin is, to be in death.  Sin is, to be at war
with God, who is love and peace; and therefore to be in
lovelessness, hatred, war, and misery.  Sin is, to act contrary to
the constitution which God gave man, when He said, 'Let us make man
in our image, after our likeness;' and therefore sin is a disease in
human nature, and like all other diseases, must, unless it is
checked, go on everlastingly and perpetually breeding weakness, pain
and torment.  And out of that God is so desirous to raise you, that
He spared not His only begotten Son, but freely gave Him for you, if
by any means He might raise you out of that death of sin to the life
of righteousness--to a righteous life; to a life of Duty--to a
dutiful life, like His Son Jesus Christ's life; for that must go on,
if you go on in it, producing in you everlastingly and perpetually
all health and strength, usefulness and happiness in this world and
all worlds to come.

But men will not hear that voice.  The fact is, that simply to do
right is too difficult for them, and too humbling also.  They are
too proud to like being righteous only with Christ's righteousness,
and too slothful also; and so they go about like the old Pharisees,
to establish a righteousness of their own; one which will pamper
their self-conceit by seeming very strange, and farfetched, and
difficult, so as to enable them to thank God every day that they are
not as other men are; and yet one which shall really not be as
difficult as the plain homely work of being good sons, good fathers,
good husbands, good masters, good servants, good subjects, good
rulers.  And so they go about to establish a righteousness of their
own (which can be no righteousness at all, for God's righteousness
is the only righteousness, and Christ's righteousness is the only
pattern of it), and teach men that God does not merely require of
men to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God,
but requires of them something more.  But by this they deny the
righteousness of God; for they make out that he has not behaved
righteously and justly to men, nor showed them what is good, but has
left them to find it out or invent it for themselves.  For is it not
establishing a righteousness of one's own, to tell people that God
only requires these Ten Commandments of Christians in general, but
that if any one chooses to go further, and do certain things which
are not contained in the Ten Commandments, 'counsels of perfection,'
as they are called, and 'good works' (as if there were no other good
works in the world), and so do more than it is one's duty to do, and
lead a sort of life which is called (I know not why) 'saintly' and
'angelic,' then one will obtain a 'peculiar crown,' and a higher
place in Heaven than poor commonplace Christian people, who only do
justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God?

And is it not, on the other hand, establishing a righteousness of
one's own, to say that God requires of us belief in certain
doctrines about election, and 'forensic justification,' and
'sensible conversion,' and certain 'frames and feelings and
experiences;' and that without all these a man has no right to
expect anything but endless torture; and all the while to say little
or nothing about God's requiring of men the Ten Commandments?  For
my part, I am equally shocked and astonished at the doctrine which I
have heard round us here--openly from some few, and in practice from
more than a few--that because the Ten Commandments are part of the
Law, they are done away with, because we are not now under the Law
but under Grace.  What do they mean?  Is it not written, that not
one jot or tittle of the Law shall fail; and that Christ came, not
to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it?  What do they mean?  That it
was harm to break the Ten Commandments before Christ came, but no
harm to break them now?  Do they mean that Jews were forbid to
murder, steal, and commit adultery, but that Christians are not
forbidden?  One thing I am afraid they do mean, for I see them act
up to it steadily enough.  That Jews were forbidden to covet, but
that Christians are not; that Jews might not commit fornication, but
Christians may; that Jews might not lie, but Christians may; that
Jews might not use false weights and measures, or adulterate goods
for sale, but that Christians may.  My friends, if I am asked the
reason of the hypocrisy which seems the besetting sin of England, in
this day;--if I am asked why rich men, even high religious
professors, dare speak untruths at public meetings, bribe at
elections, and go into parliament each man with a lie in his right
hand, to serve neither God nor his country, but his political party
and his religious sect, by conduct which he would be ashamed to
employ in private life;--if I am asked why the middle classes (and
the high religious professors among them, just as much as any) are
given over to cheating, coveting, puffing their own goods by
shameless and unmanly boasting, undermining each other by the
dirtiest means, while the sons of religious professors, both among
the higher and the middle classes, seem just as liable as any other
young men to fall into unmanly profligacy;--if I am asked why the
poor profess God's gospel and practise the Devil's works; and why,
in this very parish now, there are women who, while they are
drunkards, swearers, and adulteresses, will run anywhere to hear a
sermon, and like nothing better, saving sin, than high-flown
religious books;--if I am asked, I say, why the old English honesty
which used to be our glory and our strength, has decayed so much of
late years, and a hideous and shameful hypocrisy has taken the place
of it, I can only answer by pointing to the good old Church
Catechism, and what it says about our duty to God and to our
neighbour, and declaring boldly, 'It is because you have forgotten
that.  Because you have despised that.  Because you have fancied
that it was beneath you to keep God's plain human commandments.  You
have been wanting to "save your souls," while you did not care
whether your souls were saved alive, or whether they were dead, and
rotten, and damned within you; you have dreamed that you could be
what you called "spiritual," while you were the slaves of sin; you
have dreamed that you could become what you call "saints," while you
were not yet even decent men and women.'

And so all this superstition has had the same effect as the false
preaching in Ezekiel's time had.  It has strengthened the hands of
the wicked, that he should not turn from his wicked way, by
promising him life; and it has made the heart of the righteous sad,
whom God has not made sad.  Plain, respectable, God-fearing men and
women, who have wished simply to do their duty where God has put
them, have been told that they are still unconverted, still carnal--
that they have no share in Christ--that God's Spirit is not with
them--that they are in the way to endless torture:  till they have
been ready one minute to say, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow
we die'--'Surely I have cleansed my hands in vain, and washed my
heart in innocency;' and the next minute to say, with Job, angrily,
'Though I die, thou shalt not take my righteousness from me!  You
preachers may call me what names you will; but I know that I love
what is right, and wish to do my duty;' and so they have been made
perplexed and unhappy, one day fancying themselves worse than they
really were, and the next fancying themselves better than they
really were; and by both tempers of mind tempted to disbelieve God's
Gospel, and throw away the thought of vital religion in disgust.

And now people are raising the cry that Popery is about to overrun
England.  It may be so, my friends.  If it is so, I cannot wonder at
it; if it is so, Englishmen have no one to blame but themselves.
And whether Popery conquers us or not, some other base superstition
surely will conquer us if we go on upon our present course, and set
up any new-fangled, self-invented righteousness of our own, instead
of the plain Ten Commandments of God.  For I tell you plainly they
are God's everlasting law, the very law of liberty, wherewith Christ
has made us free; and only by fulfilling them, as Christ did, can we
be free--free from sin, the world, the flesh, and the Devil.  For to
break them is to sin:  and whosoever commits sin is the slave of
sin; and whosoever despises these commandments will never enjoy that
freedom, but be entangled again in the yoke of bondage, and become a
slave, if not to open and profligate sins, still surely to an evil
and tormenting conscience, to superstitious anxieties as to whether
he shall be saved or damned, which make him at last ask,
'Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord?  Will the Lord be pleased
with this, that and the other fantastical action, or great sacrifice
of mine?' or at last, perhaps, the old question, 'Shall I give my
firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of
my soul?  Shall I cheat my own family, leave my property away from
my children, desert them to shut myself up in a convent, or to
attempt some great religious enterprise?'--Things which have
happened a thousand times already, and worse, far worse, than them;
things which will happen again, and worse, far worse than them, as
soon as a hypocritical generation is seized with that dread and
terror of God which is sure to arise in the hearts of men who try to
invent a righteousness of their own, and who forget what God's
righteousness is like, and who therefore forget what God is like,
and who therefore forget what God's name is, and who therefore
forget that Jesus Christ is God's likeness, and that the name of God
is 'Love.'

Now, I say that the Church Catechism, from beginning to end, is the
cure for this poison, and in no part more than where it tells us our
duty to God and our neighbour; and that it does carry out the
meaning of the text as no other writing does, which I know of, save
the Bible only.

For what says the text?

'He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.'

Who has showed thee?  Who but this very God, from whom thou art
shrinking; to whom thou art looking up in terror, as at a hard
taskmaster, reaping where He has not sown, who willeth the death of
a sinner, and his endless and unspeakable torment?  The very God
whom thou dreadest has stooped to save and teach thee.  He hath sent
His only begotten Son to thee, to show thee, in the person of a man,
Jesus Christ, what a perfect man is, and what He requires of thee to
be.  This Lord Jesus is with thee, to teach thee to live by faith in
thy heavenly Father, even as He lived, and to be justified thereby,
even as He was justified by being declared to be God's well-beloved
Son, and by being raised from the dead.  He will show thee what is
good; He has shown thee what is good, when He showed thee His own
blessed self, His story and character written in the four Gospels.
This is thy God, and this is thy Lord and Master; not a silent God,
not a careless God, but a revealer of secrets, a teacher, a guide, a
'most merciful God, who showeth to man the thing which he knew not;'
that same Word of God who talked with Adam in the garden, and
brought his wife to him; who called Abraham, and gave him a child;
who sent Moses to make a nation of the Jews; who is the King of all
the nations upon earth, and has appointed them their times and the
bounds of their habitation, if haply they may feel after Him and
find Him; who meanwhile is not far from any one of them, seeing that
in Him they live, and move, and have their being, and are His
offspring; who has not left Himself without witness, that they may
know that He is one who loves, not one who hates, one who gives, not
one who takes, one who has pity, not one who destroys, in that He
gives them rain and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food
and gladness.  This is thy God, O man! from whose face thou desirest
to flee away.

Next, 'He hath showed thee, O _man_.'  Not merely, 'He hath showed
thee, O deep philosopher, or brilliant genius;'--not merely, 'He
hath showed thee, O eminent saint, or believer who hast been through
many deep experiences:' but, 'He hath showed thee, O _man_.'
Whosoever thou art, if thou be a man, subsisting like Jesus Christ
the Son of Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh; thou labourer
at the plough, tradesman in thy shop, soldier in the battle-field,
poor woman working in thy cottage, God hath showed thee, and thee,
and thee, what is good, as surely and fully as He has shown it to
scholars and divines, to kings and rulers, and the wise and prudent
of the earth.

And He hath showed _thee_; not you.  Not merely to the whole of you
together; not merely to some of you so that one will have to tell
the other, and the greater part know only at second-hand and by
hearsay:  but He hath showed to thee, to each of you; to each man,
woman, and child, in this Church, alone, privately, in the depths of
thy own heart, He hath showed what is good.  He hath sent into thine
heart a ray of The Light who lighteth every man who comes into the
world.  He has given to thy soul an eye by which to see that Light,
a conscience which can receive what is good, and shrink from what is
evil; a spiritual sense, whereby thou canst discern good and evil.
That conscience, that soul's eye of thine, God has regenerated, as
He declares to thee in baptism, and He will day by day make it
clearer and tenderer by the quickening power of His Holy Spirit; and
that Spirit will renew Himself in thee day by day, if thou askest
Him, and will quicken and soften thy soul more and more to love what
is good, and strengthen it more and more to hate and fly from what
is evil.

Next, 'He hath showed thee, O man, what is GOOD.'  Not merely what
will turn away God's punishments, and buy God's rewards; not merely
what will be good for thee after thou diest:  but what is good, good
in itself, good for thee now, and good for thee for ever; good for
thee in health and sickness, joy and sorrow, life and death; good
for thee through all worlds, present and to come; yea, what would be
good for thee in hell, if thou couldst be in hell and yet be good.
Not what is good enough for thy neighbours and not good enough for
thee, good enough for sinners and not good enough for saints, good
enough for stupid persons and not good enough for clever ones; but
what is good in itself and of itself.  The one very eternal and
absolute Good which was with God, and in God, and from God, before
all worlds, and will be for ever, without changing or growing less
or greater, eternally The Same Good.  The Good which would be just
as good, and just, and right, and lovely, and glorious, if there
were no world, no men, no angels, no heaven, no hell, and God were
alone in his own abyss.  That very good which is the exact pattern
of His Son Jesus Christ, in whose likeness man was made at the
beginning, God hath showed thee, O man; and hath told thee that it
is neither more nor less than thy Duty, thy Duty as a man; that thy
duty is thy good, the good out of which, if thou doest it, all good
things such as thou canst not now conceive to thyself, must
necessarily spring up for thee for ever; but which if thou
neglectest, thou wilt be in danger of getting no good things
whatsoever, and of having all evil things, mishap, shame, and misery
such as thou canst not now conceive of, spring up for thee
necessarily for ever.

This seems to me the plain meaning of the text, interpreted by the
plain teaching of the rest of Scripture.  Now see how the Catechism
agrees with this.

It takes for granted that God has showed the child what is good:
that God's Spirit is sanctifying and making good, not only all the
elect people of God, but him, that one particular child; and it
makes the child say so.  Therefore, when it asks him, 'What is thy
duty to God and to thy neighbour?' it asks him, 'My child, thou
sayest that God's Spirit is with thee, sanctifying thee and showing
thee what is good, tell me, therefore, what good the Holy Spirit has
showed thee?--tell me what He has showed thee to be good, and
therefore thy duty?'

But some may answer, 'How can you say that the Holy Spirit teaches
the children their Duty, when it is their schoolmaster, or their
father, who teaches them the Ten Commandments and the Catechism?'

My friends, we may teach our children the Ten Commandments, or
anything else we like, but we cannot teach them that that is their
_duty_.  They must first know what Duty means at all, before they
can learn that any particular things are parts of their Duty.  And,
believe me, neither you nor I, nor all the men in the world put
together, no, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any created being, nor
the whole universe, can teach one child, no, nor our own selves, the
meaning of that plain word DUTY, nor the meaning of those two plain
words, I OUGHT.  No; that simple thought, that thought which every
one of us, even the most stupid, even the most sinful has more or
less, comes straight to him from God the Father of Lights, by the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Duty, Faith,
and Obedience.

For mind--when you teach a child, 'If you do this wrong thing--
stealing, for instance--God will punish you:  but if you are honest,
God will reward you,' you are not teaching the child that it is his
Duty to be honest, and his Duty not to steal.  You are teaching him
what is quite right and true; namely, that it is profitable for him
to be honest, and hurtful to him to steal:  but you are not teaching
him as high a spiritual lesson as any soldier knows when he rushes
upon certain death, knowing that he shall gain nothing, and may lose
everything thereby, but simply because it is his Duty.  You are only
enticing your child to do right, and frightening him from doing
wrong; quite necessary and good to be done:  but if he is to be
spiritually honest, honest at heart, honest from a sense of honour,
and not of fear; in one word, if he is to be really honest at all,
or even to try to be really honest, something must be done to that
child's heart which nothing but the Spirit of God can do; he must be
taught that it is his DUTY to be honest; that honesty is RIGHT, the
perfectly right, and proper, and beautiful thing for him and for all
beings, yea, for God Himself; he must be taught to love honesty, and
whatsoever else is right, for its own sake, and therefore to feel it
his Duty.

And I say that God does that by your children.  I say that we cannot
watch our children without seeing that, though there is in them, as
in us, a corrupt and wilful flesh, which tempts them downward to
selfish and self-willed pleasures:  yet there is in them generally,
more than in us their parents, a Spirit which makes them love and
admire what is right, and take pleasure in it, and feel that it is
good to be good, and right to do right; which makes them delight in
reading and hearing of loving, and right, and noble actions; which
makes them shocked, they hardly know why, at bad words, and bad
conduct, and bad people.  And woe to those who deaden that
tenderness of conscience in their own children, by their bad
examples, or by false doctrines which tell the children that they
are still unregenerate, children of the Devil, not yet Christians;
and who so put a stumbling-block in the way of Christ's little ones,
and do despite to the Spirit of Grace by which they are sealed to
the day of redemption.  I see parents thinking that their children
are to learn the deceitfulness of the human heart from themselves,
and the working of God's Spirit from their parents; but I often
think that the teachers ought to be converted indeed, that is,
turned right round and become the learners instead of the teachers,
and learn the workings of God's Spirit from their children, and the
deceitfulness of the human heart from themselves; if at least the
Lord Jesus's words have any real force or meaning at all, when He
said, not, 'Except the little children be converted, and become as
you,' but, 'Except ye be converted, and become as one of these
little children, ye' (and not they) 'shall in no wise enter into the
kingdom of heaven.'

Believe me, my friends, that your children's angels do indeed behold
the face of their Father which is in heaven; that there is a direct
communication between Him and them; and that the sign and proof of
it is, the way in which they understand at once what you tell them
of their duty, and take to it, as it were, only too readily and
hopefully, and confidently, as if it were a thing natural and easy
to them.  Alas! it is neither natural nor easy, and they will find
out that too soon by sad experience:  but still, the Divine Light is
there, the sense of duty is in their minds, and the law of God is
written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit of God, who is
sanctifying them, not merely by teaching them to hope for heaven, or
to dread hell, but by showing them what is good.

And herein, I say, the simple and noble old Church Catechism, by
faith in God's Spirit, does indeed perfect praise out of the mouths
of babes.  Without one word about rewards or punishments, heaven or
hell, it begins to talk to the child, like a true English Catechism
as it is, about that glorious old English key word, DUTY.  It calls
on the child to confess its own duty, and teaches it that its duty
is something most human, simple, everyday, commonplace, if you will
call it so.  I rejoice that it is commonplace; I rejoice that in
what it says about our duty to God, and to our neighbour, it says
not one word about those counsels of perfection, or those frames and
feelings, which depend, believe me, principally on the state of
people's bodily health, on the constitution of their nerves, and the
temper of their brain:  but that it requires nothing except what a
little child can do as well as a grown person, a labouring man as
well as a divine, a plain farmer as well as the most refined,
devout, imaginative lady.  May God bless them all; may God help them
all to do their Duty in that station of life to which it has pleased
God to call them; but may God grant to them never to forget that
there is but one Duty for all, and that all of them can do that Duty
equally well, whatever their constitution, or scholarship, or
station of life may be, provided they will but remember that God has
called them to that station, and not try to invent some new and
finer one for themselves; provided they remember that they are to do
in that station neither more nor less than every one else is to do
in theirs, namely, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with their God.

In a word, to be perfect, even as their Father in heaven is perfect.
To do justly, because God is just, faithful, and true, rewarding
every man according to his works, and no partial accepter of
persons; so that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh
righteousness is accepted by Him.

To love mercy, because God loves mercy; to be merciful, because our
Father in heaven is merciful; because He willeth not the death of a
sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live;
because God came to seek and to save that which is lost, and is good
to the unthankful and the evil; and because God so loved sinful man,
that when man hated God, God's answer to man's hate, God's vengeance
upon man's rebellion, was, to send His only-begotten Son, that
whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life.

And to walk humbly with your God, because--and what shall I say now?
Does God walk humbly?  Can there be humility in God?  Can God obey?
And yet it must be so.  If, as is most certain from Holy Scripture,
man, as far as he is what man ought to be, is the image and glory of
God; if man's justice ought to be a copy of God's justice, and man's
mercy a copy of God's mercy, and all which is good in man a copy of
something good in God:  if, as is most certain, all good on earth is
God's likeness, and only good because it is God's likeness, and is
given by God's Spirit,--then our walking humbly with God, if it be
good, must be a copy of something in God.  But of what?

That, my friends, is a question which can never be answered but by
those who believe in the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity, The
Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.  It is too solemn and great a
matter to be spoken of hastily at the end of a sermon.  I will tell
you what little I seem to see of it next Sunday, with awe and
trembling, as one who enters upon holy ground.  But this I will tell
you, to bear in mind meanwhile, that if you wish to know or to do
what is right, you must firmly believe and bear in mind this,--that
God's justice is exactly like what would be just in you and me,
without any difference whatsoever:  that God's mercy is exactly like
what would be merciful in you and me; and that, as I hope to show
you next Sunday, God's humility, wonderful as it may seem, is
exactly like what would be humble in you and me.  For I warn you,
that if you do not believe this, you will be tempted to forget God's
righteousness, and to invent a righteousness of your own, which is
no righteousness at all, but unrighteousness.  For there can be but
one righteousness--mind what I say--only one righteousness, as there
can be only one truth, and only one reason.  Forget that, and you
will be tempted to invent for yourselves a false justice, which is
dishonest and partial; a false mercy, which is cruel; a false
humility, which is vain and self-conceited; and you will be tempted
also, as men of all religions and denominations have been, to impute
to God actions, and thoughts, and tempers, which are (as your own
consciences, if you would listen to God's Word in them, would tell
you) unjust, cruel, and proud; and then you will be tempted to say
that things are justifiable in God, which you would not excuse in
any other being, by saying:  'Of course it must be right in Him,
because He is God, and can do what He will.'  As if the Judge of all
the earth would not do Right; as if He could be anything, or could
do anything, but the Eternal _Good_ which is His very being and
essence, and which He has shown forth in His Son Jesus Christ our
Lord, who went about doing good because God was with Him.  We all
know what the good which He did was like.  Let us believe that God
the Father's goodness is the same as Jesus Christ's goodness.  Let
us believe really what we say when we confess that Jesus was the
brightness of His Father's Glory, and the express image of His
Person.



SERMON VIII.  SONSHIP



John v. 19, 20, 30.  Then answered Jesus, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father
do:  for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son
likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things
that Himself doeth.

I can of mine own self do nothing:  as I hear, I judge:  and my
judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of
my Father which is in Heaven.

This, my friends, is why man should walk humbly and obediently with
his God; because humility and obedience are the likeness of the Son
of God, who, though He is equal to His Father, yet to do His
Father's will humbled Himself, and took on Him the form of a slave,
and though He is a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which He
suffered; sacrificing Himself utterly and perfectly to do the
commands of His Father and our Father, of His God and our God; and
sacrificing Himself to His Father not as a man merely, but as a son;
not because He was in the likeness of sinful flesh, but because He
was The Everlasting Son of His Father; not once only on the cross,
but from all eternity to all eternity, the Lamb slain before the
foundation of the world.  This is a great mystery; we may understand
somewhat more of it by thinking over the meaning of those great
words, Father and Son.

Now, first, a son must be of the same nature as his father,--that is
certain.  Each kind of animal brings forth after its kind:  the lion
begets lions, the sheep, sheep; the son of a man must be a man, of
one substance with his earthly father; and by the same law, the Son
of God must be God.  Take away that notion:  say that the only-
begotten Son of God is not very God of very God, of one substance
with His Father, and the word son means nothing.  If a son be not of
the same substance as his father, he is not a son at all.  And more,
a perfect son must be as great and as good as his father, exactly
like his father in everything.  That is the very meaning of father
and son; that like should beget like.  Among fallen and imperfect
men, some sons are worse and weaker than their fathers:  but we all
feel that that is an evil, a thing to be sorry for, a sad
consequence of our fallen state.  Our reasons and hearts tell us
that a son ought to be equal to his father, and that it is in some
way an affliction, almost a shame, to a father, if his children are
weaker or worse than he is.  But we cannot fancy such a thing in
God; the only-begotten perfect Son of the Almighty and perfect
Father must be at least equal to His Father, as great as His Father,
as good as His Father; the brightness of His Father's glory, and the
express image of His Father's person.

But there is another thing about father and son which we must look
at, and that is this:  a good son loves and obeys his father, and
the better son he is, the more he loves and obeys his father; and
therefore a perfect son will perfectly love and perfectly obey his
father.

Now, here is the great difference between animals and men.  Among
the higher animals, the mothers always, and the fathers sometimes,
feed, and help, and protect their young:  but we seldom or never
find that young animals help and protect their parents; certainly,
they never obey their fathers when they are full grown, but are as
ready to tear their fathers in pieces as their fathers are to tear
them:  so that the love and obedience of full-grown sons to their
fathers is so utterly human a thing, so utterly different from
anything we find in the brutes, that we must believe it to be part
of man's immortal soul, part of God's likeness in man.

And in the text our Lord declares that it is so; He declares that
His obedience to His Father, and His Father's love to Him, is the
perfect likeness of what goes on between a good son and a good
father among men; only that it is _perfect_, because it is between a
perfect Father and a perfect Son.

Father and Son!  Let philosophers and divines discover what they may
about God, they will never discover anything so deep as the wonder
which lies in those two words, Father and Son.  So deep, and yet so
simple!  So simple, that the wayfaring man, though poor, shall not
err therein.  'Who is God?  What is God like?  Where shall we find
Him, or His likeness?'--so has mankind been crying in all ages, and
getting no answer, or making answers for themselves in all sorts of
superstitions, idolatries, false philosophies.  And then the Gospel
comes, and answers to every man, to every poor and unlearned
labourer:  Will you know the name of God?  It is a Father, a Son,
and a Holy Spirit of love, joy, peace; a Spirit of perfect
satisfaction of the Father in the Son, and perfect satisfaction of
the Son with the Father, which proceeds from both the Father and the
Son.  It needs no scholarship to understand that Name; every one may
understand it who is a good father; every one may understand it who
is a good son, who looks up to and obeys his father with that filial
spirit of love, and obedience, and satisfaction with his father's
will, which is the likeness of the Holy Spirit of God, and can only
flourish in any man by the help of the Holy Spirit which proceeds
from the Father and the Son.

Father and Son! what more beautiful words are there in the world?
What more beautiful sight is there in the world than a son who
really loves his father, really trusts his father, really does his
duty to his father, really looks up to and obeys his father's will
in all things? who is ready to sacrifice his own credit, his own
pleasure, his own success in life, for the sake of his father's
comfort and honour?  How much more fair and noble must be the love
and trust which is between God the Father and God the Son!

I wish that some of those who now write so many excellent books for
young people, would write one made up entirely of stories of good
sons who have obeyed, and worked for, and suffered for their
parents.  Sure I am that such a book, wisely and well written, would
teach young people much of the meaning of the blessed name of God,
much of their duty to God.  And yet, after all, my friends, is not
such a book written already?  Have we not the four Gospels, which
tell us of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son, who came to do the will of
a perfect Father?  Read that; read your Bibles.  Read the history of
the Lord Jesus Christ, keeping in mind always that it is the history
of the Son of God, and of His obedience to His Father.  And when in
St. John's most wonderful Gospel you meet with deep texts, like the
one which I have chosen, read them too as carefully, if possible
more carefully, than the rest; for they are meant for all parents
and for all children upon earth.  Read how The Father loves The Son,
and gives all things into His hand, and commits all judgment to The
Son, and gives Him power to have life in Himself, even as The Father
has life in Himself, and shows Him all things that Himself doeth,
that all men may honour The Son even as they honour The Father.
Read how The Son came only to show forth His Father's glory; to be
the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person:  to
establish His Father's kingdom; to declare the goodness of His
Father's Name, which is _The_ Father.  How He does nothing of
Himself, but only what He sees His Father do; how He seeks not His
own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him; how He sacrificed
all, yea even His most precious body and soul upon the cross, to
finish the work which His Father gave Him to do.  How, being in the
form of God, and thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, He
could boldly say, 'As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the
Father.  I and my Father are one:' and still, in the fulness of His
filial love and obedience, declared that He had no will, no wish, no
work, no glory, but His Father's; and in the hour of His agony cried
out, 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:
nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.'

My friends, you will be able to understand more and more of the
meaning of these words just in proportion as you are good sons and
good fathers; and therefore, just in proportion as you are led and
taught by the Holy Spirit of God, without whose help no man can be
either a good father or a good son.  A bad son; a disobedient, self-
willed, self-conceited son, who is seeking his own credit and not
his father's, his own pleasure and not his parent's comfort; a son
who is impatient of being kept in order and advised, who despises
his parent's counsel, and will have none of his reproof,--to him
these words of our Lord, the deepest, noblest words which were ever
spoken on earth, will have no more meaning than if they were written
in a foreign language; he will not know what our Lord means; he will
not be able to see why our Lord came and suffered; he will not see
any beauty in our Lord's character, any righteousness in His
sacrificing Himself for His Father; and because he has forgotten his
duty to his earthly father, he will never learn his duty to God.

For what is the duty of the Lord Jesus Christ is our duty, if we are
the sons of God in Him.  He is The Son of God by an eternal never-
ceasing generation; we are the sons of God by adoption.  The way in
which we are to look up to God, The Holy Spirit must teach us; what
is our duty to God The Holy Spirit must teach us.  And who is The
Holy Spirit?  He is The Spirit who proceeds from The Son as well as
from The Father.  He is The Spirit of Jesus Christ, The Spirit of
the Son of God, the Spirit who descended on the Lord Jesus when He
was baptized, the Spirit which God gave to Him without measure.  He
is the Spirit of The Son of God; and we are sons of God by adoption,
says Saint Paul; and because we are sons, he says, God has sent
forth into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, by whom we look up to
God as our Father; and this Spirit of God's Son, by whom we cry to
God, Abba, Father, St. Paul calls, in another place, the Spirit of
adoption; and declares openly that He is the very Spirit of God.

Therefore, in whatsoever way the Spirit of God is to teach you to
look up to God, He will teach you to look up to Him as a Father; the
Father of Spirits, and therefore your Father; for you are a spirit.
Whatsoever duty to God the Holy Spirit teaches you, He teaches you
first, and before all things, that it is filial duty, the duty of a
son to a father, because you are the son of God, and God is your
Father.

Therefore, whatsoever man or book tells you that your duty to God is
anything but the duty of a son to his father does not speak by the
Spirit of God.  Whatsoever thoughts or feelings in your own hearts
tell you that your duty to God is anything but the duty of a son to
his father, and tempt you to distrust God's forgiveness, and shrink
from Him, and look up to Him as a taskmaster, and an austere and
revengeful Lord, are not the Spirit of God; no, nor your own spirit,
'the spirit of a man,' which is in you; for that was originally made
in the likeness of God's Spirit, and by it rebellious sons arise and
go back to their earthly fathers, and trust in them when they have
nothing else left to trust, and say to themselves, 'Though all the
world has cast me off, my parents will not.  Though all the world
despise and hate me, my parents love me still; though I have
rebelled against them, deserted them, insulted them, I am still my
father's child.  I will go home to my own people, to the house where
I was born, to the parents who nursed me on their knee, I will go to
my father.'

Fathers and mothers! if your son or daughter came home to you thus,
though they had insulted you, disgraced you, and spent their
substance in riotous living, would you shut your doors upon them?
Would not all be forgiven and forgotten at once?  Would not you call
your neighbours to rejoice with you, and say, 'It is good to be
merry and glad, for this our son was dead and is alive again, he was
lost and is found?'  And would not that penitent child be more
precious to you, though you cannot tell why, than any other of your
children?  Would you not feel a peculiar interest in him henceforth?
And do you not know that so to forgive would be no weak indulgence,
but the part of a good father; a good, and noble, and human thing to
do?  Ay, a human thing, and therefore a divine thing, part of God's
likeness in man.  For is it not the likeness of God Himself?  Has
not God Himself, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, declared that
He does so forgive His penitent children, at once and utterly, and
that 'There is more joy among the angels of God over one sinner that
repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no
repentance?'  So says the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son
of God.  Let who dare dispute His words, or try to water them down,
and explain them away.

And why should it not be so?  Do you fancy God less of a father than
you are?  Is He not _The_ Father, the perfect Father, 'from whom
every fatherhood in heaven and earth is named?'  Oh, believe that He
is indeed a Father; believe that all the love and care which you can
show to your children is as much poorer than the love and care God
shows to you, as your obedience to your earthly parents is poorer
and weaker than the love and obedience of Jesus Christ to His
Father.  God is as much better a Father than you are, as Jesus
Christ is a better Son than you are.  There is a sum of proportions;
a rule-of-three sum; work it out for yourselves, and then distrust
God's love if you dare.

And believe, that whatsoever makes you distrust God's love is
neither the Spirit of God who is the spirit of sonship, nor the
spirit of man:  but the spirit of the Devil, who loves to slander
God to men, that they may shrink from Him, and be afraid to arise
and go to their Father, to be received again as sons of God; that
so, being kept from true penitence, they may be kept from true
holiness, and from their duty to God, which is the duty of sons of
God to their Father in heaven.

