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Title: The Double Search - Studies in Atonement and Prayer
Author: Jones, Rufus M. (Rufus Matthew)
Language: English
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The Double Search

Studies in Atonement and Prayer

Other Books by the Same Author

        12mo, 300 pages. (1889)

        12mo, 206 pages. (1899)

        12mo, 105 pages. (1901)

        16mo, 145 pages. (1902)

        12mo, 2 vols., 584 pages. Illustrated. (1903)

        Studies in Human and Divine Inter-relationship.
          12mo, 272 pages. (1904)




  RUFUS M. JONES, A.M., Litt.D.

  Professor of Philosophy in Haverford College





  INTRODUCTION                           9




  THE ATONEMENT                         57


  PRAYER                                89


“We are always gathered around the Divine Centre of our being; and,
indeed, if we could withdraw from it, our being would at once be
dissolved away, and we should cease to exist at all. But, near as it
is to us, often we do not direct our eyes to it. When, however, we do
so direct our gaze, we attain to the end of our desires and to the
rest of our souls, and our song is no more a discord, but, circling
round our Centre, we pour forth a divinely inspired chorale. And in
the choral dance we behold the source of our life, the fountain of our
intelligence, the primal good, _the root of the soul_.”

                                                  _Plotinus, Ennead VI._


There is a famous myth in Plato’s Symposium told to explain the origin
of love. This myth says that primitive man was round, and had four
hands and four feet, and one head with two faces looking opposite ways.
He could walk on his legs if he liked, but he also could roll over and
over with great speed if he wished to go anywhere very fast.

Because of their fleetness and skill these “Round people” were
dangerous rivals in power to Zeus himself and he adopted the plan of
weakening them by cutting each one of them in two. In remembrance of
the original undivided state each half, ever since unsatisfied and
alone, seeks eagerly for the other half. Each human being is thus a
half--a tally--and love is the longing to be united. The two halves
are seeking to be joined again in the original whole. Such in briefest
compass is the myth.

But as the dialogue advances love is traced to a higher source. It is
discovered to be a passion for the eternal, a passion which rises in
the soul at the sight of an object which suggests the eternal, from
which the soul has come into the temporal. The soul is alien here and
its chief joy in the midst of the shows of sense is joy at the sight of
something which reminds it of its old divine home. Thus, again, Plato
tells us that love has its birth in the division of what was once a
whole. We yearn for that from which we have come.

      “Though inland far we be
  Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
      That brought us hither.”

We may ignorantly stop at some mid-way good and miss the homeward path,
but our real search, our master passion, is for that divine Other to
whom we belong. So at last Plato poetizes.

We have discovered through other lips, what he could not tell us, that
the search is a double search. We have learned that the Divine Other
whom we seek is also seeking us. The myth, told at the beginning, is
more suggestive than it seemed. It may perhaps do for a parable of the
finite and the Infinite, the soul and its Father. May they not once
have been in union? May not our birth in time be a drawing away into
individuality from the Divine whole? And then may not the goal of the
entire drama of personal life be the restoration of that union on a
higher spiritual level? May it not be, that we are never again to fuse
the skirts of self and merge into a union of oblivion, but rather that
we are to rise to a love-union in which His will becomes our will--a
union of conscious co-operation? So at any rate I believe. But this
little book is not a book of speculation. It is not written to urge
some fond belief.

We have learned, I say, that life reveals a double search. Man’s search
for God is as plain a fact as his search for food. He has, beyond
question, blundered at it and frequently missed the trail, but that
man in all lands and in all times has maintained some kind of search
for an invisible Companion is a momentous fact.

The other half of the story is, I think, still more momentous. It
is full of pathos and tragedy, but laden with the prophecy of final
triumph. I have tried to tell again this story, surely an old, old
story, but always needing to be retold in the current language and
the prevailing conceptions of the time. The main feature of this book
is its insistence on the facts of experience. Its terms are not those
of theology, but those of life, or if I have used theological words I
have endeavored to re-vitalize them. I shall assume that my readers are
familiar with the idea of the _conjunct life_ which I have expounded
at length in a former book.[1] It is now well known that “isolated”
personality is impossible. He who is to enjoy the rights and privileges
of personality must be conjunct with others. He must be an organic
member in a social group, and share himself with his fellows, while at
the same time he receives contributions from them. This principle of
the conjunct life reaches beyond the finite social fellowship in which
a man forms and expresses his personality. God and man are conjunct.
The ground for this position will not be gone over here. It has been
sufficiently presented elsewhere.

I believe, however, that no psychological discovery has ever thrown so
much light upon the meaning of atonement and prayer as this fact of the
conjunct life does, and I hope that many others may come to feel the
freshness and reality of these deepest religious truths as I have felt

In touching these two subjects we are touching the very pillars of
religion. If atonement--God’s search for us--and prayer--our search for
Him--are not real, then religion has no permanent ground of reality.
But there can be no question that our age has witnessed a serious
weakening of faith in both these central aspects of religion. The
doctrine of the atonement does not grip men as it did once, and there
are persons all about us who are perplexed about the place and efficacy
of prayer. It is no frivolous questioning. It is not the result of
a lazy attitude of mind. It is stern and serious. There is only one
way to change this condition. We must make men feel again the reality
of the atonement and the reality of prayer. That is the task which
lies before those of us who believe. The day for dogmatic assertion
is past. It rolls off most minds now as water rolls from oiled silk.
The truths which march with power are the truths which are verified
by, and buttressed with, facts. We must, then, learn how to carry the
laboratory method into our religious teaching and ground our message in
actual reality.

This slender book is an attempt to approach these two
subjects--atonement and prayer--in this spirit and by this method. We
can never get the telescope or microscope turned upon the objects of
spiritual experience and we cannot use the mathematical method which
has worked such wonders in the physical realm. There will always be
some who cannot _see_ the evidence. But it is worth while to show that
these two pillars of religion do rest--not on air--but on experience
which can be verified and tested; that they rest in fact on the
elemental basis of life, upon which we live our common social life

I trust it will help some to find the trail, and that it will convince
some perplexed, though honest, readers that however their own quest has
fared there is another search beside their own,--the quest of a Divine
Companion who spares no pain or cost to bring us all into a fellowship
with Him.

  _Haverford, Pennsylvania,
  New Year_ 1906.

The Historical and the Inward Christ

  “All who since Jesus have come into union with God have come into
  union with God _through Him_. And thus it is confirmed in every way
  that, even to the end of time, all wise and intelligent men must
  bow themselves reverently before this Jesus of Nazareth; and that
  the more wise, intelligent and noble they themselves are, the more
  humbly will they recognize the exceeding nobleness of this great and
  glorious manifestation of the Divine Life.”

                       _Fichte’s “Way Toward the Blessed Life,” p. 391._

  “Christ is the Eternal Humanity in the life of the Infinite.”

                     _George A. Gordon’s “The Christ of Today,” p. 136._

  “The word of God is continually born anew in the hearts of holy men.”

                                      _Epistle to Diognetus, A. D. 125._


There was once a widespread fear that exact methods of historical
research would deprive us of that luminous divine Figure toward whom
the world had reverently turned its face for more than eighteen
centuries. Some suspected that our records of His life were crowded
with myth and legend, others believed that the singular story which
had so profoundly touched the world’s heart was the creation of highly
wrought enthusiastic disciples. To-day, after more than half a century
of critical sifting and acute probing, this luminous Life is more
firmly established as the central fact of history than ever before.

  “That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows
  Or decomposes but to recompose
  Becomes my universe which loves and knows.”

It is not my purpose at present to retell the story, or to point out
how much criticism has left unshaken. I want rather to show how the
historical Christ, as a revelation of God, fits into a cosmic system of
evolution and how He is related to the Spirit that witnesses with our
spirits and is the inward life of the Saints of all ages and lands.

I shall not use the language or the methods of theology. I shall feel
my way along the great arteries of human experience and try to throw
light and suggestion rather than to establish some final and complete
dogma. To begin at once with the problem before us, how shall we think
of Christ? Was He man? Was He God? Was He some miraculous union of two
essentially unrelated natures? Here are the questions which have split
the Christian world up into camps and which have busied schoolmen in
all the centuries.

