Part 1 out of 2
At the time this was typed in 02/04/2000, there were images showing
Millet's "The Angelus" available on the internet at the following
http://www.i-a-s.de/IAS/Bilder/MILLET/Angelus.htm While this list
is not exhaustive (and should include the Louvre--where the painting
is hung--but I couldn't find it there) there should be at least
one of these active at the time of the reading.
Addresses by Henry Drummond
I was staying with a party of friends in a country house during my
visit to England in 1884. On Sunday evening as we sat around the
fire, they asked me to read and expound some portion of Scripture.
Being tired after the services of the day, I told them to ask Henry
Drummond, who was one of the party. After some urging he drew a
small Testament from his hip pocket, opened it at the 13th chapter
of I Corinthians, and began to speak on the subject of Love.
It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful, and
I determined not to rest until I brought Henry Drummond to Northfield
to deliver that address. Since then I have requested the principals
of schools to have it read before the students every year. The one
great need in our Christian life is love, more love to God and to
each other. Would that we could all move into that Love chapter,
and live there.
This volume contains, in addition to the address on Love, some
other addresses which I trust will bring help and blessing to many.
[signed]D. L. Moody.
Love, the Greatest Thing in the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Lessons from the Angelus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Pax Vobiscum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
First! An Address to Boys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
The Changed Life, the Greatest Need of the World . . . . . . . 82
Dealing with Doubt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Love: The Greatest Thing in the World
Every one has asked himself the great question of antiquity as of
the modern world: What is the 'summum bonum'--the supreme good?
You have life before you. Once only you can live it. What is the
noblest object of desire, the supreme gift to covet?
We have been accustomed to be told that the greatest thing in the
religious world is Faith. That great word has been the key-note
for centuries of the popular religion; and we have easily learned
to look upon it as the greatest thing in the world. Well, we are
wrong. If we have been told that, we may miss the mark. In the
13th chapter of I Corinthians, Paul takes us to
Christianity at its source;
and there we see, "the greatest of these is love."
It is not an oversight. Paul was speaking of faith just a moment
before. He says, "If I have all faith, so that I can remove
mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." So far from forgetting,
he deliberately contrasts them, "Now abideth Faith, Hope, Love,"
and without a moment's hesitation the decision falls, "The greatest
of these is Love."
And it is not prejudice. A man is apt to recommend to others his
own strong point. Love was not Paul's strong point. The observing
student can detect a beautiful tenderness growing and ripening all
through his character as Paul gets old; but the hand that wrote
"The greatest of these is love," when we meet it first, is stained
Nor is this letter to the Corinthians peculiar in singling out
love as the "summum bonum." The masterpieces of Christianity are
agreed about it. Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love
among yourselves." ABOVE ALL THINGS. And John goes farther, "God
You remember the profound remark which Paul makes elsewhere, "Love
is the fulfilling of the law." Did you ever think what he meant
by that? In those days men were working the passage to Heaven
by keeping the Ten Commandments, and the hundred and ten other
commandments which they had manufactured out of them. Christ came
and said, "I will show you a more simple way. If you do one thing,
you will do these hundred and ten things, without ever thinking
about them. If you LOVE, you will unconsciously fulfill the whole
You can readily see for yourselves how that must be so. Take any
of the commandments. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
If a man love God, you will not require to tell him that. Love is
the fulfilling of that law. "Take not His name in vain." Would he
ever dream of taking His name in vain if he loved him? "Remember
the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Would he not be too glad to
have one day in seven to dedicate more exclusively to the object
of his affection? Love would fulfill all these laws regarding God.
And so, if he loved man, you would never think of telling him
to honor his father and mother. He could not do anything else.
It would be preposterous to tell him not to kill. You could only
insult him if you suggested that he should not steal--how could
he steal from those he loved? It would be superfluous to beg him
not to bear false witness against his neighbor. If he loved him
it would be the last thing he would do. And you would never dream
of urging him not to covet what his neighbors had. He would rather
they possess it than himself. In this way "Love is the fulfilling
of the law." It is the rule for fulfilling all rules, the new
commandment for keeping all the old commandments, Christ's one.
Secret of the Christian life.
Now Paul has learned that; and in this noble eulogy he has given
us the most wonderful and original account extant of the "summum
bonum." We may divide it into three parts. In the beginning of
the short chapter we have Love CONTRASTED; in the heart of it, we
have Love ANALYZED; toward the end, we have Love DEFENDED as the
I. The Contrast.
Paul begins by contrasting Love with other things that men in those
days thought much of. I shall not attempt to go over these things
in detail. Their inferiority is already obvious.
He contrasts it with ELOQUENCE. And what a noble gift it is,
the power of playing upon the souls and wills of men, and rousing
them to lofty purpose and holy deeds! Paul says, If I speak with
the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." We all know why. We have
all felt the brazenness of words without emotion, the hollowness,
the unaccountable unpersuasiveness, of eloquence behind which lies
He contrasts it with PROPHECY. He contrasts it with MYSTERIES.
He contrasts it with FAITH. He contrasts it with CHARITY. Why
is Love greater than faith? Because the end is greater than the
means. And why is it greater than charity? Because the whole is
greater than the part.
Love is greater than FAITH, because the end is greater than the
means. What is the use of having faith? It is to connect the
soul with God. And what is the object of connecting man with God?
That he may become like God. But God is Love. Hence Faith, the
means, is in order to Love, the end. Love, therefore, obviously
is greater than faith. "If I have all faith, so as to remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
It is greater than CHARITY, again, because the whole is greater
than a part. Charity is only a little bit of Love, one of the
innumerable avenues of Love, and there may even be, and there is,
a great deal of charity without Love. It is a very easy thing
to toss a copper to a beggar on the street; it is generally an
easier thing than not to do it. Yet Love is just as often in the
withholding. We purchase relief from the sympathetic feelings
roused by the spectacle of misery, at the copper's cost. It is too
cheap--too cheap for us, and often too dear for the beggar. If we
really loved him we would either do more for him, or less. Hence,
"If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, but have not love it
profiteth me nothing."
Then Paul contrasts it with SACRIFICE and martyrdom: "If I give
my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing."
Missionaries can take nothing greater to the heathen world than the
impress and reflection of the Love of God upon their own character.
That is the universal language. It will take them years to speak
in Chinese, or in the dialects of India. From the day they land,
that language of Love, understood by all, will be pouring forth
its unconscious eloquence.
It is the man who is the missionary, it is not his words. His
character is his message. In the heart of Africa, among the great
Lakes, I have come across black men and women who remembered the
only white man they ever saw before--David Livingstone; and as you
cross his footsteps in that dark continent,
Men's faces light up
As they speak of the kind doctor who passed there years ago. They
could not understand him; but they felt the love that beat in his
heart. They knew that it was love, although he spoke no word.
