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Title: A Handful of Stars - Texts That Have Moved Great Minds
Author: Boreham, Frank, 1871-1959
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A HANDFUL OF STARS

TEXTS THAT HAVE MOVED GREAT MINDS

BY

F. W. BOREHAM


THE ABINGDON PRESS
NEW YORK     CINCINNATI

Copyright, 1922, by
F. W. BOREHAM

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition Printed March, 1922
Reprinted June, 1922



CONTENTS


I. William Penn's Text               9

II. Robinson Crusoe's Text          21

III. James Chalmers' Text           33

IV. Sydney Carton's Text            45

V. Ebenezer Erskine's Text          57

VI. Doctor Davidson's Text          69

VII. Henry Martyn's Text            78

VIII. Michael Trevanion's Text      90

IX. Hudson Taylor's Text           102

X. Rodney Steele's Text            113

XI. Thomas Huxley's Text           125

XII. Walter Petherick's Text       137

XIII. Doctor Blund's Text          149

XIV. Hedley Vicars' Text           160

XV. Silas Wright's Text            172

XVI. Michael Faraday's Text        182

XVII. Janet Dempster's Text        193

XVIII. Catherine Booth's Text      204

XIX. Uncle Tom's Text              216

XX. Andrew Bonar's Text            227

XXI. Francis d'Assisi's Text       237

XXII. Everybody's Text             250



BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION


It is not good that a book should be alone: this is a companion volume
to _A Bunch of Everlastings_. 'O God,' cried Caliban from the abyss,

  O God, if you wish for our love,
  Fling us _a handful of stars_!

The Height evidently accepted the challenge of the Depth. Heaven
hungered for the love of Earth, and so the stars were thrown. I have
gathered up a few, and, like children with their beads and berries, have
threaded them upon this string. It will be seen that they do not all
belong to the same constellation. Most of them shed their luster over
the stern realities of life: a few glittered in the firmament of
fiction. It matters little. A great romance is a portrait of humanity,
painted by a master-hand. When the novelist employs the majestic words
of revelation to transfigure the lives of his characters, he does so
because, in actual experience, he finds those selfsame words indelibly
engraven upon the souls of men. And, after all, _Sydney Carton's Text_
is really _Charles Dickens' Text_; _Robinson Crusoe's Text_ is _Daniel
Defoe's Text_; the text that stands embedded in the pathos of _Uncle
Tom's Cabin_ is the text that Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe had enthroned
within her heart. Moreover, to whatever group these splendid orbs
belong, their deathless radiance has been derived, in every case, from
the perennial Fountain of all Beauty and Brightness.

Frank W. Boreham.

Armadale, Melbourne, Australia.



I

WILLIAM PENN'S TEXT


I

The Algonquin chiefs are gathered in solemn conclave. They make a wild
and striking and picturesque group. They are assembled under the
wide-spreading branches of a giant elm, not far from the banks of the
Delaware. It is easy to see that something altogether unusual is afoot.
Ranging themselves in the form of a crescent, these men of scarred limbs
and fierce visage fasten their eyes curiously upon a white man who,
standing against the bole of the elm, comes to them as white man never
came before. He is a young man of about eight and thirty, wearing about
his lithe and well-knit figure a sash of skyblue silk. He is tall,
handsome and of commanding presence. His movements are easy, agile and
athletic; his manner is courtly, graceful and pleasing; his voice,
whilst deep and firm, is soft and agreeable; his face inspires instant
confidence. He has large lustrous eyes which seem to corroborate and
confirm every word that falls from his lips. These tattooed warriors
read him through and through, as they have trained themselves to do, and
they feel that they can trust him. In his hand he holds a roll of
parchment. For this young man in the skyblue sash is William Penn. He is
making his famous treaty with the Indians. It is one of the most
remarkable instruments ever completed. 'It is the only treaty,' Voltaire
declares, 'that was ever made without an oath, and the only treaty that
never was broken.' By means of this treaty with the Indians, William
Penn is beginning to realize the greatest aspiration of his life. For
William Penn has set his heart on being the Conqueror of the World!


II

Strangely enough, it was a Quaker who fired the young man's fancy with
this proud ambition. Thomas Loe was William Penn's good angel. There
seemed to be no reason why their paths should cross, yet their paths
were always crossing. A subtle and inexplicable magnetism drew them
together. Penn's father--Sir William Penn--was an admiral, owning an
estate in Ireland. When William was but a small boy, Thomas Loe visited
Cork. The coming of the Quaker caused a mild sensation; nobody knew what
to make of it. Moved largely by curiosity, the admiral invited the
quaint preacher to visit him. He did so, and, before leaving, addressed
the assembled household. William was too young to understand, but he was
startled when, in the midst of the address, a colored servant wept
aloud. The boy turned in his astonishment to his father, only to notice
that tears were making their way down the bronzed cheeks of the admiral.
The incident filled him with wonder and perplexity. He never forgot it.
It left upon his mind an indelible impression of the intense reality of
all things spiritual. As a schoolboy, he would wander in the forests
that so richly surrounded his Essex home, and give himself to rapt and
silent contemplation. On one occasion, he tells us, he 'was suddenly
surprised with an inward comfort.' It seemed to him as if a heavenly
glory irradiated the room in which he was sitting. He felt that he could
never afterwards doubt the existence of God nor question the possibility
of the soul's access to Him.

It was at Oxford that the boy's path crossed that of the Quaker for the
_second_ time. When, as a lad of sixteen, William Penn went up to the
University, he found to his surprise that Oxford was the home of Thomas
Loe. There the good man had already suffered imprisonment for conscience
sake. The personality of the Quaker appealed to the reflective
temperament of the young student, whilst the good man's sufferings for
his convictions awoke his profoundest sympathies. To the horror of his
father, he ardently espoused the persecuted cause, involving himself in
such disfavor with the authorities of the University that they
peremptorily ordered his dismissal.

But it was the third crossing of the paths that most deeply and
permanently affected the destinies of William Penn. Soon after his
expulsion from Oxford, he was appointed Victualler of the Squadron lying
off Kinsale, and was authorized to reside at, and manage, his father's
Irish estate. It was whilst he was thus engaged that Thomas Loe
re-visited Cork. Penn, of course, attended the meetings. 'It was in
this way,' he tells us, 'that God, in His everlasting kindness, guided
my feet in the flower of my youth, when about two and twenty years of
age. He visited me with a certain testimony of His eternal Word through
a Quaker named Thomas Loe.' The text at that memorable and historic
service, like a nail in a sure place, fastened itself upon the mind of
the young officer. Thomas Loe preached from the words: '_This is the
victory that overcometh the world, even our faith._'

_The faith that overcomes!_

_The faith by which a man may conquer the world!_

_The faith that is itself a victory!_

'_This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith!_'

Penn was electrified. His whole being was stirred to its depths. 'The
undying fires of enthusiasm at once blazed up within him,' one record
declares. 'He was exceedingly reached and wept much,' the Quaker
chronicle assures us. He renounced every hope that he had ever cherished
in order that he might realize this one. This was in 1666--the year in
which London was devoured by the flames.

'Penn's conversion,' says Dr. Stoughton, 'was now completed. That
conversion must not be regarded simply as a change of opinion. It
penetrated his moral nature. It made him a new man. He rose into another
sphere of spiritual life and consciousness.'

In his lecture on _Evangelist_, Dr. Alexander Whyte says that the first
minister whose words were truly blessed of God for our awakening and
conversion has always a place of his own in our hearts. Thomas Loe
certainly had a place peculiarly his own in the heart of William Penn.
Penn was with him at the last.

'Stand true to God!' cried the dying Quaker, as he clasped the hand of
his most notable convert. 'Stand faithful for God! There is no other
way! This is the way in which the holy men of old all walked. Walk in it
and thou shalt prosper! Live for God and He will be with you! I can say
no more. The love of God overcomes my heart!'

_The love that overcomes!_

_The faith that overcomes!_

'_This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith!_'


III

William Penn realized his dream. He became the Conqueror of the World.
Indeed, he conquered not one world, but two. Or perhaps, after all, they
were merely two hemispheres of the selfsame world. One was the World
_Within_; the other was the World _Without_; and, of the two, the
_first_ is always the harder to conquer.

The victory that overcometh _the world_! What is _the world_? The
Puritans talked much about _the world_; and Penn was the contemporary of
the Puritans. Cromwell died just as the admiral was preparing to send
his son to Oxford. Whilst at Cork, Penn sat listening to Thomas Loe's
sermon on _the faith that overcometh the world_, John Milton was putting
the finishing touches to _Paradise Lost_, and John Bunyan was
languishing in Bedford Gaol. Each of the three had something to say
about _the world_. To Cromwell it was, as he told his daughter,
'whatever cooleth thine affection after Christ.' Bunyan gave his
definition of _the world_ in his picture of Vanity Fair. Milton likened
_the world_ to an obscuring mist--a fog that renders dim and indistinct
the great realities and vitalities of life. It is an atmosphere that
chills the finest delicacies and sensibilities of the soul. It is too
subtle and too elusive to be judged by external appearances. In his fine
treatment of _the world_, Bishop Alexander cites, by way of
illustration, still another of the contemporaries of William Penn. He
paints a pair of companion pictures. He depicts a gay scene at the
frivolous and dissolute Court of Charles the Second; and, beside it, he
describes a religious assembly of the same period. The _first_ gathering
appears to be altogether worldly: the _second_ has nothing of _the
world_ about it. Yet, he says, Mary Godolphin lived her life at Court
without being tainted by any shadow of worldliness, whilst many a man
went up to those solemn assemblies with _the world_ raging furiously
within his soul!

William Penn saw _the world_ in his heart that day as he listened to
Thomas Loe; and, in order that he might overcome it, he embraced the
faith that the Quaker proclaimed. '_This is the victory that overcometh
the world, even our faith._' And by that faith he overcame _the world_.
Many years afterwards he himself told the story.

'The Lord first appeared to me,' he says, in his _Journal_, 'in the
twelfth year of my age, and He visited me at intervals afterwards and
gave me divine impressions of Himself. He sustained me through the
darkness and debauchery of Oxford, through all my experiences in France,
through the trials that arose from my father's harshness, and through
the terrors of the Great Plague. He gave me a deep sense of the vanity
of the world and of the irreligiousness of the religions of it. The
glory of the world often overtook me, and I was ever ready to give
myself up to it.' But, invariably, _the faith that overcometh the world_
proved victorious. In his monumental _History of the United States_,
Bancroft says that, splendid as were the triumphs of Penn, his greatest
conquest was the conquest of his own soul. Extraordinary as was the
greatness of his mind; remarkable, both for universality and precision,
as were the vast conceptions of his genius; profound as was his
scholarship, and astute as was his diplomacy; the historian is convinced
that, in the last resort, his greatest contribution to history is the
development and influence of his impressive and robust character. 'He
was prepared for his work,' Bancroft says, 'by the severe discipline of
life; and love without dissimulation formed the basis of his being. The
sentiment of cheerful humanity was irrepressibly strong in his bosom;
benevolence gushed prodigally from his ever overflowing heart; and when,
in his late old age, his intellect was impaired and his reason
prostrated, his sweetness of disposition rose serenely over the clouds
of disease.' The winsomeness of his ways and the courtliness of his
bearing survived for many months the collapse of his memory and the loss
of his powers of speech.

Such was his faith's _first_ victory. It was the conquest of the world
_within_.


IV

'_This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith._' It
was by his faith that he obtained his _second_ great triumph--his
conquest of the world _without_. He disarmed nations by confiding in
them. He bound men to himself by trusting them. He vanquished men by
believing in them. It was always by his faith that he overcame.

When the admiral died, the nation was in his debt to the extent of
sixteen thousand pounds. This amount--on its recovery--Sir William
bequeathed to his son. In due time the matter was compounded, William
Penn agreeing to accept an immense belt of virgin forest in North
America in full settlement of his claim. He resolved to establish a new
colony across the seas under happier conditions than any State had ever
known. It should be called Pennsylvania; it should be the land of
freedom; its capital should be named Philadelphia--the City of Brotherly
Love. He was reminded that his first task would be to subdue the
Indians. The savages, everybody said, must be conquered; and William
Penn made up his mind to conquer them; but he determined to conquer them
in his own way. '_This is the victory that overcometh the world, even
our faith._' The Indians were accustomed to slaughter. They understood
no language but the language of the tomahawk and the scalping-knife.
Ever since the white man had landed on American shores, the forests had
resounded with the war-whoops of the tribesmen. One night a colonial
settlement had been raided by the red men: the next an Indian village
had been burned, and its inhabitants massacred by the outraged whites.
The Indians looked with hatred upon the smoke of the English
settlements; the settlers dreaded the forests which protected the
ambush, and secured the retreat of their murderous foes. William Penn
conquered the Indians, and conquered them--according to his text--_by
his faith_. 'He will always be mentioned with honor,' Macaulay says, 'as
a founder of a colony who did not, in his dealings with a savage people,
abuse the strength derived from civilization, and as a lawgiver who, in
an age of persecution, made religious liberty the cornerstone of his
policy.'

Immediately upon his arrival he called the Indians to meet him. They
gathered under the great elm at Shakamaxon--a spot that is now marked by
a monument. He approached the chiefs unarmed; and they, in return, threw
away their bows and arrows. Presents were exchanged and speeches made.
Penn told the natives that he desired nothing but their friendship. He
undertook that neither he nor any of his friends should ever do the
slightest injury to the person or the property of an Indian; and they,
in reply, bound themselves 'to live in love with Onas'--as they called
him--'and with the children of Onas, as long as the sun and the moon
shall endure.' 'This treaty of peace and friendship was made,' as
Bancroft says, 'under the open sky, by the side of the Delaware, with
the sun and the river and the forest for witnesses. It was not confirmed
by an oath; it was not ratified by signatures and seals; no written
record of the conference can be found; and its terms and conditions had
no abiding monument, but on the heart. _There_ they were written like
the law of God and were never forgotten. The simple sons of the
wilderness, returning to their wigwams, kept the history of the covenant
by strings of wampum, and, long afterwards, in their cabins, they would
count over the shells on a clean piece of bark and recall to their own
memory, and repeat to their children or to the stranger, the words of
William Penn.' The world laughed at the fantastic agreement; but the
world noticed, at the same time, that, whilst the neighboring colonies
were being drenched in blood and decimated by the barbarity of the
Mohicans and the Delawares, the hearths of Pennsylvania enjoyed an
undisturbed repose. No drop of Quaker blood was ever shed by an Indian.
So complete was the victory of the faith of William Penn!

Nor was the conquest merely negative. When, after a few years, the
Quakers began to swarm across the Atlantic to people the new settlement,
they were confronted by experiences such as await all pioneers, in young
colonies. There were times of stress and privation and hardship. The
stern voice of necessity commanded even delicate women to undertake
tasks for which their frames were far too frail. In that emergency the
Indians came to the rescue. The red men worked for them, trapped for
them, hunted for them, and served them in a thousand ways. 'You are all
the children of Onas!' they said. Nothing delighted the Indians more
than to receive the great Onas as their guest. A feast was arranged in
the depths of the forest, bucks were killed, cakes were cooked, and the
whole tribe abandoned itself to festivity and rejoicing. And when, years
afterwards, they heard that Onas was dead, they sent his widow a
characteristic message of sympathy, accompanied by a present of
beautiful furs. 'These skins,' they said, 'are to protect you whilst
passing through the thorny wilderness without your guide.' The story of
the founding of Pennsylvania is, as a classical writer finely says, 'one
of the most beautiful incidents in the history of the age.' It was the
victory of faith--_the faith that overcometh the world_!


V

'_This is the Victory!_'

'_The Victory that overcometh the World!_'

_The World Within! The World Without!_

'His character always triumphed,' says Bancroft. 'His name was fondly
cherished as a household word in the cottages of the old world; and not
a tenant of a wigwam from the Susquehannah to the sea doubted his
integrity. His fame is as wide as the world: he is one of the few who
have gained abiding glory.'

_The Conquest of the world!_

'_Nobody doubted his integrity!_'

'_He gained abiding glory!_'

'_This is the Victory that overcometh the World, even our Faith!_'



II

ROBINSON CRUSOE'S TEXT


I

During the years that Robinson Crusoe spent upon the island, his most
distinguished visitor was a text. Three times it came knocking at the
door of his hut, and at the door of his heart. It came to him as his
_doctor_ in the day of sore sickness; it came as his _minister_ when his
soul was in darkness and distress; and it came as his _deliverer_ in the
hour of his most extreme peril.

Nine months after the shipwreck Crusoe was overtaken by a violent fever.
His situation filled him with alarm, for he had no one to advise him, no
one to help him, no one to care whether he lived or died. The prospect
of death filled him with ungovernable terror.

'Suddenly,' he says, 'it occurred to my thought that the Brazilians take
no physic but tobacco for all their distempers, and I remembered that I
had a roll of tobacco in one of the chests that I had saved from the
wreck. I went, directed by heaven no doubt; for in this chest I found a
cure both for soul and body. I opened the chest and found the tobacco
that I was looking for; and I also found a Bible which, up to this time,
I had found neither leisure nor inclination to look into. I took up the
Bible and began to read. Having opened the book casually, the first
words that occurred to me were these: "_Call upon Me in the day of
trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me._" The words
were very apt to my case. They made a great impression upon me and I
mused upon them very often. I left my lamp burning in the cave lest I
should want anything in the night, and went to bed. But before I lay
down I did what I never had done in all my life--I kneeled down and
prayed. I asked God to fulfil the promise to me that if I called upon
Him in the day of trouble He would deliver me.'

Those who have been similarly situated know what such prayers are worth.
'When the devil was sick the devil a saint would be.' Crusoe's prayer
was the child of his terror. He was prepared to snatch at anything which
might stand between him and a lonely death. When he called for
deliverance, he meant deliverance from sickness and solitude; but it was
not of _that_ deliverance that the text had come to speak. When,
therefore, the crisis had passed, the text repeated its visit. It came
to him in time of health.

'Now,' says Crusoe, 'I began to construe the words that I had
read--"_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and
thou shalt glorify Me_"--in a different sense from what I had done
before. For then I had no notion of any deliverance but my deliverance
from the captivity I was in. But now I learned to take it in another
sense. Now I looked back upon my past life with such horror, and my sins
appeared so dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance
from the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort. As for my lonely
life, it was nothing. I did not so much as pray for deliverance from my
solitude; it was of no consideration in comparison with deliverance from
my sin.'

This _second_ visit of the text brought him, Crusoe tells us, a great
deal of comfort. So did the third. That _third_ memorable visit was paid
eleven years later. Everybody remembers the stirring story. 'It happened
one day, about noon,' Crusoe says. 'I was exceedingly surprised, on
going towards my boat, to see the print of a man's naked foot on the
shore. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen a ghost. I
examined it again and again to make sure that it was not my fancy; and
then, confused with terror, I fled, like one pursued, to my
fortification, scarcely feeling the ground I trod on, looking behind me
at every two or three steps, and fancying every stump to be a man.' It
was on his arrival at his fortification that the text came to him the
third time.

'Lying in my bed,' he says, 'filled with thoughts of my danger from the
appearance of savages, my mind was greatly discomposed. Then, suddenly,
these words of Scripture came into my thoughts: "_Call upon Me in the
day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me._"
Upon this, rising cheerfully out of my bed, I was guided and encouraged
to pray earnestly to God for deliverance. It is impossible to express
the comfort this gave me. In answer, I thankfully laid down the Book and
was no more sad.'

These, then, were the three visits that the text paid to Crusoe on his
desolate island. '_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will
deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me._'

When the text came to him the _first_ time, he called for deliverance
from _sickness_; and was in a few days well.

When the text came to him the _second_ time, he called for deliverance
from _sin_; and was led to a crucified and exalted Saviour.

When the text came to him the _third_ time, he called for deliverance
from _savages_; and the savages, so far from hurting a hair of his head,
furnished him with his man Friday, the staunchest, truest friend he ever
had.

'_Call upon Me_,' said the text, not once, nor twice, but thrice. And,
three times over, Crusoe called, and each time was greatly and
wonderfully delivered.


II

_Robinson Crusoe_ was written in 1719; exactly a century later _The
Monastery_ was published. And, significantly enough, the text which
shines with such luster in Daniel Defoe's masterpiece forms also the
pivot of Sir Walter Scott's weird story. Mary Avenel comes to the climax
of her sorrows. She seems to have lost everything and everybody. Her
life is desolate; her grief is inconsolable. Her faithful attendant,
Tibbie, exhausts herself in futile attempts to compose and comfort the
mind of her young mistress. Father Eustace does his best to console her;
but she feels that it is all words, words, words. All at once, however,
she comes upon her mother's Bible--the Bible that had passed through so
many strange experiences and had been so wonderfully preserved.
Remembering that this little Book was her mother's constant stay and
solace--her counselor in time of perplexity and her comfort in the hour
of grief--Mary seized it, Sir Walter says, with as much joy as her
melancholy situation permitted her to feel. Ignorant as she was of its
contents, she had nevertheless learned from infancy to hold the Volume
in sacred veneration. On opening it, she found that, among the leaves,
there were texts neatly inscribed in her mother's handwriting. In Mary's
present state of mind, these passages, reaching her at a time so
critical and in a manner so touching, strangely affected her. She read
on one of these slips the consoling exhortation: '_Call upon Me in the
day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me._'
'There are those,' Sir Walter says, 'to whom a sense of religion has
come in storm and tempest; there are those whom it has summoned amid
scenes of revelry and idle vanity; there are those, too, who have heard
its still small voice amid rural leisure and placid contentment. But
perhaps the knowledge which causeth not to err is most frequently
impressed upon the mind during seasons of affliction; and tears are the
softened showers which cause the seed of heaven to spring and take root
in the human breast. At least, it was thus with Mary Avenel. She read
the words--"_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver
thee, and thou shalt glorify Me_"--and her heart acquiesced in the
conclusion: Surely this is the Word of God!'

In the case of Mary Avenel, the resultant deliverance was as dramatic as
in the case of Robinson Crusoe. I turn a few pages of _The Monastery_,
and I come upon this:

'The joyful news that Halbert Glendinning--Mary's lover--still lived was
quickly communicated through the sorrowing family. His mother wept and
thanked heaven alternately. On Mary Avenel the impression was
inconceivably deeper. She had newly learned to pray, and it seemed to
her that her prayers had been instantly answered. She felt that the
compassion of heaven, which she had learned to implore in the very words
of Scripture--"_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver
thee, and thou shalt glorify Me_"--had descended upon her after a manner
almost miraculous, and recalled the dead from the grave at the sound of
her lamentations.'

I lay _this_, written by Sir Walter Scott, in 1819, beside _that_,
written by Daniel Defoe in 1719. In the mouths of two such witnesses
shall every word be established.


III

What was it that led both Daniel Defoe and Sir Walter Scott to give the
text such prominence? What was it in the text that appealed so
irresistibly to Robinson Crusoe and to Mary Avenel? The answer is
fourfold.

1. It was the _Charm of Companionship_. Robinson Crusoe fancied that he
was alone upon his island. Mary Avenel fancied that she was left
friendless and forsaken. They were both mistaken; and it was the text
that showed them their mistake. '_Call upon Me in the day of trouble,
and I will deliver thee._' If such a Deliverer is at hand--so near as to
be within sound of their voices--how can Robinson Crusoe be solitary or
Mary Avenel forsaken?

  Speak to Him, thou, for He hears; spirit with spirit can meet--
  Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet!

If there be a shadow of truth in Robinson Crusoe's text, there is no
such thing as loneliness for any of us!

2. It was the _Ring of Certainty_. There is a strange and holy dogmatism
about the great evangelical promises. '_Call and I will deliver._' Other
physicians say: 'I will come and do my best.' The Great Physician says:
'I will come and heal him.' _The Son of Man is come to seek and to save
that which is lost._ He did not embark upon a magnificent effort; He
came to do it.

3. It was the _Claim of Monopoly_. 'Call upon _Me_ in the day of
trouble, and _I_ will deliver thee.' It suggests the utter absence of
alternatives, of selection, of picking and choosing. In the straits of
the soul, the issues are wonderfully simple. There is none other Name
given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved. It is _this_
Companion--or solitude; _this_ Deliverer--or captivity; _this_
Saviour--or none.

4. It was the _Absence of Technicality_. '_Call!_'--that is all. '_Call
upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt
glorify Me!_' _Call!_--as a little child calls for his mother.
_Call!_--as a drowning man calls for help. _Call!_--as a frenzied woman
calls wildly for succor. There are great emergencies in which we do not
fastidiously choose our words. It is not the mind but the heart that, at
such moments, gives to the tongue its noblest eloquence. The prayer that
moves Omnipotence to pity, and summons all the hosts of heaven to help,
is not the prayer of nicely rounded periods--Faultily faultless, icily
regular, splendidly null--but the prayer of passionate entreaty. It is a
_call_--a call such as a doctor receives at dead of night; a call such
as the fireman receives when all the alarms are clanging; a call such as
the ships receive in mid-ocean, when, hurtling through the darkness and
the void, there comes the wireless message, 'S.O.S.' '_Call upon Me in
the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify
Me._' Had the text demanded a tinge of technicality it would have been
useless to Robinson Crusoe; it would have mocked the simple soul of poor
Mary Avenel. But a call! Robinson Crusoe can call! Mary Avenel can call!
Anybody can call! Wherefore, '_call_,' says the text, '_just call, and
He will deliver_!'


IV

But I need not have resorted to fiction for a testimony to the value and
efficacy of the text--striking and significant as that testimony is. I
need have summoned neither Daniel Defoe nor Sir Walter Scott. I could
have dispensed with both Robinson Crusoe and Mary Avenel. I could have
called a King and Queen to bear all the witness that I wanted.

King Edward the Seventh!

And Queen Alexandra!

For Robinson Crusoe's text is King Edward's text; and Mary Avenel's text
is Queen Alexandra's text. There are men and women still living who
remember those dark and dreadful days of December, 1871, when it seemed
as if the life of King Edward--then Prince of Wales--hung by a single
thread. Nobody thought of anything else; the whole world seemed to
surround that royal sickbed; the Empire was in a state of breathless
suspense. Sunday, the tenth of December, was set aside as a Day of
Solemn Intercession, and the strained intensity of the public anxiety
reflected itself in crowded but hushed congregations.

And what was going on at the inner heart of things? Early that Sunday
morning, the Princess--afterwards Queen Alexandra--opened her Bible and
was greeted with these words: '_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and
I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me._' A little later, just
as the Vicar of Sandringham, the Rev. W. L. Onslow, was preparing to
enter his pulpit, he received a note from the Princess. 'My husband
being, thank God, somewhat better,' she wrote, 'I am coming to church. I
must leave, I fear, before the service is concluded, that I may watch by
his bedside. Can you not say a few words in prayer in the early part of
the service, that I may join with you in prayer for my husband before I
return to him?' The congregation was deeply affected when the Princess
appeared, and the rector, with trembling voice, said: 'The prayers of
the congregation are earnestly sought for His Royal Highness, the Prince
of Wales, who is now most seriously ill.' This was on December the
tenth. For the next few days the Prince hovered between life and death.
The crisis came on the fourteenth, which, ominously enough, was the
anniversary of the death of the Prince Consort. But, whilst the
superstitious shook their heads, the Princess clung desperately and
believingly to the hope that the text had brought her. And that day, in
a way that was almost dramatic, the change came. Sir William Gull, the
royal physician, had done all that the highest human skill could
suggest; he felt that the issue was now in other hands than his. He was
taking a short walk up and down the terrace, when one of the nurses came
running to him with pallid face and startled eyes. 'Oh, come, Sir
William,' she said, 'there is a change; the Prince is worse!' And, as
doctor and nurse hurried together to the sick room, she added bitterly,
'I do not believe God answers prayer! Here is all England praying that
he may recover, and he's going to die!' But Sir William Gull's first
glance at the Royal patient showed him that the change was for the
better. From that moment there was a sure hope of the Prince's recovery,
and, by Christmas Day, he was out of danger. Later on, when her
husband's restoration was complete, the Princess raised a monument to
the deliverance that she had experienced. She presented to the
Sandringham Church a brass lectern bearing this inscription: 'To the
glory of God; a thank offering for His mercy; 14th December,
1871.--Alexandra. _When_ _I was in trouble I called upon the Lord, and
He heard me._'

Nor is that quite the end of the story. Thirty years later, the Prince
ascended the throne. He was to have been crowned on June 26, 1902; but
again he was stricken down by serious illness. He recovered, however,
and the Coronation took place on the ninth of August. Those familiar
with the Coronation Service noticed a striking innovation. The words:
'_When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, and He heard me_,' were
introduced into one of the prayers. 'The words,' Archdeacon Wilberforce
afterwards explained, 'were written by the King's own hand, and were
used by the Archbishop at His Majesty's express command.'

'_Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou
shalt glorify Me_,' says the text.

'_When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, and He heard me_,' said
King Edward and Queen Alexandra.

'I was in trouble through my _sickness_, and in trouble through my
_sin_,' said Robinson Crusoe, 'and when I called upon the Lord, He heard
and delivered me.'

So true is it that _whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord, the
same shall be saved_.



III

JAMES CHALMERS' TEXT


I

He was 'a broth of a boy,' his biographer tells us. He lived chiefly on
boots and boxes. Eager to know what lay beyond the ranges, he wore out
more boots than his poor parents found it easy to provide. Taunted by
the constant vision of the restless waters, he put out to sea in broken
boxes and leaky barrels, that he might follow in the wake of the great
navigators. He was a born adventurer. Almost as soon as he first opened
his eyes and looked around him, he felt that the world was very wide and
vowed that he would find its utmost edges. From his explorations of the
hills and glens around his village home, he often returned too exhausted
either to eat or sleep. From his ventures upon the ocean he was more
than once brought home on a plank, apparently drowned. 'The wind and the
sea were his playmates,' we are told; 'he was as much at home in the
water as on the land; in fishing, sailing, climbing over the rocks, and
wandering among the silent hills, he spent a free, careless, happy
boyhood.' Every day had its own romance, its hairbreadth escape, its
thrilling adventure.

Therein lies the difference between a man and a beast. At just about the
time at which James Chalmers was born in Scotland, Captain Sturt led his
famous expedition into the hot and dusty heart of Australia. When he
reached Cooper's Creek on the return journey, he found that he had more
horses than he would be able to feed; so he turned one of them out on
the banks of the creek and left it there. When Burke and Wills reached
Cooper's Creek twenty years later, the horse was still grazing
peacefully on the side of the stream, and looked up at the explorers
with no more surprise or excitement than it would have shown if but
twenty hours had passed since it last saw human faces. It had found air
to breathe and water to drink and grass to nibble; what did it care
about the world? But with man it is otherwise. He wants to know what is
on the other side of the hill, what is on the other side of the water,
what is on the other side of the world! If he cannot go North, South,
East and West himself, he must at least have his newspaper; and the
newspaper brings all the ends of the earth every morning to his doorstep
and his breakfast-table. This, I say, is the difference between a beast
and a man; and James Chalmers--known in New Guinea as the most
magnificent specimen of humanity on the islands--was every inch _a man_.


II

But his text! What was James Chalmers' text? When he was eighteen years
of age, Scotland found herself in the throes of a great religious
revival. In the sweep of this historic movement, a couple of evangelists
from the North of Ireland announce that they will conduct a series of
evangelistic meetings at Inverary. But Chalmers and a band of daring
young spirits under his leadership feel that this is an innovation which
they must strenuously resist. They agree to break up the meetings. A
friend, however, with much difficulty persuades Chalmers to attend the
first meeting and judge for himself whether or not his project is a
worthy one.

'It was raining hard,' he says, in some autobiographical notes found
among his treasures after the massacre, 'it was raining hard, but I
started; and on arriving at the bottom of the stairs I listened whilst
they sang "All people that on earth do dwell" to the tune "Old Hundred,"
and I thought I had never heard such singing before--so solemn, yet so
joyful. I ascended the steps and entered. There was a large congregation
and all intensely in earnest. The younger of the evangelists was the
first to speak. He announced as his text the words: "_The Spirit and the
Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is
athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life
freely._" He spoke directly to me. I felt it much; but at the close I
hurried away back to town. I returned the Bible to the friend who,
having persuaded me to go, had lent it to me, but I was too upset to
speak much to him.'

On the following Sunday night, he was, he says, 'pierced through and
through, and felt lost beyond all hope of salvation.' On the Monday, the
local minister, the Rev. Gilbert Meikle, who had exercised a deep
influence over his early childhood, came to see him and assured him that
the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, could cleanse him from all sin.
This timely visit convinced him that deliverance was at any rate
possible. Gradually he came to feel that the voices to which he was
listening were, in reality, the Voice of God. 'Then,' he says, 'I
believed unto salvation.'

'_He felt that the voices to which he was listening were, in reality,
the Voice of God._' That is precisely what the text says. '_The Spirit
and the Bride say, Come._' The Bride only says '_Come_' because the
Spirit says '_Come_'; the Church only says '_Come_' because her Lord
says '_Come_'; the evangelists only said '_Come_' because the Voice
Divine said '_Come_.' 'He felt that the voices to which he was listening
were, in reality, the Voice of God, and he believed unto salvation.'

_The Spirit said, Come!_

_The Bride said, Come!_

_Let him that is athirst come!_

'_I was athirst,_' says Chalmers, '_and I came!_'

And thus a great text began, in a great soul, the manufacture of a great
history.


