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Title: With God in the World - A Series of Papers
Author: Brent, Charles H., 1862-1929
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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from the collection of Brays Advent Christian Church in
Iberia, Missouri, Josephine Paolucci and the Online


_WITH GOD IN THE WORLD_

       *       *       *       *       *

BY THE RT. REV. CHARLES H. BRENT, D.D.


     ADVENTURE FOR GOD. _Crown 8vo._

     THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE CROSS. _Small 12mo._

     LEADERSHIP. _Crown 8vo._

     LIBERTY AND OTHER SERMONS. _Crown 8vo._

     THE MIND OF CHRIST JESUS ON THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD.
     _Small 8vo._

     PRESENCE. _Small 12mo._

     THE SPLENDOR OF THE HUMAN BODY. _Small 12mo._

     WITH GOD IN THE WORLD. _Small 12mo._

     THE REVELATION OF DISCOVERY. _Crown 8vo._

     PRISONERS OF HOPE. _Crown 8vo._

     THE INSPIRATION OF RESPONSIBILITY, AND OTHER PAPERS. _Crown
     8vo._

     A MASTER BUILDER: BEING THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF BISHOP
     SATTERLEE. _8vo._

     THE MOUNT OF VISION. _Crown 8vo._

LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO.

       *       *       *       *       *



WITH GOD IN THE WORLD

A Series of Papers

BY

CHARLES H. BRENT, D.D.

_BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK_

NEW IMPRESSION

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK
BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS
1919


_Copyright, 1899, by Longmans, Green, & Co._

FIRST EDITION, AUGUST, 1899
REPRINTED JANUARY, 1900, JANUARY, 1902
OCTOBER, 1905, FEBRUARY, 1908
AUGUST, 1910, FEBRUARY, 1912
OCTOBER, 1912, NOVEMBER, 1912
JANUARY, 1914
FEBRUARY, 1916
JANUARY, 1919


TO MY FRIENDS
JOHN W. WOOD, SILAS MCBEE
AND
JAMES L. HOUGHTELING



Preface


_Charles Darwin says somewhere that "the only object in writing a book
is a proof of earnestness." Whether it is the only object, may be a
question; it is certainly one object. And the poorest book that ever
went to press, merits respect, provided that its writer is sincere and
speaks from conviction. It is this and the sense that "thought is not
our own until we impart it" to others, that has encouraged me to write
these pages--originally a series of papers prepared for the_ Saint
Andrew's Cross, _the organ of a Society for which I am glad to profess
publicly a deep admiration and affection. Often, more frequently far
than is noted, I have borrowed the thought and language of others to
express my own mind. I send out this little volume with the hope that,
before it meets with the fate of the ephemeral literature to which it
belongs, it may help a few here and there to take up life's journey with
steadier steps and cheerier mien._

_C. H. B._



Contents


_CHAPTERS_

I. THE UNIVERSAL ART                                _Page_ 1

II. FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD--LOOKING                           9

III. FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD--SPEAKING                        20

IV. FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD--THE RESPONSE                     29

V. THE TESTING OF FRIENDSHIP                              40

VI. KNITTING BROKEN FRIENDSHIP                            52

VII. FRIENDSHIP IN GOD                                    61

VIII. FRIENDSHIP IN GOD--CONTINUED                        71

IX. THE CHURCH IN PRAYER                                  84

X. THE GREAT ACT OF WORSHIP                               97

XI. WITNESSES UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH       111

XII. THE INSPIRATION OF RESPONSIBILITY                   123

APPENDIX--WHERE GOD DWELLS                               135



Chapter I

_The Universal Art_


It is productive of much mischief to try to make people believe that the
life of prayer is easy. In reality there is nothing quite so difficult
as strong prayer, nothing so worthy of the attention and the exercise of
all the fine parts of a great manhood. On the other hand there is no man
who is not equal to the task. So splendid has this human nature of ours
become through the Incarnation that it can bear any strain and meet any
demand that God sees fit to put upon it. Some duties are individual and
special, and there is exemption from them for the many, but there is
never any absolution from a duty for which a man has a capacity. There
is one universal society, the Church, for which all are eligible and
with which all are bound to unite; there is one universal book, the
Bible, which all can understand and which it is the duty of all to read;
there is one universal art, prayer, in which all may become well skilled
and to the acquirement of which all must bend their energies.

Active or dormant, the instinct of prayer abides, a faithful tenant, in
every soul. The peasants who went to the Incarnate One and said "Lord,
teach us to pray," were representative of a whole race, a race which
feels stirring within its breast a capacity for prayer, but whose power
to pray falls far short of the desire. The instinct to pray may be
undeveloped, or paralyzed by violence, or it may lie bed-ridden in the
soul through long neglect; but even so, no benumbed faculty is more
readily roused to life and nerved to action than that of prayer. The
faculty is there; no one is without it. Whether it expands, and how, is
only a question of the will of the person concerned.

It is good to be quite honest and frank. Is it not so that the real
thing that makes men dumb towards God is, in the first instance, at any
rate, not intellectual doubt about the efficacy of prayer but the
difficulty of it all--the rebellion of the flesh, the strain upon the
attention, the claim upon the time? Are not the common stumbling-blocks
in the way of prayer incidental rather than essential? Do men give up
prayer because they are conscientiously convinced that they would do
violence to their noble nature if they were to persist in its exercise?
Nothing can release a man from the duty of praying but the profound
conviction that it would be a sin for him to continue to pray. And it
might be safely added that any one thus momentarily caught in the toils
of pure reason, any one endowed with such a delicate conscience as would
lead to this, must eventually turn again with joy to the neglected task.
Even the great agnostic scientist, Tyndall, who, of course, had a very
limited view of what prayer was capable of accomplishing, and was in a
position to perceive only one dim ray of its beauty--its subjective
refining influence upon the petitioner--even such an one declares that
"prayer in its purer forms hints at disciplines which few of us can
neglect without moral loss."[1]

How to perfect the talent of prayer--that is the question. Bent upon
this errand many wind themselves in the folds of complicated rules or
bathe themselves in the vapour of fascinating theories, all to no
purpose. Or, as in the case of most things worth coveting, they cast
around for some easy way of attainment, only to experience that where
they "looked for crowns to fall," they "find the tug's to come,--that's
all." Simplicity and courage are two virtues indispensable for those who
covet to pray well. Especially must they be ready to embrace difficulty
and court pain--and that through the long stretch of a life-time.

    _Let no man think that sudden in a minute
      All is accomplished and the work is done;--
    Though with thine earliest dawn thou shouldst begin it
      Scarce were it ended in thy setting sun._

Let it be clearly understood at the outset, then, that though the art of
prayer is a universal art it is the most difficult of all. But even so
this is not an excuse for discouragement or a justification of spiritual
indolence, for a man's best desires are always the index and measure of
his possibilities; and the most difficult duty that a man is capable of
doing is the duty that above all he should do.

A moment's reflection must convince us that man cannot teach man to
pray, because of what prayer is. Prayer is man's side of converse with
God; it is speech Godward. How passing absurd it would be for a third
person to presume to instruct either one of two companions how to hold
converse with his friend! Were he to venture the impertinence he would
develop in his pupil the curse of self-consciousness--that is all. We
can learn to converse with men only by conversing; we can learn to pray
to God only by praying. Prayer is a universal art, but there is only one
Teacher for all, and He never teaches two persons in exactly the same
way. God's friendships are as diverse as the souls with whom He
interchanges confidences. These confidences must come from Himself; none
else can impart them. There are certain great truths about prayer which
may be formulated to good purpose--fundamental laws governing all
fellowship with God, laws to which all in common must give heed; but
beyond this one may not venture. In the matter of prayer as in all else
God reserves to Himself the exclusive right of imparting His most
intimate secrets directly to each separate soul, having a separate
confidence for each according to its capacity, temperament, and all
those qualities which distinguish every man from every other man.

Though we may have learned the fundamental principles of prayer from
devout friends and teachers, whatever we really know of prayer we have
learned by praying. Even the mother, at whose knee the earliest phrases
of prayer were lisped out, at the best only led us gently into the
presence of God. It is not too much to say that the Church herself
cannot do more than put the soul very near God and leave it there,
trusting that something will come of it. The rest must proceed in direct
course from the lips of the Most High Himself. So delicate and subtle is
the correspondence between the soul and God, so "intensely personal" a
thing is prayer[2] that we are often seriously hindered rather than
helped by the blundering but well-intended efforts of those who would
guide us to better devotion. Even to put a manual of private prayers
into the hands of some persons who have not been accustomed to reach God
through a book might be sufficient to mar the spontaneity of their
approach to Him and check the intimate relations with Him which have
hitherto always obtained. Because it suits one person's temperament to
call in the aid of a manual it by no means follows that every one else
should be presented with a copy of the book. Indeed happy are those
souls who have always been able to speak with a reverent yet free
familiarity with God, having nothing to aid save the vision of His face;
and the final aim of every good manual is to emancipate the soul into
the joyousness of a spontaneity which is wholly devoid of blighting
self-consciousness.

It ought to be further added that every one who regularly uses set forms
of prayer should habitually incorporate into his devotions at least some
words of his own which, however poor and few, yet are fresh and new from
his heart. Of course what has been said about forms of prayer applies
exclusively to private devotions. When the great corporate life of the
Church speaks in worship it must be with one clear voice unmixed with
the idiosyncrasies of the individual and summing up the aspirations of
the best. But of this later.

The world just now is sadly in need of better service, but before this
can be rendered there must be better prayer. A low standard of prayer
means a low standard of character and a low standard of service. Those
alone labour effectively among men who impetuously fling themselves
upward towards God. In view of this it is a comfort to feel that no
earnest man, whatever be the stage of his spiritual development, can be
satisfied with his present attainments in his life of prayer.
Fortunately for us, here as well as in other departments of life the
ideal is always pressing itself upon our notice and making the actual
blush with shame for what it is. And it is just because this is so that
there is hope of better things. The ideal beckons as well as condemns.
What if long steeps of toil, strewn with the stones of difficulty, lie
in between! God's home is far up on the hills, and nowhere is He so
easily found as in a difficulty. As has been said, prayer is quite the
most difficult task a man can undertake; but it has this gracious
compensation that in no other duty does God lend such direct,
face-to-face help. Man may speak wise words about prayer; the Church may
bid to prayer; but God alone can unfold to souls the delicate secrets of
prayer. The best help is for the hardest duty--the help that comes
straight from the Lord.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] _On Prayer as a form of Physical Energy._

[2] _Maturin._



Chapter II

_Friendship with God--Looking_


Yes, prayer is speech Godward, and worship is man's whole life of
friendship with God, flowing out, as it were, of all that tide of
emotion and service which is love's best speech. It is by thinking,
then, of the nature of fellowship between man and man, which is the most
beautiful thing in the world excepting only fellowship with God, that we
can get substantial help in developing the life of prayer. Consider the
Christian fellowship of two noble characters. It is "the greatest love
and the greatest usefulness, and the most open communication, and the
noblest sufferings, and the most exemplar faithfulness, and the severest
truth and the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of
minds,"--Jeremy Taylor stops here only because he has exhausted his
stock of sublime phrases--"of which brave men and women are capable."[3]

Friendship is a full, steady stream, not intermittent or spasmodic. It
is not something which lasts only when each looks into the other's eyes;
for "distance sometimes endears friendship, and absence sweeteneth it."
It moves and expands the life even when the mind is busied with matters
prosaic and vexatious, even when there is no inward contemplation of the
features or character of the absent friend. And yet, although friendship
does not consist in face-to-face communication one with another, it is
in this that it takes its rise, it is by this that it is fed. Fellowship
is not the same as friendship, but there can be no friendship without
fellowship. That is to say, there must be certain definite, formal acts,
acts not made once for all, but repeated as often as opportunity is
given; such form the cradle and nursery of friendship. In themselves
they are not much--a grasp of the hand, a smile, a simple gift, a
conventional salutation, a familiar talk about familiar things--but they
introduce soul to soul, and through them each gives to the other his
deepest self.

Friendship between man and man is no vague, intangible thing whose only
reality is its name. Much less can one think thus of friendship with
God. Friendship with God is the friendship of friendships. While it
lives on strong and true even when we are not in conscious fellowship
with Him, moments of conscious realization and contemplation of His
person, character and presence are as essential to friendship with Him
as food is necessary for the sustenance of life. There must be times of
prayer and occasions of definite, formal approach to Him, the more the
better, provided they be healthy and free. It is not an arbitrary
enactment that declares morning, noonday and evening to be the moments
of time when the soul of man should with peculiar intensity lift up its
gaze unto the hills.[4] One recognizes immediately the inherent fitness
of having conscious fellowship with God at the opening, in the middle
and at the close of day. In the morning,--because man's powers are then
replete with life, his will nerved to act, his eye clear to see; never
is he so well able to gain a vision of God, whether in the solitude of
his room or in the quiet of the Church at an early Eucharist, as in the
first hours of a new day. At noon,--because the soul like the body needs
a mid-day rest; the dust of activity and the distractions of business
will have dimmed the morning vision before the day is full gone, and it
is good to refresh the nature by again, if it be only for a brief
moment, looking straight up into the face of the Most High. At
night,--for the evening shadows find God's servant with soiled soul and
drooping aspirations in sore need of that cleansing and cheer which the
sight of God imparts.

And the life of prayer works in a circle. The devotions of the morning
give tone to those which come at noon and night, while the night prayers
in turn determine the quality of the morrow's. Men usually wake in the
temper of mind in which they went to sleep. It is all-important to gain
a clear vision of God as the last conscious act before going to rest.
The founder of French socialism was awakened every morning by a valet
who said: "Remember, Monsieur le Comte, that you have great things to
do." But it is not men who aspire only or chiefly in the morning that
achieve great things, but rather those who aspire at night. What is of
nature in the morning is of grace at night. The vision that comes easily
at the beginning of the unused stretch of a new day is harder to see
when disappointment and failure have clouded the eye of hope; but it
means more. The men who attain the highlands of the spiritual life never
"sleep with the wings of aspiration furled."

Of course God is always with us, always looking at us with searching
yet loving scrutiny. It would be impossible for us to be more completely
in His presence than we are; for in Him "we live, and move, and have our
being." But for the most part our lives are spent without much conscious
recognition of the fact. He will be no more present at the last day when
we stand before His throne than He is now. The only difference will be
that then we shall see Him as He sees us; we shall be so wholly absorbed
by that consciousness that there will be room for no other consideration
as, God grant, there will be no other desire. But before that moment
comes men must practise looking into His face by faith so that it will
not be unfamiliar as the face of a stranger when the last veil is swept
aside.

Among men contemplation of another's personality is the requisite
preliminary of fellowship with him. Fellowship can begin only when there
is a mutual recognition each of his fellow's presence. Personality is
the most powerful magnet the world knows; and the finer the personality
the more readily will all one's best impulses be set in motion and
attracted to it. How vain then is it to attempt to speak to God before
the consciousness of His living, loving presence has caught the
attention and absorbed the mind--or at any rate until we have done our
best to see Him, attentive, sympathetic, with His gaze fixed upon us.
Power to pray is proportionate to the vividness of our consciousness of
His presence and personality. When a man is talking to a companion his
mind is occupied with the sense of the presence of an attentive,
sympathetic personality rather than with the thought of the precise
words he is going to use. His fellow acts as a magnet to extract his
thoughts. An orator makes his finest appeal when he is least conscious
of himself and most conscious of his audience. Just so then is it with
speech Godward. The moment a man is assured that God's personality is
present and that His ear is opened earthward, speech heavenward is a
power and a joy, and only then. Many make prayer a fine intellectual
exercise or a training school for the attention--this and nothing more.
They strain their utmost, and doubtless they succeed well, to understand
each sentence uttered and to speak it intelligently. Their minds are on
what they are saying rather than on the Person to Whom they are saying
it. They reap about the same benefit as they would if they recited
attentively a scene from Shakespeare.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills." The vision of God unseals
the lips of man. Herein lies strength for conflict with the common enemy
of the praying world known as wandering thoughts. Personality will
enchain attention when the most interesting intellectual, moral and
spiritual concerns will fail to attract. If the eye is fixed on God
thought may roam where it will without irreverence, for every thought is
then converted into a prayer. Some have found it a useful thing when
their minds have wandered off from devotion and been snared by some good
but irrelevant consideration, not to cast away the offending thought as
the eyes are again lifted to the Divine Face, but to take it captive,
carry it into the presence of God and weave it into a prayer before
putting it aside and resuming the original topic. This is to lead
captivity captive.

It is hard for those to see God's face who confine their contemplation
of spiritual things to moments of formal devotion, who, while occupied
with material things, do not explore what is beneath and beyond the
visible, who do not strive to discern the moral and religious aspect of
every phase of life. On the other hand the vision of God becomes
increasingly clear to such as look not at the things which are seen but
at the things which are not seen. These may be exceedingly practical
people, people ever active in the commonplace duties of life, but their
wont is to cast everything into the upward sweep of the Ascension of
Jesus and everything is seen by them with the glow of heaven upon it. Of
course they pray well.