Believe no such notions, my friends; howsoever humble and reverent
they may seem, they are but insults to God; for under pretence of
honouring Him, they dishonour Him; for He is love, and he who
feareth, that is, who looks up to God with terror and distrust, is
not made perfect in love.  So says St. John, in the very chapter
wherein he tells us that God is love, and has manifested His love to
us by sending His Son to be the Saviour of the world; and that the
very reason for our loving God is, that He loves us already; and
that therefore He who loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

Yes, my friends, God is your Father; and God is love; and your duty
to God is a duty of love and obedience to a Father who so loved you
and all mankind that He spared not His only begotten Son, but freely
gave Him for you.  'Our Father which art in heaven,' is to be the
key-note of all your duty, as it is to be the key-note of all your
prayers:  and therefore the Catechism is right in teaching the child
that God is his Father, and Jesus Christ the perfect Son of God his
pattern, and the Holy Spirit of the Father and of the Son his
teacher and inspirer, before it says one word to the child about
duty to God, or sin against God.  How indeed can it tell him what
sin is, until it has told him against whom sin is committed, and
that if he sins against God he sins against a Father, and breaks his
duty to his Father?  And how can it tell him that till it has told
him that God is his Father?  How can it tell him what sin is till it
has told him what righteousness is?  How can it tell him what
breaking his duty is till it has told him what the duty itself is?
But the child knows already that God is his Father; and therefore,
when the Catechism asks him, 'What is his duty to God?' it is as
much as to say, 'My child, thou hast confessed already that thou
hast a good Father in heaven, and thou knowest as well as I (perhaps
better) what a father means.  Tell me, then, how dost thou think
thou oughtest to behave to such a Father?'  And the whole answer
which is put into the child's mouth, is the description of duty to a
father; of things which there would be no reason for his doing to
anyone who was not his father; nay, which he could not do honestly
to anyone else, but only hypocritically, for the sake of flattering,
and which differs utterly from any notion of duty to God which the
heathen have ever had just in this, that it is a description of how
a son should behave to a father.  Read it for yourselves, my
friends, and judge for yourselves; and may God give you all grace to
act up to it--not in order that you, by 'acts of faith,' or 'acts of
love,' or 'acts of devotion,' may persuade God to love you; but
because He loves you already, with a love boundless as Himself;
because in Him you live, and move, and have your being, and are the
offspring of God; because His mercy is over all His works, and
because He loved the world, and sent His Son, not to condemn the
world, but that the world through Him might be saved; because He is
The Giver, The Father of lights, from whom comes every good and
perfect gift; because all which makes this earth habitable--all
justice, order, wisdom, goodness, mercy, humbleness, self-sacrifice--
all which is fair, or honourable, or useful, in men or angels, in
kings on their thrones or in labourers at the plough, in divines in
their studies or soldiers in the field of battle--all in the whole
universe, which is not useless, and hurtful, and base, and damnable,
and doomed (blessed thought that it is so!) to be burned up in
unquenchable fire--all, I say, comes forth from the Father of the
spirits of all flesh, the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in working; who spared not His only begotten Son, but
freely gave Him for us, and will with Him freely give us all things.



SERMON IX.  THE LORD'S PRAYER



Matt. vi. 9, 10.  After this manner pray ye:  Our Father which art
in heaven.

I have shown you what a simple account of our duty to God and to our
neighbour the Catechism gives us.  I now beg you to remark, that
simple and everyday as this same duty is, the Catechism warns us
that we cannot do it without God's special grace, and I beg you to
remark further, that the Catechism does not say that we cannot do
these things well without God's special grace, but that we cannot do
them at all.  It does not say that we cannot do all these things of
ourselves, but that we can do none of them.  But I want you to
remark one thing more, which is very noteworthy:  that in this case,
for the first time throughout the Catechism, the teacher tells the
child something.  All along the teacher has, as I have often shown
you, been making the child tell him what is right, calling out in
the child's heart thoughts and knowledge which were there already.
Now he in his turn tells the child something which he takes for
granted is not in the child's heart, of which, if it is, has been
put into it by his teachers, and of which he must be continually
reminded, lest he should forget it; namely, that he cannot do these
of himself; that, as St. Paul says, 'in him,' that is, in his flesh,
'dwells no good thing;' that he is not able to think or to do
anything as of himself, but his sufficiency is of God, who works in
him to will and to do of His good pleasure, who has also given him
His Holy Spirit.

The Catechism, in short, takes for granted that the child knows his
duty; but it takes for granted also that he does not know how to do
that duty.  It takes for granted, that in every child there is as
St. Paul says, 'a law in his members warring against the law of his
mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin' (literally,
of short coming, or missing the mark) 'which is in his members.'
Now man's natural inclination is to suppose that good thoughts are
part of himself, and therefore that a good will to put them in
practice is in his own power.  I blame no one for making that
mistake:  but I warn them, in the name of the Bible and of the
Catechism, that it is a mistake, and one which every man, woman, and
child will surely discover to be a mistake, if they try to act on
it.  Good thoughts are not our own; they are Jesus Christ's; they
come from Him, The Life and The Light of men; they are His voice
speaking to our hearts, informing us of His laws, showing us what is
good.  And good desires are not our own:  they come from the Holy
Spirit of God, who strives with men, and labours to lift their
hearts up from selfishness to love; from what is low and foul, to
what is noble and pure; from what is sinful and contrary to God's
will, to what is right and according to God's will.

This is the lesson which you and I and every man have to learn:
that in ourselves dwells no good thing; but that there is One near
us mightier than we, from whom all good things do come; and that He
loves us, and will not only teach us what is good, but give us the
power to do the good we know.  But if we forget that, if we take any
credit whatsoever to ourselves for the good which comes into our
minds, then we shall be surely taught our mistake by sore
afflictions and by shameful falls; by God's leaving us to ourselves,
to try our own strength, and to find it weakness; to try our own
wisdom, and find it folly; to try our own fancied love of God, and
find that after all our conceit of ourselves, we love ourselves
better, when it comes to a trial, than we love what is right; until,
in short, we are driven with St. Paul to feel that, howsoever much
our hearts may delight in the Law of God, there is a corrupt nature
in us which fights against our delight in God's law, and will surely
conquer it, and make us slaves to our own fancies, slaves to our
passions, slaves to ourselves, ay, slaves to the very lowest and
meanest part of ourselves:  unless we can find a deliverer; unless
we can find some one stronger than us, who can put an end to this
hateful, shameful war within us between good wishes and bad deeds.

And then, if we will but cry with St. Paul, 'Oh, wretched man that I
am, _who_ shall deliver me from the body of this death?' we shall
surely, sooner or later, hear a voice within our hearts, a voice
full of love, of comfort, of fellow-feeling for us,--'_I_ will
deliver thee, my child; _I_, even I thy Father in heaven; I will
teach thee, and inform thee in the way wherein thou shouldest go;
and I will guide thee with mine eye.'  And then with St. Paul we
shall be able to answer our own question, and say, 'Who will deliver
me?  I thank God, that God Himself will deliver me, through Jesus
Christ our Lord.'

This, then, is the reason why we need to pray:  because we need to
be delivered from ourselves.  This is the reason why we may pray,
because God is willing to deliver us from ourselves, if we be
willing.

But every human being round us needs to be delivered from
themselves, just as much as we do.  Without that deliverance we
cannot do our duty, neither can they.  And just in proportion as men
are delivered from themselves, will mankind do its duty, and the
world go right.

Now their duty is the same as ours; and therefore the prayer which
is right and good for us is equally right and good for them.  And
what is more, we cannot pray rightly for ourselves unless we pray
for them in the very same breath; for the Catechism tells us that
there is one duty for all of us, to love and obey and serve our
heavenly Father, and to love our neighbour as ourselves, because
they are our brothers, children of one common Father, members of the
same God's family as we are, and their interest and ours are bound
up together.  Yes, to love all mankind as ourselves; for though too
many of them, alas! are not yet in God's family, and strangers to
His covenant, yet God's will is that they too should come to the
knowledge of the truth; and therefore for them we can pray hopefully
and trustfully, 'Lord have mercy on all men, on Jews, Turks,
Infidels, and heretics; and bring them home, blessed Lord, to Thy
flock, that they may be saved and made one fold under one Shepherd,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whom Thou hast declared Thy good
will to all the children of men.'

This is the right prayer.  That all men may do their duty where God
has put them.  That those who, like the heathen, do not know their
duty, may be taught it; that we who do know it, may have strength to
do it.

And therefore it is that the Catechism teaches us the need of
prayer, immediately after making us confess our duty; and therefore
it is that it begins by teaching the Lord's Prayer, because that
prayer is the one, of all prayers which ever have been offered upon
earth, which perfectly expresses the duty of man, and man's relation
to Almighty God.

It is throughout a prayer for strength.  It confesses throughout
what we want strength for, to what use we are to put God's grace if
He bestows it on us.  Our delight in the Lord's Prayer will depend
on what we consider our duty here on earth to be.

If we look upon this earth principally as a place where we are to
pray for all the good things which we can get, our first prayer will
be, of course, 'Give us this day our daily bread.'

If we look at this earth principally as a place where we have a
chance of being saved from punishment and torment after we die, then
our first prayer will be, 'Forgive us our sins.'  And, in fact, that
is all that too many of our prayers now-a-days seem to consist of,--
'Oh, my Maker, give me. my daily bread.  Oh, my Judge, forgive me my
sins.'  Right prayers enough, but spoilt by being taken out of their
place; spoilt by being prayed before all other prayers; spoilt, too,
by being prayed for ourselves alone, and not for other people also.

But if we believe, as the Bible and the Catechism tell us, that we
and all Christian people are God's children, members of God's
family, set on earth in God's kingdom to do His work by doing our
duty, each in that station of life to which God has called us, in
the hope of a just reward hereafter according to our works, then our
great desire will be for strength to do our duty, and the Lord's
Prayer will seem to us the most perfect way of asking for that
strength; and if we believe that we are God's children and He our
Father, we shall feel sure that we must get strength from Him, and
sure that we must ask for that strength; and sure that He will give
it us if we do ask.

But if His will is to give it us, why ask Him at all?  Why pray at
all, if God already knows our necessities, and is able and willing
to supply them?

My friends, the longer I live, the more certain I am that the only
reason for praying at all is because God is our Father; the more
certain I am that we shall never have any heart to pray unless we
believe that God is our Father.  If we forget that, we may utter to
Him selfish cries for bread; or when we look at His great power, we
may become terrified, and utter selfish cries to Him not to harm us,
without any real shame or sorrow for sin:  but few of us will have
any heart to persevere in those cries.  People will say to
themselves, 'If God is evil, He will not care to have mercy on me:
and if He is good, there is no use wearying Him by asking Him what
He has already intended to give me:  why should I pray at all?'

The only answer is, 'Pray, because God is your Father, and you His
child.'  The only answer; but the most complete answer.  I will
engage to say, that if anyone here is ever troubled with doubts
about prayer, those two simple words, 'Our Father,' if he can once
really believe them in their full richness and depth, will make the
doubts vanish in a moment, and prayer seem the most natural and
reasonable of all acts.  It is because we are God's children, not
merely His creatures, that He will have us pray.  Because He is
educating us to know Him; to know Him not merely to be an Almighty
Power, but a living, loving Person; not merely an irresistible Fate,
but a Father who delights in the love of His children, who wishes to
shape them into His own likeness, and make them fellow-workers with
Him; therefore it is that He will have us pray.  Doubtless he
_could_ have given us everything without our asking; for He _does_
already give us almost everything without our asking.  But He wishes
to educate us as His children; to make us trust in Him; to make us
love Him; to make us work for Him of our own free wills, in the
great battle which He is carrying on against evil; and that He can
only do by teaching us to pray to Him.  I say it reverently, but
firmly.  As far as we can see, God cannot educate us to know Him,
The living, willing, loving Father, unless He teaches us to open our
hearts to Him, and to ask Him freely for what we want, just
_because_ He knows what we want already.

If I have not made this plain enough to any of you, my friends, let
me go back to the simple, practical explanation of it which God
Himself has given us in those two words--father and child.

Should you like to have a child who never spoke to you, never asked
you for anything?  Of course not.  And why?  'Because,' you would
say, 'one might as well have a dumb animal in one's family instead
of a child, if it is never to talk and ask questions and advice.'
Most true and reasonable, my friends.  And as you would say
concerning your children, so says God of His.  You feel that unless
you teach your children to ask you for all they want, even though
you know their necessities before they ask, and their ignorance in
asking, you will never call out their love and trust towards you.
You know that if you want really to have your child to please and
obey you, not as a mere tame animal, but as a willing, reasonable,
loving child, you must make him know that you are training him; and
you must teach him to come to you of his own accord to be trained,
to be taught his duty, and set right where he is wrong:  and even so
does God with you.  If you will only consider the way in which any
child must be educated by its human parents, then you will at once
see why prayer to our Heavenly Father is a necessary part of our
education in the kingdom of heaven.

Now the Lord's Prayer, just this sort of prayer, is man's cry to his
Heavenly Father to train him, to educate him, to take charge of him,
daily and hourly, body and soul and spirit.  It is a prayer for
grace, for special grace; that is, for help, daily and hourly, in
each particular duty and circumstance; for help from God specially
suited to enable us to do our duty.  And the whole of the prayer is
of this kind, and not, as some think, the latter part only.

It is too often said that the three first sentences are not prayers
for man, but rather praises to God.  My friends, they cannot be one
without being the other.  You cannot, I believe, praise God aright
without praying for men; you cannot pray for men aright without
praising God; at least, you cannot use the Lord's Prayer without
doing both at once, without at once declaring the glory of God and
praying for the welfare of all mankind.

'Hallowed be Thy name.'  Is not that a prayer for men as well as
praise to God?  Yes, my friends, when you say, 'Our Father, hallowed
be Thy name,' you pray that all men may come at last to look up to
God as their Father, to love, serve, and obey God as His children;
and for what higher blessing can you pray?  Ay, and you pray, too,
that men may learn at last the deep meaning of that word--father;
that they may see how Godlike and noble a trust God lays on them
when He gives them children to educate and make Christian men; you
pray that the hearts of all fathers may be turned to the children,
and the hearts of all children to the fathers; you pray for the
welfare, and the holiness, and the peace of every home on earth; you
pray for the welfare of generations yet unborn, when you pray, 'Our
Father, hallowed be Thy name.'

'Thy kingdom come.'  Is not that too, if we will look at it
steadfastly, prayer for our neighbours, prayer for all mankind, and
still prayer for ourselves; prayer for grace, prayer for the life
and health of our own souls?

'Thy kingdom come.'--That kingdom of the Father which Jesus Christ
proved by His works on earth to be a kingdom of justice and
righteousness, of love and fellow-feeling.  When we pray, 'Thy
kingdom come,' it is as if we said, 'Son of God, root out of this
sinful earth all self-will and lawlessness, all injustice and
cruelty; root out all carelessness, ignorance, and hardness of
heart; root out all hatred, envy, slander; root them out of all
men's hearts; out of my heart, for I have the seeds of them in me.
Make me, and all men round me, day by day, more sure that Thou art
indeed our King; that Thou hast indeed taught us the laws of Thy
Father's kingdom; and that, only in keeping them and loving them is
there health, and righteousness, and safety for any soul of man, for
any nation under the sun.'  'Thy will be done;'--no, not merely 'Thy
will be done;' but done 'on earth as it is in heaven;' done, not
merely as the trees and the animals, the wind and clouds, do Thy
will, by blindly following their natures, but done as angels and
blessed spirits do it, of their own will.  They obey Thee as living,
willing, loving persons; as Thy sons:  teach us to obey Thee in like
manner; lovingly, because we love Thy will; willingly, because our
wills are turned to Thy will; and therefore, oh Heavenly Father,
take charge of these wayward wills and minds of ours, of these
selfish, self-willed, ignorant, hasty hearts of ours, and cleanse
them and renew them by Thy Spirit, and change them into Thy likeness
day by day.  Make us all clean hearts, oh God, and renew within us a
right spirit, the copy of Thine own Holy Spirit.  Cast us not away
from Thy presence, for from Thee alone comes our soul's life; take
not from us Thy Holy Spirit, who is The Lord and Giver of Life;
whose will is Thy will; who alone can strengthen and change us to do
Thy will on earth, as saints and angels do in heaven, and to be
fellow-workers with each other, fellow-workers with Thee, O God,
even as those blessed spirits are who minister day and night to all
Thy creatures.

'Give us this day our daily bread.'  People sometimes divide the
Lord's Prayer into two parts--the ascriptions and the petitions--and
consider that after we have sufficiently glorified and praised God
in the first three sentences of the prayer, then we are at liberty
to begin asking something for ourselves, and to say 'Give us day by
day our daily bread.'  I cannot think so, my friends.  I have been
showing you that 'Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will
be done,' if we do but recollect that they are spoken to our Father,
are just as much prayers for all mankind, as they are hymns of
honour to God; and so I say of these latter:  'Give us--Forgive us--
Lead us not--Deliver us'--that if we will but remember that they,
too, are spoken to our Father, we shall find that they are just as
much hymns of honour to God as prayers for mankind.

Yes, my friends, when we say, 'Give us this day our daily bread,' we
do indeed honour God and the name of God.  We declare that He is
Love, that He is The Giver, The absolutely and boundlessly _generous
and magnanimous_ Being.  And what higher glory and honour or praise
can we ascribe, even to God Himself, than to say that of Him?  Next,
we pray not for ourselves only, but for our neighbours; for England,
for Christendom, for the heathen who know not God, and for
generations yet unborn.  We pray that God would so guide, and teach,
and preserve the children of men, as to enable them to fulfil in
every country and every age the work which He gave them to do, when
He said, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue
it.'  We know that our Father has commanded us to labour.  We know
that our Father has so well ordered this glorious earth, that
whosoever labours may reap the just fruit of his labour; therefore
we pray that God would prosper our righteous plans for earning our
own living.  We pray to Him not only so to order the earth that it
may bring forth its fruits in due season, but that men may be in a
fit state to enjoy those fruits, that God may not be forced for
their good to withhold from them blessings which they might abuse to
their ruin.  But we pray, also, 'Give _us_:' not me only, but _us_;
and therefore we pray that He would prosper our neighbour's plans as
well as ours.  So we confess that we believe God to be no respecter
of persons; we confess that we believe He will not take bread out of
others' mouths to give it to us; we declare that God's curse is on
all selfishness and oppression of man by man; we renounce our own
selfishness, the lust which our fallen nature has to rise upon
others' fall, and say, 'Father, we are all children at Thy common
table.  Thou alone canst prosper the richest and the wisest; Thou
alone canst prosper the poorest and the weakest; Thou wilt do equal
justice to all some day, and we confess that Thou art just in so
doing; we only ask Thee to do it now, and to give us and all mankind
that which is good for them.'

Thus we pray not for this generation only, but for generations yet
unborn; not for this nation of England only, but for heathens and
savages beyond the seas.  When we say, 'Give us our daily bread,' we
pray for every child here and on earth, that he may receive such an
education as may enable him to get his daily bread.  We pray for
learned men in their studies, that they may discover arts and
sciences which shall enrich and comfort nations yet unborn.  We pray
for merchants on the seas, that they may discover new markets for
trade, new lands to colonize and fill with Christian men, and extend
the blessings of industry and civilization to the savage who lives
as the beasts which perish and dwindles down off the face of the
earth by famine, disease, and war, the victim of his own idleness,
ignorance, and improvidence.

And all the while we are praying for the widow and the orphan, that
God would send them friends in time of need; for the houseless
wanderer, for the shipwrecked sailor, for sick persons, for feeble
infants, that God would send help to them who cannot help
themselves, and soften our hearts and the hearts of all around us,
that we may never turn our faces away from any poor man, lest the
face of the Lord be turned away from us.

So far we have been praying to our Heavenly Father, first as a
Father, then as a King, then as an Inspirer, then as a Giver; and
next we pray to Him as a _For_giver--'Forgive us our trespasses.'
We have been confessing in these four petitions what God's goodwill
to man is; what God wishes man to be, how man ought to live and
believe.  And then comes the recollection of sin.  We must confess
what God's law is before we can confess that we have broken it; and
now we do confess that we have broken it.  We know that God is our
Father.  How often have we forgotten that He is a father; how often
have we forgotten to be good fathers ourselves.

We are in God's kingdom.  How often have we behaved as if we were
our own kings, and had no masters over us but our own fancies,
tempers, appetites!  We are to do His will on earth as it is done in
heaven.  How have we been doing our own will!--pleasing ourselves,
breaking loose from His laws, trying to do right of our own wills
and in our own strength, instead of asking His Spirit to strengthen,
and cleanse, and renew our wills, and so have ended by doing not the
right which we knew to be right, but the wrong which we knew to be
wrong.  God is a giver.  How often have we looked on ourselves as
takers, and fancied that we must as it were steal the good things of
this world from God, lest He should forget to give us what was
fitting!  How often have we forgotten that God gives to all men, as
well as to us; and while we were praying, give _me_ my daily bread,
kept others out of their daily bread!

Oh, my friends, we cannot blame ourselves too much for all these
sins; we cannot think them too heinous.  We cannot confess them too
openly; we cannot cry too humbly and earnestly for forgiveness.  But
we never shall feel the full sinfulness of sin; we never shall
thoroughly humble ourselves in confession and repentance, unless we
remember that all our sins have been sins against a Father, and a
forgiving Father, and that it is His especial glory, the very beauty
and excellence in Him, which ought to have kept us from disobeying
Him, that He does forgive those who disobey Him.

And, lastly, in like manner, when you say, 'Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver,' &c., you are not only entreating God to
lead you, but you are honouring and praising Him, you are setting
forth His glory, and declaring that He is a God who does _lead_, and
a God who does not leave His poor creatures to wander their own
foolish way, but guides men, in spite of all their sins, full of
condescension and pity, care and tender love.  You do not only ask
God to deliver you from evil, but you declare that He is righteous,
and hates evil; that He is love, and desires to deliver you from
evil; One who spared not His only-begotten Son, but gave Him freely
for us, to deliver us from evil; and raised Him up, and delivered
all power into His hand, that He might fight His Father's battle
against all which is hurtful to man and hateful to God, till death
itself shall be destroyed, and all enemies put under the feet of the
Saviour God.



SERMON X.  THE DOXOLOGY



Psalm viii. 1 and sqq.  O Lord our Governor, how excellent is Thy
name in all the earth, Thou that hast set Thy glory above the
heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength,
because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the
avenger.

This is the text which I have chosen to-day, because I think it will
help us to understand the end of the Lord's Prayer, which tells us
to say to our Father in Heaven, 'Father, Thine is the kingdom;
Father, Thine is the power; Father, Thine is the glory.'

The man who wrote this psalm had been looking up at the sky,
spangled with countless stars, with the moon, as if she were the
queen of them all, walking in her brightness.  He had been looking
round, too, on this wonderful earth, with its countless beasts, and
birds, and insects, trees, herbs, and flowers, each growing, and
thriving, and breeding after their kind, according to the law which
God had given to each of them, without any help of man.  And then he
had thought of men, how small, weak, ignorant, foolish, sinful they
were, and said to himself, 'Why should God care for men more than
for these beasts, and birds, and insects round?  Not because he is
the largest and strongest thing in the world; for I will consider
Thy heavens, even the work of Thy hands, the moon and the stars,
which Thou hast ordained, how much greater, more beautiful they are
than poor human beings.  May not glorious beings, angels, be
dwelling in them, compared to whom man is no better than a beast?'

And yet he says to himself, 'I know that God, though He has put man
lower than the angels, has crowned him with glory and honour.  I
know that, whatever glorious creatures may live in the sun, and
moon, and stars, God has given man the dominion and power here, on
_this_ world.  I know that even to babes and sucklings God has given
a strength, because of His enemies--that He may silence the enemy
and the avenger; and I know that by so doing, God has set His glory
_above_ the heavens, and has shown forth His glory more in these
little children, to whom He gives strength and wisdom, than He has
in sun, and moon, and stars.'

Now how is that?  The Catechism, I think, will tell us.  The
Doxology, at the end of the Lord's Prayer, will tell us, if we
consider it.

If you will listen to me, I will try and show you what I mean.

Suppose I took one of your children, and showed him that large
bright star, which you may see now every evening, shining in the
south-west, and said to him, 'My child, that star, which looks to
you only a bright speck, is in reality a world--a world fourteen
hundred times as big as our world.  We have but one moon to light
our earth; that little speck has four moons, each of them larger
than ours, which light it by night.  That little speck of a star
seems to you to be standing still; in reality, it is travelling
through the sky at the rate of 25,000 miles an hour.'  What do you
think the child's feeling would be?  If he were a dull child, he
might only be astonished; but if he were a sensible and thoughtful
child, do you not think that a feeling of awe, almost of fear, would
come over him, when he thought how small and weak and helpless he
was, in comparison of those mighty and glorious stars above his
head?

And next, if I turned the child round, and bade him look at that
comet or fiery star, which has appeared lately low down in the
north-west, and said, 'My child, that comet, which seems to you to
hang just above the next parish, is really eighty millions of miles
off from us.  That bright spot at the lower part of it is a fiery
world as large as the moon,--that tail of fiery light which you see
streaming up from it, and which looks a few feet long, is a stream
of fiery vapour, stretching, most likely, hundreds of thousands of
miles through the boundless space.  It seems to you to be sinking
behind the trees, so slowly that you cannot see it move.  It is
really rushing towards us now, with its vast train of light, at the
rate of some eighty thousand miles an hour.'  And suppose then, if,
to make the child more astonished than ever, I went on--'Yes, my
child, every single tiny star which is twinkling over your head is a
sun, a sun as large, or larger than our own sun, perhaps with worlds
moving round it, as our world moves round our sun, but so many
millions of miles far off, that the strongest spy-glass cannot make
these stars look any larger, or show us the worlds which we believe
are moving round them.'

Do you not think that just in proportion to the child's quickness
and understanding, he would be awed, almost terrified?

And lastly, suppose that to puzzle and astonish him still more, I
took a chance drop of water out of any standing pool, and showed him
through a magnifying-glass, in that single drop of water, dozens,
perhaps hundreds, of living creatures so small that it is impossible
to see them with the naked eye, each of them of some beautiful and
wonderful shape, unlike anything which you ever saw or dreamed of,
but each of them alive, each of them moving, feeding, breeding,
after its kind, each fulfilling the nature which God has given to
them, and told him, 'All the whole world, the air which you breathe,
the leaves on the trees, the soil under your feet, ay, even often
the food which you eat, and your own flesh and blood, are as full of
wonderful things as that drop of water is.  You fancy that all the
life in the world is made up of the men and women in it, and the few
beasts, and birds, and insects, which you see about you in the
fields.  But these living things which you do see are not a
millionth part of the whole number of God's creatures; and not one
smallest plant or tiniest insect dies, but what it passes into a new
life, and becomes food for other creatures, even smaller than,
though just as wonderful as itself.  Every day fresh living
creatures are being discovered, filling earth, and sea, and air,
till men's brains are weary with counting them, and dizzy with
watching their unspeakable beauty, and strangeness, and fitness for
the work which God has given each of them to do.'

And then suppose I said to the child, 'God cares for each of these
tiny living creatures.  How do you know that He does not care for
them as much as He does for you?  God made them for His own
pleasure, that He might rejoice in the work of His own hands.  How
do you know that He does not rejoice in them as much as in you?
Those mighty worlds and suns above your head, which you call stars,
how do you know that they are not as much more glorious and precious
in God's sight than you are, as they are larger and more beautiful
than you are?  And mind! all these things, from the tiniest insects
in the water-drop, to the most vast star or comet in the sky, all
obey God.  They have not fallen, as you have; they have not sinned,
as you have; they have not broken the law, by which God intended
them to live, as you have.  The Bible tells you so; and the
discoveries of learned men prove that the Bible is right, when it
declares that they all continue to this day according to His
ordinance; for all things serve Him; that sun, and moon, and stars,
and light are praising Him; that fire and hail, snow and vapour,
wind and storm, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all
cedars, beasts and all cattle, worms and feathered fowl, are showing
forth His glory day and night; because He has made them sure for
ever and ever, each according to its kind, and given them a law
which shall not be broken; for all His works praise Him, and show
the glory of His kingdom, and the mightiness of His power, that His
power, His glory, and the mightiness of His kingdom might be known
unto the children of men.

And you!--They keep God's ordinance, and you have broken it; they
fulfil God's word, you fulfil your own fancies.  They have a law
which shall not be broken, you break God's law daily.  Are not they
better than you?  Is not, not merely sun and stars, but even the
meanest gnat which hums in the air, better than man, more worthy of
God's love than man?  For man has sinned, and they have not.'

Do you not think that I should sadden, and terrify the child, and
make him ready to cry out, 'Whither shall I flee from the wrath of
this great Almighty God; who has made this wondrous heaven and
earth, and all of it obeys Him, except me--I a rebel against Him who
made and rules all this?'

My friends, I only say, suppose that I spoke thus to your children.
For God forbid that I should speak thus to any human being, without
having first taught him the Lord's Prayer, without first having
taught him to say, 'I believe in Jesus Christ, Very God of Very God,
who was born of the Virgin Mary, and took man's nature on Him;'
without having taught him to say, 'Our Father which art in heaven,
Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and
ever, Amen.'  So it is, and so let it be:  for so it is well, and so
I am safe, sinner and rebel though I be.

I would not say it, unless I had taught him this; for then I should
be speaking the Devil's words, and doing the Devil's work:  for
these are the thoughts of which he always takes advantage, whenever
he finds them in men's hearts; because he is the enemy who hates
men, and the avenger who punishes them for their bad thoughts, by
leading them on into dark and fearful deeds; because he is the
Devil, the Slanderer, as his name means, and slanders God to men,
and tries always to make them believe that God does not care for
men, and grudges them blessings; in order that he may make men dread
God, and shrink from Him into their own pride, or their own carnal
lusts and fancies.

These are the thoughts of which the Devil took advantage in the
heathen in old times, and tempted them to forget God--God, who had
not left Himself without a witness, in that He gave them rain and
fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness--God,
whose unseen glory, even His eternal power and Godhead, may be
clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood from
the things which are made--God, in whom, as St. Paul told the
heathen, they lived and moved, and had their being, and were the
offspring of God.  This--that man is the offspring of God, and has a
Father in heaven--is the great truth which the Devil has been trying
to hide from men in every age, and by a hundred different devices.
By making them forget this, he tempted them to worship the creature
instead of the Creator; to pray to sun and moon and stars, to send
them fair weather, good crops, prosperous fortune:  to look up to
the heaven above them, and down to the earth beneath their feet, in
slavish dread and anxiety:  and pray to the sun, not to blast them
to the seas, not to sweep them away; to the rivers and springs, not
to let them perish from drought; to earthquakes, not to swallow them
up; ay, even to try to appease those dark fierce powers, with whom
they thought the great awful world was filled, by cruel sacrifices
of human beings; so that they offered their sons and their daughters
to devils, and burned their own children in the fire to Moloch, the
cruel angry Fire King, whom they fancied was lord of the earthquakes
and the burning mountains.  So did the Canaanites of old, and so did
the Jews after them; whensoever they had forgotten that God was
their Father, who had bought them, and that the kingdom, and the
power, and the glory, throughout heaven and earth, were His, then at
once they began to be afraid of heaven and earth, and worshipped
Baalim, and Astaroth, and the Host of Heaven, which were the sun and
moon and stars, and Moloch the Fire King, and Thammuz the Lord of
the Spring-time, and with forms of worship which showed plainly
enough, either by their cruelty or their filthy profligacy, who was
the author of them, and that man, when he forgets that heaven and
earth belong to his Father, is in danger of becoming a slave to his
own lowest lusts and passions.

And do not fancy, my friends, that because you and I are not likely
to worship sun and moon and stars as the old heathen did, that
therefore we cannot commit the same sin as they did.

My friends, I believe that we are in more danger of committing it in
England just now than ever we were; that learned men especially are
in danger of so doing, because they know so far more of the wonders
and the vastness of God's creation than the heathens of old knew.

But you are not learned, you will say:  you are plain people, who
know nothing about these wonderful discoveries which men make by
telescopes and magnifying-glasses, but use your own eyes in a plain
way to get your daily bread, and you feel no such temptations.  You
believe, of course, that the kingdom and power and glory of all we
see is God's.

Yes; but do you believe too that He whom people are too apt to call
God, just because they have no other name to call Him, is your
Father?  That it is your Father's will which governs the weather,
which makes the earth bear fruit and gladden the heart of man with
good and fruitful seasons?

Alas, my friends, if we will open our eyes, see things in their true
light, and call things by their true name, we shall see many a man
in England now honouring the creature more than the Creator;
trusting in the seasons and the soil more than he does in God, and
so sinning in just the same way as the heathen of old.

When people say to themselves, 'I must get land, I must get money,
by any means; honestly if I can, if not, dishonestly; for have it I
must;' what are they doing then but denying that the kingdom, the
power, and the glory of this earth belong to the Righteous God, and
that He, and not the lying Devil, gives them to whomsoever He will?

When people say to themselves (as who does not at moments?) 'To be
rich is to be safe; a man's life does consist in the abundance of
what he possesses;' what are they doing but saying that man does
_not_ live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God, but
by what he can get for himself and keep for himself?  When they are
fretful and anxious about their crops, when they even repine and
complain of Providence, as I have known men do because they do not
prosper as they wish, what are they doing but saying in their
hearts, 'The weather and the seasons are the lords and masters of my
good fortune, or bad fortune.  I depend on them, and not on God, for
comfort and for wealth, and my Heavenly Father does _not_ know what
I have need of?'  When parents send their girls out to field-work,
without any care about whom they talk with, to have their minds
corrupted by hearing filthiness and seeing immodest behaviour, what
are they doing but offering their daughters in sacrifice, not even
to Moloch, but to Mammon; saying to themselves, 'My daughter's
modesty, my daughter's virtue, is not of as much value as the paltry
money which I can earn by leaving her alone to learn wickedness,
instead of keeping watch over her, if she does work, that she may be
none the worse for her day's labour.'