III

Forty years later a thrill of horror electrified the world when the
cables flashed from land to land the terrible tidings that James
Chalmers, the most picturesque and romantic figure in the religious life
of his time, had been killed and eaten by the Fly River cannibals. It is
the evening of Easter Sunday. It has for years been the dream of his
life to navigate the Fly River and evangelize the villages along its
banks. And now he is actually doing it at last. 'He is away up the Fly
River,' wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. 'It is a desperate venture, but he
is quite a Livingstone card!' Stevenson thought Chalmers all gold. 'He
is a rowdy, but he is a hero. You can't weary me of that fellow. He is
as big as a house and far bigger than any church. He took me fairly by
storm for the most attractive, simple, brave and interesting man in the
whole Pacific.' 'I wonder,' Stevenson wrote to Mrs. Chalmers, 'I wonder
if even _you_ know what it means to a man like _me_--a man fairly
critical, a man of the world--to meet one who represents the essential,
and who is so free from the formal, from the grimace.' But I digress. As
Stevenson says, Mr. Chalmers is away up the Fly River, a desperate
venture! But he is boisterously happy about it, and at sunset on this
Easter Sunday evening they anchor off a populous settlement just round a
bend of the river. The natives, coming off in their canoes, swarm onto
the vessel. With some difficulty, Mr. Chalmers persuades them to leave
the ship, promising them that he will himself visit them at daybreak.
The savages, bent on treachery and slaughter, pull ashore and quickly
dispatch runners with messages to all the villages around. When, early
next morning, Mr. Chalmers lands, he is surprised at finding a vast
assemblage gathered to receive him. He is accompanied by Mr.
Tomkins--his young colleague, not long out from England--and by a party
of ten native Christians. They are told that a great feast has been
prepared in their honor, and they are led to a large native house to
partake of it. But, as he enters, Mr. Chalmers is felled from behind
with a stone club, stabbed with a cassowary dagger, and instantly
beheaded. Mr. Tomkins and the native Christians are similarly massacred.
The villages around are soon the scenes of horrible cannibal orgies. 'I
cannot believe it!' exclaimed Dr. Parker from the pulpit of the City
Temple, on the day on which the tragic news reached England, 'I cannot
believe it! I do not want to believe it! Such a mystery of Providence
makes it hard for our strained faith to recover itself. Yet Jesus was
murdered. Paul was murdered. Many missionaries have been murdered. When
I think of _that_ side of the case, I cannot but feel that our honored
and noble-minded friend has joined a great assembly. James Chalmers was
one of the truly great missionaries of the world. He was, in all
respects, a noble and kingly character.' And so it was whispered from
lip to lip that James Chalmers, the Greatheart of New Guinea, was dead,
dead, dead; although John Oxenham denied it.

  Greatheart is dead, they say!
  Greatheart is dead, they say!
      Nor dead, nor sleeping! He lives on! His name
      Shall kindle many a heart to equal flame;
      The fire he kindled shall burn on and on
      Till all the darkness of the lands be gone,
      And all the kingdoms of the earth be won,
      And one!
  A soul so fiery sweet can never die
  But lives and loves and works through all eternity.

Yes, _lives_ and _loves_ and _works_! 'There will be much to do in
heaven,' he wrote to an old comrade in one of the last letters he ever
penned. 'I guess I shall have good mission work to do; great, brave work
for Christ! He will have to find it, for I can be nothing else than a
missionary!' And so, perchance, James Chalmers is a missionary still!


IV

Now, underlying this brave story of a noble life and a martyr-death is a
great principle; and it is the principle that, if we look, we shall find
embedded in the very heart of James Chalmers' text. No law of life is
more vital. Let us return to that evangelistic meeting held on that
drenching night at Inverary, and let us catch once more those matchless
cadences that won the heart of Chalmers! '_The Spirit and the Bride say,
Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst
come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely._'

'_Let him that is athirst come!_' 'I was athirst,' says Chalmers, 'so I
came!'

'_Let him that heareth say, Come!_' James Chalmers _heard_; he felt that
he must _say_; that is the connecting link between the evangelistic
meeting at Inverary and the triumph and tragedy of New Guinea.

'_Let him that heareth, say!_'--that is the principle embedded in the
text. The soul's exports must keep pace with the soul's imports. What I
have freely received, I must as freely give. The boons that have
descended to me from a remote ancestry I must pass on with interest to a
remote posterity. The benedictions that my parents breathed on me must
be conferred by me upon my children. '_Let him that heareth, say!_' What
comes into the City of Mansoul at Ear Gate must go out again at Lip
Gate. The auditor of one day must become the orator of the next. It is a
very ancient principle. 'He that reads,' says the prophet, 'must run!'
'He that sees must spread!' With those quick eyes of his, James Chalmers
saw this at a glance. He recognized that the kingdom of Christ could be
established in no other way. He saw that the Gospel could have been
offered him on no other terms. What, therefore, he had with such wonder
heard, he began, with great delight, to proclaim. Almost at once he
accepted a Sunday school class; the following year he began preaching in
those very villages through which, as a boy, his exploratory wanderings
had so often taken him; a year later he became a city missionary, that
he might pass on the message of the Spirit and the Bride to the teeming
poor of Glasgow; and, twelve months later still, he entered college, in
order to equip himself for service in the uttermost ends of the earth.
His boyish passion for books and boxes had been sanctified at last by
his consecration to a great heroic mission.


V

'_Let him that is athirst come!_' 'I was athirst,' says Chalmers, 'and I
came!'

'_Let him that heareth say, Come!_' And Chalmers, having heard, said
'Come!' and said it with effect. Dr. Lawes speaks of one hundred and
thirty mission stations which he established at New Guinea. And look at
this! 'On the first Sabbath in every month not less than three thousand
men and women gather devotedly round the table of the Lord, reverently
commemorating the event which means so much to them and to all the
world. Many of them were known to Chalmers as savages in feathers and
war-paint. Now, clothed and in their right mind, the wild, savage look
all gone, they form part of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and are
members of His Church. Many of the pastors who preside at the Lord's
Table bear on their breasts the tattoo marks that indicate that their
spears had been imbrued with human blood. Now sixty-four of them, thanks
to Mr. Chalmers' influence, are teachers, preachers and missionaries.'
They, too, having listened, proclaim; having received, give; having
heard, say; having been auditors, have now become orators. They have
read and therefore they run. Having believed with the heart, they
therefore confess with the mouth. This is not only a law of life; it is
the law of the life everlasting. It is only by loyalty to this golden
rule, on the part of all who hear the Spirit and the Bride say Come,
that the kingdoms of this world can become the kingdoms of our God and
of His Christ. It is the secret of world-conquest; and, besides it,
there is no other.


VI

'_The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say,
Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take
the water of life freely._'

'_Let him that is athirst come!_'

'_Let him that heareth say, Come!_'

I have somewhere read that, out in the solitudes of the great dusty
desert, when a caravan is in peril of perishing for want of water, they
give one camel its head and let him go. The fine instincts of the animal
will lead him unerringly to the refreshing spring. As soon as he is but
a speck on the horizon, one of the Arabs mounts his camel and sets off
in the direction that the liberated animal has taken. When, in his turn,
he is scarcely distinguishable, another Arab mounts and follows. When
the loose camel discovers water, the first Arab turns and waves to the
second; the second to the third, and so on, until all the members of the
party are gathered at the satisfying spring. As each man sees the
beckoning hand, he turns and beckons to the man behind him. He that
sees, signals; he that hears, utters. It is the law of the life
everlasting; it is the fundamental principle of James Chalmers' text and
of James Chalmers' life.

'_Let him that is athirst come!_' 'I was athirst,' says Chalmers, 'so I
came!'

  I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    'Behold, I freely give
  The living water; thirsty one,
    Stoop down, and drink, and live.'
  I came to Jesus, and I drank
    Of that life-giving stream;
  My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
    And now I live in Him.

'_And now I live in Him._' The life that James Chalmers lived in his
Lord was a life so winsome that he charmed all hearts, a life so
contagious that savages became saints beneath his magnetic influence. He
had heard, at Inverary, the Spirit and the Bride say, _Come!_ And he
esteemed it a privilege beyond all price to be permitted to make the
abodes of barbarism and the habitations of cruelty re-echo the matchless
music of that mighty monosyllable.



IV

SYDNEY CARTON'S TEXT


I

Memory is the soul's best minister. Sydney Carton found it so. On the
greatest night of his life--the night on which he resolved to lay down
his life for his friend--a text swept suddenly into his mind, and, from
that moment, it seemed to be written everywhere. He was in Paris; the
French Revolution was at its height; sixty-three shuddering victims had
been borne that very day to the guillotine; each day's toll was heavier
than that of the day before; no man's life was safe. Among the prisoners
awaiting death in the Conciergerie was Charles Darnay, the husband of
her whom Sydney himself had loved with so much devotion but so little
hope.

'O Miss Manette,' he had said, on the only occasion on which he had
revealed his passion, 'when, in the days to come, you see your own
bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that
there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside
you!'

And now that hour had come. It happened that Charles Darnay and Sydney
Carton were, in form and feature, extraordinarily alike. Darnay was
doomed to die on the guillotine: Carton was free. For the first time in
his wayward life, Sydney saw his course clearly before him. His years
had been spent aimlessly, but now he set his face like a flint towards a
definite goal. He stepped out into the moonlight, not recklessly or
negligently, but 'with the settled manner of a tired man who had
wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into his
road and saw its end.' He would find some way of taking Darnay's place
in the gloomy prison; he would, by his substitution, restore her husband
to Lucy's side; he would make his life sublime at its close. His career
should resemble a day that, fitful and overcast, ends at length in a
glorious sunset. He would save his life by losing it!

It was at that great moment that memory exercised its sacred ministry
upon the soul of Sydney Carton. As he paced the silent streets, dark
with heavy shadows, the moon and the clouds sailing high above him, he
suddenly recalled the solemn and beautiful words which he had heard read
at his father's grave: '_I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that
believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever
liveth and believeth in Me shall never die._' Sydney did not ask himself
why the words had rushed upon him at that hour, although, as Dickens
says, the reason was not far to seek. But he kept repeating them. And,
when he stopped, the air seemed full of them. The great words were
written across the houses on either side of him; he looked up, and they
were inscribed across the dark clouds and the clear sky; the very echoes
of his footsteps reiterated them. When the sun rose, it seemed to strike
those words--the burden of the night--straight and warm to his heart in
its long bright rays. Night and day were both saying the same thing. He
heard it everywhere: he saw it in everything--

'_I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he
were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me
shall never die._'

That was Sydney Carton's text.


II

It is a great thing--a very great thing--to be able to save those you
love by dying for them. I well remember sitting in my study at Hobart
one evening, when there came a ring at the bell. A moment later a man
whom I knew intimately was shown in. I had seen him a few weeks earlier,
yet, as I looked upon him that night, I could scarcely believe it was
the same man. He seemed twenty years older; his hair was gray; his face
furrowed and his back bent. I was staggered at the change. He sat down
and burst into tears.

'Oh, my boy, my boy!' he sobbed.

I let him take his time, and, when he had regained his self-possession,
he told me of his son's great sin and shame.

'I have mentioned this to nobody,' he said, 'but I could keep it to
myself no longer. I knew that you would understand.'

And then he broke down again. I can see him now as he sits there,
rocking himself in his agony, and moaning:

'If only I could have died for him! If only I could have died for him!'

But he couldn't! That was the torture of it! I remember how his
heart-broken cry rang in my ears for days; and on the following Sunday
there was only one subject on which I could preach. '_And the king was
much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept; and as he
went he cried: O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had
died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!_'

It was the unutterable grief of David, and of my poor friend, that they
could not save those they loved by dying for them. It was the joy of
Sydney Carton that he could! He contrived to enter the Conciergerie;
made his way to Darnay's cell; changed clothes with him; hurried him
forth; and then resigned himself to his fate. Later on, a fellow
prisoner, a little seamstress, approached him. She had known Darnay and
had learned to trust him. She asked if she might ride with him to the
scaffold.

'I am not afraid,' she said, 'but I am little and weak, and, if you will
let me ride with you and hold your hand, it will give me courage!'

As the patient eyes were lifted to his face, he saw a sudden doubt in
them, and then astonishment. She had discovered that he was not Darnay.

'Are you dying for him?' she whispered.

'For him--and his wife and child. Hush! Yes!'

'Oh, you will let me hold your brave hand, stranger?'

'Hush! Yes, my poor sister; to the last!'

Nobody has ever read _A Tale of Two Cities_ without feeling that this
was the moment of Sydney Carton's supreme triumph.

'It is,' he said--and they are the last words in the book--'it is a far,
far better thing that I do than I have ever done!'

He had never tasted a joy to be compared with this. He was able to save
those he loved by dying for them!

_That_ is precisely the joy of the Cross! _That_ was the light that
shone upon the Saviour's path through all the darkness of the world's
first Easter. _That_ is why, when He took the bread and wine--the
emblems of His body about to be broken and His blood about to be
shed--He gave thanks. It is _that_--and that alone--that accounts for
the fact that He entered the Garden of Gethsemane with a song upon His
lips. It was for the joy that was set before Him that He endured the
Cross, despising its shame!

'Death!' He said. 'What of Death? _I am the Life_, not only of Myself,
but of all who place their hands in Mine!

'The Grave! What of the Grave? _I am the Resurrection!_

'_I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he
were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me
shall never die._'

He felt that it was a great thing--a very great thing--to be able to
save those He loved by dying for them.


III

'_I am the Resurrection!_'--those were the words that Sydney Carton saw
written on land and on water, on earth and on sky, on the night on which
he made up his mind to die. '_I am the Resurrection!_' They were the
words that he had heard read beside his father's grave. They are the
words that we echo, in challenge and defiance, over _all_ our graves.
The rubric of the Church of England requires its ministers to greet the
dead at the entrance to the churchyard with the words: '_I am the
Resurrection and the Life_;' and, following the same sure instinct, the
ministers of all the other Churches have adopted a very similar
practice. The earth seems to be a garden of graves. We speak of those
who have passed from us as 'the great majority.' We appear to be
conquered. But it is all an illusion.

'O Grave!' we ask, in every burial service, 'where is thy victory?' And
the question answers itself. The victory does not exist. The struggle is
not yet ended. '_I am the Resurrection!_'

'_I am the Life!_'--that is what all the echoes were saying as Sydney
Carton, cherishing a great heroic purpose in his heart, paced the
deserted streets that night.

'_I am the Life! I am the Life!_'

'_He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!_'

'_Whosoever believeth in Me shall never die!_'

That being so, what does death matter? 'O, death!' we cry, 'where is thy
sting?' and once more the question answers itself.

'_O Death, where is thy sting?_'--'_I am the Life!_'

'_O Grave, where is thy victory?_'--'_I am the Resurrection!_'

_The Life and the Resurrection!_ '_I am the Resurrection and the Life!_'

The text that he saw in every sight, and heard in every sound, made all
the difference to Sydney Carton. The end soon came, and this is how
Dickens tells the story.

The tumbrils arrive at the guillotine. The little seamstress is ordered
to go first. 'They solemnly bless each other. The thin hand does not
tremble as he releases it. Nothing worse than a sweet, bright constancy
is in the patient face. She is gone. The knitting women, who count the
fallen heads, murmur twenty-two. And then--

'_I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he
were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me
shall never die._'

They said of him about the city that night that it was the peacefullest
man's face ever beheld there. Many added that he looked sublime and
prophetic.

_I am the Resurrection! O Grave, where is thy victory?_

_I am the Life! O Death, where is thy sting?_


IV

But there was more in Sydney Carton's experience than we have yet seen.
It happens that this great saying about _the Resurrection and the Life_
is not only Sydney Carton's text; it is Frank Bullen's text; and Frank
Bullen's experience may help us to a deeper perception of Sydney
Carton's. In his _With Christ at Sea_, Frank Bullen has a chapter
entitled 'The Dawn.' It is the chapter in which he describes his
conversion. He tells how, at a meeting held in a sail-loft at Port
Chalmers, in New Zealand, he was profoundly impressed. After the
service, a Christian worker--whom I myself knew well--engaged him in
conversation. He opened a New Testament and read these words: '_I am
the_ _Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he were
dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall
never die._' The earnest little gentleman pointed out the insistence on
faith: the phrase '_believeth in Me_' occurs twice in the text: faith
and life go together. Would Frank Bullen exercise that faith?

'Every word spoken by the little man went right to my heart,' Mr. Bullen
assures us, 'and, when he ceased, there was an appeal in his eyes that
was even more eloquent than his words. But beyond the words and the look
was the interpretation of them to me by some mysterious agency beyond my
comprehension. For, in a moment, the hidden mystery was made clear to
me, and I said quietly, "I see, sir; and I believe!" "Let us thank God!"
answered the little man, and together we knelt down by the bench. There
was no extravagant joy, no glorious bursting into light and liberty,
such as I have read about as happening on those occasions; it was the
satisfaction of having found one's way after long groping in darkness
and misery--_the way that led to peace_.'

Now the question is: did those words--the words that came with such
power to Frank Bullen in the New Zealand sail-loft, and to Sydney Carton
in the Paris streets--have the same effect upon both? Did they lead both
of them to penitence and faith and peace? I think they did. Let us
return to Sydney Carton as the sun is rising on that memorable morning
on which he sees the text everywhere. He leaves the streets in which he
has wandered by moonlight and walks beside a stream.

'A trading-boat, with a sail of the softened color of a dead leaf,
glided into his view, floated by him, and died away. As its silent track
in the water disappeared, the prayer that had broken up out of his heart
for a merciful consideration of all his poor blindnesses and errors
ended in the words: "_I am the Resurrection and the Life._"'

'_He that believeth in Me ... whosoever believeth in Me!_'--the
insistent demand for faith.

'_He that believeth in Me!_'--Sydney Carton believed and found peace.

'_He that believeth in Me!_'--Frank Bullen believed and found peace.

Paul has a classical passage in which he shows that those who have
passed through experiences such as these, have themselves '_risen with
Christ into newness of life_.'

_Risen with Christ!_ They have found _the Resurrection_!

_Newness of life!_ They have found _the Life_!

In his _Death in the Desert_, Browning describes the attempts that were
made to revive the sinking man. It seemed quite hopeless. The most that
he would do was--

  To smile a little, as a sleeper does,
  If any dear one call him, touch his face--
  And smiles and loves, but will not be disturbed.

Then, all at once, the boy who had been assisting in these proceedings,
moved by some swift inspiration, sprang from his knees and proclaimed a
text: '_I am the Resurrection and the Life!_' As if by magic,
consciousness revisited the prostrate form; the man opened his eyes; sat
up; stared about him; and then began to speak. A wondrous virtue seemed
to lurk in the majestic words that the boy recited. By that virtue
Sydney Carton, Frank Bullen, and a host of others passed from death into
life everlasting.


V

I began by saying that it is a great thing--a very great thing--to be
able to save those you love by dying for them.

I close by stating the companion truth. It is a great thing--a very
great thing--to have been died for.

On the last page of his book Dickens tells us what Sydney Carton would
have seen and said if, on the scaffold, it had been given him to read
the future.

'I see,' he would have exclaimed, 'I see the lives for which I lay down
my life--peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy--in that England which I
shall see no more. I see her with a child upon her bosom who bears my
name. I see that I hold _a sanctuary_ in all their hearts, and in the
hearts of their descendants, generations hence. I see her, an old woman,
weeping for me on the anniversary of this day. I see her and her
husband, their course done, lying side by side in their last earthly
bed; and I know that each was not more honored and held sacred in the
other's soul than I was in the souls of both!'

'I see that I hold _a sanctuary in all their hearts_!'--it is a lovely
phrase.

It is a great thing--a very great thing--to have been died for!

Wherefore let each man be at some pains to build in his heart a
sanctuary to Him who, for us men and for our salvation, laid down His
life with a song!



V

EBENEZER ERSKINE'S TEXT


I

It is a lovely Sunday afternoon in the early summer of the year 1690.
The graceful and heathery path that winds its way along the banks of the
Tweed, from the stately ruins of Melrose to the crumbling gables of
Dryburgh, is in its glory. The wooded track by the waterside is
luxuriating in bright sunshine, glowing colors and soft shadows. We are
traversing one of the most charming and romantic districts that even
Scotland can present. Here 'every field has its battle, every rivulet
its song.' More than a century hence, this historic neighborhood is
destined to furnish the home, and fire the fancy, of Sir Walter Scott;
and here, beneath the vaulted aisle of Dryburgh's ancient abbey, he will
find his last resting-place. But that time is not yet. Even now,
however, in 1690, the hoary cloister is only a battered and
weatherbeaten fragment. It is almost covered by the branches of the
trees that, planted right against the walls, have spread their limbs
like creepers over the mossy ruins, as though endeavoring to protect the
venerable pile. And here, sitting on a huge slab that has fallen from
the broken arch above, is a small boy of ten. His name is Ebenezer
Erskine; he is the son of the minister of Chirnside. Like his father, he
was born here at Dryburgh; and to-day the two are revisiting the
neighborhood round which so many memories cluster. This morning the
father, the Rev. Henry Erskine, has been catechizing a group of children
at the kirk. He selected the questions in the Shorter Catechism that
relate to the Ten Commandments; and the very first of the answers that
his father then taught him has made a profound impression on Ebenezer's
mind. The forty-third question runs: '_What is the preface to the Ten
Commandments?_' And the answer is: '_The preface to the Ten Commandments
is in these words: "I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of
the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage._"' Other questions
follow, and they, with their attendant answers, have been duly
memorized. But they have failed to hold his thought. This one, however,
refuses to be shaken off. He has, quite involuntarily, repeated it to
himself a hundred times as he pushed his way through the heather to the
mossy abbey. It sounds in his ears like a claim, a challenge, an
insistent and imperative demand.

_I am the Lord!_

_I am thy God!_

_The Lord! Thy God!_

It is his first realization of the fact that he is not altogether his
own.


II

Eighteen years have passed. He is now the minister of the Portmoak
parish. But it is a poor business. 'I began my ministry,' he says,
'without much zeal, callously and mechanically, being swallowed up in
unbelief and in rebellion against God.' He feels no enthusiasm for the
Bible; indeed, the New Testament positively wearies him. His sermons are
long and formal; he learns them by heart and repeats them
parrot-fashion, taking care to look, not into the faces of his people,
but at a certain nail in the opposite wall. Happily for himself and for
the world, he has by this time married a wife to whom the truth is no
stranger. For years, poor Mrs. Erskine has wept in secret over her
husband's unregenerate heart and unspiritual ministry. But now a
terrible sickness lays her low. Her brain is fevered; she raves in her
delirium; her words are wild and passionate. Yet they are words that
smite her husband's conscience and pierce his very soul. 'At last,' so
runs the diary, 'the Lord was pleased to calm her spirit and give her a
sweet serenity of mind. This, I think, was the first time that ever I
felt the Lord touching my heart in a sensible manner. Her distress and
her deliverance were blessed to me. Some few weeks after, she and I were
sitting together in my study, and while we were conversing about the
things of God, the Lord was pleased to rend the veil and to give me a
glimmering view of salvation which made my soul acquiesce in Christ as
the new and living way to glory.' The old text comes back to him.

'_I am the Lord thy God!_'

'_I am the Lord thy God!_'

Once more it sounds like a claim. And this time he yields. He makes his
vow in writing. '_I offer myself up, soul and body, unto God the Father,
Son and Holy Ghost. I flee for shelter to the blood of Jesus. I will
live to Him; I will die to Him. I take heaven and earth to witness that
all I am and all I have are His._'

Thus, on August 26, 1708, Ebenezer Erskine makes his covenant. 'That
night,' he used to say, 'I got my head out of Time into Eternity!'


III

Ten more years have passed. It is now 1718; Ebenezer Erskine is
thirty-eight. Filled with concern for the souls of his people at
Portmoak, he preaches a sermon on the text that had played so great a
part in bringing his own spirit out of bondage.

'_I am the Lord thy God!_'

'_I am the Lord thy God!_'

As he preaches, the memory of his own experience rushes back upon him.
His soul catches fire. He is one moment persuasive and the next
peremptory. No sermon that he ever preached made a greater impression on
his congregation; and, when it was printed, it proved to be the most
effective and fruitful of all his publications.


IV

Five and thirty further years have run their course. Mr. Erskine is now
seventy-three. He has passed through the fires of persecution, and, in
days of tumult and unrest, has proved himself a leader whom the people
have delighted, at any cost, to follow. But his physical frame is
exhausted. An illness overtakes him which, continuing for over a year,
at last proves fatal. His elders drop in from time to time to read and
pray with him. To-day one of them, the senior member of the little band,
is moved, in taking farewell of his dying minister, to ask a question of
him. After grasping the sick man's hand and moving towards the door, a
sudden impulse seizes him and he returns to the bedside.

'You have often given us good advice, Mr. Erskine,' he says, 'as to what
we should do with our souls in life and in death; may I ask what you are
now doing with your own?'

'I am just doing with it,' the old man replies, 'what I did forty years
ago; I am resting it on that word, "_I am the Lord thy God!_"'


V

Now what was it, I wonder, that Ebenezer Erskine saw in this string of
monosyllables as he sat on the fallen slab beside the ruined abbey in
1690, as he sat conversing with his convalescent wife in 1708, as he
preached with such passion in 1718, and as he lay dying in 1753? What,
to him, was the significance of that great sentence that, as the
catechism says, forms '_the preface to the Ten Commandments_'? Ebenezer
Erskine saw, underlying the words, two tremendous principles. They
convinced him that _the Center must always be greater than the
Circumference_ and they convinced him that _the Positive must always be
greater than the Negative_.

_The Center must always be greater than the Circumference_, for, without
the center, there can be no circumference. And there, in the very first
word of this 'preface to the Ten Commandments,' stands the august center
around which all the mandates revolve. '_I_ am the Lord thy God.' 'I
have many times essayed,' Luther tells us in his _Table-Talk_,
'thoroughly to investigate the Ten Commandments; but at the very
outset--"_I am the Lord thy God_"--I stuck fast. That single word "_I_"
put me to a non-plus.' I am not surprised. The man who would enter this
Palace of Ten Chambers will find God awaiting him on the threshold; and
he must make up his mind as to his relationship with Him before he can
pass on to investigate the interior of the edifice. In learning his
Shorter Catechism that Sunday morning at Dryburgh, Ebenezer Erskine,
then a boy of ten, had come face to face with God; and he felt that he
dared not proceed to the _Circumference_ until his heart was in harmony
with the _Center_.


VI

He felt, too, that the _Positive_ must precede the _Negative_. The
_person_ of the most High must come before the _precepts_ of the Most
High; the _Thou Shalts_ must come before the _Thou Shalt Nots_. The
superstructure of a personal religion cannot be reared on a foundation
of negatives. Life can only be constructed positively. The soul cannot
flourish on a principle of subtraction; it can only prosper on a
principle of addition. It is at this point that we perpetrate one of our
commonest blunders. Between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, we
invariably frame a variety of good resolutions; we register a number of
excellent resolves. But, for the most part, they come to nothing; and
they come to nothing because they are so largely negative. 'I will never
again do such-and-such a thing'; 'I will never again behave in
such-and-such a way'; and so on. We have failed to discover the truth
that gripped the soul of Ebenezer Erskine that day at Dryburgh. He saw,
as he repeated to himself his catechism, that the Ten Commandments
consist of three parts.

  (1) _The Preface_--'_I am the Lord thy God!_'
  (2) _The Precepts_--'_Thou shalt ..._'
  (3) _The Prohibitions_--'_Thou shall not ..._'

Our New Year's resolutions assume that we should put third things first.
We are wrong. As Ebenezer Erskine saw, we must put the _Person_ before
the _Precepts_, and the _Precepts_ before the _Prohibitions_. The
_Center_ must come before the _Circumference_; the _Positive_ before the
_Negative_.

When, at the end of December, we pledge ourselves so desperately to do
certain things no more, we entirely forget that our worst offenses do
not consist in outraging the _Thou Shalt Nots_; our worst offenses
consist in violating the _Thou Shalts_. The revolt of the soul against
the divine _Prohibitions_ is as nothing compared with the revolt of the
soul against the divine _Precepts_; just as the revolt of the soul
against the divine _Precepts_ is as nothing compared with the revolt of
the soul against the _Divine Person_. It is by a flash of real spiritual
insight that, in the General Confession in the Church of England Prayer
Book, the clause, '_We have left undone those things which we ought to
have done_,' precedes the clause, '_And we have done those things which
we ought not to have done._' In his _Ecce Homo_, Sir John Seeley has
pointed out the radical difference between the villains of the parables
and the villains that figure in all other literature. In the typical
novel the villain is a man who does what he ought not to do; in the
tales that Jesus told the villain is a man who leaves undone what he
ought to have done. 'The sinner whom Christ denounces,' says Sir John,
'is he who has done nothing; the priest and the Levite who passed by on
the other side; the rich man who allowed the beggar to lie unhelped at
his gate; the servant who hid in a napkin the talent intrusted to him;
the unprofitable hireling who did only what it was his duty to do.'
Christ's villains are the men who sin against the _Person_ and the
_Precepts_ of the Most High; he scarcely notices the men who violate the
_Prohibitions_. Yet it is of the _Prohibitions_ that, when New Years
come, we think so much.

      At vesper-tide,
  One virtuous and pure in heart did pray,
  'Since none I wronged in deed or word to-day,
  From whom should I crave pardon? Master, say.'

      A voice replied:
  'From the sad child whose joy thou hast not planned;
  The goaded beast whose friend thou didst not stand;
  The rose that died for water from thy hand.'

During a ministry of nearly thirty years, it has been my privilege and
duty to deal with men and women of all kinds and conditions. I have
attended hundreds of deathbeds. In reviewing those experiences to-day, I
cannot remember a single case of a man who found it difficult to believe
that God could forgive those things that he ought not to have done and
had done; and I cannot recall a single case of a man who found it easy
to believe that God could forgive those things that he ought to have
done but had left undone. It is our sins against the divine _Precepts_
that sting most venomously at the last:

  'The sad, sad child whose joy thou hast not planned;
  The goaded beast whose friend thou didst not stand;
  The rose that died for water from thy hand!'

Ebenezer Erskine saw that day at Dryburgh that he must recognize the
inspired order. He must bow first of all to the authority of the Divine
_Person_; he must recognize the obligations involved in the Divine
_Precepts_; and, after this, he must eschew those things that are
forbidden by the Divine _Prohibitions_. That order he never forgot.


VII

George Macdonald tells us how, when the Marquis of Lossie was dying, he
sent post-haste for Mr. Graham, the devout schoolmaster. Mr. Graham knew
his man and went cautiously to work.

'Are you satisfied with yourself my lord?'

'No, by God!'

'You would like to be better?'

'Yes; but how is a poor devil to get out of this infernal scrape?'

'Keep the commandments!'

'That's it, of course; but there's no time!'

'If there were but time to draw another breath, there would be time to
begin!'

'How am I to begin? Which am I to begin with?'

'There is one commandment which includes all the rest!'

'Which is that?'

'_Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!_'

What did the schoolmaster mean? He meant that the _Person_ must precede
the _Precepts_, as the _Precepts_ must precede the _Prohibitions_; he
was insisting on the divine order; that was all. And I feel confident
that _that_ was the burden of that powerful sermon that Ebenezer Erskine
preached to his people at Portmoak in 1718. His last illness, as I have
said, continued for twelve months. It was in its earlier stages that the
old elder asked his question and received his minister's testimony
concerning the text. A year later Mr. Erskine referred to the words
again. On the morning of the first of June, he awoke from a brief sleep,
and, seeing his daughter, Mrs. Fisher, sitting reading by his bedside,
he asked her the name of the book.

'I am reading one of your own sermons, father!'

'Which one?'

'The one on "_I am the Lord thy God!_"'

'Ah, lass,' he exclaimed, his face lighting up, as a wave of sacred
memories swept over him, 'that is the best sermon ever I preached!'

A few minutes later he closed his eyes, slipped his hand under his
cheek, composed himself on his pillow, and ceased to breathe. The noble
spirit of Ebenezer Erskine was with God.

Ebenezer Erskine reminds me of his great predecessor, Samuel Rutherford.
When Rutherford was staying for a while at the house of James Guthrie,
the maid was surprised at hearing a voice in his room. She had supposed
he was alone. Moved by curiosity, she crept to his door. She then
discovered that Rutherford was in prayer. He walked up and down the
room, exclaiming, '_O Lord, make me to believe in Thee!_' Then, after a
pause, he moved to and fro again, crying, '_O Lord, make me to love
Thee!_' And, after a second rest, he rose again, praying, '_O Lord, make
me to keep all Thy commandments!_' Rutherford, like Erskine a generation
later, had grasped the spiritual significance of the divine order.

'_Make me to believe in Thee!_'--the commandment that, as the
schoolmaster told the Marquis, includes all the commandments!

'_Make me to love Thee!_'--for love, as Jesus told the rich young ruler,
is the fulfilment of the whole law.

'_Make me to obey all Thy commandments!_'

The man who learns the Ten Commandments at the school of Samuel
Rutherford or at the school of Ebenezer Erskine will see a shining path
that runs from Mount Sinai right up to the Cross and on through the
gates of pearl into the City of God.



VI

DOCTOR DAVIDSON'S TEXT


I

There are only two things worth mentioning in connection with Dr.
Davidson, but they are both of them very beautiful. The one was his
life: the other was his death. Ian Maclaren tells us that the old doctor
had spent practically all his days as minister at Drumtochty. He was the
father of all the folk in the glen. He was consulted about everything.
Three generations of young people had, in turn, confided to his
sympathetic ear the story of their loves and hopes and fears; rich and
poor had alike found in him a guide in the day of perplexity and a
comforter in the hour of sorrow. And now it is Christmas Day--the
doctor's last Christmas--and a Sunday. The doctor had preached as usual
in the kirk; had trudged through the snow to greet with seasonable
wishes and gifts one or two people who might be feeling lonely or
desolate; and now, the day's work done, was entertaining Drumsheugh at
the manse. All at once, he began to speak of his ministry, lamenting
that he had not done better for his people, and declaring that, if he
were spared, he intended to preach more frequently about the Lord Jesus
Christ.

'You and I, Drumsheugh, will have to go a long journey soon, and give an
account of our lives in Drumtochty. Perhaps we have done our best as men
can, and I think we have tried; but there are many things we might have
done otherwise, and some we ought not to have done at all. It seems to
me now, the less we say in that day of the past, the better. We shall
wish for mercy rather than justice, and'--here the doctor looked
earnestly over his glasses at his elder--'we would be none the worse,
Drumsheugh, of a Friend to say a good word for us both in the Great
Court!'

'A've thocht that masel'--it was an agony for Drumsheugh to speak--'a've
thocht that masel mair than aince. Weelum MacLure was ettlin' aifter the
same thing the nicht he slippit awa, and gin ony man cud hae stude on
his ain feet yonder, it was Weelum.'

