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´╗┐Title: Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII (of 8)
Author: Newman, John Henry, 1801-1890
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII (of 8)" ***

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VII (OF 8)***




Formerly Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford

In Eight Volumes


New Edition

Longmans, Green, and Co.
and New York: 15 East 16th Street



The Lapse of Time.

"_Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is
no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither
thou goest._"--Eccles. ix. 10


Religion a Weariness to the Natural Man.

"_He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no
beauty that we should desire Him._"--Isaiah liii. 2


The World our Enemy.

"_We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in
wickedness._"--1 John v. 19


The Praise of Men

"_They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God._"--John xii.


Temporal Advantages.

"_We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith
content._"--1 Tim. vi. 7, 8


The Season of Epiphany.

"_This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested
forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him._"--John ii. 11


The Duty of Self-Denial.

"_Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of
his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child._"--Psalm cxxxi. 2


The Yoke of Christ.

"_Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in
heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is easy, and
My burden is light._"--Matt. xi. 29, 30


Moses the Type of Christ.

"_The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of
thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken._"--Deut.
xviii. 15


The Crucifixion.

"_He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He
is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers
is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth._"--Isaiah liii. 7


Attendance on Holy Communion.

"_Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life._"--John v. 40


The Gospel Feast.

"_When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto
Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may
eat?_"--John vi. 5


Love of Religion, a New Nature.

"_If we lie dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
Him._"--Romans vi. 8


Religion Pleasant to the Religious.

"_O taste and see how gracious the Lord is: blessed is the man that
trusteth in Him._"--Psalm xxxiv. 8


Mental Prayer.

"_Pray without ceasing._"--1 Thess. v. 17


Infant Baptism.

"_Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into
the Kingdom of God._"--John iii. 5


The Unity of the Church.

"_And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I
will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it._"--Matt. xvi. 18


Stedfastness in the Old Paths.

"_Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old
paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest
for your souls._"--Jer. vi. 16


The Lapse of Time.

"_Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is
no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither
thou goest._"--Eccles. ix. 10.

Solomon's advice that we should do whatever our hand findeth to do with
our might, naturally directs our thoughts to that great work in which
all others are included, which will outlive all other works, and for
which alone we really are placed here below--the salvation of our
souls.  And the consideration of this great work, which must be done
with all our might, and completed before the grave, whither we go,
presents itself to our minds with especial force at the commencement of
a new year.  We are now entering on a fresh stage of our life's
journey; we know well how it will end, and we see where we shall stop
in the evening, though we do not see the road.  And we know in what our
business lies while we travel, and that it is important for us to do it
with our "might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor
wisdom, in the grave."  This is so plain, that nothing need be said in
order to convince us that it is true.  We know it well; the very
complaint which numbers commonly make when told of it, is that they
know it already, that it is nothing new, that they have no need to be
told, and that it is tiresome to hear the same thing said over and over
again, and impertinent in the person who repeats it.  Yes; thus it is
that sinners silence their conscience, by quarrelling with those who
appeal to it; they defend themselves, if it may be called a defence, by
pleading that they already know what they should do and do not, that
they know perfectly well that they are living at a distance from God,
and are in peril of eternal ruin; that they know they are making
themselves children of Satan, and denying the Lord that bought them,
and want no one to tell them so.  Thus they witness against themselves.

However, though we already know well enough that we have much to do
before we die, yet (if we will but attend) it may be of use to hear the
fact dwelt upon; because by thinking over it steadily and seriously, we
may possibly, through God's grace, gain some deep conviction of it;
whereas while we keep to general terms, and confess that this life is
important and is short, in the mere summary way in which men commonly
confess it, we have, properly speaking, no knowledge of that great
truth at all.

Consider, then, what it is to die; "there is no work, device,
knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave."  Death puts an end absolutely and
irrevocably to all our plans and works, and it is inevitable.  The
Psalmist speaks to "high and low, rich and poor, one with another."
"No man can deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for him."
Even "wise men die, as well as the ignorant and foolish, and leave
their riches for other[1]."  Difficult as we may find it to bring it
home to ourselves, to realize it, yet as surely as we are here
assembled together, so surely will every one of us, sooner or later,
one by one, be stretched on the bed of death.  We naturally shrink from
the thought of death, and of its attendant circumstances; but all that
is hateful and fearful about it will be fulfilled in our case, one by
one.  But all this is nothing compared with the consequences implied in
it.  Death stops us; it stops our race.  Men are engaged about their
work, or about their pleasure; they are in the city, or the field; any
how they are stopped; their deeds are suddenly gathered in--a reckoning
is made--all is sealed up till the great day.  What a change is this!
In the words used familiarly in speaking of the dead, they are no more.
They were full of schemes and projects; whether in a greater or humbler
rank, they had their hopes and fears, their prospects, their pursuits,
their rivalries; all these are now come to an end.  One builds a house,
and its roof is not finished; another buys merchandise, and it is not
yet sold.  And all their virtues and pleasing qualities which endeared
them to their friends are, as far as this world is concerned, vanished.
Where are they who were so active, so sanguine, so generous? the
amiable, the modest, and the kind?  We were told that they were dead;
they suddenly disappeared; that is all we know about it.  They were
silently taken from us; they are not met in the seat of the elders, nor
in the assemblies of the people, in the mixed concourse of men, nor in
the domestic retirement which they prized.  As Scripture describes it,
"the wind has passed over them, and they are gone, and their place
shall know them no more."  And they have burst the many ties which held
them; they were parents, brothers, sisters, children, and friends; but
the bond of kindred is broken, and the silver cord of love is loosed.
They have been followed by the vehement grief of tears, and the long
sorrow of aching hearts; but they make no return, they answer not; they
do not even satisfy our wish to know that they sorrow for us as we for
them.  We talk about them thenceforth as if they were persons we do not
know; we talk about them as third persons; whereas they used to be
always with us, and every other thought which was within us was shared
by them.  Or perhaps, if our grief is too deep, we do not mention their
names at all.  And their possessions, too, all fall to others.  The
world goes on without them; it forgets them.  Yes, so it is; the world
contrives to forget that men have souls, it looks upon them all as mere
parts of some great visible system.  This continues to move on; to this
the world ascribes a sort of life and personality.  When one or other
of its members die, it considers them only as falling out of the
system, and as come to nought.  For a minute, perhaps, it thinks of
them in sorrow, then leaves them--leaves them for ever.  It keeps its
eye on things seen and temporal.  Truly whenever a man dies, rich or
poor, an immortal soul passes to judgment; but somehow we read of the
deaths of persons we have seen or heard of, and this reflection never
comes across us.  Thus does the world really cast off men's souls, and
recognizing only their bodies, it makes it appear as if "that which
befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth
them, as the one dieth so dieth the other; yea, they have all one
breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence over a beast, for all is

But let us follow the course of a soul thus casting off the world, and
cast off by it.  It goes forth as a stranger on a journey.  Man seems
to die and to be no more, when he is but quitting us, and is really
beginning to live.  Then he sees sights which before it did not even
enter into his mind to conceive, and the world is even less to him than
he to the world.  Just now he was lying on the bed of sickness, but in
that moment of death what an awful change has come over him!  What a
crisis for him!  There is stillness in the room that lately held him;
nothing is doing there, for he is gone, he now belongs to others; he
now belongs entirely to the Lord who bought him; to Him he returns; but
whether to be lodged safely in His place of hope, or to be imprisoned
against the great Day, that is another matter, that depends on the
deeds done in the body, whether good or evil.  And now what are his
thoughts?  How infinitely important now appears the value of time, now
when it is nothing to him!  Nothing; for though he spend centuries
waiting for Christ, he cannot now alter his state from bad to good, or
from good to bad.  What he dieth that he must be for ever; as the tree
falleth so must it lie.  This is the comfort of the true servant of
God, and the misery of the transgressor.  His lot is cast once and for
all, and he can but wait in hope or in dread.  Men on their death-beds
have declared, that no one could form a right idea of the value of time
till he came to die; but if this has truth in it, how much more truly
can it be said after death!  What an estimate shall we form of time
while we are waiting for judgment!  Yes, it is we--all this, I repeat,
belongs to us most intimately.  It is not to be looked at as a picture,
as a man might read a light book in a leisure hour.  _We_ must die, the
youngest, the healthiest, the most thoughtless; _we_ must be thus
unnaturally torn in two, soul from body; and only united again to be
made more thoroughly happy or to be miserable for ever.

Such is death considered in its inevitable necessity, and its
unspeakable importance--nor can we ensure to ourselves any certain
interval before its coming.  The time may be long; but it may also be
short.  It is plain, a man may die any day; all we can say is, that it
is unlikely that he will die.  But of this, at least, we are certain,
that, come it sooner or later, death is continually on the move towards
us.  We are ever nearer and nearer to it.  Every morning we rise we are
nearer that grave in which there is no work, nor device, than we were.
We are now nearer the grave, than when we entered this Church.  Thus
life is ever crumbling away under us.  What should we say to a man, who
was placed on some precipitous ground, which was ever crumbling under
his feet, and affording less and less secure footing, yet was careless
about it?  Or what should we say to one who suffered some precious
liquor to run from its receptacle into the thoroughfare of men, without
a thought to stop it? who carelessly looked on and saw the waste of it,
becoming greater and greater every minute?  But what treasure can equal
time?  It is the seed of eternity: yet we suffer ourselves to go on,
year after year, hardly using it at all in God's service, or thinking
it enough to give Him at most a tithe or a seventh of it, while we
strenuously and heartily sow to the flesh, that from the flesh we may
reap corruption.  We try how little we can safely give to religion,
instead of having the grace to give abundantly.  "Rivers of water run
down mine eyes, because men keep not Thy law," so says the holy
Psalmist.  Doubtless an inspired prophet saw far more clearly than we
can see, the madness of men in squandering that treasure upon sin,
which is meant to buy their chief good;--but if so, what must this
madness appear in God's sight!  What an inveterate malignant evil is it
in the hearts of the sons of men, that thus leads them to sit down to
eat, and drink, and rise up to play, when time is hurrying on and
judgment coming?  We have been told what He thinks of man's unbelief,
though we cannot enter into the depths of His thoughts.  He showed it
to us in act and deed, as far as we could receive it, when He even sent
His Only-begotten Son into the world as at this time, to redeem us from
the world,--which, most surely, was not lightly done; and we also learn
His thoughts about it from the words of that most merciful Son,--which
most surely were not lightly spoken, "The wicked," He says, "shall go
into everlasting punishment."

Oh that there were such a heart in us that we would fear God and keep
His commandments always!  But it is of no use to speak; men know their
duty--they will not do it.  They say they do not need or wish to be
told it, that it is an intrusion, and a rudeness, to tell them of death
and judgment.  So must it be,--and we, who have to speak to them, must
submit to this.  Speak we must, as an act of duty to God, whether they
will hear, or not, and then must leave our words as a witness.  Other
means for rousing them we have none.  We speak from Christ our gracious
Lord, their Redeemer, who has already pardoned them freely, yet they
will not follow Him with a true heart; and what can be done more?

Another year is now opening upon us; it speaks to the thoughtful, and
is heard by those, who have expectant ears, and watch for Christ's
coming.  The former year is gone, it is dead, there it lies in the
grave of past time, not to decay however, and be forgotten, but kept in
the view of God's omniscience, with all its sins and errors irrevocably
written, till, at length, it will be raised again to testify about us
at the last day; and who among us can bear the thought of his own
doings, in the course of it?--all that he has said and done, all that
has been conceived within his mind, or been acted on, and all that he
has not said and done, which it was a duty to say or do.  What a dreary
prospect seems to be before us, when we reflect that we have the solemn
word of truth pledged to us, in the last and most awful revelation,
which God has made to us about the future, that in that day, the books
will be opened, "and another book opened, which is the book of life,
and the dead judged out of those things which were written in the books
according to their works[3]!"  What would a man give, any one of us,
who has any real insight into his polluted and miserable state, what
would he give to tear away some of the leaves there preserved!  For how
heinous are the sins therein written!  Think of the multitude of sins
done by us since we first knew the difference between right and wrong.
We have forgotten them, but there we might read them clearly recorded.
Well may holy David exclaim, "Remember not the sins of my youth nor my
transgressions, according to Thy mercy remember Thou me."  Conceive,
too, the multitude of sins which have so grown into us as to become
part of us, and in which we now live, not knowing, or but partially
knowing, that they are sins, habits of pride, self-reliance,
self-conceit, sullenness, impurity, sloth, selfishness, worldliness.
The history of all these, their beginnings, and their growth, is
recorded in those dreadful books; and when we look forward to the
future, how many sins shall we have committed by this time next
year,--though we try ever so much to know our duty, and overcome
ourselves!  Nay, or rather shall we have the opportunity of obeying or
disobeying God for a year longer?  Who knows whether by that time our
account may not be closed for ever?

"Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom[4]."  Such was
the prayer of the penitent thief on the cross, such must be our prayer.
Who can do us any good, but He, who shall also be our Judge?  When
shocking thoughts about ourselves come across us and afflict us,
"Remember me," this is all we have to say.  We have "no work, nor
device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom" of our own, to better ourselves
withal.  We can say nothing to God in defence of ourselves,--we can but
acknowledge that we are grievous sinners, and addressing Him as
suppliants, merely beg Him to bear us in mind in mercy, for His Son's
sake to do us some favour, not according to our deserts, but for the
love of Christ.  The more we try to serve Him here, the better; but
after all, so far do we fall short of what we should be, that if we had
but what we are in ourselves to rely upon, wretched are we,--and we are
forced out of ourselves by the very necessity of our condition.  To
whom should we go?  Who can do us any good, but He who was born into
this world for our regeneration, was bruised for our iniquities, and
rose again for our justification?  Even though we have served Him from
our youth up, though after His pattern we have grown, as far as mere
man can grow, in wisdom as we grew in stature, though we ever have had
tender hearts, and a mortified will, and a conscientious temper, and an
obedient spirit; yet, at the very best, how much have we left undone,
how much done, which ought to be otherwise!  What He can do for our
nature, in the way of sanctifying it, we know indeed in a measure; we
know, in the case of His saints; and we certainly do not know the limit
of His carrying forward in those objects of His special favour the work
of purification, and renewal through His Spirit.  But for ourselves, we
know full well that much as we may have attempted, we have done very
little, that our very best service is nothing worth,--and the more we
attempt, the more clearly we shall see how little we have hitherto

Those whom Christ saves are they who at once attempt to save
themselves, yet despair of saving themselves; who aim to do all, and
confess they do nought; who are all love, and all fear, who are the
most holy, and yet confess themselves the most sinful; who ever seek to
please Him, yet feel they never can; who are full of good works, yet of
works of penance.  All this seems a contradiction to the natural man,
but it is not so to those whom Christ enlightens.  They understand in
proportion to their illumination, that it is possible to work out their
salvation, yet to have it wrought out for them, to fear and tremble at
the thought of judgment, yet to rejoice always in the Lord, and hope
and pray for His coming.

[1] Ps. xlix. 2-10.

[2] Eccles. iii. 19.

[3] Rev. xx. 12.

[4] Luke xxiii. 42.


Religion a Weariness to the Natural Man.

"_He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is
no beauty that we should desire Him._"--Isaiah liii. 2.

"Religion is a weariness;" such is the judgment commonly passed, often
avowed, concerning the greatest of blessings which Almighty God has
bestowed upon us.  And when God gave the blessing, He at the same time
foretold that such would be the judgment of the world upon it, even as
manifested in the gracious Person of Him whom He sent to give it to us.
"He hath no form nor comeliness," says the Prophet, speaking of our
Lord and Saviour, "and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that
we should desire Him."  He declared beforehand, that to man His
religion would be uninteresting and distasteful.  Not that this
prediction excuses our deadness to it; this dislike of the religion
given us by God Himself, seen as it is on all sides of us,--of religion
in all its parts, whether its doctrines, its precepts, its polity, its
worship, its social influence,--this distaste for its very name, must
obviously be an insult to the Giver.  But the text speaks of it as a
fact, without commenting on the guilt involved in it; and as such I
wish you to consider it, as far as this may be done in reverence and
seriousness.  Putting aside for an instant the thought of the
ingratitude and the sin which indifference to Christianity implies, let
us, as far as we dare, view it merely as a matter of fact, after the
manner of the text, and form a judgment on the probable consequences of
it.  Let us take the state of the case as it is found, and survey it
dispassionately, as even an unbeliever might survey it, without at the
moment considering whether it is sinful or not; as a misfortune, if we
will, or a strange accident, or a necessary condition of our
nature,--one of the phenomena, as it may be called, of the present

Let me then review human life in some of its stages and conditions, in
order to impress upon you the fact of this contrariety between
ourselves and our Maker: He having one will, we another; He declaring
one thing to be good for us, and we fancying other objects to be our

1. "Religion is a weariness," alas! so feel even children before they
can well express their meaning.  Exceptions of course now and then
occur; and of course children are always more open to religious
impressions and visitations than grown persons.  They have many good
thoughts and good desires, of which, in after life, the multitude of
men seem incapable.  Yet who, after all, can have a doubt that, in
spite of the more intimate presence of God's grace with those who have
not yet learned to resist it, still, on the whole, religion is a
weariness to children?  Consider their amusements, their
enjoyments,--what they hope, what they devise, what they scheme, and
what they dream about themselves in time future, when they grow up; and
say what place religion holds in their hearts.  Watch the reluctance
with which they turn to religious duties, to saying their prayers, or
reading the Bible; and then judge.  Observe, as they get older, the
influence which the fear of the ridicule of their companions has in
deterring them even from speaking of religion, or seeming to be
religious.  Now the dread of ridicule, indeed, is natural enough; but
why should religion inspire ridicule?  What is there absurd in thinking
of God?  Why should we be ashamed of worshipping Him?  It is
unaccountable, but it is natural.  We may call it an accident, or what
we will; still it is an undeniable fact, and that is what I insist
upon.  I am not forgetful of the peculiar character of children's
minds: sensible objects first meet their observation; it is not
wonderful that they should at first be inclined to limit their thoughts
to things of sense.  A distinct profession of faith, and a conscious
maintenance of principle, may imply a strength and consistency of
thought to which they are as yet unequal.  Again, childhood is
capricious, ardent, light-hearted; it cannot think deeply or long on
any subject.  Yet all this is not enough to account for the fact in
question--why they should feel this distaste for the very subject of
religion.  Why should they be ashamed of paying reverence to an unseen,
all-powerful God, whose existence they do not disbelieve?  Yet they do
feel ashamed of it.  Is it that they are ashamed of themselves, not of
their religion; feeling the inconsistency of professing what they
cannot fully practise?  This refinement does not materially alter the
view of the case; for it is merely their own acknowledgment that they
do not love religion as much as they ought.  No; we seem compelled to
the conclusion, that there is by nature some strange discordance
between what we love and what God loves.  So much, then, on the state
of boyhood.

2. "Religion is a weariness."  I will next take the case of young
persons when they first enter into life.  Here I may appeal to some
perhaps who now hear me.  Alas! my brethren, is it not so?  Is not
religion associated in your minds with gloom, melancholy, and
weariness?  I am not at present going so far as to reprove you for it,
though I might well do so, if I did, perhaps you might at once turn
away, and I wish you calmly to think the matter over, and bear me
witness that I state the fact correctly.  It is so; you cannot deny it.
The very terms "religion," "devotion," "piety," "conscientiousness,"
"mortification," and the like, you find to be inexpressibly dull and
cheerless: you cannot find fault with them, indeed, you would if you
could; and whenever the words are explained in particulars and
realized, then you do find occasion for exception and objection.  But
though you cannot deny the claims of religion used as a vague and
general term, yet how irksome, cold, uninteresting, uninviting, does it
at best appear to you! how severe its voice! how forbidding its aspect!
With what animation, on the contrary, do you enter into the mere
pursuits of time and the world!  What bright anticipations of joy and
happiness flit before your eyes!  How you are struck and dazzled at the
view of the prizes of this life, as they are called!  How you admire
the elegancies of art, the brilliance of wealth, or the force of
intellect!  According to your opportunities you mix in the world, you
meet and converse with persons of various conditions and pursuits, and
are engaged in the numberless occurrences of daily life.  You are full
of news; yon know what this or that person is doing, and what has
befallen him; what has not happened, which was near happening, what may
happen.  You are full of ideas and feelings upon all that goes on
around you.  But, from some cause or other, religion has no part, no
sensible influence, in your judgment of men and things.  It is out of
your way.  Perhaps you have your pleasure parties; you readily take
your share in them time after time; you pass continuous hours in
society where you know that it is quite impossible even to mention the
name of religion.  Your heart is in scenes and places when conversation
on serious subjects is strictly forbidden by the rules of the world's
propriety.  I do not say we should discourse on religious subjects,
wherever we go; I do not say we should make an effort to discourse on
them at any time, nor that we are to refrain from social meetings in
which religion does not lie on the surface of the conversation: but I
do say, that when men find their pleasure and satisfaction to lie in
society which proscribes religion, and when they deliberately and
habitually prefer those amusements which have necessarily nothing to do
with religion, such persons cannot view religion as God views it.  And
this is the point: that the feelings of our hearts on the subject of
religion are different from the declared judgment of God; that we have
a natural distaste for that which He has said is our chief good.

3. Now let us pass to the more active occupations of life.  Here, too,
religion is confessedly felt to be wearisome, it is out of place.  The
transactions of worldly business, speculations in trade, ambitious
hopes, the pursuit of knowledge, the public occurrences of the day,
these find a way directly to the heart, they rouse, they influence.  It
is superfluous to go about to prove this innate power over us of things
of time and sense, to make us think and act.  The name of religion, on
the other hand, is weak and impotent; it contains no spell to kindle
the feelings of man, to make the heart beat with anxiety, and to
produce activity and perseverance.  The reason is not merely that men
are in want of leisure, and are sustained in a distressing continuance
of exertion, by their duties towards those dependent on them.  They
have their seasons of relaxation, they turn for a time from their
ordinary pursuits; still religion does not attract them, they find
nothing of comfort or satisfaction in it.  For a time they allow
themselves to be idle.  They want an object to employ their minds upon;
they pace to and fro in very want of an object; yet their duties to
God, their future hopes in another state of being, the revelation of
God's mercy and will, as contained in Scripture, the news of
redemption, the gift of regeneration, the sanctities, the devotional
heights, the nobleness and perfection which Christ works in His elect,
do not suggest themselves as fit subjects to dispel their weariness.
Why?  Because religion makes them melancholy, say they, and they wish
to relax.  Religion is a labour, it is a weariness, a greater weariness
than the doing nothing at all.  "Wherefore," says Solomon, "is there a
price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to

4. But this natural contrariety between man and his Maker is still more
strikingly shown by the confessions of men of the world who have given
some thought to the subject, and have viewed society with somewhat of a
philosophical spirit.  Such men treat the demands of religion with
disrespect and negligence, on the ground of their being unnatural.
They say, "It is natural for men to love the world for its own sake; to
be engrossed in its pursuits, and to set their hearts on the rewards of
industry, on the comforts, luxuries, and pleasures of this life.  Man
would not be man if he could be made otherwise; he would not be what he
was evidently intended for by his Maker."  Let us pass by the obvious
_answer_ that might be given to this objection; it is enough for my
purpose that it is _commonly urged_, recognizing as it does the fact of
the disagreement existing between the claims of God's word, and the
inclinations and natural capacities of man.  Many, indeed, of those
unhappy men who have denied the Christian faith, treat the religious
principle altogether as a mere unnatural, eccentric state of mind, a
peculiar untoward condition of the affections to which weakness will
reduce a man, whether it has been brought on by anxiety, oppressive
sorrow, bodily disease, excess of imagination or the like, and
temporary or permanent, according to the circumstances of the disposing
cause; a state to which we all are liable, as we are liable to any
other mental injury, but unmanly and unworthy of our dignity as
rational beings.  Here again it is enough for our purpose, that it is
allowed by these persons that the love of religion is unnatural and
inconsistent with the original condition of our minds.

The same remark may be made upon the notions which secretly prevail in
certain quarters at the present day, concerning the unsuitableness of
Christianity to an enlightened age.  Men there are who look upon the
inspired word of God with a sort of indulgence, as if it had its use,
and had done service in its day; that in times of ignorance it awed and
controlled fierce barbarians, whom nothing else could have subdued; but
that from its very claim to be divine and infallible, and its
consequent unalterableness, it is an obstacle to the improvement of the
human race beyond a certain point, and must ultimately fall before the
gradual advancement of mankind in knowledge and virtue.  In other
words, the literature of the day is weary of Revealed Religion.

5. Once more; that religion is in itself a weariness is seen even in
the conduct of the better sort of persons, who really on the whole are
under the influence of its spirit.  So dull and uninviting is calm and
practical religion, that religious persons are ever exposed to the
temptation of looking out for excitements of one sort or other, to make
it pleasurable to them.  The spirit of the Gospel is a meek, humble,
gentle, unobtrusive spirit.  It doth not cry nor lift up its voice in
the streets, unless called upon by duty so to do, and then it does it
with pain.  Display, pretension, conflict, are unpleasant to it.  What
then is to be thought of persons who are ever on the search after
novelties to make religion interesting to them; who seem to find that
Christian activity cannot be kept up without unchristian party-spirit,
or Christian conversation without unchristian censoriousness?  Why,
this; that religion is to them as to others, taken by itself, a
weariness, and requires something foreign to its own nature to make it
palatable.  Truly it is a weariness to the natural man to serve God
humbly and in obscurity; it is very wearisome, and very monotonous, to
go on day after day watching all we do and think, detecting our secret
failings, denying ourselves, creating within us, under God's grace,
those parts of the Christian character in which we are deficient;
wearisome to learn modesty, love of insignificance, willingness to be
thought little of, backwardness to clear ourselves when slandered, and
readiness to confess when we are wrong; to learn to have no cares for
this world, neither to hope nor to fear, but to be resigned and

I may close these remarks, by appealing to the consciences of all who
have ever set about the work of religion in good earnest, whoever they
may be, whether they have made less, or greater progress in their noble
toil, whether they are matured saints, or feeble strugglers against the
world and the flesh.  They have ever confessed how great efforts were
necessary to keep close to the commandments of God; in spite of their
knowledge of the truth, and their faith, in spite of the aids and
consolations they receive from above, still how often do their corrupt
hearts betray them!  Even their privileges are often burdensome to
them, even to pray for the grace which in Christ is pledged to them is
an irksome task.  They know that God's service is perfect freedom, and
they are convinced, both in their reason and from their own experience
of it, that it is true happiness; still they confess withal the strange
reluctance of their nature to love their Maker and His Service.  And
this is the point in question; not only the mass of mankind, but even
the confirmed servants of Christ, witness to the opposition which
exists between their own nature and the demands of religion.

This then is the remarkable fact which I proposed to show.  Can we
doubt that man's will runs contrary to God's will--that the view which
the inspired word takes of our present life, and of our destiny, does
not satisfy us, as it rightly ought to do? that Christ hath no form nor
comeliness in our eyes; and though we see Him, we see no desirable
beauty in Him?  That holy, merciful, and meek Saviour, the Eternal, the
Only-begotten Son of God, our friend and infinite benefactor--He who
left the glory of His Father and died for us, who has promised us the
overflowing riches of His grace both here and hereafter.  He is a light
shining in a dark place, and "the darkness comprehendeth it not."
"Light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light."
The nature of man is flesh, and that which is born of the flesh is
flesh, and ever must so remain; it never can discern, love, accept, the
holy doctrines of the Gospel.  It will occupy itself in various ways,
it will take interest in things of sense and time, but it can never be
religious.  It is at enmity with God.

And now we see what must at once follow from what has been said.  If
our hearts are by nature set on the world for its own sake, and the
world is one day to pass away, what are they to be set on, what to
delight in, then?  Say, how will the soul feel when, stripped of its
present attire, which the world bestows, it stands naked and shuddering
before the pure, tranquil, and severe majesty of the Lord its God, its
most merciful, yet dishonoured Maker and Saviour?  What are to be the
pleasures of the soul in another life?  Can they be the same as they
are here?  They cannot; Scripture tells us they cannot; the world
passeth away--now what is there left to love and enjoy through a long
eternity?  What a dark, forlorn, miserable eternity that will be!

It is then plain enough, though Scripture said not a word on the
subject, that if we would be happy in the world to come, we must make
us new hearts, and begin to love the things we naturally do not love.
Viewing it as a practical point, the end of the whole matter is this,
we must be changed; for we cannot, we cannot expect the system of the
universe to come over to us; the inhabitants of heaven, the numberless
creations of Angels, the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly
fellowship of the Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs, the holy Church
universal, the Will and Attributes of God, these are fixed.  We must go
over to them.  In our Saviour's own authoritative words: "Verily,
verily, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
God[2]."  It is a plain matter of self-interest, to turn our thoughts
to the means of changing our hearts, putting out of the question our
duty towards God and Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.

"He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we see Him, there is no
beauty that we should desire Him."  It is not His loss that we love Him
not, it is our loss.  He is All-blessed, whatever becomes of us.  He is
not less blessed because we are far from Him.  It is we who are not
blessed, except as we approach Him, except as we are like Him, except
as we love Him.  Woe unto us, if in the day in which He comes from
Heaven we see nothing desirable or gracious in His wounds; but instead,
have made for ourselves an ideal blessedness, different from that which
will be manifested to us in Him.  Woe unto us, if we have made pride,
or selfishness, or the carnal mind, our standard of perfection and
truth; if our eyes have grown dim, and our hearts gross, as regards the
true light of men, and the glory of the Eternal Father.  May He Himself
save us from our self-delusions, whatever they are, and enable us to
give up this world, that we may gain the next;--and to rejoice in Him,
who had no home of His own, no place to lay His head, who was poor and
lowly, and despised and rejected, and tormented and slain!

[1] Prov. xvii. 16.

[2] John iii. 3.


The World our Enemy.

"_We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in
wickedness._"--1 John v. 19.

Few words are of more frequent occurrence in the language of religion
than "the world;" Holy Scripture makes continual mention of it, in the
way of censure and caution; in the Service for Baptism it is described
as one of three great enemies of our souls, and in the ordinary
writings and conversation of Christians, I need hardly say, mention is
made of it continually.  Yet most of us, it would appear, have very
indistinct notions what the world means.  We know that the world is a
something dangerous to our spiritual interests, and that it is in some
way connected with human society--with men as a mixed multitude,
contrasted with men one by one, in private and domestic life; but what
it is, how it is our enemy, how it attacks, and how it is to be
avoided, is not so clear.  Or if we conceive some distinct notion
concerning it, still probably it is a wrong notion,--which leads us, in
consequence, to misapply the Scripture precepts relating to the world;
and this is even worse than overlooking them.  I shall now, then,
attempt to show what is meant by the world, and how, in consequence, we
are to understand the information and warnings of the sacred writers
concerning it.

1. Now, first, by the world is very commonly meant the present visible
system of things, without taking into consideration whether it is good
or bad.  Thus St. John contrasts the world with the things that are in
it, which are evil, "Love not the world, _neither_ the things that are
in the world[1]."  Again, he presently says, "The world passeth away,
_and_ the lust thereof."  Here, as in many other parts of Scripture,
the world is not spoken of as actually sinful in itself (though its
lusts are so, of course), but merely as some present visible system
which is likely to attract us, and is not to be trusted, because it
cannot last.  Let us first consider it in this point of view.

There is, as a matter of necessity, a great variety of stations and
fortunes among mankind; hardly two persons are in the same outward
circumstances, and possessed of the same mental resources.  Men differ
from each other, and are bound together into one body or system by the
very points in which they differ; they depend on each other; such is
the will of God.  This system is the world, to which it is plain belong
our various modes of supporting ourselves and families by exertion of
mind and body, our intercourse with others, our duty towards others,
the social virtues,--industry, honesty, prudence, justice, benevolence,
and the like.  These spring all from our present lot in life, and tend
to our present happiness.  This life holds out prizes to merit and
exertion.  Men rise above their fellows, they gain fame and honours,
wealth and power, which we therefore call worldly goods.  The affairs
of nations, the dealings of people with people, the interchange of
productions between country and country, are of this world.  We are
educated in boyhood for this world; we play our part on a stage more or
less conspicuous, as the case may be; we die, we are no more, we are
forgotten, as far as the present state of things is concerned; all this
is of the world.

By the world, then, is meant this course of things which we see carried
on by means of human agency, with all its duties and pursuits.  It is
not necessarily a sinful system; rather it is framed, as I have said,
by God Himself, and therefore cannot be otherwise than good.  And yet
even thus considering it, we are bid not to love the world: even in
this sense the world is an enemy of our souls; and for this reason,
because the love of it is dangerous to beings circumstanced as we
are,--things in themselves good being not good to us sinners.  And this
state of things which we see, fair and excellent in itself, is very
likely (for the very reason that it is seen, and because the spiritual
and future world is not seen) to seduce our wayward hearts from our
true and eternal good.  As the traveller on serious business may be
tempted to linger, while he gazes on the beauty of the prospect which
opens on his way, so this well-ordered and divinely-governed world,
with all its blessings of sense and knowledge, may lead us to neglect
those interests which will endure when itself has passed away.  In
truth, it promises more than it can fulfil.  The goods of life and the
applause of men have their excellence, and, as far as they so, are
really good; but they are short-lived.  And hence it is that many
pursuits in themselves honest and right, are nevertheless to be engaged
in with caution, lest they seduce us; and those perhaps with especial
caution, which tend to the well-being of men in this life.  The
sciences, for instance, of good government, of acquiring wealth, of
preventing and relieving want, and the like, are for this reason
especially dangerous; for fixing, as they do, our exertions on this
world as an end, they go far to persuade us that they have no other
end; they accustom us to think too much of success in life and temporal
prosperity; nay, they may even teach us to be jealous of religion and
its institutions, as if these stood in our way, preventing us from
doing so much for the worldly interests of mankind as we might wish.

In this sense it is that St. Paul contrasts sight and faith.  We see
this world; we only believe that there is a world of spirits, we do not
see it: and inasmuch as sight has more power over us than belief, and
the present than the future, so are the occupations and pleasures of
this life injurious to our faith.  Yet not, I say, in themselves
sinful; as the Jewish system was a temporal system, yet divine, so is
the system of nature--this world--divine, though temporal.  And as the
Jews became carnal-minded even by the influence of their
divinely-appointed system, and thereby rejected the Saviour of their
souls; in like manner, men of the world are hardened by God's own good
world, into a rejection of Christ.  In neither case through the fault
of the things which are seen, whether miraculous or providential, but
accidentally, through the fault of the human heart.

2. But now, secondly, let us proceed to consider the world, not only as
dangerous, but as positively sinful, according to the text--"the whole
world lieth in wickedness."  It was created well in all respects, but
even before it as yet had fully grown out into its parts, while as yet
the elements of human society did but lie hid in the nature and
condition of the first man, Adam fell; and thus the world, with all its
social ranks, and aims, and pursuits, and pleasures, and prizes, has
ever from its birth been sinful.  The infection of sin spread through
the whole system, so that although the frame-work is good and divine,
the spirit and life within it are evil.  Thus, for instance, to be in a
high station is the gift of God; but the pride and injustice to which
it has given scope is from the Devil.  To be poor and obscure is also
the ordinance of God; but the dishonesty and discontent which are often
seen in the poor is from Satan.  To cherish and protect wife and family
is God's appointment; but the love of gain, and the low ambition, which
lead many a man to exert himself, are sinful.  Accordingly, it is said
in the text, "The world lieth in wickedness,"--it is plunged and
steeped, as it were, in a flood of sin, not a part of it remaining as
God originally created it, not a part pure from the corruptions with
which Satan has disfigured it.