Take into your sphere of labor, where you also mean to lay down
your life, that simple charm, and your lifework must succeed. You
can take nothing greater, you need take nothing less. You may
take every accomplishment; you may be braced for every sacrifice;
but if you give your body to be burned, and have not Love, it will
profit you and the cause of Christ NOTHING.
II. The Analysis
After contrasting Love with these things, Paul, in three verses,
very short, gives us an amazing analysis of what this supreme thing
I ask you to look at it. It is a compound thing, he tells us. It
is like light. As you have seen a man of science take a beam of
light and pass it through a crystal prism, as you have seen it come
out on the other side of the prism broken up into its component
colors--red, and blue, and yellow, and violet, and orange, and all
the colors of the rainbow--so Paul passes this thing, Love, through
the magnificent prism of his inspired intellect, and it comes out
on the other side broken up into its elements.
In these few words we have what one might call
The spectrum of Love,
the analysis of love. Will you observe what its elements are?
Will you notice that they have common names; that they are virtues
which we hear about every day; that they are things which can
be practised by every man in every place in life; and how, by a
multitude of small things and ordinary virtues, the supreme thing,
the "summum bonum," is made up?
The Spectrum of Love has nine ingredients:
Patience . . . . . "Love suffereth long."
Kindness . . . . . "And is kind."
Generosity . . . . "Love envieth not."
Humility . . . . . "Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up."
Courtesy . . . . . "Doth not behave itself unseemly."
Unselfishness . . "Seeketh not its own."
Good temper . . . "Is not provoked."
Guilelessness . . "Taketh not account of evil."
Sincerity . . . . "Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth
with the truth."
Patience; kindness; generosity; humility; courtesy; unselfishness;
good temper; guilelessness; sincerity--these make up the supreme
gift, the stature of the perfect man.
You will observe that all are in relation to men, in relation to
life, in relation to the known to-day and the near to-morrow, and
not to the unknown eternity. We hear much of love to God; Christ
spoke much of love to man. We make a great deal of peace with heaven;
Christ made much of peace on earth. Religion is not a strange or
added thing, but the inspiration of the secular life, the breathing
of an eternal spirit through this temporal world. The supreme
thing, in short, is not a thing at all, but the giving of a further
finish to the multitudinous words and acts which make up the sum
of every common day.
PATIENCE. This is the normal attitude of love; Love passive, love
waiting to begin; not in a hurry; calm; ready to do its work when
the summons comes, but meantime wearing the ornament of a meek and
quiet spirit. Love suffers long; beareth all things; believeth
all things; hopeth all things. For Love understands, and therefore
KINDNESS. Love active. Have you ever noticed how much of Christ's
life was spent in doing kind things--in MERELY doing kind things?
Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a
great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in
Doing good turns
to people. There is only one thing greater than happiness in the
world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping; but
what God HAS put in our power is the happiness of those about us,
and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.
"The greatest thing," says some one, "a man can do for his Heavenly
Father is to be kind to some of His other children." I wonder why
it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world
needs it! How easily it is done! How instantaneously it acts! How
infallibly it is remembered! How superabundantly it pays itself
back--for there is no debtor in the world so honorable, so superbly
honorable, as Love. "Love never faileth." Love is success, Love
is happiness, Love is life. "Love," I say with Browning, "is energy
"For life, with all it yields of joy or woe
And hope and fear,
Is just our chance o' the prize of learning love,--
How love might be, hath been indeed, and is."
Where Love is, God is. He that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in
God. God is Love. Therefore LOVE. Without distinction, without
calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the
poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need
it most; most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult,
and for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference
between TRYING TO PLEASE and GIVING PLEASURE. Give pleasure.
Lose no chance of giving pleasure; for that is the ceaseless and
anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit. "I shall pass through
this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or
any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.
Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way
GENEROSITY. "Love envieth not." This is love in competition with
others. Whenever you attempt a good work you will find other men
doing the same kind of work, and probably doing it better. Envy
them not. Envy is a feeling of ill-will to those who are in the
same line as ourselves, a spirit of covetousness and detraction.
How little Christian work even is a protection against un-Christian
feeling! That most despicable of all the unworthy moods which
cloud a Christian's soul assuredly waits for us on the threshold of
every work, unless we are fortified with this grace of magnanimity.
Only one thing truly need the Christian envy--the large, rich,
generous soul which "envieth not."
And then, after having learned all that, you have to learn this
further thing, HUMILITY--to put a seal upon your lips and forget
what you have done. After you have been kind, after Love has stolen
forth into the world and done its beautiful work, go back into the
shade again and say nothing about it. Love hides even from itself.
Love waives even self-satisfaction. "Love vaunteth not itself, is
not puffed up." Humility--love hiding.
The fifth ingredient is a somewhat strange one to find in this "summum
bonum:" COURTESY. This is Love in society, Love in relation to
etiquette. "Love doe not behave itself unseemly."
Politeness has been defined as love in trifles. Courtesy is said
to be love in little things. And the one secret of politeness is
Love CANNOT behave itself unseemly. You can put the most untutored
persons into the highest society, and if they have a reservoir
of Love in their hearty they will not behave themselves unseemly.
They simply cannot do it. Carlisle said of Robert Burns that there
was no truer gentleman in Europe than the ploughman-poet. It was
because he loved everything--the mouse, and the daisy, and all the
things, great and small, that God had made. So with this simple
passport he could mingle with any society, and enter courts and
palaces from his little cottage on the banks of the Ayr.
You know the meaning of the word "gentleman." It means a gentle
man--a man who does things gently, with love. That is the whole art
and mystery of it. The gentle man cannot in the nature of things
do an ungentle, an ungentlemanly thing. The ungentle soul, the
inconsiderate, unsympathetic nature, cannot do anything else. "Love
doth not behave itself unseemly."
UNSELFISHNESS. "Love seeketh not her own." Observe: Seeketh not
even that which is her own. In Britain the Englishman is devoted,
and rightly, to his rights. But there come times when a man may
The higher right
of giving up his rights.
Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights. Love strikes
much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, ignore them,
eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations.
It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often eternal. The
difficult thing is to give up OURSELVES. The more difficult thing
still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have
sought them, bought them, won them, deserved them, we have taken
the cream off them for ourselves already. Little cross then to
give them up. But not to seek them, to look every man not on his
own things, but on the things of others--that is the difficulty.