I might go on and give you a thousand instances more, but they all
come alike to this; that whensoever you fancy that you cannot earn
your daily bread without doing wrong yourself, or leaving your
children to learn wrong, then you do not believe that the kingdom,
the power, and the glory of this earth on which you work is your
Heavenly Father's.  For if you did, you would be certain that gains,
large or small, got by breaking the least of His commandments, could
never prosper you, but must bring a curse and a punishment with
them; and you would be sure also, that because God is your Father,
and this earth and all herein is His, that He would feed you with
food sufficient for you, if you do but seek first His kingdom--that
is, try to learn His laws; and seek first His righteousness--that
is, strive and pray day by day to become righteous even as He is
righteous.

Yes, my friends, this is one meaning, though only one, of St. John's
words, 'This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our
faith.'  We all see the world full of pleasant things, for which we
long; of necessary things, too, without which we should starve and
die.  And then the temptation comes to us to snatch at these things
for ourselves by any means in our power, right or wrong; like the
dumb animals who break out of their owners' field into the next, if
they do but see better pasturage there, or fight and quarrel between
themselves for food, each trying to get the most for himself and rob
his neighbour.  So live the beasts, and so you and I, and every
human being shall be tempted to live, if we follow our natures, if
we forget that we are God's children, in God's kingdom, under the
laws of a Heavenly Father, who has shown forth His own love and
justice, His own kingdom, and power, and glory, in the person of the
Lord Jesus Christ.  But if we remember that, if we remember daily
that the kingdom, and power, and glory is our Father's, then we
shall neither fear storms and blights, bad crops, or anything else
which is of the earth earthly.  We shall fear nothing of that kind,
which can only kill the body, but only fear the evil Devil, lest, by
making us distrust and disobey our Heavenly Father, he should, after
he has killed, destroy both body and soul in hell.  And as long as
we fear him, as long as we renounce him, as long as we trust utterly
in our Heavenly Father's love and justice, and in the love and
justice of His dear Son, the Man Christ Jesus, to whom all power is
given in heaven and earth--then out of the youngest child among us
will God's praise be perfected; for the youngest child among us, by
faith in God his Father, may look upon all heaven and earth, and
say, 'Great, and wonderful, and awful as this earth and skies may
be, I am more precious in the sight of God than sun, and moon, and
stars; for they are things:  but I am a person, a spirit, an
immortal soul, made in the likeness of God, redeemed into the
likeness of God, sanctified into the likeness of God.  This great
earth was here thousands and thousands of years before I was born,
and it will be here perhaps millions and millions of years after I
am dead; but it cannot harm _me_; it cannot kill _me_.  When earth,
and sun, and stars are past away, I shall live for ever; for I am
the immortal child of an Immortal Father, the child of the
everlasting God.  These things He only made:  but me He begot unto
everlasting life, in Jesus Christ my Lord.  I seem to depend on this
earth for food, for clothing, for comfort, for life itself:  and yet
I do not do so in reality; for man doth not live by bread alone, but
by _every_ word which proceeds out of the mouth of God my Father.
In Him I have eternal life:  a life which this earth did not give,
and cannot take away; a life which, by the mercy of my Father in
heaven, I trust and hope to be living when sun and earth, stars and
comets, are returned again to their dust, and blotted from the face
of heaven.  For the kingdom, the glory, and the power of this world,
and all other worlds, past, present, and to come, belong to Him who
spared not His only-begotten Son, but freely gave Him for us, and
will with Him freely give us all things.'

And thus, my friends, may God's praise be perfected out of the mouth
of any Christian child, when He declares that God put man a little
lower than the angels only to crown him with the glory and worship
of having the only-begotten Son of God take man's nature upon Him,
and walk this earth as a man, and live, and die, and rise again as a
man, that so He might raise fallen man again to the glory and honour
which God appointed for men from the beginning, when He said, Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness:  and let them have
dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, and the
beast of the earth; and be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the
earth and subdue it.



SERMON XI.  AHAB AND NABOTH



1 Kings xxi. 2, 3.  And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy
vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is
near unto my house:  and I will give thee for it a better vineyard
than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of
it in money.  And Naboth said unto Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that
I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

You heard to-day read for the first lesson, the story of Naboth and
King Ahab.  Most of you know it well.  Naboth's vineyard has passed
into a proverb for something which we covet.

It is good that it should be so.  We cannot know our Bible too well;
we cannot have Bible words and Bible thoughts too much worked into
our ways of talking and thinking about everyday matters.  As far as
I can see, the best days of England, the best days of every
Christian country of which I ever read, have been days when men were
not ashamed of their Bibles; when they were ready to live by their
Bibles; to ask advice of their Bibles about buying and selling,
about making war and peace, about all the business of life; and were
not ashamed to quote texts of Scripture in the parliament, and in
the market, and in the battle-field, as God's law, God's rule, God's
word about the matter in hand, which was, therefore, sure to be the
right word and the right rule.  People are grown ashamed of doing so
now-a-days; but that does not alter the matter one jot.  We may deny
God, but He cannot deny Himself.  His laws are everlasting, and He
is ruling and judging us by them now, all day long, just as much as
He ruled and judged those Jews by them of old.  The God of Abraham
is our God; the God of Moses is our God; the God of Ahab and Naboth
is our God; neither He nor His government are altered in the least
since their time, and they never will alter for ever, and ever, and
ever; and if we do not choose to believe that now in this life, we
shall be made to believe it by some very ugly and painful schooling
in the life to come.

What laws of God, now, can we learn from this story?

First, we may learn what a sacred thing _property_ is.  That a man's
possessions (if they be justly come by) belong to him, in the sight
of God as well as in the sight of man, and that God will uphold and
avenge the man's right.

Naboth, you see, stands simply on his right to his own property.
'The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my
fathers unto thee.'  I do not think that he meant that God had
actually forbidden him:  it seems to have been only some sort of
oath which he used.  He may certainly have had reasons for thinking
it wrong to part with his lands; hurtful, perhaps, to his family
after him.  Yet, as Ahab had promised him a better vineyard for it,
or its worth in money, I cannot help thinking that Naboth's reason
was the one which shows on the face of his words.  It was the
inheritance of his fathers, this vineyard.  They had all worked in
it, generation after generation; perhaps, according to the Jewish
custom, they were buried somewhere in it; at least, it had been
theirs and now was his; he had worked in it, and played in it--
perhaps since he was a child--and he loved it; it was part and
parcel of his father's house to him, a sacred spot.

And so it should be.  It is a holy feeling which makes a man cling
to the bit of land which he has inherited from his parents, even to
the cottage, though it be only a hired one, where he has lived for
many a year, and where he has planted and tilled, perhaps with some
that he loved, who are now dead and gone, or grown up and gone out
into the world, till the little old cottage-garden is full of
remembrances to him of past joys and past sorrows.  The feeling
which makes a man cling to his home and to his own land is a good
feeling, and breeds good in the man.  It makes him respect himself;
it keeps him from being reckless and unsettled.  It is a feeling
which should not be broken through.  It is seldom pleasant to see
land change hands; it is seldom pleasant to see people turned out of
their cottages.  It must often be so, but let it be as seldom as
possible.  One likes to see a family take root in a place, and grow
and thrive there, one generation after another; and you will find,
my friends, that families do take root and thrive in a place just in
proportion as they fear God and do righteousness.  The Psalms tell
you, again and again, that the way to abide in the land, and prosper
in it, is to trust in the Lord and be doing good; and that the
wicked are soon rooted out, and their names perish out of the land.
One sees that come true daily.

But to return to Naboth.  He loved his own land, and therefore he
had a right to keep it.  We may say it was but a fancy of his, if he
could have a better vineyard, or the worth of it in money.
Remember, at least, that God respected that fancy of his, and
justified it, and avenged it.  When (after Naboth's death) Elijah
accused Ahab, in God's name, he put two counts into the indictment;
for Ahab had committed two sins.  'Hast thou killed, and also taken
possession?'  Killing was one sin; taking possession was another.

And so Ahab learnt two weighty and bitter lessons.  He learnt that
God's Law stands for ever, though man's law be broken or be
forgotten by disuse.  For you must understand, that these Jews were
a free people, even as we are.  They were not like the nations round
about them, or as the Russians are now--slaves to their king, and
holding their property only at his will.  The law of Moses had made
them a free people, who held their property each man from God, by
God's Law, which had said, 'Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not
covet.  Cursed is he who removes his neighbour's landmark.'  And
their kings were bound to govern by Moses' law, just as our kings
and rulers are bound to govern by the old constitutions of England,
and to do equal justice by rich and poor.  But the wicked kings of
Israel were trying to break through that law, and make themselves
tyrants and despots, such as the Czar of Russia is now.  First,
Jeroboam began by trying to wean his people from Moses' law, by
preventing their going up to worship at Jerusalem, and making them
worship instead the golden calves at Dan and at Bethel.  For he knew
that if he could make idolaters of them, he should soon make slaves
of them; and he succeeded; and the kingdom of Israel grew more
miserable year by year; and now Ahab, his wicked successor, was
breaking down the laws of property and wrongfully taking away his
subjects' lands.  Perhaps he said in his heart, 'I am king; there is
no law stronger than I.  I have a right to do what I like.'  If he
did so, he found that he was mistaken.  He found that though he
forgot Moses' law, God had not; that the law stood there still,
because it was founded on eternal justice, which proceeds for ever
out of the mouth of God; and by the Law, which he had chosen to
forget, he was judged; by the Law of God, which deals equal justice
to rich and poor, which is, like God Himself, no acceptor of
persons; but says, 'Thou shalt not covet,' to the king upon his
throne as sternly as to the beggar on the dunghill.

And that Law stands still, my friends, doubt it not.  Thanks to the
wisdom and justice of our forefathers who built the laws of England
on those old Ten Commandments, which hang for a sign thereof in
every church to this day.  Thanks to them, I say, and to God, the
root of the law of England is, equal justice between man and man, be
he high or low; and it is a thing to bless God for every day of our
lives, that here the poor man's little is as safe as the rich man's
wealth:  but there is many a sin of oppression, many a sin of
covetousness, my friends, which no law of man can touch.  Make laws
as artfully as you will, bad men can always slip through them, and
escape the spirit of them, while they obey the letter:  and I
suppose it will be so to the world's end; and that, let the laws be
as perfect as they may, if any man wishes to cheat or oppress his
neighbour, he will surely be able to work his wicked will in some
way or other.  Well then, my friends, if man's law is weak, God's is
not;--if man's law has flaws and gaps in it, through which
covetousness can creep, God's has none;--even if (which God forbid)
man's law died out, and sinners were left to sin without fear of
punishment, still God's Law stands sure, and the eye of the living
God slumbers not, and the hand of the living God never grows weary,
and out of the everlasting heaven His voice is saying, day and
night, for ever, 'I endure for ever.  I sit on the throne judging
right; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of My kingdom.  I
judge the world in justice, and minister true judgment unto the
people.  I also will be a refuge for the oppressed, even a refuge in
due time of trouble.'

O hear those words, my friends! hear and obey, if you love life, and
wish to see good days; and never, never say a thing is right, simply
because the law cannot punish you for it.  Never say in your hearts
when you are tempted to be hard, cruel, covetous, over-reaching,
'What harm?  I break no law by it.'  There is a law, whether you see
it or not; you break a law, whether you confess it or not; a law
which is as a wall of iron clothed with thunder, though man's law be
but a flimsy net of thread; and that law, and not any Acts of
Parliament, shall judge you in the day when the secrets of all
hearts shall be disclosed, and every man shall receive the due
reward of the deeds done in the body, not according as they were
allowed or not by the Statute Book, but according as they were good
or evil.

Another lesson we may learn from this story:  that if we give way to
our passions, we give way to the Devil also.  Ahab gave way to his
passion; he knew that he was wrong; for when Naboth refused to sell
him the vineyard, he did not dare openly to rob him of it; he went
to his house heavy of heart, and fretted, like a spoilt child,
because he could not get what he wanted.  It was but a little thing,
and he might have been content to go without it.  He was king of all
Israel, and what was one small vineyard more or less to him?  But
prosperity had spoilt him; he must needs have every toy on which he
set his heart, and he was weak enough to fret that he could not get
more, when he had too much already.  But he knew that he could not
get it; that, king as he was, Naboth's property was his own, and
that God's everlasting Law stood between him and the thing he
coveted.  Well for him if he had been contented with fretting.  But,
my friends--and be you rich or poor, take heed to my words--whenever
any man gives way to selfishness, and self-seeking, to a proud,
covetous, envious, peevish temper, the Devil is sure to glide up and
whisper in his ear thoughts which will make him worse--worse, ay,
than he ever dreamt of being.  First comes the flesh, and then the
Devil; and if the flesh opens the door of the heart, the Devil steps
in quickly enough.  First comes the flesh:  fleshly, carnal pride at
being thwarted; fleshly, carnal longing for a thing, which longs all
the more for it because one cannot have it; fleshly, carnal
peevishness and ill-temper, at not having just the pleasant thing
one happens to like.  That is a state of mind which is a bird-call
for all the devils; and when they see a man in that temper, they
flock to him, I believe, as crows do to carrion.  It is astonishing,
humbling, awful, my friends, what horrible thoughts will cross one's
mind if once one gives way to that selfish, proud, angry, longing
temper; thoughts of which we are ashamed the next moment;
temptations to sin at which we shudder, they seem so unlike
ourselves, not parts of ourselves at all.  When the dark fit is
past, one can hardly believe that such wicked thoughts ever crossed
one's mind.  I don't think that they are part of ourselves; I
believe them to be the whispers of the Devil himself; and when they
pass away, I believe that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who drives
them away.  But if any man gives way to them, determines to keep his
sullenness, and so gives place to the Devil; then those thoughts do
not pass; they take hold of a man, possess him, as the Bible calls
it, and make him in his madness do things which--alas! who has not
done things in his day, of which he has repented all his life
after?--things for which he would gladly cut off his right hand for
the sake of being able to say, 'I never did that?'  But the thing is
done--done to all eternity:  he has given place to the Devil, and
the Devil has made him do in five minutes work which he could not
undo in five thousand years; and all that is left is, when he comes
to himself, to cast himself on God's boundless mercy, and Christ's
boundless atonement, and cry, 'My sins are like scarlet, Thou alone
canst make them whiter than snow:  my sin is ever before me; only
let it not be ever before Thee, O God!  Punish me, if thou seest
fit; but oh forgive, for there is mercy with Thee, and infinite
redemption!'  And, thanks be to God's great love, he will not cry in
vain.  Yet, oh, my friends, do not give place to the Devil, unless
you wish, forgiven or not, to repent of it to the latest day you
live.

And this was Ahab's fate.  He knew, I say, that he was wrong; he
knew that Naboth's property was his own, and dare not openly rob him
of it; and he went to his house, heavy of heart, and refused to eat;
and while he was in such a temper as that, the Devil lost no time in
sending an evil spirit to him.  It was a woman whom he sent,
Jezebel, Ahab's own wife:  but she was, as far as we can see, a
woman of a devilish spirit, cruel, proud, profligate, and unjust, as
well as a worshipper of the filthy idols of the Canaanites.  Ahab's
first sin was in having married this wicked heathen woman:  now his
sin punished itself; she tempted him through his pride and self-
conceit; she taunted him into sin:  'Dost thou now govern the
kingdom of Israel?  I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth.'  You
all remember how she did so; by falsely accusing Naboth of
blasphemy.  Ahab seems to have taken no part in Naboth's murder.
Perhaps he was afraid; but he was a weak man, and Jezebel was a
strong and fierce spirit, and ruled him, and led him in this matter,
as she did in making him worship idols with her; and he was content
to be led.  He was content to let others do the wickedness he had
not courage to carry out himself.  He forgot that, as is well said,
'He who does a thing by another, does it by himself;' that if you
let others sin for you, you sin for yourself.  Would to God, my
friends, that we would all remember this!  How often people wink at
wrong-doing in those with whom they have dealings, in those whom
they employ, in their servants, in their children, because it is
convenient to them.  They shut their eyes, and their hearts too, and
say to themselves, 'At all events, it is his doing and not mine; and
it is his concern; I am not answerable for other people's sins.  I
would not do such a thing myself, certainly; but as it is done, I
may as well make the best of it.  If I gain by it, I need not be so
very sharp in looking into the matter.'  And so you see men who
really wish to be honest and kindly themselves, making no scruple of
profiting by other people's dishonesty and cruelty.  Now the law
punishes the receiver of stolen goods almost as severely as the
thief himself:  but there are many receivers of stolen goods, my
friends, whom the law cannot touch.  The world, at times, seems to
me to be full of them; for every one, my friends, who hushes up a
cruel or a dishonest matter, because he himself is a gainer by it,
he is no better than the receiver of stolen goods, and he will find
in the day of the Lord, that the sin will lie at his door, as
Jezebel's sin lay at Ahab's.  There was no need for Ahab to say,
'Jezebel did it, and not I.'  The prophet did not even give him time
to excuse himself:  'Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also
taken possession?'  By taking possession of Naboth's vineyard, and
so profiting by his murder, he made himself partaker in that murder,
and had to hear the terrible sentence, 'In the place where dogs
licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick thy blood, even thine.'

Oh, my friends, whatsoever you do, keep clean hands and a pure
heart.  If you touch pitch, it will surely stick to you.  Let no
gain tempt you to be partaker of others men's sins; never fancy
that, because men cannot lay the blame on the right person, God
cannot.  God will surely lay the burden on the man who helped to
make the burden; God will surely require part payment from the man
who profited by the bargain; so keep yourselves clear of other men's
sins, that you may be clear also of their condemnation.

So Ahab had committed a horrible and great sin, and had received
sentence for it, and now, as I said before, there was nothing to be
done but to repent; and he did so, after his fashion.

Ahab, it seems, was not an utterly bad man; he was a weak man, fond
of his own pleasure, a slave to his own passions, and easily led,
sometimes to good, but generally to evil.  And God did not execute
full vengeance on him:  his repentance was a poor one enough; but
such as it was, the good and merciful God gave him credit for it as
far as it went, and promised him that the worst part of his
sentence, the ruin of his family, should not come in his time.  But
still the sentence against him stood, and was fulfilled.  Not long
after, as we read in the second lesson, he was killed in battle, and
that not bravely and with honour (for if he had been, that would
have been but a slight punishment, my friends), but shamefully by a
chance shot, after he had disguised himself, in the cowardice of his
guilty conscience, and tried to throw all the danger on his ally,
good King Jehoshaphat of Judah; 'and they washed his chariot in the
pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, according to the
word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah the prophet.'

So ends one of the most clear and terrible stories in the whole
Bible, of God's impartial justice.  May God give us all grace to lay
it to heart!  We are all tempted, as Ahab was; rich or poor, our
temptation is alike to give place to the Devil, and let him lead us
into dark and deep sin, by giving way to our own fancies, longings,
pride, and temper.  We are all tempted, as Ahab was, to over-reach
our neighbours in some way; I do not mean always in cheating them,
but in being unfair to them, in caring more for ourselves than for
them; thinking of ourselves first, and of them last; trying to make
ourselves comfortable, or to feed our own pride, at their expense.
Oh, my friends, whenever we are tempted to be selfish and grasping,
be sure that we are opening a door to the very Devil of hell
himself, though he may look so smooth, and gentle, and respectable,
that perhaps we shall not know him when he comes to us, and shall
take his counsels for the counsel of an angel of light.  But be sure
that if it is selfishness which has opened the door of our heart,
not God, but the Devil, will come in, let him disguise himself as
cunningly as he will; and our only hope is to flee to Him in whom
there was no selfishness, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came not to do
His own will, but His Father's; not to glorify Himself, but His
Father; not to save His own life, but to sacrifice it freely, for
us, His selfish, weak, greedy, wandering sheep.  Pray to Him to give
you His Spirit, that glorious spirit of love, and duty, and self-
sacrifice, by which all the good deeds on earth are done; which
teaches a man not to care about himself, but about others; to help
others, to feel for others, to rejoice in their happiness, to grieve
over their sorrows, to give to them, rather than take from them--in
one word, The Holy Spirit of God, which may He pour out on you, and
me, and all mankind, that we may live justly and lovingly, as
children of one just and loving Father in heaven.



SERMON XII.  THE LIGHT OF GOD



[Preached for the Chelsea National Schools.]

Ephesians v. 13.  All things which are reproved are made manifest by
the light:  for whatsoever is made manifest is light.

This is a noble text, a royal text; one of those texts which forbid
us to clip and cramp Scripture to suit any narrow notions of our
own; which open before us boundless vistas of God's love, of human
knowledge, of the future of mankind.  There are many such texts,
many more than we fancy; but this is one which is especially
valuable at the present time; one especially fit for a sermon on
education; for it is, as it were, the scriptural charter of the
advocate of education.  It enables him boldly to say, 'There is
nothing I will refuse to teach; there is nothing which man shall
forbid me to teach; there is nothing which God has made in heaven or
earth about which I will not tell the truth boldly to the young.'

For light comes from God.  God is light, and in Him is no darkness
at all.  And therefore He wishes to give light to His children.  He
willeth not that the least of them should be kept in darkness about
any matter.  Darkness is of the Devil; and he who keeps any human
soul in darkness, let his pretences be as reverent and as religious
as they may, is doing the Devil's work.  Nothing, then, which God
has made will we conceal from the young.

True, there are errors of which we will not speak to the young; but
they are not made by God:  they are the works of darkness.  Our duty
is to teach the young what God has made, what He has done, what He
has ordained; to make them freely partakers of whatsoever light God
has given us.  Then, by means of that light, they will be able to
reprove the works of darkness.

For whatsoever is made manifest is light.  Our version says;
'Whatsoever makes manifest is light.'  That is true, a noble truth;
but I should not be honest, if I did not confess that that is not
what St. Paul says here.  He says, 'That which _is_ made manifest is
light.'  On this the best commentators and scholars agree.  Our old
translators have made a mistake, though in grammar only, and have
substituted one great truth for another equally great.

'Whatsoever is made manifest is light.'  We should have expected
this, if we are really Christians.  If we have faith in God; if we
believe that God is worthy of our faith--a God whom we can trust; in
whom is neither caprice, deceit, nor darkness, but pure and perfect
light;--if we believe that we are His children, and that He wishes
us to be, like Himself, full of light, knowing what we are and what
the world is, because we know who God is;--if we believe that He
sent His Son into the world to reveal Him, to unveil Him, to draw
aside the veil which dark superstition and ignorance had spread
between man and God, and to show us the glory of God;--if we believe
this, then we shall be ready to expect that whatsoever is made
manifest would be light; for if God be light, all that He has made
must be light also.  Like must beget like, and therefore light must
beget light, good beget good, love beget love; and therefore we
ought to expect that as true and sound knowledge increases, our
views of God will be more full of light.

Yes, my friends; under the influence of true science God will be no
longer looked upon, as He was in those superstitions which we well
call dark, as a proud, angry, capricious being, as a stern
taskmaster, as one far removed from the sympathy of men:  but as one
of whom we may cheerfully say, Thy name be hallowed, for Thy name is
Father; Thy kingdom come, for it is a Father's kingdom; Thy will be
done, for it is a Father's will; and in doing Thy will alone men
claim their true dignity of being the sons of God.

Our views of our fellow-men will be more cheerful also; more full of
sympathy, comprehension, charity, hope; in one word, more full of
light.  If it be true (and it is true) that God loves all, then we
should expect to find in all something worthy of our love.  If it be
true that God willeth that none should perish, we should expect to
find in each man something which ought not to perish.  If it be true
that God stooped from heaven, yea stoops from heaven eternally, to
seek and to save that which is lost, then we should have good hope
that our efforts to seek to save that which is lost will not be in
vain.  We shall have hope in every good work we undertake, for we
shall know that in it we are fellow-workers with God.

Our notions of the world--of God's whole universe, will become full
of light likewise.  Do we believe that this earth was made by Jesus
Christ?--by Him who was full of grace and truth?  Do we believe our
Bibles, when they tell us, that He hath given all created things a
law which cannot be broken; that they continue as at the beginning,
for all things serve Him?  Do we believe this?  Then we must look on
this earth, yea on the whole universe of God, as, like its Master,
full of grace and truth; not as old monks and hermits fancied it, a
dark, deceiving, evil earth, filled with snares and temptations; a
world from which a man ought to hide himself in the wilderness, and
find his own safety in ignorance.  Not thus, but as the old Hebrews
thought of it, as a glorious and a divine universe, in which the
Spirit of God, the Lord and Giver of life, creates eternal melody,
bringing for ever life out of death, light out of darkness, letting
his breath go forth that new generations may be made, and herein
renew the face of the earth.

And experience teaches us that this has been the case; that for near
one thousand eight hundred years there has been a steady progress in
the mind of the Christian race, and that this progress has been in
the direction of light.

Has it not been so in our notions of God?  What has the history of
theology been for near one thousand eight hundred years?  Has it not
been a gradual justification of God, a gradual vindication of His
character from those dark and horrid notions of the Deity which were
borrowed from the Pagans, and from the Jewish Rabbis? a gradual
return to the perfect good news of a good God, which was preached by
St. John and by St. Paul?--In one word, a gradual manifestation of
God; and a gradual discovery that when God is manifested, behold,
God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all?

That progress, alas! is not yet perfect.  We still see through a
glass darkly, and we are still too apt to impute to God Himself the
darkness of those very hearts of ours in which He is so dimly
mirrored.  And there are men still, even in Protestant England, who
love darkness rather than light, and teach men that God is dark, and
in Him are only scattered spots of light, and those visible only to
a favoured few; men who, whether from ignorance, or covetousness, or
lust of power, preach such a deity as the old Pharisees worshipped,
when they crucified the Lord of Glory, and offer to deliver men,
forsooth, out of the hands of this dreadful phantom of their own
dark imaginations.

Let them be.  Let the dead bury their dead, and let us follow
Christ.  Believe indeed that He is the likeness of God's glory, and
the express image of God's person, and you will be safe from the
dark dreams with which they ensnare diseased and superstitious
consciences.  Let them be.  Light is stronger than darkness; Love
stronger than cruelty.  Perfect God stronger than fallen man; and
the day shall come when all shall be light in the Lord; when all
mankind shall know God, from the least unto the greatest, and
lifting up free foreheads to Him who made them, and redeemed them by
His Son, shall in spirit and in truth, worship The Father.

Does not experience again show us that in the case of our fellow-
men, whatsoever is made manifest, is light?

How easy it was, a thousand years ago--a hundred years ago even, to
have dark thoughts about our fellow-men, simply because we did not
know them!  Easy it was, while the nations were kept apart by war,
even by mere difficulty of travelling, for Christians to curse Jews,
Turks, Infidels, and Heretics, and believe that God willed their
eternal perdition, even though the glorious collect for Good Friday
gave their inhumanity the lie.  Easy to persecute those to whose
opinions we could not, or would not, take the trouble to give a fair
hearing.  Easy to condemn the negro to perpetual slavery, when we
knew nothing of him but his black face; or to hang by hundreds the
ragged street-boys, while we disdained to inquire into the
circumstances which had degraded them; or to treat madmen as wild
beasts, instead of taming them by wise and gentle sympathy.

But with a closer knowledge of our fellow-creatures has come
toleration, pity, sympathy.  And as that sympathy has been freely
obeyed, it has justified itself more and more.  The more we have
tried to help our fellow-men, the more easy we have found it to help
them.  The more we have trusted them, the more trustworthy we have
found them.  The more we have treated them as human beings, the more
humanity we have found in them.  And thus man, in proportion as he
becomes manifest to man, is seen, in spite of all defects and sins,
to be hallowed with a light from God who made him.

And if it has been thus, in the case of God and of humanity, has it
not been equally so in the case of the physical world?  Where are
now all those unnatural superstitions--the monkish contempt for
marriage and social life, the ghosts and devils; the astrology, the
magic, and other dreams of which I will not speak here, which made
this world, in the eyes of our forefathers, a doleful and dreadful
puzzle; and which made man the sport of arbitrary powers, of cruel
beings, who could torment and destroy us, but over whom we could
have no righteous power in return?  Where are all those dark dreams
gone which maddened our forefathers into witch-hunting panics, and
which on the Continent created a priestly science of witch-finding
and witch-destroying, the literature whereof (and it is a large one)
presents perhaps the most hideous instance known of human cruelty,
cowardice, and cunning?  Where, I ask, are those dreams now?  So
utterly vanished, that very few people in this church know what a
great part they played in the thoughts of our forefathers; how
ghosts, devils, witches, magic, and astrology, filled the minds, not
only of the ignorant, but of the most learned, for centuries.

And now, behold, nature being made manifest, is light.  Science has
taught men to admire where they used to dread; to rule where they
used to obey; to employ for harmless uses what they were once afraid
to touch; and, where they once saw only fiends, to see the orderly
and beneficent laws of the all-good and almighty God.  Everywhere,
as the work of nature is unfolded to our eyes, we see beauty, order,
mutual use, the offspring of perfect Love as well as perfect Wisdom.
Everywhere we are finding means to employ the secret forces of
nature for our own benefit, or to ward off physical evils which
seemed to our forefathers as inevitable, supernatural; and even the
pestilence, instead of being, as was once fancied, the capricious
and miraculous infliction of some demon--the pestilence itself is
found to be an orderly result of the same laws by which the sun
shines and the herb grows; a product of nature; and therefore
subject to man, to be prevented and extirpated by him, if he will.

Yes, my friends, let us teach these things to our children, to all
children.  Let us tell them to go to the Light, and see their
Heavenly Father's works manifested, and know that they are, as He
is, _Light_.  I say, let us teach our children freely and boldly to
know these things, and grow up in the light of them.  Let us leave
those to sneer at the triumphs of modern science, who trade upon the
ignorance and the cowardice of mankind, and who say, 'Provided you
make a child religious, what matter if he does fancy the sun goes
round the earth?  Why occupy his head, perhaps disturb his simple
faith, by giving him a smattering of secular science?'

Specious enough is that argument:  but shortsighted more than
enough.  It is of a piece with the wisdom which shrinks from telling
children that God is love, lest they should not be sufficiently
afraid of Him; which forbids their young hearts to expand freely
towards their fellow-creatures:  which puts into their mouths the
watchwords of sects and parties, and thinks to keep them purer
Christians by making them Pharisees from the cradle.

My friends, we may try to train up children as Pharisees:  but we
shall discover, after twenty years of mistaken labour, that we have
only made them Sadducees.  The path to infidelity in manhood is
superstition in youth.  You may tell the child never to mind whether
the sun moves round the earth or not:  but the day will come when he
will mind in spite of you; and if he then finds that you have
deceived him, that you have even left him in wilful ignorance, all
your moral influence over him is gone, and all your religious
lessons probably gone also.  So true is it, that lies are by their
very nature self-destructive.  For all truth is of God; and no lie
is of the truth, and therefore no lie can possibly help God or God's
work in any human soul.  For as the child ceases to respect his
teachers he ceases to respect what they believe.  His innate
instinct of truth and honour, his innate longing to believe, to look
up to some one better than himself, have been shocked and shaken
once and for all; and it may require long years, and sad years, to
bring him back to the faith of his childhood.  Again I say it, we
must not fear to tell the children the whole truth; in these days
above all others which the world has yet seen.  You cannot prevent
their finding out the truth:  then for our own sake, let us, their
authorized teachers, be the first to tell it them.  Let them in
after life connect the thought of their clergyman, their
schoolmaster, their church, with their first lessons in the free and
right use of their God-given faculties, with their first glimpses
into the boundless mysteries of art and science.  Let them learn
from us to regard all their powers as their Heavenly Father's gift;
all art, all science, all discoveries, as their Heavenly Father's
revelation to men.  Let them learn from us not to shrink from the
light, not to peep at it by stealth, but to claim it as their
birthright; to welcome it, to live and grow in it to the full
stature of men--rational, free, Christian English men.  This, I
believe, must be the method of a truly Protestant education.

I said Protestant--I say it again.  What is the watchword of
Protestantism?  It is this.  That no lie is of the truth.  There are
those who complain of us English that we attach too high a value to
TRUTH.  They say that falsehood is an evil:  but not so great a one
as we fancy.  We accept the imputation.  We answer boldly that there
can be no greater evil than falsehood, no greater blessing than
truth; and that by God's help we will teach the same to our
children, and to our children's children.  Free inquiry, religious
as well as civil liberty--this is the spirit of Protestantism.  This
our fathers have bequeathed to us; this we will bequeath to our
children;--to know that all truth is of God, that no lie is of the
truth.  Our enemies may call us heretics, unbelievers, rebellious,
political squabblers.  They may say in scorn, You Protestants know
not whither you are going; you have broken yourselves off from the
old Catholic tree, and now, in the wild exercise of your own private
judgment, you are losing all that standard of doctrine, all unity of
belief.  Our answer will be--It is not so:  but even if it were so--
even if we did not know whither we were going--we should go forward
still.  For though we know not, God knows.  We have committed
ourselves to God, the living God; and He has led us; and we believe
that He will lead us.  He has taught us; and we believe that He will
teach us still.  He has prospered us, and we believe that He will
prosper us still:  and therefore we will train up our children after
us to go on the path which has brought us hither, freely to use
their minds, boldly to prove all things, and hold fast that which is
good; manfully to go forward, following Truth whithersoever she may
lead them; trusting in God, the Father of Lights, asking Him for
wisdom, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it
shall be given them.