Look into the history of the world, and what do you read there?
Revolutions and changes without number, kingdoms rising and falling;
and when without crime?  States are established by God's ordinance,
they have their existence in the necessity of man's nature, but when
was one ever established, nay, or maintained, without war and
bloodshed?  Of all natural instincts, what is more powerful than that
which forbids us to shed our fellows' blood?  We shrink with natural
horror from the thought of a murderer; yet not a government has ever
been settled, or a state acknowledged by its neighbours, without war
and the loss of life; nay, more than this, not content with
unjustifiable bloodshed, the guilt of which must lie somewhere, instead
of lamenting it as a grievous and humiliating evil, the world has
chosen to honour the conqueror with its amplest share of admiration.
To become a hero, in the eyes of the world, it is almost necessary to
break the laws of God and man.  Thus the deeds of the world are matched
by the opinions and principles of the world: it adopts bad doctrine to
defend bad practice; it loves darkness because its deeds are evil.

And as the affairs of nations are thus depraved by our corrupt nature,
so are all the appointments and gifts of Providence perverted in like
manner.  What can be more excellent than the vigorous and patient
employment of the intellect; yet in the hands of Satan it gives birth
to a proud philosophy.  When St. Paul preached, the wise men of the
world, in God's eyes, were but fools, for they had used their powers of
mind in the cause of error, their reasonings even led them to be
irreligious and immoral; and they despised the doctrine of a
resurrection which they neither loved nor believed.  And again, all the
more refined arts of life have been disgraced by the vicious tastes of
those who excelled in them; often they have been consecrated to the
service of idolatry; often they have been made the instruments of
sensuality and riot.  But it would be endless to recount the manifold
and complex corruption which man has introduced into the world which
God made good, evil has preoccupied the whole of it, and holds fast its
conquest.  We know, indeed, that the gracious God revealed Himself to
His sinful creatures very soon after Adam's fall.  He showed His will
to mankind again and again, and pleaded with them through many ages;
till at length His Son was born into this sinful world in the form of
man, and taught us how to please Him.  Still, hitherto the good work
has proceeded slowly: such is His pleasure.  Evil had the start of good
by many days; it filled the world, it holds it: it has the strength of
possession, and if has its strength in the human heart; for though we
cannot keep from approving what is right in our conscience, yet we love
and encourage what is wrong; so that when evil was once set up in the
world, it was secured in its seat by the unwillingness with which our
hearts relinquish it.

And now I have described what is meant by the sinful world; that is,
the world as corrupted by man, the course of human affairs viewed in
its connexion with the principles, opinions, and practices which
actually direct it.  There is no mistaking these; they are evil; and of
these it is that St. John says, "If any man love the world, the love of
the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of
the Father, but is of the world[2]."

The world then is the enemy of our souls; first, because, however
innocent its pleasures, and praiseworthy its pursuits may be, they are
likely to engross us, unless we are on our guard: and secondly, because
in all its best pleasures, and noblest pursuits, the seeds of sin have
been sown; an enemy hath done this; so that it is most difficult to
enjoy the good without partaking of the evil also.  As an orderly
system of various ranks, with various pursuits and their several
rewards, it is to be considered not sinful indeed, but dangerous to us.
On the other hand, considered in reference to its principles and actual
practices, it is really a sinful world.  Accordingly, when we are bid
in Scripture to shun the world, it is meant that we must be cautious,
lest we love what is good in it too well, and lest we love the bad at
all.--However, there is a mistaken notion sometimes entertained, that
the world is some particular set of persons, and that to shun the world
is to shun them; as if we could point out, as it were, with the finger,
what is the world, and thus could easily rid ourselves of one of our
three great enemies.  Men, who are beset with this notion, are often
great lovers of the world notwithstanding, while they think themselves
at a distance from it altogether.  They love its pleasures, and they
yield to its principles, yet they speak strongly against men of the
world, and avoid them.  They act the part of superstitious people, who
are afraid of seeing evil spirits in what are considered haunted
places, while these spirits are busy at their hearts instead, and they
do not suspect it.

3. Here then is a question, which it will be well to consider, viz. how
far the world is a separate body from the Church of God.  The two are
certainly contrasted in the text, as elsewhere in Scripture.  "We know
that we are of God, and _the whole world_ lieth in wickedness."  Now
the true account of this is, that the Church so far from being
literally, and in fact, separate from the wicked world, is within it.
The Church is a body, gathered together in the world, and in a process
of separation from it.  The world's power, alas! is over the Church,
because the Church has gone forth into the world to save the world.
All Christians are in the world, and of the world, so far as sin still
has dominion over them; and not even the best of us is clean every whit
from sin.  Though then, in our idea of the two, and in their
principles, and in their future prospects, the Church is one thing, and
the world is another, yet in present matter of fact, the Church is of
the world, not separate from it; for the grace of God has but partial
possession even of religious men, and the best that can be said of us
is, that we have two sides, a light side and a dark, and that the dark
happens to be the outermost.  Thus we form part of the world to each
other, though we be not of the world.  Even supposing there were a
society of men influenced individually by Christian motives, still this
society, viewed as a whole, would be a worldly one, I mean a society
holding and maintaining many errors, and countenancing many bad
practices.  Evil ever floats at the top.  And if we inquire why it is
that the good in Christians is seen less than the bad?  I answer,
first, because there is less of it; and secondly, because evil forces
itself upon general notice, and good does not.  So that in a large body
of men, each contributing his portion, evil displays itself on the
whole conspicuously, and in all its diversified shapes.  And thirdly,
from the nature of things, the soul cannot be understood by any but
God, and a religious spirit is in St. Peter's words, "the hidden man of
the heart."  It is only the actions of others which we see for the most
part, and since there are numberless ways of doing wrong, and but one
of doing right, and numberless ways too of regarding and judging the
conduct of others, no wonder that even the better sort of men, much
more the generality, are, and seem to be, so sinful.  God only sees the
circumstances under which a man acts, and why he acts in this way and
not in that.  God only sees perfectly the train of thought which
preceded his action, the motive, and the reasons.  And God alone (if
aught is ill done, or sinfully) sees the deep contrition
afterwards,--the habitual lowliness, then bursting forth into special
self-reproach,--and the meek faith casting itself wholly upon God's
mercy.  Think for a moment, how many hours in the day every man is left
wholly to himself and his God, or rather how few minutes he is in
intercourse with others--consider this, and you will perceive how it is
that the life of the Church is hid with God, and how it is that the
outward conduct of the Church must necessarily look like the world,
even far more than it really is like it, and how vain, in consequence,
the attempt is (which, some make) of separating the world distinctly
from the Church.  Consider, moreover, how much there is, while we are
in the body, to stand in the way of one mind communicating with
another.  We are imprisoned in the body, and our intercourse is by
means of words, which feebly represent our real feelings.  Hence the
best motives and truest opinions are misunderstood, and the most sound
rules of conduct misapplied by others.  And Christians are necessarily
more or less strange to each other; nay, and as far as the appearance
of things is concerned, almost mislead each other, and are, as I have
said, the world one to another.  It is long, indeed, before we become
at all acquainted with each other, and we appear the one to the other
cold, or harsh, or capricious, or self-willed, when we are not so.  So
that it unhappily comes to pass, that even good men retire from each
other into themselves, and to their God, as if retreating from the rude

And if all this takes place in the case of the better sort of men, how
much more will it happen in the case of those multitudes who are still
unstable in faith and obedience, half Christians, not having yet
wrought themselves into any consistent shape of opinion and practice!
These, so far from showing the better part of themselves, often affect
to be worse even than they are.  Though they have secret fears and
misgivings, and God's grace pleads with their conscience, and seasons
of seriousness follow, yet they are ashamed to confess to each other
their own seriousness, and they ridicule religious men lest they should
be themselves ridiculed.

And thus, on the whole, the state of the case is as follows: that if we
look through mankind in order to find out who make up the world, and
who do not, we shall find none who are not of the world; inasmuch as
there are none who are not exposed to infirmity.  So that if to shun
the world is to shun some body of men so called, we must shun all men,
nay, ourselves too--which is a conclusion which means nothing at all.

But let us, avoiding all refinements which lead to a display of words
only, not to the improvement of our hearts and conduct, let us set to
work practically; and instead of attempting to judge of mankind on a
large scale, and to settle deep questions, let us take what is close at
hand and concerns ourselves, and make use of such knowledge as we can
obtain.  Are we tempted to neglect the worship of God for some temporal
object? this is of the world, and not to be admitted.  Are we ridiculed
for our conscientious conduct? this again is a trial of the world, and
to be withstood.  Are we tempted to give too much time to our
recreations; to be idling when we should be working; reading or talking
when we should be busy in our temporal calling; hoping for
impossibilities, or fancying ourselves in some different state of life
from our own; over anxious of the good opinion of others; bent upon
getting the credit of industry, honesty, and prudence?  all these are
temptations of this world.  Are we discontented with our lot, or are we
over attached to it, and fretful and desponding when God recalls the
good He has given? this is to be worldly-minded.

Look not about for the world as some vast and gigantic evil far
off--its temptations are close to you, apt and ready, suddenly offered
and subtle in their address.  Try to bring down the words of Scripture
to common life, and to recognize the evil in which this world lies, in
your own hearts.

When our Saviour comes, He will destroy this world, even His own work,
and much more the lusts of the world, which are of the evil one; then
at length we must lose the world, even if we cannot bring ourselves to
part with it now.  And we shall perish with the world, if on that day
its lusts are found within us.  "The world passeth away, and the lust
thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

[1] 1 John ii. 15.

[2] John ii. 15, 16.


The Praise of Men.

"_They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God._"--John
xii. 43.

This is spoken of the chief rulers of the Jews, who, though they
believed in Christ's Divine mission, were afraid to confess Him, lest
they should incur temporal loss and shame from the Pharisees.  The
censure passed by St. John on these persons is too often applicable to
Christians at the present day; perhaps, indeed, there is no one among
us who has not at some time or other fallen under it.  We love the good
opinion of the world more than the approbation of Him who created us,
redeemed us, has regenerated us, and who still preserves to us the
opportunity of preparing ourselves for His future presence.  Such is
too often the case with us.  It is well we should be aware that it is
so; it is well we should dwell upon it, and that we should understand
and feel that it is wrong, which many men do not.

Now it is an obvious question, Why is it wrong to love the praise of
men?  For it may be objected, that we are accustomed to educate the
young by means of praise and blame; that we encourage them by kind
words _from us_, that is, from man; and punish them for disobedience.
If, then, it may be argued, it is right to regard the opinions of
others concerning us in our youth, it cannot be in itself wrong to pay
attention to it at any other period of life.  This is true; but I do
not say that the mere love of praise and fear of shame are evil: regard
to the corrupt world's praise or blame, this is what is sinful and
dangerous.  St. John, in the text, implies that the praise of men was,
at the time spoken of, in opposition to the praise of God.  It must be
wrong to prefer any thing to the will of God.  To seek praise is in
itself as little wrong, as it is wrong to hope, and to fear, and to
love, and to trust; all depends upon the object hoped, or feared, or
loved, or trusted; to seek the praise of good men is not wrong, any
more than to love or to reverence good men; only wrong when it is in
excess, when it interferes with the exercise of love and reverence
towards God.  Not wrong while we look on good men singly as instruments
and servants of God; or, in the words of Scripture, while "we glorify
God in them[1]."  But to seek the praise of bad men, is in itself as
wrong as to love the company of bad men, or to admire them.  It is not,
I say, merely the love of praise that is a sin, but love of the corrupt
world's praise.  This is the case with all our natural feelings and
affections; they are all in themselves good, and implanted by God; they
are sinful, because we have in us by nature a something more than them,
viz. an evil principle which perverts them to a bad end.  Adam, before
his fall, felt, we may suppose, love, fear, hope, joy, dislike, as we
do now; but then he felt them only when he ought, and as he ought; all
was harmoniously attempered and rightly adjusted in his soul, which was
at unity with itself.  But, at the fall, this beautiful order and peace
was broken up; the same passions remained, but their use and action
were changed; they rushed into extremes, sometimes excessive, sometimes
the reverse.  Indignation was corrupted into wrath, self-love became
selfishness, self-respect became pride, and emulation envy and
jealousy.  They were at variance with each other; pride struggled with
self-interest, fear with desire.  Thus his soul became a chaos, and
needed a new creation.  Moreover, as I have said, his affections were
set upon unsuitable objects.  The natural man looks to this world, the
world is his god; faith, love, hope, joy, are not excited in his mind
by things spiritual and divine, but by things seen and temporal.

Considering, then, that love of praise is not a bad principle in
itself, it is plain that a parent may very properly teach his child to
love his praise, and fear his blame, when that praise and blame are
given in accordance with God's praise and blame, and made subservient
to them.  And, in like manner, if the world at large took a correct and
religious view of things, then its praise and blame would in its place
be valuable too.  Did the world admire what God admires; did it account
humility, for instance, a great virtue, and pride a great sin; did it
condemn that spirit of self-importance and sensitiveness of disgrace,
which calls itself a love of honour; did it think little of temporal
prosperity, wealth, rank, grandeur, and power, did it condemn arrogant
and irreverent disputing, the noisy, turbulent spirit of ambition, the
love of war and conquest, and the perverse temper which leads to
jealousy and hatred; did it prefer goodness and truth to gifts of the
intellect; did it think little of quickness, wit, shrewdness, power of
speech and general acquirements, and much of patience, meekness,
gentleness, firmness, faith, conscientiousness, purity, forgiveness of
injuries,--then there would be no sin in our seeking the world's
praise; and though we still ought to love God's praise above all, yet
we might love the praise of the world in its degree, for it would be
nothing more nor less than the praise of good men.  But since, alas!
the contrary is the case, since the world (as Scripture tells us)
"lieth in wickedness," and the principles and practices which prevail
on all sides of us are not those which the All-holy God sanctions, we
cannot lawfully seek the world's praise.  We cannot serve two masters
who are enemies the one to the other.  We are forbidden to love the
world or any thing that is of the world, for it is not of the Father,
but passeth away.

This is the reason why it is wrong to pursue the world's praise; viz.
because we cannot have it and God's praise too.  And yet, as the
pursuit of it is wrong, so is it common,--for this reason: because God
is unseen, and the world is seen; because God's praise and blame are
future, the world's are present; because God's praise and blame are
inward, and come quietly and without keenness, whereas the world's are
very plain and intelligible, and make themselves felt.

Take, for instance, the case of the young, on (what is called) entering
into life.  Very many, indeed, there are, whether in a higher or lower
station, who enter into the mixed society of others early; so early,
that it might be thought they had hardly had time to acquire any
previous knowledge of right and wrong, any standard of right and wrong,
other than the world gives, any principles by which to fight against
the world.  And yet it cannot quite be so.  Whatever is the first time
persons hear evil, it is quite certain that good has been beforehand
with them, and they have a something within them which tells them it is
evil.  And much more, if they have been blessed, as most men are, with
the protection of parents, or the kind offices of teachers or of God's
ministers, they generally have principles of duty more or less strongly
imprinted on their minds; and on their first intercourse with strangers
they are shocked or frighted at seeing the improprieties and sins,
which are openly countenanced.  Alas! there are persons, doubtless
(though God forbid it should be the case with any here present!), whose
consciences have been so early trained into forgetfulness of religious
duties, that they can hardly, or cannot at all, recollect the time I
speak of; the time when they acted with the secret feeling that God saw
them, saw all they did and thought.  I will not fancy this to be the
case with any who hear me.  Rather, there are many of you, in different
ranks and circumstances, who have, and ever have had, general
impressions on your minds of the claims which religion has on you, but,
at the same time, have been afraid of acting upon them, afraid of the
opinion of the world, of what others would say if you set about obeying
your conscience.  Ridicule is a most powerful instrument in the hands
of Satan, and it is most vividly felt by the young.  If any one wishes
to do his duty, it is most easy for the cold, the heartless, and the
thoughtless, to find out harsh, or provoking, or ridiculous names to
fix upon him.  My brethren, so many of you as are sensitive of the
laughter or contempt of the world, this is your cross; you must wear
it, you must endure it patiently; it is the mark of your conformity to
Christ; He despised the shame: you must learn to endure it, from the
example and by the aid of your Saviour.  You must love the praise of
God more than the praise of men.  It is the very trial suited to you,
appointed for you, to establish you in the faith.  You are not tempted
with gain or ambition, but with ridicule.  And be sure, that unless you
withstand it, you cannot endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus
Christ, you will not endure other temptations which are to follow.  How
can you advance a step in your after and more extended course till the
first difficulty is overcome?  You need faith, and "a double-minded
man," says St. James, "is unstable in all his ways."  Moreover, be not
too sure that all who show an inclination to ridicule you, feel exactly
as they say.  They speak with the loudest speaker; speak you boldly,
and they will speak with you.  They have very little of definite
opinion themselves, or probably they even feel with you, though they
speak against you.  Very likely they have uneasy, unsatisfied
consciences, though they seem to sin so boldly; and are as afraid of
the world as you can be, nay, more so; they join in ridiculing you,
lest others should ridicule them; or they do so in a sort of
self-defence against the reproaches of their own consciences.  Numbers
in this bad world talk loudly against religion in order to encourage
each other in sin, because they need encouragement.  They are cowards,
and rely on each other for support against their fears.  They know they
ought to be other than they are, but are glad to avail themselves of
any thing that looks like argument, to overcome their consciences
withal.  And ridicule is a kind of argument--such as it is; and numbers
ridiculing together are a still stronger one--of the same kind.  Any
how, there are few indeed who will not feel afterwards, in times of
depression or alarm, that you are right, and they themselves are wrong.
Those who serve God faithfully have a friend of their own, in each
man's bosom, witnessing for them; even in those who treat them ill.
And I suppose no young person has been able, through God's mercy, to
withstand the world's displeasure, but has felt at this time or that,
that this is so, and in a little time will, with all humility, have the
comfort of feeling it while he is withstanding the world.

But now supposing he has not had strength of mind to withstand the
world; but has gone the way of the world.  Suppose he has joined the
multitude in saying and doing what he should not.  We know the
careless, thoughtless, profane habits which most men live in, making
light of serious subjects, and being ashamed of godliness and virtue;
ashamed of going to church regularly, ashamed of faith, ashamed of
chastity, ashamed of innocence, ashamed of obedience to persons in
authority.  Supposing a person has been one of these, and then through
God's grace repents.  It often pleases God, in the course of His
Providence, to rouse men to reflection by the occurrences of life.  In
such circumstances they certainly will have a severe trial to stand
against the world.  Nothing is more painful in the case of such
persons, than the necessity often imposed upon them of acting contrary
to the opinion and wishes of those with whom they have till now been
intimate,--whom they have admired and followed.  Intimacies have
already been formed, and ties drawn tight, which it is difficult to
sever.  What is the person in question to do? rudely to break them at
once? no.  But is he to share in sins in which he formerly took part?
no; whatever censure, contempt, or ridicule attaches to him in
consequence.  But what, then, is he to do?  His task, I say, is painful
and difficult, but he must not complain, for it is his own making; it
is the natural consequence of his past neglect of God.  So much is
plain,--he must abstain from all sinful actions; not converse lightly
or irreverently where formerly he was not unwilling so to do; not spend
his time, as heretofore, in idleness or riot; avoid places whither he
is not called by actual duty, which offer temptation to sin; observe
diligently attendance on church; not idle away the Lord's Day in
vanity, or worse; not add to the number of his acquaintance any
thoughtless persons.  All this is quite plain, and in doing this I know
he will incur the ridicule of his companions.  He will have much to
bear.  He must bear to be called names, to be thought a hypocrite, to
be thought to be affecting something out of the way, to be thought
desirous of recommending himself to this or that person.  He must be
prepared for malicious and untrue reports about himself; many other
trials must he look for.  They are his portion.  He must pray God to
enable him to bear them meekly.  He must pray for himself, he must pray
for those who ridicule him.  He has deserved ridicule.  He has nothing
to boast of, if he bears it well.  He has nothing to boast of that he
incurs it.  He has nothing to boast of, as if he were so much better
than those who ridicule him; he was once as they are now.  He is now
just a little better than they are.  He has just begun a new life.  He
has got a very little way in it, or rather no way, nothing beyond
professing it; and he has the reproach of the world in consequence of
his profession.  Well, let him see to it that this reproach is not in
vain, that he has a right to the reproach.  Let him see to it that he
acts as well as professes.  It will be miserable indeed if he incurs
the reproach, and yet does not gain the reward.  Let him pray God to
perfect in him what He has begun in him, and to begin and perfect it
also in all those that reproach him.  Let him pray for Christ's grace
to bear hardships in Christ's spirit; to be able to look calmly in the
world's face, and bear its frown; to trust in the Lord, and be doing
good; to obey God, and so to be reproached, not for professing only,
but for performing, not for doing nothing, but for doing something, and
in God's cause.  If we are under reproach, let us have something to
show for it.  At present, such a one is but a child in the Gospel; but
in time, St. Peter's words will belong to him, and he may appropriate
them.  "This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience towards God endure
grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if when ye be
buffeted for your faults ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do
well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with

What happens to the young in one way, and to penitent sinners in
another, happens in one way or other to all of us.  In the case of all
of us occasions arise, when practices countenanced by others do not
approve themselves to our consciences.  If after serious thought we
find we cannot acquiesce in them, we must follow our consciences, and
stand prepared for the censure of others.  We must submit (should it be
unavoidable) to appear to those who have no means of understanding us,
self-willed, or self-conceited, or obstinate, or eccentric, or
headstrong, praying the while that God's mercy may vouchsafe to us,
that we be not really what we seem to the world.

Some are exposed to a temptation of a different kind, that of making
themselves seem more religious than they really are.  It may happen,
that to advocate right opinions may be profitable to our worldly
interests, and be attended by the praise of men.  You may ask, since in
such cases God and man approve the same thing, why should the applause
of the world be accounted dangerous then?  I answer, it is dangerous
because God requires of us a modest silence in our religion; but we
cannot be religious in the eyes of men without displaying religion.  I
am now speaking of display.  God sees our thoughts without our help,
and praises _them_; but we cannot be praised by men without being seen
by men: whereas often the very excellence of a religious action,
according to our Saviour's precept, consists in the not being seen by
others.  This is a frequent cause of hypocrisy in religion.  Men begin
by feeling as they should feel, then they think it a very hard thing
that men should not know how well they feel, and in course of time they
learn to speak without feeling.  Thus they have learned to "love the
praise of men more than the praise of God."--We have to guard against
another danger, against the mistake of supposing that the world's
despising us is a proof that we are particularly religious; for this,
too, is often supposed.  Frequently it happens that we encumber our
religion with extravagances, perversions, or mistakes, with which
religion itself has no necessary connexion, and these, and not
religion, excite the contempt of the world.  So much is this the case,
that the censure of numbers, or of the sober-minded, or of various and
distinct classes of men, or censure consistently urged, or continued
consistently, ought always to lead a man to be very watchful as to what
he considers right to say or do in the line of duty, to lead him to
examine his principles; to lead him, however thoroughly he adheres to
these after all, to be unaffectedly humble about himself, and to
convince him in matter of fact (what he might be quite sure of
beforehand, from the nature of the case), that, however good his
principles are in themselves, he is mixing up with them the alloy of
his own frail and corrupt nature.

In conclusion, I would say to those who fear the world's censure,

1. Recollect you cannot please all parties, you must disagree with some
or other: you have only to choose (if you are determined to look to
man) with which you will disagree.  And, further, you may be sure that
those who attempt to please all parties, please fewest; and that the
best way to gain the world's good opinion (even if you were set upon
this, which you must not be) is to show that you prefer the praise of
God.  Make up your mind to be occasionally misunderstood, and
undeservedly condemned.  You must, in the Apostle's words, go through
evil report, and good report, whether on a contracted or a wider field
of action.  And you must not be anxious even for the praise of good
men.  To have, indeed, the approbation of those whose hearts are guided
by God's Holy Spirit, is indeed much to be coveted.  Still this is a
world of discipline, not of enjoyment; and just as we are sometimes
bound in duty to abstain from indulgences of sense in themselves
innocent, so are we sometimes bound to deny ourselves the satisfaction
derived from the praise even of the religious and conscientious.  Only
let us beware in all this, lest we act from pride and self-conceit.

2. In the next place, think of the multitude of beings, who, unseen
themselves, may yet be surveying our conduct.  St. Paul charges Timothy
by the elect Angels[2]; and elsewhere he declares that the Apostles
were made "a spectacle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men[3]."
Are we then afraid to follow what is right, lest the world should
scoff? rather let us be afraid not to follow it, because God sees us,
and Christ, and the holy Angels.  They rejoice over one sinner that
repenteth; how must they mourn over those who fall away!  What
interest, surely, is excited among them, by the sight of the
Christian's trial, when faith and the desire of the world's esteem are
struggling in his heart for victory! what rejoicing if, through the
grace of God, he overcomes! what sorrow and pity if he is overcome by
the world!  Accustom yourselves, then, to feel that you are on a public
stage, whatever your station of life may be, that there are other
witnesses to your conduct besides the world around you; and, if you
feel shame of men, you should much more feel shame in the presence of
God, and those servants of His that do His pleasure.

3. Still further: you fear the judgment of men upon you.  What will you
think of it on your death-bed?  The hour must come, sooner or later,
when your soul is to return to Him who gave it.  Perhaps you will be
sensible of your awful state.  What will you then think of the esteem
of the world? will not all below seem to pass away, and be rolled up as
a scroll, and the extended regions of the future solemnly set
themselves before you?  Then how vain will appear the applause or blame
of creatures, such as we are, all sinners and blind judges, and feeble
aids, and themselves destined to be judged for their deeds.  When,
then, you are tempted to dread the ridicule of man, throw your mind
forward to the hour of death.  You know what you will then think of it,
if you are then able to think at all.

4. The subject is not exhausted.  You fear shame; well, and will you
not shrink from shame at the judgment-seat of Christ?  There will be
assembled all the myriads of men who ever lived, a vast multitude!
There will be Apostles, prophets, martyrs, and all saints from the
beginning of time.  There will be all the good men you ever heard of or
knew.  There will be your own kindest and best friends, your pious
parents, or brothers, or children.  Now what think you of being put to
shame before all these?  You fear the contempt of one small circle of
men; what think you of the Saints of God, of St. Mary, of St. Peter and
St. Paul, of the ten thousand generations of mankind, being witnesses
of your disgrace?  You dread the opinion of those whom you do not love;
but what if a father then shrink from a dear son, or the wife, or
husband, your earthly companion, then tremble at the sight of you, and
feel ashamed of you?  Nay, there is One greater than parents, husbands,
or brothers; One of whom you have been ashamed on earth; and what will
He, that merciful, but neglected Saviour, think of you then?  Hear His
own words:--"Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him
shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory,
and in His Fathers, and of the holy Angels."  Then such unhappy men,
how will they feel shame at themselves! they will despise and loathe
themselves; they will hate and abominate their own folly; they will
account themselves brutish and mad, so to have been beguiled by the
devil, and to have trifled with the season of mercy.  "Many of them
that sleep in the dust of the earth," says Daniel, "shall awake, some
to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Let us, then, rouse ourselves, and turn from man to God; what have we
to do with the world, who from our infancy have been put on our journey
heavenward?  Take up your cross and follow Christ.  He went through
shame far greater than can be yours.  Do you think He felt nothing when
He was lifted up on the Cross to public gaze, amid the contempt and
barbarous triumphings of His enemies, the Pharisees, Pilate and his
Roman guard, Herod and his men of war, and the vast multitude collected
from all parts of the world?  They all looked on Him with hatred and
insult, yet He endured (we are told), "despising the shame[4]."  It is
a high privilege to be allowed to be conformed to Christ; St. Paul
thought it so, so have all good men.  The whole Church of God, from the
days of Christ to the present, has been ever held in shame and contempt
by men of this world.  Proud men have reasoned against its Divine
origin; crafty men have attempted to degrade it to political purposes:
still it has lasted for many centuries; it will last still, through the
promised help of God the Holy Ghost; and that same promise which is
made to it first as a body, is assuredly made also to every one of us
who seeks grace from God through it.  The grace of our Lord and Saviour
is pledged to every one of us without measure, to give us all necessary
strength and holiness when we pray for it; and Almighty God tells us
Himself, "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of
their revilings.  For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and
the worm shall eat them like wool; but My righteousness shall be for
ever, and My salvation from generation to generation."

[1] Gal. i. 24.

[2] 1 Tim. v. 21.

[3] 1 Cor. iv. 9.

[4] Heb. xii. 2.


Temporal Advantages.

"_We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith
content._"--1 Tim. vi. 7, 8.

Every age has its own special sins and temptations.  Impatience with
their lot, murmuring, grudging, unthankfulness, discontent, are sins
common to men at all times, but I suppose one of those sins which
belongs to our age more than to another, is desire of a greater portion
of worldly goods than God has given us,--ambition and covetousness in
one shape or another.  This is an age and country in which, more than
in any other, men have the opportunity of what is called rising in
life,--of changing from a lower to a higher class of society, of
gaining wealth; and upon wealth all things follow,--consideration,
credit, influence, power, enjoyment, the lust of the flesh, and the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Since, then, men now-a-days
have so often the opportunity of gaining worldly goods which formerly
they had not, it is not wonderful they should be tempted to gain them;
nor wonderful that when they have gained them, they should set their
heart upon them.

And it will often happen, that from coveting them before they are
gained, and from making much of them when they are gained, men will be
led to take unlawful means, whether to increase them, or not to lose
them.  But I am not going so far as to suppose the case of dishonesty,
fraud, double-dealing, injustice, or the like: to these St. Paul seems
to allude when he goes on to say, "They that will be rich fall into
temptation and a snare;" again, "The love of money is the root of all
evil."  But let us confine ourselves to the consideration of the nature
itself, and the natural effects, of these worldly things, without
extending our view to those further evils to which they may give
occasion.  St. Paul says in the text, that we ought to be content with
food and raiment; and the wise man says, "Give me neither poverty nor
riches; feed me with food convenient for me[1]."  And our Lord would
have us "take no thought for the morrow," which surely is a dissuasion
from aggrandizing ourselves, accumulating wealth, or aiming at
distinction.  And He has taught us when we pray to say, "Give us this
day our _daily_ bread."  Yet a great number of persons, I may say,
nearly all men, are not content with enough, they are not satisfied
with sufficiency; they wish for something more than simplicity, and
plainness, and gravity, and modesty, in their mode of living; they like
show and splendour, and admiration from the many, and obsequiousness on
the part of those who have to do with them, and the ability to do as
they will; they like to attract the eye, to be received with
consideration and respect, to be heard with deference, to be obeyed
with promptitude; they love greetings in the markets, and the highest
seats; they like to be well dressed, and to have titles of honour.
Now, then, I will attempt to show that these gifts of the world which
men seek are not to be reckoned good things; that they are ill suited
to our nature and our present state, and are dangerous to us; that it
is on the whole best for our prospects of happiness even here, not to
say hereafter, that we should be without them.

Now, first, that these worldly advantages, as they are called, are not
productive of any great enjoyment even now to the persons possessing
them, it does not require many words to prove.  I might indeed
maintain, with no slight show of reason, that these things, so far from
increasing happiness, are generally the source of much disquietude;
that as a person has more wealth, or more power, or more distinction,
his cares generally increase, and his time is less his own: thus, in
the words of the preacher, "the abundance of the rich will not suffer
him to sleep," and, "in much wisdom is much grief, and he that
increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow[2]."  But however this may be,
at least these outward advantages do not increase our happiness.  Let
me ask any one who has succeeded in any object of his desire, has he
experienced in his success that full, that lasting satisfaction which
he anticipated?  Did not some feeling of disappointment, of weariness,
of satiety, of disquietude, after a short time, steal over his mind?  I
think it did; and if so; what reason has he to suppose that that
greater share of reputation, opulence, and influence which he has not,
and which he desires, would, if granted him, suffice to make him happy?
No; the fact is certain, however slow and unwilling we may be to
believe it, none of these things bring the pleasure which we beforehand
suppose they will bring.  Watch narrowly the persons who possess them,
and you will at length discover the same uneasiness and occasional
restlessness which others have; you will find that there is just a
something beyond, which they are striving after, or just some one thing
which annoys and distresses them.  The good things you admire please
for the most part only while they are new; now those who have them are
accustomed to them, so they care little for them, and find no
alleviation in them of the anxieties and cares which still remain.  It
is fine, in prospect and imagination, to be looked up to, admired,
applauded, courted, feared, to have a name among men, to rule their
opinions or their actions by our word, to create a stir by our
movements, while men cry, "Bow the knee," before us; but none knows so
well how vain is the world's praise, as he who has it.  And why is
this?  It is, in a word, because the soul was made for religious
employments and pleasures; and hence, that no temporal blessings,
however exalted or refined, can satisfy it.  As well might we attempt
to sustain the body on chaff, as to feed and nourish the immortal soul
with the pleasures and occupations of the world.

Only thus much, then, shall I say on the point of worldly advantages
not bringing present happiness.  But next, let us consider that, on the
other hand, they are positively dangerous to our eternal interests.

Many of these things, if they did no other harm, at least are injurious
to our souls, by taking up the time which might else be given to
religion.  Much intercourse with the world, which eminence and station
render a duty, has a tendency to draw off the mind from God, and deaden
it to the force of religious motives and considerations.  There is a
want of sympathy between much business and calm devotion, great
splendour and a simple faith, which will be to no one more painful than
to the Christian, to whom God has assigned some post of especial
responsibility or distinction.  To maintain a religious spirit in the
midst of engagements and excitements of this world is possible only to
a saint; nay, the case is the same though our business be one of a
charitable and religious nature, and though our chief intercourse is
with those whom we believe to have their minds set upon religion, and
whose principles and conduct are not likely to withdraw our feet from
the narrow way of life.  For here we are likely to be deceived from the
very circumstance that our employments are religious; and our end, as
being a right one, will engross us, and continually tempt us to be
inattentive to the means, and to the spirit in which we pursue it.  Our
Lord alludes to the danger of multiplied occupations in the Parable of
the Sower: "He that received seed among thorns, is he that heareth the
word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke
the word, and he becometh unfruitful."

Again, these worldly advantages, as they are called, will seduce us
into an excessive love of them.  We are too well inclined by nature to
live by sight, rather than by faith; and besides the immediate
enjoyment, there is something so agreeable to our natural tastes in the
honours and emoluments of the world, that it requires an especially
strong mind, and a large measure of grace, not to be gradually
corrupted by them.  We are led to set our hearts upon them, and in the
same degree to withdraw them from God.  We become unwilling to leave
this visible state of things, and to be reduced to a level with those
multitudes who are at present inferior to ourselves.  Prosperity is
sufficient to seduce, although not to satisfy.  Hence death and
judgment are unwelcome subjects of reflection to the rich and powerful;
for death takes from them those comforts which habit has made necessary
to them, and throws them adrift on a new order of things, of which they
know nothing, save that in it there is no respect of persons.