The difficulty in almost all the theological discussions on the
subject has been that they started with God and man isolated,
separated, unrelated. No true revelation of such a God ever could be
made through a human life, for divinity and humanity on this theory
are conceived as two totally diverse natures. Modern psychology and
recent studies of social life have made us familiar with a deeper
view of human personality and have prepared for a more adequate study
of Divine personality than was possible when the historic creeds were
formulated. We know that God and man are _conjunct_ and that neither
can be separated absolutely from the other. There never has been any
doubt of man’s need of God, but we now know that God also needs us and
that our lives are mutually organic. Every clew which leads us to God
shows Him to us as a spiritual and social Being--in no sense solitary
and self-sufficient. Our own self-consciousness, our own ideals, our
passion for the unrealized, imply and involve more than an impersonal
energy at the heart of things. There must be a spiritual matrix for
this living, throbbing, growing social organism in which personal
life is formed. Our own experience carries in itself the implication
of a genuinely spiritual Person at the heart of the universe of whom
we all partake. The spiritual history of the race has forever settled
this elemental fact, at least for all who feel the full significance of
life. It is not an assumption, it is not a mere belief--it is involved
in all we feel and know and are. But a spiritual, personal Being must
reveal Himself. An unmanifested God--unknown and unknowable--is no God
at all. He would be abstract and unreal. The least human person who
poured his life out into those about him--who loved and suffered for
the sake of another--would be a higher being than an infinite God shut
up in the closed circle of His own self life. It is a law as old as
the morning star that one must lose himself to find himself, must give
to get, must go forth bearing precious seed in order to come again with
sheaves of harvest. The moment it is settled that there is a divine
Person as the ultimate reality of the universe, it is also settled
that He will reveal Himself, that He will put His Life into manifold
manifestations and that He will find His joy in “working all things up
to better,” to use Clement’s phrase.

So long as the processes of evolution were confined to the plant
and brute there could be no revelation of anything but force; or at
most there could be only dawnings of anything higher. The forms of
life which won in the struggle and survived were manifestations of
power--they hardly implied anything more. The tough spine and the
strong jaw and the sharp claw were all that mattered. Everything that
appeared was pushed into existence by a force from behind. There was no
sign or hint of freedom, or of life formed under the sway of a vision
or an ideal. Things moved “for a million aeons through the vast, waste
dawn” toward a goal, but the goal was never in sight and it played no
part in the process.

John Fiske has, somewhere, denied the truth of the proverb that “nature
abhors leaps,” and he has given a beautiful illustration from the
cutting of a cone. If you pass a plane parallel to the base of a cone
you cut a circle. If you tilt the plane slightly the curve becomes an
ellipse. The ellipse grows more eccentric as the tilting increases and
finally without any warning your plane cuts a parabola whose sides
curve off into infinity and never touch ends again. Some such mighty
leap appears in the process of evolution. Up to a certain point life
evolved by forces working _a tergo_.[2] There is a slight tilt in the
system and a being appears capable of selecting a goal for himself and
of acting to attain it, a being who could live in some degree for a
world as it ought to be.[3]

This is what in America we call “the great divide”--the watershed which
determines the streams of a continent. As soon as there was a being
who could select ideals and live for conscious ends a new kind of
evolution began. The other side of “the divide,” evolution had been
physical,--body, and body function had been the goal. This side “the
divide,” it was spiritual and social, and the goal was the evolution of
the man within man. The things which mattered now were love, sacrifice,
service, goodwill rather than “tooth and claw.” Before, nature’s goal
had been along the line of least resistance. Now, the line of march set
straight against instinct and along the line of greatest resistance.
There could be advance on this side “the divide,” only as the ideal
became clearer and its sway more coercive.

Ever since man was man he has transcended the actual and lived by
vision, which means, I think, that finite and infinite are not sundered
and that we always partake of more than just ourselves. Beyond the edge
of what we are there is always dawning a farther possibility--that
which we ought to be--the _a fronte_ compulsion.[4] This is one of
God’s ways of revealing Himself. It is a man’s chief glory--the glory
of the imperfect.

  “Growth came when, looking your last on them all
  You turned your eyes inwardly one fine day
  And cried with a start--what if we so small
  Be greater and grander the while than they?
  Are they perfect of lineament, perfect of stature?
  In both, of such lower types are we
  Precisely because of our wider nature;
  For time, theirs--ours, for eternity.
  Today’s brief passion limits their range;
  It seethes with the morrow for us and more.
  They are perfect--how else? They shall never change.
  We are faulty--why not? We have time in store.”[5]

This slow unveiling of the ideal, of the goal, is, I believe, the
divine method of making man, and it makes us feel at once how nearer
than near God is and how all the way on and up He is in the very tissue
and fabric of our lives--no foreign creator who moulded us out of clay
and left us to run, or to run down, like a clock.

For centuries man won his slender spiritual victories, cultivated his
rugged virtues, sloughed off some marks of ape and tiger and formed
habits of altruism under the influence of ideals which the highest
personal types of the race revealed. These types of men were focus
points, manifesting in some feeble measure the ultimate reality and
casting out hints of the line of march. Sometimes they were conscious
that they were organs of a larger Life which used them, sometimes they
were girded, like Cyrus, for a divine mission, though they knew not
Him whom they served. Thus the unbroken revelation of the infinite was
slowly made, as the age could bear it--“God spake at sundry times and
in divers manners.”

Strangely enough the loftiest men of the pre-Christian period were
always vaguely or dimly forecasting a diviner life than any ordinary
type of man revealed. The human heart was always groping for an
unveiling of God which would set the race to living on a new level.
This longing rose among the Hebrews to a steady passion which burned
brighter as the clouds in their national sky grew blacker. There was
a Christ ideal centuries before Christ actually came in the flesh,
though this ideal was always deeply tinged and colored by the age which
gave it birth. But even so, it lighted the sky of the future and gave
many a man heart and hope through long periods of dreary pessimism.
When lo, a tilting of the plane, and the ellipse becomes a parabola
with infinite stretch of curve!

“In fullness of time God sent forth His Son.” How shall we think
of Jesus that is called the Christ? Speaking first in the terms of
evolution, _I_ think of Him as the type and goal of the race--the
new Adam, the spiritual norm and pattern, the Son of Man who is a
revelation of what man at his height and full stature is meant to
be; and this is the way Paul thought of Him: “Till _we all_ come in
the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto
a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of
Christ.” Eph. IV, 13. “Whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of his Son that _He_ might be the first born
among many brethren.” Rom. VIII, 29. “The expectation of the whole
creation is waiting for the manifestation of sons of God.” Rom. VIII,

The actual fact is that this Life has, profoundly or remotely, touched
every personal life in Europe for a thousand years and has been the
goal and standard for all aspiring souls. He is the pattern in the
mount, the _a fronte_ force which has drawn the individual and the race
steadily up to their higher destiny. On the spiritual side of “the
great divide” the goal is in sight and the goal is an efficient factor
in the process of the evolution of the man within man.

But this pattern-aspect of the Christ life is only one aspect, and we
must not raise it out of due balance and perspective. _Christ is God
humanly revealed._ As soon as we realize that personality is always
a revelation of the ultimate reality of the universe there are no
metaphysical difficulties in the way of an actual incarnation of God.
It is rather what one would expect. There is no other conceivable way
in which God could be revealed to man. If He is a personal being; if
He is love and tenderness and sympathy, and not mere force, only a
Person can show Him. And if we are not kindred in nature, if we have
not something in common, in a word if we are not _conjunct_, then it
is hard to see how any revelation of Him could be made which would mean
anything to us. But if we are _conjunct_, as our own self-consciousness
implies, then an incarnation, a complete manifestation in Personality,
or as Paul puts it, “in the face of Jesus Christ,” is merely the crown
and pinnacle of the whole divine process.

If we are wise we shall not bother ourselves too much over the
metaphysical puzzles which the schoolmen have formulated. We no longer
have the puzzle which was so urgent with them, how two natures,
pole-wide apart, could be united in one Person, for we now know that
divinity and humanity are not pole-wide apart. There is something human
in God and something divine in man and they belong together.

We shall not, again, be over-anxious about the question of nativity.
Note the grandeur and the simplicity of Paul’s text about it: “God sent
forth His Son born of a woman,” and there he stops with no attempt
to furnish details. John is equally lofty: “The Word became flesh
and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.” There is no appeal to
curiosity. There is no syllable about the _how_. Two synoptic gospels
have given us a simple story of the nativity which has profoundly
impressed men in all ages and which will always appeal to the deepest
instincts in us. But the _method_ of Christ’s coming, embodied in these
two accounts, must not be forced. The devout soul must be free, as both
Paul and John were free, to leave the _how_ wrapped in mystery. That
He came out of our humanity we shall always believe. That He came
down out of the highest divinity we shall equally believe. That He was
a babe and increased in wisdom, that He learned as He grew, that He
was tempted and learned through temptation, are all necessary steps,
for there is no other path to spiritual Personality and He must have
been “made perfect through sufferings,” or He could not have been the
Captain of salvation.