After all "the sin of inattention" does not begin at the time of formal
approach to God. It only makes itself peculiarly manifest then. If a
person lives listlessly and does not put his full force into the
ordinary duties of his life where the aids to attention are plenty, how
can he expect to command his mind at those times when it is called upon
to make a supreme act of attentiveness and see Him Who is invisible? A
good man of our day[5] said of himself: "My greatest help in life has
been the blessed habit of intensity. I go at what I am about as if there
was nothing else in the world for the time being."

Here then are two obvious, simple and rational principles upon obedience
to which hinges the ability to make one's own the growing vision of
God--the habit of spiritualizing the commonplace and the habit of
attention in work. Whoever equips himself with them has made the best
possible preparation for approach to God. It is an indirect way of
getting at things, it is true; but often the method that is most
indirect is the most direct. It is certainly so in this case.

Of course in considering the subject of God's Being one cannot wholly
avoid the difficult question of personality. It would be aside from our
purpose, however, to discuss the matter philosophically. For all
practical purposes there is ample and secure footing near at hand. When
by faith we look toward God, it is not toward an immovable but beautiful
statue we turn, not to an abstract quality or a tendency that makes for
righteousness, but to One Who looks with responsive gaze, Who notes our
desires, Who heeds our words, Who lives, Who loves, Who acts. It is a
horrible and deadening travesty of the truth to conceive of God as a
great, impassive Being, seated on a throne of majesty, drinking in all
the life and worship that flow from the service of His myriad creatures,
Himself receiving all and giving none. Though probably no one believes
this as a matter of theory, when men look for God in the practice of
prayer too often it is such a God they find. And many can say with
Augustine as they review moments of fruitless devotional effort in the
past: "My error was my God."[6] The truth is that though a great tide
of energy moves ceaselessly toward God, it is but the shadow of what
comes from Him. Indeed He is the Source of the life which flows inward
toward Him as much as of that which flows outward from Him. He is
undying energy, with unerring purpose, moving swiftly and noiselessly
among men, striving to burn eternal life into their lame, stained,
meagre souls. He is the Father that goes out to meet the returning
profligate, the Shepherd that follows the track of the wandering sheep.
Man has never yet had to wait for Him. He has always been as close to
man as man would let Him come. His hands have never ceased to beat upon
the bars of man's self-will to force an entrance into starved human
nature. All this must be in man's conception of God as he approaches
Him.

What above all gives to God that which enables man to see Him is the
Incarnation. In the Godhead is a familiar figure--the figure of Man. It
was this that absorbed the attention of the dying Stephen. The Son of
Man standing on God's right hand, was the vision that enthralled him as
the stones battered out his life. And it is this same vision that makes
the unseen world a reality to men now. Humanity is there at its centre,
the pledge of sympathy, the promise of victory. Not by a flight of
imagination but by the exercise of insight we can look and see the
sympathetic face of the Son of Man, who is also the Son of God; and with
the sight fellowship with God becomes possible, the string of the tongue
is loosed and we are ready to pray.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] _Works: Vol. i. 72._

[4] _Ps. lv_: 17.

[5] _Charles Kingsley._

[6] _For thou wert not thyself, but a mere phantom, and my error was my
God. Confessions, Bk. iv. 7._



Chapter III

_Friendship with God--Speaking_


Quite a sufficient guide as to how God should be addressed is afforded
by the Lord's Prayer. It was given by the Master in response to the
earnest request of His disciples for instruction in prayer. Brief,
compact and complete, it is as it were the Christian seed-prayer. Once
let it be planted in the heart of a Church or the soul of a child of God
and it will grow into the glowing devotion of wondrous collects and rich
liturgies. Indeed there is no Christian prayer worth anything which does
not owe its whole merit to the Lord's Prayer; and the noblest liturgy of
the Church is but the expansion and application of the same. Hence it is
the touchstone of all prayer. By it the Christian's mode of address to
God is finally approved or condemned.

How important is it, then, that a man should know the Lord's
Prayer!--know it, not merely as a formula, but as the embodiment of the
vital principles of converse with God. The process of yore must be
repeated by the disciples of to-day. Like their predecessors of Galilee
they must approach the unchangeable One and prefer the old entreaty:
"Lord, teach us to pray." Nothing short of this will suffice. Then if
they listen they will receive the familiar measures of the "Our Father"
as a new and personal gift fresh and living from the lips of Jesus. It
is good sometimes to "wait still upon God" between the sentences, and
let the Holy Spirit apply each several petition to one's own special
case and to all those interests which concern one's life--in sooth,
translate it into the terms of our own day and generation. It is thus
that the compressed richness of the Lord's Prayer is unfolded.

The Lord's Prayer is one of those most precious of things known as
common property. But a common possession to be worth anything to anybody
must be related by every one of the multitude who claim a share in it,
each to his own personality. Before common property can fully justify
its claim to be common, it must become in a sense private by a process
of implicit appropriation on the part of the individuals concerned. So
while the Lord's Prayer ideally belongs to every child of God as the
common heritage of prayer, it actually belongs only to those who have
recognized and used it as a personal, though not exclusive, gift from
its Author.

Not the least important characteristic of the Lord's Prayer is its
simplicity in thought and expression. Surely it is not without
significance that as it stands in the English tongue it is the purest
piece of Saxon in literature, a monument of clearness and simplicity.
God neither speaks or desires to be spoken to in grandiloquent language
which belongs to the courts of earthly kings. The difficulty that so
many persons find in praying without the aid of some form of devotion is
largely due to the impression that the language needed for address to
God is not such as an ordinary mortal can frame. There are four leading
principles, the first of which contradicts this misconception, that
stand out in bold prominence in the Lord's Prayer, and tell us what all
speech Godward should be.

§ 1. _Prayer must be familiar yet reverent._ We are taught to address
God as our Father. What a host of intimate confidences this single word
calls up! There is no familiarity so close as that between child and
father, no sympathy so sensitive. When Scripture declares that Enoch
walked with God, whatever else it means beyond, it means at least that
Enoch was able to hold familiar converse with God in prayer. Those who
knew him could find no better way of describing his relationship with
God than by drawing the picture of the familiar companionship of two
intimate friends. Or again, when Abraham is termed the friend of God it
implies, as well as much beside, that he knew how to speak familiarly
yet acceptably to God. All this was long ago, before man's full relation
to God was made known. The coming of the Son of God as the Son of Man
makes what was really deep seem shallow, so mighty was the change that
was wrought. It is not merely as an ordinary friend that the Christian
may speak to God, but as a son. Filial relations are the highest type of
friendship.

But familiarity must be chastened by reverence, a quality strangely
lacking in our national character. It would seem as though in the
boldness of our search for independence reverence had been largely
forfeited. The Father addressed is in heaven. That is He is where
holiness prevails to the utter exclusion of sin. So while we may tell
out the whole mind it must be done with regard for the moral character
of God and His eternal and infinite attributes; with the familiarity,
not of equals, but of lowly souls addressing sympathetic greatness and
holiness. To dwell exclusively on either one of these two
considerations, God's Fatherhood or His infinite character, will result,
on the one hand, in familiarity without reverence; or, on the other, in
reverence without familiarity. Familiarity without the discipline of
reverence is desecrating impertinence, and reverence without the warmth
of familiarity is chilling formalism.

§ 2. _Prayer should be comprehensive yet definite._ In the Lord's Prayer
each petition gathers into its grasp whole groups of desires, and all
the petitions taken together give shelter under their hospitable shadow
to every need and every aspiration that belong to human life. Great
gifts are asked for--"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it
is in heaven." In such requests we even claim things _for_ God as well
as _from_ Him. The dignity of each several petition is marked. We are
taught to expect royal gifts from our royal Father, gifts worthy of
members of that royal family, the children of the Incarnation. The
effect of the persistent use of these comprehensive petitions has
filtered right through human experience and taught man to expect great
things in all departments of life, in science, in invention, in
literature. Man's best desires have become a true measure of his
possibilities.

The prayer that is shaped after the great model must not be timid or
faltering, but bold and aspiring. It is a great mistake for one to be
satisfied with praying for, say, purity instead of "Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven." That is to ask for the crumb from the rich
man's table when the rich man is beseeching you to sit by his side and
share all that he has. Let us pray for purity by all means, though not
as if it were a flower that grew in a bed all by itself. We can get one
Christian grace only by aiming at all.

No less marked than the comprehension is the definiteness of the
petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Each is as clear cut as a crystal. There
is no mistaking its meaning. Like the articles of the Creed they are all
too simple to be vague, and they carry their meaning on their face. It
is a common fault in prayer to be content with a certain comprehension
that abjures definiteness. If the latter without the former can at the
best make a character of but small stature, the former without the
latter can make no character at all. Take the one matter of penitence.
The mere admission of sinfulness, as in the prayer of the publican, is
but the first moan of penitence. A riper penitence rises from the vague
to the definite in declaring the sins, and not only the sinfulness, for
which God's mercy is implored. True comprehension implies detailed
knowledge and minute accuracy.

§ 3. _Prayer should be social rather than individual in spirit._ _Our_
Father; forgive _us_. The "our" and the "us" warn men never to think of
themselves as units, or of religion as a private transaction between God
and the individual. God regards each as a part _of_, and never apart
_from_, the whole race, at the same time cherishing each part as though
it were the whole. Consequently petitions for others ought to keep even
pace with those for ourselves. A moment's reflection shows how true
philosophically the social form of prayer is. So closely is the web of
human life woven that what touches one touches two at least, unless a
man be a hermit, when he is as good as dead. Even supposing one were to
pray for a spiritual gift for himself alone and receive it, it would at
once become the property of others in some measure at any rate. It is an
inflexible law that the righteousness or the evil, as the case may be,
which dwells in a man, becomes forthwith the righteousness or the evil
of the society to which he belongs. It is only common sense then to pray
"give us" and "forgive us" rather than "give me" and "forgive me."

Of course, this does not mean that "I" and "me" should never occur in
our private prayers. They must do so. But I am to love my neighbour as
myself on my knees as well as in society. My neighbour is my other or
second self to which I owe an equal duty of prayer with myself. To link
"their" or "his" with "mine" on equal terms is really to say "our"; to
ask for others separately what I have already claimed for myself is to
be social rather than individual in prayer.

It would follow, then, that intercessory prayer is not a work of
extraordinary merit but a necessary element of devotion. It is the
simple recognition in worship of the fundamental law of human life that
no man lives or dies alone. But intercession rises to sublime heights
when it claims the privilege and the power for each child of God to
gather up in his arms the whole family to which he belongs, and carry it
with its multifold needs and its glorious possibilities into the
presence of the common Father for blessing and protection. It is grand
to feel that the Christian can lift, by the power of prayer, a myriad as
easily as one, that he can hold in his grasp the whole Church as firmly
as a single parish, and can bring down showers of blessing on an entire
race as readily as the few drops needed for his own little plot.

§ 4. _Prayer must maintain proper proportions._ Spiritual needs are
paramount, material are secondary. Out of seven petitions six bear upon
the invisible foundations of life and the remaining one alone is
concerned, directly at any rate, with things material. It is further
remarkable that the latter is as modest as the former are bold. The soul
needs the whole of God's eternal Kingdom where the body requires but
bread for the day. The Lord's Prayer does not teach asceticism, but it
certainly condemns luxury, and implies that the physical nature requires
a minimum rather than a maximum of attention and care.

With the vision of God above and the Christian seed-prayer well planted
in the soul, man can dare to hope that his speech Godward will not waste
itself in hollow echoes, but will travel straight up to the throne of
Grace and bring a speedy answer.



Chapter IV

_Friendship with God--The Response_


Probably the greatest result of the life of prayer is an unconscious but
steady growth into the knowledge of the mind of God and into conformity
with His will; for after all prayer is not so much the means whereby
God's will is bent to man's desires as it is that whereby man's will is
bent to God's desires. While Jesus readily responded to the requests and
inquiries of His disciples His great gift to them was Himself, His
personality. He called His apostles that they "should be with Him." The
all-important thing is not to live apart from God, but as far as
possible to be consciously with Him. It must needs be that those who
look much into His face will become like Him. Man reflects in himself
his environment, especially if he surrenders himself unreservedly to its
influence. In the case of God, "in Whom we live and move and have our
being," the influence is not passive, but active in impressing its
character upon us. It is not as the white of the land of snow which
coats its animals with its own colour; it is a Person. The complete
vision of Christ will mean the complete transformation of man--"We shall
be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." If there were no other
conceivable result from prayer than just this, it would even so be
wonderful. Certainly that which we treasure most in companionship with
an earthly friend is not his counsel or service; it is the touch of his
soul upon our own; it is the embrace of his whole being that wraps
itself about our whole being. One may say then that the real end of
prayer is not so much to get this or that single desire granted, as to
put human life into full and joyful conformity with the will of God.

This thought, beautiful and true as it is, would be too intangible and
too great a tax upon faith, unless man had some more or less definite
and immediate recognition of his heavenward appeals. The Old Testament
is a standing witness to God's consideration for human limitations and
weakness. He sometimes gave man less than the best because of the
latter's inability to receive the best, though He always gave as much as
could be received, until at last He gave His Son. Now it is in this
same way that He deals with His children of to-day. At first the lesser
gifts are sought for and given, but as spiritual life ripens what man
craves most for and what God is most eager to grant is that the Father's
will may be wholly worked out in His child. Trust so grows that there
can be no such thing as disappointment regarding the way God treats our
petitions.

      _Not Thy gifts I seek, O Lord;
      Not Thy gifts but Thee.
    What were all Thy boundless store
    Without Thyself? What less or more?
      Not Thy gifts but Thee._

This frame of mind, however, belongs to the to-morrow of most lives. For
the present the lesser gifts are the best we are equal to. And it cannot
be too often or too strongly said that God has direct answers to prayer
for every soul that appeals to Him. But many fail to recognize the
answer when it comes because of inattention. If God is to be heard when
He speaks we must give heed. It is no less a duty to "wait still upon
God" than it is to address Him in prayer. A one-sided conversation is
not a conversation at all. Conversation requires an interchange of
thought. He who is one moment the speaker must the next become the
listener, intent upon the words of his companion. The expectation of an
answer to prayer is laid down as a condition of there being one.

§ 1. Oftentimes God's answer is in the shape of an action rather than a
voice. When we entreat a friend to do something for us, speedy
compliance is a sufficient response to the request. If we are certain of
the person addressed no verbal assurance is required. The character of
our friend is the guarantee that the petition will be heeded. When,
therefore, God is petitioned to do, we must look for an action rather
than listen for a voice.

There are some requests the answer to which returns with the speed of a
flash of light, as, for instance, when we ask God to give us some
Christian grace or disposition of heart. The giving comes with the
asking.[7] A man may not be strong enough to retain the gift, but it
actually becomes his before he rises from his knees. The rationalist
will object to this, that such an answer to prayer is nothing more than
the subjective effect of a given attitude of mind. Granted; but that
makes it none the less the direct work of God. Secondary or scientific
causes exhibit to the observer the method by which God fulfils His
purposes. The stone falls to the ground according to the law of
gravitation, but God is behind the law controlling it. The
distinguishing feature of the Jewish mode of thought was the way in
which it related all things to God's immediate activity. The Old
Testament is the book of God's immanence. The present attitude of mind
leads men to rest in all causes short of God, and even to forget the
need of a Cause of causes. An earnest student of nature remarked upon
leaving her microscope: "I have found a universe worthy of God." She at
least felt that a revelation of secondary causes was, at the same time,
a new revelation of the God of causes.

If it could be proved that all answers to prayer came according to the
working of natural law, it would not eliminate God from the process, or
have any sort of bearing upon the efficacy of prayer. All we know of
God's method of work demonstrates His love of law; and it would be no
surprise, but rather what we should expect, to find that all the unseen
stretches of life are equally within the domain of His law and order.[8]

§ 2. But when occasion requires, the reply to speech Godward comes in
the shape of a voice. In one sense God is always speaking; He is never
still. Just as in prayer it is not we who momentarily catch His
attention but He ours, so when we fail to hear His voice it is not
because He is not speaking so much as that we are not listening. We may
hear sounds, as a language with which we are not conversant, but be
unable to interpret. Or perhaps we are in the position of one who sits
in the summer evening when nature is instinct with music,--the chirping
of insect life, the whispering wind, the good-night call of the
birds,--deaf to the many voices, whereas a companion has ears for
nothing else but what those voices say. The cause of the former's
deafness is that his attention is wholly absorbed by other interests. We
must recognize that all things are in God and that God is in all things,
and we must learn to be very attentive, in order to hear God speaking in
His ordinary tone without any special accent. Power to do this comes
slowly and as the result of not separating prayer from the rest of life.
A man must not stop listening any more than praying when he rises from
his knees. No one questions the need of times of formal address to God,
but few admit in any practical way the need of quiet waiting upon God,
gazing into His face, feeling for His hand, listening for His voice. "I
will hearken what the Lord God will say concerning me." God has special
confidences for each soul. Indeed, it would seem as though the deepest
truths came only in moments of profound devotional silence and
contemplation.