And as these goods lead us to love the world, so again do they lead us
to trust in the world: we not only become worldly-minded, but
unbelieving; our wills becoming corrupt, our understandings also become
dark, and disliking the truth, we gradually learn to maintain and
defend error.  St. Paul speaks of those who "having put away a good
conscience, concerning faith made shipwreck[3]."  Familiarity with this
world makes men discontented with the doctrine of the narrow way; they
fall into heresies, and attempt to attain salvation on easier terms
than those which Christ holds out to us.  In a variety of ways this
love of the world operates.  Men's opinions are imperceptibly formed by
their wishes.  If, for instance, we see our worldly prospects depend,
humanly speaking, upon a certain person, we are led to court him, to
honour him, and adopt his views, and trust in an arm of flesh, till we
forget the overruling power of God's providence, and the necessity of
His blessing, for the building of the house and the keeping of the city.

And moreover, these temporal advantages, as they are considered, have a
strong tendency to render us self-confident.  When a man has been
advanced in the world by means of his own industry and skill, when he
began poor and ends rich, how apt will he be to pride himself, and
confide, in his own contrivances and his own resources!  Or when a man
feels himself possessed of good abilities; of quickness in entering
into a subject, or of powers of argument to discourse readily upon it,
or of acuteness to detect fallacies in dispute with little effort, or
of a delicate and cultivated taste, so as to separate with precision
the correct and beautiful in thought and feeling from the faulty and
irregular, how will such an one be tempted to self-complacency and
self-approbation! how apt will he be to rely upon himself, to rest
contented with himself, to be harsh and impetuous; or supercilious; or
to be fastidious, indolent, unpractical; and to despise the pure,
self-denying, humble temper of religion, as something irrational, dull,
enthusiastic, or needlessly rigorous!

These considerations on the extreme danger of possessing temporal
advantages, will be greatly strengthened by considering the conduct of
holy men when gifted with them.  Take, for instance, Hezekiah, one of
the best of the Jewish kings.  He, too, had been schooled by
occurrences which one might have thought would have beaten down all
pride and self-esteem.  The king of Assyria had come against him, and
seemed prepared to overwhelm him with his hosts; and he had found his
God a mighty Deliverer, cutting off in one night of the enemy an
hundred fourscore and five thousand men.  And again, he had been
miraculously recovered from sickness, when the sun's shadow turned ten
degrees back, to convince him of the certainty of the promised
recovery.  Yet when the king of Babylon sent ambassadors to
congratulate him on this recovery, we find this holy man ostentatiously
displaying to them his silver, and gold, and armour.  Truly the heart
is "deceitful above all things;" and it was, indeed, to manifest this
more fully that God permitted him thus to act.  God "left him," says
the inspired writer, "to try him, that he might know all that was in
his heart[4]."  Let us take David as another instance of the great
danger of prosperity; he, too, will exemplify the unsatisfactory nature
of temporal goods; for which, think you, was the happier, the lowly
shepherd or the king of Israel?  Observe his simple reliance on God and
his composure, when advancing against Goliath: "The Lord," he says,
"that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the
bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine[5]."  And
compare this with his grievous sins, his continual errors, his
weaknesses, inconsistencies, and then his troubles and mortifications
after coming to the throne of Israel; and who will not say that his
advancement was the occasion of both sorrow and sin, which, humanly
speaking, he would have escaped, had he died amid the sheepfolds of
Jesse?  He was indeed most wonderfully sustained by Divine grace, and
died in the fear of God; yet what rightminded and consistent Christian
but must shrink from the bare notion of possessing a worldly greatness
so corrupting and seducing as David's kingly power was shown to be in
the instance of so great a Saint?  The case of Solomon is still more
striking; his falling away even surpasses our anticipation of what our
Saviour calls "the deceitfulness of riches."  He may indeed, for what
we know, have repented; but at least the history tells us nothing of
it.  All we are told is, that "King Solomon loved many strange
women . . . and it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives
turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect
with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.  For
Solomon went after Ashtaroth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after
Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites[6]."  Yet this was he who had
offered up that most sublime and affecting prayer at the Dedication of
the Temple, and who, on a former occasion, when the Almighty gave him
the choice of any blessing he should ask, had preferred an
understanding heart to long life, and honour, and riches.

So dangerous, indeed, is the possession of the goods of this world,
that, to judge from the Scripture history, seldom has God given unmixed
prosperity to any one whom He loves.  "Blessed is the man," says the
Psalmist, "whom Thou chastenest, and teachest him out of Thy law[7]."
Even the best men require some pain or grief to sober them and keep
their hearts right.  Thus, to take the example of St. Paul himself,
even his labours, sufferings, and anxieties, he tells us, would not
have been sufficient to keep him from being exalted above measure,
through the abundance of the revelations, unless there had been added
some further cross, some "thorn in the flesh[8]," as he terms it, some
secret affliction, of which we are not particularly informed, to humble
him, and to keep him in a sense of his weak and dependent condition.

The history of the Church after him affords us an additional lesson of
the same serious truth.  For three centuries it was exposed to heathen
persecution; during that long period God's Hand was upon His people:
what did they do when that Hand was taken off?  How did they act when
the world was thrown open to them, and the saints possessed the high
places of the earth? did they enjoy it? far from it, they shrank from
that which they might, had they chosen, have made much of; they denied
themselves what was set before them; when God's Hand was removed, their
own hand was heavy upon them.  Wealth, honour, and power, they put away
from them.  They recollected our Lord's words, "How hardly shall they
that have riches enter into the kingdom of God[9]!"  And St. James's,
"Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs
of the kingdom[10]?"  For three centuries they had no need to think of
those words, for Christ remembered them, and kept them humble; but when
He left them to themselves, then they did voluntarily what they had
hitherto suffered patiently.  They were resolved that the Gospel
character of a Christian should be theirs.  Still, as before, Christ
spoke of His followers as poor and weak, and lowly and simple-minded;
men of plain lives, men of prayer, not "faring sumptuously," or clad in
"soft raiment," or "taking thought for the morrow."  They recollected
what He said to the young Ruler, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell
that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven, and come and follow Me."  And so they put off their "gay
clothing," their "gold, and pearls, and costly array;" they "sold that
they had, and gave alms;" they "washed one another's feet;" they "had
all things common."  They formed themselves into communities for prayer
and praise, for labour and study, for the care of the poor, for mutual
edification, and preparation for Christ; and thus, as soon as the world
professed to be Christian, Christians at once set up among them a
witness against the world, and kings and monks came into the Church
together.  And from that time to this, never has the union of the
Church with the State prospered, but when the Church was in union also
with the hermitage and the cell.

Moreover, in those religious ages, Christians avoided greatness in the
Church as well as in the world.  They would not accept rank and station
on account of their spiritual peril, when they were no longer
encompassed by temporal trials.  When they were elected to the
episcopate, when they were appointed to the priesthood, they fled away
and hid themselves.  They recollected our Lord's words, "Whosoever will
be chief among you, let him be your servant;" and again, "Be not ye
called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are
brethren[11]."  And when discovered and forced to the eminence which
they shunned, they made much lament, and were in many tears.  And they
felt that their higher consideration in the world demanded of them some
greater strictness and self-denial in their course of life, lest it
should turn to a curse, lest the penance of which it would defraud them
here, should be visited on them in manifold measure hereafter.  They
feared to have "their good things" and "their consolation" on earth,
lest they should not have Lazarus' portion in heaven.  That state of
things indeed is now long passed away, but let us not miss the
doctrinal lesson which it conveys, if we will not take it for our

Before I conclude, however, I must take notice of an objection which
may be made to what I have been saying.  It may be asked, "Are not
these dangerous things the gifts of God?  Are they not even called
blessings?  Did not God bestow riches and honour upon Solomon as a
reward?  And did He not praise him for praying for wisdom?  And does
not St. Paul say, 'Covet earnestly the best gifts[12]?'"  It is true;
nor did I ever mean to say that these things were bad in themselves,
but bad, for us, if we seek them as ends, and dangerous to us from
their fascination.  "Every creature of God is good," as St. Paul says,
"and nothing to be refused[13];" but circumstances may make good gifts
injurious in our particular case.  Wine is good in itself, but not for
a man in a fever.  If our souls were in perfect health, riches and
authority, and strong powers of mind, would be very suitable to us: but
they are weak and diseased, and require so great a grace of God to bear
these advantages well, that we may be well content to be without them.

Still it may be urged, Are we then absolutely to give them up if we
have them, and not accept them when offered?  It may be a duty to keep
them, it is sometimes a duty to accept them; for in certain cases God
calls upon us not so much to put them away, as to put away our old
natures, and make us new hearts and new spirits, wherewith to receive
them.  At the same time, it is merely for our safety to know their
perilous nature, and to beware of them, and in no case to take them
simply for their own sake, but with a view to God's glory.  They must
be instruments in our hands to promote the cause of Gospel truth.  And,
in this light, they have their value, and impart their real pleasure;
but be it remembered, that value and that happiness are imparted by the
end to which they are dedicated; It is "the altar that sanctifieth the
gift[14]:" but, compared with the end to which they must be directed,
their real and intrinsic excellence is little indeed.

In this point of view it is that we are to covet earnestly the best
gifts: for it is a great privilege to be allowed to serve the Church.
Have we wealth? let it be the means of extending the knowledge of the
truth--abilities? of recommending it--power? of defending it.

From what I have said concerning the danger of possessing the things
which the world admires, we may draw the following rule: use them, as
far as given, with gratitude for what is really good in them, and with
a desire to promote God's glory by means of them, but do not go out of
the way to seek them.  They will not on the whole make you happier, and
they may make you less religious.

For us, indeed, who are all the adopted children of God our Saviour,
what addition is wanting to complete our happiness?  What can increase
their peace who believe and trust in the Son of God?  Shall we add a
drop to the ocean, or grains to the sand of the sea?  Shall we ask for
an earthly inheritance, who have the fulness of an heavenly one; power,
when in prayer we can use the power of Christ, or wisdom, guided as we
may be by the true Wisdom and Light of men?  It is in this sense that
the Gospel of Christ is a leveller of ranks: we pay, indeed, our
superiors full reverence, and with cheerfulness as unto the Lord; and
we honour eminent talents as deserving admiration and reward, and the
more readily act we thus, because these are little things to pay.  The
time is short, year follows year, and the world is passing away.  It is
of small consequence to those who are beloved of God, and walk in the
Spirit of truth, whether they pay or receive honour, which is but
transitory and profitless.  To the true Christian the world assumes
another and more interesting appearance; it is no longer a stage for
the great and noble, for the ambitious to fret in, and the wealthy to
revel in; but it is a scene of probation.  Every soul is a candidate
for immortality.  And the more we realize this view of things, the more
will the accidental distinctions of nature or fortune die away from our
view, and we shall be led habitually to pray, that upon every Christian
may descend, in rich abundance, not merely worldly goods, but that
heavenly grace which alone can turn this world to good account for us,
and make it the path of peace and of life everlasting.

[1] Prov. xxx. 8.

[2] Eccles. i. 18.

[3] 1 Tim. i. 19.

[4] 2 Chron. xxxii. 31.

[5] 1 Sam. xvii. 37.

[6] 1 Kings xi. 1, 4, 5.

[7] Ps. xciv. 12.

[8] 2 Cor. xii. 7.

[9] Mark x. 23.

[10] James ii. 5.

[11] Matt. xx. 27, xxiii. 8.

[12] 1 Cor. xii. 31.

[13] 1 Tim. iv. 4.

[14] 1 Matt. xxiii. 19.


The Season of Epiphany.

"_This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and
manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him._"--John
ii. 11.

The Epiphany is a season especially set apart for adoring the glory of
Christ.  The word may be taken to mean the manifestation of His glory,
and leads us to the contemplation of Him as a King upon His throne in
the midst of His court, with His servants around Him, and His guards in
attendance.  At Christmas we commemorate His grace; and in Lent His
temptation; and on Good Friday His sufferings and death; and on Easter
Day His victory; and on Holy Thursday His return to the Father; and in
Advent we anticipate His second coming.  And in all of these seasons He
does something, or suffers something: but in the Epiphany and the weeks
after it, we celebrate Him, not as on His field of battle, or in His
solitary retreat, but as an august and glorious King; we view Him as
the Object of our worship.  Then only, during His whole earthly
history, did He fulfil the type of Solomon, and held (as I may say) a
court, and received the homage of His subjects; viz. when He was an
infant.  His throne was His undefiled Mother's arms; His chamber of
state was a cottage or a cave; the worshippers were the wise men of the
East, and they brought presents, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  All
around and about Him seemed of earth, except to the eye of faith; one
note alone had He of Divinity.  As great men of this world are often
plainly dressed, and look like other men, all but as having some one
costly ornament on their breast or on their brow; so the Son of Mary in
His lowly dwelling, and in an infant's form, was declared to be the Son
of God Most High, the Father of Ages, and the Prince of Peace, by His
star; a wonderful appearance which had guided the wise men all the way
from the East, even unto Bethlehem.

This being the character of this Sacred Season, our services throughout
it, as far as they are proper to it, are full of the image of a king in
his royal court, of a sovereign surrounded by subjects, of a glorious
prince upon a throne.  There is no thought of war, or of strife, or of
suffering, or of triumph, or of vengeance connected with the Epiphany,
but of august majesty, of power, of prosperity, of splendour, of
serenity, of benignity.  Now, if at any time, it is fit to say, "The
Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before
Him[1]." "The Lord sitteth above the waterflood, and the Lord remaineth
a king for ever."  "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is
our refuge." "O come, let us worship, and fall down, and kneel before
the Lord our Maker."  "O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before
His footstool, for He is Holy."  "O worship the Lord in the beauty of
holiness; bring presents, and come into His courts."

I said that at this time of year the portions of our services which are
proper to the season are of a character to remind us of a king on his
throne, receiving the devotion of his subjects.  Such is the narrative
itself, already referred to, of the coming of the wise men, who sought
Him with their gifts from a place afar off, and fell down and
worshipped Him.  Such too, is the account of His baptism, which forms
the Second Lesson of the feast of the Epiphany, when the Holy Ghost
descended on Him, and a Voice from heaven acknowledged Him to be the
Son of God.  And if we look at the Gospels read throughout the season,
we shall find them all containing some kingly action of Christ, the
Mediator between God and man.  Thus in the Gospel for the First Sunday,
He manifests His glory in the temple at the age of twelve years,
sitting among the doctors, and astonishing them with His wisdom.  In
the Gospel for the Second Sunday He manifests His glory at the wedding
feast, when He turned the water into wine, a miracle not of necessity
or urgency, but especially an august and bountiful act--the act of a
King, who out of His abundance gave a gift to His own, therewith to
make merry with their friends.  In the Third Sunday, the leper worships
Christ, who thereupon heals him; the centurion, again, reminds Him of
His Angels and ministers, and He speaks the word, and his servant is
restored forthwith.  In the Fourth, a storm arises on the lake, while
He is peacefully sleeping, without care or sorrow, on a pillow; then He
rises and rebukes the winds and the sea, and a calm follows, deep as
that of His own soul, and the beholders worship Him.  And next He casts
out Legion, after the man possessed with it had also "run and
worshipped Him[2]."  In the Fifth, we hear of His kingdom on earth, and
of the enemy sowing tares amid the good seed.  And in the Sixth, of His
second Epiphany from heaven, "with power and great glory."

Such is the series of manifestations which the Sundays after the
Epiphany bring before us.  When He is with the doctors in the temple.
He is manifested as a prophet--in turning the water into wine, as a
priest--in His miracles of healing, as a bounteous Lord, giving out of
His abundance--in His rebuking the sea, as a Sovereign, whose word is
law--in the parable of the wheat and tares, as a guardian and ruler--in
His second coming, as a lawgiver and judge.

And as in these Gospels we hear of our Saviour's greatness, so in the
Epistles and First Lessons we hear of the privileges and the duties of
the new people, whom He has formed to show forth His praise.
Christians are at once the temple of Christ, and His worshippers and
ministers _in_ the temple; they are the Bride of the Lamb taken
collectively, and taken individually, they are the friends of the
Bridegroom and the guests at the marriage feast.  In these various
points of view are they presented to us in the Services during these
weeks.  In the Lessons from the prophet Isaiah we read of the gifts and
privileges, the characteristics, the power, the fortunes of the
Church--how widely spreading, even throughout all the Gentiles; how
awful and high, how miraculously endowed, how revered, how powerful
upon earth, how rich in temporal goods, how holy, how pure in doctrine,
how full of the Spirit.  And in the Epistles for the successive
Sundays, we hear of the duties and distinguishing marks of her true
members, principally as laid down in the twelfth and thirteenth
chapters of St. Paul to the Romans; then as the same Apostle enjoins
them upon the Colossians; and then in St. John's exhortations in his
General Epistle.

The Collects are of the same character, as befit the supplications of
subjects coming before their King.  The first is for knowledge and
power, the second is for peace, the third is for strength in our
infirmities, the fourth is for help in temptation, the fifth is for
protection, and the sixth is for preparation and purification against
Christ's second coming.  There is none which would suit a season of
trial, or of repentance, or of waiting, or of exultation--they befit a
season of peace, thanksgiving, and adoration, when Christ is not
manifested in pain, conflict, or victory, but in the tranquil
possession of His kingdom.

It will be sufficient to make one reflection, which suggests itself
from what I have been saying.

You will observe, then, that the only display of royal greatness, the
only season of majesty, homage, and glory, which our Lord had on earth,
was in His infancy and youth.  Gabriel's message to Mary was in its
style and manner such as befitted an Angel speaking to Christ's Mother.
Elisabeth, too, saluted Mary, and the future Baptist his hidden Lord,
in the same honourable way.  Angels announced His birth, and the
shepherds worshipped.  A star appeared, and the wise men rose from the
East and made Him offerings.  He was brought to the temple, and Simeon
took Him in His arms, and returned thanks for Him.  He grew to twelve
years old, and again He appeared in the temple, and took His seat in
the midst of the doctors.  But here His earthly majesty had its end, or
if seen afterwards, it was but now and then, by glimpses and by sudden
gleams, but with no steady sustained light, and no diffused radiance.
We are told at the close of the last-mentioned narrative, "And He went
down with His parents, and came to Nazareth, _and was subjected, unto
them_[3]."  His subjection and servitude now began in fact.  He had
come in the form of a servant, and now He took on Him a servant's
office.  How much is contained in the idea of His subjection! and it
began, and His time of glory ended, when He was twelve years old.

Solomon, the great type of the Prince of Peace, reigned forty years,
and his name and greatness was known far and wide through the East.
Joseph, the much-loved son of Jacob, who in an earlier age of the
Church, was a type of Christ in His kingdom, was in power and favour
eighty years, twice as long as Solomon.  But Christ, the true Revealer
of secrets, and the Dispenser of the bread of life, the true wisdom and
majesty of the Father, manifested His glory but in His early years, and
then the Sun of Righteousness was clouded.  For He was not to reign
really, till He left the world.  He has reigned ever since; nay,
reigned in the world, though He is not in sensible presence in it--the
invisible King of a visible kingdom--for He came on earth but to show
what His reign would be, after He had left it, and to submit to
suffering and dishonour, that He _might_ reign.

It often happens, that when persons are in serious illnesses, and in
delirium in consequence, or other disturbance of mind, they have some
few minutes of respite in the midst of it, when they are even more than
themselves, as if to show us what they really are, and to interpret for
us what else would be dreary.  And again, some have thought that the
minds of children have on them traces of something more than earthly,
which fade away as life goes on, but are the promise of what is
intended for them hereafter.  And somewhat in this way, if we may dare
compare ourselves with our gracious Lord, in a parallel though higher
way, Christ descends to the shadows of this world, with the transitory
tokens on Him of that future glory into which He could not enter till
He had suffered.  The star burned brightly over Him for awhile, though
it then faded away.

We see the same law, as it may be called, of Divine Providence in other
cases also.  Consider, for instance, how the prospect of our Lord's
passion opens upon the Apostles in the sacred history.  Where did they
hear of it?  "Moses and Elias on the mountain appeared with Him in
glory, and spake of His decease, which He should accomplish at
Jerusalem[4]."  That is, the season of His bitter trial was preceded by
a short gleam of the glory which was to be, when He was suddenly
transfigured, "and the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His
raiment was white and glistering[5]."  And with this glory in prospect,
our Lord abhorred not to die: as it is written, "Who for the joy that
was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame."

Again, He forewarned His Apostles that they in like manner should be
persecuted, for righteousness' sake, and be afflicted and delivered up,
and hated and killed.  Such was to be their life in this world, "that
if in this world only they had had hope in Christ, they had been of all
men most miserable[6]."  Well then, observe, their trial too was
preceded by a season of peace and pleasantness, in anticipation of
their future reward; for before the day of Pentecost, for forty days
Christ was with them, soothing, comforting, confirming them, "and
speaking of the things pertaining unto the kingdom of God[7]."  As
Moses stood on the mount and saw the promised land and all its riches,
and yet Joshua had to fight many battles before he got possession, so
did the Apostles, before descending into the valley of the shadow of
death, whence nought of heaven was to be seen, stand upon the heights,
and look over that valley, which they had to cross, to the city of the
living God beyond it.

And so again, St. Paul, after many years of toil, refers back to a time
when he had a celestial vision, anticipatory of what was to be his
blessedness in the end.  "I knew a man in Christ," he says, meaning
himself, "about fourteen years ago, caught up to the third
heaven. . . .  And I knew such a man . . . how that he was caught up
into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for
a man to utter[8]."  St. Paul then, as the twelve Apostles, and as our
Lord before him, had his brief season of repose and consolation before
the battle.

And lastly: the whole Church also may be said to have had a similar
mercy vouchsafed to it at first, in anticipation of what is to be in
the end.  We know, alas, too well, that, according to our Lord's
account of it, tares are to be with the wheat, fish of every kind in
the net, all through its sojourning on earth.  But in the end, "the
saints shall stand before the throne of God, and serve Him day and
night in His temple: and the Lamb shall feed them, and shall lead them
unto living fountains of waters," and there shall be no more "sorrow
nor pain, nor any thing that defileth or worketh abomination," "for
without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and
idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."  Now was not this
future glory shadowed forth in that infancy of the Church, when before
the seal of the new dispensation was opened and trial began, "there was
silence in heaven for half an hour;" and "the disciples continued daily
with one accord in the temple, and in prayers, breaking bread from
house to house, being of one heart, and of one soul, eating their meat
with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour
with all the people[9];" while hypocrites and "liars," like Ananias and
Sapphira, were struck dead, and "sorcerers," like Simon, were detected
and denounced?

To conclude; let us thankfully cherish all seasons of peace and joy
which are vouchsafed us here below.  Let us beware of abusing them, and
of resting in them, of forgetting that they _are_ special privileges,
of neglecting to look out for trouble and trial, as our due and our
portion.  Trial is our portion here--we must not think it strange when
trial comes after peace.  Still God mercifully does grant a respite now
and then; and perhaps He grants it to us the more, the more careful we
are not to abuse it.  For all seasons we must thank Him, for time of
sorrow and time of joy, time of warfare and time of peace.  And the
more we thank Him for the one, the more we shall be drawn to thank Him
for the other.  Each has its own proper fruit, and its own peculiar
blessedness.  Yet our mortal flesh shrinks from the one, and of itself
prefers the other;--it prefers rest to toil, peace to war, joy to
sorrow, health to pain and sickness.  When then Christ gives us what is
pleasant, let us take it as a refreshment by the way, that we may, when
God calls, go in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights
unto Horeb, the mount of God.  Let us rejoice in Epiphany with
trembling, that at Septuagesima we may go into the vineyard with the
labourers with cheerfulness, and may sorrow in Lent with thankfulness;
let us rejoice now, not as if we have attained, but in hope of
attaining.  Let us take our present happiness, not as our true rest,
but, as what the land of Canaan was to the Israelites,--a type and
shadow of it.  If we now enjoy God's ordinances, let us not cease to
pray that they may prepare us for His presence hereafter.  If we enjoy
the presence of friends, let them remind us of the communion of saints
before His throne.  Let us trust in nothing here, yet draw hope from
every thing--that at length the Lord may be our everlasting light, and
the days of our mourning may be ended.

[1] Hab. ii. 20.

[2] Mark v. 6.

[3] Luke ii. 51.

[4] Luke ix. 30, 31.

[5] Luke ix. 29.

[6] 1 Cor. xv. 19.

[7] Acts i. 3.

[8] 2 Cor. xii. 3, 4.

[9] Acts ii. 46, 47.


The Duty of Self-Denial.

"_Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned
of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child._"--Psalm cxxxi. 2.

Self-denial of some kind or other is involved, as is evident, in the
very notion of renewal and holy obedience.  To change our hearts is to
learn to love things which we do not naturally love--to unlearn the
love of this world; but this involves, of course, a thwarting of our
natural wishes and tastes.  To be righteous and obedient implies
self-command; but to possess power we must have gained it; nor can we
gain it without a vigorous struggle, a persevering warfare against
ourselves.  The very notion of being religious implies self-denial,
because by nature we do not love religion.

Self-denial, then, is a subject never out of place in Christian
teaching; still more appropriate is it at a time like this, when we
have entered upon the forty days of Lent, the season of the year set
apart for fasting and humiliation.

This indeed is not all that is meant by self-denial; but before
proceeding with the subject, I would ask whether the generality of
mankind go as far as this: it is plain that they do not.  They do not
go so far as to realize to themselves that religious obedience involves
a thwarting of those wishes and inclinations which are natural to them.
They do not like to be convinced, much less will they act upon the
notion, that religion is difficult.  You may hear men of the world say
plainly, and as if in the way of argument, "that God will not punish us
for indulging the passions with which we are born; that it is no praise
to be unnatural; and no crime to be a man."  This, however, may seem an
extreme case; yet are there not a great many decent and respectable
men, as far as outward character goes, who at least fix their thoughts
on worldly comfort, as the greatest of goods, and who labour to place
themselves in easy circumstances, under the notion that, when they can
retire from the business of their temporal calling, then they may (in a
quiet, unexceptionable way of course) consult their own tastes and
likings, take their pleasure, and indulge themselves in self-importance
and self-satisfaction, in the enjoyment of wealth, power, distinction,
popularity, and credit?  I am not at this moment asking whether such
indulgences are in themselves allowable or not, but whether the life
which centres in them does not imply the absence of any very deep views
of sanctification as a process, a change, a painful toil, of working
out our own salvation with fear and trembling, of preparing to meet our
God, and waiting for the judgment?  You may go into mixed society; you
will hear men conversing on their friend's prospects, openings in
trade, or realized wealth, on his advantageous situation, the pleasant
connexions he has formed, the land he has purchased, the house he has
built; then they amuse themselves with conjecturing what this or that
man's property may be, where he lost, where he gained, his shrewdness,
or his rashness, or his good fortune in this or that speculation.
Observe, I do not say that such conversation is wrong, I do not say
that we must always have on our lips the very thoughts which are
deepest in our hearts, or that it is safe to judge of individuals by
such speeches; but when this sort of conversation is the customary
standard conversation of the world, and when a line of conduct
answering to it is the prevalent conduct of the world (and this is the
case), is it not a grave question for each of us, as living in the
world, to ask himself what abiding notion we have of the necessity of
self-denial, and how far we are clear of the danger of resembling that
evil generation which "ate and drank, which married wives, and were
given in marriage, which bought and sold, planted, and builded, till it
rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all[1]?"

It is strange, indeed, how far this same forgetfulness and
transgression of the duty of self-denial at present spreads.  Take
another class of persons, very different from those just mentioned, men
who profess much love for religion--I mean such as maintain, that if a
man has faith he will have works without his trouble, so that he need
be at no pains about performing them.  Such persons at best seem to
say, that religious obedience is to follow as a matter of course, an
easy work, or rather a necessary consequence, from having some strong
urgent motive, or from some bright vision of the Truth acting on the
mind; and thus they dismiss from their religion the notion of
self-denial, or the effort and warfare of faith against our corrupt
natural will, whether they actually own that they dismiss it or not.  I
say that they do this at best, for it often happens, as I just now
intimated, that they actually avow their belief that faith is
all-sufficient, and do not let their minds dwell at all on the
necessity of works of righteousness.  All this being considered, surely
I am not wrong in saying that the notion of self-denial as a distinct
religious duty, and, much more (as it may well be called), the essence
of religious obedience, is not admitted into the minds of the
generality of men.

But let it be observed, I have hitherto spoken of self-denial not as a
distinct duty actually commanded in Scripture, but merely as it is
involved in the very notion of sanctification, as necessarily attendant
on that change of nature which God the Holy Spirit vouchsafes to work
within us.  But now let us consider it in the light of the Scripture
precepts concerning it, and we shall come to a still more serious view
of it, serious (I mean) to those who are living to the world; it is
this,--that it is our duty, not only to deny ourselves in what is
sinful, but even, in a certain measure, in lawful things, to keep a
restraint over ourselves even in innocent pleasures and enjoyments.

Now the first proof I shall give of this will at the same time explain
what I mean.

Fasting is clearly a Christian duty, as our Saviour implies in His
Sermon on the Mount.  Now what is fasting but a refraining from what is
lawful; not merely from what is sinful, but what is innocent?--from
that bread which we might lawfully take and eat with thanksgiving, but
which at certain times we do not take, in order to deny ourselves.
Such is Christian self-denial,--not merely a mortification of what is
sinful, but an abstinence even from God's blessings.

Again: consider the following declaration of our Saviour: He first
tells us, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto
life, and few there be that find it."  And again: "Strive to enter in,
for many, I say unto you, will seek (only seek) to enter in, and shall
not be able."  Then He explains to us what this peculiar difficulty of
a Christian's life consists in: "If any man come to Me, and hate not
his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple[2]."  Now
whatever is precisely meant by this (which I will not here stop to
inquire), so far is evident, that our Lord enjoins a certain
refraining, not merely from sin, but from innocent comforts and
enjoyments of this life, or a self-denial in things lawful.

Again, He says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow Me[3]."  Here He shows us from
His own example what Christian self-denial is.  It is taking on us a
cross after His pattern, not a mere refraining from sin, for He had no
sin, but a giving up what we might lawfully use.  This was the peculiar
character in which Christ came on earth.  It was this spontaneous and
exuberant self-denial which brought Him down.  He who was one with God,
took upon Him our nature, and suffered death--and why? to save us whom
He needed not save.  Thus He denied Himself, and took up His cross.
This is the very aspect, in which God, as revealed in Scripture, is
distinguished from that exhibition of His glory, which nature gives us:
power, wisdom, love, mercy, long-suffering--these attributes, though
far more fully and clearly displayed in Scripture than in nature, still
are in their degree seen on the face of the visible creation; but
self-denial, if it may be said, this incomprehensible attribute of
Divine Providence, is disclosed to us only in Scripture.  "God so loved
the world that He gave His Son[4]."  Here is self-denial.  And the Son
of God so loved us, that "though He was rich yet for our sakes He
became poor[5]."  Here is our Saviour's self-denial.  "He pleased not

And what Christ did when He came on earth, that have all His saints
done both before and since His coming.  Even the saints of the Old
Testament so conducted themselves, to whom a temporal promise was made,
and who, if any, might have surrendered themselves to the enjoyment of
it.  They had a temporal promise, they had a present reward; yet, with
a noble faith, and a largeness of soul (how they put us to shame who
have so much higher privileges!) the Jewish believers grudged
themselves the milk and honey of Canaan, as seeking a better country,
that is a heavenly.  Elijah, how unlike is he to one who had a temporal
promise!  Or take again the instance of Daniel, which is still more
striking,--"They that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses."  Daniel
was first in power in the palace of the greatest monarchs of his time.
Yet what do we read of him?  First of his living upon pulse and water,
afterwards of his fasting in sackcloth and ashes, at another time of
his mourning three full weeks, eating no pleasant bread, neither flesh
nor wine coming in his mouth, nor anointing himself at all, till those
three weeks were fulfilled.  Can any thing more clearly show the duty
of self-denial, even in lawful things, in the case of Christians, when
even God's servants, before Christ came and commanded it, in proportion
as they had evangelical gifts, observed it?

Or again, consider the words of the text spoken by David, who, if any,
had riches and power poured upon him by the hand of God.  He says, he
has "behaved and quieted" himself lest he should be proud, and made
himself "as a weaned child."  What an impressive word is "weaned!"
David had put away the unreserved love and the use of this world.  We
naturally love the world, and innocently; it is before us, and meets
our eyes and hands first; its pleasures are dear to us, and many of
them not in themselves sinful, only in their excess, and some of them
not sinful at all;--those, for instance, which we derive from our home,
our friends, and our prospects, are the first and natural food of our
mind.  But as children are weaned from their first nourishment, so must
our souls put away childish things, and be turned from the pleasures of
earth to those of heaven; we must learn to compose and quiet ourselves
as a weaned child, to put up with the loss of what is dear to us, nay,
voluntarily to give it up for Christ's sake.

Much more after Christ came does St. Paul give us this same lesson in
the ninth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians: "Every one
that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things," i. e. has
power over himself, and keeps himself in subjection, as he presently
says.  Again, in the seventh chapter, "The time is short; it remaineth
that both they that have wives be as though they had none, and they
that weep as though they wept not, and they that rejoice as though they
rejoiced not, and they that buy as though they possessed not, and they
that use this world as not abusing it."  Here the same doctrine of
moderation or temperance in lawful indulgences is strongly enforced; to
weep, to rejoice, to buy, to possess, to marry, to use this world, are
not unlawful, yet we must not use God's earthly gifts to the full, but
in all things we must be self-denying.

Such is Christian self-denial, and it is incumbent upon us for many
reasons.  The Christian denies himself in things lawful because he is
aware of his own weakness and liability to sin; he dares not walk on
the edge of a precipice; instead of going to the extreme of what is
allowable, he keeps at a distance from evil, that he may be safe.  He
abstains lest he should not be temperate; he fasts lest he should eat
and drink with the drunken.  As is evident, many things are in
themselves right and unexceptionable which are inexpedient in the case
of a weak and sinful creature: his case is like that of a sick person;
many kinds of food, good for a man in health, are hurtful when he is
ill--wine is poison to a man in a fierce fever.  And just so, many
acts, thoughts, and feelings, which would have been allowable in Adam
before his fall, are prejudicial or dangerous in man fallen.  For
instance, anger is not sinful in itself.  St. Paul implies this, when
he says, "Be ye angry and sin not[6]."  And our Saviour on one occasion
is said to have been angry, and He was sinless.  Almighty God, too, is
angry with the wicked.  Anger, then, is not in itself a sinful feeling;
but in man, constituted as he is, it is so highly dangerous to indulge
it, that self-denial here is a duty from mere prudence.  It is almost
impossible for a man to be angry only so far as he ought to be; he will
exceed the right limit, his anger will degenerate into pride,
sullenness, malice, cruelty, revenge, and hatred.  It will inflame his
diseased soul, and poison it.  Therefore, he must abstain from it, as
if it were _in itself_ a sin (though it is not), for it is practically
such to him.