Speculations and dogmas have taken men’s thoughts away from verifiable
facts. Here was a life which settled forever that the ultimate reality
is Love. He brought into focus, or rather He wove into the living
tissue of a personal life, the qualities of character which belong to
an infinitely good being and with quiet simplicity He said, “If you
see me you see the Father.”

I have spoken, perhaps, as though the revelation of the human goal,
and the unveiling of the divine Character were two different things.
Christ does both, but both are one. If you bring a diamond into the
light you occasion a double revelation. There is a revelation of the
glorious beauty of the jewel. While it lay in the dark you never
knew its possibilities. It was easily mistaken for a piece of glass.
Now it flashes and burns and reveals itself because it has found the
element for which it was meant. But there is also at the same time a
revelation of the mystery of light. You discover now new wonders and
new glories in light itself. Most objects absorb part of its rays and
imperfectly transmit it to the eye. Here is an object which tells you
its real nature. Now you see it as it is. So Christ shows us at once
man and God. In a definite historic setting and in the limitations of
a concrete personal life, Christ has unveiled the divine nature and
taught us to say “Father” and He has, in doing that, showed us the goal
and type of human life. The Son of God and the Son of Man is one person.

Now comes our second question how shall we think of the inward, the
spiritual, the eternal Christ? The first interpreters, notably Paul and
John, early in their experience, came to think of Christ as a cosmic
Being. They read the universe in the light of His revelation and soon
used His name to name the entire manifestation of God: “In Him,” says
Paul, “all things consist.” “All things were made by Him,” says John,
“and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life
and the life was the light of men.” John 1, 2, 3. It was through Him
that they first learned that God is Spirit, it was through Him that
their own spiritual life was heightened and that they became conscious
of a Spirit surging into their own souls and they connected this whole
wider manifestation of God with Him. They were right too in doing
so. Christ’s revelation of God had produced such spiritual effects
upon them that they could now find Him within themselves, for God’s
spiritual presence in us is always proportioned to our capacity to have
Him there. And then, too, they were now for the first time able to
interpret that which they felt within themselves. If they found God,
it was because they had found Christ.

But they were right in a deeper sense. If we think of the historical
Christ, as I have tried to set forth, as the manifestation of the
Divine and the human in a single personal Life then wherever man
finds God humanly revealed he properly names the revelation with the
historic name. The historic incarnation was no final event. It was
the supreme instance of God and man in a single life--the _type_ of
continuous Divine-human fellowship. God’s human revelation of Himself
is not limited to a single date. As Athanasius so boldly said: He
became man that we might become divine. Christ is the prophesy of _a
new humanity_--a humanity penetrated with the life and power of God
and this continued personal manifestation of God through men is Christ
inwardly and spiritually revealed.

It is a primary truth of Christianity that God reaches man directly. No
person is insulated. As ocean floods the inlets, as sunlight environs
the plant, so God enfolds and enwreathes the finite spirit. There is
this difference, however, inlet and plant are penetrated whether they
will or not. Sea and sunshine crowd themselves in _a tergo_. Not so
with God. He can be received only through appreciation and conscious
appropriation. He comes only through doors that are _purposely_ opened
for Him. A man may live as near God as the bubble is to the ocean and
yet not find Him. He may be “closer than breathing, nearer than hands
or feet,” and still be missed. Historical Christianity is dry and
formal when it lacks the immediate and inward response to our Great
Companion; but our spirits are trained to know Him, to appreciate
Him, by the mediation of historical revelation. A person’s spiritual
life is always dwarfed when cut apart from history. Mysticism is
empty unless it is enriched by outward and historical revelation. The
supreme education of the soul comes through an intimate acquaintance
with Jesus Christ of history. One who wished to feel the power of
beauty would go to some supreme master of color and form who could
exhibit them on canvas and not merely lecture about them. One who
desired to feel the power of harmony would go, not to the boy with
his harmonica, but to the Beethovens or Mozarts of the race who have
revealed what an instrument and a human hand can do. So he who wishes
to realize and practice the presence of God must inform himself at the
source and fount, must come face to face with Him who was the highest
human revelation of God. No one of us can interpret his own longings
or purposes until he reads them off in the light of some loftier
type of personality. That person understands himself best who grows
intimate in fellowship with some noble character. And any man who
wishes to discover the meaning of the inward voice and to interpret the
divine breathings which come to human souls needs to be informed and
illuminated by the supreme revelation of the ages.

With perfect fitness, then, we speak of the inward Presence as the
spiritual Christ. It is the continuation of the same revelation which
was made under the “Syrian blue.”

The procession of the Holy Ghost is a continuous revelation and
exhibition of Christ within men. Whether we use the expression Holy
Spirit or Christ within or spiritual Christ, we mean God _operating
upon human spirits and consciously witnessed and appreciated in them_.
“The Lord is the Spirit,” cries Paul when, with unveiled face, he
discovers that he is being transformed into His image from glory to
glory. “Joined to the Lord in one Spirit,” is another testimony of the
same sort.

Unfortunately the doctrine of the Christ within--“the real
presence”--has generally been held vaguely, and it has easily run
into error and even fanaticism. The most common error has come from
the prevalent view that when the Spirit--the inward Christ--comes in,
the man goes out. It has been supposed that the finite is suppressed
and the infinite supplants it and operates instead of it. This view
is not only contrary to Scripture, but also contrary to psychological
possibility. What really happens is that the human spirit through
its awakened appreciation appropriates into its own life the divine
Life which was always near and was always meant for it. The true
view has been well put by August Sabatier[6]: “It is not enough to
represent the Spirit of God as coming to the help of man’s spirit,
supplying strength which he lacks, an associate or juxtaposed force,
a supernatural auxiliary. Paul’s thought has no room for such a moral
and psychological dualism, although popular language easily permits it.
His thought is quite otherwise profound. There is no simple addition
of divine power and human power in the Christian life. The Spirit
of God identifies itself with the human me into which it enters and
_whose life it becomes_. If we may so speak, it is individualized in
the new moral personality which it creates. A sort of metamorphosis,
a transubstantiation, if the word may be permitted, takes place in
the human being. Having been carnal it has become spiritual. A ‘new
man’ arises from the old man by the creative act of the spirit of God.
Paul calls Christians [Greek: pneumatikoi], properly speaking, ‘the
inspired.’ They are moved and guided by the Spirit of God. The spirit
dwells in them as an immanent virtue, whose fruits are organically
developed as those of the flesh. Supernatural gifts become natural, or
rather, at this mystical height, the antithesis created by scholastic
rationalism becomes meaningless and is obliterated.” That is precisely
my view and if I had not found it here so well said I should have put
the same idea into my own words. There are no known limits to the
possible translation of the Spirit of God--the Eternal Christ--into
human personality. There are all degrees and varieties of it as there
are all degrees and varieties of physical life. One stands looking at
a century-old oak tree and he wonders how this marvelous thing ever
rose out of the dead earth where its roots are. As a matter of fact it
did not. A tree is largely transformed sunlight. There is from first to
last an earth element to be sure, but the tree is forever drawing upon
the streams of sunlight which flood it and it builds the intangible
light energy into leaf and blossom and fibre until there stands the
old monarch, actually living on sunshine! But the little daisy at its
feet, modest and delicate, is equally consolidated sunshine, though it
pushes its face hardly six inches from the soil in which it was born.
So one spirit differs from another spirit in glory. Some have but
feebly drawn upon the Spiritual Light out of which strong lives are
builded, others have raised the unveiled face to the supreme Light and
have translated it into a life of spiritual beauty and moral fibre.
Thus the revelation of God in the flesh goes on from age to age. The
Christ-life propagates itself like all life-types--the last Adam proves
to be a life-giving spirit. He is the first born among many brethren.
The actual re-creation, the genuine identification of self with Christ
may go on until a man may even say--“Christ lives in me;” “I bear in my
body the marks of the Lord Jesus;” “It has pleased God to reveal His
Son in me.”