"Seekest thou great things for thyself?" said the prophet; "SEEK
THEM NOT." Why? Because there is no greatness in THINGS. Things
cannot be great. The only greatness is unselfish love. Even
self-denial in itself is nothing, is almost a mistake. Only a
great purpose or a mightier love can justify the waste.
It is more difficult, I have said, not to seek our own at all
than, having sought it, to give it up. I must take that back. It
is only true of a partly selfish heart. Nothing is a hardship to
Love, and nothing is hard. I believe that Christ's "yoke" is easy.
Christ's yoke is just His way of taking life. And I believe it is
an easier way than any other. I believe it is a happier way than
any other. The most obvious lesson in Christ's teaching is that
there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in
giving. I repeat, THERE IS NO HAPPINESS IN HAVING OR IN GETTING,
BUT ONLY IN GIVING. Half the world is on the wrong scent in the
pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting,
and in being served by others. It consists in giving, and in
serving others. "He that would be great among you," said Christ,
"let him serve." He that would be happy, let him remember that
there is but one way--"it is more blessed, it is more happy, to
give than to receive."
The next ingredient is a very remarkable one: GOOD TEMPER. "Love
is not provoked."
Nothing could be more striking than to find this here. We
are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness.
We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a
matter of temperament, not a thing to take into very serious account
in estimating a man's character. And yet here, right in the heart
of this analysis of love, it finds a place; and the Bible again and
again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements
in human nature.
The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous.
It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character. You
know men who are all but perfect, and women who would be entirely
perfect, but for an easily ruffled, quick-tempered, or "touchy"
disposition. This compatibility of ill temper with high moral
character is one of the strangest and saddest problems of ethics.
The truth is, there are two great classes of sins--sins of the BODY
and sins of the DISPOSITION. The Prodigal Son may be taken as a
type of the first, the Elder Brother of the second. Now, society
has no doubt whatever as to which of these is the worse. Its brand
falls, without a challenge, upon the Prodigal. But are we right?
We have no balance to weigh one another's sins, and coarser and
finer are but human words; but faults in the higher nature may be
less venal than those in the lower, and to the eye of Him who is
Love, a sin against Love may seem a hundred times more base. No
form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness
itself, does more to un-Christianize society than evil temper. For
embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the
most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up
men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short,
For sheer gratuitous misery-producing power
this influence stands alone.
Look at the Elder Brother--moral, hard-working, patient, dutiful--let
him get all credit for his virtues--look at this man, this baby,
sulking outside his own father's door. "He was angry," we read,
"and would not go in." Look at the effect upon the father, upon the
servants, upon the happiness of the guests. Judge of the effect
upon the Prodigal--and how many prodigals are kept out of the
Kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who profess to
be inside. Analyze, as a study in Temper, the thunder-cloud itself
as it gathers upon the Elder Brother's brow. What is it made of?
Jealousy, anger, pride, uncharity, cruelty, self-righteousness,
touchiness, doggedness, sullenness--these are the ingredients of
this dark and loveless soul. In varying proportions, also, these
are the ingredients of all ill temper. Judge if such sins are of
the disposition are not worse to live in, and for others to live
with, than the sins of the body. Did Christ indeed not answer the
question Himself when He said, "I say unto you that the publicans
and the harlots go into the Kingdom of Heaven before you"? There
is really no place in heaven for a disposition like this. A man
with such a mood could only make heaven miserable for all the people
in it. Except, therefore, such a man be
he cannot, simply CANNOT, enter the kingdom of heaven.
You will see then why Temper is significant. It is not in what
it is alone, but in what it reveals. This is why I speak of it
with such unusual plainness. It is a test for love, a symptom, a
revelation of an unloving nature at bottom. It is the intermittent
fever which bespeaks unintermittent disease within; the occasional
bubble escaping to the surface which betrays some rottenness
underneath; a sample of the most hidden products of the soul dropped
involuntarily when off one's guard; in a word, the lightning form
of a hundred hideous and un-Christian sins. A want of patience, a
want of kindness, a want of generosity, a want of courtesy, a want
of unselfishness, are all instantaneously symbolized in one flash
Hence it is not enough to deal with the Temper. We must go to the
source, and change the inmost nature, and the angry humors will die
away of themselves. souls are made sweet not by taking the acid
fluids out, but by putting something in--a great Love, a new Spirit,
the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating
ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This only can eradicate
what is wrong, work a chemical change, renovate and regenerate,
and rehabilitate the inner man. Will-power does not change men.
Time does not change men.
Therefore, "Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Some of us have not much time to lose. Remember, once more, that
this is a matter of life or death. I cannot help speaking urgently,
for myself, for yourselves. "Whoso shall offend one of these little
ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone
were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth
of the sea." That is to say, it is the deliberate verdict of the
Lord Jesus that it is better not to live than not to love. IT IS
BETTER NOT TO LIVE THAN NOT TO LOVE.
GUILELESSNESS and SINCERITY may be dismissed almost without a word.
Guilelessness is the grace for suspicious people. The possession
of it is
The great secret of personal influence.
You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who
influence you are people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of
suspicion men shrivel up; but in that atmosphere they expand, and
find encouragement and educative fellowship.
It is a wonderful thing that here and there in this hard, uncharitable
world there should still be left a few rare souls who think no
evil. this is the great unworldliness. Love "thinketh no evil,"
imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction
on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What
a stimulus and benediction even to meet with it for a day! To
be trusted is to be saved. And if we try to influence or elevate
others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their
belief of our belief in them. The respect of another is the first
restoration of the self-respect a man has lost; our ideal of what
he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become.
"Love rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the
truth." I have called this SINCERITY from the words rendered in
the Authorized Version by "rejoiceth in the truth." And, certainly,
were this the real translation, nothing could be more just; for he
who loves will love Truth not less than men. He will rejoice in
the Truth--rejoice not in what he has been taught to believe; not
in this church's doctrine or in that; not in this ism or in that
ism; but "in THE TRUTH." He will accept only what is real; he
will strive to get at facts; he will search for TRUTH with a humble
and unbiased mind, and cherish whatever he finds at any sacrifice.
But the more literal translation of the Revised Version calls for
just such a sacrifice for truth's sake here. For what Paul really
meant is, as we there read, "Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but
rejoiceth with the truth," a quality which probably no one English
word--and certainly not SINCERITY--adequately defines. It includes,
perhaps more strictly, the self-restraint which refuses to make
capital out of others' faults; the charity which delights not in
exposing the weakness of others, but "covereth all things"; the
sincerity of purpose which endeavors to see things as they are,
and rejoices to find them better than suspicion feared or calumny
So much for the analysis of Love. Now the business of our lives
is to have these things fitted into our characters. That is the
supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world,
to learn Love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning
Love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The
world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a
holiday, but an education. And
The one eternal lesson
for us all is HOW BETTER WE CAN LOVE.