The written Word of God has special messages for the individual as well
as a large general message for the entire Christian body. The devotional
use of Holy Scripture is the means by which the soul reaches some of the
most precious manifestations of God's will. By devotional use is meant
such a study as has for its ultimate purpose an act of worship, or of
conscious fellowship with Him. The Bible reveals not merely what God
was, but what He is. Finding from its pages how He loved, we know how He
loves; learning how He dealt with or spoke to men, we perceive how He
deals with and speaks to us. But our instruction in things divine must
come to us from a Person rather than a book, though _through_ a book
perhaps. If we approach the Bible as we would approach Bacon or Milton,
merely as a collection of the wise thoughts and actions of the dead, it
will never sway the life to any large extent. Holy Scripture is
separated from all other literature by the fact that it contains
absolute spiritual truth and because its Author, as a living Person,
always stands behind it. Those who listen will hear the Holy Spirit
saying to them, in direct application, the same things that lie on the
open pages as the record of what was once said to men of old. Meditation
or the devotional use of Scripture renders conscience, that organ of the
soul by which God's voice is received by man, increasingly sensitive.
The Old Testament days were full of men who could say "Thus saith the
Lord," with the same assurance that they could report the speech of a
comrade. Doubtless God had many ways of speaking to the prophets, but
whatever these ways were and however special and singular, they were
based originally on those by means of which He addresses all men in
common. As a result of the Incarnation "all the Lord's people are
prophets" and the Lord has "put His Spirit upon them;" and they, too,
ought to be able to say "Thus saith the Lord."

§ 3. A third way in which God makes His will known to man is by His
silences, silences which are always eloquent. As experience has taught
us, silence can convey a message just as readily as speech sometimes, or
even more readily. The silence of the Easter tomb was the first voice
that told of the Resurrection. The loved disciple read the message of
the orderly silence of the place where the Lord had lain; "he saw and
believed." Silence has expression and accent telling of sympathy,
rebuke, anger, grief, as occasion may require. The silence of Jesus
before the importunate appeal of the woman of Canaan, was full of
sympathy and encouraged her faith to rise to sublime heights. Whereas
His silence before the accusations of His enemies during His trial was
so eloquent as to establish His innocence even in the eyes of a Pontius
Pilate. And if God is silent now at times when we long for some sign
from Him, it is because by means of silence He can best make known to us
His mind. His silence may mean that our request is so foreign to His
will, that it may not be heeded without hurt to the petitioner. Or, on
the other hand, He may be luring on our faith and inciting it to a more
ambitious flight. Or, again, it may be that His silence is His way of
telling us that the answer to our query or petition lies in ourselves.
God never tells man what man can find out for himself, as He never does
what man can do for himself. The result of giving a person what he
should earn is pauperism. As God will do, nay, can do, only what will
enrich human nature, it would be a contradiction of Himself to answer
what we can find out for ourselves, or give what we can gain by our own
efforts. Love lies within God's silences as their explanation.[9] The
mother refuses to answer her child's questions because the child by a
little observation and thought can itself get at the truth, and truth
won by struggle is the only truth that we really possess. If God is
silent when we ask for new knowledge of His Person and His love, may it
not be that it is because we are substituting books about the Bible for
an earnest study of the Bible itself, which contains a full answer to
our prayer? Or if, when day after day we have prayed for the conversion
of a relative, no response comes, may it not be that we have never put
ourselves at the disposal of God to be the instrument for working out
what is at once our desire and His purpose? At any rate, whatever be the
explanation of a silence in this or that special instance, God is never
silent excepting when silence speaks more clearly than a voice.

So the sure response comes to speech Godward in an action, or a voice,
or a speaking silence. The persevering, faithful, attentive soul will
never fail to discern God's answer to prayer, nor be disappointed in the
quality of that answer when it comes. God is more ready to hear than we
to pray, and it is His wont to give more than either we desire or
deserve.[10]

FOOTNOTES:

[7] _St. Mark xi: 24._

[8] _Cf. Liddon, Advent in St. Paul's, p. 22._

[9] _I suppose that a constant vision of God would be an injury to
almost all men,--that there are periods when even utter scepticism is
the sign of God's mercy, and the necessary condition of moral
restoration.--R. H. Hutton, Theological Essays, p. 7._

[10] _Collect for Twelfth Sunday after Trinity._



Chapter V

_The Testing of Friendship_


Of course, friendship with God must be tried. Not only can true
friendship stand any strain to which it may be put, but it even needs to
be thus tested in order to be solidly set. It is like the knot that
becomes more fixed and firm at each new pull of the cord. The faith and
affection which will cling to a friend when all the forces of disunion
seem combined to bring about a separation, are so tempered by the
experience involved as to defy every conceivable enemy, and to discover
new depths of love and service in the fellowship that has been thus put
to the test. To enter upon just why this should be, is not to the
purpose. It is a fact and law of the life of fellowship between man and
man, and man and God. The force that threatens to break up the
connection between God and man, but by means of which that union may be
consummated, is temptation.

§ 1. _Temptation is always an opportunity._--There are two kinds of
testing--that which proves a thing to discover whether it is what it
professes to be, and that which aims to bring out latent possibilities
in the thing tested. With the former there goes a sort of lurking
suspicion that all may not be right, as when a bit of metal is tried by
acid, or a big gun is proved by an excessive charge. When a test of this
kind is over the thing that is tried is just what it was before, neither
more nor less. No new quality is in the gift of the test. With the
latter, on the other hand, the result is different, as when the silver
"from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire." The
quartz goes into the furnace and a stream of unalloyed metal flows out;
or to seek still another illustration,--the process by which steel is
tempered. Here new qualities are given by means of the testing; to the
silver, purity, and to the steel, hardness and elasticity. To this
second form of testing belongs the element of trust rather than that of
suspicion. The material is so good, that the workman has no doubt about
its coming through the fire purer and more valuable than ever.

It is this kind of testing which the friends of God must undergo, the
kind of testing which affords friends the very opportunity they need to
become better friends. It is not too much to say that man being what he
is, there is no conceivable means excepting temptation, which would give
to him just those elements which are necessary for his progress toward
God. Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are," primarily that
His manhood might reach its full measure, and this entailed such
sympathy with the race as ensues upon a common experience. Atonement
means a unity with God which has been achieved, not by a divine fiat,
but by a choice of the human will that has repelled the last attack of
God's greatest enemy.

It is always so that in scanning the harsh features of a refining
process, the happy result of the process is blurred and forgotten.
Temptation is surely an assault to be withstood, but at the same time it
is an opportunity to be seized. Viewed in this light life becomes
inspiring, not in spite but because of its struggles, and we are able to
greet the unseen with a cheer, counting it unmixed joy when we fall into
the many temptations which, varied in form, dog our steps from the
cradle to the grave. The soldier who is called to the front is
stimulated, not depressed; the officer who is bidden by his general to a
post of great responsibility, and so of hardship and peril, is thrilled
with the joy of his task. An opportunity has been given him to prove
himself worthy of great trust, which can be done only at the cost of
great trouble.

This is a true picture of temptation. And the result of it all is a
nature invigorated and refined, a character made capable of close
friendship with God, to say nothing of the unmeasured joy that is the
attendant of nobility of soul and stalwart Christian manhood.

§ 2. _The majesty of conflict with temptation._--One is often depressed
by the seemingly inglorious character of our temptations. They are so
mean, petty and commonplace. If they had in them something to rouse in
the heart that love of romance, that is a saving element in human
nature, one could fight better. Now temptation has this very element.
But spiritual eyes are needed to discern the glory of the commonplace,
the romance of the inglorious. God has been trying with divine patience
to convince men of this from the very beginning. The story of the first
temptation of the first human beings, in its poetic dress points to the
romance of life's struggle. Jacob's wrestling bout with the mysterious
being by the river's brink, is a view of the underside of any struggle
against temptation, as God sees it, when the tempted one fights to win.

Above all in the narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness,
is the majesty of conflict with evil made plain. It is a record which
exceeds in dramatic splendour the story of "Faust," or the realism of
"Pilgrim's Progress." And in it we arrive at the paradoxical truth that
the temptations of Jesus were just as commonplace as ours, and that ours
are just as glorious as His,--His, of course, having a completeness
which none others could have, for the most complete temptation is the
temptation of the most complete.

Looking beneath the surface of the story, we find ourselves face to face
with the well-known temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Wrapped in contemplation upon what His Divine sonship involved, He was
driven into solitude, and tempted, as He worked out His life's plan, to
substitute evil independence for good dependence, then to flee to the
opposite extreme and substitute evil dependence for good independence,
and finally to disregard the means in His zeal for a righteous end.
These temptations are as common as humanity and as uninspiring as night.
Could one have stood by when Jesus was struggling with them, doubtless
nothing more would have been seen than is visible to-day when some man
in loneliness, with his eyes lifted toward the hills, wins the mastery
over himself and his unseen tempters. Yes, the Master's temptations were
just as commonplace as ours. Why, then, this fine dressing up of the
commonplace? Because, when in after days Jesus told His companions of
His conflict and victory, He saw with the illumination of retrospect
what at the moment of the struggle He could not see, the glory of it
all. The story is not a fiction of the imagination. It is a true picture
of what occurred, a revelation of the splendour that lies at the
foundation of every spiritual contest, a record of literal truth not
perceived at the time, but clear to the vision after all was over.

"After all was over"--the mean and commonplace incidents of to-day, form
the raw material out of which is woven the romance of to-morrow. The
ugliest facts make the choicest romance after they have been tempered in
the crucible of time. Ask a soldier how much romance there was when the
fight was hot. The sublime in battle is visible only from the vantage
ground of victory. Often when the life of some humble and afflicted
child of God comes to a close, we see what was hidden from our eyes
during his days on earth--the heroism of his career. At first we esteem
him "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Afterward we admire the
grandeur and largeness of the life that once seemed so narrow and lame.
Before death the character of the affliction claims our attention;
afterward the character of the afflicted; now the ugly fact and then the
glory; "first that which is natural and afterward that which is
spiritual." Consequently there are two methods of recording human
history--bare fact, concrete, grim, commonplace; its romance, abstract,
majestic and just as real. We need both kinds of description--Gethsemane
with its agony and gouts of blood, and the wilderness with its dramatic
imagery. Neither one is more real than the other. If the wilderness had
its grim side, Gethsemane had its romantic side. The ideal is realized,
when the real is idealized.

Grant the truth of this--and who will gainsay it?--and it follows that
while the temptations of Jesus were as commonplace as ours, ours are as
glorious as His. S. Paul saw it all quite plainly, when in radiant
language he rolled out to his Ephesian friends that superb call to
battle. "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on
the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles
of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but
against the principalities, against the powers, against the
world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness
in the heavenly places." There is nothing in the whole of Scripture that
makes life seem more splendid and glowing, and yet the occasion is one
of extreme peril and hardship--the moment of temptation. It is not so
that the scientific character of our age, with its darting electricity
and whirring wheels, forbids romance to lift its head. Glory of the
highest type will live as long as dauntless human souls aspire to God,
let the world be as matter of fact or as evil as it chooses. The only
thing that can dim glory is the domination of sin in man.

§ 3. So much for the splendid opportunity which temptation affords. How
to meet it is what the story of the life of the Son of Man makes
manifest.

(_a_) It is noticeable that neither by precept nor example are we
encouraged to pray for the removal of temptation. Once, it is true,
Jesus expressed it as His desire that a cup of pain might pass from Him,
but He conditioned His prayer--"not My will, but Thine, be done." God
did not remove the cup, but what was better still He gave Him strength
to drink it. A prayer of S. Paul's was treated in like manner. The
thorn in the flesh was not withdrawn, but it was transformed into a
means of imparting spiritual vigour--"My grace is sufficient for thee."
It is said of Pascal, whose last years were full of agony, that his
malady became a new quality of his genius and helped to perfect it.
Christian character as well as great genius "has the power of elevating,
transmuting, serving itself by the accidental conditions about it,
however unpromising."[11]

This being so, even Gethsemane is an encouragement to the man who is
sore tried, to pray for power to transcend his trial rather than that it
may be swept out of his life by the hand of God.

    _'Tis life whereof our nerves are scant,
    More life and fuller that I want,_

and not exemption from trial.

The lingering on in life of a temptation, which, if not born of past
sin, at any rate has been intensified by self-indulgence, affords us our
only chance of expressing penitence to God for failure in loyalty to Him
in this respect or that. How can the man, in whom the fires of passion
are dead, express before God his sorrow for sins against purity in days
that are gone? It is easy to conceive of such a person entreating God to
give him back his temptation, that, by a reversal of former decisions,
he may prove the reality of his penitence. So far as we can see, the one
chance a man has of regaining a lost virtue, is through the very
temptation by means of which he was robbed of it. Excessive resistance
wins back, slowly but surely, what was lost by excessive indulgence.
What is needed is not freedom _from_ but freedom _in_ temptation. This
latter is possible for every Christian.

(_b_) Freedom in the life of temptation is achieved by meeting every
enticement to sin with an upward rise toward virtue. It is quite
inadequate to beat off temptation. We must spoil the strong man and
possess ourselves of his goods. One sad feature of life is that we
always undershoot the mark, and for the most part perfection in purpose
results in nothing better than mediocrity in achievement. It is the sure
fate of the man that is contented to view temptation merely as an
invitation to hell which must be declined, that he will yield at least
occasionally to the sin to which he is tempted. Only he who flings
himself upward when the pull comes to drag him down, can hope to break
the force of temptation. Temptation may be an invitation to hell, but
much more is it an opportunity to reach heaven. At the moment of
temptation sin and righteousness are both very near the Christian; but
of the two the latter is the nearer.

Walk in the spirit and you put yourself in such a position as to be
unable to fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Meet the negation of sin with
the affirmation of righteousness. When Satan challenges you to wrestle
with him, turn about and wrestle with God for a blessing.

(_c_) There is no reason to be afraid of temptation, that is to say if
it is not a temptation into which we have entered unnecessarily, but one
that is consequent upon the fulfilment of duty. God does not allow us to
be tempted beyond our powers. But this is not all. Our fearlessness
should show itself in our attitude. We must meet our temptations face to
the foe. The temptations of Jesus never struck Him from behind but
always smote Him in the face. There is only one kind of temptation which
we are advised to run from, and that is the temptation to fleshly lust.
Evasion is for the most part a sign of defeat, not of victory. The man
who would gain freedom in temptation must be

     _One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward._

With this thought we leave the subject of temptation, that strange
mystery which proves man and makes him less unworthy of friendship with
God, which is at once an opportunity and a snare, glorious and
commonplace.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] _Walter Pater._



Chapter VI

_Knitting Broken Friendship_


But the best of us do not always rise to the opportunity which
temptation presents. A gust comes for which we are not prepared, and we
are swept off our feet. And the earliest penalty of sin visits the
transgressor simultaneously with its committal--that depressing sense of
loneliness and separation from God that has been the bitter experience
of every one, and that is so graphically represented in the story of the
first act of disobedience. Every one who does wrong, by the deed of
wrong itself, hides himself from God just as Adam and Eve did. Sin is
acting apart from God, a withdrawing of our allegiance from Him, an
ignoring of His voice, a snapping of the bonds of friendship.

When this unhappy experience occurs what are we to do to have the breach
between ourselves and God filled up and fellowship with Him
re-established? It would seem natural to answer that as soon as we
perceive that we have fallen we should pick ourselves up and go on our
way without further thought about the dead past. It is out of our reach;
it cannot be recalled, and to dwell upon it is disastrous.

A man who has exercised a wide influence over English thought declared
sin to be "not a monster to be mused on, but an impotence to be got rid
of. All thinking about it, beyond what is indispensable for the firm
effort to get rid of it, is waste of energy and waste of time. We then
enter that element of morbid and subjective brooding in which so many
have perished. This sense of sin, however, it is also possible to have
not strongly enough to beget the firm effort to get rid of it."[12]

Probably of the two dangers mentioned by Matthew Arnold, the latter is
the greater in these days in which an "amiable opposition" to sin as
merely a pardonable flaw in human nature is so widely taught.

Whatever risk there may be in looking sin squarely in the face, and
however difficult we find it to strike the mean between morbid brooding
and a total disregard for the past, there never yet was a man who
achieved the royal dignity of Christian character without a painful and
thoroughgoing grappling with his former self. Men may strive to forget
the past by weaving about themselves a web of absorbing interests. But a
day of reckoning must come, as it came to Adam and Eve in "the cool of
the day," as it came to Jacob as he wrestled for better things that
night by the plunging stream, as it came to S. Peter when he went out
and sowed the seed of a chastened character in scalding tears.