It was the doctor's last conversation. When his old servant entered the
room next morning, he found his master sitting silent and cold in his
chair.

'We need a Friend in the Great Court!' said the doctor.

'A've thocht that masel!' replied Drumsheugh.

'Weelum MacLure was ettlin' after the same thing the nicht he slippit
awa!'

'_For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man
Christ Jesus._'


II

My Bible contains two stories--one near its beginning and one near its
end--which to-day I must lay side by side. The _first_ is the story of a
man who feels that he is suffering more than his share of the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune. He thinks of God as very high and very
holy; too wise to err and too good to be unkind; yet he cannot shake
from his mind the conviction that God has misunderstood him. And, in his
agony, he cries out for one who can arbitrate between his tortured soul
and the God who seems to be so angry with him. Oh, for one a little less
divine than God, yet a little less human than himself, who could act as
an adjudicator, an umpire, a mediator between them! But neither the
heavens above nor the earth beneath can produce one capable of ending
the painful controversy. 'There is no daysman who can come between us
and lay his hand upon us both!'

_A God!_

_But no Mediator!_

That is the _first_ story.

The _second_ story, the story from the end of the Bible, is the story of
an old minister whose life-work is finished. He writes, in a reminiscent
vein, to a young minister who is just beginning; and earnestly refers to
his own ordination. 'Whereunto,' he asks, 'was I ordained a preacher and
an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity?' What is
his message? He answers his own question. It is this. '_For there is one
God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus._'

_A God!_

_And a Mediator!_

_Job_ needed a Friend in the Great Court; but, alas, he could not find
one!

_Paul_ tells Timothy that he was ordained for no other purpose than to
point men to Him who alone can intercede.


III

'_One God--but no Mediator!_' cries Job.

'_One God--and one Mediator!_' exclaims Paul.

In one respect these two thinkers, standing with a long, long file of
centuries between them, are in perfect agreement. They both feel that if
there is a God--and only one--no man living can afford to drift into
alienation from Him. If there is _no_ God, I can live as I list and do
as I please; I am answerable to nobody. If there are _many gods_, I can
offend one or two of them without involving myself in uttermost disaster
and despair. But if there is _one_ God, and only one, everything depends
upon my relationship with Him. And if I am already estranged from Him,
and if there be no Mediator by whose good offices a reconciliation may
be effected, then am I of all men most miserable.

'_One God--but no Mediator!_' cried Job in despair.

_'One God--and one Mediator!_' exclaims Paul, in delight.


IV

'_One God--and one Mediator!_'

It is the glory of our humanity that it needs both the one and the
other. We need a God and cannot be happy till we find Him. The instinct
of adoration is in our blood, and we are ill at ease until we can find
One at whose feet we can lay the tribute of our devotion. We need a
Mediator, too, and are at our best when we recognize and confess our
need of Him. It is, I say, the glory of a man that he can yearn for
these two things. The most faithful and intelligent of the beasts feel
no desire for either the one or the other. We know how Dr. Davidson
died. I said that his conversation with Drumsheugh was his last. I was
mistaken. His last conversation was with Skye, his dog. When John, the
serving-man, paid his usual visit to the study before he went to bed,
the doctor did not hear him enter the room. He was holding converse with
Skye, who was seated on a chair, looking very wise and deeply
interested.

'Ye're a bonnie beastie, Skye,' exclaimed the doctor, 'for a' thing He
made is verra gude. Ye've been true and kind to your master, Skye, and
ye 'ill miss him if he leaves ye. Some day ye 'ill die also, and they
'ill bury ye, and I doubt that 'ill be the end o' ye, Skye! Ye never
heard o' God, Skye, or the Saviour, for ye're just a puir doggie; but
your master is minister of Drumtochty and--a sinner saved by grace!'

Those were his last words. In the morning the doctor was still sitting
in his big chair, and Skye was fondly licking a hand that would never
again caress him.

Skye, the noblest dog in the world, had no sense of sin and no sense of
grace, no need of a God and no need of a Saviour!

Dr. Davidson, Skye's master, is a sinner saved by grace. And it is his
sense of sin and his sense of grace, his need of a God and his need of a
Saviour, that remove him by whole infinities from the faithful brute on
the chair. 'A sinner,' as our fathers used to sing:

  A sinner is a sacred thing,
  The Holy Ghost hath made him so.

When the soul feels after God, and the heart cries out for a Saviour, it
is proof positive of the divinity that dwells within us.


V

'_One God--but no Mediator!_' sighs Job.

'_One God--and one Mediator!_' cries Paul.

None! One! The difference between _none_ and _one_ is a difference of
millions. _None_ means nothing, _one_ means everything. _None_ means
failure: _one_ means felicity. _None_ means despair: _one_ means
delight. _None_ means perdition: _one_ means paradise. The difference
between '_no Mediator_' and '_one Mediator_' is a difference that can
never be worked out by arithmetic.

'_One God_'--and only one!

'_And one Mediator!_'--only one!

But one is enough. It is only in the small things of life that I long
for a selection; in the great things of life I only long for
satisfaction. When my appetite is sated, and food is almost a matter of
indifference to me, I like to be invited to choose between this, that,
and the other. But when I am starving, I do not hanker after a choice. I
do not want to choose. Put food before me, and I am content. If I am
taking a stroll for the mere pleasure of walking, I like to come to a
place where several roads meet, and to select the path that seems to be
most tempting. But if, weary and travelworn, I am struggling desperately
homewards, I do not want to have to choose my path. I dread the place
where many roads meet--the place where I may go astray. My felicity lies
in simplicity: I want but one road if that road leads home. Robinson
Crusoe climbs the hills of his island solitude and shades his eyes with
his hand as he sweeps the watery horizon. He is looking for a sail.
_One_ ship will do: he does not want a fleet. There is but _one_ way of
salvation for my storm-tossed soul: there is but _one_ Name given under
heaven among men whereby we must be saved: '_there is one God and one
Mediator between God and Men_'--and _one_ is ample. The difference
between '_no Mediator_' and '_one Mediator_' is a difference that has
all eternity within it.


VI

But it is time that we came to close quarters. There are two people in
every congregation with whom the minister finds it very difficult to
deal. There is the man upon whose conscience sin lies very heavily, and
there is the man upon whose soul it sits very lightly.

The _first_ of these two perplexing individuals is afraid to approach
the Mediator. He feels it to be a kind of presumption. It is difficult
to argue with him. It is better to introduce him to Robert Murray
McCheyne. McCheyne had the same feeling. 'I am ashamed to go to Christ,'
he says. 'I feel, when I have sinned, that it would do no good to go. It
seems to be making Christ a Minister of Sin to go straight from the
swine-trough to the best robe.' But he came to see that there is no
other way, and that all his plausible reasonings were but the folly of
his own beclouded heart. 'The weight of my sin,' he writes, 'should act
like the weight of a clock; the heavier it is, the faster it makes it
go!'

And the _second_ of these difficult cases--the man upon whose conscience
sin sits so lightly--I shall introduce to Dr. MacLure. As Drumsheugh
told Dr. Davidson on that snowy Christmas night, 'if ever there was a
man who could have stood on his own feet in the Day of Judgment, it was
William MacLure.' Through all his long years in the glen, the old doctor
had simply lived for others. As long as he could cure his patients he
was content; and he was never happier than in handing the sick child
back to its parents or in restoring the wife to the husband who had
despaired of her recovery. If ever there was a man who could have stood
on his own feet in the Day of Judgment, it was William MacLure. Yet when
the old doctor came to the end of his long journey, his soul was feeling
after the same thing--a Friend in the Great Court, an Intercessor, a
Mediator between God and men!

'We have done our best,' said the old minister, in that last talk with
his elder, 'we have done our best, but the less we say about it the
better. We need a Friend to say a good word for us in the Great Court.'

'A've thocht that masel,' replied the agonized elder, 'mair than aince.
Weelum MacLure was 'ettling aifter the same thing the nicht he slippit
awa, an' gin ony man cud hae stude on his ain feet yonder, it was
Weelum.'

And for minister and elder and doctor--and me--'_there is one God and
one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus_.'



VII

HENRY MARTYN'S TEXT


I

With Henry Martyn the making of history became a habit, a habit so
inveterate that not even death itself could break him of it. He only
lived to be thirty-two; but he made vast quantities of history in that
meager handful of years. 'His,' says Sir James Stephen, 'is the one
heroic name which adorns the annals of the English church from the days
of Elizabeth to our own.' And Dr. George Smith, his biographer, boasts
that Martyn's life constitutes itself the priceless and perpetual
heritage of all English-speaking Christendom, whilst the native churches
of India, Arabia, Persia and Anatolia will treasure the thought of it
through all time to come. Appropriately enough, Macaulay, who dedicated
his brilliant powers to the great task of worthily recording the history
that other men had made, composed the epitaph for that lonely Eastern
tomb.

  Here Martyn lies! In manhood's early bloom
  The Christian hero found a Pagan tomb:
  Religion, sorrowing o'er her favorite son,
  Points to the glorious trophies which he won.
  Eternal trophies, not with slaughter red,
  Not stained with tears by hopeless captives shed;
  But trophies of the Cross. For that dear Name
  Through every form of danger, death and shame,
  Onward he journeyed to a happier shore,
  Where danger, death and shame are known no more.

For more than a hundred years the bones of Henry Martyn have reposed in
that far-off Oriental sepulcher; but, as though he had never heard of
his own decease, he goes on making history still. Henry Martyn died
seven years before George Eliot was born, and they had very little in
common. But, in the novel which Dr. Marcus Dods described as 'one of the
greatest religious books ever written,' George Eliot makes the spiritual
crisis in the experience of her storm-beaten and distracted heroine to
turn on the perusal of the _Life of Henry Martyn_. When Janet Dempster,
clad only in her thin nightdress, was driven at dead of night from her
husband's home, she took refuge with good old Mrs. Pettifer, and fell
into a stupor of utter misery and black despair. Nothing seemed to rouse
her. It chanced, however, that Mrs. Pettifer was a subscriber of the
Paddiford Lending Library. From that village treasure-trove she had
borrowed the biography that was lying on the table when, like a hunted
deer, poor Janet took shelter in her home. After a day or two, Janet
picked up the book, dipped into it, and at length 'became so arrested by
that pathetic missionary story that she could not leave it alone.' It
broke the spell of her stupor, gave her a new hold upon life, awoke her
dormant energy, and moved her to renewed action.

'I must go,' she said. 'I feel I must be doing something for someone; I
must not be a mere useless log any longer. I've been reading about that
wonderful Henry Martyn wearing himself out for _other people_, and I sit
thinking of nothing but _myself_! I must go! Good-bye!'

And, like a frightened dove that, having been driven to shelter by a
hawk, recovers from its terror and again takes wing, off she went! Janet
Dempster is all the more real because she is unreal. She is all the more
a substance because she is only a shadow. She is all the more symbolic
and typical because she appears, not in history, but in fiction. If I
had found her in the realm of biography, I might have regarded hers as
an isolated and exceptional case. But, since I have found her in the
realm of romance, I can only regard her--as her creator intended me to
regard her--as a great representative character. She represents all
those thousands of people upon whom the heroic record of Henry Martyn's
brief career has acted as a stimulant and a tonic. She represents all
those thousands of people through whom Henry Martyn is making history.


II

The Gospels tell of a certain man who was _borne of four_ to the feet of
Jesus. I know his name and I know the names of the four who brought him.
The man's name was Henry Martyn, and the quartet consisted of a father,
a sister, an author and a minister. Each had a hand in the gracious
work, and each in a different way. The father did his part accidentally,
indirectly, unconsciously; the sister did her part designedly,
deliberately, and of set purpose. The author and the minister did their
parts in the ordinary pursuit of their vocations; but the _author_ did
his part impersonally and indirectly, whilst the _minister_ did his part
personally and face to face. The author's shaft was from a bow drawn at
a venture; the minister's was carefully aimed. He set himself to win the
young student in his congregation, and he lived to rejoice unfeignedly
in his success. Let me introduce each of the four.

_The Father bore his Corner._ Before Henry Martyn left England, he was
one of the most brilliant students in the country, Senior Wrangler of
his University, and the proud holder of scholarships and fellowships.
But, in his earlier days, he failed at one or two examinations, and, in
his mortification, heaped the blame upon his father. In one of these
fits of passion, he bounced out of the elder man's presence--never to
enter it again. Before he could return and express contrition, the
father suddenly died. Henry's remorse was pitiful to see. His heart was
filled with grief and his eyes swollen with tears. But that torrent of
tears so cleansed those eyes that he was able to see, as he had never
seen before, into the abysmal depths of his own heart. He was astonished
at the baseness and depravity he found there. Years afterwards he writes
with emotion of the distressing discovery that he then made. 'I do not
remember a time,' he says, 'in which the wickedness of my heart rose to
a greater height than it did then. The consummate selfishness and
exquisite instability of my mind were displayed in rage, malice and
envy; in pride, vain-glory and contempt for all about me; and in the
harsh language which I used to my sister and even to my father. Oh, what
an example of patience and mildness was he! I love to think of his
excellent qualities; and it is the anguish of my heart that I could ever
have been base enough and wicked enough to have pained him. O my God,
why is not my heart doubly-agonized at the remembrance of all my great
transgressions?' So poor John Martyn, lying silent in his grave, entered
into that felicity which, in one of her short poems, Miss Susan Best has
so touchingly depicted. 'When I was laid in my coffin,' she makes a dead
man say,

  When I was laid in my coffin,
    Quite done with Time and its fears,
  My son came and stood beside me--
    He hadn't been home for years;
  And right on my face came dripping
    The scald of his salty tears;
  And I was glad to know his breast
  Had turned at last to the old home nest,
  That I said to myself in an underbreath:
  'This is the recompense of death.'

_The Sister bore her Corner._ In his letters to her he opens all his
heart. He is sometimes angry with her because, when he expected her to
show delight in his academic triumphs, she only exhibits an earnest
solicitude for his spiritual well-being. But, in his better moments, he
forgave her. 'What a blessing it is for me,' he writes to her in his
twentieth year, 'what a blessing it is for me that I have such a sister
as you, who have been so instrumental in keeping me in the right way.'
And, later on, he delights her by telling her that he 'has begun to
attend more diligently to the words of the Saviour and to devour them
with delight.'

_The Author bore his Corner._ It was just about a hundred years after
the birth of Philip Doddridge, and just about fifty years after his
death, that his book, _The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul_,
fell into the hands of Henry Martyn. Twenty years earlier it had opened
the eyes of William Wilberforce and led him to repentance. Doddridge's
powerful sentences fell upon the proud soul of Henry Martyn like the
lashes of a scourge. He resented them; he writhed under their
condemnation; but they revealed to him the desperate need of his heart,
and he could not shake from him the alarm which they excited.

_The Minister bore his Corner._ No preacher in England was better fitted
to appeal to the mind of Martyn, at this critical stage of his career,
than was the Rev. Charles Simeon, the Vicar of Trinity Church,
Cambridge. In his concern, the young collegian found himself strangely
attracted to the services at Trinity; and he gradually acquired, as he
confessed to his sister, more knowledge in divine things. He made the
acquaintance, and won the friendship, of Mr. Simeon, and confided in him
without reserve. 'I now experienced,' he says, 'a real pleasure in
religion, being more deeply convinced of sin than before, more earnest
in fleeing to Jesus for refuge, and more desirous for the renewal of my
nature.' The profit was mutual. For, many years after Henry Martyn's
departure and death, Mr. Simeon kept in his study a portrait of the
young student, and he used to say that he could never look into that
face but it seemed to say to him, 'Be earnest! Be earnest!'

And so, to repeat the language of the Gospel, '_there came unto Jesus
one that was borne of four_,' and his name was Henry Martyn.


III

I cannot discover that, up to this point, any one text had played a
conspicuous part in precipitating the crisis which transfigured his
life. But, after this, I find one sentence repeatedly on his lips.
During a journey a man is often too engrossed with the perplexities of
the immediate present to be able to review the path as a whole. But,
when he looks back, he surveys the entire landscape in grateful
retrospect, and is astonished at the multiplicity and variety of the
perils that he has escaped. Henry Martyn had some such feeling. When, at
the age of twenty-two, he entered the ministry, he was amazed at the
greatness of the grace that had made such hallowed privileges and sacred
duties possible to him. Even in his first sermon, we are told, he
preached with a fervor of spirit and an earnestness of manner that
deeply impressed the congregation.

  He preached as one who ne'er should preach again,
  And as a dying man to dying men.

'For,' he wrote, '_I am but a brand plucked from the burning_.'

Again, when the needs of the world pressed like an intolerable burden
upon his spirit, the same thought decided his course. On the _one_ hand,
he saw a world lying in darkness and crying for the light. On the
_other_ hand, he saw all those sweet and sacred ties that bound him to
his native land--his devoted people, his admiring friends, and, hardest
tie of all to break, the lady whom he had fondly hoped to make his
bride. Here, on the _one_ hand, stood comfort, popularity, success and
love! And here, on the _other_, stood cruel hardship, endless
difficulties, constant loneliness, and an early grave! 'But how,' he
writes, 'can I hesitate? _I am but a brand plucked from the burning!_'

_A brand in peril of sharing the general destruction!_

_A brand seen, and prized, and rescued!_

_A brand at whose blaze other flames might be lit!_

_A brand plucked from the burning!_


IV

'_Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?_'--it was John Wesley's
text. To the end of his days John Wesley preserved the picture of the
fire at the old rectory, the fire from which he, as a child of six, was
only rescued in the nick of time. And, underneath the picture, John
Wesley had written with his own hand the words: '_Is not this a brand
plucked from the burning?_'

'_Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?_'--it was John
Fletcher's text. John Wesley thought John Fletcher, the Vicar of
Madeley, the holiest man then living. 'I have known him intimately for
thirty years,' says Mr. Wesley. 'In my eighty years I have met many
excellent men; but I have never met his equal, nor do I expect to find
such another on this side of eternity.' From what source did that
perennial stream of piety spring? 'When I saw that all my endeavors
availed nothing,' says Mr. Fletcher, in describing his conversion, 'I
almost gave up hope. But, I thought, Christ died for _all_; therefore He
died for _me_. He died to pluck such sinners as I am _as brands from the
burning_! I felt my helplessness and lay at the feet of Christ. I cried,
coldly, yet, I believe, sincerely, "Save me, Lord, _as a brand snatched
out of the fire_! Stretch forth Thine almighty arm and save Thy lost
creature by free, unmerited grace!"'

'_Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?_'--it was Thomas
Olivers' text. Thomas Olivers was one of Wesley's veterans, the author
of the well-known hymn, 'The God of Abraham praise.' He went one day to
hear George Whitefield preach. The text was, '_Is not this a brand
plucked from the burning?_' 'When the sermon began,' he says, 'I was
certainly a dreadful enemy to God and to all that is good, and one of
the most profligate and abandoned young men living; but, by the time it
was ended, I was become a new creature. For, in the first place, I was
deeply convinced of the great goodness of God towards me in all my life;
particularly in that He had given His Son to die for me. I had also a
far clearer view of all my sins, particularly my base ingratitude
towards Him. These discoveries quite broke my heart and caused showers
of tears to trickle down my cheeks. I was likewise filled with an utter
abhorrence of my evil ways, and was much ashamed that I had ever walked
in them. And, as my heart was thus turned from all that is evil, so it
was powerfully inclined to all that is good. It is not easy to express
what strong desires I felt for God and His service; and what resolutions
I made to seek Him and serve Him in the future. In consequence of this,
I broke off all my evil practices, and forsook all my wicked and foolish
companions without delay. I gave myself up to God and His service with
my whole heart. Oh, what reason have I to say, "_Is not this a brand
plucked from the burning?_"'

'_Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?_'--it was Stephen
Grellet's text. Writing of his conversion, he says that 'the awfulness
of that day of God's visitation can never cease to be remembered by me
with peculiar gratitude as long as I possess my mental faculties. I am
_as a brand plucked from the burning_; I have been rescued from the
brink of a horrible pit!'


V

And it was Henry Martyn's text! '_Is not this_,' he cried, as he entered
the ministry, and again as he entered the mission field, '_is not this a
brand plucked from the burning?_'

_A brand that might have perished in the general destruction!_

_A brand seen, and prized, and rescued!_

_A brand at whose blaze other flames might be lit!_

_A brand plucked from the burning!_

'Oh, let me burn out for my God!' he cries, still thinking of the brand
plucked from the flames. He plunges, like a blazing torch, into the
darkness of India, of Persia and of Turkey. He leaves the peoples whom
he has evangelized the Scriptures in their own tongues. Seven short
years after he left England, he dies all alone on a foreign strand. 'No
kinsman is near to watch his last look or receive his last words. No
friend stands by his couch to whisper comforting words, to close his
eyes or wipe the death-sweat from his brow.' In the article of death, he
is alone with his Lord. The brand plucked from the blaze has soon burned
out. But what does it matter? At its ardent flame a thousand other
torches have been ignited; and the lands that sat so long in darkness
have welcomed the coming of a wondrous light!



VIII

MICHAEL TREVANION'S TEXT


I

Michael Trevanion misunderstood Paul: that was the trouble. Michael, so
Mark Rutherford tells us, was a Puritan of the Puritans, silent, stern,
unbending. Between his wife and himself no sympathy existed. They had
two children--a boy and a girl. The girl was in every way her mother's
child: the boy was the image of his father. Michael made a companion of
his son; took him into his own workshop; and promised himself that, come
what might, Robert should grow up to walk in his father's footsteps. All
went well until Robert Trevanion met Susan Shipton. Susan was one of the
beauties of that Cornish village. She had--what were not common in
Cornwall--light flaxen hair, blue eyes, and a rosy face, somewhat
inclined to be plump. The Shiptons lay completely outside Michael's
circle. They were mere formalists in religion, fond of pleasure; and
Susan especially was much given to gaiety. She went to picnics and
dances; rowed herself about the bay with her friends; and sauntered
round the town with her father and mother on Sunday afternoons. She was
fond of bathing, too, and was a good swimmer. Michael hardly knew how to
put his objection in words, but he nevertheless had a horror of women
who could swim. It seemed to him an ungodly accomplishment. He did not
believe for a moment that Paul would have sanctioned it. That settled it
for Michael. For Michael had unbounded faith in the judgment of Paul;
and the tragedy of his life lay in the fact that, on one important
occasion, he misunderstood his oracle.

One summer's morning, Robert saved Susan from drowning. She had
forgotten the swirl of water caused by the rush of the river into the
bay, and had swum into the danger zone. In three minutes Robert was at
her side, had gripped her by the bathing dress at the back of her neck,
and had brought her into safer water. From that moment the two were
often together; and, one afternoon, Michael came suddenly upon them and
guessed their secret. It nearly broke his heart. In Robert's attachment
to Susan he saw--or thought he saw--the end of all his hopes. 'He
remembered what his own married life had been; he always trusted that
Robert would have a wife who would be a help to him, and he felt sure
that this girl Shipton, with her pretty face and blue eyes, had no
brains. To think that his boy should repeat the same inexplicable
blunder, that he would never hear from his wife's lips one serious word!
What would she be if trouble came upon him? She was not a child of God.
He did not know that she ever sought the Lord. She went to church once a
day and read her prayers, and that was all. She was not one of the
chosen; she might corrupt Robert and he might fall away and so commit
the sin against the Holy Ghost. He went to his room, and, shutting the
door, wept bitter tears. 'O my son, Absalom,' he cried, 'my son, my son
Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!'

It was in these desperate straits that poor Michael consulted Paul--and
misunderstood him. It was a Sunday night. Michael picked up the Bible
and turned to the Epistle to the Romans. It was his favorite epistle. He
read the ninth chapter. The third verse startled him. '_I could wish
that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen
according to the flesh._' Nobody need wonder that the words strangely
affected him. In his _Table Talk_, Coleridge says that when he read this
passage to a friend of his, a Jew at Ramsgate, the old man burst into
tears. 'Any Jew of sensibility,' the poet adds, 'must be deeply
impressed by it.' Michael Trevanion read the throbbing words again. '_I
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my
kinsmen according to the flesh._'

He laid down the Book. 'What did Paul mean? What _could_ he mean save
that he was willing to be damned to save those whom he loved? And why
not? Why should not a man be willing to be damned for others? Damnation!
It is awful, horrible. Millions of years, with no relief, with no light
from the Most High, and in subjection to His enemy! "And yet, if it is
to save--if it is to save Robert," thought Michael, "God give me
strength--I could endure it. Did not the Son Himself venture to risk the
wrath of the Father that He might redeem man? What am I? What is my poor
self?" And Michael determined that night that neither his life in this
world nor in the next, if he could rescue his child, should be of any
account.'

So far Michael and Paul were of one mind. Now for the divergence! Now
for the misunderstanding! Michael questioned himself and his oracle
further. 'What could Paul mean exactly? God could not curse him _if he
did no wrong_. He could only mean that he was willing _to sin_, and be
punished, provided Israel might live. It was lawful then to _tell a lie
or perpetrate any evil deed_ in order to protect his child.' Michael
therefore took his resolution. He hinted to Robert that Susan's history
was besmirched with shame. He left on his desk--where he knew Robert
would see it--a fragment of an old letter referring to the downfall of
another girl named Susan. Michael knew that he was telling and acting a
lie, a terrible and unpardonable lie. He firmly believed that, in
telling that dreadful lie, he was damning his soul to all eternity. But
in damning his own soul--so he thought--he was saving his son's. And
that, after all, was the lesson that Paul had taught him.

The rest of the story does not immediately concern us. Robert, on seeing
the documentary proof of Susan's shame, ran away from home. Michael,
overwhelmed with wretchedness, attempted to drown himself in the swirl
at the mouth of the river. Of what value was life to him, now that his
soul was everlastingly lost? He awoke to find himself on the bank, with
Susan bending over him and kissing him. He soon discovered that there
was more sense in Susan's head, and more grace in her heart, than he had
for one moment imagined. He set out after his son; found him; and died
in making his great and humiliating confession. He had meant well, but
he had misunderstood. He had misunderstood Paul.


II

Michael made two mistakes, and they were grave and tragic and fatal
mistakes.

_He thought that good fruit could be produced from an evil tree._ There
are times when it looks possible. But it is always an illusion. When I
see Michael Trevanion in the hour of his great temptation, I wish I
could introduce him to Jeanie Deans. For, in _The Heart of Midlothian_,
Sir Walter Scott has outlined a very similar situation. Poor Jeanie was
tempted to save her wayward sister by a lie. It was a very little lie, a
mere glossing over of the truth. The slightest deviation from actual
veracity, and her sister's life, which was dearer to her than her own,
would be saved from the scaffold, and her family honor would be
vindicated. But Jeanie could not, and would not, believe that there
could be salvation in a lie. With her gentle heart reproaching her, but
with her conscience applauding her, she told the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth. And then she set out for London. Along the
great white road she trudged, until her feet were bleeding and her
exhausted form could scarcely drag itself along the dreadful miles. But
on she pressed, until she saw the lights of London town; and still on,
overcoming every barrier, until she stood before the Queen. And then she
pleaded, as no mere advocate could plead, for Effie. With what passion,
what entreaties, what tears did she besiege the throne! And, before the
tempest of her grief and eloquence, the Queen yielded completely and
gave her her sister's life. To Jeanie Deans and to Michael Trevanion
there came the same terrible ordeal; but Jeanie stood where Michael
fell. That was the _first_ of his two mistakes.

The _second_ was that _he thought that spiritual results could be
engineered_. He fancied that souls could be saved by wire-pulling.

'Robert,' he said, on the day of his death and of his bitter confession,
'Robert, I have sinned, although it was for the Lord's sake, and He has
rebuked me. I thought to take upon myself the direction of His affairs;
but He is wiser than I. I believed I was sure of His will, but I was
mistaken. He knows that what I did, I did for the love of your soul, my
child; but I was grievously wrong.'

'The father,' says Mark Rutherford, 'humbled himself before the son, but
in his humiliation became majestic; and, in after years, when he was
dead and gone, there was no scene in the long intercourse with him which
lived with a brighter and fairer light in the son's memory.'


III

And so Michael Trevanion sinned and suffered for his sin! For my part, I
have no stones to cast at him. I would rather sit at his feet and learn
the golden lesson of his life. For love--and especially the love of an
earnest man for another's soul--covers a multitude of sins. There come
to all of us mountain moments, moments in which we stand on the higher
altitudes and catch a glimpse of the unutterable preciousness of a human
soul. But we are disobedient to the heavenly vision. We are like
Augustine Saint Clare in _Uncle Tom's Cabin_. He could never forget, he
said, the words with which his mother impressed upon him the dignity and
worth of the souls of the slaves. Those passionate sentences of hers
seemed to have burnt themselves into his brain. 'I have looked into her
face with solemn awe,' he told Miss Ophelia, 'when she pointed to the
stars in the evening and said to me, "See there, Auguste! the poorest,
meanest soul on our place will be living when all those stars are gone
for ever--will live as long as God lives!"'

'Then why don't you free your slaves?' asked Miss Ophelia, with a
woman's practical and incisive logic.

'I'm not equal to that!' Saint Clare replied; and he confessed that,
through having proved recreant to the ideals that had once so clearly
presented themselves, he was not the man that he might have been.

'I'm not equal to that!' said Augustine Saint Clare.

But Michael Trevanion _was_ equal to that--and to a great deal more. He
saw the value of his son's soul, and he was willing to be shut out of
heaven for ever and ever if only Robert could be eternally saved! 'My
witness is above,' says Samuel Rutherford, in his _Second Letter to his
Parishioners_, 'my witness is above that your heaven would be two
heavens to me, and the salvation of you all as two salvations to me. I
would agree to a suspension and a postponement of my heaven for many
hundreds of years if ye could so be assured of a lodging in the Father's
house.' Michael Trevanion's behavior--mistaken as it was--proved that he
was willing to make an even greater sacrifice if, by so doing, he could
compass the salvation of his son.


IV

It is at this point that Michael Trevanion falls into line with the
great masters. Since the apostolic days we have had two conspicuously
successful evangelists--John Wesley and Mr. Spurgeon. The secret of
their success is so obvious that he who runs may read. I turn to my
edition of John Wesley's _Journal_, and at the end I find a tribute like
this: 'The great purpose of his life was doing good. For this he
relinquished all honor and preferment; to this he dedicated all his
powers of body and mind; at all times and in all places, in season and
out of season, by gentleness, by terror, by argument, by persuasion, by
reason, by interest, by every motive and every inducement, he strove,
with unwearied assiduity, to turn men from the error of their ways and
awaken them to virtue and religion. To the bed of sickness or the couch
of prosperity; to the prison or the hospital; to the house of mourning
or the house of feasting, wherever there was a friend to serve or a soul
to save, he readily repaired. He thought no office too humiliating, no
condescension too low, no undertaking too arduous, to reclaim the
meanest of God's offspring. _The souls of all men were equally precious
in his sight and the value of an immortal creature beyond all
estimation._'

In relation to Mr. Spurgeon, we cannot do better than place ourselves
under Mr. W. Y. Fullerton's direction. Mr. Fullerton knew Mr. Spurgeon
intimately, and the standard biography of the great preacher is from his
pen. Mr. Fullerton devotes a good deal of his space to an inquiry as to
the sources of Mr. Spurgeon's power and authority. It is an elusive and
difficult question. It is admitted that there is scarcely one respect in
which Mr. Spurgeon's powers were really transcendent. He had a fine
voice; but others had finer ones. He was eloquent; but others were no
less so. He used to say that his success was due, not to his preaching
of the Gospel, but to the Gospel that he preached. Obviously, however,
this is beside the mark, for he himself would not have been so
uncharitable as to deny that others preached the same Gospel and yet met
with no corresponding success. The truth probably is that, although he
attained to super-excellence at no point, he was really great at many.
And, behind this extraordinary combination of remarkable, though not
transcendent, powers was an intense conviction, a deadly earnestness, a
consuming passion, that made second-rate qualities sublime. The most
revealing paragraph in the book occurs towards the end. It is a
quotation from Mr. Spurgeon himself. 'Leaving home early in the
morning,' he says, 'I went to the vestry and sat there all day long,
seeing those who had been brought to Christ by the preaching of the
Word. Their stories were so interesting to me that the hours flew by
without my noticing how fast they were going. I had seen numbers of
persons during the day, one after the other; and I was so delighted with
the tales of divine mercy they had to tell me, and the wonders of grace
God wrought in them, that I did not notice how the time passed. At seven
o'clock we had our prayer meeting. I went in to it. After that came the
church meeting. A little before ten I felt faint, and I began to think
at what hour I had eaten my dinner, and I then for the first time
remembered that _I had not had any_! I never thought of it. I never even
felt hungry, because God had made me so glad!' Mr. Spurgeon lived that
he might save men. He thought of nothing else. From his first sermon at
Waterbeach to his last at Mentone, the conversion of sinners was the
dream of all his days. That master-passion glorified the whole man, and
threw a grandeur about the common details of every day. He would
cheerfully have thrown away his soul to save the souls of others.

It is along this road that the Church has always marched to her most
splendid triumphs. Why did the Roman Empire so swiftly capitulate to the
claims of Christ? Lecky discusses that question in his _History of
European Morals_. And he answers it by saying that the conquest was
achieved by the new spirit which Christ had introduced. The idea of a
Saviour who could weep at the sepulcher of His friend; and be touched by
a sense of His people's infirmities, was a novelty to that old pagan
world. And when the early Christians showed themselves willing to endure
any suffering, or bear any loss, if, by so doing, they might win their
friends, their sincerity and devotion proved irresistible.


V

But Michael Trevanion must lead us higher yet. For what Michael
Trevanion learned from Paul, Paul himself had learned from an infinitely
greater. Let us trace it back!

'Let me be damned to all eternity that my boy may be saved!' cries
Michael Trevanion, sitting at the feet of Paul, but misunderstanding his
teacher.

'_I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my
kinsmen according to the flesh_,' exclaims Paul, sitting at the feet of
One who not only _wished_ to be accursed, but _entered into_ the
impenetrable darkness of that dreadful anathema.