What makes a man a good cricketer? Practice. What makes a man
a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician? Practice. What
makes a man a good linguist, a good stenographer? Practice. What
makes a man a good man? Practice. Nothing else. There is nothing
capricious about religion. We do not get the soul in different
ways, under different laws, from those in which we get the body
and the mind. If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no
biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires
no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigor of
moral fibre, no beauty of spiritual growth. Love is not a thing
of enthusiastic emotion. It is a rich, strong, manly, vigorous
expression of the whole round Christian character--the Christlike
nature in its fullest development. And the constituents of this
great character are only to be built up by
What was Christ doing in the carpenter's shop? Practising. Though
perfect, we read that he LEARNED obedience, and grew in wisdom
and in favor with God. Do not quarrel, therefore, with your lot
in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty
environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid
souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent
temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round
you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor for agony nor
prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which god
appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient, and
humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind, and courteous. Do
not grudge the hand that is moulding the still too shapeless image
within you. It is growing more beautiful, though you see it not;
and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore
keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among
men and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and
obstacles. You remember Goethe's words: "Talent develops itself
in solitude; character in the stream of life." Talent develops
itself in solitude--the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation,
of seeing the unseen; character grows in the stream of the world's
life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.
How? Now, how? To make it easier, I have named a few of the
elements of love. But these are only elements. Love itself can
never be defined. Light is a something more than the sum of its
ingredients--a glowing, dazzling, tremulous ether. And love is
something more than all its elements--a palpitating, quivering,
sensitive, living thing. By synthesis of all the colors, men can
make whiteness, they cannot make light. By synthesis of all the
virtues, men can make virtue, they cannot make love. How then are
we to have this transcendent living whole conveyed into our souls?
We brace our wills to secure it. We try to copy those who have
it. We lay down rules about it. We watch. We pray. But these
things alone will not bring love into our nature. Love is an EFFECT.
And only as we fulfill the right condition can we have the effect
produced. Shall I tell you what the CAUSE is?
If you turn to the Revised Version of the First Epistle of John
you find these words: "We love because He first loved us." "We
love," not "We love HIM." That is the way the old version has
it, and it is quite wrong. "WE LOVE--because He first loved us."
Look at that word "because." It is the CAUSE of which I have
spoken. "BECAUSE He first loved us," the effect follows that we
love, we love Him, we love all men. We cannot help it. Because He
loved us, we love, we love everybody. Our heart is slowly changed.
contemplate the love of Christ, and you will love. Stand before
that mirror, reflect Christ's character, and you will be changed
into the same image from tenderness to tenderness. There is no
other way. You cannot love to order. You can only look at the
lovely object, and fall in love with it, and grow into likeness to
it. And so look at this Perfect Character, this Perfect Life. Look
The great sacrifice
as He laid down Himself, all through life, and upon the Cross of
Calvary; and you must love Him. And loving Him, you must become
like Him. Love begets love. It is a process of induction. Put
a piece of Iron in the presence of an electrified body, and that
piece of iron for a time becomes electrified. It is changed into
a temporary magnet in the mere presence of a permanent magnet, and
as long as you leave the two side by side, they are both magnets
alike. Remain side by side with Him who loved us, and
Gave himself for us,
and you, too, will become a permanent magnet, a permanently attractive
force; and like Him you will draw all men unto you, like Him you
will be drawn unto all men. that is the inevitable effect of Love.
Any man who fulfills that cause must have that effect produced in
Try to give up the idea that religion comes to us by chance, or
by mystery, or by caprice. It comes to us by natural law, or by
supernatural law, for all law is Divine.
Edward Irving went to see a dying boy once, and when he entered
the room he just put his hand on the sufferer's head, and said,
"My boy, God loves you," and went away. The boy started from his
bed, and called out to the people in the house,
"God loves me! God loves me!"
One word! It changed that boy. The sense that God loved
him overpowered him, melted him down, and began the creating of a
new heart in him. And that is how the love of God melts down the
unlovely heart in man, and begets in him the new creature, who is
patient and humble and gentle and unselfish. And there is no other
way to get it. There is no mystery about it. We love others, we
love everybody, we love our enemies, BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.
III. The Defence.
Now I have a closing sentence or two to add about Paul's reason
for singling out love as the supreme possession.
It is a very remarkable reason. In a single word it is this: IT
LASTS. "Love," urges Paul, "never faileth." Then he begins again
one of his marvelous lists of the great things of the day, and
exposes them one by one. He runs over the things that men thought
were going to last, and shows that they are all fleeting, temporary,
"Whether there be PROPHECIES, they shall be done away." It was the
mother's ambition for her boy in those days that he should become
a prophet. For hundreds of years God had never spoken by means
of any prophet, and at that time the prophet was greater than the
king. Men waited wistfully for another messenger to come, and hung
upon his lips when he appeared, as upon the very voice of God. Paul
says, "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail." The Bible
is full of prophecies. One by one they have "failed"; that is,
having been fulfilled, their work is finished; they have nothing
more to do now in the world except to feed a devout man's faith.
Then Paul talks about TONGUES. That was another thing that was
greatly coveted. "Whether there be tongues, they shall cease."
As we all know, many, many centuries have passed since tongues
have been known in this world. They have ceased. Take it in any
sense you like. Take it, for illustration merely, as languages in
general--a sense which was not in Paul's mind at all, and which
though it cannot give us the specific lesson, will point the
general truth. Consider the words in which these chapters were
written--Greek. It has gone. Take the Latin--the other great tongue
of those days. It ceased long ago. Look at the Indian language.
It is ceasing. The language of Wales, of Ireland, of the Scottish
Highlands is dying before our eyes. The most popular book in the
English tongue at the present time, except the bible, is one of
Dickens' works, his "Pickwick Papers." It is largely written in
the language of London street-life; and experts assure us that in
fifty years it will be unintelligible to the average English reader.
Then Paul goes farther, and with even greater boldness adds,
"Whether there by KNOWLEDGE, it shall be done away." The wisdom of
the ancients, where is it? It is wholly gone. A schoolboy to-day
knows more than Sir Isaac Newton knew; his knowledge has vanished
away. You put yesterday's newspaper in the fire: its knowledge has
vanished away. You buy the old editions of the great encyclopaedias
for a few cents: their knowledge has vanished away. Look how the
coach has been superseded by the use of steam. Look how electricity
has superseded that, and swept a hundred almost new inventions
into oblivion. One of the greatest living authorities, Sir William
Thompson, said in Scotland, at a meeting at which I was present,
"The steam-engine is passing away." "Whether there be knowledge,
it shall vanish away." At every workshop you will see, in the
back yard, a heap of old iron, a few wheels, a few levers, a few
cranks, broken and eaten with rust. Twenty years ago that was
the pride of the city. Men flocked in from the country to see the
great invention; not it is superseded, its day is done. And all
the boasted science and philosophy of this day will soon be old.