Were relief from the haunting memory of badness the only thing to be
considered, a calm, fearless scrutinizing of sins committed is the one
cure. The way to forget sin is to remember it before God--yes, even to
the deliberate raking over the ashes of the days that are gone lest some
fault should escape observation. A sense of sinfulness is the earliest
indication of awakening holiness. It seems as though the common idea
concerning the repentance of the Publican in the story of the Publican
and Pharisee, as told by the Master, were short of the truth. Surely
there is no ground for thinking that Christ commends the penitence of
the Publican, who expressed his sorrow by saying "God be merciful to me,
a sinner," as being ideal. Far from it. Poor and weak and young as was
this appeal, it was infinitely more valuable in the sight of God and
efficacious than the finely phrased self-laudation of the Pharisee.
Penitence rises from a sense of sinfulness to a recognition of sins.

It is not hard to perceive why this must be. The past strikes its roots
into the present, and until in some true sense the past has been undone
it is bound to poison the motives and deeds of to-day. Of course when a
thing is done it is done. No amount of effort can undo it in the sense
of obliterating it from history. But it is not only possible but
necessary that _in intention_ it should be undone and that so far as can
be its evil consequences checked. With the aid of the imagination and
the will the life that has been lived apart from God may be lived over
again with Him. This in His sight is to undo it, for the motive is the
deed, and intention is the most powerful of realities.

But this is not all. It is a law of life governing all fellowship that
transparent frankness is the only atmosphere in which friendship can
exist. A wrong committed ought to be followed by full admission of the
deed. And it is further noticeable that this admission is not dependent
upon whether or not the person wronged is conscious of the wrong.
Prudence demands, though not nearly so widely as is commonly supposed,
that under certain conditions a sin against society should not be
publicly confessed or even made known to the person chiefly concerned.
But where this happens the penitent should feel silence as a weighty
penance, and long for a day when he can throw open his life so that he
will be seen to be just what he is. We are only what we are in the sight
of God. It is a grief to many a holy man that because of his secret sins
he is better thought of than he deserves; and he will hail the day when
all that is hidden will be uncovered and made known, so that with the
last veil torn from his character he will be able to join unreservedly
in free and humble fellowship with all men.

No Christian man has any more warrant for trying to "dissemble or cloak"
his sins before his fellow-men than he has for trying to do the same
thing before God. To rejoice when we see others attributing to us
qualities which we do not possess, or to congratulate ourselves when we
escape detection--or at least when we think we do, for as often as not
men see our faults when we think they do not--upon the committal of some
sin, is to deepen that line of deceit that furrows most characters.
There is no social quality quite so splendid as transparency. It is said
by one[13] well qualified to speak of Mr. Gladstone that "the man in
him leapt forward to express itself with transparent simplicity. If he
were subtle he showed at once why he wanted to be subtle. And in spite
of everything that could be said about his intellectual subtlety, it
remains that to the very last the dominant note of his character was
simplicity--the simplicity of a child; with the child's naïve
self-disclosure, the child's immediate response to a situation, without
cloak or disguise."

Now it is just this simple, childlike transparency that the Christian
must cultivate in every respect. When it so happens to a man that he may
not tell his wrong-doing to the person immediately wronged, then let him
go to some spiritual friend, or to his pastor, who stands as the
representative of Christian society, as well as the ambassador of
Christ, and share with him his grief.

The exception referred to above--where an open confession would result
in social injury--does not at all alter the fact that perfect frankness
alone makes fellowship possible. More often than not when one friend
tells another of some piece of petty meanness by which friendship has
been marred, the injured party already knows all about it. The
confession is not made to give information, but to open up the soul
that has sinned so that the process of healthy social life may be free
to work again. It is not wholly explicable, but it is a law which
governs human intercourse.

Precisely in the same way this law works in the life of fellowship with
God. He knows more about our sins than we can tell Him. But by telling
them over, their occasion, their guilt, before Him, the soul is new-born
into His love, and the warmth of His compassion melts the emotions. This
is a first requisite in genuine personal religion--frankness before God;
and frankness among men is second only to it.

In requiring perfect openness of life from men God asks only what He
gives. He is Light. There is no knowledge of His Person which man is
capable of grasping which He does not offer. He tears open His bosom and
reveals the most sacred depths of His being. He asks man to do likewise
that fellowship may follow.

So far we have considered what man should do when, whether for a moment
or for years, he has walked apart from God. He must review the past and
_in intention_ live it over again with God, turning his back upon
everything that is amiss. But this alone is incomplete. The heart must
receive some sort of assurance that the work of penitence is acceptable
in God's sight. There is no thirst of the soul so consuming as the
desire for pardon. A sense of its bestowal is the starting point of all
goodness. It comes bringing with it, if not the freshness of innocence,
yet a glow of inspiration that nerves feeble hands for hard tasks, a
fire of hope that lights anew the old high ideal so that it stands
before the eye in clear relief, beckoning us to make it our own. To be
able to look into God's face and know with the knowledge of faith that
there is nothing between the soul and Him is to experience the fullest
peace the soul can know.

Whatever else pardon may be, it is above all things admission into full
fellowship with God. It is not a release from certain penalties which
the natural course of sin entails, though it brings with it power and
wisdom to endure and to use penalties so that they become means by which
lost virtues are restored and the whole character reinvigorated. The
sense of fellowship comes out with singular force when for the first
time the pardoned soul leaps out from under a weight of sin. The joy of
prayer, the fearless approach to God, the contemplation of His personal
love--all this testifies to what pardon is. The absolution of the dying
robber on Calvary was not merely an admission into Christ's privileges,
but a call to His fellowship and a speedy call at that--"_To-day_ shalt
thou be _with Me_ in Paradise."

The first awakening of the soul to a sense of pardon makes this very
vivid. But somehow as time goes on and repeated falls on the upward
climb discourage the soul, the difficulty of grasping God's pardon seems
to increase. Confession is made and sorrow is felt, but God's face seems
hidden behind a cloud. Then is it comforting to remember that all clouds
are earthborn. The trouble is that we reflect our own impatience and
discouragement up into the life of God. Because we chafe under our
almost imperceptible progress we imagine God does the same. His first
absolutions were full and generous, but how can these later ones be so?
Surely they must be grudgingly bestowed. So we argue, and the latest
forgiving message of God, a message as strong and full as the first,
falls upon listless ears. The absolution that comes to the penitent
after the seventy-times-seven repetitions of a sin is all that the first
one was. Absolution is never less than absolution. It always admits to
fellowship so complete that it could not be closer.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] _Matthew Arnold, St. Paul and Protestantism._

[13] _H. Scott Holland._



Chapter VII

_Friendship in God_


Friendship is not only _with_ God but also _in_ God. Fellowship with God
has for its corollary fellowship with man in God. And the latter in the
greatness of its dignity and privilege is second only to the former. The
religion of Christ does not allow of one without the other. The Church,
which is the divinely ordered means by which man is admitted into and
sustained in his fellowship with God, is also the ideal society of men.
God never considers men apart from, but always as a part of, a great
social order--a social order that is not a concourse of independent
units, but a body instinct with life, a society which is not an
organization but an organism. The description of our relationship to one
another is couched in the same terms that tell of our relationship to
Christ--"members one of another," "members of Christ."

It is God's will that the Church should be coterminous with society, and
that the unity of life thus produced should make the "communion of
saints" a reality on earth and not a mere theory. Past years have seen
much earnest straining to gain a truer conception of God, that
fellowship with and love for Him might be according to His will. All
this theological effort will be lost, unless it is followed up by a no
less strenuous effort to make the brotherhood of man a fact. The Master
gave a new commandment of love, a commandment new not in essence but
rather in intensity and comprehension. After the injunction to love God
comes the equally unequivocal injunction to love man--"Thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself." That is to say, personality whether in
ourselves or in others is to receive the highest reverence and
consideration, and that without any partiality. Humanity being full of
diversity, this commandment requires a most thorough and intelligent
study of society and its elements. Heresies concerning God have been and
are destructive of unity; but heresies concerning man are productive of
almost equal mischief. If the first part of the commandment of love
calls us to a study of theology, the second demands a study of
sociology--an old science under a new name. It is worth while noting
that the Apostle who earned the name of "the Divine," or as we would
say "the Theologian," by reason of his familiar acquaintance with the
deep things of God, was the same who felt that the appeal most worth
urging with the scant breath of extreme old age was, that men should
love one another; and he repeats this simple phrase until the world
wonders--"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in
tongue, but in deed and in truth."

But it must never be forgotten that human fellowship and friendship must
under the best of conditions be sectional and shallow, and under the
worst, disastrous, unless it be "in Christ," that is, in God. The true
ideal of human fellowship is realized only thus. And it is such a unity
as would be the outcome of fellowship in Christ, for which the Master
prayed at the last. Ecclesiastical unity does not necessarily produce
unity of life, though the latter must include the former in some true
sense. Christian unity has a twofold basis, the love of God and the love
of man. This differentiation in the commandment of love, is of Christ's
own making, and cannot be ignored by His followers.

In considering the ideal human fellowship it is vital to remember that
the spiritual, here as elsewhere, is built upon the natural, the
spiritual entering into, interpreting and developing the natural. And
when the word "natural" is used, that which is purely accidental and
artificial in life is not meant, but that which is fundamental and
belongs to the very constitution of humanity. For instance, trade
relations and conventional institutions of whatever kind are evanescent.
To use them for a foundation is to build on sand. An eternal fabric
cannot gain coherence from a creation of man's whim or genius. Indeed
the institutions of commerce as well as all official intercourse, can be
constructed with effectiveness, not to say justice, only when built upon
the recognition of the dignity of humanity and the sacredness of
personality, with equality of consideration for each. And herein lies
the solution of the whole social problem in all its ramifications.

The fundamental relationship of life is such as springs out of that
common humanity, which, in the last analysis, is a man's only absolute
possession, be he prince or pauper, wise or ignorant. And this humanity
of ours is a precious possession, not always perhaps for what it has
actually become, but for what it is in process of becoming, or, it may
be, only because of those latent possibilities which the Incarnation has
declared to be contained in that which is born of woman. Once armed with
this thought, Kant's valuable negative advice never to treat humanity
as a thing[14] but always as a person, never as a means merely but
always as an end, is in order.

It is one of the evils springing out of an intercourse that is so
largely official, that on all sides men are valued and thought of, only
or chiefly on the side of economic efficiency. That is to say, they are
treated with only that amount of consideration which is due a machine. A
simple illustration will suffice. The mistress of a household on coming
down stairs one morning was greeted by her maid, who was dusting in the
hall, with a "Good morning," and, "Do you know, Mrs. Z----, that I have
been with you five years to-day?" "Have you?" was the response, "You
have left some dust on that chair." The mistress boasted doubtless that
she had "reminded her servant of her place." No further comment is
needed. The maid thought herself to be a person, but was reminded that
she was a thing.

Again, if the baker is thought of as a mere convenience for baking
bread, all demands he may make beyond those which will enable him to
produce good bread, will be fiercely contested. The conditions under
which the bread is baked are a paltry incident, provided they do not in
any way discommode the consumer, and the claim made by the journeyman
baker for opportunity and means to realize the God-given ambitions of
his manhood, ambitions which perchance have nothing to do with baking
bread, is scouted in much the same way that a request to decorate a
machine with gold trimmings would be scouted. Of course it is as wrong
to ignore the former's claim, as it would be right to ignore the demand
for expensive and useless embellishments for a piece of machinery; for
one is a person and the other is a thing.

It is because men have been thought of as things, that there are such
plague-spots on the social body as sweatshops. All movements that compel
the attention of the consumer to a recognition of his relation to the
producer as a person, are worthy of the most careful study and the
highest commendation. Preferential dealing, that is to say, dealing
preferably with such merchants as we know to have humane regard for
those who produce and handle the goods offered for sale, is merely a
passing phase of the attempt to recognize as persons those who, though
far removed from us, yet touch our lives and minister to our
necessities; and the movement deserves support and encouragement because
of the principle which actuates it. When life was less complex than at
present, and the _entrepreneur_ and middleman did not exist to obscure
the relationship between consumer and producer, it was easier to realize
the responsibility of the one toward the other than it is now. However,
it is of elementary necessity that men should learn that the accident
which hides one section of society from the easy observation of another,
does not lessen one whit the mutual responsibility which each bears
towards the other. Nor does the difficulty of gathering information
afford an excuse. In these days of pertinacious investigation and
organized experience, there is no set of conditions so complex as to
baffle ultimately the determined investigator of social phenomena, or to
escape satisfactory adjustment.

Once again, the cry of the workman for a living wage, is but an
indication that the labourer is coming to a realization of the dignity
and fullness of manhood, and is inviting others to share in this
discovery of himself. Who can turn a deaf ear to his appeal, excepting
those who deny a man's right to realize himself? The doctrine of the
average wage, that is, the wage which is determined by a "brazen law" of
one kind or another, whether that to which the name of Ricardo is
attached or some other, equally unmanageable, is fast giving place to
that of the living wage. The living wage is the evolution of the average
wage; the former phrase declares that men are requiring official
dealings to be more humane than of yore, as well as that the law of
wages is not an almighty tyrant to which society must bow, but a law
which is more or less obedient to the dictates of man's will. There are
those among political economists who now maintain it to be more
reasonable to claim, that prices must conform to wages, than wages to
prices. It is worth while adding in this connection that the living wage
is bound to be progressive, as the duty of treating men as persons and
not as things, comes to be more firmly imbedded in the public
conscience. Some persons are ready to admit the justice of the theory of
Christian democracy, though unwilling to accept many of its logical
conclusions. The promulgation of the principle of democracy in its
mildest form, creates new desires or awakens dormant ones in the
undermost men, and of course provision must be made for satisfying
these, else the doctrine which gave the desires birth is hideously
cruel. A living wage some years since, had the phrase obtained in the
language, would have signified for the most part a wage sufficient to
sustain animal life. That is, the wage-earning man would have been
recognized as an animal but not a person. Or perhaps it would have meant
a wage capable of creating economic efficiency, in which case it would
have indicated that the wage-earner was viewed as a thing. Now the idea
underlying a living wage is a wage sufficient for the sustenance of
human life, of life in which there is room for freedom of choice, and
where the whole man is taken into consideration.

It is to the credit of society, that so much earnestness is being
expended to-day in the effort to humanize the various official
relationships of life. But it is a cause for shame, on the other hand,
that among Christian men there should have been so deplorable a falling
away from elementary Christian principle, as to make this effort
necessary. Let it suffice for the present to insist that until men more
generally recognize their fellows, whatever be their position in life,
to be persons and not things, wide fellowship at any rate is an utter
impossibility. And it is from this point that all attempts to solve
social problems must take their beginning. It might prove a useful
experiment if occasionally, for a short period, we were to test our love
for others by loving ourselves as we love them, treating ourselves as we
treat them. If it so happened that we were living reasonably near to the
Golden Rule, our conduct would not have to be materially, if at all,
changed to do this; but if we happened, on the other hand, to be
treating our neighbour as a thing when the experiment took place, there
is no doubt that we should immediately become so unhappy and full of
pain, as to be incapable of prolonging the experience.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] _That is called a thing to which no event can be imputed as an
action. Hence every object devoid of freedom is regarded as a
thing.--Kant, Metaphysic of Ethics._



Chapter VIII

_Friendship in God (continued)_


The official temper of mind is by no means the only bar to wide
fellowship. Exclusiveness and temperamental dislike are responsible for
a great many sins against brotherly love, and must be fought down by
every true follower of our Lord. When men are left to themselves, they
gravitate into mutually exclusive groups composed of congenial classes
or of congenial types. But Christianity steps in and breaks up these
little sets, in order to blend them into one varied and splendid whole.
The vision which S. John had revealed to him, was humanity in all its
variety--"out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and
tongues"--but at perfect unity with itself, a complete and harmonious
family.

§ 1. Probably there is no temper of mind more difficult to master than
that of exclusiveness. In the evolution of society class
differentiations have come into being, differentiations which, at the
time of their appearance, may have been a necessary phase of progress,
but which, in the development of Christian thought, should pass away. It
would not be right or wise to contend for the immediate obliteration of
all artificial distinctions in life, for conventionalities are often
social safeguards and have their place in civilization. But surely the
earnest disciple of Jesus must array all the forces at his command
against the continuance of customs that have been separated from their
usefulness, and are perpetuated only to be stumbling blocks to human
fellowship.

The worth of conventionalism has for its supreme test the life and
teaching of Jesus Christ. When He quieted the strife of the disciples,
who were filled with the ignoble lust of domination, He inaugurated a
new social order. "He that is the greater among you, let him become as
the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." The old order
made kings the recipients of much service, the new calls them to give
much service; the old order led men to strive for honour, the new
inspires them to avoid honour unless bound up with an enlarged
opportunity to serve; the old order prized whatever privileges set men
above and apart from their fellows, the new seeks everything that will
bring them nearer to their fellows. So merit and reward, privilege and
responsibility, greatness and service must never be separated. Where
they have been separated in the past, as well as where they are in the
present, the result is exclusiveness. Men cling to prerogatives which in
common justice they have no real claim upon, beyond the flimsy plea of
hereditary right and the permission of society. Out of this have grown
those groups of persons who, though possessing nothing but a very common
humanity indeed, would, from a sense of superiority derived from a name,
or from the false prestige given by wealth and social position, withhold
their fellowship from all but a select few. If men could but realize the
cramping influence on character of exclusiveness, how quickly would they
hasten to divest themselves of every trace of the vice of snobbishness!
Dives lived in exclusive society after death because he did so before
death. He was no farther from Lazarus in the other world than he was in
this; the gulf created here was "fixed" there, that is all. And among
the "losses of the saved" will be lack of capacity for wide fellowship.