I have been asked to preach this day for the National Schools of
this parish.  I do so willingly, because I believe that in them this
course of education is pursued, that conjoined with a sound teaching
in the principles of our Protestant church, and a wholesome and
kindly moral training, there is free and full secular instruction as
far as the ages of the children will allow.  Were it not the case, I
could not plead for these schools; above all at this time, when the
battle between ancient superstition and modern enlightenment in this
land seems fast coming to a crisis and a death struggle.  I could
not ask you to help any school on earth in which I had not fair
proof that the teachers taught, on physical and human as well as on
moral subjects, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help them God.



SERMON XIII.  PROVIDENCE



Matthew vi. 31, 32, 33.  Be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat?
or, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for
after all these things do the heathen seek:) for your Heavenly
Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things
shall be added unto you.

We must first consider carefully what this text really means; what
'taking no thought for the morrow' really is.  Now, it cannot mean
that we are to be altogether careless and imprudent; for all
Scripture, and especially Solomon's Proverbs, give us the very
opposite advice, and one part of God's Word cannot contradict the
other.  The whole of Solomon's Proverbs is made up of lessons in
prudence and foresight; and surely our Lord did not come to do away
with Solomon's Proverbs, but to fulfil them.  And more, Solomon
declares again and again, that prudence and foresight are the gifts
of God; and God's gifts are surely meant to be used.  Isaiah, too,
tells us that the common work of the farm, tilling the ground,
sowing, and reaping, were taught to men by God; and says of the
ploughman, that 'His God doth instruct him to discretion and doth
teach him.'  Neither can God mean us to sit idle with folded hands
waiting to be fed by miracles.  Would He have given to man reason,
and skill, and the power of bettering his mortal condition by ten
thousand instructions if He had not meant him to use those gifts?
We find that, at the beginning, Adam is put into the garden, not to
sit idle in it, nor to feed merely on the fruits which fall from the
trees, as the dumb animals do, but to dress it, and to keep it; to
use his own reason to improve his own condition, and the land on
which God had placed him.  Was not the very first command given to
man to replenish the earth and subdue it?  And do we not find in the
very end of Scripture the Apostles working with their own hands for
their daily bread?

But what use of many words?  It is absurd to believe anything else;
absurd to believe that man was meant to live like the butterfly,
flitting without care from flower to flower, and, like the
butterfly, die helpless at the first shower or the first winter's
frost.  Whatever the text means, it cannot mean that.

And it does not mean that.  I suppose, that three hundred years ago
(when the Bible was translated out of the Greek tongue, in which the
Apostles wrote, into English), 'taking thought' meant something
different from what it does now:  but the plain meaning of the text,
if it be put into such English as we talk now, is, 'Do not _fret_
about the morrow.  Be not anxious about the morrow.'  There is no
doubt at all, as any scholar can tell you, that that is the plain
meaning of the word in our modern English, and that our Lord is not
telling us to be imprudent or idle, but not to be anxious and
fretful about the morrow.

And more, I think if we look carefully at these words, we shall find
that they tell us the very reason why we are to work, and to look
forward, and to believe that God will bless our labour.

And what is this reason?  It is this, that we have a _Father_ in
heaven; not a mere Maker, not a mere Master, but a _Father_.  All
turns on that one Gospel of all Gospels, _your Father in heaven_.
For our Lord seems to me to say, 'Be not anxious for your life, what
ye shall eat, or drink, or wear.  Is not the life more than meat?
Has not your Heavenly Father given you a higher life than the mere
life which must be kept up by food, which He has given to the
animals?  He has made you reasonable souls; He has given to you
wisdom from His own wisdom, and a share of the Light which lights
every man who comes into the world, the Light of Christ His Son; He
has created you in His own likeness, that like Him you may make
things, be makers and inventors, each in his place and calling, each
according to his talents and powers, even as your Heavenly Father,
the Maker and Creator of all things.  And if He has given you all
these wonderful powers of mind and soul, surely He has given you the
less blessing, the mere power to earn your own food?  If He has made
you so much wiser than the beasts, surely He has made you as wise as
the beasts.'  'And is not the body more than raiment?'  Has He not
given you bodies which can speak, write, build, work, plant, in a
thousand cunning and wonderful ways; bodies which can do a thousand
nobler things than merely keep themselves warm, as the beasts do?
Then be sure, if He has given you the greater power, He has given
you the less also.  And as for fine clothes and rich ornaments, 'Is
not the body more than raiment?'  Is not your body a far more
beautiful and nobler thing than all the gay clothes with which you
can bedizen it?  If your bodies be fair, strong, healthy, useful, it
matters little what clothes you put upon them.  Why will you not
have faith in your Heavenly Father?  Why will you not have faith in
the great honour which He put on you when He said at first, 'Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness, and let him have dominion
over all things on the earth'?  Be sure, that God would not have
made man, and given him all these powers, and sent him upon this
earth, unless this earth had been a right good and fit place for
him.  Be sure that if you obey the laws of this earth where God has
put you, you will never need to be anxious or fret; but you will
prosper right well, you and your children after you.  For 'Consider
the fowls of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, and gather into
barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them; and are ye not much
better than they?'  Surely you are, for you _can_ sow, and reap, and
gather into barns.  And if God makes the earth work so well that it
feeds the fowls who cannot help themselves, how much more will the
earth feed you who _can_ help yourselves, because God has given you
understanding and prudence?  But as for anxiety, fretting, repining,
complaining to God, 'Why hast Thou made me thus?' what use in that?
'Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?'
Will all the fretting and anxiety in the world make you one foot or
one inch taller than you are?  Will it make you stronger, wiser,
more able to help yourself?  You are what you are:  you can do what
God has given you power to do.  Trust Him that He has made you
strong enough and wise enough to earn your daily bread, and to
prosper right well, if you will, upon this earth which He has made.
And why be anxious about clothing?  'Consider the lilies of the
field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.'  But
man _can_ toil, man _can_ spin; your Heavenly Father has given to
man the power of providing clothes for himself, and not for himself
only, but for others; so that while the man who tills the soil feeds
the man who spins and weaves, the man who spins and weaves shall
clothe the man who tills the soil; and the town shall work for the
country, while the country feeds the town; and every man, if he does
but labour where God has put him, shall produce comforts for human
beings whom he never saw, who live perhaps in foreign lands across
the sea.  For the Heavenly Father has knit together the great family
of man in one blessed bond of mutual need and mutual usefulness all
over the world; so that no member of it can do without the other,
and each member of it--each individual man--let him work at what
thing he will, can make many times more of that thing than he needs
for himself, and so help others while he earns his own living; and
so wealth and comfort ought to increase year by year among the whole
family of men, ay, and would increase, if it were not for sin.  Yes,
my friends, if it were not for that same _sin_--if it were not that
men do not seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
there would be no end, no bound to the wealth, the comfort, the
happiness of the children of men.  Even as it is, in spite of all
man's sin, the world does prosper marvellously, miraculously; in
spite of all the waste, destruction, idleness, ignorance, injustice,
and folly which goes on in the world, mankind increases and
replenishes the earth, and improves in comfort and in happiness; in
spite of all, God is stronger than the Devil, life stronger than
death, wisdom stronger than folly, order stronger than disorder,
fruitfulness stronger than destruction; and they will be so, more
and more, till the last great day, when Christ shall have put all
enemies under His feet, and death is swallowed up in victory, and
all mankind is one fold under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the
righteous King of all.

But some may ask, What does our Lord mean when He says, 'That if we
sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these
things should be added to us?'

I cannot tell you altogether, my friends; for eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive
what God has prepared for those who love Him.  But this I can tell
you, that these things are taken _from_ men, instead of being added
to them, by their not seeking first God's kingdom and His
righteousness.  I can tell you, as the Prophet does, that it is the
sins of man which withhold good things from him; because though, as
the Prophet says in the same place, God sends the good things, and
the former and latter rain in their season, and reserves to men
still the appointed weeks of harvest, yet men will not fear that
same Lord their God; and therefore those good things are wasted, and
mankind remains too often miserable in spite of God's goodness, and
starving in the midst of God's plenty.

If you wish to know what I mean, look but once at this present war.
I do not complain of the war.  I honour the war.  I thank God from
the bottom of my heart for this great and glorious victory, and I
call on you to thank Him, too, for it.  I am none of those who think
war sinful.  I cannot do so, for I swore at my baptism to fight
manfully under Christ's banner against the world, the flesh, and the
Devil; and if we cannot reach the Devil and his works by any other
means, we must reach them as we are doing now, by sharp shot and
cold steel, and we must hold it an honourable thing, and few things
more honourable on earth, for a man to die fighting against evil
men, and an evil world-devouring empire, like that of Babylon of
old, or this of Russia now, that he may save not merely us who sit
here now, but our children's children, and generations yet unborn,
from Russian tyranny, and Russian falsehood, and Russian profligacy,
and Russian superstition.  I say, I do not complain of this war; but
I ask you to look at the mere waste which it brings, the mere waste
of God's blessings.  Consider all the skilful men now employed in
making cannon, shot, and powder to kill mortal men, who might every
one of them, in time of peace, have been employed in making things
which would feed, and clothe, and comfort mortal man.  Consider that
very powder and shot itself, the fruit of so much labour and money,
made simply to be shot away, once for all, as if a man should spend
months in making some precious vessel, and then dash it to pieces
the moment it was made.  Consider that Sevastopol alone; the
millions of money which it must have cost--the stone, the timber,
the iron, all used there--in making a mere robber's den, which might
all have been spent in giving employment and sustenance to whole
provinces of poor starving Russians.  Consider those tens of
thousands of men, labouring day and night for months at those deadly
earthworks, whose strong arms might have been all tilling God's
earth, and growing food for the use of man.  And then see the waste,
the want, the misery which that one place, Sevastopol, has caused
upon God's earth.

And consider, too, the souls of mortal men, who have been wasted
there--no man knows how many, nor will know till the judgment day.
Two hundred thousand, at the least, they say, wasted about that
accursed place, within the last twelve months.  Two hundred thousand
cunning brains, two hundred thousand strong right hands, two hundred
thousand willing hearts:  what good might not each of those men have
done if he had been labouring peacefully at home, in his right place
in God's family!  What might he not have invented, made, carried
over land and sea?  None dead there but might have been of use in
his generation; and doubtless many a one who would have done good
with all his might, who would have been a blessing to those around
him; and now what is left of him on earth but a few bones beneath
the sod?  Wasted--utterly wasted!  Oh, consider how precious is one
man; consider how much good the weakest and stupidest of us all
might do, if he set himself with his whole soul to do good; consider
that the weakest and stupidest of us, even if he has no care for
good, cannot earn his day's wages without doing some good to the
bodies of his fellow-men; and then judge of the loss to mankind by
this one single siege of one single town; and think how many
stomachs must be the emptier, how many backs the barer, for this one
war; and then see how man wastes God's gifts, and wastes most of all
that most precious gift of all, men, living men, with minds, and
reasons, and immortal souls.

And whence has all this waste come?  Simply because these Russian
rulers have chosen to seek first, not God's kingdom, but their own.
Instead of behaving like God's ministers and God's stewards, and
asking, 'How would God our King have us rule His kingdom?' they have
laboured for their own power, conquering all the nations round them,
removing their neighbour's landmark, and wasting the wealth of their
country on armies, and fortresses, and fleets, with which they
intended to conquer more and more of the earth which did not belong
to them.  Because, instead of seeking God's righteousness, and
saying to themselves, 'How shall we be righteous, even as our
Heavenly Father is righteous, and how shall we teach this great
people to be righteous likewise?' they have sought their own
pleasure, and lived in profligacy, covetous and cheating almost
beyond belief; and instead of behaving righteously to the people, or
teaching them to be righteous, they have crushed down the people,
stupefied and corrupted them by slavery, and maddened them by
superstitions which are not the righteousness of God, till they have
made them easy tools in their unjust wars, and are able to drive
them, even by force, like sheep to the slaughter, to die miserably
in a cause in which, even if those unhappy slaves conquered, they
would only rivet their own chains more tightly, and put more power
into the hands of the very rulers who are robbing them of their
earnings, dishonouring their daughters, and driving off their sons
to die in a foreign land.  Ah, my friends, if these men had but
sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; if the great
wealth, and the wonderful industry and prudence of Russia had been
but spent in doing justly, and loving mercy, what a rich and
honourable country of brave and industrious Christian men might
Russia be; a blessing, and not a curse, to half the earth of God!

Let us pray that she will become so, some day; and we may have hope
for her, for she is but young, and has time yet for repentance.

But some may say--indeed, we are all ready enough to say--'Then the
evil of this war is the Russians' fault, and not ours; and so in
every other case.  In every other evil and misery they are rather
other people's fault than ours.  If we do our duty well enough, and
if other people would but do theirs, all would be well.'

We are all apt to say this in our hearts.  But our Lord does not say
so.  His promise is to all mankind:  but His promise is to each of
us also.  When He says, Seek ye first God's kingdom and
righteousness, He speaks to you and to me, to every soul now here.
Believe it, my friends.  The more that I see of life, the more I see
how much of our sorrow is our own fault; how much of our happiness
is in our own hands; and the more I see how little use there is in
finding fault with this government, or that, the more I see how much
use there is in every man's finding fault with himself, and taking
his share of the blame.

I do not doubt that if the whole people of England, for the last
forty years, had sought first God's kingdom and God's righteousness,
and said to themselves in every matter, not merely 'What is
profitable for us to do?' but 'What is _right_ for us to do?' we
should have been spared the expenses and the sorrows of this war:
but as for blaming our government, my friends,--what they are we
are; we choose them, Englishmen like ourselves, and they truly
_represent us_.  Not one complaint can we make against them, which
we may not as justly make against ourselves; and if we had been in
their places, we should have done what they did; for the seeds of
the same sins are in us; and we yield, each in his own household and
his own business, to the same temptations as they, to the sins which
so easily beset Englishmen at this present time.  I say, frankly, I
see not one charge brought against them in the newspapers which
might not quite as justly be brought against me, and, for aught I
know, against every one of us here; and while we are not faithful
over a few things, what right have we to complain of them for not
having been faithful over many things?  Believe, rather (I believe
it), that if we had been in their place, we should have done far
worse than they; and ask yourselves, 'Do _I_ seek first God's
kingdom and God's righteousness; for if I do not, what right have I
to lay the blame of my bad success on other men's not seeking them?'
To each of us, as much as to our government, or to the Russian
empire, is Christ's command; and each of us must take the
consequences, if we break it.  Let us look at ourselves, and mend
ourselves, and try whether God's promise will not hold true for us,
each in his station, let the world round us go as it will.  Be sure
that God is just, and that every man bears his own burden:  that the
righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee, O God!
Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?  Be sure that those
who trust in Him shall never be confounded, though the earth be
moved, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea, as it is
written, 'Trust in the Lord, and be doing good; dwell in the land,
and work where God has placed thee, and verily thou shalt be fed.'

But have we done so, my friends? have we sought first God's kingdom
and His righteousness? have we not rather forgotten the meaning of
the text, and what God's kingdom is, and what His righteousness is?
Do not most people fancy that God's kingdom only means some pleasant
place to which people are to go after they die? and that seeking
God's righteousness only means having Christ's righteousness imputed
to us (as they call it), without our being righteous and good
ourselves?  Do not most of us fancy that this very text means, 'Do
you take care of your souls, and God will take care of your bodies;
do you see after the salvation of your souls, and God will see after
the salvation of your bodies'? a meaning which, in the first place,
is not true, for God will do no such thing; and all the religion in
the world will not prevent a man's having to work for his daily
bread, or pay his debts for him without money; and a meaning which,
in the second place, people themselves do not believe; for religious
professors in general now are just as keen about money as
irreligious ones, and even more so; so that covetousness and
cunning, ambition and greediness to rise in life, seem now-a-days to
go hand in hand with a high religious profession; and those who
fancy themselves the children of light have become just as wise in
their generation as the children of this world whom they despise.

No, my friends, that is not the meaning of the text; and when I ask
you, Have you obeyed the text? I do not ask you that question; but
one which I believe is something far more spiritual and more deep,
something at least which is far more heart-searching, and likely to
prick a man's conscience, perhaps to make him angry with me who ask.

Do you seek first God's kingdom, or your own profit, your own
pleasure, your own reputation?  Do you believe that you are in God's
kingdom, that He is your King, and has called you to the station in
which you are to do good and useful work for Him upon this earth of
His?  Whatever be your calling, whether you be servant, labourer,
farmer, tradesman, gentleman, maid, wife, or widow, father, son, or
husband, do you ask yourself every day, 'Now what are the laws of
God's kingdom about this station of mine? what is my duty here? how
can I obey God, and His laws here, and do what He requires of me,
and so be a good servant, a good labourer, a good tradesman, a good
master, a good parish officer, a good wife, a good parent, pleasing
to God, useful to my neighbours and to my countrymen?'  Or do you
say to yourselves, 'How can I get the greatest quantity of money and
pleasure out of my station, with the least trouble to myself?'  My
dearest friends, ask yourselves, each of you, in which of these two
ways do you look at your own station in life?

And do you seek first God's righteousness?  There can be no mistake
as to what God's righteousness is; for God's righteousness must be
Christ's righteousness, seeing that He is the express image of His
Father.  Now do you ask yourselves, 'How am I to be righteous in my
station, as Christ was in His? how can I do my Heavenly Father's
will, as Christ did? how can I behave like Christ in my station? how
would the Lord Jesus Christ have behaved, if He had been in my
place, when He was on earth?'  My friends, that is the question, the
searching question, the question which must convince us all of sin,
and show us so many faults of our own to complain of, that we shall
find no time to throw stones at our neighbours.  How would the Lord
Jesus Christ have behaved, if He had been in my place when He was
upon earth?

My dear friends, till we can all of us answer that question somewhat
better than we can now, we have no need to look as far as Russia, or
as our forefathers' mistakes, or our rulers' mistakes, to find out
why this trouble and that trouble come upon us:  for we shall find
the reason in our own selfish, greedy, self-willed hearts.

Oh, my friends, let us each search our own lives, and repent, and
amend, and resolve to do our duty, as sons of God, in the station to
which God has called us, by the help of the Spirit of God, which He
has promised freely to those who ask Him.  And now, this day, as we
thank God for this great victory, let us thank Him, not with our
lips merely, but with our lives, by living such lives as He loves to
see, such lives as He meant us to live, lives of loyalty to God, and
of usefulness to our brethren, and of industry and prudence in our
calling, and so help forward, each of us, however humble our
station, the glory of God; because we shall each of us, in the
cottage and in the field, in the shop and in the mansion, in this
our little parish, and therefore in the great nation of which it is
a part, help forward the fulfilment of those blessed words, Our
Father which art in heaven; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven; and therefore, also, the fulfilment of the
words which come after them, and not before them; Give us this day
our daily bread.



SERMON XIV.  ENGLAND'S STRENGTH



2 Kings xix. 34.  I will defend this city, to save it for mine own
sake.

The first lesson for this morning's service is of the grandest in
the whole Old Testament; grander perhaps than all, except the story
of the passage of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law on Sinai.
It follows out the story which you heard in the first lesson for
last Sunday afternoon, of the invasion of Judea by the Assyrians.
You heard then how this great Assyrian conqueror, Sennacherib, after
taking all the fortified towns of Judah, and sweeping the whole
country with fire and sword, sent three of his generals up to the
very walls of Jerusalem, commanding King Hezekiah to surrender at
discretion, and throw himself and his people on Sennacherib's mercy;
how proudly and boastfully he taunted the Jews with their weakness;
how, like the Russian emperor now, he called in religion as the
excuse for his conquests and robberies, saying, as if God's
blessings were on them, 'Am I now come up without the Lord against
this place to destroy it?  The Lord said to me, Go up against this
place to destroy it;' while all the time what he really trusted in
(as his own words showed) was what the Russian emperors trust in,
their own strength and the number of their armies.

Jerusalem was thus in utter need and danger; the vast army of the
Assyrians was encamped at Lachish, not more than ten miles off; and
however strong the walls of Jerusalem might be, and however
advantageously it might stand on its high hill, with lofty rocks and
cliffs on three sides of it, yet Hezekiah knew well that no strength
of his could stand more than a few days against Sennacherib's army.
For these Assyrians had brought the art of war to a greater
perfection than any nation of the old world:  they lived for war,
and studied, it seems, only how to conquer.  And they have left
behind them very remarkable proofs of what sort of men they were, of
which I think it right to tell you all; for they are most
instructive, not merely because they prove the truth of Isaiah's
account, but because they explain it, and help us in many ways to
understand his prophecies.  They are a number of sculptures and
paintings, representing Sennacherib, his army, and his different
conquests, which were painted by his command, in his palace; and
having been lately discovered there, among the ruins of Nineveh,
have been brought to England, and are now in the British Museum,
while copies of many of them are in the Crystal Palace.  There we
see these terrible Assyrian conquerors defeating their enemies,
torturing and slaughtering their prisoners, swimming rivers, beating
down castles, sweeping on from land to land like a devouring fire,
while over their heads fly fierce spirits who protect and prosper
their cruelties, and eagles who trail in their claws the entrails of
the slain.  The very expression of their faces is frightful for its
fierceness; the countenances of a 'bitter and hasty nation,' as the
Prophet calls them, whose feet were swift to shed blood.  And as for
the art of war, and their power of taking walled towns like
Jerusalem, you may see them in these pictures battering down and
undermining forts and castles, with instruments so well made and
powerful, that all other nations who came after them, for more than
two thousand years, seem to have been content to copy from them, and
hardly to have improved on the old Assyrian engines.

Such, and so terrible, they came up against Jerusalem:  to attempt
to fight them would have been useless madness; and Hezekiah had but
one means of escaping from them, and that was to cast himself and
his people upon the boundless mercy, and faithfulness, and power of
God.

And Hezekiah had his answer by Isaiah the prophet:  and more than an
answer.  The Lord took the matter into His own hand, and showed
Sennacherib which was the stronger, his soldiers and horses and
engines, or the Lord God; and so that terrible Assyrian army came
utterly to nought, and vanished off the face of the earth.

Now, my friends, has this noble history no lesson in it for us?  God
forbid!  It has a lesson which ought to come nearer to our hearts
than to the hearts of any nation:  for though we or our forefathers
have never been, for nearly three hundred years, in such utter need
and danger as Jerusalem was, yet be sure that we might have been so,
again and again, had it not been for the mercy of the same God who
delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians.  It is now three hundred
years ago that the Lord delivered this country from as terrible an
invader as Sennacherib himself; when He three times scattered by
storms the fleets of the King of Spain, which were coming to lay
waste this land with fire and sword:  and since then no foreign foe
has set foot on English soil, and we almost alone, of all the
nations of Europe, have been preserved from those horrors of war,
even to speak of which is dreadful!  Oh, my friends! we know not
half God's goodness to us!

And if you ask me, why God has so blest and favoured this land, I
can only answer--and I am not ashamed or afraid to answer--I believe
it is on account of the Church of England; it is because God has put
His name here in a peculiar way, as He did among the Jews of old,
and that He is jealous for His Church, and for the special knowledge
of His Gospel and His Law, which He has given us in our Prayer-book
and in our Church Catechism, lighting therein a candle in England
which I believe will never be put out.  It is not merely that we are
a Protestant country,--great blessing as that is,--it is, I believe,
that there is something in the Church of England which there is not
in Protestant countries abroad, unless perhaps Sweden:  for every
one of them (except Sweden and ourselves) has suffered, from time to
time, invading armies, and the unspeakable horrors of war.  In some
of them the light of the Gospel has been quenched utterly, and in
others it lingers like a candle flickering down into the socket.  By
horrible persecutions, and murder, and war, and pillage, have those
nations been tormented from time to time; and who are we, that we
should escape?  Certainly from no righteousness of our own.  Some
may say, It is our great wealth which has made us strong.  My
friends, believe it not.  Look at Spain, which was once the richest
of all nations; and did her riches preserve her?  Has she not
dwindled down into the most miserable and helpless of all nations?
Has not her very wealth vanished from her, because she sold herself
to work all unrighteousness with greediness?

Some may say, It is our freedom which makes us strong.  My friends,
believe it not.  Freedom is a vast blessing from God, but freedom
alone will preserve no nation.  How many free nations have fallen
into every sort of misery, ay, into bitter slavery, in spite of all
their freedom.  How many free nations in Europe lie now in bondage,
gnawing their tongues for pain, and weary with waiting for the
deliverance which does not come?  No, my friends, freedom is of
little use without something else--and that is loyalty; reverence
for law and obedience to the powers that be, because men believe
those powers to be ordained of God; because men believe that Christ
is their King, and they His ministers and stewards, and that He it
is who appoints all orders and degrees of men in His Holy Church.
True freedom can only live with true loyalty and obedience, such as
our Prayer-book, our Catechism, our Church of England preaches to
us.  It is a Church meant for free men, who stand each face to face
with their Heavenly Father:  but it is a Church meant also for loyal
men, who look on the law as the ordinance of God, and on their
rulers as the ministers of God; and if our freedom has had anything
to do (as no doubt it has) with our prosperity, I believe that we
owe the greater part of our freedom to the teaching and the general
tone of mind which our Prayer-book has given to us and to our
forefathers for now three hundred years.

Not that we have listened to that teaching, or acted up to it:  God
knows, we have been but too like the Jews in Isaiah's time, who had
the Law of God, and yet did every man what was right in his own
eyes; we, like them, have been hypocritical; we, like them, have
neglected the poor, and the widow, and the orphan; we, like them,
have been too apt to pay tithe of mint and anise, and neglect the
weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and judgment.  When we
read that awful first chapter of Isaiah, we may well tremble; for
all the charges which he brings against the Jews of his time would
just as well apply to us; but yet we can trust in the Lord, as
Isaiah did, and believe that He will be jealous for His land, and
for His name's sake, and not suffer the nations to say of us, 'Where
is now their God?'  We can trust Him, that if He turn His hand on
us, as He did on the Jews of old, and bring us into danger and
trouble, yet it will be in love and mercy, that He may purge away
our dross, and take away all our alloy, and restore our rulers as at
the first, and our counsellors as at the beginning, that we may be
called, 'The city of righteousness, the faithful city.'  True, we
must not fancy that we have any righteousness of our own, that we
merit God's favour above other people; our consciences ought to tell
us that cannot be; our Bibles tell us that is an empty boast.  Did
we not hear this morning, 'Bring forth fruits meet for repentance:
and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our
father; for God is able of these stones to raise up children to
Abraham.'  But we may comfort ourselves with the thought that there
is One standing among us (though we see Him not) who will, ay, and
does, 'baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire, whose fan is in
His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather the
wheat into His garner,' for the use of our children after us, and
the generations yet unborn, while the chaff, all among us which is
empty, and light, and rotten, and useless, He will burn up (thanks
be to His holy name) with fire unquenchable, which neither the
falsehood and folly of man, nor the malice of the Devil, can put
out, but which will purge this land of all its sins.

This is our hope, and this is the cause of our thankfulness.  For
who but we should be thankful this day that we are Englishmen,
members of Christ's Church of England, inhabitants of, perhaps, the
only country in Europe which is not now perplexed with fear of
change, while men's hearts fail them for dread, and looking for
those things which are coming on the earth? a country which has
never seen, as all the countries round have seen, a foreign army
trampling down their crops, burning their farms, cutting down their
trees, plundering their towns, destroying in a day the labour of
years, while women are dishonoured, men tortured to make them give
up their money, the able-bodied driven from their homes, ruined and
wanderers, and the sick and aged left to perish of famine and
neglect.  My friends, all these things were going on but last year
upon the Danube.  They are going on now in Asia:  even with all the
mercy and moderation of our soldiers and sailors, we have not been
able to avoid inflicting some of these very miseries upon our own
enemies; and yet here we are, going about our business in peace and
safety in a land in which we and our forefathers have found, now for
many a year, that just laws make a quiet and prosperous people; that
the effect of righteousness is peace, and the fruit of
righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever;--a land in which
the good are not terrified, the industrious hampered, and the greedy
and lawless made eager and restless by expectation of change in
government; but every man can boldly and hopefully work in his
calling, and 'whatsoever his hand finds to do, do it with all his
might,' in fair hope that the money which he earns in his manhood he
will be able to enjoy quietly in his old age, and hand it down
safely to his children, and his children's children;--a land which
for hundreds of years has not felt the unspeakable horrors of war; a
land which even now is safely and peacefully gathering in its
harvest, while so many countries lie wasted with fire and sword.
Oh, my friends, who made us to differ from others, or what have we
that we did not receive?  Not to ourselves do we owe our blessings;
hardly even to our wise forefathers:  but to God Himself, and the
Spirit of God which was with them, and is with us still, in spite of
all our shortcomings.  We owe it to our wise Constitution, to our
wise Church, the principle of which is that God is Judge and Christ
is King, in peace as well as in war, in times of quiet as well as in
times of change; I say, to our wise Constitution and to our wise
Church, which teach us that all power is of God; that all men who
have power, great or small, are His stewards; that all orders and
degrees of men in His Holy Church, from the queen on the throne to
the labourer in the harvest-field, are called by God to their
ministry and vocation, and are responsible to God for their conduct
therein.  How then shall we show forth our thankfulness, not only in
our lips, but in our lives?  How, but by believing that very
principle, that very truth which He has taught us, and by which
England stands, that we are God's people, and God's servants?  He
has indeed showed us what is good, and our fathers before us; and
what does the Lord require of us in return, but to do the good which
He has showed us, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with our God?

Oh, my friends, come frankly and joyfully to the Lord's Table this
day.  Confess your sins and shortcomings to Him, and entreat Him to
enable you to live more worthily of your many blessings.  Offer to
Him the sacrifice of your praise and thankfulness, imperfect though
it is, and join with angels and archangels in blessing Him for what
He is, and what He has been to you:  and then receive your share of
_His_ most perfect sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the bread
and the wine which tell you that you are members of His Church; that
His body gives you whatsoever life and strength your souls have;
that His blood washes out all your sins and shortcomings; that His
Spirit shall be renewed in you day by day, to teach you to do the
good work which He has prepared already for you, and to walk in the
old paths which have led our forefathers, and will lead us too, I
trust, safe through the chances and changes of this mortal life, and
the fall of mighty kingdoms, towards that perfect City of God which
is eternal in the heavens.



SERMON XV.  THE LIFE OF GOD



Ephesians iv. 17, 18.  That ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in
the vanity of their mind, being alienated from the life of God
through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of
their heart.

You heard these words read in the Epistle for to-day.  I cannot
expect that you all understood them.  It is no shame to you that you
did not.  Some of them are long and hard Latin words.  Some of them,
though they are plain English enough, are hard to understand because
they have to do with deep matters, which can only be understood by
the help of God's Spirit.  And even with the help of God's Spirit we
cannot any of us expect to understand _all_ which they mean:  we
cannot expect to be as wise as St. Paul; for we must be as good as
St. Paul before we can be as wise about goodness as he was.  I do
not pretend to understand all the text myself:  no, not half, nor a
tenth part of what it very likely means.  But I do seem to myself to
understand a little about it, by the help and blessing of God; and
what little of it I do understand, I will try to make you understand
also.

For the words in the text belong to you as much as to me, or to St.
Paul himself.  What is true for one man, is true for every man.
What is right for one man, is right for every man.  What God
promises for one man, He promises to every man.  Man or woman, black
or white, rich or poor, scholar or unlearned, there is no respect of
persons with Him.  'In Christ Jesus,' says St. Paul, 'there is
neither male nor female, slave nor freeman, Jew who fancies that
God's promises belong to him alone, or Gentile who knows nothing
about them, clever learned Greek, or stupid ignorant Barbarian.'

It is enough for God that we are all men and women bearing the
flesh, and blood, and human nature which His Son Jesus Christ wore
on earth.  If we are baptized, we belong to Him:  if we are not
baptized, we ought to be; for we belong to Him just as much.  Every
man may be baptized; every man may be regenerate; God calls all to
His grace and adoption and holy baptism, which is the sign and seal
of His adoption; and therefore, what is right for the regenerate
baptized man, is right for the unregenerate unbaptized man; for the
Christian and for the heathen there is but one way, one duty, one
life for both, and that is the life of God, of which St. Paul speaks
in the text.