In my time, in the university of Edinburgh, the greatest figure
in the faculty was Sir James Simpson, the discoverer of choloform.
Recently his successor and nephew, Professor Simpson, was asked by
the librarian of the University to go to the library and pick out
the books on his subject (midwifery) that were no longer needed.
His reply to the librarian was this:
"Take every text-book that is more than ten years old and put it
down in the cellar."
Sir James Simpson was a great authority only a few years ago: men
came from all parts of the earth to consult him; and almost the
whole teaching of that time is consigned by the science of to-day
to oblivion. And in every branch of science it is the same. "Now
we know in part. We see through a glass darkly." Knowledge does
Can you tell me anything that is going to last? Many things Paul
did not condescend to name. He did not mention money, fortune,
fame; but he picked out the great things of his time, the things
the best men thought had something in them, and brushed them
peremptorily aside. Paul had no charge against these things in
themselves. All he said about them was that they would not last.
They were great things, but not supreme things. There were things
beyond them. What we are stretches past what we do, beyond what
we possess. Many things that men denounce as sins are not sins;
but they are temporary. And that is a favorite argument of the
New Testament. John says of the world, not that it is wrong, but
simply that it "passeth away." There is a great deal in the world
that is delightful and beautiful; there is a great deal in it that
is great and engrossing; but
It will not last.
All that is in the world, the lust of the eye, the lust of the
flesh, and the pride of life, are but for a little while. Love not
the world therefore. Nothing that it contains is worth the life
and consecration of an immortal soul. The immortal soul must give
itself to something that is immortal. And the only immortal things
are these: "Now abideth faith, hope, love, but the greatest of
these is love."
Some think the time may come when two of these three things will
also pass away--faith into sight, hope into fruition. Paul does
not say so. We know but little now about the conditions of the
life that is to come. But what is certain is that Love must last.
God, the Eternal God, is Love. Covet, therefore, that everlasting
gift, that one thing which it is certain is going to stand, that
one coinage which will be current in the Universe when all the
other coinages of all the nations of the world shall be useless and
unhonored. You will give yourself to many things, give yourself
first to Love. Hold things in their proportion. HOLD THINGS
IN THEIR PROPORTION. Let at least the first great object of our
lives be to achieve the character defended in these words, the
character--and it is he character of Christ--which is built round
I have said this thing is eternal. Did you ever notice how continually
John associates love and faith with eternal life? I was not told
when I was a boy that "God so loved the world that He gave His
only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should have
everlasting life." What I was told, I remember, was, that God so
loved the world that, if I trusted in Him, I was to have a thing
called peace, or I was to have rest, or I was to have joy, or I was
to have safety. But I had to find out for myself that whosoever
trusteth in Him--that is, whosoever loveth Him, for trust is only
the avenue to Love--hath
The Gospel offers a man a life. Never offer a man a thimbleful of
Gospel. Do not offer them merely joy, or merely peace, or merely
rest, or merely safety; tell them how Christ came to give men a more
abundant life than they have, a life abundant in love, and therefore
abundant in salvation for themselves, and large in enterprise for
the alleviation and redemption of the world. Then only can the
Gospel take hold of the whole of a man, body, soul and spirit, and
give to each part of his nature its exercise and reward. Many of
the current Gospels are addressed only to a part of man's nature.
They offer peace, not life; faith, not Love; justification, not
regeneration. And men slip back again from such religion because
it has never really held them. Their nature was not all in it. It
offered no deeper and gladder life-current than the life that was
lived before. Surely it stands to reason that only a fuller love
can compete with the love of the world.
To love abundantly is to live abundantly, and to love forever is
to live forever. Hence, eternal life is inextricably bound up with
love. We want to live forever for the same reason that we want to
live to-morrow. Why do we want to live to-morrow? Is it because
there is some one who loves you, and whom you want to see to-morrow,
and be with, and love back? There is no other reason why we should
live on than that we love and are beloved. It is when a man has
no one to love him that he commits suicide. So long as he has
friends, those who love him and whom he loves, he will live, because
to live is to love. Be it but the love of a dog, it will keep him
in life; but let that go, he has no contact with life, no reason
to live. He dies by his own hand.
Eternal life also is to know God, and God is love. This is Christ's
own definition. Ponder it. "This is life eternal, that they might
know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
Love must be eternal. It is what God is. On the last analysis,
then, love is life. Love never faileth, and life never faileth,
so long as there is love. That is the philosophy of what Paul
is showing us; the reason why in the nature of things love should
be the supreme thing--because it is going to last; because in the
nature of things it is an Eternal Life. It is a thing that we are
living now, not that we get when we die; that we shall have a poor
chance of getting when we die unless we are living now.
No worse fate
can befall a man in this world than to live and grow old alone,
unloving and unloved. To be lost is to live in an unregenerate
condition, loveless and unloved; and to be saved is to love; and
he that dwelleth in love dwelleth already in God. For God is Love.
Now I have all but finished. How many of you will join me in
reading this chapter once a week for the next three months? A man
did that once and it changed his whole life. Will you do it? It
is for the greatest thing in the world. You might begin by reading
it every day, especially the verses which describe the perfect
character. "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not;
love vaunteth not itself." Get these ingredients into your life.
Then everything that you do is eternal. It is worth doing. It
is worth giving time to. No man can become a saint in his sleep;
and to fulfill the condition required demands a certain amount of
prayer and meditation and time, just as improvement in any direction,
bodily or mental, requires preparation and care. Address yourselves
to that one thing; at any cost have this transcendent character
exchanged for yours.
You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that
stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments
when you have done things in a spirit of love. As memory scans
the past, above and beyond all the transitory pleasures of life,
there leap forward those supreme hours when you have been enabled
to do unnoticed kindnesses to those round about you, things too
trifling to speak about, but which you feel have entered into your
eternal life. I have seen almost all he beautiful things God has
made; I have enjoyed almost every pleasure that He has planned for
man; and yet as I look back I see standing out above all the life
that has gone four or five short experiences, when the love of God
reflected itself in some poor imitation, some small act of love
of mine, and these seem to be the things which alone of all one's
life abide. Everything else in all our lives is transitory. Every
other good is visionary. But the acts of love which no man knows
about, or can ever know about--they never fail.