The dignity of humanity is so great that nothing can add to its
greatness, excepting what ennobles human nature itself. Wealth, social
position, mere intellectual attainment, no more deserve deference or
homage, than do the tatters of a pauper or the ignorance of a dolt. No
man insults human nature or demeans his personality so much as he who
bows down to these accidents, excepting only the man who receives homage
on the ground not of what he is but of what he has. We may neither pay
homage to, nor receive it for, any of those things which belong merely
to time and of which death will strip us bare; though piety, spiritual
wisdom, and all forms of moral power, always and everywhere, demand
homage and reverence.

The true basis on which Christian fellowship is begun and maintained, is
our common humanity--that which is essential and not that which is
accidental. Our Lord drew men to Himself and had human fellowship with
them, by virtue of the completeness and attractiveness of His splendid
manhood. He had none of the accidents of life to use, and He was not
weak without them. He was the most refined among men, and yet He found
companionship among the peasant folk. Social differentiations did not
enter into our Lord's reckoning. He ignored them, reaching through them
and past them. It is touching to remember that one of the earliest
companionships in Paradise of the human soul of Jesus, was the
resumption of almost His last intercourse on earth. As the soul of the
penitent outlaw and robber, "pale from the passion of death," went into
the society of Paradise, it was received and welcomed by the Man, Christ
Jesus.

It is a myth that the wise and cultured must confine their fellowship to
the wise and cultured.[15] By means of literature men and women of high
privilege, have joined hands with those whose lives were bare of
everything but character--with Adam Bede and with Uncle Tom. If this is
possible with the creations of fiction, it is capable of being widely
true in actual life. The richest human nature is often found in the most
obscure places, as the experience of every social worker from Edward
Denison to the resident in the newest "settlement," will testify. True
refinement is not the result of paltry conventionalism, the flimsy
creation of an artificial society; true refinement is the inalienable
possession of that character in which the Spirit of God rules, in which
the material is made the handmaid of the spiritual. At first men went
out into the highways of the city, armed with their privileges, thinking
that they had everything to give. But they soon learned that this spirit
could only end in condescension, which is fatal to fellowship, for
fellowship means give and take, and that the poor and unprivileged had
much to give. Unless representatives from the different classes of
society are contributing their special gifts to our lives, life is poor
indeed. Wealth of fellowship consists not in numbers, but in variety.

When men reach out for wider fellowship, they must not forget that no
man ever yet won his fellows through his own interests. He must, by the
subtle power of sympathy, dive beneath the surface of other lives and
court their interests. Even God failed to win men, until He made man's
concerns wholly His own by becoming Man. "For ye know the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He
became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich."

§ 2. Temperamental dislike is another obstacle to Christian fellowship
to be conquered. It is something found wherever human nature is. And men
commonly excuse quarrelsomeness, rudeness and other unchristian conduct
on this score, though the excuse is by no means valid. Probably all of
us are afflicted with a natural antipathy to certain kinds of
temperament, but at least we need not humour it. It was part of God's
design, that human society should be enriched by variety of disposition.
That is a poor garden which contains but one kind of flower, beautiful
as its blossom may be. True beauty consists in variety; and monotony is
the height of ugliness. It is a reason for thankfulness that human
nature is so wonderfully diversified that no two human beings are
exactly alike, and that there is a whole gamut of temperamental
difference in the race.

Now it is a part of the work of Christianity, to reconcile dispositions
that are naturally antipathetic and jarring. And the process by which
this is brought to pass, is probably one of the most beneficial
disciplines to which men are subjected. The Church is a great mixing
bowl, in which all this vast variety is brought into close touch and
blended together into a harmonious whole. "The very purpose of the one
Church for all the men of faith in Jesus is that the necessity for
belonging to one body--a necessity grounded on divine appointment--shall
force together into a unity men of all sorts and different kinds; and
the forces of the new life which they share in common are to overcome
their natural repugnance and antipathies, and to make the forbearance
and love and mutual helpfulness which corporate life requires, if not
easy, at least possible for them."[16]

That society is at once the most beautiful and the most powerful which
is composed of the largest variety of temperaments, exercising their
various faculties in unity and mutual helpfulness. Some persons imagine
that the most desirable parochial life is where all the parishioners are
of one stripe, instead of that in which there is a finely disciplined
diversity. A parish of dead uniformity would be comfortable but not
educative, quiet but colourless and insipid.

Unquestionably certain natures are so constituted as to irritate us
every time we come near them. And unless we are very carefully on our
guard we will not treat such persons justly or courteously, much less
will we be ready to render them delicate service. Quite unconsciously
we exhibit our temper of mind. There may be the determination not to
allow our feelings to rise to the surface, but nevertheless before we
know it we have done the mischief; and somehow the bitterness we
entertain has been let loose, not by a word or a look, perhaps, but by
some subtle telepathic or psychic influence which opens the secret of
our soul to our companion. There is nothing more infectious than a
temper of mind. It seems to leap out of one soul and impart itself to
another without heeding the ordinary laws of transmission. Anger, lust,
suspicion, dislike, jealousy smirch not only the souls in which they lie
restrained though not conquered, but others that come within the radius
of their wide-reaching influence.

Fortunately this power of infection is not confined to evil passions,
but belongs even in a larger degree to those which are good. And herein
lies the remedy for temperamental dislike. If we stop short at choking
it down, we can never make a friend of one whose disposition is
naturally repugnant to us. Sooner or later our dislike will crop out and
a gulf be made. If, on the other hand, the dislike is displaced by
generous, full love--love that is a force and not a mere
emotion--fellowship, and eventually friendship, will become possible.
There may be grounds often for our antipathies. Some people have the
misfortune to be graceless, awkward and repellant; others are
unattractive if not positively disagreeable to every one--bad-tempered,
perhaps, or mischief-makers. To educate these in Christian fellowship is
probably as large a public service as could be readily rendered. "It is
no great matter," says Jeremy Taylor,[17] "to live lovingly with
good-natured, with humble and meek persons; but he that can do so with
the froward, with the wilful, and the ignorant, with the peevish and
perverse, he only hath true charity."

§ 3. A third bar to Christian fellowship is what, for want of a better
phrase, may be termed a weakness for interesting people. That is to say,
the humanity that is within easy reach seems commonplace and
uninteresting, so that men of our intimate acquaintance often appear to
be hardly worth while labouring for. Hence it is a common habit to
reserve our best thought, our best manners and our best service for
strangers, making little positive effort to love and serve those with
whom we are thrown into daily contact. Nowhere is human perversity more
glaring than in the sad truth lurking behind the proverb: "A prophet is
not without honour, save in his own country and house." The value of
those who stand nearest to us is lowered by means of their very
nearness. On the other hand the persons who are outside our immediate
circle, however comprehensive it may be, seem to be more interesting
than the very average folk who are our ordinary companions. We long for
companionship with men of this finer type.

Of course this is all a delusion. Human nature is full of interest
wherever we find it, that which is nearest as well as that which is
farthest removed. The men we would like to know and serve, are no more
worthy of attention than the men who stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
But those who have the largest claim upon our attention and service, are
our immediate friends and neighbours. Indeed the only way to arm
ourselves against disappointment, as the boundaries of our fellowship
are enlarged, is so to attach ourselves to the people near at hand as to
learn the true dignity of all human nature and the almost unfathomable
depths of every personality. Otherwise an acquisition in
acquaintanceship will, after the first glow of novelty has worn off,
only reveal one more uninteresting person.

§ 4. There is one other duty that ought to be at least touched upon in
this connection, though it has been referred to in a former chapter--the
duty of praying for others. There is no more delicate service in the
whole round of human action than that of intercessory prayer. It is so
hidden as to have a special beauty on that account. While men are all
unconscious that we are thinking of them, we fold our arms about them
and bring them up before God for blessing and guidance. Intercessory
prayer might be defined as loving our neighbour on our knees. The common
objection, "What good can it do? Will not God bless men just as much
without our prayers as with them?" seems to have a certain amount of
weight. But a very little reflection shows that it does not amount to
much. Even though intercessory prayer did nothing more than put us who
pray in a desirable frame of mind toward those for whom we pray, it
would be an exercise of great value. However, as a matter of fact, it
accomplishes much more than this. Besides making our feeling of
fellowship stronger, it really brings something to those for whom we
offer our petitions. Human life is as closely bound up on the spiritual
as on any other side of our being. It is quite certain that if we
withhold the duties of service in other ways God does not supply our
lack, so far as we can see, but human life suffers through our neglect.
If all else in our experience is governed by law, why should we believe
that the spiritual part of life stands alone and is not affected by
spiritual service? There is from analogy every reason to suppose, that
those who are not prayed for suffer spiritual loss on that account.

But the immediate point to be made is that the height of Christian
friendship cannot be reached without intercession. It has been pointed
out by a spiritual teacher[18] that it makes a great difference in our
feelings towards others if their needs and their joys are on our lips in
prayer; as also it makes a vast difference in their feelings towards us
if they know that we are in the habit of praying for them. There is no
chasm in society that cannot be firmly and permanently bridged by
intercession; there is no feud or dislike that cannot be healed by the
same exercise of love.

Here, then, as in all else, if we are to come anywhere near the ideal we
must lift our eyes to God. Friendship in God is possible only for those
who bring society before God in prayer.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] _Cf. Browning's verses in_ Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, _where the
result of false culture, or the abuse of culture, is referred to_:--

    _Man is made in sympathy with man
    At outset of existence, so to speak;
    But in dissociation, more and more,
    Man from his fellow, as their lives advance
    In culture; still humanity, that's born
    A mass, keeps flying off, fining away
    Ever into a multitude of points,
    And ends in isolation, each from each._

[16] _Gore on Ephesians, p. 189._

[17] _Works: Vol. vii. 624._

[18] _Canon Gore._



Chapter IX

_The Church in Prayer_


Thus far little has been said of the more corporate aspect of the
spiritual life--of army movements, so to speak. Our minds have been
chiefly on the duties of men in their individual capacity. Not that any
one can ever behave so that he alone is affected by his output of
energy. Whether consciously or unconsciously every human being that
breathes, according as he moves his will upwards or downwards, elevates
or hinders his fellows. The most secret passages of life should be
traversed with reference to others, in order that we may be ruled by
that beautiful consistency which will enable us to act formally in
public without readjusting our whole inner temper. There will be no
wrench, no unnatural straining to become what we cannot be at a moment's
notice, but on the contrary merely an exhibition under altered
conditions of the spirit which has all along actuated us. For instance,
one who has not learned to pray hard for others and to ponder over
their welfare, cannot hope to speak to men with any force on spiritual
topics. He has not cultivated the frame of mind that will give him power
to do it. If he tries, his words will most likely be irreverent cant or
an empty echo. It is only out of the fulness of the heart that the mouth
can speak effective words.

In no department of life is this more true than in corporate worship.
The power of public worship is dependent upon and the outcome of healthy
and faithful private worship, to say nothing of the rest of the personal
life. Those who have true personal religion will feel their life of
devotion incomplete without common prayer; a growing desire for public
worship is an index of a man's deepening spirituality. On the other
hand, when we hear men saying that they do not care for church services,
that they can pray just as well at home, and so on, it is safe to
conclude that whatever fine-spun theories they may hold, as a matter of
fact they are suffering from spiritual atrophy, praying neither at home
nor anywhere else. Private devotion whets the appetite for public
worship. And those who are in intention true to fundamental Christian
principles will not mistake the end of the Church's corporate worship.

The assembling of the congregation is something far larger than the
creation of a public occasion for saying private prayers. There are
numbers of persons who go through the whole service without a thought
for any one but themselves, sucking the liturgy dry of whatever touches
their own immediate concerns, but oblivious to those who kneel around;
and perhaps private manuals supply the place of the Prayer Book. Such
persons squeeze into their own cup all the inspiration that a harmonious
concourse of men carries with it, and make no return. Like the
horse-leach's daughters their cry is, "Give, give." Could anything be
more selfish or more anomalous? There is no effort of imagination, no
kindling of sympathy, no struggle to enter under the shadow of the
prayer of the congregation, so that they are as completely alone as
though they were in a desert place.

Nor is public worship a device for rousing in people a devotional frame
of mind, which will enable them to pray better by themselves. Doubtless
one indirect effect of the great dignity and beauty of liturgical
worship, is to stimulate those who participate in it to a deeper
devotion at home. But public worship is a climax, not a mere means to an
end; it is the culmination of private devotion, not its starting point.
Without hidden spiritual effort, it is a phantom of the real thing; with
it, it is the matchless consummation of adoration, prayer and sympathy.
Under the least satisfactory conditions the congregation gathered in
God's house has marvellous dignity; the unity of movement, the rich
variety and the rhythm of liturgical expression characterize it as the
most august of human assemblies.

But the possibilities of the Church in prayer rise to their supremest
height, when the congregation is rich with the fruits of personal
religion. So closely woven are the public and the private phases of
devotion that they are of a piece. The power of the former is due to the
hours of secret prayer, the struggles with self, the nerving of the
will--in short, all that hidden discipline and training that lie behind
the veil of private life. Out of this, corporate worship emerges as
effect rises out of cause. However great, then, the private life of
devotion is in which men pray to God in the guarded secrecy of their
homes, it is only preparatory, leading up to the service of the
sanctuary.[19] Private prayer is the lesser, public the greater; the
former is the exercise of the individual members with special regard to
their own development, the latter is the stately movement of the whole
body in beautiful unison. Each member contributes to the whole what has
been gained in private efforts; each comes to give rather than to
receive, or, if it may be so put, to receive through giving; and of
course a man can give only what he has gathered.

The glimpses we have of heavenly worship[20] reveal nothing but common
worship. We see no individuals standing apart from the throng, absorbed
in their own little expression of praise. The ranks are unbroken, and
one united and uniting impulse thrills the whole. The visions recorded
by S. John are visions not merely of ideal worship in its restricted
sense of spoken prayer and praise, but of the ideal life. The
fundamental idea of common worship consists in dependence upon God and
fellowship with man, and when all life is filled to the full with this
twofold spirit, all life will be worship, and let it be said here with
firm emphasis, that if we do not lift up our life to the level of our
prayers, eventually our prayers will be dragged down to the level of our
life. Life in heaven is something more than one long Sunday service; it
is the use of all powers and faculties in the spirit of worship, worship
representing the highest and finest temper of mind of which we have
experience. So when we read the figurative language of S. John, we must
remember that he is declaring under the symbolism of worship what the
features of heavenly life are--the conscious service of God in a
harmonious human society.

Similarly here on earth common worship is a symbol of true life as well
as a means of sustaining it. The attention of the congregation gathered
before the altar is fixed upon God, and no stronger indication of the
reality of brotherhood could be conceived than the visible assembly
occupied in a common exercise. When all our activities become saturated
with the consciousness of God in His perfection, and with the fact of
the oneness of Christ's mystical Body, formal worship will be no more a
necessity. But that will be when heaven is reached, for which day there
must be some little waiting yet. In the meantime it is vital that
worship, as we know it, should not be an excrescence on life but a real
part of it, part of it as truly as the deep, silent tide flowing between
narrow banks is part of the same river which above and below is worried
by rocks or widened into a lake. Public worship should represent perhaps
the most concentrated part of life, but nothing unnatural, nothing out
of gear with work-a-day moments. Work should flow into worship as easily
as the stream into the ocean. There should be, in all the business of
life, the steady application of God's laws, and that underlying
consciousness of His Person and Presence which, so far from detracting
from the efficiency of our work or preventing full devotion to it, will
intensify every energy. The melody of the song is emphasized and
supported by the accompaniment, not lost in its multitude of sounds.
Given this attitude of mind, and what a simple, natural thing praise
with the lips becomes! And how sublime the uprushing flood of hymnody
from an assembly of men of like mind!