Now of this life of God I will speak hereafter; but I mention it
now, because it is the thing to which I wish to bring your thoughts
before the end of the sermon.

But first, let us see what St. Paul means, when he talks about the
Gentiles in his day.  For that also has to do with us.  I said that
every man, Christian or heathen, has the same duty, and is bound to
do the same right; every man, Christian or heathen, if he sins,
breaks his duty in the same way, and does the same wrong.  There is
but one righteousness, the life of God; there is but one sin, and
that is being alienated from the life of God.  One man may commit
different sorts of sins from another; one may lie, another may
steal:  one may be proud, another may be covetous:  but all these
different sins come from the same root of sin; they are all flowers
of the same plant.  And St. Paul tells us what that one root of sin,
what that same Devil's plant, is, which produces all sin in
Christian or Heathen, in Churchman or Dissenter, in man or woman--
the one disease, from which has come all the sin which ever was done
by man, woman, or child since the world was made.

Now, what is this one disease, to which every man, you and I, are
all liable?  Why it is that we are every one of us worse than we
ought to be, worse than we know how to be, and, strangest of all,
worse than we wish and like to be.

Just as far as we are like the heathen of old, we shall be worse
than we know how to be.  For we are all ready enough to turn
heathens again, at any moment, my friends; and the best Christian in
this church knows best that what I say is true; that he is beset by
the very same temptations which ruined the old heathens, and that if
he gave way to them a moment they would ruin him likewise.  For what
does St. Paul say was the matter with the old heathens?

First he says, 'Their understanding was darkened.'  But what part of
it?  What was it that they had got dark about and could not
understand?  For in some matters they were as clever as we, and
cleverer.  What part of their understanding was it which was
darkened?  St. Paul tells us in the first chapter of the Epistle to
the Romans.  It was their hearts--their reason, as we should say.
It was about God, and the life of God, that they were dark.  They
had not been always dark about God, but they were _darkened_; they
grew more and more dark about Him, generation after generation; they
gave themselves up more and more to their corrupt and fallen nature,
and so the children grew worse than their fathers, and their
children again worse than them, till they had lost all notion of
what God was like.  For from the very first all heathens have had
some notion of what God is like, and have had a notion also, which
none but God could have given them, that men ought to be like God.
God taught, or if I may so speak, tried to teach, the heathen, from
the very first.  If God had not taught them, they would not have
been to blame for knowing nothing of God.  For as Job says, 'Can man
by searching find out God?'  Surely not; God must teach us about
Himself.  Never forget that man cannot find God; God must show
Himself to man of His own free grace and will.  God must reveal and
unveil Himself to us, or we shall never even fancy that there is a
God.  And God did so to the heathen.  Even before the Flood, God's
Spirit strove with man; and after the Flood we read how the Lord,
Jesus Christ the Son of God, revealed Himself in many different ways
to heathens.  To Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in Abraham's times; and
again to Abimelech, king of Gerar; and again to Pharaoh and his
servants, in Joseph's time; and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
and to Cyrus, king of Persia; and no doubt to thousands more.
Indeed, no man, heathen or Christian, ever thought a single true
thought, or felt a single right feeling, about God or man, or man's
duty to God and his neighbour, unless God revealed it to him
(whether or not He also revealed _Himself_ to the man and showed him
_who_ it was who was putting the right thought into his mind):  for
every right thought and feeling about God, and goodness, and duty,
are the very voice of God Himself, the word of God whereof St. John
speaks, and Moses and the prophets speak, speaking to the heart of
sinful man, to enlighten and to teach him.  And therefore, St. Paul
says, the sinful heathen were without excuse, because, he says,
'that which may be known of God is manifest, that is plain, among
them, for God hath showed it to them.  For the invisible things of
Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being
understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and
Godhead; so that they are without excuse.'  'But these heathens,' he
says, 'did not like to retain God in their knowledge; and when they
knew God, did not glorify Him as God, and changed the glory of the
Incorruptible God into the likeness of corruptible man, and beasts
and creeping things.'  And so they were alienated from the life of
God; that is, they became strangers to God's life; they forgot what
God's life and character was like:  or if they even did awake a
moment, and recollect dimly what God was like, they hated that
thought.  They hated to think that God was what He was, and shut
their eyes, and stopped their ears as fast as possible.

And what happened to them in the meantime?  What was the fruit of
their wilfully forgetting what God's life was?  St. Paul tells us
that they fell into the most horrible sins--sins too dreadful and
shameful to be spoken of; and that their common life, even when they
did not run into such fearful evils, was profligate, fierce, and
miserable.  And yet St. Paul tells us all the while they knew the
judgment of God, that those who do such things are worthy of death.

Now we know that St. Paul speaks truth, from the writings of
heathens; for God raised up from time to time, even among the
heathen Greeks and Romans, witnesses for Himself, to testify of Him
and of His life, and to testify against the sins of the world, such
men as Socrates and Plato among the Greeks, whose writings St. Paul
knew thoroughly, and whom, I have no doubt, he had in his mind when
he wrote his first chapter of Romans, and told the heathen that they
were without excuse.  And among the Romans, also, He raised up, in
the same way, witnesses for Himself, such as Juvenal and Persius,
and others, whom scholars know well.  And to these men, heathens
though they were, God certainly did teach a great deal about
Himself, and gave them courage to rebuke the sins of kings and rich
men, even at the danger of their lives; and to some of them he gave
courage even to suffer martyrdom for the message which God had given
them, and which their neighbours hated to hear.  And this was the
message which God sent by them to the heathen:  that God was good
and righteous, and that therefore His everlasting wrath must be
awaiting sinners.  They rebuked their heathen neighbours for those
very same horrible crimes which St. Paul mentions; and then they
said, as St. Paul does, 'How you make your own sins worse by
blasphemies against God!  You sin yourselves, and then, to excuse
yourselves, you invent fables and lies about God, and pretend that
God is as wicked as you are, in order to drug your own consciences,
by making God the pattern of your own wickedness.'

These men saw that man ought to be like God; and they saw that God
was righteous and good; and they saw, therefore, that
unrighteousness and sin must end in ruin and everlasting misery.  So
much God had taught them, but not much more; but to St. Paul he had
taught more.  Those wise and righteous heathen could show their
sinful neighbours that sin was death, and that God was righteous.
But they could not tell them how to rise out of the death of sin,
into God's life of righteousness.  They could preach the terrors of
the Law, but they did not know the good news of the Gospel, and
therefore they did not succeed; they did not convert their
neighbours to God.  Then came St. Paul and preached to the very same
people, and he did convert them to God; for he had good news for
them, of things which prophets and kings had desired to see, and had
not seen them, and to hear, and had not heard them.

For God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke to the
fathers by the prophets, at last spoke to all men by a Son, His
only-begotten Son, the exact likeness of His Father, the brightness
of His glory, and the express image of His person.  He sent Him to
be a man:  very man of the substance of His mother, the Blessed
Virgin Mary, at the same time that He was Very God, of the substance
of His Father, begotten before all worlds.

And so God, and the life of God, was manifested in the flesh and
reasonable soul of a man; and from that time there is no doubt what
the life of God is; for the life of God is the life of Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt now what God is like, for God is like Jesus
Christ.  No one can now say, 'I cannot see God, how then can you
expect me to be like God?' for He who has seen Jesus Christ, as His
character stands in the Gospels, has seen God the Father.  No one
can say now, 'How can a man be like God, and live a life like God's
life?' for if any one of you say that, I can answer him:  'A man can
be like God; you can be like God; for there was once a man on earth,
Jesus, the son of the Blessed Virgin, who was perfectly like God.'
And if you answer, 'But He was like God, because He was God,' I can
say, 'And that is the very reason why you can be like God also.'  If
Jesus Christ had been only a man, you could no more become like Him
than you can become clever because another man is clever, or strong
because another man is strong:  but because He was God The Son of
God, He can give you, to make you like God, the same Holy Spirit
which made Him like God; for that Holy Spirit proceeds from Him, the
Son, as well as from the Father, and the Father has committed all
power to the Son; and therefore that same Man Christ Jesus has power
to change your heart, and renew it, and shape it to be like Him, and
like His Father, by the power of His Spirit, that you may be like
God as He was like God, and live the life of God which He lived; so
that the Lord Jesus Christ, because He was a man like God, showed
that all men can become like God; and because He was God, Very God
of Very God, He is able to make all who come to Him men like
Himself, men like God, and raise them up body and soul to the
everlasting life of God, that He may be the firstborn among many
brethren.

Now what is this everlasting life of God, which the Lord Jesus
Christ lived perfectly, and which He can and will make every one of
us live, in proportion as we give up our hearts and wills to Him,
and ask Him to take charge of us, and shape us, and teach us?  When
we read that blessed story of Him who was born in a stable, and laid
in a manger, who went about doing good, because God was with Him,
who condescended of His own freewill to be mocked, and scourged, and
spit upon, and crucified, that He might take away the sins of the
whole world, who prayed for His murderers, and blest those who
cursed Him--what sort of life does this life of God, which He lived,
seem to us?  Is it not a life of love, joy, peace, long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, patience, meekness?  Surely it is; then that
is the likeness of God.  God is love.  And the Lord Jesus' life was
a life of love--utter, perfect, untiring love.  He did His Father's
will perfectly, because He loved men perfectly, and to the death.
He died for those who hated Him, and so He showed forth to man the
name and glory of God; for God is love.  The name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is love; for love is justice and
righteousness, as it is written, 'Love worketh no ill to his
neighbour:  therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.'  And God
is perfect love, because He is perfect righteousness; and perfect
righteousness, because He is perfect love; for His love and His
justice are not two different things, two different parts of God, as
some say, who fancy that God's justice had to be satisfied in one
way, and His love in another, and talk of God as if His justice
fought against His love, and desired the death of a sinner, and then
His love fought against His justice, and desired to save a sinner.
No wonder that those who hold such doctrines go further still, and
talk as if God the Father desired to destroy mankind, and would have
done it if God the Son had not interposed, and suffered Himself
instead; till they can fancy that they are Christians, and know God,
while they use the hideous words of a certain hymn, which speaks of


'The streaming drops of Jesu's blood
Which calmed the Father's frowning face.'


May God deliver and preserve us and our children from all such
blasphemous fables, which, like the fables of the old heathen,
change the glory of the Incorruptible God into the likeness of a
corruptible man, which deny the true faith, that God has neither
parts nor passions, by talking of His love and His justice as two
different things; which confound His persons by saying that the Son
alone does what the Father and the Holy Spirit do also, while they
divide His substance by making the will of the Son different from
the will of the Father, and deny that such as the Father is, such is
the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost, all three one perfect Love, and
one perfect Justice, because they are all three one God, and God is
love, and love is righteousness.

Believe me, my friends, this is no mere question of words, which
only has to do with scholars in their libraries; it is a question,
the question of life and death for you, and me, and every living
soul in this church,--Do we know what the life of God is? are we
living it? or are we alienated from it, careless about it, disliking
it?

For, as I said at the beginning of my sermon, we are all ready
enough to turn heathens again; and if we grow to forget or dislike
the life of God, we shall be heathen at heart.  We may talk about
Him with our lips, we may quarrel and curse each other about
religious differences; but let us make as great a profession as we
may, if we do not love the life of God we shall be heathen at heart,
and we shall, sooner or later, fall into sin.  The heathens fell
into sin just in proportion as their hearts were turned away from
the life of God, and so shall we.  And how shall we know whether our
hearts are turned away, or whether they are right with God?  Thus:
What are the fruits of God's Spirit? what sort of life does the
Spirit of God make man live?  For the Spirit of God is God, and
therefore the life of God is the life which God's Spirit makes men
live; and what is that? a life of love and righteousness.

The old heathens did not like such a life, therefore they did not
like to retain God in their knowledge.  They knew that man ought to
be like God:  and St. Paul says, they ought to have known what God
was like; that He was Love; for St. Paul told them He left not
Himself without witness, in that He sent them rain and fruitful
seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.  That was, in
St. Paul's eyes, God's plainest witness of Himself--the sign that
God was Love, making His sun shine on the just and on the unjust,
and good to the unthankful and the evil--in one word, perfect,
because He is perfect Love.  But they preferred to be selfish,
covetous, envious, revengeful, delighting to indulge themselves in
filthy pleasures, to oppress and defraud each other.  Do you?

For you can, I can, every baptized man can take his choice between
the selfish life of the heathens and the loving life of God:  we may
either keep to the old pattern of man, which is corrupt according to
the deceitful lusts; or we may put on the new pattern of man, which
is after God's likeness, and founded upon righteousness and truthful
holiness.

Every baptized man may choose.  For he is not only bound to live the
life of God:  every man, as the old heathen philosophers knew, is
bound to live it:  but more.  The baptized man _can_ live it:  that
is the good news of his baptism.  _You can_ live the life of God,
for you know what the life of God is--it is the life of Jesus
Christ.  _You can_ live the life of God, for the Spirit of God is
with you, to cleanse your soul and life, day by day, till they are
like the soul and life of Christ.

Then you will be, as the apostle says, 'a partaker of a divine
nature.'  Then--and it is an awful thing to say--a thing past hope,
past belief, but I must say it--for it is in the Bible, it is the
word of the Blessed Lord Himself, and of His beloved apostle, St.
John:  'If a man love Me, he will keep my commandments, and my
Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode
with him.'  'And this is His commandment,' says St. John, 'That we
should love one another.'  'God is Love, and he who dwelleth in Love
dwelleth in God, and God in him.'

God is Love.  As I told you just now, the heathens of old might have
known that, if they had chosen to open their eyes and see.  But they
would not see.  They were dark, cruel, and unloving, and therefore
they fancied that God was dark, cruel, and unloving also.  They did
not love Love, and therefore they did not love God, for God is Love.
And therefore they did not love loving:  they did not enjoy loving;
and so they lost the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of Love.
And therefore they did not love each other, but lived in hatred and
suspicion, and selfishness, and darkness.  They were but heathen.
But if even they ought to have known that God was Love, how much
more we?  For we know of a deed of God's love, such as those poor
heathen never dreamed of.  God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son to die for it.  Then God showed what His eternal
life was--a life of love:  then God showed what our eternal life is--
to know Him who is Love, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent to show
forth His love:  then God showed that it is the duty and in the
power of every man to live the life of God, the life of Love; for He
sent forth into the world His Spirit, the Spirit of Love, to fill
with love the heart of every man and woman who sees that Love is the
image of God, and longs to be loving, and therefore longs to be like
God; as it is written, 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
after righteousness, for they shall be filled:' for righteousness is
keeping Christ's commandment, and Christ's commandment is, that we
love one another.  And to those who long to do that, God's Spirit
will come to fill them with love; and where the Spirit of God is,
there is also the Father, and there is also the Son; for God's
substance cannot be divided, as the Athanasian creed tells us (and
blessed and cheering words they are); and he who hath the Holy
Spirit of Love with him hath both the Father and the Son; as it is
written:  'If a man love Me, my Father will love him, and we will
come unto him, and make our abode with him.'

And then, if we have God abiding with us, and filling us with His
Eternal Life, what more do we need for life, or death, or eternity,
or eternities of eternities?  For we shall live in and with and by
God, who can never die or change, an everlasting life of love,
whereof St. Paul says, that though prophecies shall fail, and
tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away, because all
that we know now is but in part, and all that we see now is through
a glass darkly, yet Love shall never fail, but abide for ever and
ever.



SERMON XVI.  GOD'S OFFSPRING



Galatians iv. 7.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son;
and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

I say, writes St. Paul, in the epistle which you heard read just
now, 'that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from
a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and
governors, until the time appointed by his father.  Even so,' he
says, we, 'when we were children, were in bondage under the elements
of the world:  but when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth
His Son made of a woman, made under a law, to redeem them that were
under a law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.'

When we were children.  He is not speaking of the Jews only; for
these Galatians to whom he was writing were not Jews at all, any
more than we are.  He was speaking to men simply as men.  He was
speaking to the Galatians as we have a right to speak to all men.

Nor does he mean merely when we were children in age.  The Greek
word which he uses, means infants, people not come to years of
discretion.  Indeed, the word which he uses means very often a
simpleton, an ignorant or foolish person; one who does not know who
and what he is, what is his duty, or how to do it.

Now this, he says, was the state of men before Christ came; this is
the state of all men by nature still; the state of all poor
heathens, whether in England or in foreign countries.

They are children--that is, ignorant and unable to take care of
themselves; because they do not know what they are.  St. Paul tells
us what they are.  That they are all God's offspring, though they
know it not.  He likens them to young children, who, though they are
their father's heirs, have no more liberty than slaves have; but are
kept under tutors and masters, till they have arrived at years of
discretion, and are fit to take their places as their father's
_sons_, and to go out into the world, and have the management of
their own affairs, and a share in their father's property, which
they may use for themselves, instead of being merely fed and clothed
by, and kept in subjection to him, whether they will or not.  This
is what he means by receiving the adoption of sons.  He does not
mean that we are not God's children till we find out that we are
God's children.  That is what some people say; but that is the very
exact contrary to what St. Paul used to say.  He told the heathen
Athenians that they were God's children.  He put them in mind that
one of their own heathen poets had told them so, and had said, 'We
are also God's offspring.'  And so in this chapter he says, You were
God's children all along, though you did not know it.  You were
God's heirs all along, although you differed nothing from slaves;
for as long as you were in your heathen ignorance and foolishness,
God had to treat you as His slaves, not as His children; and so you
were in bondage under the elements of the world, till the fulness of
time was come.

And, then, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under a law, to
redeem those who were under a law--that is, all mankind.  The Jews
were keeping, or pretending to keep, Moses' law, and trying to
please God by that.  The heathens were keeping all manner of old
superstitious laws and customs about religion which their
forefathers had handed down to them.  But heathens, and indeed Jews
too, at that time, all agreed in one thing.  These laws and customs
of theirs about religion all went upon the notion of their being
God's slaves, and not his children.  They thought that God did not
love them; that they must buy His favours.  They thought religion
meant a plan for making God love them.

Then appeared the love of God in Jesus Christ.  As at this very
Christmas time, the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord, in whose
likeness man was made at the beginning, was born into the world, to
redeem us and all mankind.  He told them of their Heavenly Father;
He preached to them the good news of the kingdom of God; that God
had not forgotten them, did not hate them, would freely forgive them
all that was past; and why?  Because He was their Father, and loved
them, and loved them so that He spared not His only begotten Son,
but freely gave Him for them.  And now God looks at us human beings,
not as we are in ourselves, sinful and corrupt, but he looks at us
in the light of Jesus Christ, who has taken our nature upon Him, and
redeemed it, and raised it up again, so that God can look on it now
without disgust, and henceforth no one need be ashamed of being a
man; for to be a man is to be in the likeness of God.  Man was
created in the image and likeness of God, and who is the image and
likeness of God but Jesus Christ?  Therefore man was created at
first in Jesus Christ, and now, as St. Paul says, he is created anew
in Jesus Christ; and now to be a man is to partake of the same flesh
and blood which the Lord Jesus Christ wore for us, when He was made
very man of the substance of his mother, and that without spot of
sin, to show that man need not be sinful, that man was meant by God
to be holy and pure from sin, and that by the Holy Spirit of Jesus
Christ we, every one of us, can become pure from sin.  This is the
blessedness of Christmas-day.  That one man, at least, has been born
into the world spotless and free from sin, that He might be the
firstborn of many brethren.  This is the good news of Christmas-day.
That now, in Christ's light, and for Christ's sake, our Father looks
on us as His sons, and not His slaves.

Therefore is every child who comes into the world baptized freely
into the name of God.  Baptism is a sign and warrant that God loves
that child; that God looks on it as His child, not for itself or its
own sake, but because it belongs to Jesus Christ, who, by becoming a
man, redeemed all mankind, and made them His property and His
brothers.  Therefore every child, when it is brought to be baptized,
promises, by its godfathers and godmothers, repentance and faith,
when it comes to years of understanding.  It is not God's slave, as
the beasts are.  It is God's child.  But God does not wish it to
remain merely His child, under tutors and governors, forced to do
what is right outwardly, and whether it likes or not.  God wishes
each of us to become His son, His grown-up and reasonable son.  To
know who we are;--to work in His kingdom for Him;--to guide and
manage our own wills, and hearts, and lives in obedience to Him;--to
claim and take our share as men of God of the inheritance which He
has given us.  And that we can only do by faith in Jesus Christ.  We
must trust in Him, our Lord, our King, our Saviour, our Pattern.  We
must confess that we are nothing in ourselves, that we owe all to
Him.  We must follow in his footsteps, giving up our wills to God's
will, doing not our own works, but the good works which God has
prepared for us to walk in; and then we shall be truly confirmed;
not mere children of God, under tutors, governors, schoolmasters and
lawgivers, but free, reasonable, willing, hearty Christians, perfect
men of God, the sons of God without rebuke.

Oh, my friends, will you claim your share in the Spirit of God, whom
the Lord bought for us with His precious blood, that Spirit who was
given you at your baptism, which may be daily renewed in you, if you
pray for it; who will strengthen and lift you up to lead lives
worthy of your high calling?  Or will you, like Esau of old, despise
your birthright, and neglect to pray that God's Spirit may be
renewed in you, and so lose more and more day by day the thought
that God is your Father, and the love of holy and godlike things?
Alas! take care that, like Esau, you hereafter find no room for
repentance, though you seek it carefully with tears!  It is a
fearful thing to despise the mercies of the living God; and when you
are called to be His sons, to fall back under the terrors of His
law, in slavish fears and a guilty conscience, and remorse which
cannot repent.

And do not give way to false humility, says St. Paul.  Do not say,
'This is too high an honour for us to claim.'  Do not say, 'It seems
too conceited and assuming for us miserable sinners to call
ourselves sons of God.  We shall please God better, and show
ourselves more reverent to Him, by calling ourselves His slaves, and
crouching and trembling before Him, as if we expected Him to strike
us dead, and making all sorts of painful and tiresome religious
observances, and vain repetitions of prayers, to win His favour;' or
by saying, 'We dare not call ourselves God's children yet; we are
not spiritual enough; but when we have gone through all the
necessary changes of heart, and frames, and feeling, and have been
convinced of sin, and converted, and received the earnest, God's
Spirit, by which we cry, Abba, Father! _then_ we shall have a right
to call ourselves God's children.'

Not so, says St. Paul, all through this very Epistle to the
Galatians.  That is not being reverent to God.  It is insulting Him.
For it is despising the honour which He has given you, and trying to
get another honour of your own invention, by observances, and
frames, and feelings of your own.  Do not say, 'When we have
received the earnest of God's Spirit, by which we can cry, Abba,
Father! _then_ we shall become God's children;' for it is just
because you _are_ God's children already--just because you have been
God's children all along, that God has taught you to call Him
Father.  The Lord Jesus Christ told men that God was their Father.
Not merely to the Apostles, but to poor, ignorant, sinful wretches,
publicans and harlots, He spoke of their Father in heaven, who,
because He is a perfect Father, sends His sun to shine on the evil
and the good, and His rain to fall on the just and on the unjust.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught men--all men, not merely saints and
Apostles, but all men, when they prayed--to begin, 'Our Father.'  He
told them that that was the manner in which they were to pray, and
therefore no other way of praying can we expect God to hear.  No
slavish, terrified, superstitious coaxing and flattering will help
you with God.  He has told you to call Him your Father; and if you
speak to Him in any other way, you insult Him, and trample under
foot the riches of His grace.

This is the good news which the Bible preaches.  This is the witness
of God's Spirit, proclaiming that we are the sons of God; and, says
St. Paul in another place, 'our spirit witnesses' to that glorious
news as well.  We feel, we know--why, we cannot tell, but we feel
and know that we are the sons of God.  When we are most calm, most
humble, most free from ill-temper and self-conceit, most busy about
our rightful work, then the feeling comes over us--I have a Father
in heaven.  And that feeling gives us a strength, a peace, a sure
trust and hope, which no other thought can give.  Yes, we are ready
to say, I may be miserable and unfortunate, but the Great God of
heaven and earth is my Father; and what can happen to me?  I may be
borne down with the remembrance of my great sins; I may find it
almost too hard to fight against all my bad habits; but the Great
God who made heaven and earth is my Father, and I am His son.  He
will forgive me for the past; He will help me to conquer for the
future.  If I do but remember that I am God's son, and claim my
Father's promises, neither the world, nor the devil, nor my own
sinful flesh, can ever prevail against me.

This thought, and the peace which it brings, St. Paul tells us is
none of our own; we did not put it into our own hearts; from God it
comes, that blessed thought, that He is our Father.  We could never
have found it out for ourselves.  It is the Spirit of the Son of
God, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, which gives us courage to
say, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' which makes us feel that
those words are true, and must be true, and are worth all other
words in the world put together--that God is our Father, and we his
sons.  Oh, my friends, believe earnestly this blessed news! the news
of Christmas-day, that you are not God's slaves, but his sons, heirs
of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;--joint-heirs with Christ!  In
what?  Who can tell?  But what an inheritance of glory and bliss
that must be, which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is to inherit with
us--an inheritance such as eye hath not seen, and incorruptible,
undefiled, and that fadeth not away, preserved in heaven for us; an
inheritance of all that is wise, loving, noble, holy, peaceful--all
that can make us happy, all that can make us like God Himself.  Oh,
what can we expect, if we neglect so great salvation?  What can we
expect, if when the Great God of heaven and earth tells us that we
are His children, we turn away and fall down, become like the
brutes, and the savages, or worse, like the evil spirits who rebel
against God, instead of growing up to become the sons of God,
perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect?  May He keep us all
from that great sin!  May He awaken each and every one of you to
know the glory and honour which Jesus Christ brought for you when He
was born at Bethlehem--the glory and honour which was proclaimed to
belong to you when you were christened at that font!  May He awaken
you to know that you are the sons of God, and to look up to Him with
loving, trustful, obedient souls, saying from your hearts, morning
and night 'Our Father which art in heaven,' and feeling that those
words give you daily strength to conquer your sins, and feel
assurance of hope that your Heavenly Father will help and prosper
you, His family, every time you struggle to obey His commandments,
and follow the example of His perfect and spotless Son, Jesus Christ
the Lord!



SERMON XVII.  DEATH IN LIFE



Romans viii. 12, 13.  Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to
live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:
but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
shall live.

Does it seem strange to you that St. Paul should warn you, that you
are not debtors to your own flesh?  It is not strange, when you come
to understand him; certainly not unnecessary:  for as in his time,
so now, most people do live as if they were debtors to their own
flesh, as if their great duty, their one duty in life, was to please
their own bodies, and brains, and tempers, and fancies, and
feelings.  Poor people have not much time to indulge their brains;
and no time at all, happily for them, to indulge their fancies and
feelings, as rich people do when they grow idle, and dainty, and
luxurious.  But still, too many of them live as if they were debtors
to their own flesh; as if their own bodies and their own tempers
were the masters of them, and ought to be their masters.  Young men,
for instance, how often they do things in secret of which it is a
shame even to speak, just because it is pleasant.  Young women, how
often do they sell themselves and their own modesty, just for the
pleasure of being flattered and courted, and of getting a few fine
clothes.  How often do men, just for the pleasure of drink, besot
their souls and bodies, madden their tempers, neglect their
families, make themselves every Saturday night, and often half the
week, too, lower than the beasts which perish.  And then, when a
clergyman complains of them, they think him unreasonable; and by so
thinking, show that he is right, and St. Paul right:  for if I say
to you, My dear young people (and I do say it), if you give way to
filthy living and filthy talking, and to drunkenness, and to vanity
about fine clothes, you will surely die--do you not say in your
hearts, 'How unreasonable:  how hard on us!  If we can enjoy
ourselves a little, why should we not?  It is our right, and do it
we will; and if it is wrong, it ought not to be wrong.'  Why, what
is that but saying, that you ought to do just what your body likes:
that you are debtors to your flesh; and that your flesh, and not
God's law, is your master.  So again, when people grow older,
perhaps they are more prudent about bad living, and more careful of
their money:  but still they live after the flesh.  One man sets his
heart on making money, and cares for nothing but that; breaks God's
law for that, as if that was the thing to which he was a debtor,
bound by some law which he could not avoid to scrape and scrape
money together for ever.  Another (and how often we see that) is a
slave to his own pride and temper, which are just as much bred in
his flesh:  if he has been injured by any one, if he has taken a
dislike against any one, he cannot forget and forgive:  the man may
be upright and kindly on many other points; prudent, too, and sober,
and thoroughly master of himself on most matters; and yet you will
find that when he gets on that one point, he is not master of
himself; for his flesh is master of him:  he may be a strong-minded,
shrewd man upon most matters but just that one point:  some old
quarrel, or grudge, or suspicion, is, as we say, his weak point:
and if you touch on that, the man's eye will kindle, and his face
redden, and his lip tremble, and he will show that he is not master
of himself:  but that he is over-mastered by his fleshly passion, by
the suspiciousness, or revengefulness, or touchiness, which every
dumb animal has as well as he, which is not part of his man's
nature, not part of God's image in him, but which is like the beasts
which perish.

Now, my friends, suppose I said to you, 'If you give way to such
tempers; if you give way to pride, suspicion, sullen spite, settled
dislike of any human being, you will surely die;' should you not,
some of you, be inclined to think me very unreasonable, and to say
in your hearts, 'Have I not a right to be angry?  Have I not a right
to give a man as good as he brings?' so confessing that I am right,
after all, and that some of you think that you are debtors to your
flesh, and its tempers, and do not see that you are meant to be
masters, and not slaves, of your tempers and feelings.

Again.  Among poor women, as well as among rich ones, as they grow
older, how much gossiping, tale-bearing, slandering, there is, and
that too among people who call themselves religious.  Yes, I say
slandering; I put that in too; for I am certain that where the first
two grow, the third is not far off.  If gossiping is the root, tale-
bearing and harsh judgment is the stem, and plain lying and
slandering, and bearing false witness against one's neighbour, is
the fruit.

Now I say, because St. Paul says it, 'that those who do such things
shall surely die.'  And do not some of you think me unreasonable in
that, and say in your heart, 'What! are we to be tongue-tied?  Shall
we not speak our minds?'  Be it so, my good women, only remember
this:  that as long as you say that, you confess that you are not
masters of your tongues, but your tongues are masters of you, and
that you freely confess you owe service to your tongue, and not to
God.  Do not therefore complain of me for saying the very same
thing, namely, that you think you are debtors to your flesh--to the
tongues in your mouths, and must needs do what those same little
unruly members choose, of which St James has said, 'The tongue is a
fire, a world of iniquity, and it sets on fire the whole course of
nature, and is set on fire of hell.'  And again:  'If any person
among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but
deceives himself, that person's religion is vain.'

Again:--and, my good women, you must not think me hard on you, for
you know in your hearts that I am not hard on you; but I must speak
a word on a sin which I am afraid is growing in this parish, and in
too many parishes in England; and that is deceiving kind and
charitable persons, in order to get more help from them.  God knows
the temptation must be sore to poor people at times.  And yet you
will surely find in the long run, that 'honesty is the best policy.'
Deceit is always a losing game.  A lie is sure to be found out; as
the Lord Jesus Himself says, 'There is nothing hid which shall not
be made manifest;' and what we do in secret, is sure, unless we
repent and amend it, to be proclaimed on the housetop:  and many a
poor soul, in her haste and greediness to get much, ends by getting
nothing at all.  And if it were not so;--if you were able to deceive
any human being out of the riches of the world:  yet know, that a
man's life does _not_ consist in the abundance of the things which
he possesses.  And know that if you will not believe that,--if you
will fancy that your business is to get all you can for your mortal
bodies, by fair means or foul,--if you will fancy that you are thus
debtors to your own flesh, you will surely die:  but if you, through
the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.

And by this time some of you are asking, 'Live?  Die?  What does all
this mean?  When we die we shall die, good or bad; and in the
meantime we shall live till we die.  And you do not mean to tell us
that we shall shorten our lives by our own tempers, or our tale-
bearing, though we might, perhaps, by drunkenness?'

My friends, if such a question rises in your mind, be sure that it,
too, is a hint that you think yourself a debtor to the flesh--to
live according to the flesh.  For tell me, tell yourselves fairly,
is your flesh, your body, the part of yourself which you can see and
handle, _You_?--You know that it is not.  When a neighbour's body
dies, you say, perhaps, '_He_ is dead,' but you say it carelessly;
and when one whom you know well, and love, dies,--when a parent, a
wife, a child, dies, you feel very differently about them, even if
you do not speak differently.  You feel and know that he, the person
whom you loved and understood, and felt with, and felt for, here on
earth, is not dead at all; you feel (and in proportion as the friend
you have lost was loving, and good, and full of feeling for you, you
feel it all the more strongly) that your friend, or your child, or
the wife of your bosom, is alive still--where you know not, but you
feel they are alive; that they are very near you;--that they are
thinking of you, watching you, caring for you,--perhaps grieving
over you when you go wrong--perhaps rejoicing over you when you go
right,--perhaps helping you, though you cannot see them, in some
wonderful way.  You know that only their mortal flesh is dead.  That
their mortal flesh was all you put into the grave; but that _they_
themselves, their souls and spirits, which were their very and real
selves, are alive for evermore; and you trust and hope to meet them
when you die;--ay, to meet them body and soul too, at the last day,
the very same persons whom you knew here on earth, though the flesh
which they wore here in this life has crumbled into dust years and
ages before.