In the book of Matthew, where the Judgement Day is depicted for us
in the imagery of One seated upon a throne and dividing the sheep
from the goats, the test of a man then is not, "How have I believed?"
but "How have I loved?" The test of religion, the final test of
religion, is not religiousness, but Love. I say the final test
of religion at that great Day is not religiousness, but Love; not
what I have done, not what I have believed, not what I have achieved,
but how I have discharged the common charities of life. Sins of
commission in that awful indictment are not even referred to. By
what we have not done, BY SINS OF OMISSION, we are judged. It could
not be otherwise. For the withholding of love is the negation of
the spirit of Christ, the proof that we never knew Him, that for
us He lived in vain. It means that He suggested nothing in all our
thoughts, that He inspired nothing in all our lives, that we were
not once near enough to Him to be seized with the spell of His
compassion for the world. It means that---
"I lived for myself, I thought for myself,
For myself, and none beside--
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
As if He had never died."
Thank God the Christianity of today is coming nearer the world's
need. Live to help that on. Thank God men know better, by a hair's
breadth, what religion is, what God is, who Christ is, where Christ
is. Who is Christ? He who fed the hungry, clothed the naked,
visited the sick. And where is Christ? Where?--"Whoso shall receive
a little child in My name receiveth Me.' And who are Christ's?
"Every one that loveth is born of God."
Lessons from the Angelus.
God often speaks to men's souls through music; He also speaks to
us through art. Millet's famous painting entitled "The Angelus"
is an illuminated text, upon which I am going to say a few words
to you to-night.
There are three things in this picture--a potato field, a country
lad and a country girl standing in the middle of it, and on the
far horizon the spire of a village church. That is all there is to
it--no great scenery and no picturesque people. In Roman Catholic
countries at the evening hour the church bell rings out to remind
the people to pray. Some go into the church, while those that are
in the fields bow their heads for a few moments in silent prayer.
That picture contains the three great elements which go to make up
a perfectly rounded Christian life. It is not enough to have the
"root of the matter" in us, but that we must be whole and entire,
lacking nothing. The Angelus may bring to us suggestions as to
what constitutes a complete life.
The first element in a symmetrical life is WORK.
Three-fourths of our time is probably spent in work. Of course
the meaning of it is that our work should be just as religious as
our worship, and unless we can work for the glory of God three-fourths
of life remains unsanctified.
The proof that work is religious is that most of Christ's life was
spent in work. During a large part of the first thirty years of
His life He worked with the hammer and the plane, making ploughs and
yokes and household furniture. Christ's public ministry occupied
only about two and a half years of His earthly life; the great
bulk of His time was simply spent in doing common everyday tasks,
and ever since then work has had a new meaning.
When Christ came into the world He was revealed to three deputations
who went to meet and worship Him. First came the shepherds, or
working class; second, the wise men, or student class; and third,
the two old people in the temple, Simeon and Anna; that is to say,
Christ is revealed to men at their work, He is revealed to men at
their books, and He is revealed to men at their worship. It was
the old people who found Christ at their worship, and as we grow
older we will spend more time exclusively in worship than we are
able to do now. In the mean time we must combine our worship with
our work, and we may expect to find Christ at our books and in our
Why should God have provided that so many hours of every day should
be occupied with work? It is because
Work makes men.
A university is not merely a place for making scholars, it is
a place for making Christians. A farm is not a place for growing
corn, it is a place for growing character, and a man has no
character except that which is developed by his life and thought.
God's Spirit does the building through the acts which a man performs
from day to day. A student who cons out every word in his Latin
and Greek instead of consulting a translation finds that honesty
is translated into his character. If he works out his mathematical
problems thoroughly, he not only becomes a mathematician, but becomes
a thorough man. It is by constant and conscientious attention to
daily duties that thoroughness and conscientiousness and honorableness
are imbedded in our beings. Character is
The music of the soul,
and is developed by exercise. Active use of the power entrusted
to us is one of the chief means which God employs for producing the
Christian graces. Hence the religion of a student demands that he
be true to his work, and that he let his Christianity be shown to
his fellow students and to his professors by the integrity and the
conscientiousness of his academic life. A man who is not faithful
in that which is least will not be faithful in that which is great.
I have known men who struggled unsuccessfully for years to pass
their examinations who, when they became Christians, found a new
motive for work and thus were able to succeed where previously they
had failed. A man's Christianity comes out as much in his work as
in his worship.
Our work is not only to be done thoroughly, but it is to be
done honestly. A man is not only to be honorable in his academic
relations, but he must be honest with himself and in his attitude
toward the truth. Students are not entitled to dodge difficulties,
they must go down to the foundation principles. Perhaps the truths
which are dear to us go down deeper even than we think, and we will
get more out of them if we dig down for the nuggets than we will
if we only pick up those that are on the surface. Other theories
may perhaps be found to have false bases; if so, we ought to know
it. It is well to take our surroundings in every direction to see
if there is deep water; if there are shoals we ought to find out
where they are. Therefore, when we come to difficulties, let us
not jump lightly over them, but let us be honest as seekers after
It may not be necessary for people in general to sift the doctrines
of Christianity for themselves, but a student is a man whose business
it is to think, to exercise the intellect which God has given him
in finding out the truth. Faith is never opposed to reason, thought
it is sometimes supposed by Bible teachers that it is; but you
will find it is not. Faith is opposed to sight, but not to reason,
thought it is not limited to reason. In employing his intellect
in the search for truth a student is drawing nearer to the Christ
who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." We talk a great
deal about Christ as the way and Christ as the life, but there is
a side of Christ especially for the student: "I am the truth,"
and every student ought to be a truth-lover and a truth-seeker for
Another element in life, which of course is first in importance,
The Angelus is perhaps the most religious picture painted this
century. You cannot look at it and see that young man standing
in the field with his hat off and the girl opposite him with her
hands clasped and her head bowed on her breast, without feeling a
sense of God.
Do we carry about with us the thought of God wherever we go? If not,
we have missed the greatest part of life. Do we have a conviction
of god's abiding presence wherever we are? There is nothing more
needed in this generation than a larger and more Scriptural idea
of God. A great American writer has told us that when he was a
boy the conception of God which he got from books and sermons was
that of a wise and very strict lawyer. I remember well the awful
conception of God which I had when a boy. I was given an illustrated
edition of Watts' hymns, in which God was represented as a great
piercing eye in the midst of a great black thunder cloud. The
idea which that picture gave to my young imagination was that of
God as a great detective, playing the spy upon my actions, as the
"Writing now the story of what little children do."