Again, the love of praise is in itself an innocent passion, and might
be indulged, were the world's opinion right and our hearts sound; but,
as things are, human applause, if listened to, will soon make us forget
how weak and sinful we are; so we must deny ourselves, and accept the
praise even of good men, and those we love, cautiously and with reserve.

So, again, love of power is commonly attendant on a great mind; but he
is the greatest of a sinful race who refrains himself, and turns from
the temptation of it; for it is at once unbecoming and dangerous in a
son of Adam.  "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your
minister," says our Lord; "and whosoever will be chief among you, let
him be your servant[7]."  His reward will be hereafter; to reign with
Christ, to sit down with Him on His throne, to judge angels,--yet
without pride.

Again, even in affection towards our relations and friends, we must be
watchful over ourselves, lest it seduce us from the path of duty.  Many
a father, from a kind wish to provide well for his family, neglects his
own soul.  Here, then, is a fault; not that we can love our relations
too well, but that that strong and most praiseworthy affection for them
may, accidentally, ensnare and corrupt our weak nature.

These considerations will show us the meaning of our Saviour's words
already cited, about the duty of hating our friends.  To hate is to
feel that perfect distaste for an object, that you wish it put away and
got rid of; it is to turn away from it, and to blot out the thought of
it from your mind.  Now this is just the feeling we must cherish
towards all earthly blessings, so far as Christ does not cast His light
upon them.  He (blessed be His name) has sanctioned and enjoined love
and care for our relations and friends: Such love is a great duty; but
should at any time His guidance lead us by a strange way, and the light
of His providence pass on, and cast these objects of our earthly
affection into the shade, then they must be at once in the shade to
_us_,--they must, for the time, disappear from our hearts.  "He that
loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me."  So He
says; and at such times, though still loving them, we shall seem to
hate them; for we shall put aside the thought of them, and act as if
they did not exist.  And in this sense an ancient and harsh proverb is
true: we must always so love our friends as feeling that one day or
other we may perchance be called upon to hate them,--that is, forget
them in the pursuit of higher duties.

Here, again, then, is an instance of self-denial in lawful things; and
if a person says it is painful thus to feel, and that it checks the
spontaneous and continual flow of love towards our friends to have this
memento sounding in our ears, we must boldly acknowledge that it is
painful.  It is a sad thought, not that we can ever be called upon
actually to put away the love of them, but to have to act as if we did
not love them,--as Abraham when called on to slay his son.  And this
thought of the uncertainty of the future, doubtless, does tinge all our
brightest affections (as far as this world is concerned) with a grave
and melancholy hue.  We need not shrink from this confession,
remembering that this life is not our rest or happiness;--"_that_
remaineth" to come.  This sober chastised feeling is the very temper of
David, when he speaks of having composed and quieted his soul, and
weaned it from the babe's nourishment which this world supplies.

I hope I have made it clear, by these instances, what is meant by
Christian self-denial.  If we have good health, and are in easy
circumstances, let us beware of high-mindedness, self-sufficiency,
self-conceit, arrogance; of delicacy of living, indulgences, luxuries,
comforts.  Nothing is so likely to corrupt our hearts, and to seduce us
from God, as to surround ourselves with comforts,--to have things our
own way,--to be the centre of a sort of world, whether of things
animate or inanimate, which minister to us.  For then, in turn, we
shall depend on them; they will become necessary to us; their very
service and adulation will lead us to trust ourselves to them, and to
idolize them.  What examples are there in Scripture of soft luxurious
men!  Was it Abraham before the Law, who wandered through his days,
without a home? or Moses, who gave the Law, and died in the wilderness?
or David under the Law, who "had no proud looks," and was "as a weaned
child?" or the Prophets, in the latter days of the Law, who wandered in
sheep-skins and goat-skins? or the Baptist, when the Gospel was
superseding it, who was clad in raiment of camel's hair, and ate the
food of the wilderness? or the Apostles, who were "the offscouring of
all things"? or our blessed Saviour, who "had not a place to lay His
head"?  Who are the soft luxurious men in Scripture?  There was the
rich man, who "fared sumptuously every day," and then "lifted up his
eyes in hell, being in torments."  There was that other, whose "ground
brought forth plentifully," and who said, "Soul, thou hast much goods
laid up for many years;" and his soul was required of him that night.
There was Demas, who forsook St. Paul, "having loved this present
world."  And, alas! there was that highly-favoured, that
divinely-inspired king, rich and wise Solomon, whom it availed nothing
to have measured the earth, and numbered its inhabitants, when in his
old age he "loved many strange women," and worshipped their gods.

Far be it from us, soldiers of Christ, thus to perplex ourselves with
this world, who are making our way towards the world to come.  "No man
that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he
may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  If a man also
strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive
lawfully."  This is St. Paul's rule, as has already been referred to:
accordingly, in another place, he bears witness of himself that he
"died daily."  Day by day he got more and more dead to this world; he
had fewer ties to earth, a larger treasure in heaven.  Nor let us think
that it is over-difficult to imitate him, though we be not Apostles,
nor are called to any extraordinary work, nor are enriched with any
miraculous gifts: he would have all men like himself, and all may be
like him, according to their place and measure of grace.  If we would
be followers of the great Apostle, first let us with him fix our eyes
upon Christ our Saviour; consider the splendour and glory of His
holiness, and try to love it.  Let us strive and pray that the love of
holiness may be created within our hearts; and then acts will follow,
such as befit us and our circumstances, in due time, without our
distressing ourselves to find what they should be.  You need not
attempt to draw any precise line between what is sinful and what is
only allowable: look up to Christ, and deny yourselves every thing,
whatever its character, which you think He would have you relinquish.
You need not calculate and measure, if you love much: you need not
perplex yourselves with points of curiosity, if you have a heart to
venture after Him.  True, difficulties will sometimes arise, but they
will be seldom.  He bids you take up your cross; therefore accept the
daily opportunities which occur of yielding to others, when you need
not yield, and of doing unpleasant services, which you might avoid.  He
bids those who would be highest, live as the lowest: therefore, turn
from ambitious thoughts, and (as far as you religiously may) make
resolves against taking on you authority and rule.  He bids you sell
and give alms; therefore, hate to spend money on yourself.  Shut your
ears to praise, when it grows loud: set your face like a flint, when
the world ridicules, and smile at its threats.  Learn to master your
heart, when it would burst forth into vehemence, or prolong a barren
sorrow, or dissolve into unseasonable tenderness.  Curb your tongue,
and turn away your eye, lest you fall into temptation.  Avoid the
dangerous air which relaxes you, and brace yourself upon the heights.
Be up at prayer "a great while before day," and seek the true, your
only Bridegroom, "by night on your bed."  So shall self-denial become
natural to you, and a change come over you, gently and imperceptibly;
and, like Jacob, you will lie down in the waste, and will soon see
Angels, and a way opened for you into heaven.

[1] Luke xvii. 27-29.

[2] Matt. vii. 14.  Luke xiii. 24; xiv. 26.

[3] Luke ix. 23.

[4] John iii. 16.

[5] 2 Cor. viii. 9.

[6] Eph. iv. 26.

[7] Matt. xx. 26, 27.


The Yoke of Christ.

"_Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in
heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is easy, and
My burden is light._"--Matt. xi. 29, 30.

These words, which are brought before us in the Gospel of to-day's
festival[1], are also found in the address made to us upon Ash
Wednesday, in which we are told that if we "return unto Him who is the
merciful Receiver of all true penitent sinners, if we will take His
easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him in lowliness,
patience, and charity; this, if we do, Christ will deliver us from the
curse of the law, and from the extreme malediction which shall light
upon them that shall be set on the left hand."  A few days since we
were upon a Fast-day called to take on us Christ's yoke, and now on a
Festival of an Apostle the call is repeated.

And with a particular fitness it occurs, now as often, that we
celebrate the feast of St. Matthias, during Lent; for if there be an
Apostle who above the rest may be taken to remind us of the duty of
mortification, it is he.  Our Lord, when asked why His disciples did
not fast, said, they could not fast while He was with them, but that
the time would come, when the Bridegroom should be taken away from
them, and then should they fast in those days.  That time was now come,
when St. Matthias was chosen to be an Apostle.  Christ _had_ gone away.
Peace and joy the Apostles had abundantly, more so than when He was
with them; but for that very reason, it was not such a joy "as the
world giveth."  It was His own joy which arose out of pain and
chastisement.  This was the joy which St. Matthias received when he was
made an Apostle.  He never had been an Apostle under age.  He had
indeed been with our Lord, but not as an Apostle.  The rest had been
chosen (as it were) as children; they had been heirs of the kingdom,
while under tutors and governors, and, though Apostles, had not
understood their calling, had had ambitious thoughts or desires after
riches, and were indulged for a while, ere new made, with the old wine,
lest the bottles should burst.  But St. Matthias came into his
inheritance at once.  He took upon him at once, upon his election, the
power and the penalty of the Apostolate.  No dreams of earthly
prosperity could flit around that throne, which was reared over the
grave of one who had been tried and had fallen, and under the immediate
shadow of the cross of Him whom he had betrayed.

Well, then, does St. Matthias repeat to us on this day our Lord's
words, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me," for he had taken it on
him from the first.  His Pastoral Staff had ever been a crosier.  He
had had no youth.  He had borne the yoke in his youth.  He entered at
once upon his long Lent, and he rejoiced in it.

The exhortation, then, which our Saviour gives in today's Gospel, and
of which St. Matthiases history reminds us, is at the present season
most suitable.  Our Saviour says, "Come unto Me," and then He adds,
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me."  Thus He first calls us to
Him, and next shows us the way.  "Come unto Me," He says, "and I will
give you rest," and then adds, "Take My yoke upon you, and ye shall
find rest for your souls."  He told the Apostles that they must come to
Him, but did not at once tell them the way; He told them they must bear
a yoke, but did not at once tell them what it was.  St. Peter, in
consequence, inquired about it on one occasion, and was bid to wait
awhile, and he should know of it more plainly.  Our Lord had said,
"Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me
afterwards."  "Ye shall seek Me," He said, "and whither I go ye cannot
come[2]." He spoke of His yoke, the way of His cross, as St. Peter
found when at length, after His resurrection, he was told plainly what
should befall him.  "When thou wast young," said our Lord to him, by
the lake of Tiberias, when thou wast a child in the faith, and hadst
thine own way, "thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou
wouldest," as just before St. Peter had girt his fisher's coat unto
him, and cast himself into the sea; "but when thou shalt be old, thou
shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry
thee whither thou wouldest not[3]."  And then He added, "Follow Me."
St. Peter, indeed, was called upon literally to take Christ's yoke upon
him, to learn of Him and walk in His ways; but what he underwent in
fulness, all Christ's disciples must share in their measure, in some
way or other.  Again, in another place, our Lord speaks more expressly;
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me[4]."  Here we have the words of the text
emphatically repeated.  To come to Christ, is to come after Him; to
take up our cross, is to take upon us His yoke; and though He calls
this an easy yoke, yet it is easy because it is His yoke, and He makes
it easy; still it does not cease to be a yoke, and it is troublesome
and distressing, because it is a yoke.

Let us set it down then, as a first principle in religion, that all of
us must come to Christ, in some sense or other, through things
naturally unpleasant to us; it may be even through bodily suffering,
such as the Apostles endured, or it may be nothing more than the
subduing of our natural infirmities and the sacrifice of our natural
wishes; it may be pain greater or pain less, on a public stage or a
private one; but, till the words "yoke" and "cross" can stand for
something pleasant, the bearing of our yoke and cross is something not
pleasant, and though rest is promised as our reward, yet the way to
rest must lie through discomfort and distress of heart.

This I say must be taken as a first principle in religion; it concerns
us all, it concerns young and old, rich and poor, all of whom are apt
to consider it a valid reason for disregarding and speaking against a
religious life, that it is so strict and distasteful.  They shrink from
religion as something gloomy, or frightful, or dull, or intrusive, or
exorbitant.  And, alas, sometimes it is attempted to lead them to
religion by making it appear not difficult and severe.  Severe truths
are put aside, religion is made to consist in a worldly security, or
again in a heated enthusiastic state of mind.  But this is a deceit.  I
do not of course mean, far from it, that religion is not full of joy
and peace also; "My yoke," says Christ, "is easy, and My burden is
light:" but grace makes it so; in itself it is severe, and any form of
doctrine which teaches otherwise forgets that Christ calls us to His
yoke, and that that yoke is a cross.

If you call to mind some of the traits of that special religious
character to which we are called, you will readily understand how both
it, and the discipline by which it is formed in us, are not naturally
pleasant to us.  That character is described in the text as meekness
and lowliness; for we are told to "learn" of Him who was "meek and
lowly in heart."  The same character is presented to us at greater
length in our Saviour's sermon on the Mount, in which seven notes of a
Christian are given to us, in themselves of a painful and humbling
character, but joyful, because they are blessed by Him.  He mentions,
first, "the poor in spirit," this is denoted in the text, under the
word "lowly in heart,"--secondly, those "that mourn;" and this surely
is their peculiarity who are bearing on their shoulders the yoke of
Christ;--thirdly, "the meek," and these too are spoken of in the text,
when He bids us to be like Himself who "is meek;"--fourthly, those
which do "hunger and thirst after righteousness;" and what
righteousness, but that which Christ's Cross wrought out, and which
becomes our righteousness when we take on us the yoke of the Cross?
Fifthly, "the merciful," and as the Cross is in itself the work of
infinite mercy, so when we bear it, it makes us merciful.  Sixthly,
"the pure in heart," and this is the very benefit which the Cross first
does to us when marked on our forehead when infants, to sever us from
the world, the flesh, and the devil, to circumcise us from the first
Adam, and to make us pure as He is pure.  Seventhly, "the
peace-makers," and as He "made peace by the blood of His Cross," so do
we become peace-makers after His pattern.  And, lastly, after all
seven, He adds, those "which are persecuted for righteousness' sake,"
which is nothing but the Cross itself, and the truest form of His yoke,
spoken of last of all, after mention has been made of its fruits.

Such is the character of which the text speaks.  A man who is poor in
spirit, meek, pure in heart, merciful, peace-making, penitent, and
eager after righteousness, is truly (according to a term in current
use) a mortified man.  He is of a character which does not please us by
nature even to see, and much less to imitate.  We do not even approve
or love the character itself, till we have some portion of the grace of
God.  We do not like the look of mortification till we are used to it,
and associate pleasant thoughts with it.  "And when we shall see Him,
there is no beauty, that we should desire Him," says the Prophet.  To
whom has some picture of saint or doctor of the Church any charm at
first sight?  Who does not prefer the ruddy glow of health and
brightness of the eyes?  "He hath no form nor comeliness," as his Lord
and Master before him.  And as we do not like the look of saintliness,
neither do we like the life.  When Christ first announced His destined
sufferings, Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Be it far
from Thee, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee."  Here was the feeling of
one who was as yet a mere child in grace; "When he was a child, he
spake as a child, he understood as a child, he thought as a child,"
before he had "become a man and had put away childish things."

This is St. Paul's language, writing to the Corinthians, and he there
furnishes us with another description, under the name of charity, of
that same heavenly temper of mind in which Christian manhood consists,
and which our Lord had already described in the sermon on the Mount; He
says, "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."  And
then He describes it as suffering long, kind, envying not, vaunting
not, behaving seemly, unselfish, rejoicing in the truth, slow to be
provoked, bearing all things and hoping all.  And with this agrees St.
James's account of wisdom, that it is "pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to
be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and
without hypocrisy[5]."

In all these passages, one and the same character is described
acceptable to God, unacceptable to man; unacceptable to man both in
itself, and because it involves a change, and that a painful one, in
one shape or other.  Nothing short of suffering, except in rare cases,
makes us what we should be; gentle instead of harsh, meek instead of
violent, conceding instead of arrogant, lowly instead of proud,
pure-hearted instead of sensual, sensitive of sin instead of carnal.
This is the especial object which is set before us, to become holy as
He who has called us is holy, and to discipline and chasten ourselves
in order that we may become so; and we may be quite sure, that unless
we chasten ourselves.  God will chasten us.  If we judge ourselves,
through His mercy we shall not be judged of Him; if we do not afflict
ourselves in light things.  He will afflict us in heavy things; if we
do not set about changing ourselves by gentle measures, He will change
us by severe remedies.  "I refrain my soul," says David, "and keep it
low, like as a child that is weaned from his mother."  "I keep under my
body, and bring it into subjection," says St. Paul.  Of course Satan
will try to turn all our attempts to his own purposes.  He will try to
make us think too much of ourselves for what we do; he would fain make
us despise others; he will try to ensnare us in other ways.  Of course
he turns all things to evil, as far as he can; all our crosses may
become temptations: illness, affliction, bereavement, pain, loss of
worldly prospects, anxiety, all may be instruments of evil; so likewise
may all methods of self-chastisement, but they ought not to be, and
need not.  And their legitimate effect, through the grace of the Holy
Spirit, is to make us like Him who suffered all pain, physical and
moral, sin excepted, in its fulness.  We know what His character was;
how grave and subdued His speech, His manner, His acts; what calmness,
self-possession, tenderness, and endurance; how He resisted evil; how
He turned His cheek to the smiter; how He blessed when persecuted; how
He resigned Himself to His God and Father, how He suffered silently,
and opened not His mouth, when accused maliciously.

Alas! so it is; not only does the world not imitate such a temper of
mind as this; but, if the truth must be spoken, it despises it.  As
regards, indeed, our Lord's instance itself, the force of education,
habit, custom, fear of each other, and some remaining awe, keep the
world from reflecting upon the notes of character which the Gospels
ascribe to Him, but in His followers, it does discern them, it
understands and it condemns them.  We are bidden lend and give, asking
for nothing again; revenge not ourselves; give our cloak when our coat
is taken; offer the left cheek when the right is smitten; suffer
without complaint; account persons better than they are; keep from
bitter words; pray only when others would be impatient to act; deny
ourselves for the sake of others; live contented with what we are;
preserve an ignorance of sin and of the world: what is all this, but a
character of mind which the world scorns and ridicules even more than
it hates? a character which seems to court insult, because it endures
it?  Is not this what men of the world would say of such a one?  "Such
a man is unfit for life; he has no eye for any thing; he does not know
the difference between good and evil; he is tame and spiritless, he is
simple and dull, and a fit prey for the spoiler or defrauder; he is
cowardly and narrow-minded, unmanly, feeble, superstitious, and a
dreamer," with many other words more contemptuous and more familiar
than would be becoming to use in Church.  Yet such is the character of
which Christ gave us the pattern; such was the character of Apostles;
such the character which has ever conquered the world.  "In much
patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in
imprisonments, in watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by
long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by
the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness
on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil
report and good report, as deceivers and yet true, as chastened and not
killed, as sorrowful yet alway rejoicing;"--these are the weapons of
our warfare, "which are not carnal, but mighty through God to the
pulling down of strong holds[6]."  These are despised by the world, but
they have subdued the world.  Nay, though they seem most unmanly, they
in the event have proved most heroic.  For the heroical character
springs out of them.  He who has thrown himself out of this world,
alone can overcome it; he who has cut himself loose of it, alone cannot
be touched by it; he alone can be courageous, who does not fear it; he
alone firm, who is not moved by it; he alone severe with it, who does
not love it.  Despair makes men bold, and so it is that he who has
nothing to hope from the world, has nothing to fear from it.  He who
has really tasted of the true Cross, can taste no bitterer pain, no
keener joy.

I have been trying to urge on you, my brethren, that the taking of
Christ's yoke, and learning of Him, is something very distinct and
special, and very unlike any other service and character.  It is the
result of a change from a state of nature, a change so great as to be
called a death or even a crucifixion of our natural state.  Never allow
yourselves, my brethren, to fancy that the true Christian character can
coalesce with this world's character, or is the world's character
improved--merely a superior kind of worldly character.  No, it is a new
character; or, as St. Paul words it, "a new creation."  Speaking of the
Cross of Christ, he says, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the
Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me,
and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision
availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature[7]."  It is
a new character, and it is one; it is ever one and the same.  It is not
one in Apostles, and another in the Christian of this day; not one in
the high, another in the low; one in rich, another in poor; one in
Englishman, another in foreigner; one in man, another in woman.  Where
Christ is put on, St. Paul tells us, there is neither Jew nor Greek,
bond nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus[8].
What Lazarus is, that must Dives become; what Apostles were, that must
each of us be.  The high in this world think it suitable in them to
show a certain pride and self-confidence; the wealthy claim deference
on account of their wealth; kings and princes think themselves above
instruction from any; men in the middle ranks consider it enough to be
decent and respectable, and deem sanctity superfluous in them; the poor
think to be saved by their poverty;--but to one and all Christ speaks,
"Come unto Me," "Learn of Me."  There is but one Cross and one
character of mind formed by it; and nothing can be further from it than
those tempers and dispositions in which the greater part of men called
Christians live.  To have one's own way, to follow one's own tastes, to
please one's self, to have things to one's mind, not to be thwarted, to
indulge in the comforts of life, to do little for God, to think of Him
now and then indeed, but to live to this world; to aim at things of
this world; to judge of things by our own accidental judgment, be it
better or worse; to measure religious men, to decide upon right or
wrong in religion, by our favourite fancy; to take a pride in forming
and maintaining our own opinion; to stand upon our rights; to fear the
hard words and cold looks of men, to be afraid of being too religious,
to dread singularity; to leave our hearts and minds, our thoughts,
words, and actions, to take care of themselves:--this, on one side or
the other, in this measure or that, is the sort of character which the
multitude, even of what are called respectable men, exemplify; and no
wonder, this being the case, that they speak against those who have, or
strive to have, a more serious view of religion, and whose mode of
living condemns them.  If there be but one character of heart that can
please God, both of these contrary characters cannot please Him, one or
the other does not; if the easy religion is right, the strict religion
is wrong; if strict religion is right, easy religion is wrong.  Let us
not deceive ourselves; there are not two ways of salvation--a broad and
a narrow.  The world, which chooses the broad way, in consequence hates
and spurns the narrow way; and in turn our Blessed Lord, who has chosen
for us the narrow way, hates, scorns, spurns, denounces, the broad way.
Surely He does so; He hates the broad way as entirely as the world
hates the narrow way; and if we are persuaded to take part with the
world, we take part against Him.  When St. Peter said, "Be it far from
Thee, Lord," being shocked at the notice that his Lord should suffer,
what was His answer?  Did He thank him for his zeal?  Did He, at least,
let it pass in silence?  He answered, "Get thee behind Me, Satan, for
thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savourest not the things that be
of God, but those that be of men[9]."  And in like manner to the
corrupt church of Laodicea He says, "Because thou art lukewarm, and
neither cold nor hot, I will cast thee out of My mouth.  Because thou
sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;
and knowest not, that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and
blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire,
that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be
clothed; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see."
And then He adds: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten;" that is,
He puts on them His yoke; "Be zealous therefore and repent[10]."

To conclude.  If Almighty God moves any of us, so that we have high
thoughts; if from reading Scripture or holy books we find that we can
embrace views above the world; if it is given us to recognize the glory
of Christ's kingdom, to discern its spiritual nature, to admire the
life of saints, and to desire to imitate it; if we feel and understand
that it is good to bear the yoke in our youth, good to be in trouble,
good to be poor, good to be in low estate, good to be despised; if in
imagination we put ourselves at the feet of those mortified men of old
time, who, after St. Paul's pattern, died daily, and knew no one after
the flesh; if we feel all this, and are conscious we feel it; let us
not boast--why? because of a surety such feelings are a pledge to us
that God will in some way or other give them exercise.  He gives them
to us that He may use them.  He gives us the opportunity of using them.
Dare not to indulge in high thoughts; be cautious of them, and refrain;
they are the shadows of coming trials; they are not given for nothing;
they are given for an end; that end is coming.  My brethren, count the
cost; never does God give faith but He tries-it; never does He implant
the wish to sit on His right hand and on His left, but He fulfils it by
making us wash our brethren's feet.  O fearful imaginations, which are
sure to be realized!  O dangerous wishes, which are heard and forthwith
answered!  Only may God temper things to us, that nothing may be beyond
our strength!

[1] Preached on St. Matthias's day during Lent.

[2] John xiii. 36, 33.

[3] John xxi. 18.

[4] Matt. xvi. 24.

[5] James iii. 17.

[6] 2 Cor. vi. 4-10; x. 4.

[7] Gal. vi. 14, 15.

[8] Gal. iii. 28.

[9] Matt. xvi. 23.

[10] Rev. iii. 16-19.


Moses the Type of Christ.

"_The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of
thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken._"--Deut.
xviii. 15.

The history of Moses is valuable to Christians, not only as giving us a
pattern of fidelity towards God, of great firmness, and great meekness,
but also as affording us a type or figure of our Saviour Christ.  No
prophet arose in Israel like Moses, till Christ came, when the promise in
the text was fulfilled--"The Lord thy God," says Moses, "shall raise up
unto thee a Prophet like unto me:" that was Christ.  Now let us consider
in what respects Moses resembled Christ, we shall find that this inquiry
is very suitable at this time of year[1].

1. First, if we survey the general history of the Israelites, we shall
find that it is a picture of man's history, as the dispensation of the
Gospel displays it to us, and that in it Moses takes the place of Christ.
The Israelites were in the land of strangers, viz. the Egyptians; they
were slaves, hardly tasked, and wretched, and God broke their bonds, led
them out of Egypt, after many perils, to the promised land, Canaan, a
land flowing with milk and honey.  How clearly this prefigures to us the
condition of the Christian Church!  We are by nature in a strange
country, God was our first Father, and His Presence our dwelling-place:
but we were cast out of paradise for sinning, and are in a dreary land, a
valley of darkness and the shadow of death.  We are born in this
spiritual Egypt, the land of strangers.  Still we have old recollections
about us, and broken traditions, of our original happiness and dignity as
freemen.  Thoughts come across us from time to time which show that we
were born for better things than to be slaves; yet by nature slaves we
are, slaves to the Devil.  He is our hard task-master, as Pharaoh
oppressed the Israelites; so much the worse than he, in that his chains,
though we do not see them, become more and more heavy every year.  They
cling about us and grow; they multiply themselves, they shoot out and
spread forth, and encircle us, those chains of sin, with many links,
minute but heavy, weighing us down to the earth, till at last we are mere
slaves of the soil, with an evil husbandry, slaves of that fearful
harvest which is eternal death.  Satan is a tyrant over us, and it seems
to us useless to rebel.  If we attempt it, we are but overpowered by his
huge might, and his oppressive rule, and are made twice the children of
hell that we were before: we may groan and look about, but we cannot fly
from his country.  Such is our state by nature.

But Moses conducted the Israelites from the house of bondage to their own
land, from which their fathers had descended into Egypt.  He came to them
from God, and, armed with God's power, he smote their cruel enemies, led
them out of Pharaoh's territory, divided the Red Sea, carried them
through it, and at length brought them to the borders of Canaan.  And who
is it that has done this for us Christians?  Who but the Eternal Son of
God, our Lord and Saviour, whose name in consequence we bear?  He has
rescued us from the arm of him who was stronger than we; and therefore I
say in this respect first of all, Christ is a second Moses, and a
greater.  Christ has broken the power of the Devil.  He leads us forth on
our way, and makes a path through all difficulties, that we may go
forward towards heaven.  Most men, who have deliberately turned their
hearts to seek God, must recollect times when the view of the
difficulties which lay before them, and of their own weakness, nearly
made them sink through fear.  Then they were like the children of Israel
on the shore of the Red Sea.  How boisterous did the waves look! and they
could not see beyond them; they seemed taken by their enemies as in a
net.  Pharaoh with his horsemen hurried on to reclaim his runaway slaves;
the Israelites sank down in terror on the sand of the sea-shore; every
moment brought death or captivity nearer to them.  Then it was that Moses
said, "Stand still, and see the salvation of God."  And in like manner
has Christ spoken to us.  When our hearts fainted within us, when we said
to ourselves, "How is it possible that we should attain heaven?"  When we
felt how desirable it was to serve God, but felt keenly the power of
temptation; when we acknowledged in our hearts that God was holy and most
adorable, and obedience to His will most lovely and admirable, and yet
recollected instances of our past disobedience, and feared lest all our
renewed resolutions to serve Him would be broken and swept away by the
old Adam as mercilessly as heretofore, and that Satan would regain us,
and yet prayed earnestly to God for His saving help; then He saved us
against our fear, surprising us by the strangeness of our salvation.
This, I say, many a one must recollect in his own case.  It happens to
Christians not once, but again and again through life.  Troubles are
lightened, trials are surmounted, fears disappear.  We are enabled to do
things above our strength by trusting to Christ; we overcome our most
urgent sins, we surrender our most innocent wishes; we conquer ourselves;
we make a way through the powers of the world, the flesh, and the devil;
the waves divide, and our Lord, the great Captain of our salvation, leads
us over.  Christ, then, is a second Moses, and greater than he, inasmuch
as Christ leads from hell to heaven, as Moses led the Israelites from
Egypt to Canaan.

2. Next, Christ reveals to us the will of God, as Moses to the
Israelites.  He is our Prophet, as well as our Redeemer.  None was so
favoured as Moses in this respect: before Christ came, Moses alone saw
God face to face; all prophets after him but heard His voice or saw Him
in vision.  Samuel was called by name, but he knew not who called him in
the dark night till Eli told him.  Isaiah saw the vision of the Seraphim,
and heard them cry "Holy" before the Lord; but it was not heaven that he
saw, but the mere semblance of the earthly temple in which God dwelt
among the Jews, and clouds filled it.  But Moses in some sense saw God
and lived; thus God honoured him.  "If there be a prophet among you,"
said Almighty God, "I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a
vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so,
who is faithful in all Mine house.  With him will I speak mouth to mouth,
even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude of the Lord
shall he behold[2]:" and on his death we are told, "there arose not a
prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to
face[3]."  When he was in the Mount Sinai it is said of him still more
expressly, "The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh
unto his friend[4]."  In the Mount he received from God the revelation of
the Law, and the patterns of the holy services which the Jews were to
offer to God; and so, being favoured with the intimate knowledge of God's
counsels, when he came down, his face shone with glory.  The Divine
majesty was reflected from it, and the people dared not look upon him.
"The skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.  And when Aaron and
the children of Israel saw Moses, they were afraid to come nigh him."
"And till he had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face[5]."

Yet, after all, favoured as he was, Moses saw not the true presence of
God.  Flesh and blood cannot see it.  Even when Moses was in the Mount,
he was aware that the very fulness of God's glory then revealed to him,
was after all but the surface of His infinitude.  The more he saw, the
deeper and wider did he know that to be which he saw not.  He prayed, "If
I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know
Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight; and God said, My Presence shall
go with thee, and I will give thee rest[6]."  Moses was encouraged to ask
for further blessings, he said, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory."
This could not be granted, "Thou canst not see My face; for there shall
no man see Me, and live."  So, as the greatest privilege which he might
attain, Moses was permitted to see the skirts of God's greatness--"The
Lord passed by in a cloud, and proclaimed the Name of the Lord; and Moses
made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped[7]."  And
it was this sight of the mere apparel in which God Almighty was arrayed,
which made his face to shine.

But Christ really saw, and ever saw, the face of God, for He was no
creature of God, but the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father.  From eternity He was with Him in glory, as He says Himself,
dwelling in the abyss of the infinite greatness of the Most High.  Not
for forty days, as Moses on the mount in figure, but for ever and ever
was He present as the Counsellor of God, as His Word, in whom He
delighted.  Such was He of old, but at the time appointed He came forth
from the Father, and showed Himself in this external world, first as its
Creator, then as its Teacher, the Revealer of secrets, the Mediator, the
Off-streaming of God's glory, and the Express Image of His Person.  Cloud
nor image, emblem nor words, are interposed between the Son and His
Eternal Father.  No language is needed between the Father and Him, who is
the very Word of the Father; no knowledge is imparted to Him, who by His
very Nature and from eternity knows the Father, and all that the Father
knows.  Such are His own words, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father,
neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the
Son will reveal Him[8]."  Again He says, "He that hath seen Me hath seen
the Father[9];" and He accounts for this when He tells us, that He and
the Father are one[10]; and that He is in the bosom of the Father, and so
can disclose Him to mankind, being still in heaven, even while He was on

Accordingly, the Blessed Apostle draws a contrast between Moses and
Christ to our comfort; "the Law," he says, "was given by Moses, but grace
and truth came by Jesus Christ[11]."  In Him God is fully and truly seen,
so that He is absolutely the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.  All our
duties are summed up for us in the message He brings us.  Those who look
towards Him for teaching, who worship and obey Him, will by degrees see
"the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in His face," and will be
"changed into the same image from glory to glory." And thus it happens
that men of the lowest class and the humblest education may know fully
the ways and works of God; fully, that is, as man can know them; far
better and more truly than the most sagacious man of this world, to whom
the Gospel is hid.  Religion has a store of wonderful secrets which no
one can communicate to another, and which are most pleasant and
delightful to know.  "Call on Me," says God by the prophet, "and I will
answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not
of."  This is no mere idle boast, but a fact which all who seek God will
find to be true, though they cannot perhaps clearly express their
meaning.  Strange truths about ourselves, about God, about our duty,
about the world, about heaven and hell, new modes of viewing things,
discoveries which cannot be put into words, marvellous prospects and
thoughts half understood, deep convictions inspiring joy and peace, these
are a part of the revelation which Christ, the Son of God, brings to
those who obey Him.  Moses had much toil to gain from the great God some
scattered rays of the truth, and that for his personal comfort, not for
all Israel; but Christ has brought from His Father for all of us the full
and perfect way of life.  Thus He brings grace as well as truth, a most
surprising miracle of mercy from the freeness of the gift, as well as a
true wisdom from its fulness.

And yet, alas! in spite of all this bounty, men called Christians, and
how many! live heartlessly, not caring for the gracious benefit.  Look at
the world.  Men begin life with sinning; they quench the early promise of
grace, and defile their souls; they block up the entrances of the
spiritual senses by acts of sin, lying and deceit, intemperance,
profaneness, or uncleanness,--by a foolish and trifling turn of mind,--by
neglect of prayer when there is no actual vice,--or by an obstinate
selfishness.  How many are the ways in which men begin to lose sight of
God!--how many are the fallings away of those who once began well!  And
then they soon forget that they have really left God; they still think
they see His face, though their sins have begun to blind them.  Like men
who fall asleep, the real prospect still flits before them in their
dreams, but out of shape and proportion, discoloured, crowded with all
manner of fancies and untruths; and so they proceed in that dream of sin,
more or less profound,--sometimes rousing, then turning back again for a
little more slumber, till death awakens them.  Death alone gives lively
perceptions to the generality of men, who then see the very truth, such
as they saw it before they began to sin, but more clear and more fearful:
but they who are the pure in heart, like Joseph; or the meek among men,
like Moses; or faithful found among the faithless, as Daniel; these men
see God all through life in the face of His Eternal Son; and, while the
world mocks them, or tries to reason them out of their own real
knowledge, they are like Moses on the mount, blessed and hidden,--"hid
with Christ in God," beyond the tumult and idols of the world, and
interceding for it.