  “See if, for every finger of thy hands,
  There be not found, that day the world shall end
  Hundreds of souls, each holding by Christ’s word,
  That He will grow incorporate with all,
  With me as Pamphylax, with him as John,
  Groom for each bride! Can a mere man do this?
  Yet Christ saith, this He lived and died to do.
  Call Christ, then, the illimitable God.”
  I DO.

The Atonement

“Merely to repeat His words is not to continue His work; we must
reproduce His life, passion and death. He desires to live again in
each one of His disciples in order that He may continue to suffer, to
bestow Himself, and to labor in and through them towards the redemption
of humanity, until all prodigal and lost children be found and brought
back to their Father’s house. Thus it is that, instead of being removed
far from human history, the life and death of Christ once more take
their place in history, setting forth the law that governs it, and, by
ceaselessly increasing the power of redemptive sacrifice, transform and
govern it, and direct it towards its divine end.”

                            _Auguste Sabatier, “The Atonement,” p. 134._


It is a bold and hazardous task to say anything on this subject and
I must tread with bare, hushed feet, for it is a holy realm which we
are essaying to enter. It must be understood from the first that I am
not going to thresh over a heap of theological straw. I am not going
into that realm of abstract metaphysics where one can always prove
any thesis one may happen to assume at the start. I shall keep close
to human experience. The pillars of our faith must be planted, not on
some artificial construction of logic, but deep down in the actual
experience of Life. There are external principles of the spiritual
Life which are as irresistible and compelling as the laws of physics
or the propositions of Euclid. The task of the religious teacher is to
discover and proclaim these elemental truths, but we always find it so
much easier to fall back on dogma and theories which have been spun out
of men’s heads! In the Gospels and in Paul’s letters the laboratory
method prevails--the writers ground their assertions on experienced
facts, they tell what they have found and verified, and they always ask
their readers to put their truths to the test of a personal experience
like their own. Our modern method must be a return to this inward
laboratory method.

No one can carefully study the theories of the atonement which
have prevailed at the various epochs of Christian history without
discovering that there has been in them a very large mixture of
paganism. They have been deeply colored by mythology and by the crude
ideas of primitive sacrifice. They start, not with the idea of God
which Christ has revealed, but with a capricious sovereign, angry at
sorely tempted, sinning man, and forgiving only after a sacrifice has
satisfied Him. They treat sin not as a fact of experience, but as the
result of an ancestral fall, which piled up an infinite debt against
the race. They all move in the realm of law rather than in the domain
of personality. They are all, more or less, vitiated by abstract and
mathematical reasoning, while sin and salvation are always affairs of
the inward life, and are of all things personal and concrete. The first
step to a coercive conception of the atonement is to get out of the
realm of legal phrases into the region of personality.

Sin is no abstract dogma. It is not a debt which somebody can pay
and so wash off the slate. Sin is a fact within our lives. It is a
condition of heart and will. There is no sin apart from a sinner.
Wherever sin exists there is a conscious deviation from a standard--a
sag of the nature, and it produces an effect upon the entire
personality. The person who sins disobeys a sense of right. He falls
below his vision of the good. He sees a path, but he does not walk in
it. He hears a voice, but he says “no” instead of “yes.” He is aware of
a higher self which makes its appeal, but he lets the lower have the
reins. There is no description of sin anywhere to compare with the
powerful narrative out of the actual life of the Apostle Paul, found in
Romans VII: 9-25. The thing which moves us as we read it is the picture
here drawn of our own state. A lower nature dominates us and spoils our
life. “What I would I do not; what I would not that I do.”

The most solemn fact of sin is its accumulation of consequences in the
life of the person. Each sin tends to produce a _set_ of the nature. It
weaves a mesh of habit. It makes toward a dominion, or as Paul calls
it, a _law of sin_ in the man--“Wretched Man,” who sees a shining
possible life, but stays below, chained to a body of sin. Sin, real
sin, and not the fictitious abstraction which figures in theories, is
a condition of personal will and action much more than a debt to be
paid or forgiven. The problem is far deeper. The only possible remedy
here is to get a new man, a transformation of personality. Relief
from _penalty_ will not stead. Forgiveness is not enough. Relief
from _penalty_, forgiveness alone, might spoil us, and make us think
too lightly of our own sin. No, it is not a judicial relief which
our panting, sin-defeated hearts cry out for. We want more than the
knowledge that the past is covered and will not count on the books
against us. We want blackness replaced by whiteness, we want weakness
replaced by power, we want to experience a new set of our innermost
nature which will make us more than conquerors. We seek deliverance not
from penalty and debt--but deliverance from the life of sin into a
life of holy will.

There is still another aspect to sin which must be considered before
we can fully appreciate the way of salvation which the Gospel reveals.
Sin not only spoils the sinner’s life and drags him into slavery. It
separates him from God. It opens a chasm between him and his heavenly
Father, or to vary the figure it casts a shadow on God’s face. God
seems far away and stern. The sense of warmth and tenderness vanishes.
The sinner can see God only through the veil of his sins. This is a
universal experience. The same thing happens in our relations with
men. As soon as we have injured a person, treated him unfairly, played
him false, a chasm opens between our life and his. We transfer our
changed attitude to him. We dislike to meet him. We have no comfort in
his presence. We interpret all his actions through the shadow which
our deed has created. Our sense of wrong-doing makes us afraid of the
person wronged.

The conduct of little children offers a good illustration of this
subjective effect of sin, because in them one catches the attitude at
its primitive stage before reflection colors it. Some little child has
disobeyed his father and discovers, perhaps for the first time, that
he has “something inside which he cannot do what he wants to with,” as
a little boy said. When he begins to think of meeting his father he
grows uncomfortable. It is not punishment he is afraid of, he has no
anticipation of that. He is conscious of wrong doing and it has made
a chasm between himself and his father. He reads his father’s attitude
now in the shadow of his deed. He has no joy or confidence in meeting
him. Something strange has come between them.

What does the little fellow do? He instinctively feels the need of some
sacrifice. He must soften his father by giving him something. He breaks
open his bank and brings his father his pennies, or he brings in his
hand the most precious plaything he owns, and acts out his troubled
inward condition. He wants the gap closed and he feels that it will
cost something to get it closed.[7] That is human nature. That feeling
is deep-rooted in man wherever he is found. He is conscious that sin
separates and he feels that something costly and precious is required
to close the chasm. Sacrifice is one of the deepest and most permanent
facts of the budding spiritual life. Its origin is far back in history.
The tattered papyrus, the fragment of baked clay, the pictorial
inscription of the most primitive sort, all bear witness to this
immemorial custom. It is as old as smiling or weeping, as hard to trace
to a beginning as loving or hating. It is bound up with man’s sense of
guilt, and was born when conscience was born. Dark and fantastic are
many of the chapters of the long story of man’s efforts to square the
account. Priests have seized upon this instinctive tendency and have
twisted it into abnormal shapes, but they did not create it--it is
elemental. The idea of an angry God who must be appeased and satisfied
was born with this consciousness of guilt, it is a natural product of
the shadow of human sin.[8] The historic theories of the atonement,
inherited from the Roman church, were all formulated under the sway of
this idea.

The two fundamental aspects of sin, then, are (1) its inward moral
effect upon the soul, its enslaving power over the sinner, and (2)
its tendency to open a chasm between God and man, to make God appear
full of wrath. How does Christ meet this human situation? What is the
heart of the Gospel? First of all, Christ reverses the entire pagan
attitude. He reveals God as a Father whose very inherent nature is
love and tenderness and forgiveness. In place of a sovereign demanding
justice, He shows an infinite Lover. We must either give up the parable
of the Prodigal Son, or accept this view of God. But this parable fits
the entire Gospel. John was only uttering what Jesus Christ taught by
every act of His life and what He exhibited supremely on His cross,
when He said “God is Love.” To surrender this truth, and to start with
the assumption of a God who must be appeased, or reconciled or changed
in attitude is to surrender the heart of the Gospel, and to weave the
shining threads of our message of salvation in with the black threads
of a pagan warp. He who came to show us the Father, has unmistakably
showed Him full of love, not only for the saint, for the actual son;
but also for the sinner, the potential son. Either God _is_ Love, or we
must conclude that Christ has not revealed Him as He is.