Is not this true?  Is not this a blessed life-giving thought--I had
almost said the most blessed and life-giving thought man can have--
that those whom we have loved and lost are not dead, but only gone
before; that they live still to God and with God; that only their
flesh has perished, and they themselves are alive for evermore?

Now believe me, my friends, as surely as a man's flesh can die and
be buried, while he himself, his soul, lives for ever, just so a
man's self, his soul, can die, while his flesh lives on upon earth.
You do not think so, but the Bible thinks so.  The Bible talks of
men being _dead_ in trespasses and sins, while their flesh and body
is alive and walking this earth.  It talks, too, of a worse state,
of men twice dead; of men, who, after God has brought their souls to
life, let those souls of theirs die down again within them, and rot
away, as far as we can see, hopelessly and for ever.  And what is it
which kills a man's soul within him on this side the grave, and
makes him dead while he has a name to live?  _Sin_, evil-doing, the
disease of the soul, the death of the soul, yea, the death of the
man himself.  And what is sin but living according to the flesh, and
not according to the spirit?  What is sin but living as the dumb
animals do, as if we were debtors to our own flesh, to fulfil its
lusts, and to please our own appetites, fancies, and tempers,
instead of remembering that we are debtors to God, who made us, and
blesses us all day long;--debtors to our Lord Jesus Christ, who
bought us with His own blood, that we might please Him and obey
Him;--debtors to God's Holy Spirit, who puts into our minds good
desires;--debtors to our baptism vows, in which we were consecrated
to God, that He, and not this flesh of ours, might be our Master for
ever?

This is sin; to give way to those selfish and evil tempers, against
which I warned you in the beginning of my sermon, and which, if any
man indulges in them, will surely and steadily, bit by bit, kill
that man's soul within him, and leave the man dead in trespasses and
sins, while his body walks this earth.

My friends, do not fancy these are merely farfetched words out of a
book, made to sound difficult and terrible in order to frighten you.
God forbid!  When Scripture says this, it speaks a plain and simple
truth, and one which I know to be a truth from experience.  I speak
that which I know, and testify that which I have seen.  I have seen
(and what sadder or more fearful sight?) dead men and dying walk
this earth in flesh and blood; men busy enough, shrewd enough upon
some points, priding themselves, perhaps, upon their cleverness and
knowledge of the world, of whom all one could say was, The man is
dead; the man is lost, unless God brings him to life again by His
quickening Spirit:  for goodness is dead in him; the powers of his
soul are dead in him; the hope of being a better man is dead in him;
all that God wishes to see him be and do, is dead; God's likeness
and glory in him is dead:  he thinks himself wise, and he is a fool
in God's sight; for he sees not God's law, which is the only wisdom:
he thinks himself strong, but he is utterly weak and helpless; for
he is the slave of his own tempers, the slave of his own foul lust,
the slave of his own pride and vanity, the slave of his own
covetousness.  Oh, my friends, people are apt to be afraid of what
they call seeing a ghost--that is, a spirit without a body:  they
fancy that it would be a very shocking thing to meet one; but as for
me, I know a far more dreadful sight; and that is, a careless and a
hardened sinner--a body without a spirit.  Which is uglier and
ghastlier--a spirit without a body, or a body without a spirit?  And
yet such one meets, I dare not think how often.

What sadder sight, if you recollect that men need not be thus; that
God hates seeing them thus; that they become thus, and die down in
sin, in spite of God, with all heaven above, and God the Lord
thereof, crying to them, Why wilt thou die?  What sadder sight?  How
many have I seen, living, to all intents and purposes, as if they
had no souls; as if there were no God, no Law of God, no Right, no
Wrong; caring for nothing, perhaps, but drink and bad women; or
caring for nothing but scraping together a little more money than
their neighbours; or caring for nothing but dress, and vanity, and
gossiping, and tale-bearing; and yet, when one came to know them,
one saw that _that_ was not what God intended them to be; that He
had given them hearts which they had hardened, good feelings which
they had crushed, sound brains which they had left idle, till one
was ready to weep over them, as over something beautiful and noble
ruined and lost; and looked on them as one would on a grand tree
struck by lightning, decayed and dead, useless, and only fit to be
burned, with just enough of its proper shape to show what a tree it
ought to have been.  And so it is with men and women:  hardly a day
passes but one sees some one of whom one says, with a sigh, 'What a
worthy, loveable, useful person, that might have been! what a
blessing to himself and all around him! and now, by following his
fallen nature, and indulging it, he is neither worthy, nor loveable,
nor useful; neither a blessing to himself nor to any human being:
he might have been good for so much, and now he is good for nothing;
for the spirit, the immortal soul which God gave him, is dead within
him.'

My friends, I would not say this, unless I could say more.  I would
not say sad words, if I could not follow them up by joyful and
hopeful ones.  It is written, 'If ye live after the flesh, ye shall
die;' but it is written also, 'If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify
the deeds of the body, ye shall live.'  It is promised--promised, my
friends, 'Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give thee light.'

Through the Spirit, through God's Spirit, every soul here can live,
now and for ever.  Through God's Spirit, Christ not only can, but
will, give you light.  And that Spirit is near you, with you.  Your
baptism is the blessed sign, the everlasting pledge, that God's
Spirit is with you.  Oh, believe that, and take heart.  I will not
say, you do not know how much good there is in you; for in us dwells
no good thing, and every good thought and feeling comes only from
the Spirit of God:  but I will say boldly to every one of you, you
do not know how much good there may be in you, if you will listen to
those good thoughts of God's Spirit; you do not know how wise, how
right, how strong, how happy, how useful, you may become; you do not
know what a blessing each of you may become to yourselves, and to
all around you.  Only make up your mind to live by God's law; only
make up your mind, in all things, small and great, to go God's way,
and not your own.  Only make up your mind to listen, not to your own
flesh, temper, and brain, which say this and that is pleasant, but
to listen to God's Spirit, which says this is right, and that is
wrong:  this is your duty, do it.  Search out your own besetting
sins; and if you cannot find them out for yourself, ask God to show
you them; ask Him to give you truth in the inward parts, and make
you to understand wisdom in the secret places of your heart.  Pray
God's Spirit to quicken your soul, and bring it to life, that it may
see and love what is good, and see and hate what is wrong; and
instead of being most hard on your neighbour's sin, to which you are
not tempted, be most hard on your own sin, on the sin to which you
are most tempted, whatsoever that may be.  You have your besetting
sin, doubt it not; every one has.  I know that I have.  I know that
I have inclinations, tempers, longings, to which if I gave way, my
soul would rot and die within me, and make me a curse to myself, and
you, and every one I came near; and all I can do is to pray God's
Spirit to help me to fight those besetting sins of mine, and crush
them, and stamp them down, whenever they rise and try to master me,
and make me live after the flesh.  It is a hard fight; and may God
forgive me, for I fight it ill enough:  but it is my only hope for
my soul's life, my only hope of remaining a man worth being called a
man, or doing my duty at all by myself and you, and all mankind.
And it is your only hope, too.  Pray for God's Spirit, God's
strength, God's life, to give your souls life, day by day, that you
may fight against your sins, whatsoever they are, lest they kill
your souls, long before disease and old age kill your bodies.  Make
up your minds to it.  Make up your minds to mortify the deeds of the
body; to say to your own bodies, tempers, longings, fancies, 'I will
not go your way:  you shall go God's way.  I am not your debtor; I
owe you nothing; I am God's debtor, and owe Him everything, and I
will pay Him honestly with the service of my body, soul, and spirit.
I will do my duty, and you, my flesh, must and shall do it also,
whether it is pleasant at first, or not:' and be sure it will be
pleasant at last, if not at first.  Keep God always before your
eyes.  Ask yourself in every action, 'What is right, what is my
duty, what would God have me do?'  And so far from finding it
unpleasant, you will find that you are saving yourself a thousand
troubles, and sorrows, and petty anxieties which now torment you;
you will find that in God's presence is life, the only life worth
having, and that at His right hand are pleasures for evermore.  Oh,
be sure, my friends, that in real happiness you will not lose, but
gain without end.  If to have a clear conscience, and a quiet mind;
if to be free from anxiety and discontent, free from fear and shame;
if to be loved, respected, looked up to, by all whose good word is
worth having, and to know that God approves of you, that all day
long God is with you, and you with God, that His loving and mighty
arms are under you, that He has promised to keep you in all your
ways, to prosper all you do, and reward you for ever,--if this be
not happiness, my friends, what is?



SERMON XVIII.  SHAME



Romans x. 11.  For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him
shall not be ashamed.

My friends, what this text really means is one thing; what we may
choose to think it means is another thing--perhaps a very different
thing.  I will try and show you what I believe it really means.

'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.'  It seems as if
St. Paul thought, that not being ashamed had to do with salvation,
and being saved; ay, that they were almost the same thing:  for he
says just before, if thou doest so and so, thou shalt be saved; for
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation; _for_ the Scripture saith,
'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed;' as if being
ashamed was the very thing from which we were to be saved.  And
certainly that wise and great man, whoever he was (some say he was
St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in Italy), who wrote the Te Deum,
thought the same; for how does he end the Te Deum?  'O Lord, in Thee
have I trusted:  let me never be confounded,' that is, brought to
shame.  You see, after he has spoken of God, and the everlasting
glory of God, of Cherubim and Seraphim, that is, all the powers of
the earth and the powers of the heavens, of Apostles, Prophets,
Martyrs, the Holy Church, all praising God, and crying 'Holy, holy,
holy.  Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of the majesty
of Thy glory;' after he has spoken of the mystery of the Trinity,
Father and Son and Holy Ghost, of Christ's redemption and
incarnation, and ascension and glory; of His judging the world; of
His government, and His lifting up His people for ever; after he has
prayed God to keep them this day without sin, and to let His mercy
lighten upon them; after all this, at the end of this glorious hymn,
all that he has to say is, 'O Lord, in Thee have I trusted:  let me
never be confounded.'--All he has to say:  but that is a great deal:
he does not say that merely because he wants to say something more,
and has nothing else to say.  Not so.  In all great hymns and
writings like this, the end is almost sure to be the strongest part
of all, to have the very pith and marrow of the whole matter in it,
as I believe this end of the Te Deum has; and I believe that whoever
wrote it thought that being confounded, and brought to shame, was
just the most horrible and wretched thing which could happen to him,
or any man, and the thing above all others from which he was most
bound to pray God to save him and every human being.

Now, how is this?  First, let us look at what coming to shame is;
and next, how believing in Christ will save us from it.

Now, every man and woman of us here, who has one spark of good
feeling in them, will surely agree, that coming to shame is
dreadful; and that there is no pain or torment on earth like the
pain of being ashamed of oneself:  nothing so painful.  And I will
prove it to you.  You call a man a brave man, if he is afraid of
nothing:  but there is one thing the very bravest man is afraid of,
and that is of disgrace, of coming to shame.  Ay, my friends, so
terrible is the torment of shame, that you may see brave men,--men
who would face death in battle, men who would have a limb cut off
without a groan, you may see such, in spite of all their courage,
gnash their teeth, and writhe in agony, and weep bitter tears,
simply because they are ashamed of themselves, so terrible and
unbearable is the torment of shame.  It may drive a man to do good
or evil:  it may drive him to do good; as when, rather than come to
shame, and be disgraced, soldiers will face death in battle
willingly and cheerfully, and do deeds of daring beyond belief:  or
it may drive him to do evil; rather than come to shame, men have
killed themselves, choosing, unhappy and mistaken men, rather to
face the torment of hell than the torment of disgrace.  They are
mistaken enough, God knows.  But shame, like all powerful things,
will work for harm as well as for good; and just as a wholesome and
godly shame may be the beginning of a man's repentance and
righteousness, so may an unwholesome and ungodly shame be the cause
of his despair and ruin.  But judge for yourselves; think over your
past lives.  Were you ever once--were it but for five minutes--
utterly ashamed of yourself?  If you were, did you ever feel any
torment like _that_?  In all other misery and torment one feels
hope; one says, 'Still life is worth having, and when the sorrow
wears away I shall be cheerful and enjoy myself again:' but when one
has come to shame, when one is not only disgraced in the eyes of
other people, but disgraced (which is a thousand times worse) in
one's own eyes; when one feels that people have real reason to
despise one, then one feels for the time as if life was _not_ worth
having; as if one did not care whether one died or not, or what
became of one:  and yet as if dying would do one no good, change of
place would do one no good, time's running on would do one no good;
as if what was done could not be undone, and the shame would be with
one still, and torment one still, wherever one was, and if one was
to live a million years:  ay, that it would be everlasting:  one
feels, in a word, that real shame and deserved disgrace is verily
and indeed an everlasting torment.  And it is this, and the feeling
of this, which explains why poor wretches will kill themselves, as
Judas Iscariot did, and rush into hell itself, under the horror and
pain of shame and disgrace.  They feel a hell within them so hot,
that they actually fancy that they can be no worse off beyond the
grave than they are on this side of it.  They are mistaken:  but
that is the reason; the misery of disgrace is so intolerable, that
they are willing, like that wretched Judas, to try any mad and
desperate chance to escape it.

So much for shame's being a dreadful and horrible thing.  But again,
it is a spiritual thing:  it grows and works not in our fleshly
bodies, but in our spirits, our consciences, our immortal souls.
You may see this by thinking of people who are not afraid of shame.
You do not respect them, or think them the better for that.  Not at
all.  If a man is not afraid of shame; if a man, when he is found
out, and exposed, and comes to shame, does not care for it, but
'brazens out his own shame,' as we say, we do not call him brave; we
call him what he is, a base impudent person, lost to all good
feeling.  Why, what harder name can we call any man or woman, than
to say that they are 'shameless,' dead to shame?  We know that it is
the very sign of their being dead in sin, the very sign of God's
Spirit having left them; that till they are made to feel shame there
is no hope of their mending or repenting, or of any good being put
into them, or coming out of them.  So that this feeling of shame is
a spiritual feeling, which has to do with a man's immortal soul,
with his conscience, and the voice of God in his heart.

Now, consider this:  that there will surely come to you and me, and
every living soul, a day of judgment; a day in which we shall be
judged.  Think honestly of those two words.  First, a day, not a
mere time, much less a night.  Now, in a day there is light, by
which men can see, and a sun in heaven which shows all things
clearly.  In that day, that brightest and clearest of all days, we
shall see what we really have been, and what we really have done;
and for aught we know, every one round us, every one with whom we
have ever had to do, will see it also.  The secrets of all our
hearts will be disclosed; and we shall stand before heaven and earth
simply for what we are, and neither more nor less.  That is a
fearful thought!  Shall we come to shame in that day?  And it will
be a day of judgment:  in it we shall be judged.  I do not mean
merely condemned, for we may be acquitted:  or punished, for we may
be rewarded; those things come after being judged.  First, let us
think of what being judged is.  A judge's business is to decide on
what we have done, or whether we have broken the law or not; to hear
witnesses for us and against us, to sum up the evidence, and set
forth the evidence for us and the evidence against us.  And our
judge will be the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is sharper
than a two-edged sword, piercing through the very joints and marrow,
and discerning the secret intents of the heart; neither is anything
hid from Him, for all things are naked and open in the sight of Him
with whom we have to do.  With whom we _have_ to do, mind:  not
merely with whom we _shall_ have to do; for He sees all _now_, He
knows all now.  Ever since we were born, there has not been a
thought in our heart but He has known it altogether.  And He is
utterly just--no respecter of persons; like His own wisdom, without
partiality and without hypocrisy.  O Lord! who shall stand in that
day?  O Lord! if thou be extreme to mark what is done amiss, who
shall abide it?  O Lord! in thee have I trusted:  let me never be
confounded!

For this is being confounded; this is shame itself.  This is the
intolerable, horrible, hellish shame and torment, wherein is weeping
and gnashing of teeth; this is the everlasting shame and contempt to
which, as Daniel prophesied, too many should awake in that day--to
be found guilty in that day before God and Christ, before our
neighbours and our relations, and worst of all, before ourselves.
Worst of all, I say, before ourselves.  It would be dreadful enough
to have all the bad things we ever did or thought told openly
against us to all our neighbours and friends, and to see them turn
away from us;--dreadful to find out at last (what we forget all day
long) that God knows them already; but more dreadful to know them
all ourselves, and see our sins in all their shamefulness, in the
light of God, as God Himself sees them;--more dreadful still to see
the loving God and the loving Christ turn away from us;--but most
dreadful of all to turn away from ourselves; to be utterly
discontented with ourselves; ashamed of ourselves; to see that all
our misery is our own fault, that we have been our own enemies; to
despise ourselves, and hate ourselves for ever; to try for ever to
get rid of ourselves, and escape from ourselves as from some ugly
and foul place in which we were ashamed to be seen for a moment:
and yet not to be able to get rid of ourselves.  Yes, that will be
the true misery of a lost soul, to be ashamed of itself, and hate
itself.  Who shall deliver a man from the body of that death?

I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  I thank God, that at
least now, here, in this life, we can be delivered.  There is but
one hope for us all; one way for us all, not to come to utter shame.
And this is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, 'Though your
sins be red as scarlet they shall be white as wool; and their sins
and their iniquities will I remember no more.'  One hope, to cast
ourselves utterly on His boundless love and mercy, and cry to Him,
'Blot these sins of mine out of Thy book, by Thy most precious
blood, which is a full atonement for the sins of the whole world;
and blot them out of my heart by Thy Holy Spirit, that I may hate
them and renounce them, and flee from them, and give them up, and be
Thy servant, and do Thy work, and have Thy righteousness, and do
righteous things like Thee.'  And then, my friends, how or why we
cannot understand; but it is God's own promise, who cannot lie, that
He will really and actually forgive these sins of ours, and blot
them out as if we had never done them, and give us clean hearts and
right spirits, to live new lives, right lives, lives like His own
life; so that our past sinful lives shall be behind us like a dream,
and we shall find them forgotten and forgiven in the day of
judgment;--wonderful mercy! but listen to it--it is God's own
promise--'If the wicked man turneth away from all his sins that he
hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is
lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.  All his
transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned
to him:  in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.'

They shall not be mentioned to him.  My friends, if, as I have been
showing, the great misery, the great horror of all, is having our
sins mentioned to us in That Day, and being made utterly ashamed by
them, what greater mercy can we want than this--not to have them
mentioned to us, and not to come to shame; not to be plagued for
ever with the hideous ghosts of our past bad thoughts, bad words,
bad deeds, coming all day long to stare us in the face, and cry to
us while the accusing Devil holds them up to us, as if in a looking-
glass--'Look at your own picture.  This is what you are.  This fool,
this idler, this mean, covetous, hard-hearted man, who cared only
for himself;--this stupid man, who never cared to know his duty or
do his duty;--this proud, passionate, revengeful man, who returned
evil for evil, took his brothers by the throat, and exacted from
them the uttermost farthing;--this ridiculous, foolish, useless,
disagreeable, unlovely, unlovable person, who went through the world
neither knowing what he ought to do, nor whither he was going, but
was utterly blind and in a dream; this person is you yourself.  Look
at your own likeness, and be confounded, and utterly ashamed for
ever!'  What greater misery than that?  What greater blessing than
to escape that?  What greater blessing than to be able to answer the
accusing Devil, 'Not so, liar!  This is not my likeness.  This ugly,
ridiculous, hateful person is not I.  I was such a one once, but I
am not now.  I am another man now; and God knows that I am, though
you may try to shame me by telling me that I am the same man.  I was
wrong, but I am right now; I was as a sheep going astray, but now I
am returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul, to whom I
belonged all the while; and now I am right, in the right road; for
with the heart I have believed God unto righteousness, and He has
given me a clean heart, and a right spirit, and has purged me, and
will purge me, till I am clean, and washed me till I am whiter than
snow; I do not deny one of my old sins; I did them, I know that; I
confess them to thee now, oh accusing Devil; but I confessed them to
God, ay, and to man too, long ago, and by confessing them to Him I
was saved from them; for with the mouth confession is made unto
salvation.  And what is more; I have not only confessed my own sins,
but I have confessed Christ's righteousness; and I confess it now.
I confess, I say, that Christ is perfectly righteous and good, the
Perfect Pattern of what I ought to be; and because He is perfectly
good, He does not wish to see me remain bad and sinful, that He may
taunt me and torment me with my sins, as thou the accusing Devil
dost:  but He wishes to make me and every man good like Himself,
blest like Himself; and He can do it, and will do it, if we will but
give up our hearts to Him; and I have given up my heart to Him.  All
I ask of Him is to be made good and kept good, set right and kept
right; and I can trust in Him utterly to do that; for He is faithful
and just to forgive me my sins, and cleanse me from all
unrighteousness.  Therefore, accuse me not, Devil! for thou hast no
share in me:  I belong to Christ, and not to thee.  And set not my
old sins before my face; for God has set them behind His back,
because I have renounced them, and sworn an oath against them, and
Christ has nailed them to His cross, and now they are none of mine
and none of thine, but are cast long ago into the everlasting fire
of God, and burnt up and done with for ever; and I am a new man, and
God's man; and He has justified me, and will justify me, and make me
just and right; and neither thou, nor any man, has a right to impute
to me my past sins, for God does not impute them to me; and neither
thou, nor any man, has a right to condemn me, for God has justified
me.  And if it please God to humble me more (for I know I want
humbling every day), and to show me more how much I owe to Him--if
it please Him, I say, to bring to light any of my past sins, I shall
take it patiently as a wholesome chastening of my Heavenly Father's;
and I trust to all God's people, and to angels, and the spirits of
just men made perfect, that they will look on my past sins as God
looks on them, mercifully and lovingly, as things past and dead,
forgiven and blotted out of God's book, by the precious blood of
Christ, and look on me as I am in Christ, not having any
righteousness of my own, but Christ's righteousness, which comes by
the inspiration of His own Holy Spirit.'

Thus, my friends, we may answer the Devil, when he stands up to
accuse us, and confound us in the Day of Judgment.  Thus we may
answer him now, when, in melancholy moments, he sets our sins before
our face, and begins taunting us, and crying, 'See what a wretch you
are, what a hypocrite, too.  What would all the world think of you,
if they knew as much against you as I do?  What would the world
think of you, if they saw into that dirty heart of yours?'  For we
can answer him--'Whatever the world would think, I know what God
Himself thinks:  He thinks of me as of a son who, after wasting his
substance, and feeding on husks with the swine, has come home to his
Father's house, and cried, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and
before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son; and I know
that that same good Heavenly Father, instead of shaming me,
reproaching me, shutting His doors against me, has seen me afar off,
and taken me home again without one harsh word, and called to all
the angels in heaven, saying, "It is meet that we rejoice and be
glad, for this My son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and
is found."  And while Almighty God, who made heaven and earth, is
saying that of me, it matters little what the lying Devil may say.'

Only, only, if you be wandering from your Father's house, come home;
if you be wrong, entreat to be made right.  If you are in your
Father's house, stay there; if you are right, pray and struggle to
keep right; if the old account is blotted out, then, for your soul's
sake, run up no fresh account to stand against you after all in the
Day of Judgment; if you have the hope in you of not coming to shame,
you must purify yourselves, even as God is pure; if you believe
really with your heart, you must believe unto righteousness; that
is, you must trust God to make you righteous and good:  there is no
use trusting Him to make you anything else, for He will make you
nothing else; being good Himself, He will only make you good:  but
as for trusting in Him to leave you bad, to leave you quiet in your
sins, and then to save you after all, that is trusting that God will
do a most unjust, and what is more, a most cruel thing to you; that
is trusting God to do the Devil's work; that is a blasphemous false
trust, which will be utterly confounded in the Day of Judgment, and
will cover you with double shame.  The whole question for each of us
is, 'Do we believe unto righteousness?'  Is righteousness what we
want?  Is to be made good men what we want?  If not, no confessing
with the mouth will be unto salvation, for how can a man be saved in
his sins?  If an animal is diseased can it be saved from dying
without curing the disease?  If a tree be decayed, can it be saved
from dying without curing the decay?  If a man be bad and sinful,
can he be saved from eternal death without curing his badness and
sinfulness?  How can a man be saved from his sins but by becoming
sinless?  As well ask, Can a man be saved from his sins without
being saved from his sins?  But if you wish really to be saved from
your sins, and taken out of them, and cured of them, that you may be
made good men, righteous men, useful men, just men, loving men,
Godlike men;--then trust in God for that, and you will find that
your trust will be unto righteousness, for you will become righteous
men; and confess God with your mouth for that, saying, 'I believe in
God my Father; I believe in Jesus Christ His Son, who died, and
rose, and ascended on high for me; I believe in God's Holy Spirit,
which is with me, to make me right;' and your confession will be
unto salvation, for you will be saved from your sins.

Always say to yourself this one thing, 'Good I will become, whatever
it cost me; and in God's goodness I trust to make me good, for I am
sure He wishes to see me good, more than I do myself; and you will
find that because you have confessed, in that best and most honest
of ways, that God is good, and have so given Him real glory, and
real honour, and real praise, He will save you from the sins which
torment you:  and that because you have really trusted in Him, you
shall never come, either in this world, or the world to come, to
that worst misery, the being ashamed of yourself.



SERMON XIX.  FORGIVENESS



Psalm li. 16, 17.  Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give
it:  thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit:  a broken and a contrite
heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

You all heard just now the story of Nathan and David, and you must
have all felt how beautiful, and noble, and just it was; how it
declares that there is but one everlasting God's law of justice,
which is above all men, even the greatest; and that what is right
for the poor man is right for the king upon his throne, for God is
no respecter of persons.

And you must have admired, too, the frankness, and fulness, and
humbleness of David's repentance, and liked and loved the man still,
in spite of his sins, as much almost as you did when you heard of
him as a shepherd boy slaying the giant, or a wanderer and an outlaw
among the hills and forests of Judaea.

But did it now seem strange to you that David's repentance, which
was so complete when it did come, should have come no sooner?  Did
he need Nathan to tell him that he had done wrong?  He seduced
another man's wife, and that man one of his most faithful servants,
one of the most brave and loyal generals of his army; and then, over
and above his adultery, he had plotted the man's death, and had had
him killed and put out of the way in as base, and ungrateful, and
treacherous a fashion as I ever heard of.  His whole conduct in the
matter had been simply villanous.  There is no word too bad for it.
And do you fancy that he had to wait the greater part of a year
before the thought came into his head that that was not the fashion
in which a man ought to behave, much more a king?--that God's
blessing was not on such doings as those?--and after all not find
out for himself that he was wrong, but have to be told of it by
Nathan?

Surely, if he had any common sense, any feeling of right and wrong
left in him, he must have known that he had done a bad thing; and
his guilty conscience must have tormented him many a time and oft
during those months, long before Nathan came to him.  Now, that he
had the feeling of right and wrong left in him, we cannot doubt; for
when Nathan told him the parable of the rich man who spared all his
own flocks and herds, and took the poor man's one ewe lamb, his
heart told him that _that_ was wrong and unjust, and he cried out,
'The man who has done this thing shall surely die.'  And surely that
feeling of right and wrong could not have been quite asleep in him
all those months, and have been awakened then for the first time.

But more; if we look at two psalms which he wrote about that time,
we shall find that his conscience had _not_ been dead in him, but
had been tormenting him bitterly; and that he had been trying to
escape from it, and afterwards to repent--only in a wrong way.

If we look at the Thirty-second Psalm, we shall see there he had
begun, by trying to deceive himself, to excuse himself before God.
But that had only made him the more miserable.  'When I kept
silence, my bones waxed old through my daily complaining.  For Thy
hand was heavy on me night and day:  my moisture was turned to the
drought of summer.'  Then he had tried sacrifices.  He had fancied,
I suppose, that he could make God pleased with him again by showing
great devoutness, by offering bullocks and goats without number, as
sin-offerings and peace-offerings; but that made him no happier.  At
last he found out that God required no sacrifice but a broken heart.
That was what God wanted--a broken and a contrite heart; for David
to be utterly ashamed of himself, utterly broken down and silenced,
so that he had nothing left to plead--neither past good deeds, nor
present devoutness, nor sacrifices:  nothing but, 'O God, I deserve
all Thou canst lay on me, and more.  Have mercy on me--mercy is all
I ask.'

There was nothing for him, you see, but to make a clean breast of
it; to face his sin, and all its shame and abomination, and confess
it all, and throw himself on God's mercy.  And when he did that,
there, then, and at once, as Nathan told him, God put away his sin.
As David says himself, 'I said, I will confess my sins unto the
Lord, and so Thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin.'

As it is written, 'If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'

And now, my friends, what lesson may we learn from this?  It is easy
to say, We have not sinned as deeply as David, and therefore his
story has nothing to do with us.  My friends, whether we have sinned
as deeply as David or not, his story has to do with you, and me, and
every soul in this church, and every soul in the whole world, or it
would not be in the Bible.  For no prophecy of Scripture is of
private interpretation; that is, it does not only point at one man
here and another there:  but those who wrote it were moved by the
Holy Ghost, who lays down the eternal universal laws of holiness, of
right and good, which are right and good for you, and me, and all
mankind; and therefore David's story has to do with you and me every
time we do wrong, and know that we have done wrong.

Now, my friends, when you have done a wrong thing, you know your
conscience torments you with it; you are uneasy, and discontented
with yourselves, perhaps cross with those about you; you hardly know
why:  or rather, though you do know why, you do not like to tell
yourself why.

The bad thing which you have done, or the bad tempers which you have
given way to, or the person whom you have quarrelled with, hang in
your mind, and darken all your thoughts:  and you try not to
remember them:  but conscience _makes_ you remember them, and will
not let the dark thought fly away; till you can enjoy nothing,
because your heart is not clean and clear; there is something in the
background which makes you sad whenever you try to be happy.  Then a
man tries first to deceive himself.  He says to himself, 'No, that
sin is not what makes me unhappy--not that;' and he tries to find
out any and every reason for his uncomfortable feelings, except the
very thing which he knows all the while in the bottom of his heart
_is_ the real reason.  He says, 'Well, perhaps I am unhappy because
I have done something wrong:  what wrong can I have done?'  And so
he sets to work to find out every sin except _the_ sin which is the
cause of all, because that one he does not like to face:  it is too
real, and ugly, and humbling to his proud spirit; and perhaps he is
afraid of having to give it up.  So I have known a man confess
himself a sinner, a miserable sinner, freely enough, and then break
out into a rage with you, if you dare to speak a word of the one sin
which you know that he has actually committed.  'No, sir,' he will
say, 'whatever I may be wrong in, I am right _there_.  I have
committed sins too many, I know:  but you cannot charge me with
that, at least;'--and all the more because he knows that everybody
round _is_ charging him with it, and that the thing is as notorious
as the sun in heaven.  But that makes him, in his pride, all the
more determined not to confess himself in the wrong on that one
point; and he will go and confess to God, and perhaps to man, all
manner of secret sins, nay, even invent sins for himself out of
things which are no sins, and confess himself humbly in the wrong
where perhaps he is all right, just to drug his conscience, and be
able to say, 'I have repented,'--repented, that is, of everything
but what he and all the world know that he ought to repent of.

But still his conscience is not easy:  he has no peace of mind:  he
is like David:  'While I held my peace, my bones waxed old through
my daily complaining.'  God's hand is heavy on him day and night,
and his moisture is like the drought in summer:  his heart feels
hard and dry; he cannot enjoy himself; he is moody; he lies awake
and frets at night, and goes listlessly and heavily about his
business in the morning; his heart is not right with God, and he
knows it; God and he are not at peace, and he knows it.

Then he tries to repent:  but it is a false, useless sort of
repentance.  He says to Himself, as David did, 'Well, then, I will
make my peace with God:  I will please Him.  I have done one wrong
thing.  I will do two right ones to make up for it.'  If he is a
rich man, he perhaps tries David's plan of burnt-offerings and
sacrifices.  He says, 'I will give away a great deal in charity; I
will build a church; I will take a great deal of trouble about
societies, and speak at religious meetings, and show God how much I
really do care for Him after all, and what great sacrifices I can
make for Him.'

Or, if he is a poor man, he will say, 'Well, then, I will try and be
more religious; I will think more about my soul, and come to church
as often as I can, and say my prayers regularly, and read good
books; and perhaps that will make my peace with God.  At all events,
God shall see that I am not as bad as I look; not altogether bad;
that I do care for Him, and for doing right.'