That was a very mistaken and harmful idea which it has taken me
years to obliterate. We think of God as "up there," or as one who
made the world six thousand years ago and then retired. We must
learn that He is not confined either to time or space. God is
not to be thought of as merely back there in time, or up there in
space. If not, where is He? "The word is nigh thee, even in thy
mouth." The Kingdom of God is within you, and God Himself is among
men. When are we to exchange the terrible, far-away, absentee God
of our childhood for the everywhere present God of the Bible? Too
many of the old Christian writers seem to have conceived of God
as not much more than the greatest man--a kind of divine emperor.
He is infinitely more; He is a spirit, as Jesus said to the woman
at the well, and in Him we live and move and have our being. Let us
think of God as Immanuel--God with us--an ever-present, omnipresent,
eternal One. Long, long ago, God made matter, then He made the
flowers and trees and animals, then He made man. Did He stop? Is
God dead? If He lives and acts what is He doing? He is
Making men better.
He it is that "worketh in you." The buds of our nature are not
all out yet; the sap to make them comes from the God who made us,
from the indwelling Christ. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy
Ghost, and we must bear this in mind, because the sense of God is
kept up, not by logic, but by experience.
Until she was seven years of age the life of Helen Keller, the
Boston girl who was deaf and dumb and blind, was an absolute blank;
nothing could go into that mind because the ears and eyes were
closed to the outer world. Then by that great process which has
been discovered, by which the blind see, and the deaf hear, and the
mute speak, that girl's soul became opened, and they began to put
in little bits of knowledge, and bit by bit they began to educate
her. They reserved her religious instruction for Phillips Brooks.
After some years, when she was twelve years old, they took her to
him and he began to talk to her through the young lady who could
communicate with her by the exceedingly delicate process of touch.
He began to tell her about God and what He had done, and how He loved
men, and what He is to us. The child listened very intelligently,
and finally said:
"Mr. Brooks, I knew all that before, but I didn't know His name."
How often we have felt something within us impelling us to do
something which we would not have conceived of by ourselves, or
enabling us to do something which we could not have done alone.
"It is God which worketh in you." This great simple fact
Explains many of the mysteries of life,
and takes away the fear which we would otherwise have in meeting
the difficulties which lie before us.
Two Americans who were crossing the Atlantic met on Sunday night
to sing hymns in the cabin. As they sang the hymn, "Jesus, Lover
of my Soul," one of the Americans heard an exceedingly rich and
beautiful voice behind him. He looked around, and although he did
not know the face he thought that he recognized the voice. So when
the music ceased he turned and asked the man if he had not been
in the Civil war. The man replied that he had been a Confederate
soldier. "Were you at such a place on such a night?" asked the
first. "Yes," he said, "and a curious thing happened that night;
this hymn recalled it to my mind. I was on sentry duty on the
edge of the wood. It was a dark night and very cold, and I was a
little frightened because the enemy was supposed to be very near
at hand. I felt very homesick and miserable, and about midnight,
when everything was very still, I was beginning to feel very weary
and thought that I would comfort myself by praying and singing a
hymn. I remember singing this hymn,
'All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring,
Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.'
After I had sung those words a strange peace came down upon me,
and through the long night I remember having felt no more fear."
"Now," said the other man, "listen to my story. I was a Union
soldier, and was in the wood that night with a party of scouts. I
saw you standing up, although I didn't see your face, and my men
had their rifles focused upon you waiting the word to fire, but
when you sang out,
'Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.'
I said, 'Boys, put down your rifles, we will go home.' I couldn't
kill you after that."
God was working in each of them, in His own way carrying out His
will. God keeps his people and guides them and without Him life
is but a living death.
The third element in life about which I wish to speak is LOVE.
In this picture we notice the delicate sense of companionship,
brought out by the young man and the young woman. It matters not
whether they are brother and sister, or lover and loved; there
you have the idea of friendship, the final ingredient in our life,
after the two I have named. If the man or the woman had been
standing in that field alone it would have been incomplete.
Love is the divine element in life, because "God is love." "He
that loveth is born of God," therefore, as some one has said, let
us "keep our friendships in repair." Let us cultivate the spirit
of friendship, and let the love of Christ develop it into a great
love, not only for our friends, but for all humanity. Wherever
you go and whatever you do, your work will be a failure unless you
have this element in your life.
These three things go far toward forming a well-rounded life. Some
of us may not have these ingredients in their right proportion,
but if you are lacking in one or the other of them, then pray for
it and work for it that your life may be rounded and complete as
God intended it should be.
I once heard a sermon by a distinguished preacher upon "Rest."
It was full of beautiful thoughts; but when I came to ask myself,
"How does he say I can get Rest?" there was no answer. The sermon
was sincerely meant to be practical, yet it contained no experience
that seemed to me to be tangible, nor any advice that I could
grasp--any advice, that is to say, which could help me to find the
thing itself as I went about the world.
Yet this omission of what is, after all, the only important problem,
was not the fault of the preacher. The whole popular religion is
in the twilight here. And when pressed for really working specifics
for the experiences with which it deals, it falters, and seems to
lose itself in mist.
The want of connection between the great words of religion and
every-day life has bewildered and discouraged all of us. Christianity
possesses the noblest words in the language; its literature overflows
with terms expressive of the greatest and happiest moods which can
fill the soul of man. Rest, Joy, Peace, Faith, Love, Light--these
words occur with such persistency in hymns and prayers that an
observer might think they formed the staple of Christian experience.
But on coming to close quarters with the actual life of most of us,
how surely would he be disenchanted. I do not think we ourselves
are aware of how much our religious life is
Made up of phrases;
how much of what we call Christian Experience is only a dialect
of the Churches, a mere religious phraseology with almost nothing
behind it in what we really feel and know.
To some of us, indeed, the Christian experiences seem further away
than when we took the first steps in the Christian life. That life
has not opened out as we had hoped. We do not regret our religion,
but we are disappointed with it. There are times, perhaps, when
wandering notes form a diviner music stray into our spirits; but
these experiences come at few and fitful moments. We have no sense
of possession in them. When they visit us, it is as surprise.
When they leave us, it is without explanation. When we wish their
return, we do not know how to secure it.
All of which means a religion without solid base, and a poor and
flickering life. It means a great bankruptcy in those experiences
which give Christianity its personal solace and make it attractive
to the world, and a great uncertainty as to any remedy. It is as
if we knew everything about health--except the way to get it.
I am quite sure that the difficulty does not lie in the fact that
men are not in earnest. This is simply not the fact. All around
us Christians are wearing themselves out in trying to be better.