3. This leads me to mention a third point of resemblance between Moses
and Christ.  Moses was the great intercessor when the Israelites sinned:
while he was in the mount, his people corrupted themselves; they set up
an idol, and honoured it with feasting and dancing.  Then God would have
cut them off from the land of promise, had not Moses interposed.  He
said, "Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people?  Turn from
Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people[12]."  In
this way he gained a respite, and then he renewed his supplications.  He
said to the people, "Ye have sinned a great sin; but now I will go up
unto the Lord: peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin."
Then he said to their offended Creator, "Oh, this people have sinned a
great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if Thou wilt,
forgive their sin."

Here Moses, as is obvious, shadows out the true Mediator between God and
man, who is ever at the right hand of God making intercession, for us;
but the parallel is closer still than appears at first sight.  After
Moses had said, "If Thou wilt, forgive their sin," he added, "and if not,
blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book, which Thou hast written."  He was
taken at his word.  Observe, rather than Israel should forfeit the
promised land, he here offered to give up his own portion in it, and the
exchange was accepted.  He was excluded, dying in sight, not in enjoyment
of Canaan, while the people went in under Joshua.  This was a figure of
Him that was to come.  Our Saviour Christ died, that we might live: He
consented to lose the light of God's countenance, that we might gain it.
By His cross and passion, He made atonement for our sins, and bought for
us the forgiveness of God.  Yet, on the other hand, observe how this
history instructs us, at the same time, in the unspeakable distance
between Christ and Moses.  When Moses said, "Blot me, I pray Thee, out of
Thy book," God did not promise to accept the exchange, but He answered,
"Whosover hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book."  Moses
was not taken instead of Israel, except in figure.  In spite of Moses,
the sinful people were plagued and died[13], though their children
entered the promised land.  And again, Moses, after all, suffered for his
own sin.  True, he was shut out from Canaan.  But why?  Not in spite of
his having "done nothing amiss," as the Divine Sufferer on the cross, but
because he spake unadvisedly with his lips, when the people provoked him
with their murmurings.  The meek Moses was provoked to call them rebels,
and seemed to arrogate to himself the power and authority which he
received from God; and therefore he was punished by dying in the
wilderness.  But Christ was the spotless Lamb of God, "who, when He was
reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but
committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously."  And His death is
meritorious; it has really gained our pardon.

Moreover, it is well to observe now apparently slight a fault it was for
which Moses suffered; for this shows us the infinite difference between
the best of a sinful race and Him who was sinless,--the least taint of
human corruption having in it an unspeakable evil.  Moses was the meekest
of men, yet it was for one sudden transgression of the rule of meekness
that he suffered, all his former gentleness, all his habitual humbleness
of mind, availed him nothing.  It was unprofitable, and without merit,
because it was merely his duty.  It could not make up for a single sin,
however slight.  Thus we see how it would be with us if God were extreme
to mark what is done amiss: and thus, on the other hand, we see how
supremely holy and pure that Saviour must be whose intercession is
meritorious, who has removed from us God's anger.  None can bring us to
Him but He who came from Him.  He reveals God, and He cleanses man.  The
same is our Prophet and our Priest.

We are now approaching the season when we commemorate His death upon the
cross: we are entering upon the most holy season of the whole year.  May
we approach it with holy hearts!  May we renew our resolutions of leading
a life of obedience to His commandments, and may we have the grace to
seal our good resolutions at His most sacred Supper, in which "Jesus
Christ is evidently set forth crucified among us."  It is useless to make
resolves without coming to Him for aid to keep them; and it is useless
coming to His table without earnest and hearty resolves; it is provoking
God "to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death."  But
what shall be said of those who do neither the one nor the other,--who
neither vow obedience, nor come to Him for grace?--who sin deliberately
after they have known the truth--who review their sins in time past in a
reckless hard-hearted way, or put them aside out of their thoughts--who
can bear to jest about them, to speak of them to others unblushingly, or
even to boast of them, and to determine on sinning again,--who think of
repenting at some future day, and resolve on going their own way now,
trusting to chance for reconciliation with God, as if it were not a
matter to be very anxious about?  This state of mind brings upon man a
judgment heavier than all the plagues of Egypt,--a judgment compared with
which that darkness which could be felt is as the sun's brightness, and
the thunders and hail are as the serene sky,--the wrath to come.

Awake, then, my brethren, with this season, to meet your God, who now
summons you from His cross and tomb.  Put aside the sin that doth so
easily beset you, and be ye holy even as He is holy.  Stand ready to
suffer with Him, should it be needful, that you may rise together with
Him.  He can make bitter things sweet to you, and hard ways easy, if you
have but the heart to desire Him to do so.  He can change the Law into
the Gospel.  He can, for Moses, give you Himself.  He can write the Law
on your hearts, and thereby take away the hand-writing that is against
you, even the old curse which by nature you inherit.  He has done this
for many in time past.  He does it for many at all times.  Why should He
not do it for you?  Why should you be left out?  Why should you not enter
into His rest?  Why should you not see His glory?  O, why should you be
blotted out from His book?

[1] Lent.

[2] Numb. xii. 6-8.

[3] Deut. xxxiv. 10.

[4] Exod. xxxiii. 11.

[5] Exod. xxxiv. 29, 30, 33.

[6] Exod. xxxiii. 13, 14.

[7] Exod. xxxiv. 6, 8.

[8] Matt. xi. 27.

[9] John xiv. 9.

[10] John x. 30.

[11] John i. 17.

[12] Exod. xxxii. 11.

[13] Vide Exod. xxxii. 34.


The Crucifixion.

"_He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her
shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth._"--Isaiah liii. 7.

St. Peter makes it almost a description of a Christian, that he loves
Him whom he has not seen; speaking of Christ, he says, "whom having not
seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Again he speaks of
"tasting that the Lord is gracious[1]."  Unless we have a true love of
Christ, we are not His true disciples; and we cannot love Him unless we
have heartfelt gratitude to Him; and we cannot duly feel gratitude,
unless we feel keenly what He suffered for us.  I say it seems to us
impossible, under the circumstances of the case, that any one can have
attained to the love of Christ, who feels no distress, no misery, at
the thought of His bitter pains, find no self-reproach at having
through his own sins had a share in causing them.

I know quite well, and wish you, my brethren, never to forget, that
feeling is not enough; that it is not enough merely to feel and nothing
more; that to feel grief for Christ's sufferings, and yet not to go on
to obey Him, is not true love, but a mockery.  True love both feels
right, and acts right; but at the same time as warm feelings without
religious conduct are a kind of hypocrisy, so, on the other hand, right
conduct, when unattended with deep feelings, is at best a very
imperfect sort of religion.  And at this time of year[2] especially are
we called upon to raise our hearts to Christ, and to have keen feelings
and piercing thoughts of sorrow and shame, of compunction and of
gratitude, of love and tender affection and horror and anguish, at the
review of those awful sufferings whereby our salvation has been

Let us pray God to give us _all_ graces; and while, in the first place,
we pray that He would make us holy, really holy, let us also pray Him
to give us the _beauty_ of holiness, which consists in tender and eager
affection towards our Lord and Saviour: which is, in the case of the
Christian, what beauty of person is to the outward man, so that through
God's mercy our souls may have, not strength and health only, but a
sort of bloom and comeliness; and that as we grow older in body, we
may, year by year, grow more youthful in spirit.

You will ask, how are we to learn to feel pain and anguish at the
thought of Christ's sufferings?  I answer, _by_ thinking of them, that
is, by _dwelling_ on the thought.  This, through God's mercy, is in the
power of every one.  No one who will but solemnly think over the
history of those sufferings, as drawn out for us in the Gospels, but
will gradually gain, through God's grace, a sense of them, will in a
measure realize them, will in a measure be as if he saw them, will feel
towards them as being not merely a tale written in a book, but as a
true history, as a series of events which took place.  It is indeed a
great mercy that this duty which I speak of, though so high, is
notwithstanding so level with the powers of all classes of persons,
learned and unlearned, if they wish to perform it.  Any one can think
of Christ's sufferings, if he will; and knows well what to think about.
"It is not in heaven that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to
heaven and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?  Neither is
it beyond the sea that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for
us? . . . but the word is very nigh unto thee;" very nigh, for it is in
the four Gospels, which, at this day at least, are open to all men.
All men may read or hear the Gospels, and in knowing them, they will
know all that is necessary to be known in order to feel aright; they
will know all that any one knows, all that has been told us, all that
the greatest saints have ever had to make them full of love and sacred

Now, then, let me make one or two reflections by way of stirring up
your hearts and making you mourn over Christ's sufferings, as you are
called to do at this season.

1. First, as to these sufferings you will observe that our Lord is
called a lamb in the text; that is, He was as defenceless, and as
innocent, as a lamb is.  Since then Scripture compares Him to this
inoffensive and unprotected animal, we may without presumption or
irreverence take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those
feelings which our Lord's sufferings should excite in us.  I mean,
consider how very horrible it is to read the accounts which sometimes
meet us of cruelties exercised on brute animals.  Does it not sometimes
make us shudder to hear tell of them, or to read them in some chance
publication which we take up?  At one time it is the wanton deed of
barbarous and angry owners who ill-treat their cattle, or beasts of
burden; and at another, it is the cold-blooded and calculating act of
men of science, who make experiments on brute animals, perhaps merely
from a sort of curiosity.  I do not like to go into particulars, for
many reasons; but one of those instances which we read of as happening
in this day, and which seems more shocking than the rest, is, when the
poor dumb victim is fastened against a wall, pierced, gashed, and so
left to linger out its life.  Now do you not see that I have a reason
for saying this, and am not using these distressing words for nothing?
For what was this but the very cruelty inflicted upon our Lord?  He was
gashed with the scourge, pierced through hands and feet, and so
fastened to the Cross, and there left, and that as a spectacle.  Now
what is it moves our very hearts, and sickens us so much at cruelty
shown to poor brutes?  I suppose this first, that they have done no
harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the
cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their
sufferings so especially touching.  For instance, if they were
dangerous animals, take the case of wild beasts at large, able not only
to defend themselves, but even to attack us; much as we might dislike
to hear of their wounds and agony, yet our feelings would be of a very
different kind; but there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in
tormenting those who never have harmed us, and who cannot defend
themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of
offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the
thought of it.  Now this was just our Saviour's case: He had laid aside
His glory, He had (as it were) disbanded His legions of Angels, He came
on earth without arms, except the arms of truth, meekness, and
righteousness, and committed Himself to the world in perfect innocence
and sinlessness, and in utter helplessness, as the Lamb of God.  In the
words of St. Peter, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His
mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered,
He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth
righteously[3]."  Think then, my brethren, of your feelings at cruelty
practised upon brute animals, and you will gain one sort of feeling
which the history of Christ's Cross and Passion ought to excite within
you.  And let me add, this is in all cases one good use to which you
may turn any accounts you read of wanton and unfeeling acts shown
towards the inferior animals, let them remind you, as a picture, of
Christ's sufferings.  He who is higher than the Angels, deigned to
humble Himself even to the state of the brute creation, as the Psalm
says, "I am a worm, and no man; a very scorn of men, and the outcast of
the people[4]."

2. Take another example, and you will see the same thing still more
strikingly.  How overpowered should we be, nay not at the sight only,
but at the very hearing of cruelties shown to a little child, and why
so? for the same two reasons, because it was so innocent, and because
it was so unable to defend itself.  I do not like to go into the
details of such cruelty, they would be so heart-rending.  What if
wicked men took and crucified a young child?  What if they deliberately
seized its poor little frame, and stretched out its arms, nailed them
to a cross bar of wood, drove a stake through its two feet, and
fastened them to a beam, and so left it to die?  It is almost too
shocking to say; perhaps, you will actually say it _is_ too shocking,
and ought not to be said.  O, my brethren, you feel the horror of this,
and yet you can bear to read of Christ's sufferings without horror; for
what is that little child's agony to His? and which deserved it more?
which is the more innocent? which the holier? was He not gentler,
sweeter, meeker, more tender, more loving, than any little child?  Why
are you shocked at the one, why are you not shocked at the other?

Or take another instance, not so shocking in its circumstances, yet
introducing us to another distinction, in which Christ's passion
exceeds that of any innocent sufferers, such as I have supposed.  When
Joseph was sent by his father to his brethren on a message of love,
they, when they saw him, said, "Behold, this dreamer cometh; come now,
therefore, and let us slay him[5]."  They did not kill him, however,
but they put him in a pit in spite of the anguish of his soul, and sold
him as a slave to the Ishmaelites, and he was taken down into a foreign
country, where he had no friends.  Now this was most cruel and most
cowardly in the sons of Jacob; and what is so especially shocking in it
is, that Joseph was not only innocent and defenceless, their younger
brother whom they ought to have protected, but besides that, he was so
confiding and loving, that he need not have come to them, that he would
not at all have been in their power, _except_ for his desire to do them
service.  Now, whom does this history remind us of but of Him
concerning whom the Master of the vineyard said, on sending Him to the
husbandmen, "They will reverence My Son[6]?"  "But when the husbandmen
saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the Heir, come, let us
kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance.  And they caught Him,
and cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him."  Here, then, is an
additional circumstance of cruelty to affect us in Christ's history,
such as is suggested in Joseph's, but which no instance of a brute
animal's or of a child's sufferings can have; our Lord was not only
guiltless and defenceless, but He had come among His persecutors in

3. And now, instead of taking the case of the young, innocent, and
confiding, let us take another instance which will present to us our
Lord's passion under another aspect.  Let us suppose that some aged and
venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any
thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done
us kindnesses, who had taught us, who had given us good advice, who had
encouraged us, smiled on us, comforted us in trouble, whom we knew to
be very good and religious, very holy, full of wisdom, full of heaven,
with grey hairs and awful countenance, waiting for Almighty God's
summons to leave this world for a better place; suppose, I say, such a
one whom we have ourselves known, and whose memory is dear to us,
rudely seized by fierce men, stripped naked in public, insulted, driven
about here and there, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, dressed
up in other clothes in ridicule, then severely scourged on the back,
then laden with some heavy load till he could carry it no longer,
pulled and dragged about, and at last exposed with all his wounds to
the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our
feelings?  Let us in our mind think of this person or that, and
consider how we should be overwhelmed and pierced through and through
by such a hideous occurrence.

But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which we bear
to read of as a matter of course!  Only think of Him, when in His
wounded state, and without garment on.  He had to creep up the ladder,
as He could, which led Him up the cross high enough for His murderers
to nail Him to it, and consider _who_ it was that was in that misery.
Or again, view Him dying, hour after hour bleeding to death; and how?
in peace? no; with His arms stretched out, and His face exposed to
view, and any one who pleased coming and staring at Him, mocking Him,
and watching the gradual ebbing of His strength, and the approach of
death.  These are some of the appalling details which the Gospels
contain, and surely they were not recorded for nothing, but that we
might dwell on them.

Do you think that those who saw these things had much heart for eating
or drinking or enjoying themselves?  On the contrary, we are told that
even "the people who came together to that sight, smote their breasts
and returned[7]."  If these were the feelings of the people, what were
St. John's feelings, or St. Mary Magdalene's, or St. Mary's, our Lord's
blessed mother?  Do we desire to be of this company? do we desire,
according to His own promise, to be rather blessed than the womb that
bare Him, and the paps that He sucked? do we desire to be as His
brother, and sister, and mother[8]?  Then, surely, ought we to have
some portion of that mother's sorrow!  When He was on the cross and she
stood by, then, according to Simeon's prophecy, "a sword pierced
through her soul[9]."  What is the use of our keeping the memory of His
cross and passion, unless we lament and are in sorrow with her?  I can
understand people who do not keep Good Friday at all; they are indeed
very ungrateful, but I know what they mean; I understand them.  But I
do not understand at all, I do not at all see what men mean who do
profess to keep it, yet do not sorrow, or at least try to sorrow.  Such
a spirit of grief and lamentation is expressly mentioned in Scripture
as a characteristic of those who turn to Christ.  If then _we_ do not
sorrow, have _we_ turned to Him?  "I will pour upon the house of
David," says the merciful Saviour Himself, before He came on earth,
speaking of what was to come, "upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the
spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom
they have pierced, and they shall _mourn_, for Him, as one mourneth for
his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in
bitterness for his first-born[10]."

One thing I will add:--if there be persons here present who are
conscious to themselves that they do not feel the grief which this
season should cause them, who feel now as they do at other times, let
them consider with themselves whether perhaps this defect does not
arise from their having neglected to come to church, whether during
this season or at other times, as often as they might.  Our feelings
are not in our own power; God alone can rule our feelings; God alone
can make us sorrow, when we would but cannot sorrow; but _will_ He, if
we have not diligently sought Him according to our opportunities in
this house of grace?  I speak of those who might come to prayers more
frequently, and do not.  I know well that many cannot come.  I speak of
those who can, if they will.  Even if they come as often as they are
able, I know well they will not be _satisfied_ with their own feelings;
they will be conscious even then that they ought to grieve more than
they do; of course none of us feels the great event of this day as he
ought, and therefore we all _ought_ to be dissatisfied with ourselves.
However, if this is not our own fault, we need not be out of heart, for
God will mercifully lead us forward in His own time; but if it arises
from our not coming to prayers here as often as we might, then our
coldness and deadness _are_ our own fault, and I beg you all to
consider that that fault is not a slight one.  It is said in the Book
of Revelation, "Behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see
Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth
shall wail because of Him[11]."  We, my brethren, every one of us,
shall one day rise from our graves, and see Jesus Christ; we shall see
Him who hung on the cross, we shall see His wounds, we shall see the
marks in His hands, and in His feet, and in His side.  Do we wish to be
of those, then, who wail and lament, or of those who rejoice?  If we
would not lament at the sight of Him then, we must lament at the
thought of Him now.  Let us prepare to meet our God; let us come into
His Presence whenever we can; let us try to fancy as if we saw the
Cross and Him upon it; let us draw near to it; let us beg Him to look
on us as He did on the penitent thief, and let us say to Him, "Lord
remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom[12]."

Let this be added to the prayer, my brethren, with which you are about
to leave this church.  After I have given the blessing, you will say to
yourselves a short prayer.  Well; fancy you see Jesus Christ on the
cross, and say to Him with the penitent thief, "Lord, remember me when
Thou comest in Thy kingdom;" that is, "Remember me, Lord, in mercy,
remember not my sins, but Thine own cross; remember Thine own
sufferings, remember that Thou sufferedst for me, a sinner; remember in
the last day that I, during my lifetime, felt Thy sufferings, that I
suffered on my cross by Thy side.  Remember me then, and make me
remember Thee now."

[1] 1 Pet. i. 8; ii. 3.

[2] Passion-tide.

[3] 1 Pet. ii. 22, 23.

[4] Ps. xxii. 6.

[5] Gen. xxxvii. 19, 20.

[6] Matt. xxi. 37-39.

[7] Luke xxiii. 48.

[8] Matt. xii. 46, &c.

[9] Luke ii. 85.

[10] Zech. xii. 10.

[11] Rev. i. 7.

[12] Luke xxiii. 42.


Attendance on Holy Communion.

"_Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life._"--John v. 40.

St. John tells us in to-day's Epistle[1] that "God hath given unto us
eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He that hath the Son hath
life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life."  Yet in the text the
Son Himself, our Saviour, sorrowfully and solemnly expostulates with
His own brethren, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life."
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."  We know from
history, as a matter of fact, that they did not receive Him, that they
did not come to Him when He came to them; but He says in the text that
they would not come, that they did not wish to come, implying that
they, and none else but they, were the cause of their not coming.

Does it not seem a plain natural instinct that every one should seek
his own good?  What then is meant by this unwillingness to come for the
greatest of goods, life, an unwillingness, which, guided by the light
of Scripture and by experience, we can confidently affirm to prevail at
this day as widely and as fully as in the age in which Christ said it?

Here is no question of a comparison of good with good.  We cannot
account for this unconcern about Christ's gift, by alleging that we
have a sufficient treasure in our hands already, and therefore are not
interested by the news of a greater.  Far from it; for is not the world
continually taking away its own gifts, whatever they are? and does it
not thereby bring home to us, does it not importunately press upon us,
and weary us with the lesson of its own nothingness?  Do we not confess
that eternal life is the best of all conceivable gifts, before which
none other deserve to be mentioned? yet we live to the world.

Nay, and sin also warns us not to trust to its allurements; like the
old prophet of Bethel, sin is forced to bear witness against itself,
and in the name of the Lord to denounce the Lord's judgments upon us.
While it seduces us, it stings us with remorse; and even when the sense
of guilt is overcome, still the misery of sinning is inflicted on us in
the inward disappointments and the temporal punishments which commonly
follow upon transgression.  Yet we will not come unto Christ that we
may have life.

Further, it is not that God treats us as servants or slaves; He does
not put a burden on us above our strength: He does not repel us from
His Presence till we have prepared some offering to bring before Him,
or have made some good progress in the way of life.  No, He has begun
His dealings with us with special, spontaneous acts of mercy.  He has,
by an inconceivable goodness, sent His Son to be our life.  Far from
asking any gift at our hands in the first instance, He has from our
infancy taken us in charge, and freely given us "all things that
pertain unto life and godliness."  He has been urgent with us in the
very morning of our days, and by the fulness of His grace has
anticipated the first stirrings of pride and lust, while as yet sin
slept within us.  Is it not so?  What more could have been done for us?
Yet, in spite of all this, men will not come unto Him that they may
have life.

So strange is this, that thoughtful persons are sometimes tempted to
suppose that the mass of mankind do not sufficiently know what their
duty is; that they need teaching, else they would be obedient.  And
others fancy that if the doctrines of the Gospel were set before them
in a forcible or persuasive manner, this would serve as a means of
rousing them to an habitual sense of their true state.  But ignorance
is not the true cause why men will not come to Christ.

Who are these willing outcasts from Christ's favour, of whom I speak?
Do not think I say a strong thing, my brethren, when I tell you that I
am speaking of some of those who now hear me.  Not that I dare draw the
line any where, or imagine that I can give any rule for knowing for
certain, just who come to Him in heart and spirit, and who do not; but
I am quite sure that many, who would shrink from giving up their
interest in the Gospel, and who profess to cast their lot with Christ,
and to trust in His death for their salvation, nevertheless do not
really seek Him that they may have life, in spite of their fair
speeches.  This I say I am too well enabled to know, because in fact so
it is, that He has shown us _how_ to come to Him, and I see that men do
_not_ come to Him in that way which He has pointed out.  He has shown
us, that to come to Him for life is a literal bodily action; not a mere
figure, not a mere movement of the heart towards Him, but an action of
the visible limbs; not a mere secret faith, but a coming to church, a
passing on along the aisle to His holy table, a kneeling down there
before Him, and a receiving of the gift of eternal life in the form of
bread and wine.  There can be no mistaking His own appointment.  He
said indeed, "He that cometh to Me shall never hunger;" but then He
explained what this coming was, by adding, "He that eateth Me, even he
shall live by Me."  If then a man does not seek Him where He is, there
is no profit in seeking Him where He is not.  What is the good of
sitting at home seeking Him, when His Presence is in the holy
Eucharist?  Such perverseness is like the sin of the Israelites who
went to seek for the manna at a time when it was not given.  May not He
who gives the gift, prescribe the place and mode of giving it?

Observe how plain and cogent is the proof of what I have been saying.
Our Lord declares, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and
drink His blood, ye have no life in you:" no life, life being the gift
He offers in the text; also He says of the bread which He had broken,
"_This_ is My Body;" and of the cup, "_This_ is My Blood," is it not
very plain, then, that if we refuse to eat that Bread, and drink that
Cup, we are refusing to come unto Him that we may have life?

The true reason why people will not come to this Holy Communion is
this,--they do not wish to lead religious lives; they do not like to
promise to lead religious lives; and they think that that blessed
Sacrament does bind them to do so, bind them to live very much more
strictly and thoughtfully than they do at present.  Allow as much as we
will for proper distrust of themselves, reasonable awe, the burden of
past sin, imperfect knowledge, and other causes, still after all there
is in most cases a reluctance to bear, or at least to pledge themselves
to bear, Christ's yoke; a reluctance to give up the service of sin once
for all; a lingering love of their own ease, of their own will, of
indolence, of carnal habits, of the good opinion of men whom they do
not respect; a distrust of their perseverance in holy resolves,
grounded on a misgiving about their present sincerity.  This is why men
will not come to Christ for life; they know that He will not impart
Himself to them, unless they consent to devote themselves to Him.

In what way does He offer Himself to them in Holy Communion? through
the commands and sanctions of the Law.  First, we are warned against
secret sin, and called to self-examination; a week's preparation
follows, then, when the time of celebration is come, we hear the
Commandments read, we are solemnly exhorted to put off every thing
which may offend God; we confess our sins and our deep sorrow for them;
lastly, after being admitted to the Sacrament, we expressly bind
ourselves to the service of our Lord and Saviour.  Doubtless _this_ it
is which the unrenewed heart cannot bear, the very notion of giving up
sin altogether and once for all.  And thus, though a gracious voice cry
ever so distinctly from the altar, "Come unto Me, and I will refresh
you;" and though it be ever so true that this refreshment is nothing
short of life, eternal life, yet we recollect the words which follow,
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me," and we forthwith murmur and
complain, as if the gift were most ungracious, laden with conditions,
and hardly purchased, merely because it is offered in that way in which
alone a righteous Lord could offer it,--the way of righteousness.

Men had rather give up the promise than implicate themselves in the
threats which surround it.  Bright and attractive as is the treasure
presented to us in the Gospel, still the pearl of great price lies in
its native depths, at the bottom of the ocean.  We see it indeed, and
know its worth; but not many dare plunge in to bring it thence.  What
reward offered to the diver shall overcome the imminent peril of a
frightful death? and those who love sin, and whose very life consists
in habits and practices short of religious, what promised prize can
reconcile them to the certain destruction of what they delight in, the
necessary annihilation of all their most favourite indulgences and
enjoyments which are contrary to the rule of the Gospel?  Let us not
suppose that any exhortations will induce such men to change their
conduct; they confess the worth of the soul, their obligation to obey,
and their peril if they do not; yet, for all this, the present
sacrifice required of them is too much for them.  They may be told of
their Lord's love for them, His self-denying mercy when on earth, His
free gifts, and His long-suffering since; they will not be influenced;
and why? because the fault is in their heart; they do not like God's
service.  _They_ know full well what they would have, if they might
choose.  Christ is said to have done all things for us; "Far from it,"
say they, "He is not a Mediator suited to our case.  Give life, give
holiness, give truth, give a Saviour to deliver from sin; this is not
enough: no, _we_ want a Saviour to deliver _in_ sin.  This is our need.
It is a small thing to offer us life, if it be in the way of God's
commandments; it is a mockery of our hopes to call that a free gift,
which is, in fact, a heavy yoke.  We want to do nothing at all, and
then the gift will be free indeed.  If our hearts _must_ be changed to
fit us for heaven, let them be changed, only let us have no trouble in
the work ourselves.  Let the change be part of the work done for us;
let us literally be clay in the hands of the potter; let us sleep, and
dream, and wake in the morning new men; let us have no fear and
trembling, no working out salvation, no self-denial.  Let Christ
suffer, but be it ours to rejoice only.  What we wish is, to be at
ease; we wish to have every thing our own way; we wish to enjoy both
this world and the next; we wish to be happy all at once.  If the
Gospel promises this, we accept it; but if not, it is but a bondage, it
has no persuasiveness, it will receive no acceptance from us."  Such is
the language of men's hearts, though their tongues do not utter it;
language most unthankful, most profane, most sinful.

These reflections I recommend to the serious attention of those who
live in neglect of Holy Communion; but, alas! I must not quit the
subject without addressing some cautions to those who are in the
observance of it.  I would that none of us had need of cautions; but
the best of us is in warfare, and on his trial, and none of us can be
the worse for them.  I need not remind you, my brethren, that there is
a peril attached to the unworthy reception; for this is the very excuse
which many plead for not receiving; but it often happens, as in other
matters also, that men have fears when they should not fear, and do not
fear when they should fear.  A slight consideration will show this; for
what is the danger in communicating? that of coming to it, as St. Paul
implies, _without_ fear.  It is evident then, that, in spite of what
was just now said, when persons are in danger of receiving it
unworthily, they commonly do not really feel their danger; for their
very danger consists in their not fearing.  If they did truly and
religiously fear the blessed Sacrament, so far they would not be in
danger of an unworthy reception.

Now it is plain when it is that persons are in danger of receiving it
fearlessly and thoughtlessly; not when they receive it for the first
time, but when they have often received it, when they are in the habit
of receiving it.  This is the dangerous time.

When a Christian first comes to Holy Communion, he comes with awe and
anxiety.  At least, I will not suppose the case of a person so little
in earnest about his soul, and so profane, as to despise the ordinance
when he first attends it.  Perhaps he has no clear doctrinal notion of
the sacred rite, but the very title of it, as the Sacrament of his
Lord's Body and Blood, suffices to make him serious.  Let us believe
that he examines himself, and prays for grace to receive the gift
worthily; and he feels at the time of celebration and afterwards, that,
having bound himself more strictly to a religious life, and received
Divine influences, he has more to answer for.  But after he has
repeated his attendance several times, this fear and reverence wear
away with the novelty.  As he begins to be familiar with the words of
the prayers, and the order of the Service, so does he both hear and
receive with less emotion and solemnity.  It is not that he is a worse
man than he was at first, but he is exposed to a greater temptation to
be profane.  He had no deeper religious principle when he first
communicated than he has now (probably not so deep), but his want of
acquaintance with the Service kept him from irreverence, indifference,
and wandering thoughts: but now this accidental safeguard is removed,
and as he has not succeeded in acquiring any habitual reverence from
former seasons of communicating, and has no clear knowledge of the
nature of the Sacrament to warn and check him, he is exposed to his own
ordinary hardness of heart and unbelief, in circumstances much more
perilous than those in which they are ordinarily displayed.  If it is a
sin to neglect God in the world, it is a greater sin to neglect Him in
church.  Now is the time when he is in danger of not discerning the
Lord's Body, of receiving the gift of life as a thing of course,
without awe, gratitude, and self-abasement.  And the more constant he
is in his attendance at the sacred rite, the greater will be his risk;
his _risk_, I say; that is, if he neglects to be jealous over himself,
to watch himself narrowly, and to condemn and hate in himself the
faintest risings of coldness and irreverence; for, of course, if he so
acts, the less will be his risk, and the greater will be his security
that his heart will not betray him.  But I speak of those who are not
sufficiently aware of their danger, and these are many.

Here, too, let me mention another sin of a similar character into which
communicants are apt to fall; _viz._ a forgetfulness, after
communicating, that they have communicated.  Even when we resist the
coldness which frequent communion may occasion, and strive to possess
our minds in as profound a seriousness as we felt when the rite was new
to us, even then there is often a painful difference between our
feelings before we have attended it, and after.  We are diligent in
preparation, we are careless in retrospect; we dismiss from our memory
what we cherished in our expectations; we forget that we ever hoped and
feared.  But consider; when we have solemn thoughts about Holy
Communion only till we have come to it, what does this imply, but that
we imagine that we have received the benefit of it once for all, as a
thing done and over, and that there is nothing more to seek?  This is
but a formal way of worshipping; as if we had wiped off a writing which
was against us, and there was an end of the matter.  But blessed are
those servants who are ever expecting Him, who is ever coming to them;
whether He come "at even, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the
morning;" whereas those who first come to Him for the gift of grace,
and then neglect to wait for its progressive accomplishment in their
hearts, how profanely they act! it is as if to receive the blessing in
mockery, and then to cast it away.  Surely, after so great a privilege,
we ought to behave ourselves as if we had partaken some Divine food and
medicine (if great things may be compared to ordinary), which, in its
own inscrutable way, and in its own good time, will "prosper in the
thing whereunto God sends it"--the fruit of the tree of life which Adam
forfeited, which had that virtue in it, that it was put out of his
reach in haste, lest he should take and eat, and live for ever.  How
earnest, then, should be our care lest this gracious treasure which we
carry within us should be lost by our own fault, by the unhealthy
excitements, or the listless indolence, to which our nature invites us!
"Quench not the Spirit," says the Apostle; surely our privilege is a
burden heavy to bear, before it turn to a principle of life and
strength, till Christ be formed in us perfectly; and we the while, what
cause have we to watch, and pray, and fulfil all righteousness, till
the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts!

Nor let us suppose that by once or twice seeking God in this gracious
ordinance, we can secure the gift for ever; "Seek the Lord and His
strength, seek His face evermore."  The bread which comes down from
heaven is like the manna, "_daily_ bread," and that "till He come,"
till His "kingdom come."  In His coming at the end of the world, all
our wishes and prayers rest and are accomplished; and in His present
communion we have a stay and consolation meanwhile, joining together
the past and future, reminding us that He has come once, and promising
us that He will come again.  Who can live any time in the world,
pleasant as it may seem on first entering it, without discovering that
it is a weariness, and that if this life is worth any thing, it is
because it is the passage to another?  It needs no great religion to
feel this; it is a self-evident truth to those who have much experience
of the world.  The only reason why all do not feel it is, that they
have not lived long enough to feel it; and those who feel it more than
others, have but been thrown into circumstances to feel it more.  But
while the times wax old, and the colours of earth fade, and the voice
of song is brought low, and all kindreds of the earth can but wail and
lament, the sons of God lift up their heads, for their salvation
draweth nigh.  Nature fails, the sun shines not, and the moon is dim,
the stars fall from heaven, and the foundations of the round world
shake; but the Altar's light burns ever brighter; there are sights
there which the many cannot see, and all above the tumults of earth the
command is heard to show forth the Lord's death, and the promise that
the Lord is coming.

"Happy are the people that are in such a case!" who, when wearied of
the things seen, can turn with good hope to the things unseen; yea,
"blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God!"  "Come unto
Me," He says, "all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest."  Rest is better than toil; peace satisfies, and quietness
disappoints not.  These are sure goods.  Such is the calm of the
heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all; and such is their
calm worship, the foretaste, of heaven, who for a season shut
themselves out from the world, and seek Him in invisible Presence, whom
they shall hereafter see face to face.

[1] First Sunday after Easter.


The Gospel Feast

"_When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto
Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may
eat?_"--John vi. 5.

After these words the Evangelist adds, "And this He said to prove him,
for He Himself knew what He would do."  Thus, you see, our Lord had
secret meanings when He spoke, and did not bring forth openly all His
divine sense at once.  He knew what He was about to do from the first,
but He wished to lead forward His disciples, and to arrest and open
their minds, before He instructed them: for all cannot receive His
words, and on the blind and deaf the most sacred truths fall without

And thus, throughout the course of His gracious dispensations from the
beginning, it may be said that the Author and Finisher of our faith has
hid things from us in mercy, and listened to our questionings, while He
Himself knew what He was about to do.  He has hid, in order afterwards
to reveal, that then, on looking back on what He said and did before,
we may see in it what at the time we did not see, and thereby see it to
more profit.  Thus He hid Himself from the disciples as He walked with
them to Emmaus; thus Joseph, too, under different and yet similar
circumstances, hid himself from his brethren.