But the great difficulty is that so many fail to see what Divine Love
and human sin involve when they come together. It has superficially
been assumed that if God is a loving Father He will lightly overlook
sin and cannot be hard upon the sinner. They catch at a soft view of
sin and patch up a rose water theory of its cure. This soft view has
appealed to those who like an easy religion, and it has often driven
the evangelical Christian to an opposite extreme, which finds no
support in the Gospel. To arrive at a deeper view we must go back to
Christ and go down into the deeps of love as we know it in actual human

True love is never weak and thin, and unconcerned about the character
of the beloved. The father does not “lay aside” his love when he
punishes his erring boy, and keeps him impressed with the reality of
moral distinctions. It is the father’s intense love which wields
the rod. All true corrections and chastisements flow out of love.
Even Dante knew this, when he wrote on the door of Hell, “Love was my
maker.” It is an ignorant and mushy love that cannot rise above kisses
and sugar plums, and it is extremely superficial to set up a schism
between love and justice.

But that is not all. Love always involves vicarious suffering. Love
is an organic principle. It carries with it the necessity of sharing
life with other persons, and in a world of imperfect persons, it means
not only sharing gains and triumphs, it means, too, sharing losses and
defeats. No man can sin in a sin-tight compartment. Suffer for his
own sin the sinner assuredly will. But he does not stop there. Many
innocent persons will suffer for it, too. This is one of the tragic
aspects of life which has baffled many a lone sufferer like Job. Those
who are nearest and closest to the sufferer will suffer most, but his
sin has endless possibilities of causing suffering upon persons far
remote in time and space. That ancient figure of the ripples from the
little pebble, which sends rings to the farthest shores of the sea,
is not overdrawn. Not one of us can estimate the havoc of his sin, or
forecast the trail of suffering which it will leave behind it. So long
as life remains organic there will be vicarious suffering.

But that is only one side of life. Holiness also involves a like
suffering. There are no holiness-tight compartments. No man can be holy
unto himself. Just as far as he has any rag of holiness he must share
it--he must feel himself a debtor to others who lack--he must take up
the task of making others holy. _That costs something._

You cannot command or compel people into holiness, you cannot increase
their spiritual stature one cubit by any kind of force or compulsion.
You can do it only by sharing your life with them, by making them feel
your goodness, by your love and sacrifice for them. When a martyr
dies for some truth, men suddenly discover for the first time how
much it is worth and they eagerly pursue it over all obstacles. In
spiritual things we always make our appeal to the _cost_ of the truth
or the principle. Think of the blood which has been shed for freedom
of conscience! Remember what a price has been paid in blood for the
principle of democracy! Thus we speak of all the privileges of life.
They are ours because somebody has felt that they were worth the cost,
because somebody has died that we might freely have them. It is the
tragedy of human life that we must suffer through the sin of others,
and we must suffer also if we would carry goodness or holiness into
other lives. Every bit of goodness which ever prevails anywhere in this
world has cost somebody something.

This principle of vicarious suffering is no late arrival; it appears
at every scale of life, heightening as we go up--becoming less blind
and more voluntary. It was a central truth of Christ’s revelation that
this principle does not stop with man; it goes on up to the top of the
spiritual scale. It finds its complete and final expression in God
Himself. God’s life and our lives are bound together, as a vine with
branches, as a body with members. _So corporate_ are we that no one
can give a cup of cold water to the least person in the world without
giving it to Him! But He is perfect and we are imperfect, He is holy
and we sin. If the wayward boy, who wastes his life, pains the heart
of his mother whose life is wrapped up in him, can we fling our lives
away and not make our Heavenly Father suffer? The cross is the answer.
He has undertaken to make Sons of God out of such creatures as we are,
to take us out of the pit and the miry clay, to put spiritual songs in
our mouths and write His own name on our foreheads, will that cost Him
nothing? Again, the cross is the answer.

Here we discover--it is the main miracle of the Gospel--that the
original movement to bridge the chasm comes from the Divine side.
What man hoped to do, but could not, with his bleating lamb and timid
dove, God Himself has done. He has reached across the chasm, taking
on Himself the sacrifice and cost, to show the sinner that the only
obstruction to peace and reconciliation is in the sinner himself. “This
is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us,” and this is
sacrifice, not that we give our bulls and goats to please Him, but that
He gives Himself to draw us.

Browning puts it all in a line:

  “Thou needs must love me who have died for thee.”

This is the key to Paul’s great message which won the Roman Empire.
It was not a new philosophy. It was the irresistible appeal to love,
exhibited in Christ crucified. “He loved me and gave Himself for
me;” “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” “I am
persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor
depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from
the _love of God_, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sacrificing
love, the Divine Heart suffering over sin, God Himself taking up the
infinite burden and cost of raising men like us into sons of God like
Himself; this is the revelation in the face of Jesus Christ. The heart
that can stand _that_ untouched can stand anything.

The power unto salvation, the dynamic of the Gospel is in the cross,
which exhibits in temporal setting the eternal fact, that God suffers
over sin, that He takes upon Himself the cost of winning sons to glory
and that His love reaches out to the most sin-scarred wanderer, who
clutches the swine husks in his lean hands.

But the appeal of love and sacrifice is not the whole of the truth
which this word atonement covers. We have been seeing, in some feeble
way, how God in Christ enters into human life, identifies Himself with
us, and reveals the _energy of Grace_. But we cannot stop with “what
has been done for us without us.” Sin, as has been already said, is
an affair of personal choice--it is a condition of inward life. It is
not an abstract entity, in a metaphysical realm. It is the attitude
of heart and will in a living, throbbing person who cannot get free
from the lower nature in himself. So too with Salvation. It cannot be
a _transaction_ in some realm foreign to the individual himself. It is
not a plan, or scheme. It is an actual deliverance, a new creation.
It is nothing short of a redeemed inward nature. Such a change cannot
be wrought without the man himself. It cannot come by _a tergo_
compulsion. It must be by a positive winning of the will. A dynamic
faith in the man must cooperate with that energy from God. Something
comes down from above, but something must also go up from below. Paul,
who has given the most vital interpretation of both sides of the truth
of redemption--the objective and the subjective--that has ever been
expressed, uses the word “faith” to name the human part of the process.

Faith, in Paul’s sense of it, means an identification of ourselves
with Christ, by which we re-live His life. As He identified Himself
with sinning humanity, so, by the attraction of his love, we identify
ourselves with His victorious Life. We go down into death with Him--a
death to sin and the old self--and we rise with Him into newness of
life, to live henceforth unto Him who loved us.

There is no easy road out of a nature of sin into a holy nature. It
is vain to try and patch up a scheme which will relieve us of our
share of the tragedy of sin--or to put it another way, the travail
for the birth of the sons of God. The Redeemer suffers, but He does
not suffer in our stead--He suffers in our behalf, [[Greek: hyper]
not [Greek: anti]]. He makes His appeal of love to us to share His
life as He shares ours. It is Paul’s goal--a flying goal, surely--“to
know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” The boldest word
which comes from his pen was: “I rejoice in my sufferings _on your
behalf_; and fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ
_in my flesh_, for His body’s sake, which is the Church.” (Col. 1, 24.)
It is not repeating His words that saves us, it is reliving His life,
co-dying, and co-rising with Him, and entering with a radiant joy,
caught from His face, into the common task of redeeming a world of sin
to a kingdom of love and holiness.

In that great book of spiritual symbolism--the Book of
Revelation--those who overcome are builded, as pillars, into the Temple
of God, and He writes His new name upon them. The new name is Redeemer.
Those who have come up through great tribulation and have washed their
robes in the blood of the Lamb are builded in as a permanent part of
the Temple, where God reveals Himself, and they share with Him in the
great redeeming work of the ages.

Whatever it has meant in the past, in the ages when the races were
sloughing off their paganism, in the future the atonement must be
vital and dynamic. It must be put in language which grips the heart,
convinces the mind, and carries the will. It will name for us the
Divine-human travail for a redeemed humanity. It will cease to signify
a way by which God was appeased and it will come to express, as it
did in the apostolic days, the identification of God with us in the
person of Christ, and the identification, by the power of His love, of
ourselves with Him. We shall pass from the terms which were inherited
from magic and ancient sacerdotal rites and we shall use instead the
language of our riper experience. We shall abandon illustrations
drawn from law courts and judicial decisions and we shall rise to
conceptions which fit the actual facts of inward, personal experience
where higher and lower natures contend for the mastery. The drama will
not be in some foreign realm, apart from human consciousness, it will
rise in our thought into the supreme drama of history--the tragedy
of the spiritual universe--the battle of holiness with sin--the blood
and tears which tell the cost of sin and create in response a passion
for the Divine Lover who is our Father. It will stop at no fictitious
righteousness which is counted unto us, as though it were ours. We
shall demand an actual redemption of the entire self which has become
righteous, because it lives, in Christ’s power, the life which He lived.