'_My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?_' He cried from that depth
of dereliction. 'In that awful hour,' said Rabbi Duncan, addressing his
students, 'in that awful hour _He took our damnation, and He took it
lovingly!_' When, with reverent hearts and bated breath, we peer down
into the fathomless deeps that such a saying opens to us, we catch a
glimpse of the inexpressible value which heaven sets upon the souls of
men. And, when Michael Trevanion has led us to such inaccessible heights
and to such unutterable depths as these, we can very well afford to say
Good-bye to him.



IX

HUDSON TAYLOR'S TEXT


I

The day on which James Hudson Taylor--then a boy in his teens--found
himself confronted by that tremendous text was, as he himself testified
in old age, 'a day that he could never forget.' It is a day that China
can never forget; a day that the world can never forget. It was a
holiday; everybody was away from home; and the boy found time hanging
heavily upon his hands. In an aimless way he wandered, during the
afternoon, into his father's library, and poked about among the shelves.
'I tried,' he says, 'to find some book with which to while away the
leaden hours. Nothing attracting me, I turned over a basket of pamphlets
and selected from among them a tract that looked interesting. I knew
that it would have a story at the commencement and a moral at the close;
but I promised myself that I would enjoy the story and leave the rest.
It would be easy to put away the tract as soon as it should seem prosy.'
He scampers off to the stable-loft, throws himself on the hay, and
plunges into the book. He is captivated by the narrative, and finds it
impossible to drop the book when the story comes to an end. He reads on
and on. He is rewarded by one great golden word whose significance he
has never before discovered: '_The Finished Work of Christ!_' The theme
entrances him; and at last he only rises from his bed in the soft hay
that he may kneel on the hard floor of the loft and surrender his young
life to the Saviour who had surrendered everything for him. If, he asked
himself, as he lay upon the hay, if the whole work was finished, and the
whole debt paid upon the Cross, what is there left for me to do? 'And
then,' he tells us, 'there dawned upon me the joyous conviction that
there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall upon my knees,
accept the Saviour and praise Him for evermore.'

'_It is finished!_'

'_When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar he said, "It is
finished!" and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost._'

'_Then there dawned upon me the joyous conviction that, since the whole
work was finished and the whole debt paid upon the Cross, there was
nothing for me to do but to fall upon my knees, accept the Saviour and
praise Him for evermore!_'


II

'_It is finished!_'

It is really only one word: the greatest word ever uttered; we must
examine it for a moment as a lapidary examines under a powerful glass a
rare and costly gem.

It was a _farmer's_ word. When, into his herd, there was born an animal
so beautiful and shapely that it seemed absolutely destitute of faults
and defects, the farmer gazed upon the creature with proud, delighted
eyes. '_Tetelestai!_' he said, '_tetelestai!_'

It was an _artist's_ word. When the painter or the sculptor had put the
last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he
would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and, seeing in it
nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly,
'_Tetelestai! tetelestai!_'

It was a _priestly_ word. When some devout worshiper, overflowing with
gratitude for mercies shown him, brought to the temple a lamb without
spot or blemish, the pride of the whole flock, the priest, more
accustomed to seeing the blind and defective animals led to the altar,
would look admiringly upon the pretty creature. '_Tetelestai!_' he would
say, '_tetelestai!_'

And when, in the fullness of time, the Lamb of God offered Himself on
the altar of the ages, He rejoiced with a joy so triumphant that it bore
down all His anguish before it. The sacrifice was stainless, perfect,
finished! '_He cried with a loud voice Tetelestai! and gave up the
ghost._'

This divine self-satisfaction appears only twice, once in each
Testament. When He completed the work of Creation, He looked upon it and
said that it was very good; when He completed the work of Redemption He
cried with a loud voice _Tetelestai_! It means exactly the same thing.


III

The joy of finishing and of finishing well! How passionately good men
have coveted for themselves that ecstasy! I think of those pathetic
entries in Livingstone's journal. 'Oh, to finish my work!' he writes
again and again. He is haunted by the vision of the unseen waters, the
fountains of the Nile. Will he live to discover them? 'Oh, to finish!'
he cries; 'if only I could finish my work!' I think of Henry Buckle, the
author of the _History of Civilization_. He is overtaken by fever at
Nazareth and dies at Damascus. In his delirium he raves continually
about his book, his still unfinished book. 'Oh, to finish my book!' And
with the words 'My book! my book!' upon his burning lips, his spirit
slips away. I think of Henry Martyn sitting amidst the delicious and
fragrant shades of a Persian garden, weeping at having to leave the work
that he seemed to have only just begun. I think of Doré taking a sad
farewell of his unfinished _Vale of Tears_; of Dickens tearing himself
from the manuscript that he knew would never be completed; of Macaulay
looking with wistful and longing eyes at the _History_ and _The Armada_
that must for ever stand as 'fragments'; and of a host besides. Life is
often represented by a broken column in the church-yard. Men long, but
long in vain, for the priceless privilege of finishing their work.


IV

The joy of finishing and of finishing well! There is no joy on earth
comparable to this. Who is there that has not read a dozen times the
immortal postscript that Gibbon added to his _Decline and Fall_? He
describes the tumult of emotion with which, after twenty years of
closest application, he wrote the last line of the last chapter of the
last volume of his masterpiece. It was a glorious summer's night at
Lausanne. 'After laying down my pen,' he says, 'I took several turns in
a covered walk of acacias which commands a prospect of the country, the
lake and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the
silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was
silent.' It was the greatest moment of his life. We recall, too, the
similar experience of Sir Archibald Alison. 'As I approached the closing
sentence of my _History of the Empire_,' he says, 'I went up to Mrs.
Alison to call her down to witness the conclusion, and she saw the last
words of the work written, and signed her name on the margin. It would
be affectation to conceal the deep emotion that I felt at this event.'
Or think of the last hours of Venerable Bede. Living away back in the
early dawn of our English story--twelve centuries ago--the old man had
set himself to translate the Gospel of John into our native speech.
Cuthbert, one of his young disciples, has bequeathed to us the touching
record. As the work approached completion, he says, death drew on apace.
The aged scholar was racked with pain; sleep forsook him; he could
scarcely breathe. The young man who wrote at his dictation implored him
to desist. But he would not rest. They came at length to the final
chapter; could he possibly live till it was done?

'And now, dear master,' exclaimed the young scribe tremblingly, 'only
one sentence remains!' He read the words and the sinking man feebly
recited the English equivalents.

'It is finished, dear master!' cried the youth excitedly.

'Ay, _it is finished_!' echoed the dying saint; 'lift me up, place me at
that window of my cell at which I have so often prayed to God. Now glory
be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost!' And, with these
triumphant words, the beautiful spirit passed to its rest and its
reward.


V

In his own narrative of his conversion, Hudson Taylor quotes James
Proctor's well-known hymn--the hymn that, in one of his essays, Froude
criticizes so severely:

  Nothing either great or small,
    Nothing, sinner, no;
  Jesus did it, did it all,
    Long, long ago.

  '_It is Finished!_' yes, indeed,
    Finished every jot;
  Sinner, this is all you need;
    Tell me, is it not?

  Cast your deadly doing down,
    Down at Jesus' feet;
  Stand in Him, in Him alone,
    Gloriously complete.

Froude maintains that these verses are immoral. It is only by 'doing,'
he argues, that the work of the world can ever get done. And if you
describe 'doing' as 'deadly' you set a premium upon indolence and lessen
the probabilities of attainment. The best answer to Froude's plausible
contention is the _Life of Hudson Taylor_. Hudson Taylor became
convinced, as a boy, that 'the whole work was finished and the whole
debt paid.' 'There is nothing for me to do,' he says, 'but to fall down
on my knees and accept the Saviour.' The chapter in his biography that
tells of this spiritual crisis is entitled '_The Finished Work of
Christ_,' and it is headed by the quotation:

  Upon a life I did not live,
    Upon a death I did not die,
  Another's life, Another's death
    I stake my whole eternity.

And, as I have said, the very words that Froude so bitterly condemns are
quoted by Hudson Taylor as a reflection of his own experience. And the
result? The result is that Hudson Taylor became one of the most
prodigious toilers of all time. So far from his trust in '_the Finished
Work of Christ_' inclining him to indolence, he felt that he must toil
most terribly to make so perfect a Saviour known to the whole wide
world. There lies on my desk a Birthday Book which I very highly value.
It was given me at the docks by Mr. Thomas Spurgeon as I was leaving
England. If you open it at the twenty-first of May you will find these
words: '_"Simply to Thy Cross I cling" is but half of the Gospel. No one
is really clinging to the Cross who is not at the same time faithfully
following Christ and doing whatsoever He commands_'; and against those
words of Dr. J. R. Miller's in my Birthday Book, you may see the
autograph of _J. Hudson Taylor_. He was our guest at the Mosgiel Manse
when he set his signature to those striking and significant sentences.


VI

'_We Build Like Giants; we Finish Like Jewelers!_'--so the old Egyptians
wrote over the portals of their palaces and temples. I like to think
that the most gigantic task ever attempted on this planet--the work of
the world's redemption--was finished with a precision and a nicety that
no jeweler could rival.

'_It is finished!_' He cried from the Cross.

'_Tetelestai! Tetelestai!_'

When He looked upon His work in Creation and saw that it was good, He
placed it beyond the power of man to improve upon it.

  To gild refinèd gold, to paint the lily,
  To throw a perfume on the violet,
  To smooth the ice, or add another hue
  Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
  To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
  Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

And, similarly, when He looked upon His work in Redemption and cried
triumphantly '_Tetelestai_,' He placed it beyond the power of any man to
add to it.

There are times when any addition is a subtraction. Some years ago,
White House at Washington--the residence of the American Presidents--was
in the hands of the painters and decorators. Two large entrance doors
had been painted to represent black walnut. The contractor ordered his
men to scrape and clean them in readiness for repainting, and they set
to work. But when their knives penetrated to the solid timber, they
discovered to their astonishment that it was heavy mahogany of a most
exquisite natural grain! The work of that earlier decorator, so far from
adding to the beauty of the timber, had only served to conceal its
essential and inherent glory. It is easy enough to add to the wonders of
Creation or of Redemption; but you can never add without subtracting.
'_It is finished!_'


VII

Many years ago, Ebenezer Wooton, an earnest but eccentric evangelist,
was conducting a series of summer evening services on the village green
at Lidford Brook. The last meeting had been held; the crowd was melting
slowly away; and the evangelist was engaged in taking down the marquee.
All at once a young fellow approached him and asked, casually rather
than earnestly, 'Mr. Wooton, what must _I_ do to be saved?' The preacher
took the measure of his man.

'Too late!' he said, in a matter of fact kind of way, glancing up from a
somewhat obstinate tent-peg with which he was struggling. 'Too late, my
friend, too late!' The young fellow was startled.

'Oh, don't say that, Mr. Wooton!' he pleaded, a new note coming into his
voice. 'Surely it isn't too late just because the meetings are over?'

'Yes, my friend,' exclaimed the evangelist, dropping the cord in his
hand, straightening himself up, and looking right into the face of his
questioner, 'it's too late! You want to know what you must _do_ to be
saved, and I tell you that you're hundreds of years too late! The work
of salvation is done, completed, _finished_! It was finished on the
Cross; Jesus said so with the last breath that He drew! What more do you
want?'

And, then and there, it dawned upon the now earnest inquirer on the
village green as, at about the same time, it dawned upon young Hudson
Taylor in the hay-loft, that '_since the whole work was finished and the
whole debt paid upon the Cross, there was nothing for him to do but to
fall upon his knees and accept the Saviour_.' And there, under the elms,
the sentinel stars witnessing the great transaction, he kneeled in glad
thanksgiving and rested his soul for time and for eternity on '_the
Finished Work of Christ_.'


VIII

'_The Finished Work of Christ!_'

'_Tetelestai! Tetelestai!_'

'_It is finished!_'

It is not a sigh of relief at having reached the end of things. It is
the unutterable joy of the artist who, putting the last touches to the
picture that has engrossed him for so long, sees in it the realization
of all his dreams and can nowhere find room for improvement. Only once
in the world's history did a finishing touch bring a work to absolute
perfection; and on that day of days a single flaw would have shattered
the hope of the ages.



X

RODNEY STEELE'S TEXT


I

'As soon,' Dr. Chalmers used to say, 'as soon as a man comes to
understand that _GOD IS LOVE_, he is infallibly converted.' Mrs.
Florence L. Barclay wrote a book to show how Rodney Steele made that
momentous and transfiguring discovery. Rodney Steele--the hero of _The
Wall of Partition_--was a great traveler and a brilliant author. He had
wandered through India, Africa, Australia, Egypt, China and Japan, and
had written a novel colored with the local tints of each of the
countries he had visited. He was tall, strong, handsome, bronzed by many
suns, and--largely as a result of his literary successes--immensely
rich. But he was soured. Years ago he loved a beautiful girl. But an
unscrupulous and designing woman had gained his sweetheart's confidence
and had poisoned her heart by pouring into her ear the most abominable
scandals concerning him. She had returned his letters; and he, in the
vain hope of being able to forget, had abandoned himself to travel and
to literature. But, on whatever seas he sailed, and on whatever shores
he wandered, he nursed in his heart a dreadful hate--a hate of the woman
who had so cruelly intervened. And, cherishing that hate, his heart
became hard and bitter and sour. He lost faith in love, in womanhood, in
God, in everything. And his books reflected the cynicism of his soul.
This is Rodney Steele as the story opens. The boat-train moves into
Charing Cross, and, after an absence of ten years, he finds himself once
more in London.


II

Many years ago, when our grandmothers were girls, they devoted their
spare moments to the making of bookmarkers; and on the marker, in
colored silk, they embroidered the letters GOD IS LOVE. Dr. Handley
Moule, Bishop of Durham, made effective use of such a bookmarker when he
visited West Stanley immediately after the terrible colliery disaster
there. He motored up to the scene of the catastrophe and addressed the
crowd at the pit's mouth. Many of those present were the relatives of
the entombed miners. 'It is very difficult,' he said, 'for us to
understand why God should let such an awful disaster happen, but we know
Him, and trust Him, and all will be right. I have at home,' the Bishop
continued, 'an old bookmarker given me by my mother. It is worked in
silk, and, when I examine the wrong side of it, I see nothing but a
tangle of threads crossed and recrossed. It looks like a big mistake.
One would think that someone had done it who did not know what she was
doing. But, when I turn it over and look at the right side, I see there,
beautifully embroidered, the letters GOD IS LOVE. We are looking at all
this to-day,' he concluded, 'from the wrong side. Some day we shall see
it from another standpoint, and shall understand.' This all happened
many years ago; but quite recently some who were present declared that
they never forgot the story of the bookmarker and the comfort that it
brought.

It was a bookmarker of exactly the same kind, and bearing precisely the
same inscription, that brought the fragrance of roses into the dusty
heart of Rodney Steele. Sitting alone in his Harley Street flat, he
found himself turning over the pages of a Bible that belonged to Mrs.
Jake, his housekeeper. Among those pages he found Mrs. Jake's marriage
'lines,' a photograph of her husband in military uniform, some pressed
flowers and--a perforated bookmarker! And on the bookmarker, in pink
silk, were embroidered the words: GOD IS LOVE. It reminded him of those
far-off days in which, as a little boy, he had delighted in the
possession of his first box of paints. He had begged his mother to give
him something to color, and she had pricked out those very words on a
card and asked him to paint them for her.

_God! Love!_

_Love! God!_

_God is Love!_

So said the bookmarker; but, he reflected sadly, _love_ had failed him
long ago, and of _God_ he had no knowledge at all.


III

When those three tremendous words next confronted Rodney Steele, they
were worked, not in silk, but in stone! In a lower flat, in the same
building in Harley Street, there dwelt a Bishop's widow. Rodney got to
know her, to like her, and, at last, to confide in her. One afternoon
they were discussing the novel that all London was reading, _The Great
Divide_. It was from his own pen, but he did not tell her so. Mrs.
Bellamy--the widow--confessed that, in spite of its brilliance, she did
not like it. It betrayed bitterness, a loss of ideals, a disbelief in
love; it was not uplifting.

'It is life,' Rodney replied. 'Life tends to make a man lose faith in
love.'

But Mrs. Bellamy would not hear of it.

'May I tell you,' she asked, 'the Bishop's way of meeting all
difficulties, sorrows and perplexities?'

'Do tell me,' said Rodney.

'He met them with three little words, each of one syllable. Yet that
sentence holds the truth of greatest import to our poor world; and its
right understanding readjusts our entire outlook upon life, and should
affect all our dealings with our fellow men: GOD IS LOVE. In our first
home--a country parish in Surrey--three precious children were born to
us--Griselda, Irene and little Launcelot. Scarlet fever and diphtheria
broke out in the village, a terrible epidemic, causing grief and anxiety
in many homes. We were almost worn out with helping our poor
people--nursing, consoling, encouraging. Then, just as the epidemic
appeared to be abating, it reached our own home. Our darlings were
stricken suddenly. Mr. Steele, we lost all three in a fortnight! My
little Lancy was the last to go. When he died in my arms I felt I could
bear no more.

'My husband led me out into the garden. It was a soft, sweet, summer
night. He took me in his arms and stood long in silence, looking up to
the quiet stars, while I sobbed upon his breast. At last he said, "My
wife, there is one rope to which we must cling steadfastly, in order to
keep our heads above water amid these overwhelming waves of sorrow. It
has three golden strands. It will not fail us. GOD--IS--LOVE."

'The nursery was empty. There was no more patter of little feet; no
children's merry voices shouted about the house. The three little graves
in the churchyard bore the names Griselda, Irene and Launcelot; and on
each we put the text, spelt out by the initials of our darlings' names:
GOD IS LOVE. And in our own heart-life we experienced the great calm and
peace of a faith which had come through the deepest depths of sorrow. We
were sustained by the certainty of the love of God.'

Rodney Steele was deeply touched and impressed. Here was one who had
known sorrow and had been sweetened by it. In her there was no trace of
bitterness.

'I don't know,' he said to himself, as he came away, 'I don't know as to
the truth of the Bishop's text; but, anyway, the Bishop's widow is love.
She lives what she believes, and that certainly makes a belief worth
having.'

'_God is love!_'--he had seen it worked in silk.

'_God is love_'--he had seen it inscribed three times in stone.

'_God is love!_'--he had seen it translated into actual life.

'_God is love!_'--he was almost persuaded to believe it.


IV

_God is----!_

It is the oldest question in the universe, and the greatest. It has been
asked a million million times, and it would not have been altogether
strange had we never discovered an answer. In Mr. H. G. Wells' story of
the men who invaded the moon, he describes a conversation between the
travelers and the Grand Lunar. The Grand Lunar asks them many questions
about the earth which they are unable to answer. 'What?' he exclaims,
'knowing so little of _the earth_, do you attempt to explore _the
moon_?' We men know little enough of _ourselves_: it would have been no
cause for astonishment had we been unable to define _God_. Men lost
themselves for ages in guess-work. They looked round about them; they
saw how grandly a million worlds revolve, and they noticed how
exquisitely the mighty forces of the earth are governed. Then they made
their guess.

'_God is Power_,' they said, '_God is Power!_'

Then, peering a little more deeply into the heart of things, they saw
that all these terrific forces are not only controlled, but harnessed to
high ends. All things are working--they are working together--they are
working together for good! And thereupon men made their second guess.

'_God is Wisdom_,' they said, '_God is Wisdom!_'

Then, observing things still more closely, men began to see great
ethical principles underlying the laws of the universe. In the long run,
evil suffers, and, in the long run, right is rewarded.

'_God is Justice_,' they said, '_God is Justice!_'

And so men made their guesses, and, as they guessed, they built. They
erected temples, now to the God of Power, then to the God of Wisdom, and
again to the God of Justice. They had yet to learn that they were
worshiping the part and not the whole; they were worshiping the rays and
not the Light Itself.

Then Jesus came, and men understood. By His words and His deeds, by His
life and His death, He revealed the whole truth. God is Power and Wisdom
and Justice--but He is more. In a European churchyard there stands a
monument erected by a poet to his wife. It bears the inscription:

    She was----,
    But words are wanting to say what!
    Think what a wife should be
    And she was that!

  _God is----!_
  _God is--what?_

    He is----,
    But words are wanting to say what!
    Think what a God should be
    And He is that!

Jesus filled in the age-long blank; He filled it in,
not in cold language, but in warm life. Many attempts
have been made to translate His definition
from the terms of life into the terms of language.
Only once have those attempts been even approximately
successful. The words on the perforated
bookmarker represent the best answer that human
speech has ever given to the question.

_God is----_

_God is--what?_

_GOD--IS--LOVE!_


V

Rodney Steele met again the girl--ripened now into the full glory of
womanhood--from whom he had been so cruelly separated. He felt that it
was too late to right the earlier wrong; and, in any case, his life was
too embittered to offer her now. But he rejoiced in her friendship, and,
one day, opened his heart to her.

'Madge,' he said, 'I am furious with Fate. Life is chaos. Shall I tell
you of what it reminds me? When I was last in Florence I was invited to
the dress rehearsal of "Figli Di Re." I took my seat in the stalls of
the huge empty opera house. The members of the orchestra were all in
their places. Pandemonium reigned! Each man was playing little snatches
of the score before him, all in the same key, but with no attempt at
time, tune or order. The piping of the flute, the sighing of the fiddle,
the grunt of the double bass, the clear call of the cornet, the bray of
the trombones, all went on together. The confused hubbub of sound was
indescribable. Suddenly a slim, alert figure leaped upon the estrade and
struck the desk sharply with a baton. It was the maestro! There was
instant silence. He looked to the right; looked to the left; raised his
baton; and lo! full, rich, sweet, melodious, blending in perfect
harmony, sounded the opening chords of the overture!'

Rodney likened the jangling discords to the confusion of his own life.
There was in his soul a disappointed love, an implacable hate, and a
medley of other discords.

'You are waiting for the Maestro, Roddie!' said Madge. 'His baton will
reduce chaos to order with _a measure of three beats_.'

'Three beats?'

'Yes; three almighty beats: GOD--IS--LOVE!'

He shook his head.

'I left off pricking texts when I was five, and gave up painting when I
was nine.'

'It is not what you do to the texts, Rodney; it is what the texts do to
you!'

He left her, and, soon after, left London.


VI

Yes, he left her, and he left London; but he could not leave the text.
It confronted him once more. He had taken refuge in a little fishing
village on the East Coast. Up on the cliffs, among the corn-fields,
flecked with their crimson poppies, he came upon a quaint old church. He
stepped inside. In the porch was a painting of an old ruin--ivy-covered,
useless and desolate--standing out, jagged and roofless, against a
purple sky. The picture bore a striking inscription:

  The ruins of my soul repair
  And make my heart a house of prayer.

'_The ruins of my soul!_' Rodney thought of the discord within.

'_Make my heart a house of prayer!_' Rodney thought of the maestro.

He passed out into the little graveyard on the very edge of the cliff.
He was amused at the quaint epitaphs. Then one tombstone, lying flat
upon the ground, a tombstone which, in large capitals, called upon the
reader to 'Prepare to meet thy God,' startled him. Again he thought of
the clashing discords of his soul.

'Then, suddenly,' says Mrs. Barclay, 'the inspired Word did that which
It--and It alone--can do. It gripped Rodney and brought him face to face
with realities--past, present and future--in his own inner life. At
once, the Bishop's motto came into his mind; the three words his gentle
mother used to draw that her little boy might paint them stood out
clearly as the answer to all vague and restless questionings: GOD IS
LOVE!'

'_God is Love!_'

'_Prepare to Meet thy God!_'

How could he, with his old hate in his heart, stand in the presence of a
God of Love?

Standing there bareheaded, with one foot on the prone tombstone, Rodney
grappled with the passion that he had cherished through the years, and
thus took his first step along the path of preparation.

'I forgive the woman who came between us,' he said aloud. 'My God, I
forgive her--as I hope to be forgiven!'

'As soon as a man comes to understand that _GOD IS LOVE_,' said Dr.
Chalmers, 'he is infallibly converted.' That being so, Rodney Steele was
infallibly converted that day, and that day he entered into peace.


VII

When Robert Louis Stevenson settled at Samoa, the islands were ablaze
with tumult and strife. And, during those years of bitterness, Stevenson
did his utmost to bring the painful struggle to an end. He visited the
chiefs in prison, lavished his kindnesses upon the islanders, and made
himself the friend of all. In the course of time the natives became
devotedly attached to the frail and delicate foreigner who looked as
though the first gust of wind would blow him away. His health required
that he should live away on the hill-top, and they pitied him as he
painfully toiled up the stony slope. To show their affection for him,
they built a road right up to his house, in order to make the steep
ascent more easy. And they called that road Ala Loto Alofa--_The Road to
the Loving Heart_. They felt, as they toiled at their labor of
gratitude, that they were not only conferring a boon on the white man,
but that they were making a beaten path from their own doors to the
heart that loved them all.

_God is Love_; and it is the glory of the everlasting Gospel that it
points the road by which the Father's wayward sons--in whichever of the
far countries they may have wandered--may find a way back to the
Father's house, and home to the Loving Heart.



XI

THOMAS HUXLEY'S TEXT


I

She was a sermon-taster and was extremely sensitive to any kind of
heresy. It is in his _Life of Donald John Martin_, a Presbyterian
minister, that the Rev. Norman C. Macfarlane places her notable
achievement on permanent record. He describes her as 'a stern lady who
was provokingly evangelical.' There came to the pulpit one Sabbath a
minister whose soundness she doubted. He gave out as his text the words:
'_What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?_' '_Weel, weel_,' this excellent woman
exclaimed, as she turned to her friend beside her, '_weel, weel, if
there's one text in a' the Buik waur than anither, yon man is sure to
tak' it!_'


II

She thought that text the _worst_ in the Bible. Huxley thought it the
_best_. Huxley was, as everybody knows, the Prince of Agnostics. We need
not stop to ask why. Nobody who has read the story of John Stuart Mill's
boyhood will wonder that Mill was a skeptic. And nobody who has read the
story of Thomas Huxley's boyhood will wonder at his becoming an
agnostic. As Edward Clodd, his biographer, says, 'his boyhood was a
cheerless time. Reversing Matthew Arnold's sunnier memories:

  No rigorous teachers seized his youth,
  And purged its faith and tried its fire,
  Shewed him the high, white star of truth,
  There bade him gaze, and there aspire.

'He told Charles Kingsley that he was "kicked into the world, a boy
without guide or training, or with worse than none"; he "had two years
of a pandemonium of a school, and, after that, neither help nor sympathy
in any intellectual direction till he reached manhood."' And, even then,
as those familiar with his biography know, he had little enough.

What would Huxley have been, I wonder, if the sympathy for which he
hungered had been extended to him? If, instead of badgering him with
arguments and entangling him in controversy, Mr. Gladstone and Bishop
Wilberforce and others had honestly attempted to see things through his
spectacles! Huxley was said to be as cold as ice and as inflexible as
steel; but I doubt it. In his life-story I find two incidents--one
belonging to his early manhood and one belonging to his age--which tell
a very different tale.

The _first_ is connected with the birth of his boy. It is the last night
of the Old Year, and he is waiting to hear that he is a father. He
spends the anxious hour in framing a resolution. In his diary he pledges
himself 'to smite all humbugs, however big; to give a nobler tone to
science; to set an example of abstinence from petty personal
controversies and of toleration for everything but lying; to be
indifferent as to whether the work is recognized as mine or not, so long
as it is done. It is half-past ten at night. Waiting for my child. I
seem to fancy it the pledge that all these things shall be.' And the
next entry runs:

'_New Year's Day, 1859._ Born five minutes before twelve. Thank God!'

Mark that '_Thank God!_' and then note what follows. A year or two
later, when the child is snatched from him, he makes this entry and then
closes the journal for ever. He has no heart to keep a diary afterwards.

'Our Noel, our firstborn, after being for nearly four years our delight
and our joy, was carried off by scarlet fever in forty-eight hours. This
day week he and I had a great romp together. On Friday his restless
head, with its bright blue eyes and tangled golden hair, tossed all day
upon the pillow. On Saturday night I carried his cold, still body here
into my study. Here, too, on Sunday night, came his mother and I to that
holy leavetaking. My boy is gone; but in a higher and better sense than
was in my mind when, four years ago, I wrote what stands above, I feel
that my fancy has been fulfilled. I say heartily and without
bitterness--Amen, so let it be!'

'_Thank God!_' exclaims our great Agnostic when the child is born.

'_Amen!_' he says, submissively, when the little one is buried.

This is the _first_ of the two incidents. The _second_--which is no less
pathetic--is recorded by Dr. Douglas Adam. 'A friend of mine,' the
doctor says, 'was acting on a Royal Commission of which Professor Huxley
was a member, and one Sunday they were staying together in a little
country town. "I suppose you are going to church," said Huxley. "Yes,"
replied my friend. "What if, instead, you stayed at home and talked to
me of religion?" "No," was the reply, "for I am not clever enough to
refute your arguments." "But what if you simply told me your own
experience--what religion has done for you?" My friend did not go to
church that morning; he stayed at home and told Huxley the story of all
that Christ had been to him; and presently there were tears in the eyes
of the great agnostic as he said, "_I would give my right hand if I
could believe that!_"'

This, if you please, is the man who was supposed to be as cold as ice
and as inflexible as steel! This is the man for whom the Christians of
his time had nothing better than harsh judgments, freezing sarcasms and
windy arguments! How little we know of each other! How slow we are to
understand!


III

But the text! It was in the course of his famous--and
furious--controversy with Mr. Gladstone that Huxley paid his homage to
the text. He was pleading for a better understanding between Religion
and Science.

'The antagonism between the two,' he said, 'appears to me to be purely
fictitious. It is fabricated, on the one hand, by short-sighted
religious people, and, on the other hand, by short-sighted scientific
people.' And he declared that, whatever differences may arise between
the _exponents_ of Nature and the _exponents_ of the Bible, there can
never be any real antagonism between Science and Religion themselves.
'In the eighth century before Christ,' he goes on to say, 'in the eighth
century before Christ, in the heart of a world of idolatrous
polytheists, the Hebrew prophets put forth a conception of religion
which appears to me to be as wonderful an inspiration of genius as the
art of Pheidias or the science of Aristotle. "_What doth the Lord
require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly
with thy God?_" If any so-called religion takes away from this great
saying of Micah, I think it wantonly mutilates, while if it adds
thereto, I think it obscures, the perfect ideal of religion.'

And it was on the ground of their common admiration for this text--the
_worst_ text in the world, the _best_ text in the world--that Mr.
Gladstone and Professor Huxley reached some kind of agreement. Not to be
outdone by his antagonist, Mr. Gladstone raised his hat to the text.

'I will not dispute,' he says, 'that in these words is contained the
true ideal of discipline and attainment. Still, I cannot help being
struck with an impression that Mr. Huxley appears to cite these terms of
Micah as if they reduced the work of religion from a difficult to an
easy program. But look at them again. Examine them well. They are, in
truth, in Cowper's words:

  Higher than the heights above,
  Deeper than the depths beneath.

_Do justly_, that is to say, extinguish self; _love mercy_, cut utterly
away all the pride and wrath and all the cupidity that make this fair
world a wilderness; _walk humbly with thy God_, take his will and set it
in the place where thine own was wont to rule. Pluck down the tyrant
from his place; set up the true Master on His lawful throne.' In the
text--the _worst_ text in the Bible; the _best_ text in the Bible--Mr.
Gladstone and Professor Huxley find a trysting-place. We may therefore
leave the argument at that point.


IV

The words with which Huxley fell in love were addressed by the prophet
to a desperate man--and that man a king--who was prepared to pay any
price and make any sacrifice if only, by so doing, he might win for
himself the favor of the Most High. '_Wherewith shall I come before the
Lord and bow myself before the high God?' he cries. 'Shall I come before
Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be
pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for
the sin of my soul?_'

'_My firstborn!_'--we have just witnessed a father's anguish on the
death of his firstborn. But Balak, King of Moab, is prepared to lead his
firstborn to the sacrificial altar if, by so doing, he can secure the
favor of the Highest.

And the answer of the prophet is that the love of God is not for sale.
And, if it _were_ for sale, it could not be purchased by an act of
immolation in which heaven could find no pleasure at all. F. D. Maurice
points out, in one of his letters to R. H. Hutton, that the world has
cherished two ideas of sacrifice. When a man discovers that his life is
out of harmony with the divine Will, he may make a sacrifice by which he
brings his conduct into line with the heavenly ideal. That is the one
view. The other is Balak's. Balak hopes, by offering his child upon the
altar, to bring the divine pleasure into line with his unaltered life.
'All light is in the one idea of sacrifice,' says Maurice, 'and all
darkness in the other. The idea of sacrifice, not as an act of obedience
to the divine will, but as a means of changing that will, is the germ of
every dark superstition.'

Heaven is not to be bought, the prophet told the king. '_He hath shewed
thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee but to
do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?_'

_Equity! Charity! Piety!_

_Do something! Love something! Be something!_

_Do justly! Love mercy! Walk humbly with thy God!_

These, and these alone, are the offerings in which heaven finds delight.


V

I cannot help feeling sorry for the lady in the Scottish church. She
thinks that Balaam's brave reply to Balak is the worst text in the
Bible. And she is not alone. For, in his _Literature and Dogma_, Matthew
Arnold shows that she is the representative of a numerous and powerful
class. 'In our railway stations are hung up,' Matthew Arnold says,
'sheets of Bible texts to catch the eye of the passer-by. And very
profitable admonitions to him they generally are. One, particularly, we
have all seen. It asks the prophet Micah's question: _Wherewith shall I
come before the Lord and bow myself before the high God?_ And it answers
that question with one short quotation from the New Testament: _With the
precious blood of Christ._' Matthew Arnold maintains that this is not
honest. By casting aside the prophet's answer, and substituting another,
the people who arranged the placard ally themselves with the lady in the
Scottish church. They evidently think Balaam's reply to Balak _the worst
text in the Bible_. But is it? Is it good, is it fair, is it honest to
strike out the real answer and to insert in its place an adopted one? I
wish to ask the lady in the Scottish church--and the people who prepared
the placard--two pertinent questions.