With this thought in our minds, surely we seem to see a new and further
meaning still, in the narrative before us.  Christ spoke of buying
bread, when He intended to create or make bread; but did He not, in
that bread which He made, intend further that Heavenly bread which is
the salvation of our souls?--for He goes on to say, "Labour not for the
meat" or food "which perisheth, but for that food which endureth unto
everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you."  Yes,
surely the wilderness is the world, and the Apostles are His priests,
and the multitudes are His people; and that feast, so suddenly, so
unexpectedly provided, is the Holy Communion.  He alone is the same.
He the provider of the loaves then, of the heavenly manna now.  All
other things change, but He remaineth.

And what is that Heavenly Feast which we now are vouchsafed, but in its
own turn the earnest and pledge of that future feast in His Father's
kingdom, when "the marriage of the Lamb shall come, and His wife hath
made herself ready," and "holy Jerusalem cometh down from God out of
heaven," and "blessed shall they be who shall eat bread in the kingdom
of God"?

And further, since to that Feast above we do lift up our eyes, though
it will not come till the end; and as we do not make remembrance of it
once only, but continually, in the sacred rite which foreshadows it;
therefore, in like manner, not in the miracle of the loaves only,
though in that especially, but in all parts of Scripture, in history,
and in precept, and in promise, and in prophecy, is it given us to see
the Gospel Feast typified and prefigured, and that immortal and
never-failing Supper in the visible presence of the Lamb which will
follow upon it at the end.  And if they are blessed who shall eat and
drink of that table in the kingdom, so too blessed are they who
meditate upon it, and hope for it now,--who read Scripture with it in
their thoughts, and endeavour to look beneath the veil of the literal
text, and to catch a sight of the gleams of heavenly light which are
behind it.  "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for
they hear; for verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous
men have desired to see those things which ye see, but have not seen
them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."
"Blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed."  Blessed
they who see in and by believing, and who have, because they doubt not.
Let us, then, at this time of year[1], as is fitting, follow the train
of thought thus opened upon us, and, looking back into the Sacred
Volume, trace the intimations and promises there given of that sacred
and blessed Feast of Christ's Body and Blood which it is our privilege
now to enjoy till the end come.

Now the Old Testament, as we know, is full of figures and types of the
Gospel; types various, and, in their literal wording, contrary to each
other, but all meeting and harmoniously fulfilled in Christ and His
Church.  Thus the histories of the Israelites in the wilderness, and of
the Israelites when settled in Canaan, alike are ours, representing our
present state as Christians.  Our Christian life is a state of faith
and trial; it is also a state of enjoyment.  It has the richness of the
promised land; it has the marvellousness of the desert.  It is a "good
land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring
out of vallies and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and
fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil, olive, and honey; a land
wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness; thou shalt not lack
any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills
thou mayest dig brass."  And, on the other hand, it is still a land
which to the natural man seems a wilderness, a "great and terrible
wilderness, wherein are fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought,
where there is no water;" where faith is still necessary, and where,
still more forcibly than in the case of Israel, the maxim holds, that
"man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."

This is the state in which we are,--a state of faith and of possession.
In the desert the Israelites lived by the signs of things, without the
realities: manna was to stand for the corn, oil, and honey, of the good
land promised; water, for the wine and milk.  It was a time for faith
to exercise itself; and when they came into the promised land, then was
the time of possession.  That was the land of milk and honey; they
needed not any divinely provided compensations or expedients.  Manna
was not needed, nor the pillar of the cloud, nor the water from the
rock.  But we Christians, on the contrary, are at once in the
wilderness and in the promised land.  In the wilderness, because we
live amid wonders; in the promised land, because we are in a state of
enjoyment.  That we are in the state of enjoyment is surely certain,
unless all the prophecies have failed; and that we are in a state in
which faith alone has that enjoyment, is plain from the fact that God's
great blessings are not seen, and in that the Apostle says, "We walk by
faith, not by sight."  In a word, we are in a super-natural state,--a
word which implies both its greatness and its secretness: for what is
above nature, is at once not seen, and is more precious than what is
seen; "the things which are seen are temporal, the things which are not
seen are eternal."

And if our state altogether is parallel to that of the Israelites, as
an antitype to its type, it is natural to think that so great a gift as
Holy Communion would not be without its appropriate figures and symbols
in the Old Testament.  All that our Saviour has done is again and again
shadowed out in the Old Testament; and this, therefore, it is natural
to think, as well as other things: His miraculous birth, His life, His
teaching, His death, His priesthood, His sacrifice, His resurrection,
His glorification, His kingdom, are again and again prefigured: it is
not reasonable to suppose that if this so great gift is really given
us, it should be omitted.  He who died for us, is He who feeds us; and
as His death is mentioned, so we may beforehand expect will be
mentioned the feast He gives us.  Not openly indeed, for neither is His
death nor His priesthood taught openly, but covertly, under the types
of David or Aaron, or other favoured servants of God; and in like
manner we might expect, and we shall find, the like reverent allusions
to His most gracious Feast,--allusions which we should not know to _be_
allusions but for the event; just as we should not know that Solomon,
Aaron, or Samuel, stood for Christ at all, except that the event
explains the figure.  When Abraham said to Isaac, "God will provide
Himself a lamb for a burnt offering," who can doubt this is a prophecy
concerning Christ?--yet we are nowhere told it in Scripture.  The case
is the same as regards the Sacrament of Baptism.  Now that it is given,
we cannot doubt that the purifications of the Jews, Naaman's bathing,
and the prophecy of a fountain being opened for sin and all
uncleanness, have reference to it, as being the visible fulfilment of
the great spiritual cleansing: and St. Peter expressly affirms this of
the Deluge, and St. Paul of the passage of the Red Sea.  And in like
manner passages in the Bible, which speak prophetically of the Gospel
Feast, cannot but refer (if I may so speak) to the Holy Sacrament of
the Lord's Supper, as being, in fact, the Feast given us under the

And let it be observed, directly we know that we have this great gift,
and that the Old Testament history prefigures it, we have a light
thrown upon what otherwise is a difficulty; for, it may be asked with
some speciousness, whether the Jews were not in a higher state of
privilege than we Christians, until we take this gift into account.  It
may be objected that our blessings are all future or distant,--the hope
of eternal life, which is to be fulfilled hereafter, God's forgiveness,
who is in heaven: what do we gain now and here above the Jews?  God
loved the Jews, and He _gave_ them something; He gave them present
gifts; the Old Testament is full of the description of them; He gave
them "the precious things of heaven, and the dew, and the deep that
coucheth beneath, and precious things brought forth by the sun, and by
the moon, and the chief things of the ancient mountains, and the
precious things of the lasting hills, and the precious things of the
earth, and the fulness thereof," "honey out of the rock, and oil out of
the flinty rock, butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs,
and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of
wheat, and the pure blood of the grape[2]."  These were present real
blessings.  What has He given _us?--nothing_ in possession? _all_ in
promise?  This, I say, is in itself not likely, it is not likely that
He should so reverse His system, and make the Gospel inferior to the
Law.  But the knowledge of the great gift under consideration clears up
this perplexity; for every passage in the Old Testament which speaks of
the temporal blessings given by God to His ancient people, instead of
conveying to us a painful sense of destitution, and exciting our
jealousy, reminds us of our greater blessedness; for every passage
which belongs to them is fulfilled now in a higher sense to us.  We
have no need to envy them.  God did not take away their blessings,
without giving us greater.  The Law was not so much taken away, as the
Gospel given.  The Gospel supplanted the Law.  The Law went out by the
Gospel's coming in.  Only our blessings are not seen; _therefore_ they
are higher, _because_ they are unseen.  Higher blessings could not be
visible.  How could spiritual blessings be visible ones?  If Christ now
feeds us, not with milk and honey, but "with the spiritual food of His
most precious Body and Blood;" if "our sinful bodies are made clean by
His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood," truly
we are not without our precious things, any more than Israel was: but
they are unseen, because so much greater, so spiritual; they are given
only under the veil of what is seen: and thus we Christians are both
with the Church in the wilderness as regards faith, and in the Church
in Canaan as regards enjoyment; having the fulfilment of the words
spoken by Moses, repeated by our Lord, to which I just now referred,
"Man shall not live by bread only, but by every word which proceedeth
out of the mouth of God."

Now, then, I will refer to some passages of both the Old Testament and
the New, which both illustrate and are illustrated by this great
doctrine of the Gospel.

1. And, first, let it be observed, from the beginning, the greatest
rite of religion has been a feast; the partaking of God's bounties, in
the way of nature, has been consecrated to a more immediate communion
with God Himself.  For instance, when Isaac was weaned, Abraham "made a
great feast[3]," and then it was that Sarah prophesied; "Cast out this
bondwoman and her son," she said, prophesying the introduction of the
spirit, grace, and truth, which the Gospel contains, instead of the
bondage of the outward forms of the Law.  Again, it was at a feast of
savoury meat that the spirit of prophecy came upon Isaac, and he
blessed Jacob.  In like manner the first beginning of our Lord's
miracles was at a marriage feast, when He changed water into wine; and
when St. Matthew was converted he entertained our Lord at a feast.  At
a feast, too, our Lord allowed the penitent woman to wash with tears
and anoint His feet, and pronounced her forgiveness; and at a feast,
before His passion, He allowed Mary to anoint them with costly
ointment, and to wipe them with her hair.  Thus with our Lord, and with
the Patriarchs, a feast was a time of grace; so much so, that He was
said by the Pharisees to come eating and drinking, to be "a winebibber
and gluttonous, a friend of publicans and sinners[4]."

2. And next, in order to make this feasting still more solemn, it had
been usual at all times to precede it by a direct act of religion,--by
a prayer, or blessing, or sacrifice, or by the presence of a priest,
which implied it.  Thus, when Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham, and
_bless_ him, "he brought forth bread and wine[5]," to which it is
added, "and he was the priest of the Most High God."  Such, too, was
the lamb of the Passover, which was eaten roast with fire, and with
unleavened bread, and bitter herbs, with girded loins and shoes on, and
staff in hand; as the Lord's Passover, being a solemn religious feast,
even if not a sacrifice.  And such seems to have been the common notion
of communion with God all the world over, however it was gained; viz.
that we arrived at the possession of His invisible gifts by
participation in His visible, that there was some mysterious connexion
between the seen and the unseen; and that, by setting aside the
choicest of His earthly bounties, as a specimen and representative of
the whole, presenting it to Him for His blessing, and then taking,
eating, and appropriating it, we had the best hope of gaining those
unknown and indefinite gifts which human nature needs.  This the
heathen practised towards their idols also; and St. Paul seems to
acknowledge that in that way they did communicate, though most
miserably and fearfully, with those idols, and with the evil spirits
which they represented.  "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they
sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should
hold communion with devils[6]."  Here, as before, a feast is spoken of
as the means of communicating with the unseen world, though, when the
feast was idolatrous, it was the fellowship of evil spirits.

3. And next let this be observed, that the descriptions in the Old
Testament of the perfect state of religious privilege, viz. that under
the Gospel which was then to come, are continually made under the image
of a feast, a feast of some special and choice goods of this world,
corn, wine, and the like; goods of this world chosen from the mass as a
specimen of all, as types and means of seeking, and means of obtaining,
the unknown spiritual blessings, which "eye hath not seen nor ear
heard."  And these special goods of nature, so set apart, are more
frequently than any thing else, corn or bread, and wine, as the figures
of what was greater, though others are mentioned also.  Now the first
of these of which we read is the fruit of the tree of life, the leaves
of which are also mentioned in the prophets.  The tree of life was that
tree in the garden of Eden, the eating of which would have made Adam
immortal; a divine gift lay hid in an outward form.  The prophet
Ezekiel speaks of it afterwards in the following words, showing that a
similar blessing was in store for the redeemed;--"By the river, upon
the bank thereof, on this side, and on that side, shall grow all trees
for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be
consumed.  It shall bring forth new fruits according to his months,
because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; and the fruit
thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine[7]."  Like
to which is St. John's account of the tree of life, "which bare twelve
manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of
the tree were for the healing of the nations[8]."  And hence we read in
the Canticles of the apple-tree, and of sitting down under its shadow,
and its fruit being sweet to the taste.  Here then in type is signified
the sacred gift of which I am speaking; and yet it has not seemed good
to the gracious Giver literally to select fruit or leaves as the means
of His invisible blessings.  He might have spiritually fed us with
such, had He pleased--for man liveth not by bread only, but by the word
of His mouth.  His Word might have made the fruit of the tree His
Sacrament, but He has willed otherwise.

The next selection of gifts of the earth which we find in Scripture, is
the very one which He at length fixed on, bread and wine, as in the
history of Melchizedek; and there the record stands as a prophecy of
what was to be: for who is Melchizedek but our Lord and Saviour, and
what is the Bread and Wine but the very feast which He has ordained?

Next the great gift was shadowed out in the description of the promised
land, which was said to flow with milk and honey, and in all those
other precious things of nature which I have already recounted as
belonging to the promised land, oil, butter, corn, wine, and the like.
These all may be considered to refer to the Gospel feast typically,
because they were the rarest and most exquisite of the blessings given
to the Jews, as the Gospel Feast is the most choice and most sacred of
all the blessings given to us Christians; and what is most precious
under the one Dispensation is signified by what is most precious under
the other.

Now let us proceed to the Prophets, and we shall find the like
anticipation of the Gospel Feast.

For instance, you recollect, the prophet Hosea says: "It shall come to
pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens,
and they shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and
the wine, and the oil, and they shall hear Jezreel.  And I will sow her
unto Me in the earth[9]."  By Jezreel is meant the Christian Church;
and the Prophet declares in God's name, that the time was to come when
the Church would call upon the corn, wine, and oil, and they would call
on the earth, and the earth on the heavens, and the heavens on God; and
God should answer the heavens, and the heavens should answer the earth,
and the earth should answer the corn, wine, and oil, and they should
answer to the wants of the Church.  Now, doubtless, this may be
fulfilled only in a general way; but considering Almighty God has
appointed corn or bread, and wine, to be the special instruments of His
ineffable grace,--He, who sees the end from the beginning, and who
views all things in all their relations at once,--He, when He spoke of
corn and wine, knew that the word would be fulfilled, not generally
only, but even literally in the Gospel.

Again: the prophet Joel says, "It shall come to pass in that day that
the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with
milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a
fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the
valley of Shittim[10]."  How strikingly is this fulfilled, if we take
it to apply to what God has given us in the Gospel, in the feast of the
Holy Communion!

Again: the prophet Amos says: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes
him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all
the hills shall melt[11];" that is, with God's marvellous grace,
whereby He gives us gifts new and wonderful.

And the prophet Isaiah: "In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make
unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees; of
fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined."  And
again: "Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine
enemies, and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the
which thou hast laboured; but they that have gathered it shall eat it,
and praise the Lord, and they that have brought it together shall drink
it in the courts of My holiness."  And again: "Behold My servants shall
eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold My servants shall drink, but ye
shall be thirsty[12]."

Again: the prophet Jeremiah says: "They shall come and sing in the
height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord,
for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock
and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and they
shall not sorrow any more at all. . .  And I will satiate the soul of
the priests with fatness, and My people shall be satisfied with My
goodness, saith the Lord[13]."

And the prophet Zechariah: "How great is His goodness, and how great is
His beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the

And under a different image, but with the same general sense, the
prophet Malachi: "From the rising of the sun even unto the going down
of the same, My Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every
place incense shall be offered unto My Name, and a pure offering, for
My Name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts[15]."

Further, if the Psalms are intended for Christian worship, as surely
they are, the Prophetic Spirit, who inspired them, saw that they too
would in various places describe that sacred Christian feast, which we
feel they do describe; and surely we may rightly call this coincidence
between the ordinance in the Christian Church and the form of words in
the Psalms, a mark of design.  For instance: "Thou shalt prepare a
Table before me against them that trouble me.  Thou hast anointed my
head with oil, and my Cup shall be full."  "I will wash my hands in
innocency, O Lord, and so will I go to Thine Altar."  "O send out Thy
light and Thy truth, that they may lead me, and bring me unto Thy holy
hill, and to Thy dwelling; and that I may go unto the Altar of God,
even unto the God of my joy and gladness."  "The children of men shall
put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.  They shall be satisfied
with the plenteousness of Thy house, and Thou shalt give them drink of
Thy pleasures as out of the river.  For with Thee is the well of life,
and in Thy light shall we see light."  "Blessed is the man whom Thou
choosest and receivest unto Thee; he shall dwell in Thy court, and
shall be satisfied with the pleasures of Thy house, even of Thy Holy
Temple."  "My soul shall be satisfied, even as it were with marrow and
fatness, when my mouth praiseth Thee with joyful lips . . . because
Thou hast been my helper, therefore under the shadow of Thy wings will
I rejoice[16]."

The same wonderful feast is put before us in the book of Proverbs,
where Wisdom stands for Christ.  "Wisdom hath builded her house," that
is, Christ has built His Church, "she hath hewn out her seven pillars,
she hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine (that is, Christ
has prepared His Supper), she hath also furnished her table (that is,
the Lord's Table), she hath sent forth her maidens (that is, the
priests of the Lord), she crieth upon the highest places of the city.
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him.  Come, eat of My Bread and drink of
the Wine which I have mingled[17],"--which is like saying, "Come unto
Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will refresh you."
Like which are the prophet Isaiah's words; "Ho, every one that
thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye
buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without
price[18]."  And such too is the description in the book of Canticles:
"The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the
tender grapes give a good smell" . . . .  "Until the day break and the
shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the
hill of frankincense" . . .  "I have gathered My myrrh with My spice, I
have eaten My honeycomb with My honey, I have drunk My wine with My
milk; eat, O friends, drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved[19]!"  In
connexion with such passages as these should be observed St. Paul's
words, which seem from the antithesis to be an allusion to the same
most sacred Ordinance: "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but
be filled with the Spirit," with that new wine which God the Holy
Spirit ministers in the Supper of the Great King.

God grant that we may be able ever to come to this Blessed Sacrament
with feelings suitable to the passages which I have read concerning it!
May we not regard it in a cold, heartless way, and keep at a distance
from fear, when we should rejoice!  May the spirit of the unprofitable
servant never be ours, who looked at his lord as a hard master instead
of a gracious benefactor!  May we not be in the number of those who go
on year after year, and never approach Him at all!  May we not be of
those who went, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, when they
were called to the wedding!  Nor let us be of those, who come in a
formal, mechanical way, as a mere matter of obligation, without
reverence, without awe, without wonder, without love.  Nor let us fall
into the sin of those who complained that they have nothing to gather
but the manna, wearying of God's gifts.

But let us come in faith and hope, and let us say to ourselves, May
this be the beginning to us of everlasting bliss!  May these be the
first-fruits of that banquet which is to last for ever and ever; ever
new, ever transporting, inexhaustible, in the city of our God!

[1] Easter.

[2] Deut. xxxii. 13; xxxiii. 13-15.

[3] Gen. xxi. 10.

[4] Matt. xi. 19.  Luke vii. 34.

[5] Gen. xiv. 18.

[6] 1 Cor. x. 20.

[7] Ezek. xlvii. 12.

[8] Rev. xxii. 2.

[9] Hos. ii. 21-23.

[10] Joel iii. 18.

[11] Amos ix. 13.

[12] Isa. xxv. 6; lxii. 8, 9, lxv. 13.

[13] Jer. xxxi. 12-14.

[14] Zech. ix. 17.

[15] Mal. i. 11.

[16] Ps. xxiii. 5; xxvi. 6; xxxvi. 7-9; xliii. 3, 4, lxv. 4; lxiii. 6-8.

[17] Prov. ix. 1-5.

[18] Isa. lv. 1.

[19] Cant. ii. 13; iv. 6; v. 1


Love of Religion, a New Nature.

"_If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
Him._"--Romans vi. 8.

To be dead with Christ, is to hate and turn from sin; and to live with
Him, is to have our hearts and minds turned towards God and Heaven.  To
be dead to sin, is to feel a disgust at it.  We know what is meant by
disgust.  Take, for instance, the case of a sick man, when food of a
certain kind is presented to him,--and there is no doubt what is meant
by disgust.  Consider how certain scents, which are too sweet or too
strong, or certain tastes, affect certain persons under certain
circumstances, or always,--and you will be at no loss to determine what
is meant by disgust at sin, or deadness to sin.  On the other hand,
consider how pleasant a meal is to the hungry, or some enlivening odour
to the faint, how refreshing the air is to the languid, or the brook to
the weary and thirsty,--and you will understand the sort of feeling
which is implied in being alive with Christ, alive to religion, alive
to the thought of heaven.  Our animal powers cannot exist in all
atmospheres; certain airs are poisonous, others life-giving.  So is it
with spirits and souls: an unrenewed spirit could not live in heaven,
he would die; an Angel could not live in hell.  The natural man cannot
live in heavenly company, and the angelic soul would pine and waste
away in the company of sinners, unless God's sacred presence were
continued to it.  To be dead to sin, is to be so minded, that the
atmosphere of sin (if I may so speak) oppresses, distresses, and
stifles us,--that it is painful and unnatural to us to remain in it.
To be alive with Christ, is to be so minded, that the atmosphere of
heaven refreshes, enlivens, stimulates, invigorates us.  To be alive,
is not merely to bear the thought of religion, to assent to the truth
of religion, to wish to be religious; but to be drawn towards it, to
love it, to delight in it, to obey it.  Now I suppose most persons
called Christians do not go farther than this,--to wish to be
religious, and to think it right to be religious, and to feel a respect
for religious men; they do not get so far as to have any sort of love
for religion.

So far, however, they do go; not, indeed, to do their duty and to love
it, but to have a sort of wish that they did.  I suppose there are few
persons but, at the very least, now and then feel the wish to be holy
and religious.  They bear witness to the excellence of virtuous and
holy living, they consent to all that their teachers tell them, what
they hear in church, and read in religious books; but all this is a
very different thing from acting according to their knowledge.  They
confess one thing, they do another.

Nay, they confess one thing _while_ they do another.  Even
sinners,--wilful, abandoned sinners,--if they would be honest enough to
speak as they really in their hearts feel, would own, while they are
indulging in the pleasures of sin, while they idle away the Lord's Day,
or while they keep bad company, or while they lie or cheat, or while
they drink to excess, or do any other bad thing,--they would confess, I
say, did they speak their minds, that it is a far happier thing, even
at present, to live in obedience to God, than in obedience to Satan.
Not that sin has not its pleasures, such as they are; I do not mean, of
course, to deny that,--I do not deny that Satan is able to give us
something in exchange for future and eternal happiness; I do not say
that irreligious men do not gain pleasures, which religious men are
obliged to lose.  I know they do; if they did not, there would be
nothing to tempt and try us.  But, after all, the pleasures which the
servants of Satan enjoy, though pleasant, are always attended with pain
too; with a bitterness, which, though it does not destroy the pleasure,
yet is by itself sufficient to make it far less pleasant, even while it
lasts, than such pleasures as are without such bitterness, viz. the
pleasures of religion.  This, then, alas! is the state of multitudes;
not to be dead to sin and alive to God, but, while they are alive to
sin and the world, to have just so much sense of heaven, as not to be
able to enjoy either.

I say, when any one, man or woman, young or old, is conscious that he
or she is going wrong, whether in greater matter or less, whether in
not coming to church when there is no good excuse, neglecting private
prayer, living carelessly, or indulging in known sin,--this bad
conscience is from time to time a torment to such persons.  For a
little while, perhaps, they do not feel it but then the pain comes on
again.  It is a keen, harassing, disquieting, hateful pain, which
hinders sinners from being happy.  They _may_ have pleasures, but they
cannot be _happy_.  They know that God is angry with them; and they
know that, at some time or other, He will visit, He will judge, He will
punish.  They try to get this out of their minds, but the arrow sticks
fast there; it keeps its hold.  They try to laugh it off, or to be bold
and daring, or to be angry and violent.  They are loud or unkind in
their answers to those, who remind them of it either in set words, or
by their example.  But it keeps its hold.  And so it is, that all men
who are not very abandoned, bad men as well as good, wish that they
were holy as God is holy, pure as Christ was pure, even though they do
not try to be, or pray to God to make them, holy and pure; not that
they _like_ religion, but that they know, they are convinced in their
reason, they feel sure, that religion alone is happiness.

Oh, what a dreadful state, to have our desires one way, and our
knowledge and conscience another; to have our life, our breath and
food, upon the earth, and our eyes upon Him who died once and now
liveth; to look upon Him who once was pierced, yet not to rise with Him
and live with Him; to feel that a holy life is our only happiness, yet
to have no heart to pursue it; to be certain that the wages of sin is
death, yet to practise sin; to confess that the Angels alone are
perfectly happy, for they do God's will perfectly, yet to prepare
ourselves for nothing else but the company of devils; to acknowledge
that Christ is our only hope, yet deliberately to let that hope go!  O
miserable state! miserable they, if any there are who now hear me, who
are thus circumstanced!

At first sight, it might seem impossible that any such persons could be
found in church.  At first sight, one might be tempted to say, "All who
come to church, at least, are in earnest, and have given up sin; they
are imperfect indeed, as all Christians are at best, but they do not
fall into wilful sin."  I should be very glad, my Brethren, to believe
this were the case, but I cannot indulge so pleasant a hope.  No; I
think it quite certain that some persons at least, I do not say how
many, to whom I am speaking, have not made up their minds fully to lead
a religious life.  They come to church because they think it right, or
from other cause.  It is very right that they should come; I am glad
they do.  This is good, as far as it goes; but it is not all.  They are
not so far advanced in the kingdom of God, as to resist the devil, or
to flee from him.  They cannot command themselves.  They act rightly
one day, and wrongly the next.  They are afraid of being laughed at.
They are attracted by bad company.  They put off religion to a future
day.  They think a religious life dull and unpleasant.  Yet they have a
certain sense of religion; and they come to church in order to satisfy
this sense.  Now, I say it is right to come to church; but, O that they
could be persuaded of the simple truth of St. Paul's words, "He is not
a Jew which is one outwardly, but he is a Jew which is one inwardly;
and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the
letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God[1];" which may be taken
to mean:--He is not a Christian who is one outwardly, who merely comes
to church, and professes to desire to be saved by Christ.  It is very
right that he should do so, but it is not enough.  He is not a
Christian who merely has not cast off religion, but he is the true
Christian, who, while he is a Christian outwardly, is one inwardly
also; who lives to God; whose secret life is hid with Christ in God;
whose heart is religious; who not only knows and feels that a religious
life is true happiness, but loves religion, wishes, tries, prays to be
religious, begs God Almighty to give him the will and the power to be
religious; and, as time goes on, grows more and more religious, more
fit for heaven.

We can do nothing right, unless God gives us the will and the power; we
cannot please Him without the aid of His Holy Spirit.  If any one does
not deeply feel this as a first truth in religion, he is preparing for
himself a dreadful fall.  He will attempt, and he will fail signally,
utterly.  His own miserable experience will make him sure of it, if he
will not believe it, as Scripture declares it.  But it is not unlikely
that some persons, perhaps some who now hear me, may fall into an
opposite mistake.  They may attempt to excuse their lukewarmness and
sinfulness, on the plea that God does not inwardly move them; and they
may argue that those holy men whom they so much admire, those saints
who are to sit on Christ's right and left, are of different nature from
themselves, sanctified from their mother's womb, visited, guarded,
renewed, strengthened, enlightened in a peculiar way, so as to make it
no wonder that they _are_ saints, and no fault that they themselves are
not.  But this is not so; let us not thus miserably deceive ourselves.
St. Paul says expressly of himself and the other Apostles, that they
were "men of like passions" with the poor ignorant heathen to whom they
preached.  And does not his history show this?  Do you not recollect
what he was before his conversion?  Did he not rage like a beast of
prey against the disciples of Christ? and how was he converted? by the
vision of our Lord?  Yes, in one sense, but not by it alone; hear his
own words, "Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not _disobedient_ unto the
heavenly vision."  His obedience was necessary for his conversion; he
could not obey without grace; but he would have received grace in vain,
had he not obeyed.  And, afterwards, was he at once perfect?  No; for
he says expressly, "not as though I had already attained, either were
already perfect;" and elsewhere he tells us that he had a "thorn in the
flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him," and he was obliged to
"bruise his body and bring it into subjection, lest, after he had
preached to others, he should be himself a castaway."  St. Paul
conquered, as any one of us must conquer, by "striving," struggling,
"to enter in at the strait gate;" he "wrought out his salvation with
fear and trembling," as we must do.

This is a point which must be insisted on for the encouragement of the
fearful, the confutation of the hypocritical, and the abasement of the
holy.  In this world, even the best of men, though they are dead to
sin, and have put sin to death, yet have that dead and corrupt thing
within them, though they live to God; they have still an enemy of God
remaining in their hearts, though they keep it in subjection.  This,
indeed, is what all men now have in common, a root of evil in them, a
principle of sin, or what may become such;--what they differ in is
this, not that one man has it, another not; but that one lives in and
to it, another not; one subdues it, another not.  A holy man is by
nature subject to sin equally with others; but he is holy because he
subdues, tramples on, chains up, imprisons, puts out of the way this
law of sin, and is ruled by religious and spiritual motives.  Of Christ
alone can it be said that He "did no sin, neither was guile found in
His mouth."  The prince of this world came and found nothing in Him.
He had no root of sin in His heart; He was not born in Adam's sin.  Far
different are we.  He was thus pure, because He was the Son of God, and
born of a Virgin.  But we are conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity.
And since that which is born of the flesh, is flesh, we are sinful and
corrupt because we are sinfully begotten of sinners.  Even those then
who in the end turn out to be saints and attain to life eternal, yet
are not born saints, but have with God's regenerating and renewing
grace to make themselves saints.  It is nothing but the Cross of
Christ, without us and within us, which changes any one of us from
being (as I may say) a devil, into an Angel.  We are all by birth
children of wrath.  We are at best like good olive trees, which have
become good by being grafted on a good tree.  By nature we are like
wild trees, bearing sour and bitter fruit, and so we should remain,
were we not grafted upon Christ, the good olive tree, made members of
Christ, the righteous and holy and well-beloved Son of God.  Hence it
is that there is such a change in a saint of God from what he was at
the first.  Consider what a different man St. Paul was after his
conversion and before,--raging, as I just now said, like some wild
beast, with persecuting fury against the Church, before Christ appeared
to him, and meekly suffering persecution and glorying in it afterwards.
Think of St. Peter denying Christ before the resurrection, and
confessing, suffering, and dying for Him afterwards.  And so now many
an aged saint, who has good hope of heaven, may recollect things of
himself when young, which fill him with dismay.  I do not speak as if
God's saints led vicious and immoral lives when young; but I mean that
their lower and evil nature was not subdued, and perhaps from time to
time broke out and betrayed them into deeds and words so very different
from what is seen in them at present, that did their friends know of
them what they themselves know, they would not think them the same
persons, and would be quite overpowered with astonishment.  We never
can guess what a man is by nature, by seeing what self-discipline has
made him.  Yet if we do become thereby changed and prepared for heaven,
it is no praise or merit to us.  It is God's doing--glory be to Him,
who has wrought so wonderfully with us!  Yet in this life, even to the
end, there will be enough evil in us to humble us; even to the end, the
holiest men have remains and stains of sin which they would fain get
rid of, if they could, and which keep this life from being to them, for
all God's grace, a heaven upon earth.  No, the Christian life is but a
shadow of heaven.  Its festal and holy days are but shadows of
eternity.  But hereafter it will be otherwise.  In heaven, sin will be
utterly destroyed in every elect soul.  We shall have no earthly
wishes, no tendencies to disobedience or irreligion, no love of the
world or the flesh, to draw us off from supreme devotion to God.  We
shall have our Saviour's holiness fulfilled in us, and be able to love
God without drawback or infirmity.

That indeed will be a full reward of all our longings here, to praise
and serve God eternally with a single and perfect heart in the midst of
His Temple.  What a time will that be, when all will be perfected in us
which at present is but feebly begun!  Then we shall see how the Angels
worship God.  We shall see the calmness, the intenseness, the purity,
of their worship.  We shall see that awful sight, the Throne of God,
and the Seraphim before and around it, crying, "Holy!"  We attempt now
to imitate in church what there is performed, as in the beginning, and
ever shall be.  In the Te Deum, day by day we say, "Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Sabaoth."  In the Creed, we recount God's mercies to us
sinners.  And we say and sing Psalms and Hymns, to come as near heaven
as we can.  May these attempts of ours be blest by Almighty God, to
prepare us for Him! may they be, not dead forms, but living services,
living with life from God the Holy Ghost, in those who are dead to sin
and who live with Christ!  I dare say some of you have heard persons,
who dissent from the Church, say (at any rate, they do say), that our
Prayers and Services, and Holy days, are only forms, dead forms, which
can do us no good.  Yes, they are dead forms to those who are dead, but
they are living forms to those who are living.  If you come here in a
dead way, not in faith, not coming for a blessing, without your hearts
being in the service, you will get no benefit from it.  But if you come
in a living way, in faith, and hope, and reverence, and with holy
expectant hearts, then all that takes place will be a living service
and full of heaven.

Make use, then, of this Holy Easter Season, which lasts forty to fifty
days, to become more like Him who died for you, and who now liveth for
evermore.  He promises us, "Because I live, ye shall live also."  He,
by dying on the Cross, opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
He first died, and then He opened heaven.  We, therefore, first
commemorate His death, and then, for some weeks in succession, we
commemorate and show forth the joys of heaven.  They who do not rejoice
in the weeks after Easter, would not rejoice in heaven itself.  These
weeks are a sort of beginning of heaven.  Pray God to enable you to
rejoice; to enable you to keep the Feast duly.  Pray God to make you
better Christians.  This world is a dream,--you will get no good from
it.  Perhaps you find this difficult to believe; but be sure so it is.
Depend upon it, at the last, you will confess it.  Young people expect
good from the world, and people of middle age devote themselves to it,
and even old people do not like to give it up.  But the world is your
enemy, and the flesh is your enemy.  Come to God, and beg of Him grace
to devote yourselves to Him.  Beg of Him the will to follow Him; beg of
Him the power to obey Him.  O how comfortable, pleasant, sweet,
soothing, and satisfying is it to lead a holy life,--the life of
Angels!  It is difficult at first; but with God's grace, all things are
possible.  O how pleasant to have done with sin! how good and joyful to
flee temptation and to resist evil! how meet, and worthy, and fitting,
and right, to die unto sin, and to live unto righteousness!

[1] Rom. ii. 28, 29.


Religion pleasant to the Religious.

"_O taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that
trusteth in Him._"--Psalm xxxiv. 8.

You see by these words what love Almighty God has towards us, and what
claims He has upon our love.  He is the Most High, and All-Holy.  He
inhabiteth eternity: we are but worms compared with Him.  He would not
be less happy though He had never created us; He would not be less
happy though we were all blotted out again from creation.  But He is
the God of love; He brought us all into existence, because He found
satisfaction in surrounding Himself with happy creatures: He made us
innocent, holy, upright, and happy.  And when Adam fell into sin and
his descendants after him, then ever since He has been imploring us to
return to Him, the Source of all good, by true repentance.  "Turn ye,
turn ye," He says, "why will ye die?  As I live I have no pleasure in
the death of the wicked."  "What could have been done more to My
vineyard that I have not done to it[1]?"  And in the text He
condescends to invite us to Him: "O taste and see how gracious the Lord
is: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."  As if He said, "If you
would but make trial, one trial, if you would but be persuaded to taste
and judge for yourself, so excellent is His graciousness, that you
would never cease to desire, never cease to approach Him:" according to
the saying of the wise man, "They that eat Me shall yet be hungry, and
they that drink Me shall yet be thirsty[2]."