We shall learn to tell the story in such a way that the cross will
not seem to be brought in, as an afterthought, to repair the damage
wrought by an unforeseen catastrophe. It will stand as the consummation
of an elemental spiritual movement and it will be organic with the
entire process of the making of men. With charm and power, Ruskin has
told how the black dirt that soils the city pavement is composed of
four elements which make, when they follow the law of their nature,
the sapphire, the opal, the diamond and the dew drop. The glory and
splendor do not appear in the black dirt, but the possibilities are
there. When the law of the nature of these elements has full sweep
the glory comes out. Man was not meant for a sinner, and to live a
dark, chaotic life. There are far other possibilities in him. He is a
potential child of God. The full nature has broken forth in one life
and men beheld its glory. “To as many as receive Him, to them gives
He power to become the sons of God.”


  By prayer, I do not mean any bodily exercise of the outward man; but
  _the going forth of the spirit of Life towards the Fountain of Life,
  for fullness and satisfaction: The natural tendency of the poor,
  rent, derived spirit, towards the Fountain of Spirits_.

                                                      _Isaac Penington._

  “I, that still pray at morning and at eve,
  Loving those roots that feed us from the past,
  And prizing more than Plato things I learned
  At that best Academe, a mother’s knee,
  Thrice in my life perhaps have truly prayed,
  Thrice, stirred below my conscious self, have felt
  That perfect disenthralment which is God.”

                                                 _Lowell’s “Cathedral.”_

  “The aim of prayer is to attain to the habit of goodness, so as no
  longer merely to have the things that are good, but rather to be

                                                _Clement of Alexandria._


We come now to the human search for a divine fellowship and
companionship. Its complete history would be the whole story of
religion. In this little book I shall speak only of certain definite
human ways of seeking fellowship with God, namely, of prayer.

Prayer is an extraordinary act. The eyes close, the face lights up,
the body is moved with feeling, and (it may be in the presence of
a multitude) the person praying talks in perfect confidence with
somebody, invisible and intangible, and who articulates no single word
of response. It is astonishing. And yet it is a human custom as old as
marriage, as ancient as grave-making, older than any city on the globe.
There is no human activity which so stubbornly resists being reduced
to a bread and butter basis. Men have tried to explain the origin of
prayer by the straits of physical hunger, but it will no more fit into
utilitarian systems than joy over beauty will. It is an elemental and
unique attitude of the soul and it will not be “explained” until we
fathom the origin of the soul itself!

But is not the advance of science making prayer impossible? In
unscientific ages the universe presented no rigid order. It was easy to
believe that the ordinary course of material processes might be altered
or reversed. The world was conceived as full of invisible beings who
could affect the course of events at will, while above all, there was
a Being who might interfere with things at any moment, in any way.

Our world to-day is not so conceived. Our universe is organized and
linked. Every event is _caused_. Caprice is banished. There is no such
thing in the physical world as an uncaused event. If we met a person
who told us that he had seen a train of cars drawn along with no
couplings and held together by the mutual affection of the passengers
in the different cars we should know that he was an escaped lunatic
and we should go on pinning our faith to couplings as before. Even the
weather is no more capricious than the course of a planet in space.
Every change of wind and the course of every flying cloud is determined
by previous conditions. Complex these combinations of circumstances
certainly are, but if the weather man could get data enough he could
foretell the storm, the rain, the drought exactly as well as the
astronomer can foretell the eclipse. There is no little demon, there
is no tall, bright angel, who holds back the shower or who pushes the
cloud before him; no being, good or bad, who will capriciously alter
the march of molecules because it suits our fancy to ask that the chain
of causes be interrupted. What is true of the weather is true in every
physical realm. Our universe has no caprice in it. Every thing is
linked, and the forked lightning never consults our preferences, nor
do cyclones travel exclusively where bad men live. As of old the rain
falls on just and unjust alike, on saint and sinner. The knowledge of
this iron situation has had a desolating effect upon many minds. The
heavens have become as brass and the earth bars of iron. To ask for the
interruption of the march of atoms seems to the scientific thinker the
absurdest of delusions and all fanes of prayer appear fruitless. Others
resort to the faith that there are “gaps” in the causal system and that
in these unorganized regions--the domains so far unexplored--there are
realms for miracle and divine wonder. The supernatural, on this theory
is to be found out beyond the region of the “natural,” and forcing
itself through the “gaps.” Those of this faith are filled with dread
as they see the so called “gaps” closing, somewhat as the pious Greek
dreaded to see Olympus climbed.

There are still others who evade the difficulty by holding that God
has made the universe, is the Author of its “laws,” is Omnipotent and
therefore can change them at Will, or can admit exceptions in their
operation. This view is well illustrated in the faith of George Müller,
who writes: “When I lose such a thing as a key, I ask the Lord to
direct me to it, and I look for an answer; when a person with whom I
have made an appointment does not come, according to the fixed time,
and I begin to be inconvenienced by it, I ask the Lord to be pleased to
hasten him to me, and I look for an answer; when I do not understand
a passage of the word of God, I lift up my heart to the Lord that He
would be pleased by His Holy Spirit to instruct me, and I expect to be

This view takes us back once more into a world of caprice. It
introduces a world in which almost anything may happen. We can no
longer calculate upon anything with assurance. Even our _speed_, as we
walk, is regulated by the capricious wish of our friends. But that is
not all, it is a low, crude view of God--a Being off above the world
who makes “laws” like a modern legislator and again changes them to
meet a new situation, who is after all only a bigger man in the sky
busily moving and shifting the scenes of the time-drama as requests
reach him.

None of these positions is tenable. The first is not, for prayer is a
necessity to full life, and the other two are not, because they do not
fairly face the facts which are forced upon those who accept scientific
methods of search and of thought. This physical universe is a stubborn
affair. It is not loose and adjustable, and worked, for our private
convenience, by wires or strings at a central station. It is a world
of order, a realm of discipline. It is our business to discover a
possible line of march in the world _as it is_, to find how to triumph
over obstacles and difficulty, if we meet them--not to resort to “shun
pikes” or cries for “exception in our particular case.”

The real difficulty is that our generation has been conceiving of
prayer on too low a plane. Faith is not endangered by the advance of
science. It is endangered by the stagnation of religious conceptions.
If religion halts at some primitive level and science marches on to
new conquests of course there will be difficulty. But let us not
fetter science, let us rather _promote_ religion. We need to rise to a
truer view of God and to a loftier idea of prayer. It is another case
of “leveling up.” On the higher religious plane no collision between
prayer and science will be found. There will be no sealing of the lips
in the presence of the discovery that all is law.

The prayer which science _has_ affected is the spurious kind of prayer,
which can be reduced to a utilitarian, “bread and butter,” basis. Most
enlightened persons now are shocked to hear “patriotic” ministers
asking God to direct the bullets of their country’s army so as to kill
their enemies in battle, and we all hesitate to use prayer for the
attainment of low, selfish ends, but we need to cleanse our sight
still farther and rise above the conception of prayer as an easy means
to a desired end.

It is a fact that there are _valid prayer effects_ and there is plenty
of experimental evidence to prove the _energy of prayer_. It is
literally true that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world
dreams of.” There are no assignable bounds to the effects upon mind and
body of the prayer of living faith. Some of those particular cases of
George Müller’s are quite within the range of experience. The prayer
for the lost key may well produce a heightened energy of consciousness
which pushes open a door into a deeper stratum of memory, and the man
rises from his knees and goes to the spot where the key was put. So
too with the passage of Scripture. No doubt many a man has come back
from his closet where the turmoil of life was hushed and where all
the inward currents set toward God, many of us I say, come back with
a new energy and with cleared vision and we can grasp what before
eluded us, we can see farther into the spiritual meaning of any of
God’s revelations. There is perhaps never a sweep of the soul out into
the wider regions of the spiritual world which does not heighten the
powers of the person who experiences it. Profound changes in physical
condition, almost as profound as the stigmata of St. Francis, have in
our own times followed the prayer of faith and many of us in our daily
problems and perplexities have seen the light break through, as we
prayed, and shine out, like a search light, on some plain path of duty
or of service. There is unmistakable evidence of incoming energy from
beyond the margin of what we usually call “ourselves.”