But, rich or poor, the man finds out by bitter experience how truly
David said, 'Thou requirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee.
Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.'

Not that they are not good and excellent; but that they are not good
coming from him, because his heart is still unrepentant, because,
instead of confessing his sin and throwing himself on God's mercy,
he is trying to win God round to overlook his sin.  So almsgiving,
and ordinances, and prayer give the poor man no peace.  He rises
from his knees unrefreshed.  He goes out of church with as heavy a
heart as he went in, and he finds that for all his praying he does
not become a better man, any more than a happier man.  There is
still that darkness over his soul, like a black cloud spread between
him and God.

My friends, if any of you find yourselves in this sad case, the only
remedy which I can give you, the only remedy which I ever found do
_me_ any good, or give me back my peace of mind, is David's remedy;
the one which he found out at last, and which he spoke of in these
blessed Psalms.  Confess your sin to God.  Bring it all out.  Make a
clean breast of it--whatever it may cost you, make a clean breast of
it.  Only be but _honest_ with God, and all will come right at once.
Say, not with your lips only, but from the very bottom of your
heart, say, 'Oh, good God, Heavenly Father, I have _nothing_ to say;
I am wrong, and yet I do not know how wrong I am; but Thou knowest.
Thou seest all my sin a thousand times more clearly than I do; and
if I look black and foul to myself, oh God, how much more black and
how foul must I look to Thee! I know not.  All I know is, that I am
utterly wrong, and Thou utterly right.  I am shapen in sin,
conceived in iniquity.  My heart it is that is wrong.  Not merely
this or that wrong which I have done; but my heart, my temper, which
will have its own way, which cares for itself, and not for Thee.  I
have nothing to plead; nothing to throw into the other scale.  For
if I have ever done right, it was Thou didst right in me, and not me
myself, and only my sins are my own doing; so the good in me is all
Thine, and the bad in me all my own, and in _me_ dwells no good
thing.  And as for excusing myself by saying that I love Thee, I had
better tell the truth, since Thou knowest it already--I do _not_
love Thee.  Oh God, I love myself, my pitiful, miserable self, well
enough, and too well:  but as for loving Thee--how many of my good
deeds have been done for love of Thee?  I have done right from fear
of hell, from hope of heaven; or to win Thy blessings:  but how
often have I done right really and purely for Thy sake?  I am
ashamed to think!  My only comfort, my only hope, is, that whether I
love Thee or not, Thou lovest me, and hast sent Thy Son to seek and
save me.  Help me now.  Save me now out of my sin, and darkness, and
self-conceit.  Show Thy love to me by setting this wrong heart of
mine right.  Give me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit
within me.  If I be wrong myself, how can I make myself right?  No;
Thou must do it.  Thou must purge me, or I shall never be clean;
Thou must make me to understand wisdom in the secret depth of my
heart, or I shall never see my way.  Thou must, for I cannot; and
base and bad as I am, I can believe that Thou wilt condescend to
help me and teach me, because I know Thy love in Jesus Christ my
Lord.  And _then_ Thou wilt be pleased with my sacrifices and
oblations, because they come from a right heart--a truly humble,
honest, penitent heart, which is not trying to deceive God, or
plaster over its own baseness and weakness, but confesses all, and
yet trusts in God's boundless love.  Then my alms will rise as a
sweet savour before Thee, oh God; then sacraments will strengthen
me, ordinances will teach me, good books will speak to my soul, and
my prayers will be answered by peace of mind, and a clear
conscience, and the sweet and strengthening sense that I am in my
Heavenly Father's house, about my Heavenly Father's business, and
that His smile is over me, and His blessing on me, as long as I
remain loyal to Him and to His laws.'  Feel thus, my friends, and
speak to God thus, and see if the dark stupefying cloud does not
pass away from your heart--see if there and then does not come
sunshine and strength, and the sweet assurance that you are indeed
forgiven.

But how about this old sin, which caused the man all this trouble?
He began by trying to forget it.  I think, if he be a true penitent,
he will not wish to forget it any more.  He will not torment himself
about it, for he knows that God has forgiven him.  But the more he
feels God has forgiven him, the less likely he will be to forgive
himself.  The more sure he feels of God's love and mercy, the more
utterly ashamed of himself he will be.  And what is more, it is not
wise to forget our own sins, when God has not forgotten them.  For
God does not forget our sins, though He forgives them; and a very
bad thing it would be for us if He did, my friends.  For the wages
of sin is death:  and even if God does not slay us for our sins, He
is certain to punish us for them in some way, lest we should forget
that sin is sin, and fancy that God's mercy is only careless
indulgence.  So God did to David.  He then told him that though he
was forgiven he would still be punished, 'The Lord has put away thy
sin; nevertheless, the child that shall be born unto thee shall
surely die.'  Punishment and forgiveness went together.  Ay, if we
will look at it rightly, David's being punished was the very sign
that God had forgiven him.  Oh, believe that, my friends; face it;
thank God for it.  I at least do, when I look back upon my past
life, and see that for every wrong I have ever done, I have been
punished:  not punished a tenth part as much as I deserve; but still
punished, more or less, and made to smart for my own folly, and to
learn, by hard unmistakable experience, that it will not pay me, or
any man, to break the least of God's laws; and I thank God for it.
I tell you to thank God also, whensoever you are punished for your
sins.  It is a sign that God cares for you, that God loves you, that
God is training and educating you, that God is your Father, and He
is dealing with you as with His sons.  For what son is there whom
His Father does not chastise?  It is a bitter lesson, no doubt; but
we have deserved it:  then let us bear it like men.  No doubt it is
bitter:  but there is a blessing in it.  No chastisement at first
seems pleasant, says the Apostle, but rather grievous:  yet
afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those
who are exercised thereby.  Be exercised by it, then.  Let God teach
you in His own way, even if it seem a harsh and painful way.  We
have had earthly fathers, says the Apostle, who corrected us, and we
gave them reverence.  Shall we not much rather be in subjection to
God, the Father of Spirits, and live?  For suffering and punishment
is the way to Eternal Life--to that true Eternal Life which is
knowing God and God's love, and becoming like God.  As the Apostle
says, God chastens us only for our profit, that we may be partakers
of His holiness.  And as king Hezekiah says of affliction, 'Lord, by
_these_ things,' by sorrow and chastisement, 'men live; and in all
these things is the life of the spirit.'

May God give to you, and me, and all mankind, as often as we do
wrong, honest and good hearts to confess our sins thoroughly, and
take our punishment meekly, and trust in God's boundless mercy, in
order that if we humble ourselves under His rod, and learn His
lessons faithfully in this life, we may not need a worse punishment
in the life to come, but be accepted in the last great Day for the
sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour.



SERMON XX.  THE TRUE GENTLEMAN



1 Cor. xii. 31; xiii. 1.  Covet earnestly the best gifts:  and yet
shew I unto you a more excellent way.  Though I speak with the
tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

My friends, let me say a few plain words this morning to young and
old, rich and poor, upon this text.

Now you all, I suppose, think it a good thing to be gentlemen and
ladies.  All of you, I say.  There is not a poor man in this church,
perhaps, who has not before now said in his heart, 'Ah, if I were
but a gentleman!' or a poor woman who has not said in her heart,
'Ah, if I were but a lady!'  You see round you in the world
thousands plotting and labouring all their lives long to make money
and grow rich, that they may become (as they think) gentlemen, or,
at least, their sons after them.  And those here who are what the
world calls gentlemen and ladies, know very well that those names
are names which are very precious to them; and would sooner give up
house, land, money, all the comforts upon earth, than give up being
called gentlemen and ladies; and these last know, I trust, what some
poor people do not know, and what no man knows who fancies that he
can make a gentleman of himself merely by gaining money, and setting
up a fine house, and a good table, and horses and carriages, and
indulging the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the
pride of life; for these last ought to know that the right to be
called gentlemen and ladies is something which this world did not
give, and cannot take away; so that if they were brought to utter
poverty and rags, or forced to dig the ground for their own
livelihood, they would be gentlemen and ladies still, if they ever
had been really and truly such; and what is more, they would make
every one who met them feel that they were gentlemen and ladies, in
spite of all their poverty.

Now, people do not often understand clearly why this is.  They feel,
more or less, that so it is; but they cannot explain it.  I could
tell you why they cannot; but I will not take up your time.  But if
they cannot explain it, there are those who can.  St. Paul explains
it in the Epistle.  The Lord Jesus Himself explains it in the
Gospel.  They tell us why money will not make a gentleman.  They
tell us why poverty will not unmake one:  but they tell us more.
They tell us the one only thing which makes a true gentleman.  And
they tell us more still.  They tell us how every one of us, down to
the poorest and most ignorant man and woman in this church, may
become true gentlemen and ladies, in the sight of God and of all
reasonable men; and that, not only in this life, but after death,
for ever, and ever, and ever.  And that is by charity, by love.

Now, if you will look two or three chapters back, in the Epistle to
the Corinthians--at the 11th and 12th chapters--you will see that
these Corinthians were behaving to each other very much as people
are apt to do in England now.  They all wanted to rise in life, and
they wanted to rise upon each other's shoulders.  Each man and woman
wanted to set themselves up above their neighbours, and to look down
upon them.  The rich looked down on the poor, and kept apart from
them at the Lord's Supper; and no doubt the poor envied the rich
heartily enough in return.  And these Corinthians were very
religious, and some of them, too, very clever.  So those who, being
poor, could not set themselves up above their neighbours on the
score of wealth, wanted to set themselves up on the score of their
spiritual gifts.  One looked down on his neighbours because he was a
deeper scholar than they; another, because he had the gift of
tongues, and understood more languages than they; another could
prophesy better than any of them, and so, because he was a very
eloquent preacher, he tried to get power over his neighbours, and
abuse the talents which God had given him, to pamper his own pride
and vanity, and love of managing and ordering people, and of being
run after by silly women (as St. Paul calls them), ever learning and
never coming to the knowledge of the truth.  And of the rest, one
party sided with one preacher, or one teacher, and another with
another; and each party looked down on the other, and judged them
harshly, and said bitter things of them, till, as St. Paul says,
they were all split up by heresies, that is, by divisions, party
spirit, envying, and grudging in the very Church of God, and at the
very Table of The Lord.

Now says St. Paul, 'Covet earnestly the best gifts:  and yet show I
you a more excellent way;' and that is charity; love.  As much as to
say, I do not complain of any of you for trying to be the best that
you can, for trying to be as wise as you can be, as eloquent as you
can be, as learned as you can be:  I do not complain of you for
trying to rise; but I _do_ complain of you for trying to rise upon
each other's shoulders.  I do complain of you for each trying to set
up himself, and trying to make use of his neighbours instead of
helping them; and, when God gives you gifts to do good to others
with, trying to do good only to yourselves with them.

For he says, you are all members of one body; and all the talents,
gifts, understanding, power, money, which God has bestowed on you,
He has given you only that you may help your neighbours with them.
Of course there is no harm in longing and praying for great gifts,
longing and praying to be very wise, or very eloquent; but only that
you may do all the more good.  And, after all, says St. Paul, there
is something more worth longing for, not merely than money, but more
worth longing for than the wisdom of a prophet, or the tongue of an
angel; and that is charity.  If you have _that_, you will be able to
do as much good as God requires of you in your station; and if you
have not that, you will not do what God requires of you, even though
you spoke with the tongues of men and of angels.  Even though you
had the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries, and all
knowledge; even though you had all faith, so that you could remove
mountains; even though you had all good works, and gave all your
goods to feed the poor, and your body to be burned as a martyr for
the sake of religion, and had not charity, you would be nothing.
Nothing, says St. Paul, but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal--an
empty vessel, which makes the more noise the less there is in it.
If you have charity, says St. Paul, you will be able to do your
share of good where God has put you, though you may be poor, and
ignorant, and stupid, and weak; but if you have not charity, all the
wisdom and learning, righteousness and eloquence in the world, will
only give you greater power of doing harm.

Yes, he says, I show you a more excellent way to be really great; a
way by which the poorest may be as great as the richest,--the simple
cottager's wife as great as the most accomplished lady; and that is
charity, which comes from the Spirit of God.  Pray for that--try
after that; and if you want to know what sort of a spirit it is that
you are to pray for and try after, I will tell you.  Charity is the
very opposite of the selfish, covetous, ambitious, proud, grudging
spirit of this world.  Charity suffers long, and is kind:  charity
does not envy:  charity does not boast, is not puffed up:  does not
behave itself unseemly; that is, is never rude, or overbearing, or
careless about hurting people's feelings by hard words or looks:
seeketh not its own; that is, is not always looking on its own
rights, and thinking about itself, and trying to help itself; is not
easily provoked:  thinketh no evil, that is, is not suspicious,
ready to make out the worst case against every one; rejoiceth not in
iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; that is, is not glad, as too
many are, to see people do wrong, and to laugh and sneer over their
failings:  but rejoiceth in the truth, tries to find out the truth
about every one, and judge them honestly, and make fair allowances
for them:  covereth all things; that is, tries to hide a neighbour's
sins as far as is right, instead of gossiping over them, and
blazoning them up and down, as too many do:  believeth all things;
that is, gives every one credit for meaning well as long as it can:
hopeth all things; that is, never gives any one up as past mending:
endureth all things, keeps its temper, and keeps its tongue; not
rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but, on the
contrary, blessing; and so overcomes evil with good.

In one word, while the spirit of the world thinks of itself, and
helps itself, Charity, which is the Spirit of God, thinks of other
people, and helps other people.  And now:--to be always thinking of
other people's feelings, and always caring for other people's
comfort, what is that but the mark, and the only mark, of a true
gentleman, and a true lady?  There is none other, my friends, and
there never will be.  But the poorest man or woman can do that; the
poorest man or woman can be courteous and tender, careful not to
pain people, ready and willing to help every one to the best of
their power; and therefore, the poorest man or woman can be a true
gentleman or a true lady in the sight of God, by the inspiration of
the Spirit of God, whose name is Charity.

They can be.  And thanks be to the grace of God, they often are.  I
can say that I have seen among plain sailors and labouring men as
perfect gentlemen (of God's sort) as man need see; but then they
were _always_ pious and God-fearing men; and so the Spirit of God
had made up to them for any want of scholarship and rank.  They were
gentlemen, because God's Spirit had made them gentle.  For recollect
all, both rich and poor, what that word gentleman means.  It is
simply a man who is gentle; who, let him be as brave or as wise as
he will, yet, as St. Paul says, 'suffers long and is kind; does not
boast, does not behave himself unseemly; is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil.'

And recollect, too, what that word lady means.  Most of you perhaps
do not know.  I will tell you.  It means, in the ancient English
tongue, a person who gives away bread; who deals out loaves to the
poor.  I have often thought that most beautiful, and full of
meaning, a very message from God to all ladies, to tell them what
they ought to be; and not to them only, but to the poorest woman in
the parish; for who is too poor to help her neighbours?

You see there is a difference between a Christian man's duty in this
and a Christian woman's duty, though they both spring from the same
spirit.  The man, unless he be a clergyman, has not so much time as
a woman for actually helping his neighbours by acts of charity.  He
must till the ground, sail the seas, attend to his business, fight
the Queen's enemies; and the way in which the Holy Spirit of Charity
will show in him will be more in his temper and his language; by
making him patient, cheerful, respectful, condescending, courteous,
reasonable, with every one whom he has to do with:  but the woman
has time to show acts of charity which the man has not.  She can
teach in the schools, sit by the sick bed, work with her hands for
the suffering and the helpless, even though she cannot with her
head.  Above all, she can give those kind looks and kind words which
comfort the broken heart better than money and bodily comforts can
do.  And she does do it, thank God!  I do not merely mean in such
noble instances of divine charity and self-sacrifice as those ladies
who have gone out to nurse the wounded soldiers in the East--true
ladies, indeed, of whom I fear more than one, ere they return, will
be added to the noble army of martyrs, to receive in return for the
great love which they have shown on earth, the full enjoyment of
God's love in heaven:--not these only, but poor women--women who
could not write their own names--women who had hardly clothes
wherewith to keep themselves warm--women who were toiling all day
long to feed and clothe their own children, till one wondered when
in the twenty-four hours they could find five spare minutes for
helping their neighbours;--such poor women have I seen, who in the
midst of their own daily work and daily care, had still a heart open
to hear every one's troubles; a head always planning little comforts
and pleasures for others; and hands always busy in doing good.
Instead of being made hard and selfish by their own troubles, they
had been taught by them, as the Lord Jesus was, to feel for the
troubles of all around them, and went about like ministering angels
in the Spirit of God, which is peace on earth and goodwill towards
men.

Oh, my friends, such poor women seemed to me most glorious, most
honourable, most venerable!  What was all rank or fashion, beauty or
accomplishments, when compared with the great honour which the Lord
Jesus Christ was putting upon those poor women, by transforming them
thus into His own most blessed likeness, and giving them grace to go
about, as He the Lord Jesus did, doing good, because God was with
them!

Then I felt that such women, poor, and worn, and hard-handed as they
were, were ladies in the sight of that Heavenly Father, who is no
respecter of persons; and felt how truly a wise ancient has said,--
'It is virtue, yea, virtue, gentlemen, which maketh gentlemen; which
maketh the poor rich, the strong weak, the simple wise, the base-
born noble.  This rank neither the whirling wheel of Fortune can
destroy, nor the deceitful cavillings of worldlings separate;
neither sickness abate, nor time abolish.'  No; for it is written,
that though prophecies shall fail, tongues cease, knowledge vanish
away, and all that we now know is but in part, yet charity shall
never fail those who are full of the Spirit of Love, but abide with
them for ever and ever, bringing forth fruit through all eternity to
everlasting life.

But what sort of virtue?  Do not mistake that.  Not what the world
calls virtue; not mere legal respectability, which says, I do unto
others as they do unto me; which is often merely the whitening
outside the sepulchre, and leaves the heart within unrenewed,
unrighteous, full of pride and ambition, conceit, cunning, and envy,
and unbelief in God:  not that virtue, but the virtue which the
Apostle tells us to add to our faith, the virtue from above, which
is the same as the wisdom from above, which is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated; in one word, the Holy
Spirit of God, the Spirit of Divine Love and Charity, which seeketh
not its own, which St. Paul has described to us in this epistle; the
Holy Spirit of God, with which the Lord Jesus was filled without
measure, and which He manifested to all the world in His most
blessed life and death.

Ah, my friends, this is not an easy lesson to learn.  Christ's
disciples and apostles could not learn it all at once.  They tried
to hinder little children from coming to Him.  They rebuked the
blind man who called after Him.  How could the great Prophet of
Nazareth stoop to trouble Himself about such poor insignificant
people?  They could not conceive, either, why the Lord Jesus should
choose to die shamefully, when He might have lived in honour:  it
seemed unworthy of Him.  They were shocked at His words. 'That be
far from Thee, Lord,' said Peter.  Afterwards, when they really
understood what that word 'Lord,' meant, and what sort of a man a
true and perfect Lord ought to be, then they saw how fit, and
proper, and glorious, Christ's self-sacrifice was.  When, too, they
learnt to look on Him, not merely as a great prophet, but as the Son
of the Living God, then they understood His conduct, and saw that it
behoved an only-begotten Son of God to suffer all these things
before He entered into His glory.

But the Scribes and Pharisees never understood it.  To the last they
were puzzled and angered by that very self-sacrifice of His:  He
must be a bad man, they thought, or He would not care so much for
bad men.  'A friend of publicans and sinners,' they called Him,
thinking that a shameful blame to Him, while it was really the very
highest praise.  But if they could not see the beauty of His
conduct, can we?  It is very difficult, I do not deny it, my
friends, for the selfishness and pride of fallen man:  it is
difficult to see that the Cross was the most glorious throne that
was even set up on earth, and that the crown of thorns was worth all
the crowns of czars and emperors:  difficult, indeed, not to stumble
at the stumbling-block of the Cross, and to say, 'It cannot surely
be more blessed to give than to receive:' difficult, not to say in
our hearts, 'The way to be great is surely to rise above other men,
not to stoop below them; to make use of them, and not to make
ourselves slaves to them.'  And yet the Lord Jesus Christ did so; He
took on Himself the form of a slave, and made Himself of no
reputation:  and what was fit and good for Him, must surely be fit
and good for us.  But it is a hard lesson to the pride of fallen
creatures:  very hard.  And nothing, I believe, but sorrow will
teach it us:  sorrow is teaching it some of us now.  We surely are
beginning to see, that to suffer patiently for conscience sake, is
the most beautiful thing on earth or in heaven:  we begin to see
that those poor soldiers, dying by inches of cold and weariness,
without a murmur, because it was their Duty, were doing a nobler
work even than they did when they fought at Alma and Inkermann; and
that those ladies who are drudging in the hospitals, far away from
home, amid filth and pestilence, are doing, if possible, a nobler
work still, a nobler work than if they were queens or empresses,
because they have taken up the Cross and followed Christ; because
they are not seeking their own good, but the good of others.  And if
we will not learn it from those glorious examples, God will force us
to learn it, I trust, every one of us, by sorrow and disappointment.
Ah, my friends, might one not learn it at once, if one would but
open one's eyes and look at things as they are?  Every one is
longing for something; each has his little plan for himself, of what
he would like to be, and like to do, and says to himself all day
long, 'If I could but get _that_ one thing, I should be happy:  If I
could but get that, then I should want no more!'  Foolish man, self-
deceived by his own lusts!  Perhaps he cannot get what he wants, and
therefore he cannot enjoy what he has, and is moody, discontented,
peevish, a torment to himself, and perhaps a torment to his family.
Or perhaps he does get what he wants:  and is he happy after all?
Not he.  He is like the greedy Israelites of old, when they longed
for the quails; and God sent the quails:  but while the meat was yet
in their mouths, they loathed it.  So it is with a man's fancy.  He
gets what he fancies; and he plays with it for a day, as a child
with a new toy, and most probably _spoils_ it, and next day throws
it away to run after some new pleasure, which will cheat him in just
the same way as the last did; and so happiness flits away ahead
before him; and he is like the simple boy in the parable, who was to
find a crock of gold where the rainbow touched the ground:  but as
he moved on, the rainbow moved on too, and kept always a field off
from him.  You may smile:  but just as foolish is every soul of us,
who fancies that he will become happy by making himself great;
admired, rich, comfortable, in short, by making himself anything
whatsoever, or getting anything whatsoever for himself.  Just as
foolish is every poor soul, and just as unhappy, as long as he will
go on thinking about himself, instead of copying the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thinking about others; as long as he will keep to the
pattern of the old selfish Adam, which is corrupt according to the
deceitful lusts, the longings and fancies which deceive a man into
expecting to be happy when he will not be happy; instead of putting
on the new man, which after God's likeness is created in
righteousness and true holiness:  and what is true holiness but that
very charity of which St. Paul has been preaching to us, the spirit
of love, and mercy, and gentleness, and condescension, and patience,
and active benevolence?

Ah, my friends, do not forget what I said just now; that a man could
not become happy by making himself anything.  No.  Not by making
himself anything:  but he may by letting God make him something.  If
he will let God make him a new creature in Jesus Christ, then he
will be more than happy--he will be blessed:  then he will be a
blessing to himself, and a blessing to every one whom he meets:
then all vain longing, and selfishness, and pride, and ambition, and
covetousness, and peevishness and disappointment, will vanish out of
his heart, and he will work manfully and contentedly where God has
placed him--cheerful and open-hearted, civil and patient, always
thinking about others, and not about himself; trying to be about his
Master's business, which is doing good; and always finding too, that
his Master Christ sets him some good work to do day by day, and
gives him strength to do it.  And how can a man get that blessed and
noble state of mind?  By prayer and practice.  You must ask for
strength from God:  but then you must believe that He answers your
prayer, and gives you that strength; and therefore you must try and
use it.  There is no more use in praying without practising than
there is in practising without praying.  You cannot learn to walk
without walking:  no more can you learn to do good without trying to
do good.

Ask, then, of God, grace and help to do good:  Pray to Him this very
day to take all selfishness and meanness out of your hearts, and to
give you instead His Holy Spirit of Love and Charity, which alone
can make you noble in His sight; and try this day, try every day of
your lives, to do some good to those around you.  Oh make a rule,
and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie
down at night without being able to say, 'I have made one human
being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or a little
better this day.'  You will find it easier than you think, and
pleasanter:  easier, because if you wish to do God's work, God will
surely find you work to do; and pleasanter, because in return for
the little trouble it may cost you, or the little choking of foolish
vulgar pride it may cost you, you will have a peace of mind, a quiet
of temper, a cheerfulness and hopefulness about yourself and all
around you, such as you never felt before; and over and above that,
if you look for a reward in the life to come, recollect this--what
we have to hope for in the life to come is, to enter into the joy of
our Lord.  And how did He fulfil that joy, but by humbling Himself,
and taking the form of a slave, and coming not to be ministered to
but to minister, and to give His whole life, even to the death upon
the cross, a ransom for many?  Be sure, that unless you take up His
cross, you will not share His crown.  Be sure, that unless you
follow in His footsteps, you will never reach the place where He is.
If you wish to enter into the joy of your Lord, be sure that His joy
is now, as it was in Judaea of old, over every sinner that
repenteth, every mourner that is comforted, every hungry mouth that
is fed, every poor soul, sick or in prison, who is visited.

That is the joy of your Lord--to show mercy; and that must be your
joy too, if you wish to enter into His joy.  Surely that is plain.
You must rejoice in doing the same work that He rejoices in, and
then His joy and yours will be the same; then you will enter into
His joy, and He will enter into yours; then, as St. John says, you
will dwell in Christ, and Christ in you, because you love the
brethren; and you will hear through all eternity the blessed words,
'Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these little ones,
ye did it unto Me.'



SERMON XXI.  TOLERATION



[Preached at Bideford, 1854]

Philippians iii. 15, 16.  And if in any thing ye shall be otherwise
minded, God shall reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, whereto we
have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the
same thing.

My friends, allow me to speak a few plain and honest words, ere we
part, on a matter which is near to, and probably important to, many
of us here.  We all know how the Christian Church has in all ages
been torn in pieces by religious quarrels; we all know too well how
painfully these religious quarrels have been brought home to our
very doors and hearts of late.

Now, we all deplore, or profess to deplore, these differences and
controversies.  But we may do that in two ways:  we may say, 'I am
very sorry that all Christians do not think alike,' when all we mean
is, 'I am very sorry that all Christians do not think just as I do,
for I am right and infallible, whosoever else is wrong.'  The fallen
heart of man is too apt to say that, my friends, in its pride and
narrowness, and while it cries out against the Pope of Rome, sets
itself up as Pope in his stead.

But there is surely another and a better way of deploring these
differences:  and that is, to say to oneself, 'I am sorry, bitterly
sorry, that Christians cannot differ without quarrelling and hating
one another over and above.'  And then comes the deeper home-
thought, 'And how much more sorry I am that I myself cannot differ
from my fellow-Christians without growing angry with them,
suspecting them, despising them, treating them as if they were not
my fellow-Christians at all.'  Yes, my friends, this is what we have
to do first when we think of religious controversies, to examine our
own hearts and deeds and words; to see whether we too have not been
making bitterness more bitter, and, as the old proverb says,
'stirring the fire with a sword;' and to repent humbly and utterly
of every harsh word, hasty judgment, ungenerous suspicion, as sins,
not only against men, but against God the Father of Lights, who
worketh in each of His children to will and to do of His good
pleasure.

But some will say, 'We cannot give up what we believe to be right
and true.'  God forbid that you should try to do so, my friends; for
if you really believe it, you cannot, even if you try; and by trying
you will only make yourselves dishonest.  But does not that hold as
good of the man who differs from you?  God will not surely lay down
one law for you, and another for him?  'But we are right, and he is
wrong.'  Be it so.  You do not surely mean that you are quite right;
perfect and infallible?  You mean that you are right on the whole,
and as far as you see.  And how can you tell but that he is right on
the whole, and as far as he sees?  You will answer that both cannot
be right; that yes and no cannot be both true; that a thing cannot
be black and white also.

My friends, my friends--but where is the religious controversy, the
two sides whereof are as clearly opposite to each other as yes and
no, black and white?  I know none now; I have hardly found one in
the records of the Protestant Church since first Luther and our
Reformers protested against Romish idolatry.  On that last matter
there should be no doubt, as long as the first two commandments
stand in the Decalogue; but, with that exception, it would be
difficult to find a dispute in which the truth lay altogether with
one party.  The truth rather lies, in general, not so much halfway
between the two combatants, as in some third place, which neither of
them sees; which perhaps God does not intend them to see in this
life, while He leaves his servants each to work out some one side of
Christian truth, dividing to every man severally as He will,
according to the powers of each mind, and the needs of each
situation.

True we have the infallible rule of Scripture:  but are our own
interpretations of it so sure to be infallible?  Inspired, infinite,
inexhaustible as it is, can we pretend to have fathomed all its
abysses, to have comprehended all its boundless treasures?  The
pretence is folly.  True, again, it contains all things necessary to
salvation; and those so plainly set forth, that he who runs may
read, and the wayfaring man, though poor, shall not err therein.
And yet does it not contain things whereof even St. Paul himself
said, that he only knew in part, and prophesied in part, and saw as
through a glass darkly; and are we to suppose that they are among
the truths necessary to salvation?  Now are not the points about
which there has been, and is still, most dispute, just of this very
number?  Do they belong to the simple fundamental truths of the
Gospel?  No.  Are they such plain matters that the wayfaring man,
though poor, can make up his mind on them for himself?  No.  Are
they one of them laid down directly in Scripture, like the Ten
Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, or the Creeds?  No.  They are every
one, as it seems to me, whether they be right or wrong, abstruse
deductions, delicate theories, built up on single and obscure texts.
Surely, if they had been necessary for salvation, the Lord would
have spoken on them in a tone and in words about which there should
be no more mistake than about the thunders of Sinai, and the tables
of stone fresh from the finger-mark of God.  And He has spoken to
us, my friends, on other matters, if not on these.  His promises are
clear enough, and short enough, though high as heaven and wide as
the universe.  There is one God, and one Mediator between God and
man, the man Christ Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God; and
whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; and if
any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins.  And again, 'If
any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and
upbraideth not, and he shall receive it.'   'For if ye, being evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children, much more shall your
Heavenly Father give His Holy Spirit to them who ask Him.'

These are God's promises--simple and clear enough:  and what are
God's demands?  Are they numerous, intricate, burdensome, a yoke
which neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?  God forbid
again!--'He hath showed thee, oh man, what is good.  And what doth
the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to
walk humbly with thy God?'  And lest thou shouldest mistake in the
least the meaning of these words, He hath showed thee all this, and
more, by a living example fairer than all the sons of men, and
through lips full of grace, in the blessed life and blessed death of
His Son Jesus Christ, the brightness of His glory, and the express
image of His person.  To this, at least, we have already attained.
Let us walk by this rule, let us all mind this same thing, and if in
anything else we are differently minded, God in His own good time
will reveal even that to us.

Is not this enough, my friends?  Then why should we bite and tear
each other about that which is over and above this?  If any man
believes this, and acts on it, let us hail him as a brother.  After
all, let our differences be what they will, have we not one Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all,
and through all, and in us all?  If this is not bond enough between
man and man, what bond would we have?  Oh, my friends, when we
consider this our little life, how full of ignorance it is and
darkness; within us, rebellion, inconstancy, confusion, daily sins
and shortcomings; and without us, disappointment, fear of
loneliness, loss of friends, loss of all which makes life worth
having,--who are we that we should deny proudly one single tie which
binds us to any other human being?  Who are we that we should refuse
one hand stretched out to grasp our own?  Who are we that we should
say, 'Stand back, for I am holier than thou?'  Who are we that we
should judge another? to his own master let him stand or fall--'yea,
and he shall stand,' says the Apostle, 'for God is able to make him
stand.'

Think of those last words, my friends, they are strong and
startling; but we must not shrink from them.  They tell us that God
may be as near those whom we heap with hard names, as He is near to
us; that He may intend that they should triumph, not over us, but
with us over evil.  And if God be with them, who dare be against
them?  Shall we be more dainty than God?  And therefore I have never
been able to hear, without a shudder, words which I have heard, and
from really Christian men too:  'I can wish well to a pious man of a
different denomination from mine; I can honour and admire the fruits
of God's Spirit in him; but I cannot co-operate with him.'  When I
hear such language from really good men, I confess I am puzzled.  I
have no doubt that their reasons seem to them very sound; but what
they are I cannot conceive.  I cannot conceive why I should not hold
out the right hand of fellowship and brotherhood to every man who
fears God and works righteousness, of whatsoever denomination he may
be.  We believe the Apostles' Creed, surely?  Then think of the
meaning of that one word, The Holy Spirit.  To whom are we to
attribute any man's good deeds, except to the Holy Spirit?  We dare
not say that he does them by an innate and natural virtue of his
own, for that would be to fall at once into the Pelagian heresy;
neither dare we attribute his good deeds to an evil spirit, and say,
'However good they may look, they must be bad, for he belongs to a
denomination who cannot have God's Spirit.'  We dare not; for that
would be to approach fearfully near to the unpardonable sin itself,
the sin against the Holy Ghost, the bigotry which says, 'He casteth
out devils by the Prince of the devils.'  Surely if we be
Christians, and Churchmen, we confess (for the Bible and the Prayer-
book declare) that every good deed of man comes down from the One
Fountain of Good, from God, the Father of Lights, by the inspiration
of His Holy Spirit.