This excellence and desirableness of God's gifts is a subject again and
again set before us in Holy Scripture.  Thus the Prophet Isaiah speaks
of the "feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees; of fat
things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined[3]."  And
again, under images of another kind: "He hath sent Me . . . to
give . . . beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment
of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called Trees of
Righteousness[4]."  Or again, the Prophet Hosea: "I will be as the dew
unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as
Lebanon.  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the
olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow
shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the
scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon[5]."  And the Psalmist:
"O that My people would have hearkened unto Me . . . the haters of the
Lord should have been found liars, but their time should have endured
for ever.  He should have fed them also with the finest wheat flour,
and with honey out of the stony rock should I have satisfied thee[6]."
You see all images of what is pleasant and sweet in nature are brought
together to describe the pleasantness and sweetness of the gifts which
God gives us in grace.  As wine enlivens, and bread strengthens, and
oil is rich, and honey is sweet, and flowers are fragrant, and dew is
refreshing, and foliage is beautiful; so, and much more, are God's
gifts in the Gospel enlivening, and strengthening, and rich, and sweet,
and fragrant, and refreshing, and excellent.  And as it is natural to
feel satisfaction and comfort in these gifts of the visible world, so
it is but natural and necessary to be delighted and transported with
the gifts of the world invisible; and as the visible gifts are objects
of desire and search, so much more is it, I do not merely say a duty,
but a privilege and blessedness to "taste and see how gracious the Lord

Other passages in the Psalms speak of this blessedness, besides the
text.  "Thou hast put gladness in my heart," says the Psalmist, "since
the time that their corn and wine and oil increased[7]."  "The lot is
fallen unto me in a fair ground, yea, I have a goodly heritage[8]."
Again, "The statutes of the Lord are right, and rejoice the
heart, . . . more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine
gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb[9]."  "My heart trusted
in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my
song will I praise Him[10]."  Once more: "Blessed is the man whom Thou
choosest and receivest unto Thee: he shall dwell in Thy courts, and
shall be satisfied with the pleasures of Thy house, even of Thy holy

I wish it were possible, my brethren, to lead men to greater holiness
and more faithful obedience by setting before them the high and
abundant joys which they have who serve God: "In His presence is
fulness of joy," "the well of life," and they are satisfied with "the
plenteousness of His house," and "drink of His pleasures as out of a
river," but this is, I know, just what most persons will not believe.
They think that it is very right and proper to be religious, they think
that it would be better for themselves in the world to come if they
were religious now.  They do not at all deny either the duty or the
expedience of leading a new and holy life, but they cannot understand
how it can be pleasant: they cannot believe or admit that it is more
pleasant than a life of liberty, laxity, and enjoyment.  They, as it
were, say, "Keep within bounds, speak within probability, and we will
believe you; but do not shock our reason.  We will admit that we
_ought_ to be religious, and that, when we come to die, we shall be
very glad to have led religious lives: but to tell us that it is a
_pleasant_ thing to be religious, this is too much: it is not true; we
feel that it is not true, all the world knows and feels it is not true;
religion is something unpleasant, gloomy, sad, and troublesome.  It
imposes a number of restraints on us; it keeps us from doing what we
would; it will not let us have our own way; it abridges our liberty; it
interferes with our enjoyments; it has fewer, far fewer, joys at
present than a worldly life, though it gains for us more joys
hereafter."  This is what men say, or would say, if they understood
what they feel, and spoke their minds freely.

Alas!  I cannot deny that this _is_ true in the case of most men.  Most
men do not like the service of God, though it be perfect freedom; they
like to follow their own ways, and they are only religious so far as
their conscience obliges them; they are like Balaam, desirous of "the
death of the righteous," not of his life.  Indeed, this is the very
thing I am lamenting and deploring.  I lament, my brethren, that so
many men, nay, I may say, that so many of you, do _not_ like religious
service.  I do not deny it; but I lament it.  I do not deny it: far
from it.  I know quite well how many there are who do not like coming
to Church, and who make excuses for keeping away at times when they
might come.  I know how many there are who do not come to the Most Holy
Sacrament.  I know that there are numbers who do not say their prayers
in private morning and evening.  I know how many there are who are
ashamed to be thought religious, who take God's name in vain, and live
like the world.  Alas! this is the very thing I lament,--that God's
service is not pleasant to you.  It is not pleasant to those who do not
like it: true; but it is pleasant to those who _do_.  Observe, this is
what I say; not that it is pleasant to those who like it not, but that
it is pleasant to those who like it.  Nay, what I say is, that it is
much _more_ pleasant to those who like it, than any thing of this world
is pleasant to those who do not like it.  This is the point.  I do not
say that it is pleasant to most men; but I say that it is in itself the
most pleasant thing in the world.  Nothing is so pleasant as God's
service to those _to whom_ it is pleasant.  The pleasures of sin are
not to be compared in fulness and intensity to the pleasures of holy
living.  The pleasures of holiness are far more pleasant to the holy,
than the pleasures of sin to the sinner.  O that I could get you to
believe this!  O that you had a heart to feel it and know it!  O that
you had a heart to taste God's pleasures and to make proof of them; to
taste and see how gracious the Lord is!

None can know, however, the joys of being holy and pure but the holy.
If an Angel were to come down from heaven, even he could not explain
them to you, nor could he in turn understand what the pleasures of sin
are.  Do you think that an Angel could be made to understand what are
the pleasures of sin?  I trow not.  You might as well attempt to
persuade him that there was pleasure in feasting on dust and ashes.
There are brute animals who wallow in the mire and eat corruption.
This seems strange to us: much stranger to an Angel is it how any one
can take pleasure in any thing so filthy, so odious, so loathsome as
sin.  Many men, as I have been saying, wonder what possible pleasure
there can be in any thing so melancholy as religion.  Well: be sure of
this,--it is _more_ wonderful to an Angel, what possible pleasure there
can be in sinning.  It is _more_ wonderful, I say.  He would turn away
with horror and disgust, both because sin is so base a thing in itself,
and because it is so hateful in God's sight.

Let no persons then be surprised that religious obedience should really
be so pleasant in itself, when it seems to them so distasteful.  Let
them not be surprised that _what_ the pleasure is cannot be explained
to _them_.  It is a secret till they try to be religious.  Men know
what sin is, by experience.  They do not know what holiness is; and
they cannot obtain the knowledge of its secret pleasure, till they join
themselves truly and heartily to Christ, and devote themselves to His
service,--till they "taste," and thereby try.  This pleasure is as
hidden from them, as the pleasures of sin are hidden from the Angels.
The Angels have never eaten the forbidden fruit, and their eyes are not
open to know good and evil.  And we _have_ eaten the forbidden
fruit,--at least Adam did, and we are his descendants,--and our eyes
_are_ open to know evil.  And, alas! on the other hand, they have
become blinded to good; they require opening to see, to know, to
understand good.  And till our eyes _are_ opened spiritually, we
_shall_ ever think religion distasteful and unpleasant, and shall
wonder how any one can like it.  Such is our miserable state,--we are
blind to the highest and truest glories, and dead to the most lively
and wonderful of all pleasures;--and no one can describe them to us.
None other than God the Holy Spirit can help us in this matter, by
enlightening and changing our hearts.  So it is; and yet I will say one
thing, by way of suggesting to you how great and piercing the joys of
religion are.  Think of this.  Is there any one who does not know how
very painful the feeling of a bad conscience is?  Do not you recollect,
my Brethren, some time or other, having done something you knew to be
wrong? and do you not remember afterwards what a piercing bitter
feeling came on you?  Is not the feeling of a bad conscience different
from any other feeling, and more distressing than any other, till we
have accustomed ourselves to it?  Persons do accustom themselves and
lose this feeling; but till we blunt our conscience, it is very
painful.  And why?  It is the feeling of God's displeasure, and
therefore it is so painful.  Consider then: if God's displeasure is so
distressing to us, must not God's approval and favour be just the
reverse; like life from the dead, most exceedingly joyful and
transporting?  And this is what it is to be holy and religious.  It is
to have God's favour.  And, as it is a great misery to be under God's
wrath, so it is a great and wonderful joy to be in God's favour, and
those who know what a misery the former is, may fancy, though they do
not know, how high a blessing the latter is.  From what you know, then,
judge of what you do not know.  From the miseries of guilt, which,
alas! you have experienced, conjecture the blessedness of holiness and
purity which you have not experienced.  From the pain of a bad
conscience, believe in the unspeakable joy and gladness of a good

I have been addressing those who do not know what religious peace and
Divine pleasures are, but there are those present, I hope, who in a
measure are not strangers to them.  I know that none of us gain all the
pleasure from God's service which it might afford us; still some of us,
I hope, gain some pleasure.  I hope there are some of those who hear
me, who take a pleasure in coming to Church, in saying their prayers,
in thinking of God, in singing Psalms, in blessing Him for the mercies
of the Gospel, and in celebrating Christ's death and resurrection, as
at this season of the year[12].  These persons have "tasted" and tried.
I trust they find the taste so heavenly, that _they_ will not need any
proof that religion is a pleasant thing; nay, more pleasant than any
thing else, worth the following above all other things, and unpleasant
only to those who are not religious.

Let such persons then think of this, that if a religious life is
pleasant here, in spite of the old Adam interrupting the pleasure and
defiling them, what a glorious day it will be, if it is granted to us
hereafter to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!  None of us, even the
holiest, can guess _how_ happy we shall be; for St. John says, "We know
not what we shall be[13];" and St. Paul, "Now we see in a glass darkly,
but then face to face."  Yet in proportion to our present holiness and
virtue, we have some faint ideas of what will then be our blessedness.
And in Scripture various descriptions of heaven are given us, in order
to arrest, encourage, and humble us.  We are told that the Angels of
God are very bright, and clad in white robes.  The Saints and Martyrs
too are clad in white robes, with palms in their hands; and they sing
praises unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb.  When
our Lord was transfigured, He showed us what Heaven is.  His raiment
became white as snow, white and glistening.  Again, at one time He
appeared to St. John, and then, "His head and His hairs were white like
wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His
feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His
countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength[14]."  And what
Christ is, such do His Saints become hereafter.  Here below they are
clad in a garment of sinful flesh; but when the end comes, and they
rise from the grave, they shall inherit glory, and shall be ever young
and ever shining.  In that day, all men will see and be convinced, even
bad men, that God's servants are really happy, and only they.  In that
day, even lost souls, though they will not be able to understand the
blessedness of religion, will have no doubt at all of what they now
doubt, or pretend to doubt, that religion _is_ blessed.  They laugh at
religion, think strictness to be narrowness of mind, and regularity to
be dulness; and give bad names to religious men.  They will not be able
to do so then.  They think themselves the great men of the earth now,
and look down upon the religious; but then, who would not have been a
religious man, to have so great a reward? who will then have any heart
to speak against religion, even though he has not "a heart to fear God
and keep all His commandments always?"  In that day, they will look
upon the righteous man, and "be amazed at the strangeness of his
salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for.  And they, repenting
and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This
was he, whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach.
We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour;
how is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the

Think of all this, my Brethren, and rouse yourselves, and run forward
with a good courage on your way towards heaven.  Be not weary in
well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  Strive
to enter in at the strait gate.  Strive to get holier and holier every
day, that you may be worthy to stand before the Son of Man.  Pray God
to teach you His will, and to lead you forth in the right way, because
of your enemies.  Submit yourselves to His guidance, and you will have
comfort given you, according to your day, and peace at the last.

[1] Ezek. xxxiii. 11.  Isa. v. 4.

[2] Eccles. xxiv. 21.

[3] Isa. xxv. 6.

[4] Isa. lxi. 1-3.

[5] Hos. xiv. 5-7.

[6] Ps. lxxxi. 13-16.

[7] Ps. iv. 7.

[8] Ps. xvi. 6.

[9] Ps. xix. 10.

[10] Ps. xxviii. 7.

[11] Ps. lxv. 4.

[12] Easter.

[13] 1 John iii. 2.

[14] Rev. i. 14-16.

[15] Wisd. v. 2-5.


Mental Prayer.

"_Pray without ceasing._"--1 Thess. v. 17.

There are two modes of praying mentioned in Scripture; the one is
prayer at set times and places, and in set forms; the other is what the
text speaks of,--continual or habitual prayer.  The former of these is
what is commonly called prayer, whether it be public or private.  The
other kind of praying may also be called holding communion with God, or
living in God's sight, and this may be done all through the day,
wherever we are, and is commanded us as the duty, or rather the
characteristic, of those who are really servants and friends of Jesus

These two kinds of praying are also natural duties.  I mean, we should
in a way be bound to attend to them, even if we were born in a heathen
country and had never heard of the Bible.  For our conscience and
reason would lead us to practise them, if we did but attend to these
divinely-given informants.  I shall here confine myself to the
consideration of the latter of the two, habitual or inward prayer,
which is enjoined in the text, with the view of showing what it is, and
how we are to practise it; and I shall speak of it, first, as a natural
duty, and then as the characteristic of a Christian.

1. At first sight, it may be difficult to some persons to understand
what is meant by praying always.  Now consider it as a natural duty,
that is, a duty taught us by natural reason and religious feeling, and
you will soon see what it consists in.

What does nature teach us about ourselves, even before opening the
Bible?--that we are creatures of the Great God, the Maker of heaven and
earth; and that, as His creatures, we are bound to serve Him and give
Him our hearts; in a word, to be religious beings.  And next, what is
religion but a habit? and what is a habit but a state of mind which is
always upon us, as a sort of ordinary dress or inseparable garment of
the soul?  A man cannot really be religious one hour, and not religious
the next.  We might as well say he could be in a state of good health
one hour, and in bad health the next.  A man who is religious, is
religious morning, noon, and night; his religion is a certain
character, a mould in which his thoughts, words, and actions are cast,
all forming parts of one and the same whole.  He sees God in all
things; every course of action he directs towards those spiritual
objects which God has revealed to him; every occurrence of the day,
every event, every person met with, all news which he hears, he
measures by the standard of God's will.  And a person who does this may
be said almost literally to pray without ceasing; for, knowing himself
to be in God's presence, he is continually led to address Him
reverently, whom he sets always before him, in the inward language of
prayer and praise, of humble confession and joyful trust.

All this, I say, any thoughtful man acknowledges from mere natural
reason.  To be religious is, in other words, to have the habit of
prayer, or to pray always.  This is what Scripture means by doing all
things to God's glory; that is, so placing God's presence and will
before us, and so consistently acting with a reference to Him, that all
we do becomes one body and course of obedience, witnessing without
ceasing to Him who made us, and whose servants we are; and in its
separate parts promoting more or less directly His glory, according as
each particular thing we happen to be doing admits more or less of a
religious character.  Thus religious obedience is, as it were, a spirit
dwelling in us, extending its influence to every motion of the soul;
and just as healthy men and strong men show their health and strength
in all they do (not indeed equally in all things, but in some things
more than in others, because all actions do not require or betoken the
presence of that health and strength, and yet even in their step, and
their voice, and their gestures, and their countenance, showing in due
measure their vigour of body), so they who have the true health and
strength of the soul, a clear, sober, and deep faith in Him in whom
they have their being, will in all they do, nay (as St. Paul says),
even whether they "eat or drink[1]," be living in God's sight, or, in
the words of the same Apostle in the text, live in ceaseless prayer.

If it be said that no man on earth does thus continually and perfectly
glorify and worship God, this we all know too well; this is only saying
that none of us has reached perfection.  We know, alas! that in many
things all of us offend.  But I am speaking not of what we _do_, but of
what we _ought to do_, and must aim at doing,--of _our duty_; and, for
the sake of impressing our duty on our hearts, it is of use to draw the
picture of a man perfectly obedient, as a pattern for us to aim at.  In
proportion as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour, so
shall we approximate to Him in obedience, who is our great example, and
who alone of all the sons of Adam lived in the perfection of unceasing

Thus the meaning and reasonableness of the command in the text is shown
by considering it as a natural duty, religion being no accident which
comes and goes by fits and starts, but a certain spirit or life.

2. Now, secondly, I will state all this in the language of Scripture;
that is, I will confirm this view of our duty, which natural reason
might suggest, by that other and far clearer voice of God, His inspired

How is religious obedience described in Scripture?  Surely as a certain
kind of life.  We know what life of the body is; it is a state of the
body: the pulse beats; all things are in motion.  The hidden principle
of life, though we know not how or what it is, is seen in these outward
signs of it.  And so of the life of the soul.  The soul, indeed, was
not possessed of this life of God when first born into the world.  We
are born with dead souls; that is, dead as regards religious obedience.
If left to ourselves we should grow up haters of God, and tend nearer
and nearer, the longer we had existence, to utter spiritual death, that
inward fire of hell torments, maturing in evil through a long eternity.
Such is the course we are beginning to run when born into the world;
and were it not for the gospel promise, what a miserable event would
the birth of children be!  Who could take pleasure at the sight of such
poor beings, unconscious as yet of their wretchedness, but containing
in their hearts that fearful root of sin which is sure in the event of
reigning and triumphing unto everlasting woe?  But God has given us
all, even the little children, a good promise through Christ; and our
prospects are changed.  And He has given not only a promise of future
happiness, but through His Holy Spirit He implants here and at once a
new principle within us, a new spiritual life, a life of the soul, as
it is called.  St. Paul tells us, that "God hath quickened us," made us
_live_, "together with Christ, . . . and hath raised us up together"
from the death of sin, "and made us sit together in heavenly places in
Christ Jesus[2]."  Now how God quickens our souls we do not know, as
little as how He quickens our bodies.  Our spiritual "life" (as St.
Paul says) "is _hid_ with Christ in God[3]."  But as our bodily life
discovers itself by its activity, so is the presence of the Holy Spirit
in us discovered by a spiritual activity; and this activity is the
spirit of continual prayer.  Prayer is to spiritual life what the
beating of the pulse and the drawing of the breath are to the life of
the body.  It would be as absurd to suppose that life could last when
the body was cold and motionless and senseless, as to call a soul alive
which does not pray.  The state or habit of spiritual life exerts
itself, consists, in the continual activity of prayer.

Do you ask, where does Scripture say this?  Where?  In all it tells us
of the connexion between the new birth and faith; for what is prayer
but the expression, the voice, of faith?  For instance, St. Paul says
to the Galatians, "The _life_ which I now live in the flesh" (i.e. the
new and spiritual life), "I live by the _faith_ of the Son of God, who
loved me[4]."  For what, I say, is faith, but the looking to God and
thinking of Him continually, holding habitual fellowship with Him, that
is, speaking to Him in our hearts all through the day, praying without
ceasing?  Afterwards, in the same Epistle, he tells us first that
nothing avails but faith working by love; but soon after, he calls this
same availing principle a new creature: so that the new birth and a
living faith are inseparable.  Never, indeed, must it be supposed, as
we are indolently apt to suppose, that the gift of grace which we
receive at baptism is a mere outward privilege, a mere outward pardon,
in which the heart is not concerned; or as if it were some mere mark
put on the soul, distinguishing it indeed from souls unregenerate, as
if by a colour or seal, but not connected with the thoughts, mind, and
heart of a Christian.  This would be a gross and false view of the
nature of God's mercy given us in Christ.  For the new birth of the
Holy Spirit sets the soul in motion in a heavenly way: it gives us good
thoughts and desires, enlightens and purifies us, and prompts us to
seek God.  In a word (as I have said), it gives a spiritual _life_; it
opens the eyes of our mind, so that we begin to see God in all things
by faith, and hold continual intercourse with Him by prayer, and if we
cherish these gracious influences, we shall become holier and wiser and
more heavenly, year by year, our hearts being ever in a course of
change from darkness to light, from the ways and works of Satan to the
perfection of Divine obedience.

These considerations may serve to impress upon our minds the meaning of
the precept in the text, and others like it which are found in St.
Paul's Epistles.  For instance, he enjoins the Ephesians to "pray
always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."  To the
Philippians he says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by
prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God[5]."
To the Colossians, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with
thanksgiving."  To the Romans, "Continue instant in prayer[6]."

Thus the true Christian pierces through the veil of this world and sees
the next.  He holds intercourse with it; he addresses God, as a child
might address his parent, with as clear a view of Him, and with as
unmixed a confidence in Him; with deep reverence indeed, and godly fear
and awe, but still with certainty and exactness: as St. Paul says, "I
know whom I have believed[7]," with the prospect of judgment to come to
sober him, and the assurance of present grace to cheer him.

If what I have said is true, surely it is well worth thinking about.
Most men indeed, I fear, neither pray at fixed times, nor do they
cultivate an habitual communion with Almighty God.  Indeed, it is too
plain how most men pray.  They pray now and then, when they feel
particular need of God's assistance; when they are in trouble or in
apprehension of danger; or when their feelings are unusually excited.
They do not know what it is either to be habitually religious, or to
devote a certain number of minutes at fixed times to the thought of
God.  Nay, the very best Christian, how lamentably deficient is he in
the spirit of prayer!  Let any man compare in his mind how many times
he has prayed when in trouble, with how seldom he has returned thanks
when his prayers have been granted; or the earnestness with which he
prays against expected suffering, with the languor and unconcern of his
thanksgivings afterwards, and he will soon see how little he has of the
real habit of prayer, and how much his religion depends on accidental
excitement, which is no test of a religious heart.  Or supposing he has
to repeat the same prayer for a month or two, the cause of using it
continuing, let him compare the earnestness with which he first said
it, and tried to enter into it, with the coldness with which he at
length uses it.  Why is this, except that his perception of the unseen
world is not the true view which faith gives (else it would last as
that world itself lasts), but a mere dream, which endures for a night,
and is succeeded by a hard worldly joy in the morning?  Is God
habitually in our thoughts?  Do we think of Him, and of His Son our
Saviour, through the day?  When we eat and drink, do we thank Him, not
as a mere matter of form, but in spirit?  When we do things in
themselves right, do we lift up our minds to Him, and desire to promote
His glory?  When we are in the exercise of our callings, do we still
think of Him, acting ever conscientiously, desiring to know His will
more exactly than we do at present, and aiming at fulfilling it more
completely and abundantly?  Do we wait on His grace to enlighten,
renew, strengthen us?

I do not ask whether we use many words about religion.  There is no
need to do this: nay, we should avoid a boastful display of our better
feelings and practices, silently serving God without human praise, and
hiding our conscientiousness except when it would dishonour God to do
so.  There are times, indeed, when, in the presence of a holy man, to
confess is a benefit, and there are times when, in the presence of
worldly men, to confess becomes a duty; but these seasons, whether of
privilege or of duty, are comparatively rare.  But we are always with
ourselves and our God; and that silent inward confession in His
presence may be sustained and continual, and will end in durable fruit.

But if those persons come short of their duty who make religion a
matter of impulse and mere feeling, what shall be said to those who
have no feeling or thought of religion at all?  What shall be said of
the multitude of young people who ridicule seriousness, and
deliberately give themselves up to vain thoughts?  Alas! my brethren,
you do not even observe or recognize the foolish empty thoughts which
pass through your minds; you are not distressed, even at those of them
you recollect; but what will you say at the last day, when, instead of
the true and holy visions in which consists Divine communion, you find
recorded against you in God's book an innumerable multitude of the
idlest, silliest imaginings, nay, of the wickedest, which ever
disgraced an immortal being?  What will you say, when heaven and hell
are before you, and the books are opened, and therein you find the sum
total of your youthful desires and dreams, your passionate wishes for
things of this world, your low-minded, grovelling tastes, your secret
contempt and aversion for serious subjects and persons, your efforts to
attract the looks of sinners and to please those who displease God;
your hankerings after worldly gaieties and luxuries, your admiration of
the rich or titled, your indulgence of impure thoughts, your
self-conceit and pitiful vanity?  Ah, I may seem to you to use harsh
words; but be sure I do not use terms near so severe as you will use
against yourselves in that day.  Then those men, whom you now think
gloomy and over-strict, will seem to you truly wise; and the advice to
pray without ceasing, which once you laughed at as fit only for the
dull, the formal, the sour, the poor-spirited, or the aged, will be
approved by your own experience, as it is even now by your reason and
conscience.  Oh, that you could be brought to give one serious hour to
religion, in anticipation of that long eternity where you _must_ be
serious!  True, you may laugh now, but there is no vain merriment on
the other side of the grave.  The devils, though they repent not,
tremble.  _You_ will be among those unwilling serious ones then, if you
are mad enough to be gay and careless now; if you are mad enough to
laugh, jest, and scoff your poor moment now on earth, which, is short
enough to prepare for eternity in, without your making it shorter by
wasting your youth in sin.  Could you but see who it is that suggests
to you all your lighter thoughts, which you put instead of Divine
communion, the shock would make you serious, even if it did not make
you religious.  Could you see, what God sees, those snares and pitfalls
which the devil is placing about your path; could you see that all your
idle thoughts which you cherish, which seem so bright and pleasant, so
much pleasanter than religious thoughts, are inspired by that Ancient
Seducer of Mankind, the Author of Evil, who stands at your side while
you deride religion, serious indeed himself while he makes you laugh,
not able to laugh at his own jests, while he carries you dancing
forward to perdition,--doubtless you would tremble, even as he does
while he tempts you.  But this you cannot possibly see, you cannot
break your delusion, except by first taking God's word in this matter
on trust.  You cannot see the unseen world at once.  They who ever
speak with God in their hearts, are in turn taught by Him in all
knowledge; but they who refuse to act upon the light, which God gave
them by nature, at length come to lose it altogether, and are given up
to a reprobate mind.

May God save us all from such wilful sin, old as well as young, and
enlighten us one and all in His saving knowledge, and give us the will
and the power to serve Him!

[1] 1 Cor. x. 31.

[2] Eph. ii. 5, 6.

[3] Col. iii. 3.

[4] Gal. ii. 20.

[5] Eph. vi. 18.  Phil. iv. 6.

[6] Col. iv. 2.  Rom. xii. 12.

[7] 2 Tim. i. 12.


Infant Baptism.

"_Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into
the Kingdom of God._"--John iii. 5.

None can be saved, unless the blood of Christ, the Immaculate Lamb of
God, be imputed to him; and it is His gracious will that it should be
imputed to as, one by one, by means of outward and visible signs, or
what are called Sacraments.  These visible rites represent to us the
heavenly truth, and convey what they represent.  The baptismal washing
betokens the cleansing of the soul from sin; the elements of bread and
wine are figures of what is present but not seen, "the body and blood
of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the
faithful in the Lord's Supper."  So far the two Sacraments agree; yet
there is this important difference in their use,--that Baptism is but
_once_ administered, but the Lord's Supper is to be received
_continually_.  Our Lord Christ told the Apostles to baptize _at the
time_ that they made men His disciples.  Baptism _admitted_ them to His
favour once for all; but the Lord's Supper _keeps_ us and secures us in
His favour day by day.  He said, "This do, _as often as_ ye drink it,
in _remembrance_ of Me."

Here, then, a Question at once arises, which it is important to
consider:--_At what time_ in our life are we to be baptized, or made
disciples of Christ?  The first Christians of course were baptized when
they were come to a full age, because then the Gospel was for the first
time preached to them; they had no means of being baptized when young.
But the case is different with those who are born of Christian parents;
so the question now is, at what age are the sons of Christians to be

Now, for fifteen hundred years there was no dispute or difficulty in
answering this question all over the Christian world; none who
acknowledged the duty of baptizing at all, but administered the rite to
infants, as we do at present.  But about three hundred years ago
strange opinions were set afloat, and sects arose, doing every thing
which had not been done before, and undoing every thing that had been
done before, and all this (as they professed) on the principle that it
was every one's duty to judge and act for himself; and among these new
sects there was one which maintained that Infant Baptism was a mistake,
and that, mainly upon this short argument,--that it was nowhere
commanded in Scripture.

Let us, then, consider this subject: and first, it is but fair and
right to acknowledge at once that Scripture does _not_ bid us baptize
children.  This, however, is no very serious admission; for Scripture
does not name any time at all for Baptism; yet it orders us to be
baptized at some age or other.  It is plain, then, whatever age we fix
upon, we shall be going beyond the letter of Scripture.  This may or
may not be a difficulty, but it cannot be avoided: it is not a
difficulty of _our_ making.  God has so willed it.  He has kept
silence, and doubtless with good reason; and surely we must try to do
our part and to find out what He would have us do, according to the
light, be it greater or less, which He has vouchsafed to us.

Is it any new thing that it should take time and thought to find out
accurately what our duty is?  Is it a new thing that the full and
perfect truth should not lie on the very surface of things, in the bare
letter of Scripture?  Far from it.  Those who _strive_ to enter into
life, these alone find the strait gate which leads thereto.  It is no
proof even that it is a matter of indifference what age is proper for
Baptism, that Scripture is not clear about it, but hides its real
meaning; not commanding but hinting what we should do.  For consider
how many things in this life are difficult to attain, yet, far from
being matters of indifference, are necessary for our comfort or even
well-being.  Nay, it often happens that the more valuable any gift is,
the more difficult it is to gain it.  Take, for instance, the art of
medicine.  Is there an art more important for our life and comfort?
Yet how difficult and uncertain is the science of it! what time it
takes to be well versed and practised in it!  What would be thought of
a person who considered that it mattered little whether a sick man took
this course or that, on the ground that men were not physicians by
nature, and that if the Creator had meant medicine to be for our good.
He would have told us at once, and every one of us, the science and the
practice of it?  In the same way it does not at all follow, even if it
_were_ difficult to find out at what age Baptism should be
administered, that therefore one time is as good as another.
Difficulty is the very attendant upon great blessings, not on things

But a man may say that Scripture is given us for the very purpose of
making the knowledge of our duty easy to us;--what is meant by a
revelation, if it does not reveal?--and that we have no revelation to
tell us what medicines are good or bad for the body, but that a
revelation _has_ been made in order to tell us what is good or bad for
the soul:--if, then, a thing _were_ important for our soul's benefit,
Scripture would have plainly declared it.  I answer, who told us all
this?  Doubtless, Scripture _was_ given to make our duty _easier than
before_; but how do we know that it was intended to take away _all_
difficulty of every kind?  So says not Christ, when He bids us seek and
strive and so find; to knock, to watch, and to pray.  No; Scripture has
not undertaken to _tell_ us every thing, but merely to give us the
means of _finding_ every thing; and thus much we can conclude on the
subject before us, that if it is important, there are _means_ of
determining it; but we cannot infer, either that it must actually be
_commanded_ in the letter of Scripture, or that it can be found out by
every individual _for and by himself_.

But it may be said, Scripture says that the times of the Gospel shall
be times of great light: "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of thy children[1]."  This is true: but
whose children?  The Church's.  Surely it is a time of light, if we
come to the Church for information; for she has ever spoken most
clearly on the subject.  She has ever baptized infants and enjoined the
practice; she has ever answered to the prophecy as being "a word behind
us, saying, This is the way; walk ye in it."  Her teachers surely
(according to the prophecy) have never been removed into a corner.  But
if we will not accept this supernatural mercy, then I say it is not
unnatural that we should find ourselves in the same kind of doubt in
which we commonly are involved in matters of this world.  God has
promised us light and knowledge in the Gospel, but in His way, not in
_our_ way.

But after all, in the present instance, surely there is no great
difficulty in finding out what God would have us to do, though He has
not told us in Scripture in the plainest way.  I say it is not
difficult to see, as the Church has ever been led to see, that God
would have us baptize young children, and that to delay Baptism is to
delay a great benefit, and is hazarding a child's salvation.  There is
no difficulty, if men are not resolved to make one.

1. Let us consider, first, what is Baptism?  It is a means and pledge
of God's mercy, pardon, acceptance of us for Christ's sake; it gives us
grace to change our natures.  Now, surely infants, as being born in
sin, have most abundant _need_ of God's mercy and grace: this cannot be
doubted.  Even at first sight, then, it appears _desirable_ (to say the
least) that they should be baptized.  Baptism is just suited to their
need: it contains a promise of the very blessings which they want, and
which without God's free bounty they cannot have.  If, indeed, Baptism
were merely or principally our act, then perhaps the case would be
altered.  But it is not an act of ours so much as of God's; a pledge
from Him.  And, I repeat, infants, as being by nature under God's
wrath, having no elements of spiritual life in them, being corrupt and
sinful, are surely, in a singular manner, objects of Baptism as far as
the question of desirableness is concerned.

Let us refer to our Saviour's words to Nicodemus in the text.  Our Lord
tells him none can enter into the kingdom of God who is not born of
water and the Spirit.  And why?  _Because_ (He goes on to say) "that
which is born of the flesh is flesh[2]."  We need a new birth, because
our first birth is a birth unto sin.  Who does not see that this reason
is equally cogent for _infant_ Baptism as for Baptism at all?  Baptism
by water and the Spirit is necessary for salvation (He says), because
man's _nature_ is corrupt; therefore infants must need this
regeneration too.  If, indeed, sin were not planted deep in man's very
heart,--if it were merely an accidental evil into which some fell while
others escaped it.--nay, even if, though (as a fact) all men actually
fall into sin, yet this general depravity arose merely from bad
example, not from natural bias, then indeed Baptism of water and the
Spirit would not be necessary except for those who, having come to
years of understanding, had actual sin to answer for: but if, as our
Saviour implies, even a child's heart, before he begins to think and
act, is under Divine wrath, and contains the sure and miserable promise
of future sin as the child grows up, can we do otherwise than
thankfully accept the pledge and means which He has given us of a new
birth unto holiness; and since, by not telling us the time for Baptism,
He has in a way left it to ourselves to decide upon it, shall we not
apply the medicine given us when we are sure of the disease?  "Can any
man _forbid_ water," to use St. Peter's words under different
circumstances, "that" children "should not be baptized?"  The burden of
proof, as it is called, is with those who withhold the Sacrament.

Will it be said that infants are not properly _qualified_ for Baptism?
How is this an objection?  Consider the text.--"Except one be born of
water and the Spirit," says our Lord, "he cannot enter into the kingdom
of God."  There is nothing said about qualifications or conditions here
which might exclude infants from Baptism,--nothing about the necessity
of previous faith, or previous good works, in order to fit us for the
mercy of God.  Nor indeed could any thing be said.  Christ knew that,
without His grace, man's nature could not bear any good fruit, for from
above is every good gift.  Far from it.  Any such notion of man's
unassisted strength is wholly detestable, contrary to the very first
principles of all true religion, whether Jewish, Christian, or even
Pagan.  We are miserably fallen creatures, we are by nature
corrupt,--we dare not talk even of children being naturally pleasing in
God's sight.  And if we wait till children are in a condition to bring
something to God, in payment (so to say) of His mercy to them, till
they have faith and repentance, they never will be baptized; for they
will never attain to that condition.  To defer Baptism till persons
actually have repentance and faith, is refusing to give medicine till a
patient begins to get well.  It would be hard indeed, if Satan be
allowed to have access to the soul from infancy, as soon as it begins
to think, and we refuse to do what we can, or what promises well,
towards gaining for it the protection of God against the Tempter.