We have not to do with a God who is “off there” above the sky, who
can deal with us only through “the violation of physical law.” We
have instead a God “in whom we live and move and are,” whose Being
opens into ours, and ours into His, who is the very Life of our lives,
the matrix of our personality; and there is no separation between us
unless we make it ourselves. No man, scientist or layman, knows where
the curve is to be drawn about the personal “self.” No man can say
with authority that the circulation of Divine currents into the soul’s
inward life is impossible. On the contrary, Energy does come in. In
our highest moments we find ourselves in contact with wider spiritual
Life than belongs to our normal _me_.

But true prayer is something higher. It is immediate spiritual
fellowship. Even if science could demonstrate that prayer could never
effect any kind of utilitarian results, still prayer on its loftier
side would remain untouched, and persons of spiritual reach would go
on praying as before. If we could say nothing more we could at least
affirm that prayer, like faith, is itself the victory. The seeking is
the finding. The wrestling is the blessing. It is no more a means to
something else than love is. It is an end in itself. It is its own
excuse for being. It is a kind of first fruit of the mystical nature of
personality. The edge of the self is always touching a circle of life
beyond itself to which it responds. The human heart is sensitive to God
as the retina is to light waves. The soul possesses a native yearning
for intercourse and companionship which takes it to God as naturally
as the home instinct of the pigeon takes it to the place of its birth.
There is in every normal soul a spontaneous outreach, a free play of
spirit which gives it onward yearning of unstilled desire.

It is no mere subjective instinct--no blind outreach. If it met no
response, no answer, it would soon be weeded out of the race. It would
shrivel like the functionless organ. We could not long continue to pray
in faith if we lost the assurance that there is a Person who cares,
and who actually corresponds with us. Prayer has stood the test of
experience. In fact the very desire to pray is in itself prophetic of
a heavenly Friend. A subjective need always carries an implication of
an objective stimulus which has provoked the need. There is no hunger,
as Fiske has well shown, for anything not tasted, there is no search
for anything which is not in the environment, for the environment has
always produced the appetite. So this native need of the soul rose out
of the divine origin of the soul, and it has steadily verified itself
as a safe guide to reality.

What is at first a vague life-activity and spontaneous outreach of
inward energy--a feeling after companionship--remains in many persons
vague to the end. But in others it frequently rises to a definite
consciousness of a personal Presence and there comes back into
the soul a compelling evidence of a real Other Self who meets all
the Soul’s need. For such persons prayer is the way to fullness of
life. It is as natural as breathing. It is as normal an operation as
appreciation of beauty, or the pursuit of truth. The soul is made
that way, and as long as men are made with mystical deeps within,
unsatisfied with the finite and incomplete, they will pray and be

Vague and formless, in some degree, communion would always be, I think,
apart from the personal manifestation of God in Jesus Christ. As soon
as God is known as Father, as soon as we turn to Him as identical in
being with our own humanity, as suffering with us and loving us even
in our imperfection, this communion grows defined and becomes _actual
social fellowship_ which is prayer at its best. Paul’s great prayers of
fellowship rise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God
whom we know, because He has been humanly revealed in a way that fits
our life. We turn to Him as the completeness and reality of all we want
to be, the other Self whom we have always sought. The vague impulse to
reach beyond our isolated and solitary self gives place to an actual
experience of relationship with a personal Friend and Companion and
this experience may become, and often does become, the loftiest and
most joyous activity of life. The soul is never at its best until it
enjoys God, and prays out of sheer love. Nobody who has learned to
pray in this deeper way and whose prayer is a prayer of communion and
fellowship, wants logical argument for the existence of God. Such a
want implies a fall from a higher to a lower level. It is like a demand
for a proof of the beauty one feels, or an evidence of love other than
the evidence of its experience.

Prayer will always rise or fall with the quality of one’s faith, like
the mercury in the tube which feels at once the change of pressure in
the atmosphere. It is only out of _live faith_ that a living prayer
springs. When a man’s praying sinks into words, words, words, it means
that he is trying to get along with a dead conception of God. The
circuit no longer closes. He cannot heighten his prayer by raising his
voice. What he needs is a new revelation of the reality of God. He
needs to have the fresh sap of living faith in God push off the dead
leaves of an outgrown belief, so that once more prayer shall break
forth as naturally as buds in spring.

The conception of God as a lonely Sovereign, complete in Himself and
infinitely separated from us “poor worms of the dust,” grasshoppers
chirping our brief hour in the sun, is in the main a dead notion.
Prayer to such a God would not be easy with our modern ideas of the
universe. It would be as difficult to believe in its efficiency as it
would be to believe in the miracle of transubstantiation in bread and
wine. But that whole conception is being supplanted by a _live faith_
in an Infinite Person who is corporate with our lives, from whom we
have sprung, in whom we live, as far as we spiritually do live, who
needs us as we need him, and who is sharing with us the travail and
the tragedy as well as the glory and the joy of bringing forth sons of

In such a kingdom--an organic fellowship of interrelated
persons--prayer is as normal an activity as gravitation is in a world
of matter. Personal spirits experience spiritual gravitation, soul
reaches after soul, hearts draw toward each other. We are no longer
in the net of blind fate, in the realm of impersonal force, we are in
a love-system where the aspiration of one member heightens the entire
group, and the need of one--even the least--draws upon the resources of
the whole--even the Infinite. We are in actual Divine-human fellowship.

The only obstacle to effectual praying, in this world of spiritual
fellowship, would be individual selfishness. To want to get just for
one’s own self, to ask for something which brings loss and injury to
others, would be to sever one’s self from the source of blessings, and
to lose not only the thing sought but to lose, as well, one’s very self.

This principle is true anywhere, even in ordinary human friendship.
It is true too, in art and in music. The artist may not force some
personal caprice into his creation. He must make himself the organ of a
universal reality which is beautiful not simply for this man or that,
but for man as man. If there is, as I believe, an _inner kingdom of
spirit_, a kingdom of love and fellowship, then it is a fact that a
tiny being like one of us can impress and influence the Divine Heart,
and we can make our personal contribution to the Will of the universe,
but we can do it only by wanting what everybody can share and by
seeking blessings which have a universal implication.

So far as prayer is real fellowship, it gives as well as receives.
The person who wants to receive God must first bring himself. If He
misses us, we miss Him. He is Spirit, and consequently He is found only
through true and genuine spiritual activity. In this correspondence of
fellowship there is no more “violation of natural =law=” than there
is in love wherever it appears. Love is itself the principle of the
spiritual universe, as gravitation is of the physical; and as in the
gravitate system the earth rises to meet the ball of the child, without
_breaking any law_, so God comes to meet and to heighten the life of
anyone who stretches up toward Him in appreciation, and there is joy
above as well as below.

All that I have said, and much more, gets vivid illustration in the
“Lord’s prayer,” which Christians have taken as a model form, though
they have not always penetrated its spirit. It is in every line a
prayer of fellowship and co-operation. It is a perfect illustration
of the social nature of prayer. The co-operation and fellowship are
not here confined, and they never are except in the lower stages, to
the inward communion of an individual and his God. There is no _I_ or
_me_ or _mine_ in the whole prayer. The person who prays spiritually
is enmeshed in a _living group_ and the reality of his vital union
with persons like himself clarifies his vision of that deeper Reality
to whom he prays. Divine Fatherhood and human brotherhood are born
together. To say Father to God involves saying “brother” to one’s
fellows, and the ground swell of either relationship naturally carries
the other with it, for no one can largely realize the significance of
brotherly love without going to Him in whom love is completed.

“Hallowed be thy name” is often taken in a very feeble sense to
mean “keep us from using thy name in vain,” or it is thought of as
synonymous with the easy and meaningless platitude, “Let thy name
be holy.” It is in reality a heart-cry for a full appreciation of
the meaning of the Divine name, i. e., the Divine character. It is
an uprising of the soul to an apprehension of the holiness of God
and the fullness of His life that the soul may return to its tasks
with a sense of infinite resources and under the sway of a vision of
the true ideal. This Lord’s prayer begins with a word of intimate
relationship and social union--“Our Father.” It then goes out beyond
the familiar boundaries of experience to feel the infinite sweep of
God’s completeness and perfectness and to become penetrated with solemn
awe and reverence which fit such companionship,--“Our Father of the
holy name.”