Again, public worship ought to be the highest and not the only
expression of parochial family life. The assembled congregation is the
symbol of an enduring Christian brotherhood, where mutual consideration,
love and service form the unalterable watchwords. To-day this thought is
much obscured by the parochial family having so little reality outside
the church walls. This is especially applicable to city churches, where
congregations gather from the remotest localities. The parish seems to
be fast dying out and the congregation is taking its place. The people
who worship in the same building neither know one another nor, in many
instances, desire to. This is simply fatal to ideal public worship, one
purpose of which at any rate is to quicken and seal the sympathy that
already exists as the result of intercourse in the outside world. It is
a grave responsibility for any one, for the sake of what he may deem to
be larger spiritual privileges, to leave the church of the locality in
which he lives and where his natural duties and friendships lie, to go
to some distant place of worship where fellowship is impossible. Ideally
the worshippers belonging to the parochial family are all known to one
another and in frequent personal contact; they do not look to their
clergy alone for spiritual help, but also to their fellow laymen. All
too often the clergy are supposed to have the sole responsibility of
spiritually aiding the members of a parish, whereas, the laity, whether
they recognize it or not, have almost an equal responsibility. The
clergyman does spiritual work, not because he is a clergyman, but
because he is a Christian; though his special vocation determines the
exact form his work should take. If there were more intelligent sympathy
among the members of the congregation one with another, what strength
would come to the penitent struggling to his feet, what added power to
the faithful! Many fail, not because the clergy have been negligent, but
because those who are termed the brethren have never extended a helping
hand to support, to comfort, to cheer. If a congregation were alive to
these responsibilities outside of the church, what a glorious time would
be the gathering within its walls--inspiring, thrilling! Indeed, any one
who tries to be unselfish and to act in the common concerns of life with
reference to his neighbour's interests, any one who has elsewhere
learned ever so little about intercession, cannot be unmindful when he
comes to church of those who worship by his side, strangers though they
be. By the exercise of sympathy, sympathy which he has learned to kindle
with less at hand to quicken it to life than that given by the living,
breathing forms near by, he can bring close to him his
fellow-worshippers, moving into the shadow of their intercessions as
well as calling them in to share his own. It will be noticed that the
usual order has been reversed in the foregoing. Usually men are urged to
worship well that they may live well;[21] the proposition that has been
made here is that men must live well if they would worship well. It
makes little difference which way the thought is expressed, the mode of
expression depending on the part of the circle at which we begin our
course. Life runs up into worship and worship runs out into life. Each
leads into the other.

The use of a liturgy is an added power to public worship. It is only by
liturgical aids that public worship can become common worship. A liturgy
delivers a congregation from the spiritual idiosyncrasies of a minister
as well as disciplining those of the worshippers themselves. The
comprehensiveness and symmetry, the saneness and dignity of the Book of
Common Prayer are educative forces of enormous value. Left to themselves
men lose the true perspective of things; they dwell too much on matters
of secondary importance, and become insular in their outlook. A liturgy
comes in as a corrective of these constitutional failings; it confronts
us with all that is vast in the realm of truth; it calls us away from
the consideration of those things over which we have pondered until
morbidness has seized upon us; it ministers that grateful rest which
comes from the mind being freed from the contemplation of one set of
interests, by being caught away by and absorbed in new and wider
interests; it rounds out the devotional life; it invites us to lean upon
the prayers of others as we desire them to lean on ours.

All who aspire to worship well in the congregation must note that the
liturgy sets the tone for all devotions. Those who in private affect
spiritual exercises foreign to the character of the Prayer Book of the
Church, may get a certain emotional satisfaction for the moment, but
they purchase the luxury at the cost of weakening their power for common
worship. Their private prayers form no preparation for their public
prayers. The clergy have it as a grave responsibility to see that the
books of private devotion which they put into the hands of their people
are such as fit into the Church's system.

Demeanour in the congregation is a small thing to think of after the
great central theme that has been holding our attention. But nothing is
unworthy of consideration which bears on the perfecting of common
worship; and with two simple observations on demeanour this chapter
will be closed. First, regarding the self-consciousness that both
distresses the soul and weakens its devotional power. The sense, while
in the act of prayer, of being observed by others, is distracting. But
is it not a piece of conceit to imagine that we are being observed,
widely at any rate, as well as something akin to an insult to those
about us? Are we not implicitly charging them with neglect of duty and
with irreverence? After all they are probably occupied with their
devotions as we ourselves should be. The simplest way of conquering the
distraction when it arises is to take the person or persons concerned
into our prayers by a conscious act. Then in the second place, as to our
own behaviour, it is only common charity to avoid singularity of
conduct. Most of the ordinary acts of reverence which the individual may
practise, can be so unobtrusively performed as not to attract notice.
But when there is a danger of causing distraction to others, as in a
strange parish for instance, it is more conducive to real reverence to
omit than to observe them. Sometimes the best way to be loyal to a
principle is deliberately to break a rule, and if this suggestion be
reasonable then why should not a person, unaccustomed to ornate ritual,
fall in with any legitimate customs observed, if he finds himself at
any time in a church where such customs obtain?

FOOTNOTES:

[19] _The writer does not hesitate to advise persons who are temporarily
residing, as is often the case during the summer, where there is no
Episcopal Church, to attend public worship, once a Sunday at least, at
the representative Evangelical place of worship of the community.
Reading the Church service at home by one's self is no substitute for
public worship._

[20] _As_ e. g. _in Rev. v: 11-14_.

[21] _See p. 7._



Chapter X

_The Great Act of Worship_


The Eucharist is the Church's great central act of corporate worship. It
would be strange, considering the origin of this wonderful mystery, were
it otherwise. Even those who regard it as a bare memorial of the
historic occurrence of Christ's Passion and nothing more, however highly
they may honour the ordinary round of prayer and praise, approach the
Eucharist with unwonted awe.

Of course no one conception of its character is complete, as its various
and stately names testify. So bound up with the Person of our Lord is
it, that, as new treasures of knowledge are laid open concerning Him who
is the eternal Son of God, this feast of rich things is proportionately
enriched to the participant. Says Jeremy Taylor in his quaint and
reverent way: "The Holy Communion or Supper of the Lord is the most
sacred, mysterious and useful conjugation of secret and holy things and
duties in the religion."[22] And withal it is, in essence, of all simple
things the most simple--a meal, a meal transformed and exalted, it is
true, but still a meal. However difficult the liturgy may be for
unlearned folk, the sacrament itself, "the breaking of the bread," is
easily understood by every one, even the least wise. Nor is it hard to
reconcile the idea of a feast with this meagre meal of a morsel of bread
and a sip of wine; for everyday experience has prepared us for the
conveyance of great wealth through what has no intrinsic excellence. If
a scrap of paper can have the value of heaps of gold, and, by the law of
association, an age-worn trinket can become of priceless worth, it
suggests no unreality to claim that under certain conditions a simple
meal becomes a royal banquet, filling heart and soul and mind, and
admitting into the very presence of the Most Holy and Most High. There
is diversity in the explication of this act of worship, but whatever
difference of opinion there may be regarding its exact nature, those
most widely separated in thought will agree in this, that it is a
profound rite, and that in it is spiritual wealth. And in these days,
when at last men are beginning to perceive that truth is always greater
than its best definition, no one will contend that what he sees in the
Eucharist is all that it contains.[23]

The best commentary on the Eucharist is the closing chapter of our
Lord's mortal career. The Son of Man, as He approached the Cross, drew
nigh to that which throughout His ministry He had viewed as a goal; the
crucifixion was what He had been preparing Himself for in all that He
said and did throughout His human experience; His whole life was indeed
a "long going forth to death." He aspired to reach the moment when He
would be lifted up from the earth. He saw and predicted with composure
all the horror and shame of the Passion, the betrayal and desertion, the
scourging and spitting. But He saw even more clearly the dignity and
wonder and majesty of the opportunity contained in it all, and spoke of
it with suppressed joy: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how
am I straitened till it be accomplished!" The Cross would test to the
full His obedience to God and reveal to what lengths Divine love would
go to redeem sinful man. When men near the goal of their innocent
ambition their cup of joy is full; nor was Christ's less than full. In
the first Eucharist the pain of self-sacrifice for the time being was
lost in the joy of self-fulfilment. When He took the bread and the wine
and said, "This is My Body which is broken for you," "This is My Blood
which is shed for you," He made the sacrifice of Himself. It is this act
which separates His death from all other deaths, transforming the
crucifixion from a judicial murder into a triumph of self-oblation. It
is not the Cross which explains the Eucharist, but rather the Eucharist
which explains the Cross.[24] Eliminate the Eucharist from the story of
the Passion and our Lord's death sinks from the atoning act by which the
world is reconciled to God into a mere act of resignation to a painful
fate, to be classed with the death of Socrates and like heroes. It is
the Eucharist that enables us to say that the crucifixion was a
sacrifice; that however true it is that Christ was put to death by
sinful men, it is a truth of greater magnitude that, according to His
repeated prediction, He laid down His life for His friends; that the
Cross of Calvary, and through it every cross that bows the shoulders of
men, has become the instrument of victory and a school of obedience and
sympathy.

No act of Christ was a mere personal experience. The Son of Man, as in
loving sympathy He declared Himself to be, was the Universal Character
whose life must needs concern and touch all other lives. It was His
expressed desire that His fellows should share all that He was and did.
He, the Son of God, became the Son of Man that we might become Sons of
God.[25] Therefore it is not surprising that, at this the supreme moment
of His life, He should bid the representative group who companied with
Him, and through them all men, come in and participate in its power and
joy; He did not merely lay down His life, but asked others to enter into
His experience, saying, "Take, eat; this is My Body," "Drink ye all of
this; this is My Blood." For what is the import of this invitation but
this? "Associate yourselves with Me,--aye, be one with Me, incorporated
into Me, in this great moment of self-offering; for I would present you
a willing surrender in and with Myself." The idea of at-one-ment was
never more intelligible than in these latter days. We are becoming more
and more conscious of how close-wrought are the fibres of the human
race; we recognize how the life of any one man affects the life of his
fellows, and how the individual can gather into his own soul the sorrows
and joys, the perplexities and aspirations of many people. If this is
part of the experience of _a_ son of man, it follows that _the_ Son of
Man, by the extension and completion of that quality which, when found
in us, is known as sympathy, if by nothing else beyond,--and the
character of His personality tells us there is much beyond that is
inexplicable--not only may but must take into Himself and hold there for
time and eternity the whole race--except so far, alas, as men struggle
from the freedom of His embrace into the slavery of a false
independence. Thus the Eucharist is the divinely chosen means whereby we
men are invited to enter into, and consciously to appropriate the
highest points of the victory of the Cross as well as what lies
beyond,--the resurrection life. Through it He shares with us His
life-giving death and His deathless life, His Divine nature and His
perfect humanity, and we are "accepted in the Beloved."

The various titles of the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood suggest
its various aspects,[26] one of which, and that the one that happily is
most common in our Church, we shall consider--the Holy Communion. This
title indicates the view of the sacrament which most readily appeals to
the human heart. The Holy Communion means, of course, "the Holy
Fellowship"--not "a" but "the," that fellowship which above all others
is holy, the end of which is to make all who participate in it holy. It
is fellowship with the Father in Christ--not merely with Christ; that is
not the whole of it, for Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man as He
is, is the "Way" to the Father. Nor is it an ordinary fellowship, of
which the fellowship of mere men is a complete image. Ordinary
fellowship allows two lives to intertwine; but here so close is the
relationship that "Christ _with_ us," "we _with_ Christ" is inadequate
to describe the intimacy, and "we _in_ Christ," "Christ _in_ us,"
phrases which no one dare to apply to any other friendship, can alone
tell the tale. And "we in Christ" not "Christ in us" is the grander and
more frequent phrase. "In Christ" tells of the unmeasured wealth of
fellowship, divine and human, which is the Christian heritage; it is the
whole parable of the vine and the branches in two syllables.[27] This is
the Godward aspect of the sacrament. And in this connection three things
are to be noted:--

§ 1. Every fresh communion is a new point of contact with God in Christ
through the working of the Eternal Spirit; each last communion means
more than any of those which have gone before, as even in our
association with a human friend new qualities and untried depths of
familiar characteristics are revealed in each successive act of
intercourse. Friendship is taken up day by day on a higher level than
formerly, because of these new glimpses of the inner recesses of life
which are caught from time to time as friends meet. And frequent
repetition of the sacrament ought no more to impair its value, than
frequent meetings the reality of friendship.

§ 2. Communion is only begun and not ended at the altar. It is something
more than a touch for a moment. Grace is not the infusion of some
mysterious spiritual property, which God having imparted leaves the
recipient to make use of by himself; grace is the gift of God's personal
working in the life through the indwelling Spirit. God never holds His
faithful children one moment to let them go the next. He enfolds us in
Himself with a tightening embrace, as by loyalty to His laws and
repeated acts of faith, we expose new portions of our nature for Him to
lay hold on. The sense of God's presence may be peculiarly full as we
kneel to receive the heavenly food, just as at the moment of meeting
again one whom we love the emotions are deeply stirred; but by virtue of
yesterday's communion, God is as near at hand to-day as He was when we
received the sacrament. The Holy Communion would fail in its purpose if
it made the presence of our Lord a reality only for the time being, and
did not more fully introduce men into the Divine presence as an abiding
state. The fact of God's immanence in us requires this conclusion.

§ 3. The result of a faithful reception of the Holy Communion should be
holiness in the common, everyday life, from which an incident, the
family meal, is borrowed and transformed as the symbol and means by
which all other incidents may be transformed. So great a mystery demands
all the majesty of a liturgy and the accompaniment of stately worship;
and a dignified ritual attached to this representative, this common act
of our human life, is most valuable as indicating the majesty of all
that is commonplace when it is touched by God. Just as we consecrate
certain times and seasons in order that all times and seasons may become
holy, so in the sacraments God has taught us to consecrate the simplest
acts of ordinary life--the bath and the meal--as typical of the
potential sacredness of all acts, and as a means of sanctifying and
ennobling them. So the Holy Communion touches alike private life and
life in society, the life of recreation and the life of business, and
unless it transfigures each of these departments of human experience it
falls short of its purpose. Let the business man remember that he
strains to see and touch the Most Holy at the altar that he may see and
touch the Most Holy in the market; let the professional man and the man
of letters, the day labourer and the scientist each in his sphere be
carried from the vision of God in the Eucharist to the abiding
fellowship with God in his special vocation. He who comes _from_ God
goes _to_ God, whithersoever his steps may bear him. The presence of our
Lord at the altar is special but not exclusive. It is not a lamp lighted
for a moment and then put out, but a light which will illuminate all
life, and enable us to see at every turn the vision of omnipresent Love.
It is one function of the sacraments to enhance, not to dim, the reality
of God's immanence in all His works; to train us to perceive and
apprehend that

    _Earth's crammed with heaven
    And every common bush afire with God_,--

a declaration which otherwise would be held to be but a poet's fickle
fancy or a vague philosophical idea. Days are coming, if they are not
already upon us, when in the midst of scientific progress and
explanation in which men are prone to rest as final, the believer's
ceaseless theme must be the Divine indwelling. And the strongest and
most telling means of keeping alive this truth for ourselves and others
is the sacramental system of the Church.

Thus far we have been thinking of the Godward aspect of the Holy
Communion--fellowship with God in Christ. On its manward side it is
fellowship with man in Christ. As it sustains us in Divine fellowship
and lifts us continually into purer heights, so it assures us of our
incorporation in the mystical Body of Christ, "which is the blessed
company of all faithful people," and inspires us to deeper love. Here
again it is necessary to recall the original simple form of the
sacrament, a form so simple that, as Bishop Westcott says somewhere, it
is difficult in the earliest references to it to distinguish it from the
ordinary family meal. The brethren gather around the common table and
partake of the common loaf.[28] And the use of the one loving-cup from
which all drink goes beyond the customs of ordinary family life. The
Holy Communion, which is a social act, speaks of the transformation of
social life.[29] Just as the constant sharing of food at one table is
the pledge of loyal service to one another on the part of all who
partake, as well as a means of gaining strength to fulfil the pledge, so
the Holy Communion is a pledge to mutual service and equipment for its
accomplishment. "In Christ" a new relationship is established between
man and man, or rather an old relationship is deepened and consummated.
Brethren after the flesh are made brethren in the Lord.[30] Family and
national ties are very sacred and very close, but they reach the full
purpose which God designed for them only when they become the basis for
spiritual kinship. It is considered a dreadful thing, and rightly so,
when men of common blood are at variance with one another; nothing is
more shameful than a family feud. And on the other hand, blood
relationship is in itself a demand for the most loyal service that men
are capable of rendering. Now through the sacramental life a kinship is
established and sustained as real and as binding as that consequent upon
the accident of birth; so that for Christian to be at variance with
Christian is as unnatural as it is for two of one family to strive with
one another; for Christian to over-reach Christian is as treacherous as
it was for Jacob to steal Esau's blessing. The loyalty which those who
are "in Christ" owe one another is the loyalty due among those who sit
at the same board and eat of the same loaf, among those in whose veins
runs the blood of a common mother. When men learn the reality and force
of spiritual kinship, social problems will be solved and social evils
will cease.

But a hasty glance has been bestowed in the foregoing pages on a mystery
of unsearchable depth, and many of its aspects have not even been noted.
The more obvious aspects are the ones upon which stress has been laid as
including in them all others. As with all other forms of approach to
God, so here, what a man knows about the Holy Communion is that which
God has taught him in his reception of the Sacrament. Those who would
fain plumb its depths must come frequently and preparedly to the feast.
Nor is preparation a formal act. It is unfortunate that some teachers
make it so by laying insistence on a set form. The best, and indeed the
only, true preparation is an outcome of a full knowledge of the thing
for which we wish to prepare ourselves, just as the best thanksgiving
for a blessing is the spontaneous utterance consequent upon a
contemplation of the gift received. The man who knows the spiritual
significance of the Holy Communion, _ipso facto_ knows how to prepare to
receive it.