My _first_ question is this. Is the deleted text--the worst text in the
Bible--true? That is extremely important. _Does_ God require that man
should do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Himself? Is it not a
fact that heaven _does_ insist on equity and charity and piety? Can
there, indeed, be any true religion without these things? Do they not
represent the irreducible minimum? If this be so, is it not as well for
that Scottish minister to preach on that terrible text, after all? And,
if this be so, would not the original answer to the question be the best
answer for the placard?

My _second_ question is this. Even from the standpoint of 'a stern lady
who is provokingly evangelical,' is it not well for the minister to
preach on that objectionable text? The lady is anxious, and commendably
anxious, that the pulpit of her church should sound forth the
magnificent verities of the Christian evangel. But will a man desire the
salvation which the New Testament reveals unless he has first recognized
his inability to meet heaven's just demands? In a notable fragment of
autobiography, Paul declares that, but for the law, he would never have
known the meaning of sin. It was when he heard how much he owed to the
divine justice that he discovered the hopelessness of his bankruptcy. It
was when he listened to the _Thou shalts_ and the _Thou shalt nots_ that
he cried, 'O wretched man that I am: who shall deliver me?' It was Sinai
that drove him to Calvary. The law, with its stern, imperative demands,
was, he says, the schoolmaster that led him to Christ. The best way of
showing that a stick is crooked is to lay a straight one beside it. This
being so, the lady in the Scottish church, and the compilers of Matthew
Arnold's placard, must consider whether, in the interests of that very
evangelism for which they are so justly jealous, they can afford to
supersede the stately passages that make men feel their desperate need
of a Saviour.

This, at any rate, is the way in which Micah used the story of the
conversation between Balak and Balaam. By means of it he sought to
reduce the people to despair. And then, when they had fallen upon their
faces and covered themselves with sackcloth, he made one of the noblest
evangelical pronouncements that the Old Testament contains: '_He
pardoneth iniquity because He delighteth in mercy: Thou wilt cast all
their sins into the depths of the sea_.' But the people would never have
listened hungrily to that glad golden word unless they had first
realized the sublimity of the divine demand and the incalculable extent
of their shortcoming.


VI

We each have a blind spot. We see truth fragmentarily. If only the
excellent lady in the Scottish church could have seen, in the minister's
text, what Huxley saw in it! But she didn't; and, because she was blind
to its beauty, she called it '_the worst text in the Bible!_' And if
only Huxley could have grasped those precious truths that were so dear
to her! But he never did. He could only shake his fine head sadly and
say, 'I do not know!' 'I would give my right hand,' he exclaims, 'if I
could believe that!' Mr. Clodd adorns the title-page of his _Life of
Huxley_ with the words of Matthew Arnold: 'He saw life steadily and saw
it whole.' That sad shake of the head, and that passionate but
melancholy exclamation about giving his right hand, prove that the
tribute is not quite true. Huxley, as he himself more than half
suspected, missed the best.

When Sir George Adam Smith, in his _Book of the Twelve Prophets_, comes
to this great passage in Micah, he prints it in italics right across the
page:

_What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with thy God?_

This, says Sir George, is the greatest saying of the Old Testament; and
there is only one other in the New which excels it:

_Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest._

Huxley had eyes for the _first_, but none for the _second_; the Scottish
lady had eyes for the _second_, but none for the _first_; but they who
'see life steadily and see it whole' will stand up to salute the majesty
of both.


VII

It is customary for the Presidents of the United States to select the
passage which they shall kiss in taking the oath on assuming the
responsibilities of their great office. President Harding had no
hesitation in making his choice. He turned to this great saying of
Micah. '_What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love
mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?_' The lady in the Scottish church
would frown and shake her head, but the President felt that, of all the
texts in the Bible, _that was the best_.



XII

WALTER PETHERICK'S TEXT


I

He was born at Islington on the day on which Sir Walter Raleigh was
executed; and his father named him after the gallant knight whom he
himself was so proud of having served. That was forty-seven years ago.
He is now a prosperous London merchant, living, at ordinary times, over
his warehouse, and delighting in the society of his four motherless
children. At ordinary times! But these are not ordinary times. The
plague is in the city! It appeared for the first time about two months
ago and has gradually increased in virulence ever since. Mr. Petherick
has therefore withdrawn with his two boys and his two girls to
Twickenham. This morning--the morning of July 16, 1665--they all go
together to the Parish Church. The riverside is in all its summer glory.
The brilliant sunshine seems to mock both the wretchedness so near at
hand and the heavy anxiety that weighs upon their hearts. During the
week a solemn fast-day has been observed, and to-day, services of
humiliation and intercession are to be held in all the churches. Several
times, during the past week or two, Mr. Petherick has visited the city.
It was a melancholy experience. Most of the shops were shut; poor
creatures who claimed that they themselves or their relatives were
infected by the pestilence cried for alms at every corner; and he had
passed many houses on whose doors a red cross had been marked, and,
underneath, the words, 'Lord, have mercy upon us!' To-day that pathetic
entreaty is to be offered in every sanctuary. All through the country,
men and women are pleading that the awful visitation may be stayed. At
Twickenham the church soon fills, and the fervently murmured responses
give evidence of the depth and intensity of the universal emotion. Mr.
Petherick never forgot the sermon that was preached in the old church
that July morning. At least, he never forgot the text. '_Although the
fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the
labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the
flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the
stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord and I will joy in the God of my
salvation!_'

_The fields barren! The stalls empty! The vineyards bare!_

_I will rejoice! I will joy! I will joy! I will rejoice!_

The text reminded the Pethericks of the dazzling sunshine that, as they
came along, had seemed so unsympathetic. For here was a radiance equally
incongruous! Here was faith shining like a solitary star on a dark
night! Here was joy, singing her song, like the nightingale, amidst the
deepest gloom! It was as though a merry peal of bells was being rung on
a day of public lamentation.


II

'The words took hold upon me mightily!' wrote Walter Petherick to a
friend in 1682. I do not wonder. Quite apart from their singular
application to his own case, they are full of nobility and grandeur.
When, in 1782--exactly a century later--Benjamin Franklin was appointed
American Plenipotentiary at Paris, some of the brilliant French wits of
that period twitted him on his admiration for the Bible. He determined
to test their knowledge of the Volume they professed to scorn. Entering
their company one evening, he told them that he had been reading an
ancient poem, and that its stately beauty had greatly impressed him. At
their request he took from his pocket a manuscript and proceeded to read
it. It was received with exclamations of extravagant admiration.
'Superb!' they cried. 'Who was the author? Where did Franklin discover
it? How could copies be obtained?' He informed them, to their
astonishment, that it was the third chapter of the prophecy of
Habakkuk--the passage to which Mr. Petherick and his children listened
that sad but sunny morning at Twickenham.

The Petherick incident belongs to the _seventeenth_ century; the
Franklin incident belongs to the _eighteenth_; and they remind me of one
that belongs to the _nineteenth_. Daniel Webster was one morning
discussing with a number of eminent artists the subjects commonly chosen
for portrayal upon canvas. 'I have often wondered,' he said, 'that no
painter has yet thought it worth his while to draw his inspiration from
one of the most sublime passages in any literature.' 'And what is that?'
they asked. 'Well,' he replied, 'what finer conception for a masterpiece
could any artist desire than the picture of the prophet Habakkuk sitting
in the midst of utter ruin and desolation, singing, in spite of
everything, faith's joyous and triumphant song?'


III

_Suppose!_

It is a _Song of Suppositions_!

'_Suppose_ the fig tree shall not blossom!'

'_Suppose_ the vine shall bear no fruit!'

'_Suppose_ the labor of the olive shall fail!'

'_Suppose_ the fields shall yield no corn!'

'_Suppose_ the flock shall be cut off from the fold!'

'_Suppose_ there shall be no herd in the stalls!'

'_Suppose! Suppose! Suppose!_'

I very well remember a conversation I once had at Mosgiel with old
Jeanie McNab. Jeanie subsisted on a mixed diet of smiles and songs.

'But, supposing, Jeanie----' I began one day.

'Now don't you have anything to do with _supposings_,' she exclaimed. 'I
know them all. "_Suppose_ I should lose my money!" "_Suppose_ I should
lose my health!" And all the rest. When those _supposings_ come knocking
at your heart, you just slam the door, and bolt it, and don't let any of
them in!'

It was excellent advice; yet the prophet acted on a diametrically
opposite principle. When the _supposings_ came knocking at his door, he
cried 'Come in!' and in they came!

'_Suppose_ the figs are barren!'

'_Suppose_ the vines wither!'

'_Suppose_ the olive fail!'

'_Suppose_ the corn perish!'

'_Suppose_ the sheep starve!'

'_Suppose_ the cattle die!'

The prophet invites them all to come in. They jostle each other as they
throng his little room. He hears all that they have to say, and then he
answers them.

'Whence came all these things?' he demands. 'Whence came the figs and
the vines and the olives, the corn and the flocks and the herds?' And,
having asked this question, he himself proceeds to answer it.

'_HE_ gave them!' he cries triumphantly, '_HE_ gave them! And if they
perish, as you _suppose_, _He_ can as easily replace them! _Therefore
will I rejoice_ _in the Lord and will joy in the God of my salvation!_
It is a small thing to lose the _gifts_ as long as you possess the
_Giver_; the supreme tragedy lies in losing the _Giver_ and retaining
only the _gifts_!'

There is no record as to what the preacher said that Sunday morning at
Twickenham; but some such thoughts as these must have been suggested to
the eager minds of the Pethericks as they listened so attentively. 'The
words took hold upon me mightily!' the father confessed, in a letter to
a friend, long afterwards.


IV

That evening a horror of great darkness fell upon the soul of Walter
Petherick. He spent the sunset hours quietly with the young people, and,
before they bade each other good-night, he read with them again the
passage that had so impressed them in the morning. Then, left to
himself, Mr. Petherick put on his hat and took a stroll in the lane. It
was a perfect summer's evening, warm and star-lit; yet its peace failed
to penetrate his tortured soul. A glow-worm twinkled in the grass under
the hedge, but no ray of light pierced the impenetrable gloom within. He
returned to his room, and, after sitting for a while at the open window,
looking down on the sluggish waters of the tranquil river, he threw
himself on his knees beside his bed. One by one he prayed for each of
his children. The red cross that he had seen on so many doors seemed to
have stamped itself upon the retina of his eye; it blazed before him
even whilst the lids were closed in prayer.

'Lord, have mercy on us!' said the legend under the cross.

'Lord, have mercy on us!' cried Mr. Petherick over and over and over
again.

He thought of the morning's text, but it only mocked him, as the
sunshine mocked him on his way to church.

'I could not say it,' he moaned. 'If my children were snatched from
me--my fine boys and my lovely girls--the treasures that _she_ left
me--how could I _rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my
salvation_?'

He broke into a fresh outburst of supplication. Again he mentioned each
of his children by name. 'Spare him; oh, spare him!' he cried; and, as
he thought of the girls, 'Spare her, O Lord; have pity, I beseech Thee!'

He wiped his face; it was damp with perspiration. He allowed his
forehead to rest upon his folded arms; and then, bowed there in the
solitude of his room and in the stillness of the summer night, a strange
thought took possession of him.


V

He remembered to have prayed as fervently as this before--many, many
years ago. In those days--the days of his earliest religious
experiences--he had prayed, almost as earnestly as this, for his own
spiritual prosperity, for the extension of Christ's Kingdom and for the
enlightenment of the world. It seemed like a dream as he recalled it. He
was scarcely more than a boy in those days. The ardor and intensity of
that distant time had deserted him so gradually, and had vanished so
imperceptibly, that he had never missed it until now. Love had come into
his life, irradiating and transfiguring everything. Love had led to
marriage; four happy children had brought added gladness to his home and
fresh contentment to his heart; and he had abandoned himself without
reserve to these domestic cares and comforts. The things that had so
completely captivated his soul were all of them _good_ things--just as
the fig and the vine and the olive, the corn and the flocks and the
herds were all of them _good_ things--but he had allowed them to elbow
out the wealthiest things of all. The _good_ had become the enemy of the
_best_. Before his heart had been gladdened by those treasures that were
now so dear to him, he had every day _rejoiced in the Lord and joyed in
the God of his salvation_. But not since! His enrichment had proved his
impoverishment! What was it that the preacher had said? 'It is a small
thing to love the _gifts_ as long as you possess the _Giver_; the
supreme tragedy lies in losing the _Giver_ and retaining only the
_gifts_.' And Walter Petherick felt that night that that supreme tragedy
was his.

He rose from his knees, reached for his Bible, and turned once more to
the chapter from which the minister had preached. '_O Lord_,' it began,
'_revive Thy work in the midst of years!_' He himself was '_in the midst
of years_.' The thought brought with it a sense of shame and a rush of
thankfulness. He was _ashamed_ that he had permitted the years that had
gone to filch so much from him. Like waves that strew treasures on the
shore, and snatch treasures from the shore, he felt that the years had
brought much and taken much. Yet he felt grateful that he was still '_in
the midst of the years_'; it is better to discover life's loss at the
halfway house than to find it out at the end of the journey! He returned
the Bible to its place, and, as he did so, he closed his eyes and
repeated for himself the prophet's prayer.

'_O Lord_,' he cried, '_revive Thy work in the midst of the years; in
the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy!_'

It seemed as if the prayer had opened the gates of his soul to the peace
of the night. As he looked again at the glistening river, he felt
strangely soothed and comforted. And, half an hour later, he was
sleeping as restfully as any of his children.


VI

Once more it is a Sunday evening, and once more we are at Twickenham.
For at Twickenham the family have now made their home; they never, after
the Plague Year, resided in the city. More than twelve months have
passed. We last saw them on July 16, 1665; this is Sunday, September 2,
1666. And this Sunday has been as eventful and as memorable as that.
For, just as the family were assembling at the breakfast table, Henry,
the elder of the two boys, burst into the room, exclaiming excitedly:

'Father, the city is on fire!'

It was true! London was one great sea of flame! In the afternoon the
father and the two sons drove as far as the Borough; it was as near as
they could get to the raging conflagration. And what a sight confronted
them! Immense tongues of crimson shot up from the burning city and
seemed to lick the very skies. When the clouds of smoke parted for a
moment, they saw towers falling, walls collapsing, chimneys tottering,
whilst the crash of roof after roof kept up a series of reports that
resembled the firing of artillery. Every now and again a terrific
explosion rent the air, followed immediately by an eruption of flaming
debris that looked volcanic in its weird grandeur. London seemed to be
in the grip of an angry demon that was bent on tearing it to fragments.
The fire exhibited a thousand fantastic forms; it blazed in every
conceivable hue and color; it roared and shrieked and sputtered; it
hissed and thundered and growled. A spectacle of such vivid beauty, yet
of such awful horror, had never been seen in England before. And,
somewhere within the area swept by that red, red ocean of flame, was Mr.
Petherick's warehouse containing all, or practically all, his earthly
possessions!

But that Sunday night the soul of Walter Petherick knew no such anguish
as it had known a year ago. He thought of the '_supposes_.' He read once
more the prophet's song of defiance and of triumph. He smiled to himself
as he reflected that the flames could only take the _gifts_; they could
not rob him of the _Giver_. '_Therefore_,' he said to himself, '_I will
rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my salvation_'; for 'it is a
small thing to lose the _gifts_ as long as you possess the _Giver_; the
supreme tragedy lies in losing the _Giver_ and retaining only the
_gifts_!' And that Sunday night, whilst London crackled and blazed, the
sleep of Walter Petherick was once more like the sleep of a little
child.


VII

Again it is a Sunday evening at Twickenham. Walter Petherick has been
celebrating his fiftieth birthday. Three years have passed since the
Great Plague and two since the Great Fire. In the presence of the young
people, he has poured out his heart in reverent gratitude for the
mercies that have so richly crowned his days. And now, the soft autumn
day, with its russet tints and its misty sunlight having closed, he is
once more alone in his room.

'O Lord,' he prays, 'Thou hast been pleased by pestilence and by fire to
redeem my soul from destruction. Thou didst threaten me with the loss of
Thy choicest _gifts_ that I might set my heart's affections once more
upon their _Giver_. But the fig tree did not wither; the vines did not
perish; the olive did not fail. The pestilence did not touch my
children; the flames did not destroy my goods. Accept the thanks of Thy
servant this day and help him, all his days, _to rejoice in the Lord and
to joy in the God of his salvation_.'

And the records show that Walter Petherick lived to enjoy long life,
abounding wealth, great honors, and the clinging affection of his
children's children. And ever in his heart he cherished a deep, deep
secret and sang a rapturous song. For he reveled, not only in the
_gifts_, but in the _Giver_. He rejoiced in _the Lord_ and joyed in _the
God of his salvation_.



XIII

DOCTOR BLUND'S TEXT


I

The doctor was the worst man in Bartown, and that was saying a good
deal. For Bartown had the reputation of being 'the wickedest little hole
in all England.' It is Harold Begbie who, in _The Vigil_, tells its
story. Dr. Blund, he assures us, spent most of his time drinking gin and
playing billiards at 'The Angel.' In a professional point of view, only
one person in the little seaside town believed in him, and that was the
broken and bedraggled little woman whose whole life had been darkened by
his debauchery. Mrs. Blund was never tired of singing the doctor's
praises. When she introduced him to a newcomer, and told of his wondrous
cures and amazing skill, he listened like a man in a dream. 'Dr.
Blund,'--so runs the story--'Dr. Blund was twitching with excess of
alcohol, and only muttered and frowned as his wife talked of his powers.
The terrible old doctor, with his hairy, purple face and his sunken
eyes, seemed to think that his wife was doing him the most dreadful
dis-service. It was wonderful that this little woman, instead of
shrinking from exhibiting her husband, should have so pathetic a faith
in the dreadful-looking rogue that she evidently fancied that he had but
to be seen to be chosen as medical adviser.'

Thus the story opens. It could scarcely be expected that such a wreck
could hold together for long. Exactly half-way through the book I find
Mr. Rodwell, the young rector, standing at the street-corner talking to
Mr. Shorder, the wealthy manufacturer. They are interrupted. Mrs. Blund
comes hurrying breathlessly round the corner.

'Mr. Rodwell,' she pants, 'please come at once! Dr. Blund! He's asking
for you! I've been to the vicarage, I've been everywhere, hunting for
you. Don't delay a moment, please!'

Richard Rodwell was an earnest young clergyman, who had ideas of his own
about things; and the task to which he was now summoned was very little
to his taste. He saw in Blund a man who had lived hideously and was now
concerned to avert his just punishment. He tried to believe that there
was some hope for such a wretch; but the attempt was not altogether
successful. He bent over the dying man and talked of mercy and
repentance and forgiveness. But the words did not come from his own
soul, and they did not comfort the soul of the man to whom they were
addressed.

'There's something else!' he gasped.

'There is nothing outside the mercy of God,' replied the vicar.

'It's in the Bible, what I mean,' returned the dying man.

'What is it?' asked Rodwell soothingly.

'It's a text, "Except a man be _born again_----" You know the words,
_Born again_. What does that mean?'

The doctor, in his professional capacity, had often seen a child draw
its first breath, and had been impressed by its utter pastlessness. It
had nothing to regret, nothing to forget. Everything was before it;
nothing behind. And here was a text that seemed to promise such an
experience a second time! To be _born again_! What was it to be _born
again_? The dying doctor asked his insistent question repeatedly, but
the vicar was out of his depth. He floundered pitifully. At last the
doctor, to whom every moment was precious beyond all price, lost
patience with the hesitating minister and changed the form of his
question. Looking fixedly into his visitor's eyes, he exclaimed:

'Tell me, have _you_ been _born again_?' Rodwell hung his head in
silence, and the voice from the bed went on.

'Have you ever known in your life,' he asked, 'a moment when you felt
that a great change happened to you? Are you pretending? Have you ever
been conscious of _a new birth_ in your soul?'

The vicar fenced with the question, but it was of no avail. The dying
man raised himself suddenly on an elbow. 'You can't help me!' he cried
angrily. He seized Rodwell's wrist and held it tightly, fiercely. As he
spoke, the fingers tightened their grasp, and he bent Rodwell's hand
down to the bed, as it were for emphasis.

'You don't know,' he cried. 'You're pretending. The words you say are
words for the living. I am a dying man. Have you the same message for
the living and the dying? Have I a lifetime before me in which to work
out repentance? You can't help me! You don't know! You have never been
_born again_!'

Such a rebuke smites a minister like the sudden coming of the Day of
Judgment. After his conversion John Wesley wrote a terrible letter to
his old counselor, William Law. 'How will you answer to our common
Lord,' he asks, 'that you, sir, never led me into light? Why did I
scarcely ever hear you name the _name of Christ_? Why did you never urge
me to _faith in His blood_? I beseech you, sir, to consider whether the
true reason of your never pressing this salvation upon me was not
this--_that you never had it yourself_!'

'It was a terrible discovery to make,' says Mr. Begbie. 'To think that
he--Richard Rodwell, Vicar of Bartown--knew so little of the nature of
God that he could say no single word that had significance for this
dying soul! He was dumb. The words on his lips were the words of the
Church. Out of his own heart, out of his own soul, out of his own
experience, he could say nothing.'

'Forgive me,' he said, as he bent over the form on the bed, 'forgive me
for failing you. It is not Christ who has failed; it is I.' He turned to
go. The dying man opened his eyes and looked at Rodwell sadly and
tragically.

'Try to learn what those words mean,' he muttered. '_Born again!_ It's
the bad man's only chance.'

They parted, never to meet again; and from another minister's lips the
doctor learned the secret for which he craved.


II

It is very difficult to excuse Mr. Rodwell, especially when we remember
that the words that the dying doctor found so captivating, and that he
himself found so perplexing, were originally intended to meet just such
cases as that of Dr. Blund.

'What is it to be _born again_? How can a man be _born again_?' asked
the voice from the bed.

'How can a man _be born_ when he is old?' asked Nicodemus, as he heard
the Saviour's words uttered for the first time.

'When he is old!' To Nicodemus, as to Dr. Blund, there was something
singularly attractive about the thought of babyhood, the thought of
pastlessness, the thought of beginning life all over again. But to the
aged ruler, as to the aged doctor, it was an insoluble enigma, an
inscrutable mystery.

'_How?_' asked Nicodemus of the Saviour. '_How_ can a man _be born_ when
he is old?'

'_How?_' asked Dr. Blund of Mr. Rodwell. '_How_ can a man be _born
again_?'

We all feel that, unless the gospel can meet just such cases as these,
we might almost as well have no gospel at all. And yet we have also felt
the force of that persistent and penetrating _How?_

Dr. Blund is no frolic of Mr. Begbie's imagination. Dr. Blund is the
representative of all those--and their name is legion--who, in the
crisis of the soul's secret history, have turned towards the Saviour's
strange saying with the most intense wistfulness and yearning. Let me
cite three instances--each as unlike the others as it could possibly
be--in order to show that all sorts and conditions of men have at some
time felt as Dr. Blund felt in those last hours of his. John Bunyan, the
tinker of Bedford, was born in the _seventeenth_ century; the Duke of
Wellington, soldier and statesman, was born in the _eighteenth_ century;
Frederick Charrington, the London brewer, was born in the _nineteenth_
century. From a great cloud of available witnesses I select these three.

As to John Bunyan, the story of the beginnings of grace in the dreamer's
soul is familiar to us all, but it will do us no harm to hear it from
his own lips once again. 'Upon a day,' he says, 'the good providence of
God called me to Bedford, to work at my calling; and in one of the
streets of that town I came to where there were three or four poor women
sitting in the sun talking about the things of God; and being now
willing to hear them discourse, I drew near to hear what they said; but
I heard, yet understood not; they were far above, out of my reach; for
their talk was about _a new birth_!'

'_Their talk was about a new birth!_'

'_Ye must be born again!_'

'_I heard_,' says Bunyan, '_but I understood not!_'

'At this,' he goes on to say, 'at this I felt my heart begin to shake,
for I saw that in all my thoughts about salvation, _the new birth_ did
never enter into my mind!'

Thus the soul of the sleeper awoke. He walked the streets of Bedford
asking the old, old question, the question of Nicodemus, the question of
Dr. Blund, the question of us all. 'How can a man be _born again_? How
can a man be _born again_?'

From John Bunyan to the Duke of Wellington seems a far cry. But the
transition may not be as drastic as it appears. Dr. W. H. Fitchett, who
has made a special study of the character and achievements of the great
Duke, recently told the story of a remarkable and voluminous
correspondence that took place between Wellington and a young lady named
Miss Jenkins. To this earnest and devout girl, her faith was the biggest
thing in life. She had but one passionate and quenchless desire: the
desire to share it with others. She sought for converts everywhere. A
murderer awaited execution in the local gaol. Miss Jenkins obtained
permission to visit him. She entered the condemned cell, pleaded with
him, wept over him, won him to repentance, and the man went to the
scaffold blessing her.

Then, from the winning of the lowest, she turned to the winning of the
highest. She fastened her eyes upon the Duke of Wellington, the victor
of Waterloo, the statesman of the hour, the most commanding figure in
the three kingdoms. Wellington was then sixty-five, a man covered with
honor and absorbed in public affairs. But, to Miss Jenkins, he was
simply a great worldly figure, and, in 1834, she wrote a letter--a
letter winged by many prayers--warning him of the peril of living
without a sure, deep consciousness of the forgiveness of sins, through
the redemption of Jesus Christ. Wellington's iron nature was strongly
moved. He replied by return of post, and thus inaugurated a
correspondence in the course of which he wrote to Miss Jenkins no fewer
than three hundred and ninety letters. In the course of this amazing
correspondence, Miss Jenkins begged for an interview, and it was
granted. Miss Jenkins took out her New Testament and read to the old
warrior these very words. '_Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a
man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God!_' 'Here,' says Dr.
Fitchett, in unfolding the story, 'here was a preacher of quite a new
type! A girl's lips were reciting Christ's tremendous words: "_Ye must
be born again!_" She was addressing them directly to him, and her
uplifted finger was challenging him. Some long-dormant religious
sensibilities awoke within him. The grace of the speaker, and the mystic
quality of the thing spoken, arrested him.' To the end of his days the
Duke firmly believed that, by means of this girl-prophet, God Himself
spoke to his soul that day.

Mr. Frederick Charrington's story has been put on record by Guy Thorne.
He was the son of the great brewer, the heir to more than a million
pounds, and his time was very largely his own. He traveled and formed
friendships. One of his earliest friends was Lord Garvagh. They traveled
together, and, when they parted, Lord Garvagh asked Charrington if he
would grant him one request. 'When you are quite alone,' his lordship
pleaded, 'I should like you to read slowly and carefully the third
chapter of John's Gospel!' Later on, Charrington met William Rainsford,
and the acquaintance ripened into intimacy. 'Do you know what I wish you
would do, Fred?' Rainsford said to him one day. 'I wish, when you are by
yourself, that you would study the third chapter of the Gospel of John!'

'This is a very curious thing,' Charrington said to himself. 'My old
friend, Lord Garvagh, and my new friend, Rainsford, both say exactly the
same thing; and they both profess to be saved.'

Thus doubly challenged, he read the chapter with the closest attention,
and was arrested by the words: '_Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except
a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God!_' 'As I read,' he
says, 'light came into my soul,' and he ever afterwards regarded that
moment as the turning-point of his whole life.


III

Now, what did these men--these and a hundred thousand more--see in the
strange, mysterious words that Jesus spoke to the aged ruler twenty
centuries ago? That is the question, and the question is not a difficult
one to answer.

_A new birth!_ To be _born again_! What can it mean? It can only mean
one thing. 'I wish,' somebody has sung----

  I wish that there were some wonderful place
    Called the Land of Beginning Again,
  Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
      And all of our poor, selfish grief
  Could be dropped, like a shabby old coat, at the door,
    And never put on any more.

The words, if they mean anything, mean that there _is_ such a place. A
man _may_ have a fresh start. In describing the greatest change that
took place in his life--the greatest change that can take place in any
man's life--Frank Bullen says: 'I love that description of conversion as
the "_new birth_." No other definition touches the truth of the process
at all. So helpless, so utterly knowledgeless, possessing nothing but
the vague consciousness of life just begun!' Dr. Blund was thinking of
the babes whose first breath he had seen drawn. So innocent; so
pastless! Oh, to begin where they were beginning! Oh, to be _born
again_!'

Dr. Blund cannot begin where they were beginning. He cannot enjoy
again--at any rate in this world--the opportunities of growth and
development that were theirs. But he can be _born again_! He can start
afresh! Dr. Blund made that discovery on his deathbed, and, in talking
of the dead doctor's experience, the young minister made the same
discovery a day or two later. He felt his need; he turned in an agony of
supplication to the Saviour whom he had so often preached; and he, too,
entered into the new life.

'He made the great discovery,' Harold Begbie says. 'It had happened; the
longed-for event had come; he stood by himself, all by himself,
conscious now of the heart; no longer satisfied either with his own
intellect or the traditions of a church. The miracle had happened. He
had discovered the helplessness of humanity. He had discovered the need
of the soul. He had begun at last to see into the heart of things.' He
had been _born again_!

There are two kinds of progress. There is the progress that moves away
from infancy towards youth, towards maturity, towards age and
decrepitude. And there is a higher progress, a progress that moves
towards infancy. 'Except ye be converted and become as little children,'
Jesus said, 'ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God.' And the only
way of becoming a little child once more is by being _born again_. It is
the glory of the gospel that it offers a man that chance.



XIV

HEDLEY VICARS' TEXT


I

'_Those words are the sheet-anchor of my soul!_' said Hedley Vicars, a
gallant young Army officer, as he sat talking to his sweetheart in the
handsome drawing-room at Terling Place.

'_Those words are more golden than gold!_' exclaimed Miss Frances Ridley
Havergal, and she ordered that they should be inscribed upon her tomb.

'_Those words did give a great ease to my spirit!_' John Bunyan tells
us.

'_Those words_,' said old Donald Menzies, the mystic of Drumtochty,
'_those words fell upon me like a gleam from the Mercy-seat!_'

What words? Let us return to Hedley Vicars! He was only twenty-eight
when he fell, leading his regiment--the Ninety-seventh--in action before
Sebastopol. The enemy attacked suddenly under cover of the darkness.
'The men of the Ninety-seventh behaved with the utmost gallantry and
coolness,' said Lord Raglan, in the historic dispatch that reached
England on Good Friday, 1855. 'They were led by Captain Vicars, who,
unfortunately, lost his life in the engagement; and I am assured that
nothing could be more distinguished than the gallantry and good example
which he set to the detachment under his command.' His biographer tells
us that it was more than three years earlier--in November, 1851--that,
whilst awaiting in his room the return of a brother officer, he idly
turned over the leaves of a Bible which lay on the table. The words,
'_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin_,'
caught his eyes and profoundly impressed his mind. 'If,' he said, as he
closed the sacred Volume, 'if this be true, I will henceforth live by
the grace of God as a man should live who has been redeemed by the blood
of Jesus Christ.' That night he could scarcely sleep; the great words
repeated themselves again and again within his throbbing brain; they
seemed too good to be true.

'_All sin! All sin!_'

'_Cleanseth from all sin!_'

'_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin._'

He never tired of telling of that wonderful experience. Miss Marsh, to
whom he was engaged to be married, says that, almost as soon as they
were first introduced to each other, 'he gave her an outline of the
manner in which God had worked the great change in his heart. With
forceful simplicity he told the point of the story; how the words, "_The
blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin_," became the
sheet-anchor of his soul, adding, "Thus was I born again of the Word of
God which liveth and abideth for ever!"'


II

Away back in the infancy of the world I hear one of the earliest of the
Patriarchs uttering a great and bitter cry. '_I have sinned!_' he cries;
'_what shall I do?_' And, as I turn over the leaves of my Bible, I find
that question echoed again and again, generation after generation and
age after age. Yet never once does it receive the slightest hint or
suggestion of an answer. And, depend upon it, if the Son of Man had
never come into the world, it would have echoed round the globe--still
unanswered and unanswerable--until this day. 'O Plato, Plato!' cried
Socrates, 'it may be that the gods can forgive sin, but, alas, I do not
see how!' Nor anybody else. Job's question fell back upon his face; the
universe could give him no reply. It is very striking. And so, here at
the beginning of my Bible, I hear the first man's question; and, here at
the end of my Bible, I hear the last man's answer!

'_What shall I do? What shall I do?_'

'_I have sinned; what shall I do?_'

'_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin!_'


III

These two men--Job and John--present us, first with a _comparison_, and
then with a _contrast_. It is interesting to examine side by side their
views of the sin that represented so terrific a problem.

Job thought of it as a _contaminating_ thing. He felt that his soul was
soiled. 'What shall I do?' he cries, 'what shall I do? If I bathe myself
in snow water and wash my hands never so clean, yet shalt Thou plunge me
in the ditch and mine own clothes shall abhor me!' Every day of his life
he thought he heard, morning and noon and night, the awful Voice of the
Most High. 'Though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap,
yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God.' He felt as
Macbeth felt when advised to cleanse the stain from his guilty hands.

  Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
  Clean from my hand! No, this my hand will rather
  The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
  Making the green one red!

Job was like the old lama, in Rudyard Kipling's _Kim_, who, year after
year, wandered through cities and rice-fields, over the hills and across
the plains, always searching, but searching in vain, for the River, the
River of the Arrow, the River that could cleanse from sin!

John, on the other hand, thought of sin as a _condemning_ thing. The
great word 'condemnation' occurs on almost every page of his writings.
He feels that every man's sin carries its own conviction. It is like
finger-print evidence; it speaks for itself; it needs no long procession
of corroborating witnesses. There it is! It tells its own terrible tale,
and there is no gainsaying it.


IV

And yet, looked at in another way, the thoughts of these two men stand
in sharp and striking contrast, the one with the other. '_I have
sinned_,' cried Job; '_what shall I do? What shall I do?_'

But there is no reply. In the course of the stupendous drama that bears
his name, Job scours sea and land, earth and sky, for some answer to the
wild questionings of his soul. He climbs the summits of the loftiest
mountains and thrids the labyrinth of the deepest mine; he calls to the
heights of the heavens and to the depths of the sea. But there is no
answering voice, and he is left to nurse his dumb and piteous despair.
Every attempt that he makes to rid his soul of its defilement is like
the effort of a man who, in trying to remove the stain from his window,
rubs on the wrong side of the glass.