On this first view of the case then, from the original corruption of
our nature, from the need which all men are under from their birth of
pardon and help from God, from Baptism being a promise of mercy just
suited to our need, and from the impossibility of any one (let him be
allowed to live unbaptized ever so long) bringing any self-provided
recommendation of himself to God's favour; on all these accounts, I
say, since God has given us no particular directions in the matter, but
has left it to ourselves, it seems, on the first view of the case, most
fitting and right to give children the privilege of Baptism.

2. But, in fact, we are not, strictly speaking, left without positive
encouragement to bring infants near to Him.  We are not merely left to
infer generally the propriety of Infant Baptism; Christ has shown us
His _willingness_ to receive children.  Some men have said (indeed most
of us perhaps in seasons of unbelief have been tempted in our hearts to
ask), "What good can Baptism do senseless children? you might as well
baptize things without life; they sleep or even struggle during the
ceremony, and interrupt it; it is a mere superstition."  This, my
brethren, is the language of the world, whoever uses it.  It is putting
sight against faith.  If we are assured that Baptism has been blessed
by Christ, as the rite of admittance into His Church, we have nothing
to do with those outward appearances, which, though they might prove
something perhaps, had He not spoken, now that He has spoken lose all
force.  To such objections, I would reply by citing our Saviour's "own
word and deed."  We find that infants were brought to Christ; and His
disciples seem to have doubted, in the same spirit of unbelief, what
_could_ be the good of bringing helpless and senseless children to the
Saviour of men.  They doubtless thought that His time would be better
employed in teaching _them_, than in attending to children; that it was
interfering with His usefulness.  "But when Jesus saw it, He was much
displeased[3]."  These are remarkable words: "much displeased,"--that
is, He was uneasy, indignant, angry (as the Greek word may be more
literally translated); and we are told, "He took them up in His arms,
put His hands upon them, and _blessed them_."  Christ, then, can bless
infants, in spite of their being to all appearance as yet incapable of
thought or feeling.  He can, and did, bless them; and, in the very
sense in which they then were blessed, we believe they are capable of a
blessing in Baptism.

3. And we may add this consideration.  It is certain that children
ought to be instructed in religious truth, as they can bear it, from
the very first dawn of reason; clearly, they are not to be left without
a Christian training till they arrive at years of maturity.  Now, let
it be observed, Christ seems distinctly to connect teaching with
Baptism, as if He intended to convey through it a blessing upon
teaching,--"Go ye and teach all the nations, baptizing them."  If
children, then, are to be considered as under teaching, as learners in
the school of Christ, surely they should be admitted into that school
by Baptism.

These are the reasons for Infant Baptism which strike the mind, even on
the first consideration of the subject; and in the absence of express
information from Scripture, they are (as far as they go) satisfactory.
At _what age_ should we be baptized?  I answer, in childhood; because
all children _require_ Divine pardon and grace (as our Saviour Himself
implies), all are _capable_ of His blessing (as His action shows), all
are _invited_ to His blessing, and Baptism is a pledge from Him of His
favour, as His Apostles frequently declare.  Since infants are to be
brought to Christ, we must have invented a rite, if Baptism did not
answer the purpose of a dedication.  Again, I say, in childhood;
because all children need Christian instruction, and Baptism is a badge
and mark of a scholar in Christ's school.  And moreover, I will add,
because St. Paul speaks of the children of Christian parents as being
"holy," in a favoured state, a state of unmerited blessing; and because
he seems to have baptized at once whole families, where the head of the
family was converted to the faith of the Gospel[4].

To conclude.  Let me beg of all who hear me, and who wish to serve God,
to remember, in their ordinary prayers, their habitual thoughts, the
daily business of life, that they were once baptized.  If Baptism be
merely a ceremony, to be observed indeed, but then at once
forgotten,--a decent form, which it would neither be creditable, nor
for temporal reasons expedient to neglect,--it is most surely no
subject for a Christian minister to speak of; Christ's religion has no
fellowship with bare forms, and nowhere encourages mere outward
observances.  If, indeed, there be any who degrade Baptism into a mere
ceremony, which has in it no spiritual promise, let such men look to it
for themselves, and defend their practice of baptizing infants as they
can.  But for me, my brethren, I would put it before you as a true and
plain pledge, without reserve, of God's grace given to the souls of
those who receive it; not a mere form, but a real means and instrument
of blessing verily and indeed received; and, as being such, I warn you
to remember what a talent has been committed to you.  There are very
many persons who do not think of Baptism in this religious point of
view; who are in no sense in the habit of blessing God for it, and
praying Him for His further grace to profit by the privileges given
them in it; who, when even they pray for grace, do not ground their
hope of being heard and answered, on the promise of blessing in Baptism
made to them; above all, who do not fear to sin after Baptism.  This is
of course an omission; in many cases it is a _sin_.  Let us set
ourselves right in this respect.  Nothing will remind us more forcibly
both of our advantages and of our duties; for from the very nature of
our minds outward signs are especially calculated (if rightly used) to
strike, to affect, to subdue, to change them.

Blessed is he who makes the most of the privileges given him, who takes
them for a light to his feet and a lanthorn to his path.  We have had
the Sign of the Cross set on us in infancy,--shall we ever forget it?
It is our profession.  We had the water poured on us,--it was like the
blood on the door-posts, when the destroying Angel passed over.  Let us
fear to sin after grace given, lest a worse thing come upon us.  Let us
aim at learning these two great truths:--that we can do nothing good
without God's grace, yet that we can sin against that grace; and thus
that the great gift may be made the cause, on the one hand, of our
gaining eternal life, and the occasion to us, on the other, of eternal

[1] Isa. liv. 13.

[2] John iii. 6.

[3] Mark x. 14.

[4] 1 Cor. vii. 14.  Acts xvi. 15, 33.


The Unity of the Church.

"_And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I
will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it._"--Matt. xvi. 18.

Too many persons at this day,--in spite of what they see before them,
in spite of what they read in history,--too many persons forget, or
deny, or do not know, that Christ has set up a kingdom in the world.
In spite of the prophecies, in spite of the Gospels and Epistles, in
spite of their eyes and their ears,--whether it be their sin or their
misfortune, so it is,--they do not obey Him in that way in which it is
His will that He should be obeyed.  They do not obey Him in His
Kingdom; they think to be His people, without being His subjects.  They
determine to serve Him in their own way, and though He has formed His
chosen into one body, they think to separate from that body, yet to
remain in the number of the chosen.

Far different is the doctrine suggested to us by the text.  In St.
Peter, who is there made the rock on which the Church is founded, we
see, as in a type, its unity, stability, and permanence.  It is set up
in one name, not in many, to show that it is one; and that name is
Peter, to show that it will last, or, as the Divine Speaker proceeds,
that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  In like manner,
St. Paul calls it "the pillar and ground of the truth[1]."

This is a subject especially brought before us at this time of year[2],
and it may be well now to enlarge upon it.

Now that all Christians are, in some sense or other, one, in our Lord's
eyes, is plain, from various parts of the New Testament.  In His
mediatorial prayer for them to the Almighty Father, before His passion,
He expressed His purpose that they should be _one_.  St. Paul, in like
manner, writing to the Corinthians, says, "As the body is one, and hath
many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one
body, _so also_ is Christ. . . . .  Now ye are _the Body_ of Christ,
and members in particular."  To the Ephesians, he says, "There is _one
Body_, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your
calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of

And, further, it is to this one Body, regarded as one, that the special
privileges of the Gospel are given.  It is not that this man receives
the blessing, and that man, but one and all, the whole body, as one
man, one new spiritual man, with one accord, seeks and gains it.  The
Holy Church throughout the world, "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," is one,
not many, and the elect souls are all elected in her, not in isolation.
For instance; "He is our peace who hath made both [Jews and Gentiles]
one, . . . to make in Himself of twain _one new man_."  In the same
Epistle, it is said, that all nations are "_fellow_-heirs, and of _the
same body_, and _fellow-partakers_ of His promise in Christ;" and that
we must "one and all come," or converge, "in the unity of the faith and
of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;" that as "the husband
is the head of the wife," so "Christ is the Head of the Church," having
"loved it and given Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse
it with the washing of water by the Word[4]."  These are a few out of
many passages which connect Gospel privileges with the circumstance or
condition of unity in those who receive them; the image of Christ and
token of their acceptance being stamped upon them _then_, at that
moment, when they are considered as _one_; so that henceforth the whole
multitude, no longer viewed as mere individual men, become portions or
members of the indivisible Body of Christ Mystical, so knit together in
Him by Divine Grace, that all have what He has, and each has what all

The same great truth is taught us in such texts as speak of all
Christians forming one spiritual building, of which the Jewish Temple
was the type.  They are temples one by one, simply as being portions of
that one Temple which is the Church.  "Ye are _built up_," says St.
Peter, "a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."  Hence the word
"edification," which properly means this building up of all Christians
in one, has come to stand for individual improvement; for it is by
being incorporated into the one Body, that we have the promise of life;
by becoming members of Christ, we have the gift of His Spirit.

Further, that unity is the condition of our receiving the privileges of
the Gospel is confirmed by the mode in which the Prophets describe the
Christian Church; that is, instead of addressing individuals as
independent and separate from each other, they view the whole as of one
body; viz. that one elect, holy, and highly-favoured Mother, of which
individuals are but the children favoured through her as a channel.
"Lift up thine eyes, and behold," says the inspired announcement; "all
these gather themselves together, and come to thee."  "O thou
afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay
thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. .
. . .  All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be
the peace of thy children."

But here it may be asked, How is this a doctrine to affect our
practice?  That Christians may be considered in our minds as one, is
evident; it is evident, too, that they must be one in spirit; and that
hereafter they will be one blessed company in heaven; but what follows
now from believing that all saints are one in Christ?  _This_ will be
found to follow: that, as far as may be, Christians should live
together in a visible society here on earth, not as a confused
unconnected multitude, but united and organized one with another, by an
established order, so as evidently to appear and to act as one.  And
this, you will at once see, _is_ a doctrine nearly affecting our
practice, yet neglected far and wide at this day.

Any complete and accurate proof indeed of this doctrine shall not here
be attempted; nay, I shall not even bring together, as is often
done[5], the more obvious texts on which it rests; let it suffice, on
this occasion, to make one or two general remarks bearing upon it, and
strongly recommending it to us.

1. When, then, I am asked, why we Christians must unite into a visible
body or society, I answer, first, that the very earnestness with which
Scripture insists upon a spiritual unseen unity at present, and a
future unity in heaven, of itself directs a pious mind to the imitation
of that unity visible on earth; for why should it be so continually
mentioned in Scripture, unless the thought of it were intended to sink
deep into our minds, and direct our conduct here?

2. But again, our Saviour prays that we may be one in affection and in
action; yet what possible way is there of many men acting _together_,
except that of forming themselves into a visible body or society,
regulated by certain laws and officers? and how can they act on a large
scale, and consistently, unless it be a permanent body?

3. But, again, I might rest the necessity of Christian unity upon one
single institution of our Lord's, the Sacrament of Baptism.  Baptism is
a visible rite confessedly, and St. Paul tells us that, by it,
individuals are incorporated into an already existing body.  He is
speaking of the visible body of Christians, when he says, "By one
Spirit are we all baptized _into one body_[6]."  But if every one who
wishes to become a Christian must come to an existing visible body for
the gift, as these words imply, it is plain that no number of men can
ever, consistently with Christ's intention, set up a Church for
themselves.  All must receive their Baptism from Christians already
baptized, and they in their turn must have received the Sacrament from
former Christians, themselves already incorporated in a body then
previously existing.  And thus we trace back a visible body or society
even to the very time of the Apostles themselves; and it becomes plain
that there can be no Christian in the whole world who has not received
his title to the Christian privileges from the original apostolical
society.  So that the very Sacrament of Baptism, as prescribed by our
Lord and His Apostles, implies the existence of one visible association
of Christians, and only one; and that permanent, carried on by the
succession of Christians from the time of the Apostles to the very end
of the world.

This is the _design_, of Christ, I say, implied in the institution of
the baptismal rite.  Whether He will be merciful, over and above His
promise, to those who through ignorance do not comply with this design,
or are in other respects irregular in their obedience, is a further
question, foreign to our purpose.  Still it remains the revealed design
of Christ to connect all His followers in one by a visible ordinance of
incorporation.  The Gospel faith has not been left to the world at
large, recorded indeed in the Bible, but there left, like other
important truths, to be taken up by men or rejected, as it may happen.
Truths, indeed, in science and the arts _have_ been thus left to the
chance adoption or neglect of mankind; they are no one's property; cast
at random upon the waves of human opinion.  In any country soever, men
may appropriate them at once, and form themselves at their will into a
society for their extension.  But for the more momentous truths of
revealed religion, the God, who wrought by human means in their first
introduction, still preserves them by the same.  Christ formed a body.
He secured that body from dissolution by the bond of a Sacrament.  He
committed the privileges of His spiritual kingdom and the maintenance
of His faith as a legacy to this baptized society; and into it, as a
matter of historical fact, all the nations _have_ flowed.  Christianity
has not been spread, as other systems, in an isolated manner, or by
books; but from a centre, by regularly formed bodies, descendants of
the three thousand, who, after St. Peter's preaching on the day of
Pentecost, joined themselves to the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship.

And to this apostolical body we must still look for the elementary gift
of grace.  Grace will not baptize us while we sit at home, slighting
the means which God has appointed; but we must "_come_ unto Mount Sion,
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of
the first-born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of
all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the
mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that
speaketh better things than that of Abel."

4. And now I will mention one other guarantee, which is especially
suggested by our Lord's words in the text, for the visible unity and
permanence of His Church; and that is the appointment of rulers and
ministers, entrusted with the gifts of grace, and these in succession.
The ministerial orders are the ties which bind together the whole body
of Christians in one; they are its organs, and they are moreover its
moving principle.

Such an institution necessarily implies a succession, unless the
appointment was always to be miraculous; for if men cannot administer
to themselves the rite of regeneration, it is surely as little or much
less reasonable to suppose that they could become Bishops or Priests on
their own ordination.  And St. Paul expressly shows his solicitude to
secure such a continuity of clergy for his brethren: "I left thee in
Crete," he says to Titus, "that thou shouldest set in order the things
that are wanting, and _ordain elders_ in every city, as I had appointed
thee[7]."  And to Timothy: "The things that thou hast heard of me among
many witnesses, the same _commit thou to faithful men_, who shall be
able to teach others also[8]."

Now, we know that in civil matters nothing tends more powerfully to
strengthen and perpetuate the body politic than hereditary rulers and
nobles.  The father's life, his principles and interests, are continued
in the son, or rather, one life, one character, one idea, is carried on
from age to age.  Thus a dynasty or a nation is consolidated and
secured; whereas where there is no regular succession and inheritance
of this kind, there is no safeguard of stability and tranquillity; or
rather, there is every risk of revolution.  For what is to make a
succeeding age think and act in the spirit of the foregoing, but that
tradition of opinion and usage from mind to mind which a succession
involves?  In like manner the Christian ministry affects the unity,
inward and without, of the Church to which it is attached.  It is a
continuous office, a standing ordinance; not, indeed, transmitted from
father to son, as under the Mosaic covenant, for the vessels of the
Christian election need to be more special, as the treasure committed
to them is more heavenly: but still the Apostles have not left it to
the mere good pleasure and piety of the Christian body whether they
will have a ministry or not.  Each preceding generation of clergy have
it in charge to ordain the next following to their sacred office.
Consider what would be sure to happen, were there no such regular
transmission of the Divine gift, but each congregation were left to
choose and create for itself its own minister.  This would follow,
among other evil consequences, that what is every one's duty would
prove, as the proverb runs, to be no one's.  When their minister or
teacher died or left them, there would be first a delay in choosing a
fresh one, then a reluctance, then a forgetfulness.  At last
congregations would be left without teachers; and the bond of union
being gone, the Church would be broken up.  If a ministry be a
necessary part of the Gospel Dispensation, so must also a ministerial
succession be.  But the gift of grace has not thus dropped out of the
hands of its All-merciful Giver.  He has committed to certain of His
servants to provide for the continuance of its presence and its
administration after their own time.  Each generation provides for the
next; "the parents" lay up "for the children."  And we know as a fact,
that to this day the ministers of the Church universal are descended
from the very Apostles.  Amid all the changes of this world, the Church
built upon St. Peter and the rest has continued until now in the
unbroken line of the ministry.  And to put other considerations out of
sight, the mere fact in itself, that there has been this perpetual
succession, this unforfeited inheritance, is sufficiently remarkable to
attract our attention and excite our reverence.  It approves itself to
us as providential, and enlivens our hope and trust, that an ordinance,
thus graciously protected for so many hundred years, will continue unto
the end, and that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

I shall now bring these remarks to an end.  And in ending, let me
remind you, my brethren, how nearly the whole doctrine of
ecclesiastical order is connected with personal obedience to God's
will.  Obedience to the rule of order is every where enjoined in
Scripture; obedience to it is an act of faith.  Were there ten thousand
objections to it, yet, supposing unity were clearly and expressly
enjoined by Christ, faith would obey in spite of them.  But in matter
of fact there are no such objections, nor any difficulty of any moment
in the way of observing it.  What, then, is to be said to the very
serious circumstance, that, in spite of the absence of such
impediments, vast numbers of men conceive that they may dispense with
it at their good pleasure.  In all the controversies of fifteen hundred
years, the duty of continuing in order and in quietness was professed
on all sides, as one of the first principles of the Gospel of Christ.
But now multitudes, both in and without the Church, have set it up on
high as a great discovery, and glory in it as a great principle, that
forms are worth nothing.  They allow themselves to wander about from
one communion to another, or from church to meeting-house, and make it
a boast that they belong to no party and are above all parties, and
argue, that provided men agree in some principal doctrines of the
Gospel, it matters little whether they agree in any thing besides.

But those who boast of belonging to no party, and think themselves
enlightened in this same confident boasting, I would, in all charity,
remind that our Saviour Himself constituted what they must, on their
principles, admit to be a party; that the Christian Church is simply
and literally a party or society instituted by Christ.  He bade us keep
together.  Fellowship with each other, mutual sympathy, and what
spectators from without call party-spirit, all this is a prescribed
duty; and the sin and the mischief arise, not from having a party, but
in having many parties, in separating from that one body or party which
He has appointed; for when men split the one Church of Christ into
fragments, they are doing their part to destroy it altogether.

But while the Church of Christ is literally what the world calls a
party, it is something far higher also.  It is not an institution of
man, not a mere political establishment, not a creature of the state,
depending on the state's breath, made and unmade at its will, but it is
a Divine society, a great work of God, a true relic of Christ and His
Apostles, as Elijah's mantle upon Elisha, a bequest which He has left
us, and which we must keep for His sake; a holy treasure which, like
the ark of Israel, looks like a thing of earth, and is exposed to the
ill-usage and contempt of the world, but which in its own time, and
according to the decree of Him who gave it, displays to-day, and
to-morrow, and the third day, its miracles, as of mercy so of judgment,
"lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great

[1] 1 Tim. iii. 15.

[2] Easter and Whitsuntide.

[3] John xvii. 23.  1 Cor. xii. 12.  Eph. iv. 4-6.

[4] Eph. ii. 14; iii. 6; iv. 13; v. 23-26.

[5] Vide Tracts for the Times, No. 11.

[6] 1 Cor. xii. 13.

[7] Titus i. 5.

[8] 2 Tim. ii. 2.  Vide also 1 Tim. v. 22.


Stedfastness in the Old Paths.

"_Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the
old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find
rest for your souls._"--Jer. vi. 16.

Reverence for the old paths is a chief Christian duty.  We look to the
future indeed with hope; yet this need not stand in the way of our
dwelling on the past days of the Church with affection and deference.
This is the feeling of our own Church, as continually expressed in the
Prayer Book;--not to slight what has gone before, not to seek after
some new thing, not to attempt discoveries in religion, but to keep
what has once for all been committed to her keeping, and to be at rest.

Now it may be asked, "Why should we for ever be looking back at past
times? were men perfect then? is it not possible to improve on the
knowledge then possessed?"  Let us examine this question.

In what respect should we follow old times?  Now here there is this
obvious maxim--what God has given us from heaven cannot be improved,
what man discovers for himself does admit of improvement; we follow old
times then _so far_ as God has spoken in them, but in those respects in
which God has not spoken in them, we are not bound to follow them.  Now
what is the knowledge which God has not thought fit to reveal to us?
_knowledge connected merely with this present world_.  All this we have
been left to acquire for ourselves.  Whatever may have been told to
Adam in paradise, or to Noah, about which we know nothing, still at
least since that time no divinely authenticated directions (it would
appear) have been given to the world at large, on subjects relating
merely to this our temporal state of being.  How we may till our lands
and increase our crops; how we may build our houses, and buy and sell
and get gain; how we may cross the sea in ships; how we may make "fine
linen for the merchant," or, like Tubal-Cain, be artificers in brass
and iron: as to these objects of this world, necessary indeed for the
time, not everlastingly important, God has given us no clear
instruction.  He has not set His sanction here upon any rules of art,
and told us what is best.  They have been found out by man (as far as
we know), and improved by man, and the first essays, as might be
expected, were the rudest and least successful.  Here then we have no
need to follow the old ways.  Besides, in many of these arts and
pursuits, there is really neither right nor wrong at all; but the good
varies with times and places.  Each country has its own way, which is
best for itself, and bad for others.

Again, God has given us no authority in questions of science.  The
heavens above, and the earth under our feet, are full of wonders, and
have within them their own vast history.  But the knowledge of the
secrets they contain, the tale of their past revolutions, is not given
us from Divine revelation; but left to man to attain by himself.  And
here again, since discovery is difficult, the old knowledge is
generally less sure and complete than the modern knowledge.  If we wish
to boast about little matters, _we_ know more about the motions of the
heavenly bodies than Abraham, whose seed was in number as the stars; we
can measure the earth, and fathom the sea, and weigh the air, more
accurately than Moses, the inspired historian of the creation; and we
can discuss the varied inhabitants of this globe better than Solomon,
though "he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto
the hyssop that springeth out of the wall . . . . and of beasts, and of
fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes[1]."  The world is more
learned in these things than of old, probably will learn more still; a
vast prospect is open to it, and an intoxicating one.  Like the
children of Cain, before the flood came and destroyed them all, men may
increase and abound in such curious or merely useful knowledge; nay,
there is no limit to the progress of the human mind here; we may build
us a city and a tower, whose top may reach almost to the very heavens.

Such is the knowledge which time has perfected, and in which the old
paths are commonly the least direct and safe.  But let us turn to that
knowledge which God has given, and which therefore does not admit of
improvement by lapse of time, this is _religious knowledge_.  Here,
whether a man might or might not have found out the truth for himself,
or how far he was able without Divine assistance, waiving this
question, which is nothing to the purpose, as a fact it has been from
the beginning given him by revelation.  God taught Adam how to please
Him, and Noah, and Abraham, and Job.  He has taught every nation all
over the earth sufficiently for the moral training of every individual.
In all these cases, the world's part of the work has been to pervert
the truth, not to disengage it from obscurity.  The new ways are the
crooked ones.  The nearer we mount up to the time of Adam, or Noah, or
Abraham, or Job, the purer light of truth we gain; as we recede from it
we meet with superstitions, fanatical excesses, idolatries, and
immoralities.  So again in the case of the Jewish Church, since God
expressly gave the Jews a precise law, it is clear man could not
improve upon it, he could but add the "traditions of men."  Nothing was
to be looked for from the cultivation of the human mind.  "To the law
and to the testimony" was the appeal, and any deviation from it was,
not a sign of increasing illumination, but "because there was no light"
in the authors of innovation.  Lastly, in the Christian Church, we
cannot add or take away, as regards the doctrines that are contained in
the inspired volume, as regards the faith once delivered to the saints.
"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus

But it may be said that, though the word of God is an infallible rule
of faith, yet it requires interpreting, and why, as time goes on,
should we not discover in it more than we at present know on the
subject of religion and morals?

But this is hardly a question of practical importance to us as
individuals; for in truth a very little knowledge is enough for
teaching a man his duty: and, since Scripture is intended to teach us
our duty, surely it was never intended as a storehouse of mere
knowledge.  Discoveries then in the details of morals and religion, by
means of the inspired volume, whether possible or not, must not be
looked out for, as the expectation may unsettle the mind, and take it
off from matters of duty.  Certainly all curious questions at least are
forbidden us by Scripture, even though Scripture may be found adequate
to answer them.

This should be insisted on.  Do we think to become better men by
knowing more?  Little knowledge is required for religious obedience.
The poor and rich, the learned and unlearned, are here on a level.  We
have all of us the means of doing our duty; we have not the _will_, and
this no knowledge can give.  We have need to subdue our own minds, and
this no other person can do for us.  The case is different in matters
of learning and science.  There others can and do labour for us; we can
make use of _their_ labours; we begin where they ended; thus things
progress, and each successive age knows more than the preceding.  But
in religion each must begin, go on, and end, for himself.  The
religious history of each individual is as solitary and complete as the
history of the world.  Each man will, of course, gain more knowledge as
he studies Scripture more, and prays and meditates more; but he cannot
make another man wise or holy by his own advance in wisdom or holiness.
When children cease to be born children, because they are born late in
the world's history, when we can reckon the world's past centuries for
the age of this generation, then only can the world increase in real
excellence and truth as it grows older.  The character will always
require forming, evil will ever need rooting out of each heart; the
grace to go before and to aid us in our moral discipline must ever come
fresh and immediate from the Holy Spirit.  So the world ever remains in
its infancy, as regards the cultivation of moral truth; for the
knowledge required for practice is little, and admits of little
increase, except in the case of individuals, and then to them alone;
and it cannot be handed on to another.  "As it was in the beginning, is
now, and ever shall be," such is the general history of man's moral
discipline, running parallel to the unchanging glory of that
All-Perfect God, who is its Author and Finisher.

Practical religious knowledge, then, is a personal gift, and, further,
a gift from God; and, therefore, as experience has hitherto shown, more
likely to be obscured than advanced by the lapse of time.  But further,
we know of the existence of an evil principle in the world, corrupting
and resisting the truth in its measure, according to the truth's
clearness and purity.  Whether it be from the sinfulness of our nature,
or from the malignity of Satan, striving with peculiar enmity against
Divine truth, certain it is that the best gifts of God have been the
most woefully corrupted.  It was prophesied from the beginning, that
the serpent should bruise the heel of Him who was ultimately to triumph
over him; and so it has ever been.  Our Saviour, who was the Truth
itself, was the most spitefully entreated of all by the world.  It has
been the case with His followers too.  He was crucified with thieves;
they have been united and blended against their will with the worst and
basest of mankind.  The purer and more precious the gift which God
bestows on us, far from this being a security for its abiding and
increasing, rather the more grievously has that gift been abused.  St.
John even seems to make the greater wickedness in the world the clear
consequence and evidence of our Lord's having made His appearing.
"Little children, it is the last time" (i. e. the time of the Christian
Dispensation): "and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even
now are there many Antichrists, _whereby we know_ that it is the last
time[3]."  St. Paul drew the same picture.  So far from anticipating
brighter times in store for the Church before the end, he portends evil
only.  "This know" (he says to Timothy), "that in the last days
perilous times will come. . . . .  Evil men and seducers shall wax
worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived[4]."  In these and other
passages surely there is no encouragement to look out for a more
enlightened, peaceful, and pure state of the Church than it enjoys at
present: rather, there is a call on us to consider the old and original
way as the best, and all deviations from it, though they seem to
promise an easier, safer, and shorter road, yet as really either
tending another way, or leading to the right object with much hazard
and many obstacles.

Such is the case as regards the knowledge of our duty,--that kind of
knowledge which alone is really worth earnest seeking.  And there is an
important reason why we should acquiesce in it;--because the conviction
that things are so has no slight influence in forming our minds into
that perfection of the religious character, at which it is our duty
ever to be aiming.  While we think it possible to make some great and
important improvements in the subject of religion, we shall be
unsettled, restless, impatient; we shall be drawn from the
consideration of improving ourselves, and from using the day while it
is given us, by the visions of a deceitful hope, which promises to make
rich but tendeth to penury.  On the other hand, if we feel that the way
is altogether closed against discoveries in religion, as being neither
practicable nor desirable, it is likely we shall be drawn more entirely
and seriously to our own personal advancement in holiness; our eyes,
being withdrawn from external prospects, will look more at home.  We
shall think less of circumstances, and more of our duties under them,
whatever they are.  In proportion as we cease to be theorists we shall
become practical men; we shall have less of self-confidence and
arrogance, more of inward humility and diffidence; we shall be less
likely to despise others, and shall think of our own intellectual
powers with less complacency.

It is one great peculiarity of the Christian character to be dependent.
Men of the world, indeed, in proportion as they are active and
enterprising, boast of their independence, and are proud of having
obligations to no one.  But it is the Christian's excellence to be
diligent and watchful, to work and persevere, and yet to be in spirit
_dependent_; to be willing to serve, and to rejoice in the permission
to do so; to be content to view himself in a subordinate place; to love
to sit in the dust.  Though in the Church a son of God, he takes
pleasure in considering himself Christ's "servant" and "slave;" he
feels glad whenever he can put himself to shame.  So it is the natural
bent of his mind freely and affectionately to visit and trace the
footsteps of the saints, to sound the praises of the great men of old
who have wrought wonders in the Church and whose words still live,
being jealous of their honour, and feeling it to be even too great a
privilege for such as he is to be put in trust with the faith once
delivered to them, and following them strictly in the narrow way, even
as they have followed Christ.  To the ears of such persons the words of
the text are as sweet music: "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the
ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and
walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

The history of the Old Dispensation affords us a remarkable
confirmation of what I have been arguing from these words; for in the
time of the Law there was an increase of religious knowledge by fresh
revelations.  From the time of Samuel especially to the time of
Malachi, the Church was bid look forward for a growing illumination,
which, though not necessary for religious obedience, subserved the
establishment of religious comfort.  Now, I wish you to observe how
careful the inspired prophets of Israel are to prevent any kind of
disrespect being shown to the memory of former times, on account of
that increase of religious knowledge with which the later ages were
favoured; and if such reverence for the past were a duty among the Jews
when the Saviour was still to come, much more is it the duty of
Christians, who expect no new revelation, and who, though they look
forward in hope, yet see the future only in the mirror of times and
persons past, who (in the Angel's words) "wait for that same
Jesus: . . . . so to come in like manner as they saw Him go into

Now, as to the reverence enjoined and taught the Jews towards persons
and times past, we may notice first the commandment given them to
honour and obey their parents and elders.  This, indeed, is a natural
law.  But that very circumstance surely gives force to the express and
repeated injunctions given them to observe it, sanctioned too (as it
was) with a special promise.  Natural affection might have taught it;
but it was rested by the Law on a higher sanction.  Next, this duty of
reverently regarding past times was taught by such general injunctions
(more or less express) as the text.  It is remarkable, too, when Micah
would tell the Jews that the legal sacrifices appointed in time past
were inferior to the moral duties, he states it not as a new truth, but
refers to its announcement by a prophet in Moses' age,--to the answer
of Balaam to Balak, king of Moab.

But, further, to bind them to the observance of this duty, the past was
made the pledge of the future, hope was grounded upon memory; all
prayer for favour sent them back to the old mercies of God.  "The Lord
_hath been_ mindful of us, He _will_ bless us[5];" this was the form of
their humble expectation.  The favour vouchsafed to Abraham and Israel,
and the deliverance from Egypt, were the objects on which hope dwelt,
and were made the types of blessings in prospect.  For instance, out of
the many passages which might be cited, Isaiah says, "Awake . . .  O
arm of the Lord, _as in the ancient days, in the generations of
old_[6]."  Micah, "Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine
heritage, which dwell solitary in the wood, in the midst of Carmel; let
them feed in Bashan and Gilead, _as in the days of old_; according to
the days of thy coming out of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous
things[7]."  The Psalms abound with like references to past mercies, as
pledges and types of future.  Prophesying of the reign of Christ, David
says, "The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring My
people again from the depths of the sea," and Moses too, speaking to
the Israelites--"_Remember the days of old_, consider the years of many
generations; ask thy father and he will show thee, thy elders, and they
will tell thee[8]."  Accordingly, while a coming Saviour was predicted,
still the claims of past times on Jewish piety were maintained, by His
being represented by the prophets under the name and character of
David, or in the dress and office of Aaron; so that, the clearer the
revelation of the glory in prospect, in the same degree greater honour
was put upon the former Jewish saints who typified it.  In like manner
the blessings promised to the Christian Church are granted to it in the
character of Israel, or of Jerusalem, or of Sion.

Lastly, as Moses directed the eyes of his people towards the line of
prophets which the Lord their God was to raise up from among them,
ending in the Messiah, they in turn dutifully exalt Moses, whose system
they were superseding.  Samuel, David, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Daniel,
Ezra, Nehemiah, each in succession, bear testimony to Moses.  Malachi,
the last of the prophets, while predicting the coming of John the
Baptist, still gives this charge, "_Remember ye the law of Moses_, My
servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the
statutes and judgments[9]."  In like manner in the New Testament the
last of the prophets and apostles describes the saints as singing "the
song of Moses, the servant of God" (this is his honourable title, as
elsewhere), "_and_ the song of the Lamb[10]."  Above all, our blessed
Lord Himself sums up the whole subject we have been reviewing, both the
doctrine and Jewish illustration of it, in His own authoritative
words,--"If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be
persuaded, though one rose from the dead[11]."  After this sanction, it
is needless to refer to the reverence with which St. Paul regards the
law of Moses, and to the commemoration he has made of the Old Testament
saints in the eleventh chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews.

Oh that we had duly drunk into this spirit of reverence and godly fear!
Doubtless we are far above the Jews in our privileges; we are favoured
with the news of redemption; we know doctrines, which righteous men of
old time earnestly desired to be told, and were not.  To us is revealed
the Eternal Son, the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and
truth.  We are branches of the True Vine, which is sprung out of the
earth and spread abroad.  We have been granted Apostles, Prophets,
Evangelists, pastors, and teachers.  We celebrate those true Festivals
which the Jews possessed only in shadow.  For us Christ has died, on us
the Spirit has descended.  In these respects we are honoured and
privileged, oh how far above all ages before He came!  Yet our honours
are our shame, when we contrast the glory given us with our love of the
world, our fear of men, our lightness of mind, our sensuality, our
gloomy tempers.  What need have we to look with wonder and reverence at
those saints of the Old Covenant, who with less advantages yet so far
surpassed us; and still more at those of the Christian Church, who both
had higher gifts of grace and profited by them!  What need have we to
humble ourselves; to pray God not to leave us, though we have left Him;
to pray Him to give us back what we have lost, to receive a repentant
people, to renew in us a right heart and give us a religious will, and
to enable us to follow Him perseveringly in His narrow and humbling way.

[1] 1 Kings iv. 33.

[2] 1 Cor. iii. 11.

[3] 1 John ii. 18.

[4] 2 Tim. iii. 13.

[5] Ps. cxv. 12.

[6] Isa. li. 9.

[7] Micah vii. 14, 15.

[8] Deut. xxxii. 7.

[9] Mal. iv. 4.

[10] Rev. xv. 3.

[11] Luke xvi. 31.


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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
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+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.