FOOTNOTES:

[22] _Works: Vol. viii. p. 8._

[23] _It is not easy to be understood, it is not lightly to be received;
it is not much opened in the writings of the New Testament, but still
left in its mysterious nature; it is too much untwisted and nicely
handled by the writings of the doctors; and by them made more
mysterious, and like a doctrine of philosophy made intricate by
explications, and difficult by the apperture and dissolution of
distinctions.--Jeremy Taylor, Works, vol. viii, p. 8._

[24] _Milne._

[25] _2 Cor. viii: 9._

[26] _See a valuable little book, Some Titles and Aspects of the
Eucharist, by E. S. Talbot, D. D. (Bishop of Rochester). Rivington,
Percival & Co., London._

[27] _Bp. Alexander._

[28] _Cf. 1 Cor. x: 17.--"We, who are many, are one loaf." The one
serious objection to the otherwise convenient custom of using unleavened
bread in the shape of wafers is that the symbolism of the common loaf is
lost, and the point of contact with common life is somewhat obscured._

[29] _Our Church, by the title adopted, by the form of service used, by
the spirit of her rubrics where they touch upon the subject, plainly
declares it to be her intention that the Holy Communion should always be
celebrated so as to be a social act. The priest is not a mere
representative of the congregation, doing things_ for _them, but a
leader acting_ with _them. For the priest to act without the
congregation is only less anomalous than for the congregation to act
without the priest. Not that the_ whole _congregation present should
necessarily receive at any given celebration of the Holy Communion,
though in the judgment of the present writer the ideal would be reached
only thus._

[30] _Cf. Philemon 16._



Chapter XI

_Witnesses unto the Uttermost Part of the Earth_


The breadth of the Christian's vision is exceeded only by its height,
and his influence is coterminous with nothing less than the human fabric
of which he is a part. By faith man penetrates into the heaven of
heavens and reaches the very presence of God himself, a privilege and
duty which belong not to a favoured few but to the race.

    _Too low they build, who build beneath the stars,_

is a truth of universal application. But just as the stars must not
limit man's vision as he gazes up, neither must the horizon limit his
vision as he looks abroad. Christian energy is not doing its full work
unless it aims at touching the uttermost part of the earth. That which
is recorded in Acts 1: 8[31] tells of an abiding principle and not
merely of a historic fact. Our Lord is speaking through that group of
representative men who witnessed His Ascension, to all who become his
followers. Not the Apostles alone but all Christians are destined to be
His witnesses "unto the uttermost part of the earth." It is only to be
expected that those who have the power to explore the secrets of the
divine Being, will also have this lesser power of world-wide influence,
which after all, great as it is, is infinitely less aspiring than the
former. The same faith that enables us to love and serve our Lord in
heaven, equips us to love and serve the men of the remote parts of the
earth. To have the former is to be heir to the latter.

Men who imbibe this principle and make it part of themselves are said to
have missionary spirit. But it cannot be too strongly insisted that this
spirit is not something over and above the common Christian character;
for it is not a possession which we are to claim simply because we are
bidden to do so, spurred to it by the "icy purity of the law of duty."
The missionary spirit is inherent in Christianity. Even though Christ
had never said, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the
nations,"[32] even if He had not assured His followers that they were to
be witnesses "unto the uttermost part of the earth," it would have made
no practical difference in the final issue of Christian truth. The
Church would have been missionary just the same--S. Paul, S. Augustine,
S. Columba, S. Francis Xavier, would have striven for the Gospel's sake
none the less boldly, none the less zealously. The missionary is not a
missionary because of a few missionary texts in the Bible. He is a
missionary because he is a Christian. All Christ's commands are
invitations, which merely put into concise language what the heart
already recognizes as its privilege and joy. The missionary
commission[33] is the Church's charter, telling all men of her right to
dare to make Christianity coterminous with humanity, arresting the
attention of those to whom the missionary is sent rather than acting as
the sole motive power of the missionary; from it we get definite
authority, and so a measure of inspiration, but we do not rest upon it,
as though it were by an arbitrary fiat of God that a Christian were
converted into a missionary.[34] The latter term tells of one aspect of
the Christian character, that is all. Whoever accepts Christ's
Christianity--the redundancy is necessary--forthwith becomes a
missionary.[35] Andrew needed no injunction to seek Peter; he did it
because, being a follower of Christ, he could not help it. And if he had
refrained, he would have ceased at that moment to be a disciple.
Christians, whether considered individually or corporately, who are not
missionary in desire and intention, are Christians only in name, getting
little from and contributing nothing to the religion of the Incarnation.
If the foregoing contention be true, the definition of "missionary"
stands sadly in need of revision. A missionary is an honourable title
not to be reserved only for those who work for God in the waste places
of His vineyard, but the coveted possession of every Christian who
strives to bear a wide witness, as well as deep, to Christ among men.

Missionary service is a _personal_ thing; it cannot be deputed to
another any more than it can have something else as a substitute for it.
Contributing money in order that others may be maintained in their
missionary undertakings, does not exempt the donor from personal
service himself. Every Christian is bound to strive to deepen and widen,
by the force of his personality in Christ, the Kingdom of God. Of course
there is a narrower and a wider missionary spirit. The latter is reached
by faithfulness to the former, here as well as elsewhere effective
breadth beginning in depth. All missionary power begins (as well as
ends) in that unconscious witness[36] which the Christian character
bears to Christ. So infectious a thing is God's truth, that to receive
it is to spread it.

    _As one lamp lights another nor grows less,
    So nobleness enkindleth nobleness_.

"Ye _are_ the light of the world;" "Ye _are_ the salt of the earth." And
it is that part of the character which easily, simply and naturally lays
hold on Christ, that first sheds God's light abroad and becomes the
preservative element of society.

It is further noticeable that the sphere of Christian influence as
alluded to by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount, corresponds with the
sphere of witness-bearing marked out by Him in His parting words before
the Ascension--"Ye are the light of _the world_;" "Ye are the salt of
_the earth_;" "Ye shall be witnesses unto the uttermost part of the
earth." To recognize the fact that the Christian life is the most
invincible and the most permeating influence that the world can ever
know, is an enormous incentive to consistency and zealous devotion.
Christian character is the only force which a man can both leave behind
him, and take with him when he comes to die. Nothing can withstand it,
and nothing can check its career. It is bound to impress all that it
touches, and it touches everything--"the world," "the earth." It is not
too much to hold that unconscious influence always exceeds conscious
influence, the latter reaching the zenith of its effectiveness only when
it has been transformed, by constant use, into the former. It is in the
home that the Christian begins that witness-bearing, which is destined
to reach so far.

But the widest missionary spirit is inclusive. It is not a substitute
for home work, any more than public life is a substitute for family
life. The former is the extension of the latter. The disciples of the
first days reached the uttermost part of the earth through Jerusalem and
all Judæa and Samaria; while the disciples of these latter days must
touch the bounds of the world through the parish, the diocese, the
Church of the nation. Nothing, no matter how fine and striking it may
be, can take the place of loyalty to the duties that are nearest at
hand. Church life may be conceived of as a series of concentric circles,
the innermost of which representing parochial relations, the next
diocesan missions, then domestic, and the outermost circle foreign
missions. Power to traverse the large circumference comes from
faithfully treading the round of those that lie within, beginning with
that next the centre. The only way to have power and to serve abroad is
to live a deep full life at home, and, let it be added, the only way to
have large power and to serve at home is to cast the eye far abroad and
wind the interests of a whole world around the heart. And the spiritual
force of the foreign mission field is no lying index of the spiritual
condition of the home Church; it tells the tale as truly as the pulse
reports for the heart. It may be perfectly true of every other society
of men that mere concentration is the secret of power, but it is not so
with the Church. Any ecclesiastical unit, be it parish, diocese,
province, or national Church, which is content to feed itself on rich
spiritual food, without regard for the rest of the world, will sooner or
later be filled with disease and die. However specious a form
self-contemplation may assume, it inevitably ends in ruin, for it leads
to isolation; and what is isolation but the most awful and irretrievable
of catastrophes? The only true independence is that which is the fruit
of interdependence. A given Church may have all the appearance of
life--there may be popularity, large property, handsome equipment and
other signs of outward prosperity--but within there is nothing but
death. It is just as wrong and just as fatal to hold aloof, on any plea
soever, from the common life of the entire Church at home and abroad, as
it is to cut ourselves off from the Church of the past by a denial of
fundamental truth. The former, quite as much as the latter, is a
departure from Apostolic Christianity, and so merits the opprobrious
name of schism.

It is a strange but inflexible spiritual law, that those who aim at
anything short of the best according to their conception, as God has
given them light, will sooner or later come to grief. It is merely a
matter of time. The hope of Christianity lies in its boldness. The
Church is strong when she is daring, and only then; her strength rises
and falls with her courage--victory is faith.[37] What an inspiration to
every parish, the lowliest and poorest as well as the numerically strong
and financially rich!--the uttermost part of the earth is within the
reach of its influence: ay, more than that, is in need of its prayers
and its labours. Work for foreign missions is the climax and crown of
Christian life, not a sluggish tributary to it. And a parish will be in
the vanguard of God's forces or far in the rear, according as it rises
to its responsibility in this direction or not.

There is an immense amount of untutored missionary desire. That is to
say, there are vast numbers of Christians whose hearts burn towards
those who do not know Christ, but there is no man to teach them how to
crystallize desire into prayer and action and let the stream of their
desire run clear and full; there are many others, too, who have a narrow
missionary spirit and who linger in Judæa and Samaria, only because they
have never been shown how it is possible to reach unto the uttermost
part of the earth. The fire is there, but it smoulders for want of fuel.
Men need direction for their missionary aspirations; they need to be
instructed in the work that is being done. We cannot expect people to be
interested in what they know nothing about. If the cause of missions is
presented as an abstraction, and men are urged to give "on principle,"
the gifts that come will be such as cost the givers nothing. And as for
prayers--well, there will be none, for prayers cannot live on
abstractions. The clergy should be the leaders in making the missions of
the Church a living thing; and it is nothing short of a scandal that so
many pulpits are closed to those who wear the title of "missionary." But
whatever be the shortcomings of the clergy, there is no more reason why
Christian laymen should be ignorant of the general features of Church
work in the far West or in China and Japan than that they should be
ignorant of international politics; and there is more reason for shame
on account of ignorance in the former than in the latter case. Once
waken men's interest in the work abroad as a concrete reality, and there
will be stronger prayer, more numerous offers for personal service in
foreign work from the best and bravest, more liberal contributions in
money.

It has already been hinted that not only does the uttermost part of the
earth need Christianity, but that Christianity needs the uttermost part
of the earth. We cannot fully know Christ until all the nations have
seen and believed and told their vision. The Church of God is poor, in
that it lacks the contribution which the un-Christianized nations alone
can give by being evangelized. Just as the speculative East needed in
the first days the practical West to balance its concept of the Gospel,
and _vice versa_, so it is now. Before we can see the full glory of the
Incarnation, representatives of all nations must blend their vision with
that which has already been granted. Every separate stone must be set
before the temple reaches its final splendour. Foreign missions are as
much for the Church's sake as for the heathen's, as much for the eternal
profit of those who are sent as for those to whom they go.

No attempt has been made in these pages to argue as with men who do not
believe in the widest missionary enterprise, for missionary spirit is
not created by argument. Indeed, many an objection is but the instrument
by which persons convict themselves of being Christian only in name.
There is no answer to what they say excepting, "Of course you cannot
believe in missions, because it is evident you do not believe in Christ.
To believe in Christ is to believe in missions, missions unto the
uttermost part of the earth." It would be a shame to appear to apologize
for what is of the essence of Christianity. So we turn away from all
smaller reasoning, to the one great spring and impulse of mission work
far and near. The Christian has to see those whom Christ sees, for the
follower looks through his master's eyes; the Christian has to love and
serve those whom Christ loves and serves, for the follower lives only in
his master's spirit. Consequently, he must see, love and serve unto the
uttermost part of the earth. Being a follower of Christ, he cannot help
it; he does it for the same reason and with the same naturalness that
the sun shines and the rose sheds its fragrance abroad.

FOOTNOTES:

[31] _Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth._

[32] _St. Matt. xxviii_: 19.

[33] _St. Matt. xxviii:_ 19, 20.

[34] _The following remarkable phrase occurs in Bp. Andrewes'
Devotions:--Who_ [i. e., _Christ_] _hath manifested in every place the
savour of His knowledge ... by the incredible conversion of the world to
the Faith, without assistance of authority, without intervention of
persuasion._

[35] _The Brotherhood of S. Andrew is nothing more than an organized
effort to fulfil a common Christian duty._

[36] _Cf. Emerson's verses on unconscious influence_:

    _Little thinks, in the field, yon red cloaked clown
    Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
    The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
    Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
    The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
    Deems not that great Napoleon
    Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
    Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;
    Nor knowest thou what argument
    Thy life to thy neighbour's creed has lent._

[37] _1 John v: 4._



Chapter XII

_The Inspiration of Responsibility_


The responsibility of the sons of God has been the theme of this book,
and the writer trusts that in dwelling upon the duties of the Christian
life he has not failed to bring out something of its glory and
inspiration. But the thing out of which we can gather the largest help
to fulfil our responsibility is the responsibility itself. If God dwells
high up on the hills of difficulty, He has a throne, too, in the heart
of every claim made on human character.[38]

The presence in our life of a difficulty is a call to responsibility,
and the acceptance of a responsibility is the admittance into personal
experience of God in His triumphant march toward the great consummation;
it is correspondence with victory. Just as the glory of duty consists,
not in its immediate issue, but in its performance, so the main
inspiration for responsibility comes not from external goads and spurs,
but from the very thing which lies at our feet, looking at first sight
like a task given to mock rather than inspire, to denude of what little
power we have rather than to equip, to undo the would-be doer rather
than to be done by him. Responsibility without doubt is a task, but much
more is it an inspiration. Of course the measure of inspiration which it
imparts is proportionate to the faith and courage with which it is
approached. Responsibility handled with dilettante fingers will only cut
and wound; grasped in firm embrace, it will bestow so much illumination
and vigour that the pain which inaugurates the gift will be forgotten
almost before the last ache has faded out. And again, it is not too much
to say that the greater a responsibility is, the greater is its power to
inspire. In other words, inspiration is always commensurate with
responsibility. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." In the common
Christian duty, which has been outlined in the foregoing pages, so great
is the responsibility imposed that nothing short of the highest
conceivable incentive can carry a man through. And the inspiration lies
within the task and will declare itself only in the doing of the task.

Even on the natural side man finds attraction and inspiration in
problems, puzzles and difficulties.[39] No sooner is one problem solved
or one difficulty surmounted than another is eagerly sought for and
grappled with. The spice of life lies in its antagonisms.[40] It is not
the prospect of some reward of wealth or honour that carries men to the
crown of their task; it is the joy of the doing, a joy that is felt even
in those preliminary experimentations which only pave the way to the
real undertaking. Men--we are not thinking of butterflies--cannot exist
without difficulty. To be shorn of it means death, because inspiration
is bound up with it, and inspiration is the breath of God, without the
constant influx of which man ceases to be a living soul. Responsibility
is the sacrament of inspiration. The miracles of Christ, whatever else
they did, suggested new responsibility to the race, opened up a new
field of daring and enlarged the scope of human operations. They
encouraged men to attempt the impossible; and without question the
hidden but no less effective cause of all scientific development has
been and is Christian aspiration, roused to its highest pitch by the
marvels performed by the Man Christ Jesus. Christian faith has educated
us to a belief that the first promise of order lies in the discovery of
chaos, and that every problem carries in its own pocket a key formed to
fit the hand of man. Thus interest in the sorrows and perplexities of
the multitudes rises from a nerveless compassion that of yore worked
laboriously with its "law-stiffened fingers," to a wide-reaching
ministration of power; the secrets of nature become invitations to
knowledge; and effort that was once merely instinctive and random
becomes rational and triumphant.

But Christ enabled men to achieve what before they had only sighed
after, not by releasing from, but on the contrary by adding to human
responsibility. He saw the inspiration of responsibility, so by making
the latter great He made the former reach its height; He equipped man to
do the smaller duties of life by giving larger ones. It will for ever
hold true that to bring men up to their best, we must call them to the
highest. They are to be won, not by the promise of a gift, but by a
ringing call to duty, not by something to eat, but by something to do.
One reason at least why Christianity is bound to supersede all other
religions is because of the supreme largeness of its demands on human
character and the supreme inspiration that those demands contain. The
fault of most modern prophets is not that they present too high an
ideal, but an ideal that is sketched with a faltering hand; the appeal
to self-sacrifice is too timid and imprecise, the challenge to courage
is too low-voiced, with the result that the tide of inspiration ebbs
low. The call to each soul to contribute its quota toward the
realization of the most remote ideal so far from being depressing is
stimulating, and a necessary goad to the promotion of individual as well
as corporate development. Mr. Kipling's prophetic voice rings out above
the Babel of a garrulous age and inspires men in the only way they can
be inspired, by pointing out human responsibility and bidding men take
up their burden.