But, in contrast with all this, John saw the Cross! How could he ever
forget it? Had he not stood beside it, gazed into the thorn-crowned
face, and received from those quivering lips their last sacred
bequest--the charge of the Saviour's mother? And, all through the
eventful years that followed, John never tired of presenting the Cross
as the only answer to the Patriarch's question. He may not have
perfectly understood it--no man ever yet comprehended all its heights
and sounded all its depths! But it is easier to accept it than to reject
it. For, if I reject it, I am confronted by an enigma even more
unanswerable than Job's.

  Oh, why was He there as the Bearer of sin
    If on Jesus my guilt was not laid?
  Oh, why from His side flowed the sin-cleansing stream,
    If His dying my debt has not paid?

If, that is to say, the Cross is not the divine answer to the mystery of
all the ages, then who shall attempt to solve the dark, inscrutable,
impenetrable mystery of the Cross?


V

But it is! Experience proves it! In the course of his dazzling
Apocalypse, John tells us that he saw a war being waged in heaven; and
the hosts of righteousness overcame their powerful and sinister foes by
the virtue of the blood of the Lamb. I do not know what he means--never
expect to know in this world. But I know that, in this life, something
very like it happens every day.

Martin Luther says that, in one of his periods of depression at the
Wartburg, it seemed to him that he saw a hideous and malignant form
inscribing the record of his own transgressions round the walls of his
room. There seemed to be no end to the list--sins of thought, sins of
word, sins of deed, sins of omission, sins of commission, secret sins,
open sins--the pitiless scribe wrote on and on interminably. Whilst the
accuser was thus occupied, Luther bowed his head and prayed. When he
looked up again, the writer had paused, and, turning, faced him.

'Thou hast forgotten just one thing!' said Luther.

'And that--?' asked his tormentor.

'Take thy pen once more and write across it all: "_The blood of Jesus
Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin!_"' And, at the utterance of
those words, the spirit vanished and the walls were clean!

In his _Grace Abounding_, Bunyan tells us of a period in his life during
which his soul seemed to be held in fetters of brass; and, every step he
took, he took to the sound of the clanking of chains. 'But about ten or
eleven o'clock on a certain day,' he says, 'as I was walking under a
hedge (full of sorrow and guilt, God knows), suddenly this sentence
rushed in upon me, "_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us
from all sin._" At this I made a stand in my spirit and began to
conceive peace in my soul, and methought I saw as if the tempter did
leer and steal away from me, as being ashamed of what he had done. At
the same time also I had my sin and the blood of Christ thus represented
to me: that my sin, when compared to the blood of Christ, was no more to
it than this little clod or stone is to the vast and wide field that
here I see. This gave me good encouragement.'

Neither Martin Luther nor John Bunyan would object to my setting them in
the company of Donald Menzies. For, like them, Donald was at war with
principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this
world, with spiritual wickedness in high places. In the lonely anguish
of that grim struggle it seemed as though, at the last, the gates of
hell must have prevailed against him.

'Then,' he says, 'I heard a voice, oh, yes, as plain as you are hearing
me: "_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin._"
It was like a gleam from the Mercy-seat, but I waited to see whether
Satan had any answer and my heart was standing still. But there was no
word from him, not one word. Then I leaped to my feet and cried, "Get
thee behind me, Satan!" And I looked round, and there was no one to be
seen but Janet in her chair with the tears on her cheeks, and she was
saying, "Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ!"'

'_When I uttered those words,_' says Luther, '_the evil spirit vanished
and the walls were clean!_'

'_When I made a stand upon those words,_' says Bunyan, '_the tempter did
steal away from me and I entered into peace!_'

'_When I heard those words,_' says Donald Menzies, '_I waited to see if
Satan had any answer, but there was no word from him, not one word!_'

This, surely, is what the seer means when he says that he saw all the
hosts of evil routed and scattered by the virtue of the blood of the
Lamb.


VI

Down at the library yesterday afternoon I spent an hour in glancing
through the various volumes of Southey's _Commonplace Book_. And, among
a vast assortment of musty notes that are now of interest to nobody, I
came upon this: 'I have been reading of a man on the Malabar coast who
had inquired of many devotees and priests as to how he might make
atonement for his sins. At last he was directed to drive iron spikes,
sufficiently blunted, through his sandals, and on these spikes he was to
place his naked feet and then walk a distance of five hundred miles. He
undertook the journey, but loss of blood and exhaustion of body
compelled him to rest one day under the shade of a spreading tree. As he
lay there, a missionary approached and began to preach the gospel. He
announced as his theme the words: "_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son,
cleanseth us from all sin_." Whilst the evangelist still preached, the
man sprang up, tore off his sandals, and cried aloud: "That is what I
want! That is what I want!" And he became a living witness to the fact
that the redeeming blood of Christ _does_ cleanse from human guilt.'

'_That is what I want!_' cried Southey's pilgrim on the coast of
Malabar.

'_That is what I want!_' cried Luther in the Wartburg.

'_That is what I want!_' cried Bunyan at Bedford.

'_That is what I want!_' cried Donald Menzies at Drumtochty.

'_That is what I want!_' exclaimed young Hedley Vicars, as his startled
eyes fell upon the tremendous words that seemed to leap from the Bible
on the table. '_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from
all sin._' 'That is what I want! That is what I want!'

Hedley Vicars appropriated the priceless gift held out to him, and his
whole life was transfigured in consequence. His life--and his death!
For, on that fatal night before Sebastopol, it was with Hedley Vicars as
it was with the soldier with whom the poet has familiarized us.
Everybody knows the story. Two men of God moved in the darkness across
the field on which, that day, a battle had been fought.

            And now they stand
  Beside a manly form, outstretched alone.
  His helmet from his head had fallen. His hand
  Still firmly grasped his keen but broken sword.
  His face was white and cold, and, thinking he was gone,
  They were just passing on, for time was precious,
  When a faint sigh caught their attentive ears.
  Life was still there, so bending down,
  They whispered in his ears most earnestly,
  Yet with that hush and gentleness with which
  We ever speak to a departing soul--
  '_Brother! the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son,
  Cleanseth from every sin._'

            The pale lips moved,
  And gently whispered 'hush!' and then they closed,
  And life again seemed gone.

            But yet once more
  They whispered those thrice blessed words, in hope
  To point the parting soul to Christ and heaven--
  '_Brother! the precious blood of Jesus Christ
  Can cleanse from every sin._'

            Again the pale lips moved,
  All else was still and motionless, for Death
  Already had his fatal work half done;
  But gathering up his quickly failing strength,
  The dying soldier--dying victor--said:
  'Hush! for the angels call the muster roll!
  I wait to hear my name!'

            They spoke no more.
  What need to speak again? for now full well
  They knew on whom his dying hopes were fixed,
  And what his prospects were. So, hushed and still,
  They, kneeling, watched.

            And presently a smile,
  As of most thrilling and intense delight,
  Played for a moment on the soldier's face,
  And with his one last breath he whispered 'Here!'

'_I have sinned! What shall I do?_' cries this despairing soul at the
beginning of my Bible.

'_The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin!_'
answers the man who leaned upon the Saviour's breast and gazed full into
the thorn-crowned face of the Crucified.

'_That is what I want!_' exclaims the man at Malabar, speaking, not for
himself alone, but for each and all of us.

'_Those words are more golden than gold!_' says Miss Havergal, as she
orders them to be inscribed upon her tomb.

'_They are like a gleam from the Mercy-seat!_' cries Donald Menzies.

'_They are the sheet-anchor of my soul!_' Hedley Vicars tells his
sweetheart. And he is a very wise man who, in the straits of his
experience, stakes his faith upon that which such witnesses have tested
and have found sublimely true.



XV

SILAS WRIGHT'S TEXT


I

Silas Wright was deprived by sheer modesty of the honor of being
President of the United States. His is one of the truly Homeric figures
in American history. By downright purity of motive, transparency of
purpose, and the devotion of commanding powers to the public good, he
won for himself the honor, the love and the unbounded confidence of all
his fellows. It used to be said of him that he was as honest as any man
under heaven _or in it_. He might have aspired to any office to which it
was in America's power to call him. Only his extreme humility, and his
dread of impeding the promotion of his friends, kept him from rising to
a position in which his name would have taken its place with those of
Washington and Lincoln. But he refused almost every honor. 'He refused
cabinet appointments,' says Benton, in his _Thirty Years' View_. 'He
refused a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States;
he rejected instantly the nomination of 1844 for Vice-President; he
refused to be nominated for the Presidency. He spent as much time in
declining office as others did in winning it. The offices he did accept
were thrust upon him. He was born great and above office and unwillingly
descended to it.' Whittier is very conservative in his choice of heroes.
Those whom he commemorates in verse are not only great men, but good
ones. And Silas Wright is among them. 'Man of the millions,' he says, in
the lines that he penned on hearing of Mr. Wright's death:

  Man of the millions, thou art lost too soon!
  Portents at which the bravest stand aghast--
  The birththroes of a Future, strange and vast,
  Alarm the land; yet thou, so wise, and strong,
  Suddenly summoned to the burial bed,
  Lapped in its slumbers deep and ever long,
  Hear'st not the tumult surging overhead.
  Who now shall rally Freedom's scattered host?
  Who wear the mantle of the leader lost?

The splendid personality of Silas Wright has been best revealed to us in
Irving Bacheller's _The Light in the Clearing_. The book is partly
history and partly commentary and partly fiction. Silas Wright, says
Irving Bacheller, carried the candle of the Lord; and all the world
rejoiced in its radiance.


II

Barton Baynes, the hero of the book--for whose actuality and historicity
the author vouches--is an orphan brought up on a farm by his Uncle
Peabody and Aunt Deel. Getting into all sorts of scrapes, he makes up
his mind that he is too heavy a burden on the affectionate and
good-natured couple; and one night he runs away. Out in the darkness,
however, he meets with strange adventures, loses his way, and at length
finds himself in the hands of Silas Wright, the Comptroller. The Senator
first falls in love with the bright-faced, open-hearted, intelligent
boy, and then takes him back to his uncle's farm. From that moment the
friendship between the two--the great man and the obscure country
boy--grows apace. After a while the Senator visits the district to
deliver an address, and he spends the night at the farmhouse. It is a
great occasion for Bart; and after supper an incident occurs that colors
all his life and strikes the keynote of the book. As Barton approaches
Mr. Wright to say Good-night, the Senator says:

'I shall be gone when you are up in the morning. It may be a long time
before I see you; I shall leave something for you in a sealed envelope
with your name on it. You are not to open the envelope until you go away
to school. I know how you will feel that first day. When night falls,
you will think of your aunt and uncle and be very lonely. When you go to
your room for the night I want you to sit down all by yourself and read
what I shall write. They will be, I think, the most impressive words
ever written. You will think them over, but you will not understand them
for a long time. Ask every wise man you meet to explain them to you, for
all your happiness will depend upon your understanding of those few
words in the envelope.'

The words in the sealed envelope!

What are the mysterious words in the envelope?

And what if the sealed envelope contains a _text_?


III

In the morning, when Barton rose, the Senator was gone, and Aunt Deel
handed the boy the sealed envelope. It was addressed: 'Master Barton
Baynes; to be opened when he leaves home to go to school.' That day soon
came. At the Canton Academy, under the care of the excellent Michael
Hacket, Bart felt terribly lonely, and, in accordance with the Senator's
instructions, he opened the note. And this is what he read:

'Dear Bart, I want you to ask the wisest man you know to explain these
words to you. I suggest that you commit them to memory and think often
of their meaning. They are from Job: "_His bones are full of the sin of
his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust._" I believe that
they are the most impressive in all the literature I have read.--Silas
Wright.'

Bart soon learned to love and admire the schoolmaster; _he_ was the
wisest man he knew; to _him_, therefore, he went for an explanation of
the words.

'All true!' exclaimed Mr. Hacket, after reading the note. 'I have seen
it sinking into the bones of the young, and I have seen it lying down
with the aged in the dust of their graves. Your body is like a sponge;
it takes things in and holds them and feeds upon them. A part of every
apple that you eat sinks down into your blood and bones. You can't get
it out. It's the same with the books that you read and the thoughts that
you enjoy. They go down into your bones and you can't get them out. _A
man's bones are full of the sin of his youth, which lies down with him
in the dust!_'


IV

But the best exposition of the text is not Michael Hacket's, but Irving
Bacheller's. The whole book is a vivid and arresting and terrible
forth-setting of the impressive words that Barton found in his sealed
envelope.

All through the book two dreadful characters move side by side--Benjamin
Grimshaw and Silent Kate. Benjamin Grimshaw is rich and proud and
pitiless. Everybody is afraid of him. But Roving Kate is not afraid.
Indeed, he seems to be more afraid of her. Wherever he is, she is there.
She is wild and bony and ragged. She is, or pretends to be, half
demented. She tells fortunes with strange antics and gesticulations,
scrawling her prognostications upon stray slips of paper. But Benjamin
Grimshaw is the main object of her attention. She hates him, and hates
him all the more terribly because she once loved him. For Roving Kate,
the Silent Woman, was once Kate Fullerton, Squire Fullerton's pretty
daughter. And Benjamin Grimshaw had loved her, and betrayed her, and
spurned her, and married another. In the village cemetery you might have
seen a tombstone bearing her name. Her father erected it to show that
she was dead _to him_ for ever. Poor Kate had never known her mother.
And so, in the course of the story, Benjamin Grimshaw had two sons, only
one of whom he recognized. For Kate Fullerton was the mother of the
other. And, in her shame and her anger and her hate, Kate resolved to
follow the father of her base-born child all the days of his life; and
there she stands--unkempt, repulsive, menacing--always near him, the
living embodiment of _the sin of his youth_.

Amos Grimshaw, his petted and pampered son, comes to the gallows. He is
convicted of murder upon the highway. The father is in court when the
Judge pronounces the awful sentence. And, of course, Roving Kate is
there. Ragged as ever, the Silent Woman is waiting for him as he comes
down the steps. She shoots out a bony finger at him, as, bowed and
broken, he passes into the street. He turns and strikes at her with his
cane.

'Go away from me,' he cries. 'Take her away, somebody! I can't stand it!
She's killing me! Take her away!'

His face turns purple and then livid. He reels and falls headlong. He is
dead! Three days later they bury him. Roving Kate stands by the
graveside, strangely changed. She is decently dressed; her hair is
neatly combed; the wild look has left her eyes. She looks like one whose
back is relieved of a heavy burden. She scatters little red squares of
paper into the grave, her lips moving silently. These are her last
curses. Barton Baynes and his schoolmaster, Mr. Hacket, are standing by.

'_The scarlet sins of his youth are lying down with him in the dust_,'
whispers the master to his pupil as they walk away together.


V

This is terrible enough--the thought of our sins surrounding our
deathbeds and lying down with us in our graves--but the book contains
something more profound and terrible still!

For, in addition to the grave of Benjamin Grimshaw, from which we have
just turned sadly away, there are two other graves in the book. The one
is a felon's grave--the grave of Amos Grimshaw. And what sins are these
that are lying down with him in the dust? They are some of them his own;
and they are some of them his father's; and they are some of them the
sins of Roving Kate, the Silent Woman. Yes, they are some of them the
woman's sins. For when Amos was but an impressionable boy, Kate had
supplied him with literature by which she hoped to pollute and ruin him.

Out of the deathless hatred that she bore to the father, she longed to
destroy the son, body and soul. She gave him tales that would inflame
his fancy and excite his baser instincts, tales that glorified robbery,
murder and villainy of every kind. If Amos Grimshaw had been a good
man's son, and if ennobling influences had been brought to bear upon
him, he might have lived to old age and gone down at last to an honored
grave. But his father's example was always before him, and Kate's books
did their dreadful work only too well. He became a highway robber; he
shot a stranger on a lonely road. It came out in evidence that the deed
had been perpetrated under circumstances identical with those described
in one of the sensational stories found in the Grimshaw barn--the
stories Kate had given him!

'It's the same with the books you read,' the schoolmaster had said, when
Bart sought from him an explanation of the text in the sealed envelope;
'they go down into your bones and you can't get them out.'

And Kate's books had gone down into Amos Grimshaw's bones; and thus her
sins and his father's sins lay down in the dust of the felon's grave and
mingled with his own. No exposition of Silas Wright's text could be more
arresting or alarming than that. My sins may overflow from my grave and
lie down in the dust with my children!


VI

And, on the very last page of _The Light in the Clearing_, we have an
even more striking presentment of the same profound truth. For I said
that, in the book, there is yet one other grave. It is a lonely grave up
among the hills--the grave of the stranger who was shot by Amos Grimshaw
that dark night; and this time it is old Kate who sits weeping beside
it. For who was the stranger murdered upon the highway? It turns out to
have been _Kate's own son_!

'It is very sorrowful,' she moans. 'He was trying to find me when he
died!'

And so the murderer and the murdered were step-brothers! They were both
the sons of Benjamin Grimshaw!

And, in this grave up among the hills, there lie down with poor murdered
Enoch his own sins--whatever they may have been--and his father's
sins--the sins that made him an outcast and a fugitive--and his mother's
sins, the sins of the only being who loved him!

Yes, his mother's sins; for his mother's sins had slain him. In her
hatred of Benjamin Grimshaw, she had moved Amos Grimshaw to become a
murderer, and he had murdered--_her own son!_

'It is very sorrowful!' she moans.

It is indeed; sin is always sorrowful.


VII

'_Wherefore come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be
red like crimson, they shall be as wool._'

It is best to make an end of them, and to turn from them, once and for
all, that they lie down at last neither with us nor with our children.



XVI

MICHAEL FARADAY'S TEXT


I

The lecturer had vanished! A crowded gathering of distinguished
scientists had been listening, spellbound, to the masterly expositions
of Michael Faraday. For an hour he had held his brilliant audience
enthralled as he had demonstrated the nature and properties of the
magnet. And he had brought his lecture to a close with an experiment so
novel, so bewildering and so triumphant that, for some time after he
resumed his seat, the house rocked with enthusiastic applause. And then
the Prince of Wales--afterwards King Edward the Seventh--rose to propose
a motion of congratulation. The resolution, having been duly seconded,
was carried with renewed thunders of applause. But the uproar was
succeeded by a strange silence. The assembly waited for Faraday's reply;
but the lecturer had vanished! What had become of him? Only two or three
of his more intimate friends were in the secret. They knew that the
great chemist was something more than a great chemist; he was a great
Christian. He was an elder of a little Sandemanian Church--a church that
never boasted more than twenty members. The hour at which Faraday
concluded his lecture was the hour of the week-night prayer-meeting.
That meeting he never neglected. And, under cover of the cheering and
applause, the lecturer had slipped out of the crowded hall and hurried
off to the little meeting-house where two or three had met together to
renew their fellowship with God.

In that one incident the man stands revealed. All the sublimities and
all the simplicities of life met in his soul. The master of all the
sciences, he kept in his breast the heart of a little child. Mr. Cosmo
Monkhouse has well asked--

  Was ever man so simple and so sage,
    So crowned and yet so careless of a prize?
    Great Faraday, who made the world so wise,
  And loved the labor better than the wage!

  And this, you say, is how he looked in age,
    With that strong brow and these great humble eyes
    That seem to look with reverent surprise
  On all outside himself. Turn o'er the page,
  Recording Angel, it is white as snow!
    Ah, God, a fitting messenger was he
  To show Thy mysteries to us below!
    Child as he came has he returned to Thee!
  Would he could come but once again to show
    The wonder-deep of his simplicity!

In him the simplicities were always stronger than the sublimities; the
child outlived the sage. As he lay dying they tried to interview the
professor, but it was the little child in him that answered them.

'What are your speculations?' they inquired.

'Speculations?' he asked, in wondering surprise. 'Speculations! I have
none! I am resting on certainties. _I know whom I have believed and am
persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him
against that day!_' And, reveling like a little child in those cloudless
simplicities, his great soul passed away.


II

Faraday was a perpetual mystery. He baffled all his colleagues and
companions. Nobody could understand how the most learned man of his time
could find in his faith those restful certainties on which he so calmly
and securely reposed. They saw him pass from a meeting of the Royal
Society to sit at the feet of a certain local preacher who was notorious
for his illiteracy; and the spectacle filled them with bewilderment and
wonder. Some suggested that he was, in an intellectual sense, living a
double life. Tyndall said that, when Faraday opened the door of his
oratory, he shut that of his laboratory. He did nothing of the kind. He
never closed his eyes to any fragment of truth; he never divided his
mind into watertight compartments; he never shrank from the approach of
a doubt. He saw life whole. His biography has been written a dozen
times; and each writer views it from a new angle. But in one respect
they all agree. They agree that Michael Faraday was the most
transparently honest soul that the realm of science has ever known. He
moved for fifty years amidst the speculations of science whilst, in his
soul, the certainties that cannot be shaken were singing their deathless
song. Like a coastguard who, standing on some tall cliff, surveys the
heaving waters, Faraday stood, with his feet upon the rock, looking out
upon a restless sea of surmise and conjecture. In life, as in death, he
rested his soul upon certainties. And if you will ask what those
certainties were, his biographers will tell you that they were three.

1. _He trusted implicitly in the Father's love._ 'My faculties are
slipping away day by day,' he wrote to his niece from his deathbed.
'Happy is it for all of us that our true good lies not in them. As they
ebb, may they leave us as little children trusting in the Father of
Mercies and accepting His unspeakable gift.'

2. _He trusted implicitly in the Redeeming Work of His Saviour._ 'The
plan of salvation is so simple,' he wrote, 'that anyone can understand
it--love to Christ springing from the love that He bears us, the love
that led Him to undertake our salvation.'

3. _He trusted implicitly in the Written Word._ 'To complete this
picture,' says Dr. Bence Jones, in bringing to a close his great
two-volume biography, 'to complete this picture, I must add that
Faraday's standard of duty was not founded upon any intuitive ideas of
right and wrong, nor was it fashioned upon any outward experiences of
time and place; but it was formed entirely on what he held to be the
revelation of the will of God in the written Word, and throughout all
his life his faith led him to act up to the very letter of it.'

'On these certainties,' he exclaimed, 'I stake everything! On these
certainties I rest my soul!' And, summing up the three in one, he added,
'_For I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed
unto Him against that day_.'

It is wonderful how the universal heart aches for assurance, for
confidence, for finality, for certainty. Mr. Dan Crawford tells of a
cannibal chief beside whose deathbed an African boy was reading
selections from the Gospel of John. He was impressed by the frequent
recurrence of the words '_verily, verily_.'

'What do they mean?' he asked.

'They mean "_certainly, certainly!_"'

'Then,' exclaimed the dying man, with a sigh of infinite relief, 'they
shall be my pillow. I rest on them.'

Sage or savage, it is all the same. Bunyan's great night was the night
on which he found that same pillow. 'It was with joy that I told my
wife, "O, now I know, _I know_!" That night was a good night to me! I
never had a better. I longed for the company of some of God's people,
that I might have imparted unto them what God had showed me. Christ was
a precious Christ to my soul that night; I could scarcely lie in my bed
for joy and peace and triumph through Christ!'

'_Those words shall be my pillow!_' said the African chief.

'_Those words shall be my pillow!_' said the English scientist.

'_Those words shall be my pillow!_' cried John Bunyan.

'_For I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed
unto Him against that day!_'


III

'_He is able to keep!_' That was the sublime confidence that won the
heart of John Newton. It came to him in the form of a dream on his
voyage home from Venice. I have told the story in full in _A Bunch of
Everlastings_. 'It made,' he says, 'a very great impression upon me!'
The same thought made an indelible impression upon the mind of Faraday,
and he clung tenaciously to it at the last. '_He is able to keep_'--as a
shepherd keeps his sheep. '_He is able to keep_'--as a sentry keeps the
gate. '_He is able to keep_'--as the pilgrims kept the golden vessels on
their journey to Jerusalem, both counting and weighing them before they
set out from Babylon and again on their arrival at the Holy City. '_He
is able to keep_'--as a banker keeps the treasure confided to his
custody.

'_I know whom I have believed_,' says the margin of the Revised Version,
'_and I am persuaded that He is able to guard my deposit against that
day_.'

'_I know in whom my trust reposes_,' says Dr. Weymouth's translation,
'_and I am confident that He has it in His power to keep what I have
entrusted to Him safe until that day._'

'_I know whom I have trusted_,' says Dr. Moffatt's version, '_and I am
certain that He is able to keep what I have put into His hands till the
Great Day._'

_He will guard my treasure!_

_He will honor my confidence!_

_He will hold my deposit!_

_I know! I know! I know!_


IV

Faraday's text is an ill-used text. It is frequently mis-quoted. It
occurred one day in the course of a theological lesson over which Rabbi
Duncan was presiding.

'Repeat that passage!' said the Rabbi to the student who had just
spoken.

'_I know in whom I have_----'

'My dear sir,' interrupted the Rabbi, 'you must never let even a
preposition come between you and your Saviour!'

And when Dr. Alexander, of Princeton, was dying, a friend endeavored to
fortify his faith by reciting some of the most familiar passages and
promises. Presently he ventured upon the words:

'_I know in whom I have believed, and_----'

But the sick man raised his hand.

'No, no,' exclaimed the dying Principal, 'it is not "I know _in_ whom"
but "I know _whom_"; I cannot have even the little word "_in_" between
me and Christ. _I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is
able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!_'

John Oxenham has expressed the same thought with an accent and emphasis
well worthy of the theme:

  Not What, but _Whom_, I do believe,
  _That_, in my darkest hour of need,
  Hath comfort that no mortal creed
  To mortal man may give.

  Not What but _Whom_.
  For Christ is more than all the creeds,
  And His full life of gentle deeds
  Shall all the creeds outlive.

  Not What I do believe, but _Whom_.
  _Who_ walks beside me in the gloom?
  _Who_ shares the burden wearisome?
  _Who_ all the dim way doth illume,
  And bids me look beyond the tomb
          The larger life to live?

  Not what I do believe,
  But _Whom_!
  Not What,
  But _Whom_!

It was a Person, a Living and Divine Person, of whom Faraday was so
certain and on whom he rested so securely at the last.


V

Is there in all Scottish literature a more robust, more satisfying, or
more lovable character than _Donal Grant_? Readers of George Macdonald
will cherish the thought of Donal as long as they live. He was the child
of the open air; his character was formed during long and lonely tramps
on the wide moor and among the rugged mountains; it was strengthened and
sweetened by communion with sheep and dogs and cattle, with stars and
winds and stormy skies. He was disciplined by sharp suffering and bitter
disappointments. And he became to all who knew him a tower of strength,
a sure refuge, a strong city, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary
land. As a shepherd-boy among the hills he learned to read his Greek
Testament; and, later on, he became tutor at the Castle Graham. It was
his business in life to instruct little Davie, the younger son of Lord
Morven; and he had his own way of doing it.

'Davie,' he said one day, 'there is One who understands every boy, and
understands each separate boy as well as if there were no other boy in
the whole world.'

'Tell me who it is!' demanded Davie.

'That is what I have to _teach_ you; mere _telling_ is not much use.
_Telling_ is what makes people think they know when they do not, and
makes them foolish.'

'Well, what is his name?'

'I will not tell you that just yet; for then you would think that you
knew Him when you knew next to nothing about Him. Look here! Look at
this book!' He pulled from his pocket a copy of Boethius. 'Look at the
name on the back of it; it is the name of the man who wrote that book.'

Davie spelled it out.

'Now you know all about the book, don't you?'

'No, sir, I don't know anything about it.'

'Well, then, my father's name is Robert Grant; you know now what a good
man he is!'

'No, I don't!' replied Davie.

And so Donal led Davie to see that to know _the name_ of Jesus, and to
know _about_ Jesus is not to know _Jesus_.

'I know _Him_!' cried Faraday in triumph.

George Macdonald makes Faraday's text the master-passion of his hero's
life to the last. All through the adventures recorded in the book, Donal
Grant behaves like a man who is very sure of God. '_I know Him_,' he
seems to say. '_I know Him._' And the closing sentences of the story
tell us that 'Donal is still a present power of heat and light in the
town of Auchars. He wears the same solemn look, the same hovering smile.
That look and that smile say to those who can read them, "_I know whom I
have believed_." His life is hid with Christ in God; he has no anxiety
about anything; God is, and all is well.'


VI

'_I know whom I have believed._'

Pascal had the words engraved upon his seal; Canon Ainger left
instructions that they should be inscribed on his tomb at Darley Abbey;
but, like Donal Grant, Michael Faraday wove them into the very warp and
woof, the fiber and fabric of his daily life.

'Speculations!' he cried in dismay, 'speculations! I have none! I am
resting on certainties! _For I know whom I have believed and am
persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him
against that day!_'

Happy the heads that, in the soul's last straits, find themselves
pillowed serenely there!



XVII

JANET DEMPSTER'S TEXT


I

Sitting here in my pleasaunce on the lawn, surrounded by a riot of
hollyhocks, foxgloves, roses, geraniums, and other English flowers that
she described so vividly, and loved so well, I find myself celebrating
in my own way the hundredth anniversary of the birth of George Eliot.
Lying open beside me on the garden-seat is a very well-worn copy of
_Janet's Repentance_. It has been read many times, and must be read
again to-day. For even those who cannot go as far as Dr. Marcus Dods in
pronouncing it 'one of the greatest religious books ever written' will
at least agree that in religious feeling, spiritual insight and
evangelical intensity, it is among the most noble and most notable of
our English classics. The pity of it is that, long before the book was
written, its brilliant authoress had drifted away from that simple and
majestic faith which she so tenderly portrays. Indeed, I have sometimes
fancied that she wrote of Janet with a great wistfulness in her heart.
She seems to have felt that if, in the straits of her soul, she had
found her storm-tossed spirit in communion with personalities like those
by whom Janet was surrounded in the day of her distress, her spiritual
pilgrimage might have been a sunnier one. But she drifted. No other word
will describe the process. Some powerful but sensitive minds, like that
of Goethe--with whose works she was so familiar--have been driven or
torn from their anchorage by some sudden and desolating calamity; but
with George Eliot it was quite otherwise. She was a gentle English girl,
born on a farm, and passionately attached to the quiet beauty of the
countryside. She delighted in the village green, the rectory garden, the
fields waving with golden buttercups, and the shady woods in which the
primroses twinkled. She loved to watch the poppies tossing in the corn,
the wind sweeping over the red sea of clover, and the hyacinths nodding
on the banks of the silvery stream. The smell of the hay and the song of
the birds and the life of the fields were her ceaseless satisfaction and
refreshment. Perhaps, as she wandered about those winding lanes and
lonely bridle-paths, she became too contemplative, too introspective,
too much addicted to the analysis of frames and feelings. Perhaps,
dwelling so exclusively on the abstract and the ideal, her fresh young
spirit became unfitted for its rude impact with the actual and the real.
Perhaps, too, she was unfortunate in respect of the particular specimens
of the evangelical faith that came under her notice. Perhaps! At any
rate, she came at length into daily contact with men and women, and her
girlish faith reeled under the shock. It is one of the most grievous
tragedies of the spiritual realm that conscience often finds the sunny
climate of an ardent evangelism singularly enervating. The _emotional_
side of one's nature luxuriates in an atmosphere in which the _ethical_
side becomes languid and relaxed. A man must be very careful, as Mr.
Gladstone once incisively observed, to prevent his religion from
damaging his morality. The simpleminded people with whom this
sharp-witted and fresh-spirited young Englishwoman met had not fortified
themselves against that insidious peril. One woman told a lie and the
offense was sheeted home to her. '_Ah, well_,' she replied, in a
nonchalant and easy way, '_I do not feel that I have grieved the Spirit
much!_' George Eliot was horrified. She saw, to her disgust, that strong
religious feeling could consist with flagrant dishonor. Her finely
poised and sensitive soul experienced a revolt and a rebound. She
changed none of her opinions, yet she changed the entire attitude of her
mind; and, with the passage of time, the new attitude produced new
ideas. She had not quarreled with the faith of her childhood; she simply
lost her love for it. Her anchor relinquished its hold, and, almost
imperceptibly, she drifted. 'She glided out of the faith,' as Principal
Fairbairn so expressively puts it, 'as easily and as softly as if she
had been a ship obeying wind and tide, and her faith a sea that opened
silently before and closed noiselessly behind her.'

Wherefore let all those who name the name of Christ depart from
iniquity! For if, through any glaring inconsistency between my faith and
my behavior, I offend one of these little ones that believe in Him, it
were better, so the Master Himself declared, that a millstone were
hanged about my neck and that I were cast into the depths of the sea.


II

Now, in the story that lies open on the garden-seat beside me, all the
characters are very religious people. Yet they are divided sharply into
two classes. There are the very religious people who are all the worse
for their religion, and there are the very religious people who are all
the better for it. Mr. Dempster is a very religious man. In the opening
sentence of the story, the first sentence in the book, he acknowledges
his indebtedness to his Creator. He is a very religious man--and a
drunkard! Mr. Budd is also a very religious man. Indeed, he is warden at
the Parish Church. 'He is a small, sleek-headed bachelor of five and
forty, whose scandalous life has long furnished his more moral neighbors
with an afterdinner joke.' But a very religious man is Mr. Budd! Mrs.
Linnett is a very religious woman. She dotes on religious biography. 'On
taking up the biography of a celebrated preacher, she immediately turns
to the end to see what he died of,' and she likes the book all the
better if a sinister element enters into its composition. Mrs. Linnett
is a very religious woman--and a gossip! We are introduced to a whole
group of such characters--men and women who are very religious, but who
are none the better for their religion.

And, side by side with these unamiable figures, are a set of people,
equally religious, whose characters are immeasurably sweetened and
strengthened by their religion. It is not that they profess another
faith, attend another church, or spend lives remote from the affairs
with which the others have to do. As George Eliot herself pointed out,
when the publisher hesitated to commit himself to this manuscript, it
was not a case of one religion against another, or of one creed against
another, or of one church against another, or even of one minister
against another. The members of this second group move in the same
environment as do the members of the first; Sunday by Sunday they make
their way to the self-same sanctuaries; yet every day they grow in
gentleness, in thoughtfulness, in kindness, and in all those graces of
behavior that constitute the charm of lovable and helpful lives. In this
attractive group we find Mr. Jerome, Mr. Tryan, and little Mrs.
Pettifer.