This is the prelude. The true melody of prayer, if I may say so, begins
with the positive facing of the task of life:--“Thy kingdom come, Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here again we have the
loftiest Fellowship. The person who prays this way is linked with God
in one mighty spiritual whole. The last vestige of atomic selfishness
is washed out. There are those who say these words of prayer with
folded hands and closed eyes, and then expect the desired kingdom
to come by miracle; they suppose that if the request is made often
enough a millennium age will drop out of the skies. Ah, no! If God is
Spirit and man is meant to be spiritual, such a millennium is a sheer
impossibility. This prayer involves the most strenuous life that ever
was lived. To pray seriously for the coming of the kingdom of heaven
means to contribute to its coming. It _has_ come in any life which is
completely under the sway of the holy Will and which is consecrated to
the task of making that holy Will prevail in society. It is no “far
off Divine event.” It is always coming.

  “For an ye heard a music, like enow
  They are building still, seeing the city is built
  To music, therefore never built at all
  And therefore built forever.”

In a plain word, it is the total task of humanity through the ages. It
is the embodiment in a temporal order of the eternal purpose. It is the
weaving in concrete figure and color of the Divine pattern. It is the
slow and somewhat painful work of making an actual Divine society out
of this rather stubborn and unpromising potential material. But it is
our main business, and this prayer is the girding of the loins for the
sublime task of helping God make His world.

  “Man as yet is being made, and e’er the crowning age of ages,
  Shall not aeon after aeon pass and touch him into shape?
  All about him shadow still, but, while the races flower and fade,
  Prophet eyes may catch a glory, slowly gaining on the shade,
  Till the people all are one and all their voices blend in a choric
  Hallelujah to the Maker, ‘It is finished; man is made.’”

Fellow laborers with God in truth we are. Prayer ends in labor and
labor ends in prayer. But it is not a cry for miracle. It is an inward
effort at co-operation.

There is a beautiful mingling of the great and the little, the cosmic
and the personal. The universal sweep of Divine ends does not
swallow up, or miss, the needs of the concrete individual. While the
spiritual universe is building, men must have daily bread and they must
constantly face the actual present with its routine and monotony. Here
again prayer is no miraculous method of turning stones into bread.
It is no easy substitute for toil. It is the joyous insight that in
the avenues of daily toil, God and man are co-operating and that in
very truth the bread for the day is as much God given as it is won
by the sweat of brow. The recently discovered “saying of Jesus” best
interprets this prayer. “Wherever any man raises a stone or splits
wood, there am I.” He consecrates honest toil.

Next we come to the profound word which shows how completely our lives
are bound together in organic union, above and below: “Forgive us as
we forgive.” What a solemn thing to say. Dare we pray it! And yet few
words have ever so truly revealed the nature of prayer. It is, one
sees, no easy, lazy way to blessings. Once more, it is co-operation.
Forgiveness is not a gift which can fall upon us from the skies, in
return for a capricious request. The blessing depends on us as much as
it does on God. A cold, hard, unforgiving heart can no more be forgiven
than a lazy, slipshod student can have knowledge given to him. Like all
spiritual things, forgiveness can come only when there is a person who
appreciates its worth and meaning. The deep cry for forgiveness must
rise out of a forgiving spirit. It is always more than a transaction,
an event. It is an inward condition of the personal life, and the soul
that feels what it means to love and forgive is so bound into the whole
divine order that love and forgiveness come in as naturally as light
goes through the open casement, or the tide into an inlet.

The next word is surely to be thought of as a human cry: “Take us not
into testing.” It is the natural shrinking of the tender, sensitive
soul, and it is the right attitude. Most of us know by hard experience
that trial, proving, testing, yes, even actual temptation, have a
marvelous ministry. No saint is made in the level plain, where the
waters are still and the pastures green.

  “Never on custom’s oilëd grooves
  The world to a higher level moves,
  But grates and grinds with friction hard
  On granite boulder and flinty shard.
  The heart must bleed before it feels,
  The pool be troubled before it heals.”

All this we know. We know that the stem battle makes the veteran. But
this prayer is the childlike cry, the shrinking fear, which are always
safer than the bold dash, the impetuous plunge. It is the utterance of
an instinctive wish to keep where safety lies, and, humanly speaking,
it is right, though, in a world whose highest fruit is character,
we may expect that bitter cups and hard baptisms will be a part of
our experience. Like all that has gone before, it is an effort at
co-operation. It is a sincere aspiration for green pastures and still
waters joined with a readiness to be fed at the table in presence of
the enemy, if need be, readiness for the perilous edge of conflict, for
“high strife and glorious hazard.”

Last of all there rises the cry for deliverance from the power of
evil. Once more we realize that this is not an occasion for magical
interference, no call for a fiery dart out of the sky to pierce a black
demon who is pushing us into sin. The drama is an inward one and the
enemy, called of many names, is a part of our own self. Each soul has
its own struggle with the immemorial tug of brute inheritance--the sag
of lower nature.

  “When the fight begins within himself,
    A man’s worth something. God stoops o’er his head,
  Satan looks up between his feet--both tug--
  He’s left, himself, i’ the middle: The soul wakes
    And grows.”

But here supremely appears our principle of co-operation. Prayer for
deliverance from evil cannot end on the lips. There is no conquest of
the flesh, no killing out of ape and tiger, until we ourselves catch at
God’s skirts and rise to live for the Spirit and by the Spirit. There
is no deliverance till the soul says, “I will be free” and God and man
tug on the same side. Wherever any citadel of evil is battered God and
man are there together. God finds a human organ and man draws on the
inexhaustible resources of God.

Prayer, whether it be the lisp of a little child, or the wrestling
of some great soul in desperate contest with the coils of habit or
the evil customs of his generation is a testimony to a divine-human
fellowship. In hours of crisis the soul feels for its Companion, by
a natural gravitation, as the brook feels for the ocean. In times of
joy and strength, it reaches out to its source of Life, as the plant
does to the sun. And when it has learned the language of spiritual
communion and knows its Father, praying refreshes it as the greeting
of a friend refreshes one in a foreign land. We ought not to expect
that prayer, of the true and lofty sort, could be attained by easy
steps. It involves appreciation of God and co-operation with Him. One
comes not to it in a day. Even human friendship is a great attainment.
It calls for sacrifice of private wishes and for adjustment to the
purposes of another life. One cannot be an artist or a musician without
patient labor to make oneself an organ of the reality which he fain
would express. He must bring himself by slow stages to a height of
appreciation. Prayer is the highest human function. It is the utterance
of an infinite friendship, the expression of our appreciation of that
complete and perfect Person whom our soul has found. “Lord, teach us
how to pray.”

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[1] “Social Law in the Spiritual World,” Philadelphia, 1904.

[2] The term _a tergo_ causation means that what happens is produced
entirely by the push or the pull of forces. There is an exact
equation--the antecedent _determines_ the consequent.

[3] It is not true, of course, that there is an absolute “break” in the
upward processes of life. Even in the lower forms of life there are
hints of higher possibilities. There is an elemental struggle for the
life of others which has in it the potentiality of love and sacrifice.
But there is no “sign” on the lower levels--before self-consciousness
dawned--of any capacity for an ideal, or of _any power to develop by
the forecast and vision of the goal_.

[4] The term _a fronte_ compulsion means the compelling power of an
ideal which influences by an attraction from in front.

[5] Browning’s “Old Pictures in Florence.”

[6] Sabatier, “Religions of Authority,” p. 307.

[7] I am aware that this feature of child life will seem to some of my
readers to be overdrawn. Some Mothers say that no such tendency was
observed in their own children. That is quite likely. All children do
not express their subtle and complex emotions in the same way. I do not
mean to imply that every child _expresses_ a need of sacrifice when he
does wrong. But careful observers of children have frequently noted the
facts which I have emphasized in the text, and I have often met them in
my own experience with children.

[8] It has been shown by Robertson Smith and others that the Hebrews
thought of sacrifice not as a gift to appease Jehovah but as a sharing
of a common meal with him. Such a lofty view of sacrifice is surely
not primitive. When sacrifice had come to be thought of, as of a
common meal, it had already been purified and transformed by centuries
of development and the heightening presupposes a series of unnamed
prophets before the list of great revealers whose names we know.
In the earliest stages religion is only very slightly ethical. The
moralization of religion is one of the most tremendous facts of human


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Emboldened text is surrounded by equals signs: =bold=.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

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