Then think, my friends, think what words we have said.  We confess
that the great, absolute, almighty, eternal God, in whose hand suns
and stars, ages and generations, hell and heaven, and all which is
and has been, and ever will be, are but as a grain of sand; who has
but to take away His breath, and the whole universe would become
nothing and nowhere; the utterly holy and righteous God, who is of
purer eyes than to behold iniquity, who charges His angels with
folly, and the heavens are not clean in His sight--we confess, I
say, that this great God has condescended to visit that man's soul,
and cherish it, and teach it, and shape it (be it ever so little)
into His own likeness:  and shall we dare to stand aloof from him
from whom God does not stand aloof?  Shall we refuse to walk with
one who walks with God?  Shall we refuse to work with one who is a
fellow-worker with God, to love one whom God loves, to take by the
hand one whose guest God has become?  Shall we be more dainty than
God? more fastidious than God? more righteous than God? more
separate from sinners than God?  Oh, my friends, let us pray that we
may love God better, and know His likeness more clearly; that we may
be more ready to recognise, and admire, and welcome every, even the
smallest trace of that likeness in any human being, remembering that
it is the likeness of Christ, who was not merely The Teacher of all
in every nation who fear God and work righteousness, but the Saviour
who ate and drank with publicans and sinners:  and then we shall be
more careful how we call unclean what God Himself has cleansed with
His own presence, His own grace, His own quickening and renewing and
sanctifying Spirit.

Be sure, be sure, my friends, that in proportion as we really love
the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall love those who love Him, be it in
never so clumsy or mistaken a fashion; and love those too whom He
loved enough to die for them, and whom He loves now enough to teach
and strengthen.  We shall say to them, not 'Wherein do we differ?'
but 'Wherein do we agree?'  Not, 'Because I cannot worship with you,
therefore I will not work with you;' but rather, 'I wish that I
could worship with you; I will whenever and wherever I can, as far
as you allow me, as far as the law allows me, as far as your worship
is not in my eyes an actually sinful thing:  but, be that as it may,
we can at least do together something better even than worshipping,
and that is, working.  We can surely do good together.  Together,
let our denomination or party be what it may, we can feed the
hungry, clothe the naked, reform the prisoner, humanize the
degraded, save yearly the lives of thousands by labouring for the
public health, and educate the minds and morals of the masses,
though our religious differences (shame on us that it should be so!)
force us to part when we begin to talk to them about the world to
come.'

For are we not brothers after all?  Has not God made us of one
blood, English men, with English hearts?  Has not Christ redeemed us
with one and the same sacrifice?  Has not the Holy Spirit given us
one and the same desire of doing good?  And shall we not use that
spirit hand in hand?  Look, look at the opportunities of doing good
which are around you; look at God's field of good works, white
already to the harvest; and the labourers are few.  Shall these few,
instead of going manfully to work, stand idly quarrelling about the
shape of their instruments, and their favourite modes of using them?
God forbid!  True, there are errors against which we are bound to
protest to the uttermost; but how few?  The one real enemy we have
all to fight is sin--evil-doing.  If any man or doctrine makes men
worse--makes men do worse deeds, protest then, if you will, and
spare not, and shrink not:  for sin must be of the Devil, whatever
else is not.  And therefore we are bound to protest against any
doctrine which parts man from God, and, under whatsoever pretence of
reverence or purity, draws again the veil between him and his
Heavenly Father, and denies him free access to the Throne of Grace,
and the feet of Jesus, that he may carry thither his own sins, his
own doubts, his own sorrows, and speak (wondrous condescension of
redeeming grace!) speak with God face to face, and yet live.  For
this we must protest; for this we must die, if needs be; for if we
lose this, we lose all which our reforming forefathers won for us at
the stake, ay, we lose our own souls; for we lose righteousness and
strength, and the power to do the will of God.

For to shut a man out from free access to God and Christ is to make
him certainly false, dishonest, cowardly, degraded, slavish, and
sinful; as modern Popery has made, and always will make, those over
whom it really gains power.  This is the root of our hereditary
protest against Popery; not merely because we do not agree with
certain of its doctrines, but because we know from experience, that
as now taught by the Jesuits, with whom it has identified itself,
its general tendency is to make men bad men, ignorant, dishonest,
rebellious; unworthy citizens of a free and loyal state.

And there are practices against which congregations have a right to
protest, not only as Christians, but as free Englishmen.
Congregations have a right to protest against any minister who
introduces obsolete ceremonies which empty his church and drive away
his people.  Those ceremonies may be quite harmless in themselves,
as I really believe most of them are; many of them may be beautiful,
and, if properly understood, useful, as I think they are; but a
thing may be good in itself, and yet become bad by being used at a
wrong time, and in a way which produces harm.  And it is shocking,
to say the least, to see churches emptied and parishes thrown into
war for the sake of such matters.  The lightest word which can be
used for such conduct is, pedantry; but I fear at times lest the
Lord in heaven should be using a far more awful word, and when He
sees weak brethren driven from the fold of the Church by the self-
will and obstinacy of the very men who profess to desire to bring
all into the Church, as the only place where salvation is to be
found,--I fear, I say, when I see such deeds, lest the Lord should
repeat against them His own awful words:  'If any man scandalize one
of these little ones who believeth on Me, it were better for him
that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were
drowned in the depths of the sea.'  What sadder mistake?  Those who
have sworn to seek out Christ's lambs scattered up and down this
wicked world, shall they be the very ones to frighten those lambs
out of the fold, instead of alluring them back into it?  Shall the
shepherd play the part, not even of the hireling who flees and
leaves the sheep to themselves, but of the very wolf who scatters
the flock?  God forbid!  The Church, like the Sabbath, was made for
man, my friends:  not man for the Church; and the Son of Man, as He
is Lord of the Sabbath, is Lord of the Church, and will have mercy
in its dealings rather than sacrifice.  The minister, my friends,
was made for the people:  and not the people for the minister.  What
else does the very name 'minister' mean?  Not a lord who has
dominion, but a servant, a servant to all, who must give up again
and again his private notions of what he thinks best in itself for
the sake of what will be best for his flock; who must be, like St.
Paul, a Jew to the Jews; under the law to those who are still under
the law; and yet again without law to those who are without law
(though not without law to God, but under the law to Christ); weak
with the weak; strong with the strong; that he may gain men of all
sorts of opinions and characters by agreeing with them as far as he
honestly can, and showing his sympathy with each as much as he can;
and so become all things to all men, that he may by all means save
some.  Oh, my friends, who can read honestly that glorious First
Epistle to the Corinthians and not see how a man may have the most
intense earnestness, the strongest doctrinal certainty, and yet at
the same time the greatest freedom, and charity, and liberality
about minor matters of ceremonies and Church arrangements, and
practical methods of usefulness; glad even that Christ be preached
by his enemies, and out of spite to him, because any way Christ is
preached?

But, my friends, if it is the right of free Englishmen to protest
against such doings, how shall it be done?  Surely in gentleness,
calmness, reverence, as by men who know that they are standing on
holy ground, and dealing with sacred things, before the Throne of
God, and beneath the eye of Jesus Christ.  Not surely, as it has
been too often done, in bitterness, and wrath, and clamour, and
evil-speaking, with really unjust suspicions, exaggerations,
slanders, (and those, too, anonymous,) in the columns of the public
prints.  My friends, these are not God's weapons.  Not such is
Ithuriel's magic spear, the very touch of which unmasks falsehood.
This is to try to cast out Satan by Satan, to make evil worse by
fighting it with fresh evil.  Oh, my friends, if there is one
counsel which I would press on all here more earnestly than another,
it is this--never, never, howsoever great may be the temptation, to
indulge in anonymous attacks on any human being.  No man has a right
to do it who prays daily to his Father in heaven, Lead us not into
temptation.  For it is to lead oneself into temptation, and that too
sore to resist; into the temptation to say something which one dare
not say, and ought not to say, were one's name known; the temptation
to forget not only the charity of Christians, but even the
courtesies of civilized life; and to shoot, from behind the safe
hedge of anonymousness, coward and envenomed shafts, of which we
should be ashamed, did the world know that they were ours; of which
we shall surely be ashamed in that great day, when the secrets of
all hearts shall be disclosed.  I speak strongly:  but only because
I know by bitter experience the terrible truth of my own words.

And consider, my friends, can any good result come from handling
sacred matters with such harsh and fierce hands as they have been
handled of late?  For ourselves, such evil tempers only excite,
irritate, blind us:  they prevent our doing justice to the opposite
side--(I speak of all parties)--they put us into an unwholesome
state of suspicion, and tempt us to pass harsh judgments upon men as
righteous, and perhaps far more righteous, than ourselves:  they
stir up our pride to special plead our case, to make the best of our
own side, and the worst of our opponents':  they defile our very
prayers; till, when we ought to be praying God to bless all mankind,
we catch ourselves unawares calling on Him to curse our enemies.

For those who are without--for the infidel, the profligate, the
careless--oh, what a scandal to them!  What an excuse for them to
blaspheme the holy name whereby we are called, and ask, as of old,
'Is this then the Gospel of Peace?  See how these Christians hate
one another!'

While for the young, oh, my friends, what a scandal, again, to them!
If you had seen (as I have) pious parents destroying in their own
childrens' minds all faith, all reverence for holy things, by mixing
themselves up in religious controversies, and indulging by their own
firesides in fierce denunciations of men no worse than themselves;--
if you will watch (as you may) young people taking refuge, some in
utter frivolity, saying, 'What am I to believe?  When religionists
have settled what religion is, it will be time enough for me to
think of it:  meanwhile, let me eat and drink, for to-morrow I
die;'--and others, the children of strong Protestant parents, taking
refuge in the apostate Church of Rome, and saying, 'If Englishmen do
not know what to believe, Rome does; if I cannot find certainty in
Protestantism, I can in Popery;'--if you will consider honestly and
earnestly these sad tragedies, you will look on it as a sacred duty
to the children whom God has given you, to keep aloof as much as
possible from all those points on which Christians differ, and make
your children feel from their earliest years that there are points,
and those the great, vital root points, on which all more or less
agree, which many members of the Romish Church have held, and, I
doubt not, now hold, as firmly as Protestants,--adoption by one
common Father, justification by the blood of one common Saviour,
sanctification by one common Holy Spirit.

And believe me, my friends, that just in proportion as you delight
in, and live by, these great doctrines, all controversies will
become less and less important in your eyes.  The more you value the
living body of Christianity, the less you will think of its
temporary garments; the more you feel the power of God's Spirit, the
less scrupulous will you be about the peculiar form in which He may
manifest Himself.  Personal trust in Christ Jesus, personal love to
Christ Jesus, personal belief that He and He only, is governing this
poor diseased and confused world; that He is really fighting against
all evil in it; that He really rules all nations, and fashions the
hearts of all of them, and understands all their works, and has
appointed them their times and the bounds of their habitation, if
haply they may feel after Him and find Him:  personal and living
belief that the just and loving Lord Christ reigneth, be the peoples
never so unquiet;--this, this will keep your minds clear, and sober,
and charitable, and will make you turn with disgust from platform
squabbles and newspaper controversies, to do the duty which lies
nearest you; to walk soberly and righteously with your God, and
train up your children in His faith and fear, not merely to be
scholars, not merely to be devotees, but to be Christian Englishmen;
courteous and gentle, and yet manful and self-restraining; fearing
God and regarding man; growing up healthy under that solemn sense of
national duty which is the only safeguard of national freedom.

And, meanwhile, you will leave all who differ from you in the hands
of a God who wills their salvation far more than you can do; who
accepts, in every nation, those who fear Him and work righteousness;
who is merciful in this--that He rewards every man according to his
work; and who, if our brothers be otherwise minded from us, will
reveal even that to them, if we be right:  or, again, to us, if they
be right.  For we may have to learn from them, as well as they from
us; and both have to learn much from God, in the day when all
controversies and doubts shall vanish like a cloud; when we shall
see no longer in part, and through a glass darkly, but face to face;
while all things shall be bright in the sunshine of God's presence
and of the countenance of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.



SERMON XXII.  PUBLIC SPIRIT



(Preached at Bideford, 1855.)

1 Corinthians xii. 25, 26.  That there should be no division in the
body; but that the members should have the same care, one of
another.  And whether one member suffer, all suffer with it; or
whether one member be honoured, all rejoice with it.

I have been asked to preach in behalf of the Provident Society of
this town.  I shall begin by asking you to think over with me a
matter which may seem at first sight to have very little to do with
you or with a provident society, but which, nevertheless, I believe
has very much to do with both, and is full of wholesome spiritual
instruction for us all.

Did it ever happen to any of you, to see a mob of several thousands
put to instant flight by a mere handful of soldiers?  And did you
ever ask yourself how that apparent miracle could come to pass?  The
first answer which occurred to you, perhaps, was, that the soldiers
were well armed, and the mob was not:  but soon, I am sure, you felt
that you were doing the soldiers an injustice; that they would have
behaved just as bravely if every man in that mob had been as well
armed as they, and have resisted till they were overpowered by mere
numbers.  You felt, I am sure, that there was something in the
hearts and spirits of those soldiers which there was not in the
hearts of the mob; that though the mob might be boiling over with
the greediest passions, the fiercest fury, while the soldiers were
calm, cheerful, and caring for nothing but doing their duty, yet
that there was a thought within them which was stronger than all the
rage and greediness of the thousands whom they faced; that, in
short, the seeming miracle was a moral and a spiritual miracle.

What, then, is this wonder-working thought which makes the soldier
strong?

Courage, you answer, and the sense of duty.  True; but what has
called out the sense of duty?  What has inspired the courage?  There
was a time, perhaps, when each of those soldiers was no braver or
more steady than the mob in front of them.  Has it never happened to
you to know some young country lad, both before and after he has
become a soldier?  Look at him in his native village (if you will
let me draw for you the sketch of a history, which, alas! is the
history of thousands), perhaps one of the worst and idlest lads in
it--unwilling to work steadily, haunting the public-house and the
worst of company; wandering out at night to poach and caring for
nothing but satisfying his gross animal appetites; afraid to look
you in the face, hardly able to give an intelligible, certainly not
a civil answer; his countenance expressing only vacancy, sensuality,
cunning, suspicion, utter want of self-respect.

It is a sad sight, but how common a sight, even in this favoured
land!

At last he vanishes; he has been engaged in some drunken affray, or
in some low intrigue, and has fled for fear of the law, and enlisted
as a soldier.

A year or two passes, and you meet the same lad again--if indeed he
is the same.  For a strange change has come over him:  he walks
erect, he speaks clearly, he looks you boldly in the face, with eyes
full of intelligence and self-respect; he is become civil and
courteous now; he touches his cap to you 'like a soldier;' he can
afford now to be respectful to others, because he respects himself,
and expects you to respect him.  You talk to him, and find that the
change is not merely outward, but inward; not owing to mere
mechanical drill but to something which has been going on in his
heart; and ten to one, the first thing that he begins to talk to you
about, with honest pride, is his regiment.  His regiment.  Yes,
there is the secret which has worked these wonders; there is the
talisman which has humanized and civilized and raised from the mire
the once savage boor.  He belongs to a regiment; in one word, he has
become the member of a body.

The member of a body, in which if one member suffers, all suffer
with it; if one member be honoured, all rejoice with it.  A body,
which has a life of its own, and a government of its own, a duty of
its own, a history of its own, an allegiance to a sovereign, all
which are now his life, his duty, his history, his allegiance; he
does not now merely serve himself and his own selfish lusts:  he
serves the Queen.  His nature is not changed, but the thought that
he is the member of an honourable body has raised him above his
nature.  If he forgets that, and thinks only of himself, he will
become selfish sluttish, drunken, cowardly, a bad soldier; as long
as he remembers it, he is a hero.  He can face mobs now, and worse
than mobs:  he can face hunger and thirst, fatigue, danger, death
itself, because he is the member of a body.  For those know little,
little of human nature and its weakness, who fancy that mere brute
courage, as of an angry lion, will ever avail, or availed a few
short weeks ago, to spur our thousands up the steeps of Alma, or
across the fatal plain of Balaklava, athwart the corpses of their
comrades, upon the deadly throats of Russian guns.  A nobler
feeling, a more heavenly thought was needed (and when needed, thanks
to God, it came!) to keep each raw lad, nursed in the lap of peace,
true to his country and his Queen through the valley of the shadow
of death.  Not mere animal fierceness:  but that tattered rag which
floated above his head, inscribed with the glorious names of Egypt
or Corunna, Toulouse or Waterloo, that it was which raised him into
a hero:  he had seen those victories; the men who conquered there
were dead long since:  but the regiment still lived, its history
still lived, its honour lived, and that history, that honour were
his, as well as those old dead warriors':  he had fought side by
side with them in spirit, though not in the flesh; and now his turn
was come, and he must do as they did, and for their sakes, and count
his own life a worthless thing for the sake of the body which he
belonged to:  he, but two years ago the idle, selfish country lad,
now stumbling cheerful on in the teeth of the iron hail, across
ground slippery with his comrades' blood, not knowing whether the
next moment his own blood might not swell the ghastly stream.  What
matter?  They might kill him, but they could not kill the regiment:
it would live on and conquer; ay, and should conquer, if his life
could help on its victory; and then its honour would be his, its
reward be his, even when his corpse lay pierced with wounds,
stiffening beneath a foreign sky.

Here, my friends, is one example of the blessed power of fellow
feeling, public spirit, the sense of belonging to a body whose
members have not merely a common interest, but a common duty, a
common honour.

This Christian country, thank God! gives daily many another example
of the same:  and every place, and every station affords to each one
of us opportunities,--more, alas, I fear, than we shall ever take
full advantage of:  but I have chosen the case of the soldier, not
merely because it is perhaps the most striking and affecting, but
because I wish to see, and trust in God that I shall see, those who
remain at home in safety emulating the public spirit and self-
sacrifice which our soldiers are showing abroad; and by sacrifices
more peaceful and easy, but still well-pleasing unto God, showing
that they too have been raised above selfishness, by the glorious
thought that they are members of a body.

For, are we not members of a body, my friends?  Are we not members
of the Body of bodies, members of Christ, children of God,
inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven?  Members of Christ--we, and the
poor for whom I plead, as well as we; perhaps, considering their
many trials and our few trials, more faithfully and loyally by far
than we are.  There are some here, I doubt not, to whom that word,
that argument, is enough:  to whom it is enough to say, Remember
that the Lord whom you love loves that shivering, starving wretch as
well as He loves you, to open and exhaust at once their heart, their
purse, their labour of love.  God's blessing be upon all such!  But
it would be hypocrisy in me, my friends, to speak to this, or any
congregation, as if all were of that temper of mind.  It is not one
in ten, alas! in the present divided state of religious parties, who
feels the mere name of Christ enough of a bond to make him sacrifice
himself for his fellow Christians, as a soldier does for his fellow
soldiers.  Not one in ten, alas! feels that he owes the same
allegiance to Christ as the soldier does to his Queen; that the
honour of Christianity is his honour, the history of Christianity
his history, the life of Christianity his life.  Would that it were
so:  but it is not so.  And I must appeal to feelings in you less
wide, honourable and righteous though they are:  I must appeal to
your public spirit as townsmen of this place.

I have a right as a clergyman to do so:  I have a duty as a
clergyman to do so.  For your being townsmen of this place is not a
mere material accident depending on your living in one house instead
of another.  It is a spiritual matter; it is a question of eternity.
Your souls and spirits influence each other; your tastes, opinions,
tempers, habits, make those of your neighbours better or worse; you
feel it in yourselves daily.  Look at it as a proof that, whether
you will or not, you are one body, of which all the members must
more or less suffer and rejoice together; that you have a common
weal, a common interest; that God has knit you together; that you
cannot part yourselves even if you will; and that you can be happy
and prosperous only by acknowledging each other as brothers, and by
doing to each other as you would they should do unto you.

It may be hard at times to bring this thought home to our minds:
but it is none the less true because we forget it; and if we do not
choose to bring it home to our own minds, it will be sooner or later
brought home to them whether we choose or not.

For bear in mind, that St. Paul does not say, if one member suffers,
all the rest ought to suffer with it:  he says that they do suffer
with it.  He does not say merely, that we ought to feel for our
fellow townsmen; he says, that God has so tempered the body together
as to force one member to have the same care of the others as of
itself; that if we do not care to feel for them, we shall be made to
feel with them.  One limb cannot choose whether or not it will feel
the disease of another limb.  If one limb be in pain, the whole body
_must_ be uneasy, whether it will or not.  And if one class in a
town, or parish, or county, be degraded, or in want, the whole town,
or parish, or county, must be the worse for it.  St. Paul is not
preaching up sentimental sympathy:  he is telling you of a plain
fact.  He is not saying, 'It is a very fine and saintly thing, and
will increase your chance of heaven, to help the poor.'  He is
saying, 'If you neglect the poor, you neglect yourself; if you
degrade the poor, you degrade yourself.  His poverty, his
carelessness, his immorality, his dirt, his ill-health, will punish
_you_; for you and he are members of the same body, knit together
inextricably for weal or woe, by the eternal laws according to which
the Lord Jesus Christ has constituted human society; and if you
break those laws, they will avenge themselves.'--My friends, do we
not see them avenge themselves daily?  The slave-holder refuses to
acknowledge that his slave is a member of the same body as himself;
but he does not go unpunished:  the degradation to which he has
brought his slave degrades him, by throwing open to him. the
downward path of lust, laziness, ungoverned and tyrannous tempers,
and the other sins which have in all ages, slowly but surely, worked
the just ruin of slave-holding states.  The sinner is his own
tempter, and the sinner is his own executioner:  he lies in wait for
his own life (says Solomon) when he lies in wait for his brother's.
Do you see the same law working in our own free country?  If you
leave the poor careless and filthy, you can obtain no good servants:
if you leave them profligate, they make your sons profligate also:
if you leave them tempted by want, your property is unsafe:  if you
leave them uneducated, reckless, improvident, you cannot get your
work properly done, and have to waste time and money in watching
your workmen instead of trusting them.  Why, what are all poor-rates
and county-rates, if you will consider, but God's plain proof to us,
that the poor are members of the same body as ourselves; and that if
we will not help them of our own free will, we shall find it
necessary to help them against our will:  that if we will not pay a
little to prevent them becoming pauperized or criminal, we must pay
a great deal to keep them when they have become so?  We may draw a
lesson--and a most instructive one it is--from the city of
Liverpool, in which it was lately proved that crime--and especially
the crime of uneducated boys and girls--had cost, in the last few
years, the city many times more than it would cost to educate,
civilize, and depauperize the whole rising generation of that city,
and had been a tax upon the capital and industry of Liverpool, so
enormous that they would have submitted to it from no Government on
earth; and yet they had been blindly inflicting it upon themselves
for years, simply because they chose to forget that they were their
brothers' keepers.

Look again at preventible epidemics, like cholera.  All the great
towns of England have discovered, what you I fear are discovering
also, that the expense of a pestilence, and of the widows and
orphans which it creates, is far greater than the expense of putting
a town into such a state of cleanliness as would defy the entrance
of the disease.  So it is throughout the world.  Nothing is more
expensive than penuriousness; nothing more anxious than
carelessness; and every duty which is bidden to wait, returns with
seven fresh duties at its back.

Yes, my friends, we are members of a body; and we must realize that
fact by painful experience, if we refuse to realize it in public
spirit and brotherly kindness, and the approval of a good
conscience, and the knowledge that we are living like our Lord and
Master Jesus Christ, who laboured for all but Himself, cared for all
but Himself; who counted not His own life dear to Himself that by
laying it down He might redeem into His own likeness the beings whom
He had made; and who has placed us on this earth, each in his own
station, each in his own parish, that we might follow in His
footsteps, and live by His Spirit, which is the spirit of love and
fellow-feeling, that new and risen life of His, which is the life of
duty, honour, and self-sacrifice.

Yes.  Let us look rather at this brighter side of the question, my
friends, than at the darker.  I will preach the Gospel to you rather
than the Law.  I will appeal to your higher feelings rather than to
your lower; to your love rather than your fear; to your honour
rather than your self-interest.  It will be pleasanter for me:  it
will meet with a more cordial response, I doubt not, from you.

Some dislike appeals to honour.  I cannot, as long as St. Paul
himself appeals to it so often, both in the individual and in
bodies.  His whole Epistle to Philemon is an appeal, most delicate
and graceful, to Philemon's sense of honour--to the thought of what
he owed Paul, of what Paul wished him to repay, not with money, but
with generosity.

And his appeal to the Corinthians is a direct appeal to their
honour:  not to fears of any punishment, or wrath of God, but to the
respect which they owed to themselves as members of a body, the
Church of Corinth; and to the respect which they owed to that body
as a whole, and which they had disgraced by allowing an open scandal
in it.

And his appeal was successful:  they took it just as it was meant;
and he rejoices in the thought that they did so.  'For this, that ye
sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you,
yea, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what
vehement desire, what zeal, what revenge!  In all things you have
approved yourselves to be clear in this matter,'

Noble words, and nobly answered.  My friends, you, too, are members
of a body:  go, and do likewise in the matter of this Society's
failing funds.

* * * * *

May I boldly ask you to alter this to-day?  This, remember, is no
common day.  It is a day of thankfulness.  The thankfulness which
you professed, and I doubt not many of you felt, on Thursday night,
has not evaporated, I trust, by Sunday morning.  You have not yet
forgotten--I trust that there is many a one who will never forget--
what you owe as townsmen of this place, to God who has preserved you
safe through the dangers and sorrows of the past autumn.  You owe
more than one debt to God.  You owe, all England owes, thanks to Him
for the late bounteous harvest, thanks to Him for the present
prosperous seed-time:  think what our state might have been with
scarcity, as well as war, upon us, and pay part of your debt this
day.  You owe a thank-offering for the cessation of the cholera; a
thank-offering for the sparing of your own lives;--pay it now.  You
owe a thank-offering for the glorious victories of our armies:--pay
it now.  You belong, too, to an honourable body, which has a noble
history, and sets you many a noble example; show yourselves worthy
of that body, that history, those examples, now.

And what fitter place than this very church to awaken within you the
thought of duty and of public spirit?--this church which stands as
God's own sign that you are the townsmen, the representatives, ay,
some of you the very descendants, of many a noble spirit of old
time?--this church, in which God's blessing has been invoked on
deeds of patriotism and enterprise, of which the whole world now
bears the fruit?--these walls, in which Elizabeth's heroes, your
ancestors, have prayed before sailing against the Spanish Armada,--
these walls, which saw the baptism of the first red Indian convert,
and the gathering in, as it were, of the firstfruits of the
heathen,--these walls, in which the early settlers of Virginia have
invoked God's blessing on those tiny ventures which were destined to
become the seeds of a mighty nation, and the starting-point of the
United States,--these walls, which still bear the monument of your
heroic townsman Strange, who expended for his plague-stricken
brethren, talents, time, wealth, and at last life itself.  For, to
return, and to apply, I hope, to your consciences, the example of
the soldier with which I began this Sermon:--shall it be only on the
battle-field that the power of fellow-feeling is shown forth?  Shall
public spirit be only strong when it has to destroy, and not when it
has to save and comfort?  God forbid!  Surely you here have a common
corporate life, common history, common allegiance, common interest,
which should inspire you to do your duty, whatsoever it may be, for
the good of your native place, and to show that you feel an
honourable self-respect in the thought that you belong to an ancient
and once famous town, which though it may be outstripped awhile in
the race of commerce, need never be outstripped, if you will be
worthy sons of your worthy ancestors, in that race to which St. Paul
exhorts us; the race of justice and benevolence, the noble rivalry
of noble deeds.

Oh, look, I beseech you, upon this church as its old worshippers,
the forefathers of many of you who sit here this day, were wont to
look on it.  Remember that this church is the sign that you are one
town, one parish, one body; that century after century, this church
has stood to witness to your fathers, and your fathers' fathers,
that all who kneel within these walls are brothers, rich or poor;
that all are children of one Father, redeemed by one Saviour, taught
by one Spirit.  This, this is the blessed truth of which the parish
church is token, as nought else can be--that you are one body,
members one of another, and that God's blessing is on your union and
fellow-feeling; that God smiles on your bearing each other's
burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.  Look on this church,
and do to others as this church witnesses that God has done for you.

And now, some of you may perhaps have been disappointed, some a
little scornful, at my having used so many words about so small a
matter, and talked of battles, legends, heroes of old time, all
merely to induct you to help this Society with a paltry extra thirty
pounds.  Be it so.  I shall be glad if you think so.  If the matter
be so small, it is the more easily done; if the sum be paltry, it is
the more easily found.  If my reasons are very huge and loud-
sounding, and the result at which I aim very light, the result ought
to follow all the more certainly; for believe me, my friends, the
reasons are good ones, Scriptural ones, practical ones, and ought to
produce the result.  I give you the strongest arguments for showing
your Christian, English public spirit; and then I ask you to show it
in a very small matter.  But be sure that to do what I ask of you to
do to-day is just as much your duty, small as it may seem, as it
would be, were you soldiers, to venture your lives in the cause of
your native land.  Duty, be it in a small matter or a great, is duty
still; the command of Heaven, the eldest voice of God.  And, believe
me, my friends, that it is only they who are faithful in a few
things who will be faithful over many things; only they who do their
duty in everyday and trivial matters who will fulfil them on great
occasions.  We all honour and admire the heroes of Alma and
Balaklava; we all trust in God that we should have done our duty
also in their place.  The best test of that, my friends, is, can we
do our duty in our own place?  Here the duty is undeniable, plain,
easy.  Here is a Society instituted for one purpose, which has, in
order to exist, to appropriate the funds destined for quite a
different purpose.  Both purposes are excellent; but they are
different.  The Offertory money is meant for the sick, the widow,
and the orphan; for those who _cannot_ help themselves.  The
Provident Society is meant to encourage those who _can_ help
themselves to do so.  Every farthing, therefore, taken from the
Offertory money is taken from the widow and the orphan.  I ask you
whether this is right and just?  I appeal, not merely to your
prudence and good sense, in asking you to promote prudence and good
sense among the poor by the Provident Society; I appeal to your
honour and compassion, on behalf of the sick, the widow, and orphan,
that they may have the full enjoyment of the funds intended for
them.  Again, I say, this may seem a small matter to you, and I may
seem to be using too many words about it.  Small?  Nothing is small
which affects not merely the temporal happiness, but the eternal
welfare, of an immortal soul.  My friends, my friends, if any one of
you had to support yourself and your children on four, seven, or
even (mighty sum!) ten shillings a week, it would not seem a small
matter to you then.  A few shillings more or less would be to you
_then_ a treasure won or lost; a matter to you of whether you should
keep a house over your children's heads, whether you should keep
shoes upon their feet, and clothes upon their backs; whether you
should see them, as they grew up, tempted by want into theft or
profligacy; whether you should rise in the morning free enough from
the sickening load of anxiety, and the care which eats out the core
of life, and makes men deaf and blind (as it does many a one) to all
pleasant sights, and sounds, and thoughts, till the very sunlight
seems blotted out of heaven by that black cloud of care--care--care--
which rises with you in the morning, and dogs you at your work all
day (even if you are happy enough to have work), and sits on your
pillow all night long, ready to whisper in your ear each time you
wake; '_Be_ anxious and troubled about many things!  What wilt thou
eat, and what wilt thou drink, and wherewithal wilt thou be clothed?
For thou hast _no_ Heavenly Father, none above who knowest that thou
needest these things before thou askest Him.'  Oh, my friends, if
you had felt but for a single day, that terrible temptation, the
temptation of poverty, and debt, and care, which leads so many a one
to sell their souls for a few paltry pence, to them of as much value
as pounds would be to you;--if, I say, you had once felt that
temptation in all its weight, you would not merely sacrifice, as I
ask you now to do, some superfluity, which you will never miss; you
would, I do believe, if you had human hearts within you, be ready to
sacrifice even the comforts of life to prevent him whose heart may
be breaking slowly, not a hundred yards from your own door, (and
more hearts break in this world than you fancy, my friends,) from
passing through that same dark shadow of want, and care, and
temptation where the Devil stands calling to the poor man all day
long, 'Fall down, and worship me; and I will relieve those wants of
thine which man neglects!'

I have no more to say.  I leave the rest to your own good feeling,
as townsmen of this ancient and honourable place,--remembering
always who it was who said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'





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