It is, of course, an old story, vividly and startlingly retold. The same
cause will produce diametrically opposite effects. The sun that softens
the wax hardens the clay. The benefit that I derive from my religion,
and the enjoyment that it affords me, must depend upon the response that
I make to it. The rays of light that fade my coat add a warmer blush to
the petals of the rose. Why? My coat does not want the light and makes
no response to it; the rose cannot bloom without the light and drinks in
the soft rays as the source of all its beauty. Under the influence of
the sunshine, the violets in the vase droop and become noisome; the
living lilies under my window unfold and assume an even statelier grace.
It is all a matter of response. Religion was always beating upon the
lives of Mr. Dempster and Mr. Budd and Mrs. Linnett, as the sunlight
beats upon the coat and the cut-flowers. They did not open their hearts
to it; they made no eager response to it; it was a thing that shone upon
the surface, and that was all. Their lives consequently wilted and
shriveled and grew less beautiful. They were like violets made vile by
the very light that was designed to make them lovely. Mr. Tryan, Mr.
Jerome and Mrs. Pettifer, on the other hand, opened their hearts to the
love of God as the rose opens its petals to the light of the sun. Their
religion was a revelry to them. So far from its merely beating upon the
surface, as the sunlight beats upon the surface of the coat, it
saturated the very depths of their being. They were like the lilies
under my window; the rays that withered the violets in the vase only
make _them_ more graceful and more fair.


III

Here, then, are the two groups; and the central scene of the story is
the transfer of the principal character from the one group to the other.
Janet Dempster, the wife of Robert Dempster, is, like her husband, very
religious, but, like him, she is none the better for her religion. But
matters at home hurry to a climax. Dempster drinks more and more, and,
drinking, goes from bad to worse. He treats his wife, first with
coldness, and then with cruelty. At length comes the dreadful and
dramatic scene that readers of the story will never erase from their
memories. In a fit of drunken savagery he burst into her room at
midnight. He drags her from her bed; pushes her down the stairs and
along the hall; and then, opening the front door, he hurls her by sheer
brute force out into the street. Here is George Eliot's picture: '_The
stony street; the bitter north-east wind and darkness; and in the midst
of them a tender woman thrust out from her husband's home in her thin
nightdress, the harsh wind cutting her naked feet and driving her long
hair away from her half-clad bosom, where the poor heart is crushed with
anguish and despair._' It is in these desperate straits that religion
presents itself to her view in an entirely fresh guise.

In her extremity, poor Janet thinks of little Mrs. Pettifer--a member of
that other group, the group that resembles the lilies under my window,
the group of kindly souls whose lives have been irradiated and
beautified by their faith. She taps at the cottage window; Mrs. Pettifer
hastens to the door; and, as soon as that frightened little body can
recover from the first shock of her astonishment, she draws Janet into
the room and then into the warm bed. Having composed and soothed her,
she slips out of bed again, lights the fire and makes a cup of tea. In
_this_ guise, religion presents itself to Janet!

But she needs more! A roof to shelter her, a fire to warm her and a
friend to caress and mother her--these are very welcome; but her heart
is crying out with a yet deeper hunger. She feels that she, a poor weak
woman, is standing against a world that is too hard and too strong and
too terrible for her. What can she do? Where can she go? Little Mrs.
Pettifer urges her to open her heart to Mr. Tryan, the minister; and to
Mr. Tryan she accordingly goes. And in Mr. Tryan she finds ready
helpfulness, warm sympathy, and a perfect understanding of her inmost
need. Her life, she feels, is but a tangled skein. To convince her that
he is no stranger to such conditions, Mr. Tryan tells her of his own
struggles and distresses. He has not stood aloof from the battle,
looking on; he has been in the thick of the fight--_and has been
wounded_. She feels for him, and, in feeling for him, becomes conscious
that the healing of her own hurt has already begun. In _this_ guise,
religion presents itself to Janet Dempster!

In the person of Mrs. Pettifer and in the person of Mr. Tryan, religion
became incarnate under the eyes of poor Janet. In the person of Mrs.
Pettifer and in the person of Mr. Tryan, '_the word became flesh_.'

But Janet still needs more! Mrs. Pettifer shelters and soothes her
_body_; Mr. Tryan comforts and strengthens her _mind_; but her _soul_,
her very _self_, what is she to do with _that_? She feels that she
cannot trust _herself_ with _herself_. Is there no still greater
incarnation of the faith?

Mrs. Pettifer is the _Incarnation Motherly_.

Mr. Tryan is the _Incarnation Ministerial_.

But, in her heart of hearts, there is still a deep and bitter cry. Mrs.
Pettifer can comfort; she cannot keep through all the days to come! Mr.
Tryan can counsel; he cannot guard from future sins and sorrows! To whom
can she commit herself? It is from Mr. Tryan's lips that the answer
comes. The words fall upon her broken spirit, as she herself tells us,
like rain upon the mown grass:

    '_COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY-LADEN, AND I
    WILL GIVE YOU REST!_'

And once more the solution is an incarnation! When Janet's storm-beaten
_body_ needed fire and food and shelter, religion became incarnate in
the person of Mrs. Pettifer. When Janet's distracted _mind_ needed
counsel and guidance, religion became incarnate in the person of Mr.
Tryan. But when Janet's sin-laden _soul_ cried out for a Saviour Who
could deliver her from the stains of the past, and keep her amidst the
perils of the future, religion became incarnate in the Person of the Son
of God!

_The Incarnation Motherly!_

_The Incarnation Ministerial!_

_The Incarnation Mediatorial!_

'_Come unto Me!_' the Saviour said. And Janet came! She was a changed
woman! '_A delicious hope_,' George Eliot tells us, '_the hope of
purification and inward peace, had entered into Janet's soul, and made
it spring-time there as well as in the outer world!_' '_She felt_,' we
are told again, '_like a little child whose hand is firmly grasped by
its father, as its frail limbs make their way over the rough ground: if
it should stumble, the father will not let it go._' She had opened her
heart to the living Lord as the living flowers open their petals to the
glad sunlight; and He had become the strength of her life and her
portion for ever. Temptation came, fierce and sudden and terrible; but
He was always there and always able to deliver.


IV

In the correspondence with her publisher as to whether or not the
manuscript should be printed, George Eliot assures him that the
characters are drawn from life. And, in the closing paragraph of the
story, she tells us that Janet--an old woman whose once-black hair is
now quite gray--is living still. But Mr. Tryan, she says, is dead; and
she describes the simple gravestone in Milby churchyard. '_But_,' she
adds, '_there is another memorial of Edgar Tryan, which bears a fuller
record; it is Janet Dempster, rescued from self-despair, strengthened
with Divine hopes, and now looking back on years of purity and helpful
labor. The man who has left such a memorial behind him must have been
one whose heart beat with true compassion and whose lips were moved by
fervent faith._' It is the last sentence in the book; and every
minister, as he closes the covers and lays it aside, will covet for
himself some such incarnate monument. Only as a preacher's preaching is
'_made flesh_' in that way, will it be understood and appreciated by the
generations following.



XVIII

CATHERINE BOOTH'S TEXT


I

Who that was in London on October 14, 1890, can forget the extraordinary
scenes that marked the funeral of Catherine Booth? It was a day of
universal grief. The whole nation mourned. For Mrs. Booth was one of the
most striking personalities, and one of the mightiest spiritual forces,
of the nineteenth century. To the piety of a Saint Teresa she added the
passion of a Josephine Butler, the purposefulness of an Elizabeth Fry,
and the practical sagacity of a Frances Willard. The greatest in the
land revered her, trusted her, consulted her, deferred to her. The
letters that passed between Catherine Booth and Queen Victoria are among
the most remarkable documents in the literature of correspondence. Mr.
Gladstone attached the greatest weight to her judgment and convictions.
Bishop Lightfoot, one of the most distinguished scholars of his time,
has testified to the powerful influence which she exerted over him. And,
whilst the loftiest among men honored her, the lowliest loved her.

Such strong lives have their secrets. Mrs. Booth had hers. Her secret
was a text. As a child she learned it by heart; as a girl she pinned her
faith to the promise it enshrined; amidst the stress and strain of a
stormy and eventful life she trusted it implicitly; and, with all the
tenacity of her keen, clear intellect, she clung to it at the last. In
the standard _Life of Catherine Booth_--a huge work of a thousand
pages--four chapters are devoted to the scenes at the deathbed. And then
we read:

'The lips moved as though desiring to speak. Unable, however, to do so,
the dying woman pointed to a wall-text, which had for a long time been
placed opposite to her, so that her eyes could rest upon it.

  MY GRACE
  IS
  SUFFICIENT FOR THEE

It was taken down and placed near her on the bed. But it was no longer
needed. The promise had been completely fulfilled.'

'That,' said a speaker at one of the great Memorial Meetings in London,
some of which were attended by many thousand people, 'that was her
text!' And, as so often happens, her text explains her character.

For, considered apart from the text, the character is an insoluble
enigma. It is like a consequence without a cause. I was talking a week
or two ago with an old man, who, in Australia's earlier days, did a good
deal of pioneering in the heart of the bush.

'Once,' he told me, 'soon after I first came out, I really thought that
I had reached the end of everything. I was hopelessly lost. My strength
was utterly exhausted. I had gone as far as I could go. The country
around me was flat and dry; my thirst was a perfect agony; and my poor
dog followed at my heels, her tongue hanging out, and her sides panting
pitifully. We had not seen water for several days. I sat down under a
great gum-tree, hoping that an hour's rest would bring me fresh heart
and new vigor. I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke, Fan was standing
near me, wagging her tail. She seemed contented and satisfied; her
tongue no longer protruded. An hour or two later, I suddenly missed her;
she had vanished in the scrub. She was away about twenty minutes. I
determined to watch her. Presently she set out again, and I followed.
Surely enough, she had found a tiny spring in a slight hollow about half
a mile away; and by that spring we were saved.'

I have seen something like this in a higher realm. I recall, for
example, Richard Cecil's story of his conversion. Richard Cecil--the
friend and biographer of John Newton--was one of the great evangelical
forces of the _eighteenth_ century, as Catherine Booth was of the
_nineteenth_. But, in his early days, Richard Cecil was a skeptic. He
called himself an infidel, but he was honest in his infidelity. He could
face facts; and the man who can look facts fairly in the face is not far
from the kingdom of God. Richard Cecil was not, his skepticism
notwithstanding. 'I see,' he says, in telling us of the line of thought
that he pursued as he lay in bed one night, 'I see two unquestionable
facts.' And what were they? They both concerned his mother.

'_First_, my mother is greatly afflicted in circumstances, body and
mind; and I see that she cheerfully bears up under all her suffering by
the support that she derives from constantly retiring to her quiet room
and her Bible.

'_Second_, my mother has a secret spring of comfort of which I know
nothing; while I, who give an unbounded loose to my appetites, and seek
pleasure by every means, seldom or never find it. If, however, there is
any such secret in religion, why may I not attain to it as well as my
mother? I will immediately seek it!'

He did; and those who are familiar with his life-story know of the
triumphant result of that quest. It was precisely so with Mrs. Booth.
Her children knew that, like the bushman's collie, she found refreshment
at some secret spring. Later on, she told them of the text and led them,
one by one, to the fountains of grace. '_My grace is sufficient for
thee._' And when, at last, the avenues of speech and hearing were
closed, they hung the golden words before her clouding eyes. Again she
greeted them with rapture, and, with unwavering confidence, pointed her
children to their deathless message.


II

In his _Grace Abounding_, John Bunyan tells us that there was a period
in his spiritual history when his soul was like a pair of scales. It
partook of three phases. At one time the right-hand balance was down and
the left-hand empty and high; then for awhile they were exactly and
evenly poised; and, at the last, the left-hand balance dropped and that
on the right-hand was swinging in the air.

At the _first_ of these stages he was being tormented about the
unpardonable sin. He reminded himself that, for Esau, there was no place
for repentance; and he felt that there was none for him. The scale in
which he laid his despair was heavily weighted; the scale in which he
placed his hope was empty!

And the _second_ stage--the stage that leveled the balances? 'One
morning,' he says, 'as I was at prayer, and trembling with fear, lest
there should be no word of God to help me, that piece of a sentence
darted in upon me: _My grace is sufficient!_ At this I felt some stay as
if there might yet be hope. About a fortnight before, I had been looking
at this very scripture, but I then thought that it could bring me no
comfort, and I threw down the book in a pet. I thought that the grace
was not large enough for me! no, not large enough! But now it was as if
the arms of grace were so wide that they could enclose not only me but
many more besides. And so _this_ about the sufficiency of grace and
_that_ about Esau finding no place for repentance would be like a pair
of scales within my mind. Sometimes one end would be uppermost and
sometimes again the other; according to which would be my peace or
trouble.'

And the _third_ stage--the triumphant stage? Bunyan felt that the scales
were merely level because, in the balance that contained the hope, he
had thrown only four of the six words that make up the text. '_My grace
is sufficient_'; he had no doubt about that, and it gave him
encouragement. But '_for thee_'; he felt that, if only he could add
those words to the others, it would turn the scales completely. 'I had
hope,' he says, 'yet because the "_for thee_" was left out, I was not
contented, but prayed to God for _that_ also. Wherefore, one day, when I
was in a meeting of God's people, full of sadness and terror, these
words did with great power suddenly break in upon me; _My grace is
sufficient for thee, My grace is sufficient for thee, My grace is
sufficient for thee_, three times together. And oh! methought that every
word was a mighty word unto me; as _My_ and _grace_, and _sufficient_,
and _for thee_; they were then, and sometimes are still, far bigger than
all others. Then, at last, that about Esau finding no place for
repentance began to wax weak and withdraw and vanish, and this about the
sufficiency of grace prevailed with peace and joy.' And so the issue was
reversed; the scale that held the hope overweighed completely the scale
that held the despair.

If it were not that others have passed through an identically similar
experience, we should feel inclined to marvel at Bunyan's reluctance to
cast into the balances the tail of the text: _My grace is
sufficient--for thee!_ It seems strange, I say, that Bunyan should have
grasped with such confidence the _four_ words and then boggled at the
other _two_. And yet it is always easier to believe that there is a
Saviour for the world than to believe that there is a Saviour _for me_.
It is easy to believe that

  There is grace enough for thousands
    Of new worlds as great as this;
  There is room for fresh creations
    In that upper home of bliss;

but it is much harder to believe that there is grace and room _for me_.
Martin Luther believed implicitly and preached confidently that Christ
died for all mankind, long before he could persuade himself that Christ
died for Martin Luther. John Wesley crossed the Atlantic that he might
proclaim the forgiveness of sins to the Indians; but it was not until he
was verging upon middle life that he realized the possibility of the
forgiveness of his own.

It is all very illogical, of course, and very absurd. If we can accept
the _four_ words, why not accept all _six_? If we credit the head of the
text, why cavil at the tail? Sometimes the absurdity of such irrational
behavior will break upon a man and set him laughing at his own
stupidity. Mr. Spurgeon had some such experience. 'Gentlemen,' he said,
one Friday afternoon, in an address to his students, 'Gentlemen, there
are many passages of Scripture which you will never understand until
some trying or singular experience shall interpret them to you. The
other evening I was riding home after a heavy day's work; I was very
wearied and sore depressed; and, swiftly and suddenly as a lightning
flash, that text laid hold on me: _My grace is sufficient for thee!_ On
reaching home, I looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me
in this way. _MY grace is sufficient for THEE_! "Why," I said to myself,
"I should think it is!" and I burst out laughing. I never fully
understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was like until then. It
seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish,
being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and
Father Thames said: "Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient
for thee!" Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, after
seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph
said: "Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee!"
Again I imagined a man away up yonder on the mountain saying to himself:
"I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere." But the earth
cries: "Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs; my atmosphere is
sufficient for thee!"' John Bunyan enjoyed a moment's merriment of the
same kind when he threw the last two words into the scale and saw his
despair dwindle into insignificance on the instant.


III

Some such thought shines through the passage in which Paul tells us how
the great words came to him. He was irritated by his thorn; he prayed
repeatedly for its removal; but the only answer that he received was
this: _My grace is sufficient for thee!_ Grace sufficient for a thorn!
It is an almost ludicrous association of ideas!

It is so easy for Bunyan to believe that the divine grace is sufficient
for the wide, wide world; it is so difficult to realize that it is
sufficient for him!

It is so easy for Wesley to believe in the forgiveness of sins: it is so
difficult for him to believe in the forgiveness of his own!

It is so easy for Paul to believe in the grace that is sufficient to
redeem a fallen race: it is so difficult for him to believe in the grace
that can fortify him to endure his thorn!

And yet, in a fine essay on _Great Principles and Small Duties_, Dr.
James Martineau has shown that it is the lowliest who most need the
loftiest; it is the tiny thorn that calls for the most tremendous grace.
The gravest mistake ever made by educationalists is, he says, the
mistake of supposing that those who know little are good enough to teach
those who know less. It is a tragedy, he declares, when the master is
only one stage ahead of his pupil. 'The ripest scholarship,' he
maintains, 'is alone qualified to instruct the most complete ignorance.'
Dr. Martineau goes on to show that a soul occupied with great ideas best
performs trivial duties. And, coming to the supreme example of his
subject, he points out that 'it was the peculiarity of the Saviour's
greatness, not that he stooped to the lowliest, but that, without
stooping, he penetrated to the humblest wants. He not simply stepped
aside to look at the most ignominious sorrows, but went directly to
them, and lived wholly in them; scattered glorious miracles and sacred
truths along the hidden by-paths and in the mean recesses of existence;
serving the mendicant and the widow, blessing the child, healing the
leprosy of body and of soul, and kneeling to wash even the traitor's
feet.' Here is a strange and marvelous and beautiful law! The loftiest
for the lowliest! The greatest grace for the tiniest thorn!

Is it any wonder that, this being so, Paul felt that his splinter
positively shone? '_I will glory in it_,' he cried, '_that the power of
Christ may be billetted upon me._' He feels that his soul is like some
rural hamlet into which a powerful regiment has marched. Every bed and
barn is occupied by the soldiers. Who would not be irritated by a
splinter, he asks, if the irritation leads to such an inrush of divine
power and grace? It is like the pain of the oyster that is healed by a
pearl.

And so, with Paul as with Bunyan, the grace turns the scales. It is
better to have the pain if it brings the pearl. It is better to have a
thorn in the one balance if it brings such grace into the opposite
balance that one is better off _with_ the thorn than _without_ it.
Therein lies life's deepest secret--the secret that Catherine Booth and
John Bunyan learned from the lips that unfolded it to Paul. In _The
Master's Violin_, Myrtle Reed tells us the secret of the music that the
old man's fingers wooed from the Cremona. You have but to look at the
master, she says, and you will comprehend. 'There he stands, a stately
figure, gray and rugged, yet with a certain graciousness; simple,
kindly, and yet austere; one who had accepted his sorrow, and, by some
alchemy of the spirit, transmuted it into universal compassion, to
speak, through the Cremona, to all who could understand!'

_That_ is the secret--the old musician's secret; Catherine Booth's
secret; Bunyan's secret; Paul's secret; the secret of all who have
learned the text _by heart_!

_My grace is sufficient for thee_--the inrush of the grace turned Paul's
torturing splinter into a cause for life-long thankfulness!

_My grace is sufficient for thee_--the inrush of the grace turned Mrs.
Booth's fierce struggle into a ceaseless song!

_My grace is sufficient for thee!_ To the man who like John Bunyan,
stands weighing his gladnesses and sadnesses with that text in his mind,
it will seem that the one scale is overflowing and the other empty. For
it is the glory of the grace that it takes what sadnesses there are and
transmutes them into songs sublime.



XIX

UNCLE TOM'S TEXT


I

Poor old Uncle Tom has been stripped of everything. All that he counted
precious has vanished. He has been torn away from the old Kentucky home;
has been snatched away from the arms of old Aunt Chloe; has been sold
away from children and kindred; and has fallen into the merciless hands
of that vicious slave-dealer, Simon Legree. And now Uncle Tom is dying.
He lies in the dusty shed, his back all torn and lacerated by the cruel
thongs. All through the night there steal to his side the other slaves
on the plantation, poor creatures who creep in to see the last of him,
to bathe his wounds, to ask his pardon, or to kneel in prayer beside his
tortured frame. With the morning light comes George Shelby, his old
master, to redeem him.

'Is it possible, is it possible?' he exclaims, kneeling down by the old
slave. 'Uncle Tom, my poor, poor old friend!'

But Uncle Tom is too far gone. He only murmurs faintly to himself:

  Jesus can make a dying bed
  Feel soft as downy pillows are.

'You shan't die; you mustn't die, nor think of it! I've come to buy you
and take you home!' cries George, with impetuous vehemence.

'Oh, Mas'r George, ye're too late. The Lord's bought me and is going to
take me home--and I long to go. Heaven is better than old Kentucky!'

At this moment the sudden flush of strength which the joy of meeting his
young master had infused into the dying man gives way. A sudden sinking
falls upon him; he closes his eyes; and that mysterious and sublime
change passes over his face that suggests the approach of other worlds.
He begins to draw his breath with long, deep inspirations, and his broad
chest rises and falls heavily. The expression of his face is that of a
conqueror.

'_Who_,' he murmurs, '_who--who--who shall separate us from the love of
Christ?_' And, with that unanswerable challenge upon his quivering lips,
he falls into his last long sleep. Severed from all that is dear to him,
there is yet One heart from which nothing can separate him. And in that
indissoluble tie he finds strong consolation at the last.


II

I was speaking the other day to a lady who had known Signor Alessandro
Gavazzi. 'When he was in England,' she told me, 'he used to come and
stay at my father's home, and, to us girls, he seemed like a visitor
from another world.' The life of Gavazzi is one of the stirring romances
of the nineteenth century. Born at Bologna in 1809, he became, at the
age of fifteen, a Barnabite monk. His eloquence, even in his teens, was
so extraordinary that, at twenty, he was made Professor of Rhetoric in
the College of Naples. Some years afterward Pope Pius the Ninth sent him
on a special mission to Milan as Chaplain-General to the Patriotic
Legion. A little later, however, a new light broke upon him. He left the
church of his fathers and devoted his distinguished gifts to the work of
evangelism. In connection with his conversion, a pathetic incident
occurred. A superstitious Italian mother will sometimes hang a charm
around her boy's neck to drive away malignant powers. When Gavazzi was
but a baby, his mother placed a locket on his breast, and he never moved
without it. But when, in riper years, he found the Saviour, his mother's
gift caused him great perplexity. As a charm he had no faith in it; he
relied entirely on the grace of his Lord to sustain and protect him. And
yet, for his mother's sake, he felt that he should like to wear it. He
solved the problem by placing in the locket the words by which he had
been led to Christ. When he died, an old man of eighty, the locket was
found next his skin. And, when they opened it, they read: '_Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? I am persuaded that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things
present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord._' Gavazzi's excommunication nearly broke his
heart. He left Rome to wander in strange lands, the most frightful
anathemas and maledictions ringing in his ears. He was an exile and an
outcast, shuddering under the curse of the church that he had served so
devotedly and so long. Yet, after all, what did it matter? He had found
a love--the love of Christ--that he had never known before; and from
that all-compensating love no power in church or state, in heaven or
earth, in time or in eternity, had power to tear him.


III

One is tempted to continue in this strain. It would be pleasant to speak
of Hugh Kennedy, of Savonarola, and of others who found life and grace
and inspiration in the text on which poor Uncle Tom pillowed his dying
head. The testimony of such witnesses is strangely fascinating; their
name is legion; we may yet cite one or two of them before we close.
Meanwhile, we must pay some attention to the words of which they speak
so rapturously. And even to glance at them is to fall in love with them.
They are among the most stately, the most splendid, in all literature.
Macaulay, who read everything, once found himself in Scotland on a fast
day. It was a new experience for him, and he did not altogether enjoy
it. 'The place,' he said, 'had all the appearance of a Puritan Sunday.
Every shop was shut and every church open. I heard the worst and longest
sermon that I ever remember. Every sentence was repeated three or four
times over, and nothing in any sentence deserved to be said once. I
withdrew my attention and read the Epistle to the Romans. I was much
struck by the eloquence and force of some passages, and made out the
connection and argument of some others which had formerly seemed to me
unmeaning. I enjoyed the "_Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ?_" I know few things finer.'

The words constitute themselves the greatest challenge ever uttered.
Poets and painters have gloried in the conception of Ajax, on his lonely
rock, defying all the gods that be. But what is _that_ compared with
_this_? In the passage whose sublimities awoke the enthusiasm of
Macaulay, and delivered him from insufferable boredom, Paul claims to
have reached the limits of finality, and he hurls defiance at all the
forces of futurity.

'_Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Death? Life? Angels?
Principalities? Powers? Things Present? Things to Come? Height? Depth?
Any fresh Creation? I am persuaded that none of them can separate us
from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord._'


IV

Neither death nor life can do it. Not death--nor even life. Both are
formidable forces; and Paul knew which was the more dangerous of the
two.

  So he died for his faith. That is fine--
    More than most of us do.
  But, say, can you add to that line
    That he lived for it, too?

When Elizabeth came to the English throne, a number of men and women,
who were awaiting martyrdom under Mary, were liberated. Animated by the
spirit of Ridley and Latimer, they would have kissed the faggots and
embraced the stake. Yet, in the years that followed, some of them lapsed
into indifference, went the way of the world, and named the name of
Christ no more. The ordeal of life proved more potent and more terrible
than the ordeal of a fiery death.

Bunyan had learned that lesson. When he was in the depths of his
despair, envying the beasts and birds about him, and tormenting himself
with visions of hell-fire, he went one day to hear a sermon on the love
of Christ. To use his own words, his 'comforting time was come.' 'I
began,' he says, 'to give place to the word which with power did over
and over again make this joyful sound within my soul: "_Who shall
separate me from the love of Christ?_" And with that my heart was filled
full of comfort and hope, and I could believe that my sins would be
forgiven me. Yea, I was so taken with the love and mercy of God that I
remember that I could not tell how to contain till I got home; I thought
I could have spoken of His love to the very crows that sat upon the
ploughed lands before me. Surely I will not forget this forty years
hence?'

Forty years hence! Forty years hence Bunyan was sleeping in his quiet
grave in Bunhill Fields; and nobody who visits that familiar
resting-place of his supposes for a moment that _death_ has separated
him from the love of Christ.

But _life_! Life is a far more dangerous foe. 'The tempter,' Bunyan
tells us, 'would come upon me with such discouragements as these: "You
are very hot for mercy, but I will cool you. This frame shall not last.
Many have been as hot as you for a spirit, but I have quenched their
zeal." With this, several, who were fallen off, would be set before mine
eyes. Then I would be afraid that I should fall away, too, but, thought
I, I will watch and take care. "Though you do," said the tempter, "I
shall be too hard for you. I will cool you insensibly, by degrees, by
little and little. Continual rocking will lull a crying child to sleep.
I shall have you cold before long!" These things,' Bunyan continues,
'brought me into great straits. I feared that time would wear from my
mind my sense of the evil of sin, of the worth of heaven, and of my need
of the blood of Christ.' But at that critical moment a text came to his
help--Uncle Tom's text, Signor Gavazzi's text. '_What shall separate us
from the love of Christ? For I am persuaded that neither death, nor
life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall
be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord._' 'That,' Bunyan says, 'was a good word to me.'

Death cannot do it!--that is good!

Life cannot do it!--that is better!

'And now I hoped,' says Bunyan, in concluding his narrative of this
experience, 'now I hoped that long life would not destroy me nor make me
miss of heaven.'


V

Paul dares the universe. He defies infinity. He summons, in pairs, all
the powers that be, and glories in their impotence to dissolve the
sacred tie that binds him to his Lord.

He calls _Life and Death_ before him and dares them to do it!

He calls the _Powers of this World_ and the _Powers of Every Other_;
none of them, he says, can do it!

He calls the _Things of the Historic Present_ and the _Developments of
the Boundless Future_. Whatever changes may come with the pageant of the
ages, there is one dear relationship that nothing can ever affect!

He calls the _Things in the Heights_ and the _Things in the Depths_; but
neither among angels nor devils can he discover any force that makes his
faith to falter!

He surveys _this Creation_ and he contemplates _the Possibility of
Others_; but it is with a smile of confidence and triumph.

'_For I am persuaded_,' he says, '_that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things
to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord._'


VI

The covenanters knew the value of Uncle Tom's text. Among the heroic
records of Scotland's terrible ordeal, nothing is more impressive or
affecting than the desperate way in which persecuted men and women clung
with both hands to the golden hope enshrined in that majestic word. It
was in a Scottish kirk that Macaulay discovered its splendor; but even
Macaulay failed to see in it all that _they_ saw.

It was a beautiful May morning when Major Windram rode into Wigton and
demanded the surrender, to him and his soldiers, of two women who had
been convicted of attending a conventicle. One of them was Margaret
Wilson, a fair young girl of eighteen. She was condemned to be lashed to
a stake at low tide in such a way that the rising waters would slowly
overwhelm her. In hope of shaking her fidelity, and saving her life, it
was ordained that her companion should be fastened to a stake a little
farther out. 'It may be,' said her persecutors, 'that, as Mistress
Margaret watches the waves go over the widow before her, she will
relent!' The ruse, however, had the opposite effect. When Margaret saw
the fortitude with which the elder woman yielded her soul to the
incoming tide, she began to sing a paraphrase of the twenty-fifth Psalm,
and those on the beach took up the strain. The soldiers angrily silenced
them, and Margaret's mother, rushing into the waters, begged her to save
her life by making the declaration that the authorities desired. But
tantalized and tormented, she never flinched; and, as the waves lapped
her face she was heard to repeat, again and again, the triumphant words:
'_I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord._'

As a representative of the _men_ of that stern time, we may cite John
Bruce. When that sturdy veteran, after a long life of faithful testimony
and incessant suffering, lay dying, he beckoned his daughter to the
chair beside his bed. He told her, in broken sentences and failing
voice, of the goodness and mercy that had followed him all the days of
his life; and then, pausing suddenly, he exclaimed: 'Hark, lass, the
Master calls! Fetch the Buik!' She brought the Bible to his side.
'Turn,' he said, 'to the eighth of Romans and put my finger on these
words: "_Who can separate us from the love of Christ? For I am persuaded
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of
God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord._" Now,' he continued, as soon as
she had found the place, 'put my finger on the words and hold it there!'
And with his finger there, pointing even in death to the ground of all
his confidence, the old man passed away.


VII

'_Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?_' asked Uncle Tom, with
his last breath.

'Massa George sat fixed with solemn awe,' says Mrs. Beecher Stowe, in
continuing the story. 'It seemed to him that the place was holy; and as
he closed Tom's lifeless eyes, and rose to leave the dead, only one
thought possessed him--What a thing it is to be a Christian!'

It is indeed!



XX

ANDREW BONAR'S TEXT


I

It is an old-fashioned Scottish kirk--and the Communion Sabbath.
Everybody knows of the hush that brooded over a Scottish community a
century ago whenever the Communion season came round. The entire
population gave itself up to a period of holy awe and solemn gladness.
As the day drew near, nothing else was thought about or spoken of. At
the kirk itself, day after day was given up to preparatory exercises,
fast-time sermons and the fencing of tables. In this old kirk, in which
we this morning find ourselves, all these preliminaries are past. The
young people who are presenting themselves for the first time have been
duly examined by the grave and somber elders, and, having survived that
fiery and searching ordeal, have received their tokens. And now
everything is ready. The great day has actually come. The snowy cloths
drape the pews; everything is in readiness for the solemn festival; the
people come from far and near. But I am not concerned with those who, on
this impressive and memorable occasion, throng around the table and
partake of the sacred mysteries. For, at the back of the kirk, high up,
is a cavernous and apparently empty old gallery, dark and dismal. Is it
empty? What is that patch of paleness that I see up in the corner? Is it
a face? It is! It is the grave and eager face of a small boy; a face
overspread with awe and wonder as he gazes upon the affecting and
impressive scene that is being enacted below. 'As a child,' said Dr.
Bonar, many years afterwards, when addressing the little people of his
own congregation, 'as a child I used to love to creep up into that old
gallery on Communion Sabbaths. How I trembled as I climbed up the
stairs! And how I shuddered when the minister entered and began the
service! When I saw young people of my own acquaintance take the holy
emblems for the first time, I wondered if, one great and beautiful day,
I should myself be found among the communicants. But the thought always
died in the moment of its birth. For I found in my heart so much that
must keep me from the love of Christ. I thought, as I sat in the deep
recesses of that gloomy old gallery, that I must purge my soul of all
defilement, and cultivate all the graces of the faith, before I could
hope for a place in the Kingdom of Christ or venture as a humble guest
to His table. But oh, how I longed one day to be numbered among that
happy company! I thought no privilege on earth could compare with that.'


II

A couple of entries in his diary will complete our preparation for the
record of the day that changed his life. He is a youth of nineteen,
staid and thoughtful, but full of life and merriment, and the popular
center of a group of student friends.

_May 3, 1829._--Great sorrow, because I am still out of Christ.

_May 31, 1829._--My birthday is past and I am not born again.

Not every day, I fancy, do such entries find their way into the
confidential journals of young people of nineteen.


III

God's flowers are all everlastings. The night may enfold them; the grass
may conceal them; the snows may entomb them; but they are always there.
They do not perish or fade. See how the principle works out in history!
There is no more remarkable revival of religion in our national story
than that represented by the Rise of the Puritans. The face of England
was changed; everything was made anew. Then came the Restoration.
Paradise was lost. Puritanism vanished as suddenly as it had arisen. But
was it dead? Professor James Stalker, in a Centennial Lecture on Robert
Murray McCheyne--a name that stands imperishably associated with that of
Andrew Bonar--says most emphatically that it was not. He shows how, like
a forest fire, the movement swept across Europe, returning at last to
the land in which it rose. When, with the Restoration, England relapsed
into folly, it passed over into Holland, preparing for us, among other
things, a new and better line of English kings. From Holland it passed
into Germany, and, by means of the Moravian Brethren, produced the most
amazing missionary movement of all time. From Germany it returned to
England, giving us the Methodist Revival of the eighteenth century, a
revival which, according to Lecky, alone saved England from the horrors
of an industrial revolution. And from England it swept into Scotland,
and kindled there such a revival of religion as has left an indelible
impression upon Scottish life and character. It was in the sweep of that
historic movement that the soul of Andrew Bonar was born.