    _Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways,
    Baulking the end half-won for an instant dole of praise.
    Stand to your work and be wise--certain of sword and pen,
    Who are neither children nor gods, but men in a world of men!_

Clothed with the conviction that true inspiration lies in
responsibility, what better words of inspiration can this closing
chapter bear than what will come from a final insistence upon the
vastness of the ordinary man's spiritual responsibility and the grandeur
of his opportunity? In these days a true man rises instinctively to a
broad outlook. He does not labour for his own self-fulfillment and
nothing more. Of course, every act of self-sacrifice for the Kingdom of
Heaven's sake helps toward that end, for self-sacrifice for the
promotion of whatever cause is always the negative aspect of
self-fulfillment. But Christians strive toward the best not from selfish
motives, not merely because what God commands must be done, but because
He has opened up to our gaze a vision of His world-purposes and shown us
that obedience means coöperation with Him in their fulfillment. Thus
small actions become big with import. Personal purity means a
contribution toward the solution of the divorce question which exceeds
in its constructive influence the most wisely worded canon of marriage.
The commercial honour of the individual is the forging of a ward in the
key that will some day unlock the closed door of the industrial problem.
Faithfulness in spiritual duties in the most circumscribed life is a
voice that reaches the uttermost part of the earth and gives its undying
witness to all who have ears to hear. Loyalty and charity working hand
in hand in the Christian soul will do as much as the most carefully
framed and comprehensive formula of agreement, to bring about that
Christian unity for which our Lord prayed[41] when His time was short
and His thoughts only upon that which was the objective point of the
Incarnation.

Whether or not men recognize the extent of their influence, that
influence tells. But what a source of inspiration and strength is lost
when these things are hidden and one sees only the natural side of life,
the prison-house of environment and the task without its incentive! The
Architect of life would have His least workman know the full plan and
not merely that of the small bit of it which is his special care. Once
to discern our personal relation to God's world-purposes is to be for
ever purged of dilettantism; is to be for ever emancipated from a
certain religious littleness that shackles so many Christian feet, and
to move out into a breadth which involves no loss of depth; is to shake
non-essentials into the background, and bring fundamental truths to the
fore, where they can burn themselves into our very being; is to receive
a new motive for living and doing.

Fired by a sense of large responsibility, sustained spiritual effort on
a high plane becomes possible for each in his own little corner. The
demand upon men to pray well, to seek to make the moral life blameless,
and to deepen and enlarge the sphere of service,--in a word, to aspire
to the stars and reach out to the four corners of the world, suggests
privilege rather than hardship to the rank and file of the Christian
army. The layman may not look to the priest as a vicarious man of prayer
and of righteousness. The priesthood is representative, not exclusive,
in character and service. The priest is a man of prayer not because he
is a priest, but because he is a Christian, his priesthood but
determining the accidental features of his devotional life. He is a holy
man not because he is a priest, but because he is a Christian, his
priesthood but determining the sphere in which his holiness is to be
expressed. The priest does spiritual work not because he is a priest,
but because he is a Christian, his priesthood but making him a leader in
service, _primus inter pares_. Faithfulness in prayer, righteousness in
life, full spiritual service, are the responsibility as much of the
layman as of the priest. Failure in any one of these departments of life
is as culpable in the layman as in the priest. It is notable that of all
the vows in the Ordinal, whether in the ordering of priest or deacon, or
in the consecration of a bishop, the majority are but the expansion of
common Christian duty and could be as well taken by layman as by cleric.
The functional peculiarities are as few as the representative duties are
many. The priestly life is mainly, though not solely, the
intensification of fundamental relations with God and man, as the
Ordinal testifies, and the ideal priesthood, so far as it touches
devotion, morals and common service, is but the perpetual and living
reminder to the laity of what they should be and do. There are many
ready to decry sacerdotalism; but few of these have sufficient logic to
recognize that the more completely the ministry is denuded of all but
its representative character, the more fully is the layman weighted with
spiritual responsibility.[42]

And spiritual work is as wide as human activity. The tendency to make
religion a department of life instead of the Christian synonym for the
whole of life, has given rise to such a redundancy as "applied
Christianity." The life of common activities, social and industrial, is
as truly the sphere of religion as the sanctuary. The natural is not the
antithesis but the foundation of the spiritual. First that which is
natural and afterward that which is spiritual--by transformation, not by
substitution. The Resurrection of Christ is a parable as well as a fact.
And it is for the layman, whether he be the thinker in his study or the
labourer in his ditch, to exercise his priesthood in the sphere of his
occupation, lifting to God for His transforming touch each transaction
in which he is engaged, recognizing that all life is divine, and all
business God's business. It is for the layman to enter into the bent of
his age and train it to God, not holding aloof from popular movements
and ambitions, but laying hold of them and labouring for their
conversion and sanctification. Thus will the natural become the
spiritual. The witness that the world of to-day is most in need of is
that which will testify that if God is the God of the supernatural and
extraordinary, just as really is He the God of the natural and ordinary,
revealing Himself through and using common things as the general rule,
turning to what is uncommon as the exception. Who can bear this witness
so well as the layman in the home and in the market? Certain it is that
until this is done and theology has become much more than now part of
the web and woof of common life among common men, theological assent or
ecclesiastical unity will accomplish but little toward unifying life in
Christ in any worthy sense.

This, then, is the ordinary duty of a Christian layman. It is not
something optional, to be assumed or not as we prefer. It is what we
must accept as our responsibility, if we accept Christ and look for
acceptance in Him. The Church of to-day is coming to recognize this more
and more, and is settling down to the work before her with wisdom and
zeal. Even beneath the reaction against "organized Christianity," which
has appeared of late, and partially explanatory of it, is moral
earnestness, an earnestness that deprecates that conventional religion
which, narrow in both its vision and methods, fails to touch life with a
hand of power. Men of action wish a Christianity which is weighted with
responsibilities. Here and there one finds a nerveless Amiel who can
speak fine phrases, but who shrinks from responsibility. And here and
there, too, is a doctrinaire philosopher or an idle onlooker who croaks
of degeneration and declares that life lacks inspiration. But all the
while the workers, with eyes gleaming with hope, plunge into the most
hopeless problems, and reap their inspiration from their toil.

FOOTNOTES:

[38] _See Appendix._

[39] _See Prof. William James in, Is Life Worth Living? "Too much
questioning and too little active responsibility lead, almost as often
as too much sensualism does, to the edge of the slope, at the bottom of
which lie pessimism and the nightmare or suicidal view of life."_ [The
Will to Believe and other Essays.]

[40] _See Dr. John Fiske in his recently published, Through Nature to
God, where in a study of the Mystery of Evil, he developes this thought
most admirably, though making the unnecessary deduction that God is the
creator of moral evil._

[41] _St. John xvii._

[42] _See Moberly's Ministerial Priesthood, chap. ii._



Appendix

Where God Dwells[43]


There is no truth so thrilling as that which speaks of God's abiding
presence, not merely _with_ but _in_ His creation, though He is neither
limited by nor dependent upon it. Having created, He sustains, sustains
from within, so that the most recent manifestation of energy, whether in
the radiance of a sunrise or the smile on a child's face, is not the
reflection of a far-off movement of God, but an indication of His
present working. God is behind the world of things, controlling and
using all that is visible, so that the voiceless speaks and the lifeless
lives and imparts life. But His delight is among the sons of men. He
dwells in men, making their bodies His temple and their souls His
throne. He dwells in nature because He dwells in man, as well as
dwelling in man because man is part of nature. What will help a man to
honour his own body and to reverence the bodies of others, more than
the thought that the Spirit of God fills the human frame as light fills
the room, leaving no part untouched? It is not sufficient to think of
God as being in some organ of the body--the most worthy part, such as
the heart or the brain. God's Spirit fills His temple with His glory and
His power, making the least comely parts noble. He sanctifies each
member in the fulfillment of its proper function. To misuse or abuse any
power or faculty, is to drive the Spirit of God from His chosen
resting-place; whereas to surrender the members of the body and the
faculties of the soul to His influence, is to lift up the whole man into
increasing glory and beauty.

But it is not difficult to accept the truth that God lives within His
wonderful creation. The earliest dawn of religion perceived Him in His
works of beauty and majesty,--the sun, the stars, the river, the
tempest. And if He is immanent in that which is less, it is only logic
to say that He must of necessity be in that which is greater--if in the
world of things, much more then in the world of men, in the individual
and in society. But so deep is man's instinctive reverence, so abiding
his sense of unworthiness, that it needed the Incarnation to convince
man that he was destined to become the heaven of God. Yes, the heaven of
God, for heaven is where God is rather than God where heaven is.

All this has become an elementary truth of religion. Only it has to be
expressed in new terms from time to time. The thought has to be recoined
as the edges of language wear smooth, that its force and value may be
recognized. The immanence of God, as thus considered, is not difficult
for men to accept, unless indeed they wander into the barren wastes of a
deistic thought, which banishes God from life as we know it, and makes
Him a transcendent unreality.

What _does_ stagger men is the existence in a world in which God dwells,
of the dark mysteries from which none can escape,--the disastrous
storms, the difficulties, the pains of life. If, they argue, God dwells
in the world, why does He not sweep away these heavy shadows, this
over-much grief? There is only one answer, and it is this: God does not
annihilate these things because He has a high use for them; He cannot
destroy that which He can inhabit; God dwells in the dark places, in the
wilderness, in the storms; He has taken possession of them, and they are
His just as much as the sunshine and the fertile land. In short, God
dwells in everything short of sin, even in the fiercest, gloomiest
penalty of sin. The angel of vengeance is the angel of God's blessing
for all penitents who will accept him as such.

When our Lord came in the flesh, He entered into every human experience
to abide in it all the days. He invested temptation, so that temptation
is henceforth man's highest opportunity. He seized upon difficulty, and
behold, it becomes a revelation. He invested responsibility till it
became inspiration, duty till it became privilege. He wrapped Himself in
sorrow, and sorrow is turned into joy. He explored the darkest recesses
of death, and death is the gate to life immortal. And these
transformations are for all time.

It is a process of transformation, let it be noted, which these
mysteries undergo. It is not that the temptation in time is swept away
and an opportunity substituted in its place; but the temptation
_becomes_ an opportunity, and man mounts upon it to a higher level of
self-sacrifice, or purity or honour. It is not that the difficulty is
burned up by God's fire and a revelation comes gliding in as a sunbeam
athwart the ashes of the difficulty; but the difficulty itself becomes
the revelation. The pain of Rebekah in child-birth as the children
struggled in her womb, made her inquire of the Lord, and God flashed
back the reply from the heart of her difficulty: "Two nations are in thy
womb." Joseph brooded over the condition of Mary, his espoused wife,
until, in the night vision, the angel of the Lord appeared, and said:
"That Which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." His difficulty
became a revelation. Similarly the dominant feature of responsibility
becomes not its weight but its inspiration, of duty not its 'ought' but
its 'may.' And so it is with sickness, and sorrow, and death. S. Paul's
sickness, whether it was a malady of the eyes or Asiatic malaria is of
little consequence, became to him spiritual health and power; "My grace
is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness." As for
sorrow, it is turned into joy,--the very thing that caused tears
becoming the spring of smiles. And death, the king of shadows, is shorn
of its horrors and becomes the entrance chamber to introduce into the
presence of the King of Light.

The Bible is full of phrases (in the Old Testament, of course, they are
prophetic, pointing to Messianic days) that tell of God's transforming
power. Darkness shall be turned into light; the desert shall blossom as
a rose; the barren shall be a mother of children; the glowing sand shall
become a pool; and the thirsty ground, springs of water; the deaf shall
hear, and the blind see; defeat becomes victory; and the instrument of
shame and torture, the symbol of glory and joy. And all this, which,
through the Incarnation, has become a fact in common life, is a
revelation of God's power, not to say love, which far exceeds in wonder
whatever we knew before. It is appalling to think of a power so strong
that it can annihilate with the irresistible force of its grinding heel;
but it is inspiring to consider an Almightiness that transforms the
works of evil into the hand-maidens of righteousness and converts the
sinner into the saint. And it is this latter power which eternal Love
possesses and exhibits. He persistently dwells in the sinner until the
sinner wakes up in His likeness and is satisfied with it; He enters into
the shadows and holds them until they become first as the morning clouds
fingered by the earliest rays of the rising sun, and eventually as the
brightness of the noonday light.

But men must not accept this as a mere poetic fancy, beautiful but not
of practical value. It is nothing, if not a source of power. We must
experiment with our own difficulties, sickness, sorrows--yes, and our
own death. There are those, Christian scientists and others, that
espouse a false idealism, who meet the grim realities of life with a
courage that is born of a lie. They deny the existence of everything
they do not like, saying that sorrow and sin and death are not, that
they are phantoms. They are not unlike the silly bird, which, finding
itself hard pressed, buries its head in the nearest bush, and being
unable to see its pursuers, deceives itself into thinking that it is not
pursued. But "things and actions are what they are," so why should we
desire to deceive ourselves? The Christian's course of action is to say
that these dark mysteries are real, but the Spirit of God in us will
enable us to find the Spirit of God in them.

Our Lord on the Mount of the Transfiguration, and later on in the
Passion, tells the whole story. Calmly contemplating His own approaching
death, which He had just foretold, and bringing it before the Father in
prayer, He sees the transfiguration of the king of terrors, and, in a
blaze of spiritual exaltation, speaks of His own decease so soon to be
accomplished. Then afterward in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the way of
sorrow, and upon the Cross, He was in every detail the victor. These
final experiences of life did not seize upon Him; it was He who seized
them; He wrung them dry of all that they had to give and for ever
changed their character. Frowning monarchs they can never be to the
followers of our Lord, but, on the contrary, powerful servants. Christ's
victory was not in the Resurrection any more completely than in the
Passion. It was in the former because it had been in the latter. Good
desires brought to good effect, as the Easter Collect puts it, end in
the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Victory is not only a
thing of to-morrow; it belongs to to-day. The Christian's life is
victory all along the line.

Let men, then, take their own hard, grim, specific pain or difficulty,
and face it fearlessly and expectantly, and they will find that the
"worst turns the best to the brave." Let them throw their arms about it,
and say with Jacob: "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." And,
lo! they will find that their arms are about God and His about them. If
we pray God to sanctify our sickness, it is not that we expect Him to
touch it from without. No, we look for more than that, much more. We
expect Him to reveal Himself out of the depths of the suffering, so that
the more earnestly we look at it the more clearly shall we see Him and
His Face of Love. Men who have done this with the lesser of the dark
mysteries will be quite ready when the time comes to act in the same way
toward death, and say triumphantly: "Thanks be to God which giveth us
the victory."

What is true of personal difficulties, perplexities and sorrows, is
equally true of the sorrows of a world. Let men remember that those who
hold back timidly or discouraged from hand-to-hand conflict with social,
political and industrial difficulties, are forfeiting their share in the
largest kind of revelation. God dwells there, in corporate sorrows, as
well as in those of the individual experience, and, if one may say so,
in a fuller measure. The world needs brave men to-day, men who are
determined to see God wherever He is, and He is in everything,
everything short of actual sin. There is no philosophy so false to facts
as pessimism, except perhaps cheap and unthinking optimism. It is only
the Christian philosophy that is equal to the situation, a philosophy
which ignores nothing, howsoever gruesome, but which sees God master of
His world, and nowhere in such complete possession as in its darkest
corners.

When God's storms come sweeping along, it is the Christian alone who can
lift his head, look up, and stand erect as they enshroud him, for a
Christian cannot fear where God is. Elijah could not find God in the
storm that swept by him. But the youngest Christian can do what the
stern prophet of old could not; he can find God in all storms, for all
storms are God's.

    _LAUS DEO_

FOOTNOTES:

[43] _The Bishop of Ripon, under the title of "Seeking and Finding,"
gives the following text and exquisite little poem as a Diocesan Motto
for 1899_:

_Master, where dwellest Thou?--St. John i: 38._

THE QUEST

    _O Master of my soul, where dwellest Thou?
    For but one Sovereign doth love allow,
    And if I find not Thee, quite lost am I;
    Tell me Thy dwelling place: this is my cry._

    _No travel will I shrink, no danger dread,
    If to Thy home, where'er it be, I may be led:
    Not where the world displays its golden pride,
    Only with Him, Who is the King, would I abide._

THE FINDING

    _Nay, not in far distant lands, but ever near,
    Near as the heart that hopes or beats with fear;
    My Home is in the heaven, and yet I dwell
    With every human heart that loveth well._

    _Not where proud perils are I place My throne,
    But with the true of heart, and these alone;
    So where the contrite soul breathes a true sigh,
    And where kind deeds are done, even there dwell I._

    _And those who live by love need never ask,
    They find my dwelling place in every task;
    Vainly they seek who all impatient roam;
    If brave and good thy heart, there is My home._





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