IV

'It was in 1830,' he says, in a letter to his brother, written in his
eighty-third year, 'it was in 1830 that I found the Saviour, or rather,
that He found me, and laid me on His shoulders rejoicing.' And how did
it all come about? It was a tranquil evening in the early autumn, and a
Sabbath. There is always something conducive to contemplation about an
autumn evening. When, one of these days, one of our philosophers gives
us a _Psychology of the Seasons_, I shall confidently expect to find
that the great majority of conversions take place in the autumn. At any
rate, Andrew Bonar's did. As he looked out upon the world in the early
morning, he saw the shrubs in the garden below him, and the furze on the
moorland beyond, twinkling with the dew-drenched webs of innumerable
spiders. In his walk to the church, and in a stroll across the fields in
the afternoon, the hush of the earth, broken only by the lowing of
cattle, the bleating of sheep and the rustle of the leaves that had
already fallen, saturated his spirit. The world, he thought, had never
looked so beautiful. The forest was a riot of russet and gold. The
hedge-rows were bronze and purple and saffron. The soft and misty
sunlight only accentuated the amber tints that marked the dying fern. In
the evening, unable to shake off the pensive mood into which the day had
thrown him, he reached down Guthrie's _Trial of a Saving Interest in
Christ_, and gave himself to serious thought. Was it in the pages of
Guthrie's searching volume that he came upon the text, or did he, later
on, lay down the book and take up his New Testament instead? I do not
know. But, however that may have been, one great and glowing thought
took complete possession of his soul. As the tide will sometimes rush
suddenly up the sands, filling up every hollow and bearing away all the
seaweed and driftwood that has been lying there so long, so one surging
and overmastering word poured itself suddenly in upon his mind, bearing
away with it the doubts and apprehensions that had tormented him for
years. '_Of His fullness have we all received, and grace for grace._'
Then and there, he says, he began to have a secret joyful hope that he
did really believe on the Lord Jesus. 'The fullness and freeness of the
divine grace filled my heart; I did nothing but receive!'

'_Of His fullness have all we received!_'

'_His fullness filled my heart!_'

'_I did nothing but receive!_'

Forty-two years afterwards, at the age of sixty-two, he revisited that
room and tried to recapture the holy ecstasy with which, so many years
earlier, he had 'first realized a found Saviour.'

'_Grace for grace!_'


V

'_Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace!_'

I know a fair Australian city that nestles serenely at the foot of a
tall and massive mountain. Half way up the slopes is the city's
reservoir. In a glorious and evergreen valley it has been hollowed out
of the rugged mountain-side. The virgin bush surrounds it on every hand;
at its western extremity a graceful waterfall comes pouring down from
the heights, mingling its silvery music with the songs of the birds
around. It is the favorite haunt of gaily-colored kingfishers. Swallows
skim hither and thither over its crystalline and placid surface; and, as
if kissing their own reflections in the glass, they just touch the water
as they flit across, creating circles that grow and grow until they
reach the utmost edge. Like a giant who, conscious of his grandeur,
loves to see his image in the mirror, the scarped and weather-beaten
summit gazes sternly down from above and sees his splendors reproduced,
and even enhanced, in the limpid depths below. Often, on a hot day, have
I resorted to this sylvan retreat. At this altitude, how deliciously
cool is the air; how icy cold the water! It has come pouring down the
cataract from the melting snows above! For, strangely enough, the winter
rains and the summer suns conspire to keep it always full. Far down the
mountain-side I see the city, shimmering in the noonday heat. I think of
its population, hot, tired and thirsty. And then it pleases me to
reflect that every house down there at the mountain's foot is in direct
communication with this vast basin of shining water. The people have but
to stretch forth their hands and replenish their vessels again and
again. This crystal reservoir far up the slopes is really a part of the
furniture of each of those homes. Have not I myself been down there in
the dust and heat on such a day as this? Have not I myself been parched
and thirsty? And have I not thought wistfully of the reservoir far up
the slopes? And have I not taken my glass and filled it and quaffed with
relish the sweet and sparkling water? And have I not said to myself, as
I thought of the familiar scene among the hills: 'Of its fullness have
all we received, and water for water.'

'_His fullness filled my heart!_'

'_I did nothing but receive!_'

'_Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace!_'


VI

Yes, grace for grace! Grace for manhood following upon grace for youth!
Grace for sickness following upon grace for health! Grace for sorrow
following upon grace for joy! Grace for age following upon grace for
maturity! Grace to die following upon grace to live! Of that fullness of
which he first drank on that lovely autumn evening, he drank again and
again and again, always with fresh delight and satisfaction.

Twenty-five years later, I find him saying that, 'if there is one thing
for which I praise the Lord more than another it is this: that He opened
my eyes to see that Christ pleases the Father to the full, and that
_this_ is the ground of my acceptance.'

Five years later still, he says that 'I have been many, many times
unhappy for awhile, but have never seriously doubted my interest in the
Lord Jesus.'

When he was fifty-four, his wife died, leaving him to bring up his young
family as best he could. But '_grace for grace_.' A year or two later, I
find him rejoicing that 'to-night both Isabella and Marjory came home
speaking of their having been enabled to rest on Christ. What a joyful
time it has been! I think, too, the young servant has found Christ.
Blessed Lord, I have asked Thee often to remember Thy promise, and "when
mother leaves thee, the Lord will take thee up." I have asked Thee to be
a mother to my motherless children, and now, indeed, Thou hast given me
my prayer. Praise, praise for evermore!'

On the fiftieth anniversary of that never-to-be-forgotten autumn
evening, he records with gratitude the fact that, 'for fifty years the
Lord has kept me within sight of the Cross.'

Ten years later still, now an old man of eighty, he declares that his
Saviour has never once left him in the darkness all these years.

And, two years later, just before his death, he writes, 'it was
sixty-two years ago that I found the Saviour, or, rather, that He found
me; and I have never parted company with Him all these years. Christ the
Saviour has been to me my true portion, my heaven begun; and my earnest
prayer and desire for you and Mary and little Marjory will always be,
that you may each find, not only all I ever found in Christ, but a
hundredfold more, every year!'

_Grace for grace!_

_Grace for the father and grace for the children!_

_Grace for the old man just about to die, and grace for the little child
just learning how to live!_

'_Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace!_'


VII

Yes, _grace for grace_! Grace for the pulpit and grace for the pew!'
For, through all these years, Andrew Bonar was a minister, and the text
was the keynote of all his utterances.

_Fullness! Fullness! Fullness!_

_Receive! Receive! Receive!_

_Grace for grace! Grace for grace!_

'_Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace!_'

In his study there hung a text of two words. He had had it specially
printed, for those two words expressed the abiding fullness on which he
loved to dwell. '_Thou remainest!_' One day, we are told, a lady in
great sorrow called to see him. But nothing that he said could comfort
her. Then, suddenly, he saw a light come into her face. 'Say no more,'
she said, 'I have found what I need!' and she pointed to the text:
'_Thou remainest!_'

That was it! Come what will, He abides! Go who may, He remains! Amidst
all the chances and changes of life, He perennially satisfies. Like the
thirsty toilers in the city, I draw and draw again, and am each time
refreshed and revived.

'_His fullness fills my heart!_'

'_I do nothing but receive!_'

'_Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace!_'



XXI

FRANCIS D'ASSISI'S TEXT


I

Oscar Wilde declares that, since Christ went to the cross, the world has
produced only one genuine Christian, and his name is Francis d'Assisi.
Certainly he is the one saint whom all the churches have agreed to
canonize; the most vividly Christlike man who has ever submitted his
character to the scrutiny of public criticism. His life, as Green says
in his _Short History of the English People_, his life falls like a
stream of light athwart the darkness of the mediæval ages. Matthew
Arnold speaks of him as a figure of most magical potency and sweetness
and charm. Francis called men back to Christ and brought Christ back to
men. 'All Europe woke with a start,' Sabatier affirms, 'and whatever was
best in humanity leaped to follow his footsteps.'


II

A blithe saint was Francis. He loved to laugh; he loved to sing; and he
loved to hear the music of laughter and of song as it rippled from the
lips of others. Every description that has come down to us lays stress
on the sunshine that played about his lofty forehead and open
countenance. The days came when, though still in the heyday of early
manhood, his handsome figure was gaunt and wasted; his fine face
furrowed with suffering and care; his virile strength exhausted by
ceaseless toil, wearisome journeyings, and exacting ministries of many
kinds. But, emaciated and worn, his face never for a moment lost its
radiance. He greeted life with a cheer and took leave of it with a
smile.

His youth was a frolic; his very sins were pleasant sins. His
winsomeness drew to him the noblest youths and fairest maidens of
Assisi. The lithe and graceful figure of Francis, with his dark,
eloquent but sparkling eyes, his wealthy shock of jet black hair, his
soft, rich, sonorous voice and his gay but faultless attire, was the
soul and center of every youthful revel. He was, as Sir James Stephen
says, foremost in every feat of arms, first in every triumph of
scholarship, and the gayest figure in every festival. 'The brightest
eyes in Assisi, dazzled by so many graces, and the most reverend brows
there, acknowledging such early wisdom, were alike bent with admiration
towards him; and all conspired to sustain his father's confidence that,
in his person, the family name would rival the proudest and most
splendid in Italy's illustrious past.' His bewitching personality, his
rollicking gaiety, his brooding thoughtfulness, his dauntless courage
and his courtly ways swept all men off their feet; he had but to lead
and they instinctively followed; he commanded and they unquestionably
obeyed. He was nick-named _the Flower of Assisi_. He loved to be happy
and to make others happy. 'Yet,' as one Roman Catholic biographer
remarks, 'he did not yet know where true happiness was to be found.' He
was twenty-four when he made that sensational discovery. He found the
source of true happiness in the last place in the world in which he
would have thought of looking for it. He found it at the Cross! And, in
perfect consistency with his youthful conduct, he spent the rest of his
days--he died at forty-four--in pointing men to the Crucified. As a
youth he had done his best to radiate laughter and song among all the
young people of Assisi; it was therefore characteristic of him that,
having discovered the fountain-head of all abiding satisfaction, he
should make it the supreme object of his maturer years to share his
sublime secret with the whole wide world.


III

London was a village in the time of Francis d'Assisi, and the baying of
the wolves was the only sound heard in the forests that then covered the
sites of our great modern cities. Whilst King John was signing Magna
Carta, Francis was at Rome seeking recognition for his brotherhood of
friars. It was the age of the Crusaders and the Troubadours. Yet, as I
read the moving record of his great spiritual experience, I forget that
I have invaded a period in which English history had scarcely begun.
Francis has his affinities in every land and in every age. Francis died
four hundred years before John Bunyan was born; yet, as I read Bunyan's
description of Christian at the Cross, I seem to be perusing afresh the
story of the conversion of Francis. The language fits exactly. Strike
out the word 'Christian,' and substitute the word 'Francis,' and the
passage could be transferred bodily from the _Pilgrim's Progress_ to the
_Life of Francis d'Assisi_.

The conversion of Francis occurred five hundred years before Dr. Watts
wrote his noble hymn, '_When I survey the wondrous Cross_'; yet, without
knowing the words, Francis sang that song in his heart over and over and
over again.

The conversion of Francis was effected six hundred years before the
conversion of Mr. Spurgeon. Yet that conversion in the ruined church of
St. Damian's in Italy is the very counterpart of that later conversion
in the little chapel at Artillery Street, Colchester.

'Look!' cried the preacher at Colchester, 'look to Jesus! Look to
Jesus!' 'I looked,' says Mr. Spurgeon; 'I looked and was saved!'

'Francis looked to the Crucified,' says his biographer. 'It was a look
of faith; a look of love; a look that had all his soul in it; a look
which did not attempt to analyze, but which was content to receive. He
looked, and, looking, entered into life.'

You can take the sentences from the _Life of Francis_ and transfer them
to the _Life of Spurgeon_, or vice versa, and they will fit their new
environment with the most perfect historical accuracy.


IV

As, with your face towards Spello, you follow the windings of the Via
Francesca, you will find the little church of St. Damian's on the slope
of the hill outside the city walls. It is reached by a few minutes' walk
over a stony path, shaded with olive-trees, amid odors of lavender and
rosemary. 'Standing on the top of a hillock, the entire plain is visible
through a curtain of cypresses and pines which seem to be trying to hide
the humble hermitage and set up an ideal barrier between it and the
world.' Francis was particularly fond of this wooded walk and of the
sanctuary to which it led. In pensive moments, when it was more than
usually evident to him that, with all his merriment, he had not yet
discovered the fountain of true gladness, he turned his face this way.

The crucifix at St. Damian's--which is still preserved in the sacristy
of Santa Chiara--has features peculiarly its own. It differs from other
images of the kind: 'In most of the sanctuaries of the twelfth century,
the Crucified One, frightfully lacerated, with bleeding wounds, appears
to seek to inspire only grief and compunction; that of St. Damian, on
the contrary, has an expression of unutterable calm and gentleness;
instead of closing the eyelids in eternal surrender to the weight of
suffering, it looks down in self-forgetfulness, and its pure, clear gaze
says, not "_See how I suffer!_" but "_Come unto Me!_"'

That, at any rate, is what it said to Francis on that memorable day.
With an empty and a hungry heart he kneeled before it. 'O Lord Jesus,'
he cried, 'shed Thy light upon the darkness of my mind!' And then an
extraordinary thing happened. The Saviour to whom he prayed was no
longer an inanimate image; but a living Person! 'An answer seemed to
come from the tender eyes that looked down on him from the Cross,' says
Canon Adderley. 'Jesus heard his cry, and Francis accepted the dear Lord
as his Saviour and Master. A real spiritual union took place between him
and his Divine Lord. He took Him for better for worse, for richer for
poorer, till death and after death, for ever.' 'This vision marks,'
Sabatier says, 'the final triumph of Francis. His union with Christ is
consummated; from this time he can exclaim with the mystics of every
age, "My beloved is mine and I am His." From that day the remembrance of
the Crucified One, the thought of the love which had triumphed in
immolating itself, became the very center of his religious life, the
soul of his soul. For the first time, Francis had been brought into
direct, personal, intimate contact with Jesus Christ.' 'It was,' Canon
Adderley says again, 'no mere intellectual acceptance of a theological
proposition, but an actual self-committal to the Person of Jesus; no
mere sentimental feeling of pity for the sufferings of Christ, or of
comfort in the thought that, through those sufferings, he could secure a
place in a future heaven, but a real, brave assumption of the Cross, an
entering into the fellowship of the Passion of Christ, a determination
to suffer with Him and to spend and be spent in His service.'

Francis never forgot that moment. His whole soul overflowed with the
intensity of his affection for his Saviour. To the end of his days he
could never think of the Cross without tears; yet he never knew whether
those tears were prompted by admiration, pity, or desire.

When he arose and left the little sanctuary, he felt, as Bunyan's
pilgrim felt, that he had lost his load, and lost it for ever.

But he felt that he had assumed another. He had taken up the Cross. He
had devoted himself to its service. '_God forbid_,' he cried, '_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._' When, five centuries
later, Isaac Watts surveyed the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of
Glory died, his contemplation led to the same resolve:

  Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
  All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

And so, once more, without knowing the words, Francis sang in his soul
that song of consecration.

'_I looked and looked and looked again!_' say Francis and Spurgeon, six
centuries apart.

'_It was very surprising to me that the sight of the Cross should thus
ease me of my burden!_' say Francis and Bunyan, with four centuries
between.

'_Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ my
God!_' cry Francis and Isaac Watts, undivided by a chasm of five hundred
years.

In the presence of the Cross all the lands are united and all the ages
seem as one.


V

'_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._'
In the one cross Francis saw--as Paul did--three crucifixions.

He saw on the Cross _his Lord crucified for him_.

He saw on the Cross _the world crucified to him_.

He saw on the Cross _himself crucified to the world_.

From that hour Francis knew nothing among men save Jesus Christ and Him
crucified. Laying aside the gay clothing of which he was so fond, he
donned a peasant's cloak and tied it at the waist with a piece of
cord--the garb that afterwards became the habit of the Franciscan Order.
He then set out to initiate the greatest religious revival and the
greatest missionary movement of the mediæval ages--the enterprise that
paved the way for the Renaissance and the Reformation. Beginning at his
native town, he journeyed through the classic cities of Italy, unfolding
to all sorts and conditions of men the wonders of the Cross. Although
the hideous sight and loathsome smell of leprosy had always filled him
with unconquerable disgust, he gladly ministered to the lepers, in the
hope that, by so doing, he might impart to them the infinite
consolations of the Cross. Worn as he soon became, he set out to tramp
from land to land in order that he might proclaim through Europe and
Asia the matchless message of the Cross. In his walks through the lonely
woods he loved to proclaim to the very birds the story of the Cross. It
is another link with Bunyan. Bunyan felt that he should like to tell the
crows on the ploughed fields the story of his soul's salvation; but
Francis actually did it. He would sit down in the forest: wait until the
oaks and beeches and elms about him were filled with sparrows and
finches and wrens; and then tell of the dying love of Him who made them.
And, as they flew away, he loved to fancy that they formed themselves
into a cross-shaped cloud above him, and that the songs that they sang
were the rapt expression of their adoring worship. In his long
journeyings he was often compelled to subsist on roots and nuts and
berries. Meeting a kindred spirit in the woods he one day suggested that
they should commune together. His companion looked about him in
bewilderment. But Francis pointed to a rock. 'See!' he said, 'the rock
shall be our altar; the berries shall be our bread; the water in the
hollow of the rock shall be our wine!' It took very little to turn the
thoughts of Francis to the Cross; he easily lifted his soul into
communion with the Crucified. Whenever and wherever Francis opened his
lips, the Cross was always his theme. 'He poured into my heart the
sweetness of Christ!' said his most eminent convert, and thousands could
have said the same. Feeling the magnitude of his task and the meagerness
of his powers, he called upon his converts to assist him, and sent them
out, two by two, to tell of the ineffable grace of the Cross. In
humanness and common sense he founded his famous Order. His followers
were to respect domestic ties; they were to regard all work as
honorable, and to return an equivalent in labor for all that they
received. They were to husband their own powers; to regard their bodies
as sacred, and on no account to exhaust their energies in needless
vigils and fastings. The grey friars soon became familiar figures in
every town in Europe. They endured every conceivable privation and dared
every form of danger in order that, like their founder, they might tell
of the deathless love of the Cross.

Francis himself did not live long to lead them; but in death as in life
his eyes were on the Cross. Fifty of his disciples knelt around his bed
at the last. He begged them to read to him the 19th chapter of John's
gospel--the record of the Crucifixion. 'In living or in dying,' he said,
'_God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ!_'


VI

Francis d'Assisi and Matthew Arnold appear to have little or nothing in
common. Francis was emotional, mystical, seraphic; Arnold was cultured,
cold, and critical. Yet Francis threw an extraordinary spell over the
scholarly mind of Arnold, and, dissimilar as were their lives, in death
they were not divided.

'O my Lord Jesus,' prayed Francis, 'I beseech Thee, grant me _two_
graces before I die; the _first_, that I may feel in my soul and in my
body, as far as may be, the pain that Thou, sweet Lord, didst bear in
the hours of Thy most bitter passion; the _second_, that I may feel in
my heart, as far as may be, that exceeding love wherewith Thou, O Son of
God, didst willingly endure such agony for us sinners.'

His prayer was answered. As the sun was setting on a lovely autumn
evening, he passed away, sharing the anguish, yet glorying in the
triumph of the Cross. The song of the birds to whom he had so often
preached flooded the air with the melody he loved so well.

On another beautiful evening, nearly seven centuries later, Matthew
Arnold passed suddenly away. It was a Sunday, and he was spending it
with his brother-in-law at Liverpool. In the morning they went to Sefton
Park Church. Dr. John Watson (Ian Maclaren) preached on _The Shadow of
the Cross_. He used an illustration borrowed from the records of the
Riviera earthquake. In one village, he said, everything was overthrown
but the huge way-side crucifix, and to it the people, feeling the very
ground shuddering beneath their feet, rushed for shelter and protection.
After the sermon, most of the members of the congregation remained for
the Communion; but Arnold went home. As he came down to lunch, a servant
heard him singing softly:

  When I survey the wondrous Cross
    On which the Prince of Glory died,
  My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

  Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
  All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

In the afternoon he went for a walk with his relatives. He had, he told
them, seldom been so deeply impressed by a sermon as by Dr. Watson's. He
particularly mentioned the story of the Riviera crucifix. 'Yes,' he
said, earnestly, 'the Cross remains, and, in the straits of the soul,
makes its ancient appeal.' An hour later his heart had ceased to beat.

'_God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross!_' cried Francis.

'_The Cross remains, and, in the straits of the soul, makes its ancient
appeal!_' exclaims Matthew Arnold.

For the Cross, as Francis discovered that great day, is the true source
of all abiding happiness; the Cross is the stairway that Jacob saw,
leading up from earth to heaven; the Cross has a charm for men of every
clime and every time; it is the boast of the redeemed; the rock of ages;
the hope of this world and the glory of the world to come.



XXII

EVERYBODY'S TEXT


I

Centuries seemed like seconds that day: they dwindled down to nothing.
It was a beautiful September morning: I was only a little boy: and, as a
great treat, my father and mother had taken me to London to witness the
erection of Cleopatra's Needle. The happenings of that eventful day live
in my memory as vividly as though they had occurred but yesterday. I
seem even now to be watching the great granite column, smothered with
its maze of hieroglyphics, as it slowly ascends from the horizontal to
the perpendicular, like a giant waking and standing erect after his
long, long sleep. All the way up in the train we had been talking about
the wonderful thing I was so soon to see. My father had told me that it
once stood in front of the great temple at Heliopolis; that the Pharaohs
drove past it repeatedly on their way to and from the palace; and that,
very possibly, Moses, as a boy of my own age, sat on the steps at its
base learning the lessons that his tutor had prescribed. It seemed to
bring Moses and me very near together. To think that he, too, had stood
beside this self-same obelisk and had puzzled over the weird
inscriptions that looked so bewildering to me! And now Heliopolis, the
City of the Sun, has vanished! A single column tells the traveler where
it stood! London is the world's metropolis to-day. And the monument,
that stood among the splendors of the _old_ world, is being re-erected
amidst the glories of the _new_!

Will a time ever come, I wondered, when London will be as Heliopolis is?
Will the Needle, in some future age, be erected in some new capital--in
the metropolis of To-morrow? Had you stood, three thousand years ago,
where St. Paul's now stands, the only sound that you would have heard
coming up from the forests around would have been the baying of the
wolves. Wild swine ranged undisturbed along the site of the Strand. But
Egypt was in her glory, and the Needle stood in front of the temple!
Where, I wonder, will it stand in three thousand years' time? Some such
thought must have occurred to the authorities who are presiding over its
erection. For see, in the base of the obelisk a huge cavity yawns! What
is to be placed within it? What greeting shall we send from the
_Civilization-that-is_ to the _Civilization-that-is-to-be_? It is a
strange list upon which the officials have decided. It includes a set of
coins, some specimens of weights and measures, some children's toys, a
London directory, a bundle of newspapers, the photographs of the twelve
most beautiful women of the period, a box of hairpins and other articles
of feminine adornment, a razor, a parchment containing a translation of
the hieroglyphics on the obelisk itself--the hieroglyphics that so
puzzled Moses and me--and last, but not least, _a text!_ Yes, a text;
and a text, not in one language, but in every language known! The men
who tear down the obelisk from among the crumbling ruins of London may
not be able to decipher this language, or that, or the other. But surely
one of these ten score of tongues will have a meaning for them! And so,
in the speech of these two hundred and fifteen peoples, these words are
written out: FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN
SON THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE
EVERLASTING LIFE. _That_ is the greeting which the Twentieth Century
sends to the Fiftieth! I do not know what those men--the men who rummage
among the ruins of London--will make of the newspapers, the parchments,
the photographs and the hairpins. I suspect that the children's toys
will seem strangely familiar to them: a little girl's doll was found by
the archæologists among the ruins of Babylon: childhood keeps pretty
much the same all through the ages. But the text! The text will seem to
those far-off people as fresh as the latest fiftieth-century sensation.
Those stately cadences belong to no particular time and to no particular
clime. Ages may come and go; empires may rise and fall; they will still
speak with fadeless charm to the hungry hearts of men. They are for the
Nations-that-were, for the Nations-that-are, and for the
Nations-yet-to-be. That Text is _EVERYBODY'S TEXT_.


II

Few things are more arresting than the way in which these tremendous
words have won the hearts of all kinds and conditions of men. I have
been reading lately the lives of some of our most eminent evangelists
and missionaries; and nothing has impressed me more than the conspicuous
part that this text has played in their personal lives and public
ministries. Let me reach down a few of these volumes.

Here is the _Life of Richard Weaver_. In the days immediately preceding
his conversion, Richard was a drunken and dissolute coal miner. It is a
rough, almost repulsive, story. He tells us how, after his revels and
fights, he would go home to his mother with bruised and bleeding face.
She always received him tenderly; bathed his wounds; helped him to bed;
and then murmured in his ear the words that at last seemed inseparable
from the sound of her voice: _God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life._ The words came back to him in the hour of his
greatest need. His soul was passing through deep waters. Filled with
misery and shame, and terrified lest he should have sinned beyond the
possibility of salvation, he crept into a disused sand-pit. He was
engaged to fight another man that day, but he was in death-grips with a
more terrible adversary. 'In that old sand-pit,' he says, 'I had a
battle with the devil; and I came off more than conqueror through Him
that loved me.' And it was the text that did it. As he agonized there in
the sand-pit, tormented by a thousand doubts, his mother's text all at
once spoke out bravely. It left no room for uncertainty. '_God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life._' 'I thought,' Richard
tells us, 'that _whosoever_ meant _me_. What faith was, I could not
tell; but I had heard that it was taking God at His word; and so I took
God at His word and trusted in the finished work of my Saviour. The
happiness I then enjoyed I cannot describe; my peace flowed as a river.'

Duncan Matheson and Richard Weaver were contemporaries. They were born
at about the same time; and, at about the same time they were converted.
Matheson was Scottish; Weaver was English. Matheson was a stonemason;
Weaver was a coal-miner; in due course both became evangelists. In some
respects they were as unlike each other as two men could possibly be: in
other respects their lives are like sister ships; they seem exactly
alike. Especially do they resemble each other in their earliest
religious experiences. We have heard Weaver's story: let us turn to
Matheson's. Weaver, at the time of his conversion, was twenty-five:
Matheson is twenty-two. He has been ill at ease for some time, and every
sermon he has heard has only deepened his distress. On a sharp winter's
morning, with the frost sparkling on the shrubs and plants around him,
he is standing in his father's garden, when, suddenly, the words of
Richard Weaver's text--Everybody's Text--take powerful hold upon his
mind. 'I saw,' he says, 'that God loves me, for God loves all the world.
I saw the proof of His love in the giving of His Son. I saw that
_whosoever_ meant _me_, _even me_. My load was loosed from off my back.
Bunyan describes his pilgrim as giving three leaps for joy as his burden
rolled into the open sepulchre. I could not contain myself for
gladness.' The parallel is very striking.

'_God loves me!_' _exclaims_ Richard Weaver, in surprise.

'_I saw that God loves me!_' says Duncan Matheson.

'_I thought that "whosoever" meant "me"_' says Weaver.

'_I saw that "whosoever" meant "me,"_' says Matheson.

'_The happiness I then enjoyed I cannot describe_,' says our English
coal-miner.

'_I could not contain myself for gladness_,' says our Scottish
stonemason.

We may dismiss the evangelists with that, and turn to the missionaries.


III

Like Richard Weaver and Duncan Matheson, Frederick Arnot and Egerton R.
Young were contemporaries. I heard them both--Fred Arnot in Exeter Hall
and Egerton Young in New Zealand. They lived and labored on opposite
sides of the Atlantic. Fred Arnot gave himself to the fierce Barotses of
Central Africa; Egerton Young set himself to win the Red Men of the
North American woods and prairies.

Arnot's life is one of the most pathetic romances that even Africa has
given to the world. He made the wildest men love him. Sir Francis de
Winton declares that Arnot made the name of Englishman fragrant amidst
the vilest habitations of cruelty. 'He lived a life of great hardship,'
says Sir Ralph Williams; 'I have seen many missionaries under varied
circumstances, but such an absolutely forlorn man, existing on from day
to day, almost homeless, without any of the appliances that make life
bearable, I have never seen.' And the secret of this great unselfish
life? The secret was the text. He was only six when he heard
Livingstone. He at once vowed that he, too, would go to Africa. When his
friends asked how he would get there, he replied that, if that were all,
he would swim. But nobody knew better than he did that the real
obstacles that stood between himself and a life like Livingstone's were
not physical but spiritual. He could not lead Africa into the kingdom of
Christ unless he had first entered that kingdom himself. As a boy of
ten, he found himself lying awake at two o'clock one morning, repeating
a text. He went over it again and again and again. _God so loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life._ 'This,' says Sir William
Robertson Nicoll, 'was Arnot's lifelong creed, and he worked in its
spirit.' 'This,' he says himself, 'was my first and chief message.' He
could imagine none greater.

Exactly so was it with Egerton Young. He tells us, for example, of the
way in which he invaded the Nelson River district and opened work among
people who had never before heard the gospel. He is surrounded by two
hundred and fifty or three hundred wild Indians. 'I read aloud,' he
says, 'those sublime words: _For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life._ They listened with the most rapt attention
whilst for four hours I talked to them of the truths of this glorious
verse. When I had finished, every eye turned towards the principal
chief. He rose, and, coming near me, delivered one of the most thrilling
addresses I have ever heard. Years have passed away since that hour, and
yet the memory of that tall, straight, impassioned Indian is as vivid as
ever. His actions were many, but all were graceful. His voice was
particularly fine and full of pathos, for he spoke from the heart.'

'"Missionary," exclaimed the stately old chief, "I have not, for a long
time, believed in our religion. I hear God in the thunder, in the
tempest and in the storm: I see His power in the lightning that shivers
the tree: I see His goodness in giving us the moose, the reindeer, the
beaver, and the bear. I see His loving-kindness in sending us, when the
south winds blow, the ducks and geese; and when the snow and ice melt
away, and our lakes and rivers are open again, I see how He fills them
with fish. I have watched all this for years, and I have felt that the
Great Spirit, so kind and watchful and loving, could not be pleased by
the beating of the conjurer's drum or the shaking of the rattle of the
medicine man. And so I have had no religion. But what you have just said
fills my heart and satisfies its longings. I am so glad you have come
with this wonderful story. Stay as long as you can!"'

Other chiefs followed in similar strains; and each such statement was
welcomed by the assembled Indians with vigorous applause. The message of
the text was the very word that they had all been waiting for.

Fred Arnot found that it was what _Africa_ was waiting for!

Egerton Young found that it was what _America_ was waiting for!

It is the word that _all the world_ is waiting for!

For that text is _Everybody's Text_!


IV

A pair of evangelists--Weaver and Matheson!

A pair of missionaries--Arnot and Young!

I have one other pair of witnesses waiting to testify that this text is
_Everybody's Text_. Martin Luther and Lord Cairns have very little in
common. One was German; the other was English. One was born in the
fifteenth century; the other in the nineteenth. One was a monk; the
other was Lord Chancellor. But they had _this_ in common, that they had
to die. And when they came to die, they turned their faces in the same
direction. Lord Cairns, with his parting breath, quietly but clearly
repeated the words of _Everybody's Text_. _God so loved the world that
He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish but have everlasting life._

During his last illness, Luther was troubled with severe headaches.
Someone recommended to him an expensive medicine. Luther smiled.

'No,' he said, 'my best prescription for head and heart is that _God so
loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life_.'

A fortnight before he passed away, he repeated the text with evident
ecstasy, and added, 'What Spartan saying can be compared with this
wonderful brevity? It is a Bible in itself!' And in his dying moments he
again repeated the words, thrice over, in Latin.

'They are the best prescription for headache and heartache!' said
Luther.

There were headaches and heartaches in the world three thousand years
ago, when Cleopatra's Needle stood beside the Temple at Heliopolis!

There will be headaches and heartaches in the world centuries hence,
when the obelisk is rescued from among the ruins of London!

There were headaches and heartaches among those Barotse tribes to whom
Fred Arnot went!

There were headaches and heartaches among those tattooed braves to whom
Egerton Young carried the message!

There are headaches and heartaches in England, as the Lord Chancellor
knew!

There are headaches and heartaches in Germany, as Luther found!

And, because there are headaches and heartaches for everybody, this is
_Everybody's Text_. There is, as Luther said, nothing like it.


V

When Sir Harry Lauder was here in Melbourne, he had just sustained the
loss of his only son. His boy had fallen at the front. And, with this in
mind, Sir Harry told a beautiful and touching story. 'A man came to my
dressing-room in a New York theater,' he said, 'and told of an
experience that had recently befallen him. In American towns, any
household that had given a son to the war was entitled to place a star
on the window-pane. Well, a few nights before he came to see me, this
man was walking down a certain avenue in New York accompanied by his wee
boy. The lad became very interested in the lighted windows of the
houses, and clapped his hands when he saw the star. As they passed house
after house, he would say, "Oh, look, Daddy, there's another house that
has given a son to the war! And there's another! There's one with two
stars! And look! there's a house with no star at all!" At last they came
to a break in the houses. Through the gap could be seen the evening star
shining brightly in the sky. The little fellow caught his breath. "Oh,
look, Daddy," he cried, "God must have given _His_ Son, for He has got a
star in _His_ window."'

'He has, indeed!' said Sir Harry Lauder, in repeating the story.

But it took the clear eyes of a little child to discover that the very
stars are repeating _Everybody's Text_. The heavens themselves are
telling of the love that gave a Saviour to die for the sins of the
world.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Handful of Stars - Texts That Have Moved Great Minds" ***

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