The amount of spiritual longing in the world--in the hearts
of unnumbered thousands of men and women in whom we should never
suspect it; among the wise and thoughtful, among the young and
gay, who seldom assuage and never betray their thirst--this is one
of the most wonderful and touching facts of life. It is not more
heart that is needed, but more light; not more force, but a wiser
direction to be given to very real energies already there.
The usual advice when one asks for counsel on these questions is,
"Pray." But this advice is far from adequate. I shall qualify the
statement presently; but let me urge it here, with what you will
perhaps call daring emphasis, that to pray for these things is not
the way to get them. No one will get them without praying; but
that men do not get them by praying is a simple fact. We have all
prayed, and sincerely prayed, for such experiences as I have named;
prayed, believing that that was the way to get them. And yet have
we got them? The test is experience. I dare not limit prayer;
still less the grace of God. If you have got them in this way,
it is well. I am speaking to those, be they few or many, who have
not got them; to ordinary men in ordinary circumstances. But if we
have not got them, it by no means follows that prayer is useless.
The correct conclusion is only that it is useless, or inadequate
rather, for this particular purpose. To make prayer the sole
resort, the universal panacea for every spiritual ill, is as radical
a mistake as to prescribe only one medicine for every bodily trouble.
The physician who does the last is a quack; the spiritual advisor
who dies the first is
Grossly ignorant of his profession.
To do nothing but pray is a wrong done to prayer itself, and can
only end in disaster. It is as if one tried to live only with the
lungs, as if one assimilated only air and neglected solid food.
The lungs are a first essential; the air is a first essential; but
the body has many members, given for different purposes, secreting
different things, and each has a method of nutrition as special to
itself as its own activity. While prayer, then, is the characteristic
sublimity of the Christian life, it is by no means the only one.
And those who make it the sole alternative, and apply it to purposes
for which it was never meant, are really doing the greatest harm
to prayer itself. To couple the word "inadequate" with this might
word is not to dethrone prayer, but to exalt it.
What dethrones prayer
is unanswered prayer. When men pray for things which do not come
that way--pray with sincere belief that prayer, unaided and alone,
will compass what they ask--then, not getting what they ask, they
often give up prayer.
This is the natural history of much atheism, not only an atheism of
atheists, but a more terrible atheism of Christians, an unconscious
atheism, whose roots have struck far into many souls whose
last breath would be spent in denying it. So, I repeat, it is a
mistaken Christianity which allow men to cherish a blind belief in
the omnipotence of prayer. Prayer, certainly, when the appropriate
conditions are fulfilled, is omnipotent, but not blind prayer.
Blind prayer is superstition. Prayer, in its true sense, contains
the sane recognition that while man prays in faith, GOD ACTS BY LAW.
What that means in the immediate connection we shall see presently.
What, then, is the remedy? It is impossible to doubt that there
is a remedy, and it is equally impossible to believe that it is
a secret. The idea that some few men, by happy chance or happier
temperament, have been given the secret--as if there were some sort
of knack or trick of it--is wholly incredible and wrong. Religion
must be for all, and the way into its loftiest heights must be by
a gateway through which the peoples of the world may pass.
I shall have to lead up to this gateway by a very familiar path.
But as this path is strangely unfrequented where it passes into
the religious sphere, I must ask your forbearance for dwelling for
a moment upon the commonest of commonplaces.
I. Effects Require Causes
Nothing that happens in the world happens by chance. God is a God
of order. Everything is arranged upon definite principles, and
never at random. the world, even the religious world, is governed
by law. Character is governed by law. Happiness is governed by
law. The Christian experiences are governed by law. Men, forgetting
this, expect Rest, Joy, Peace, Faith to drop into their souls from
the air like snow or rain. But in point of fact they do not do so;
and if they did, they would no less have their origin in previous
activities and be controlled by natural laws. Rain and snow do
drop from the air, but not without a long previous history. They
are the mature effects of former causes. Equally so are Rest and
Peace and Joy. They, too, have each a previous history. Storms and
winds and calms are not accidents, but brought about by antecedent
circumstances. Rest and Peace are but calms in man's inward nature,
and arise through causes as definite and as inevitable.
Realize it thoroughly; it is a methodical, not an accidental world.
If a housewife turns out a good cake, it is the result of a sound
receipt, carefully applied. She cannot mix the assigned ingredients
and fire them for the appropriate time without producing the
result. It is not she who has made the cake; it is nature. She
brings related things together; sets causes at work; these causes
bring about the result. she is not a creator, but an intermediary.
She does not expect random causes to produce specific effects--random
ingredients would only produce random cakes. So it is in the making
of Christian experiences. Certain lines are followed; certain
effects are the result. These effects cannot but be the result.
But the result can never take place without the previous cause.
To expect results without antecedents is to expect cakes without
ingredients. That impossibility is precisely
The almost universal expectation.
Now what I mainly wish to do is to help you firmly to grasp this
simple principle of Cause and Effect in the spiritual world. And
instead of applying the principle generally to each of the Christian
experiences in turn, I shall examine its application to one in
some little detail. The one I shall select is Rest. And I think
any one who follows the application in this single instance will
be able to apply it for himself to the others.
Take such a sentence as this: African explorers are subject to
fevers which cause restlessness and delirium.
Note the expression, "cause restlessness." RESTLESSNESS HAS A CAUSE.
Clearly, then, any one who wished to get rid of restlessness would
proceed at once to deal with the cause. If that were not removed,
a doctor might prescribe a hundred things, and all might be taken
in turn, without producing the least effect. Things are so arranged
in the original planning of the world that certain effects must
follow certain causes, and certain causes must be abolished before
certain effects can be removed. Certain parts of Africa are
inseparably linked with the physical experience called fever; this
fever is in turn infallibly linked with a mental experience called
restlessness and delirium. To abolish the mental experience the
radical method would be to abolish the physical experience, and
the way of abolishing the physical experience would be to abolish
Africa, or to cease to go there.
Now this hold good for all other forms of Restlessness. Every other
form and kind of Restlessness in the world had a definite cause,
and the particular kind of Restlessness can only be removed by
removing the allotted cause.
All this is also true of Rest. Restlessness has a cause: must
not REST have a cause? Necessarily. If it were a chance world we
would not expect this; but, being a methodical world, it cannot be
otherwise. Rest, physical rest, moral rest, spiritual rest, every
kind of rest has a cause, as certainly as restlessness. Now causes
are discriminating. There is one kind of cause for every particular
effect and no other, and if one particular effect is desired, the
corresponding cause must be set in motion. It is no use proposing
finely devised schemes, or going through general pious exercises
in the hope that somehow Rest will come. The Christian life is
not casual, but causal. All nature is a standing protest against
the absurdity of expecting to secure spiritual effects, or any
effects, without the employment of appropriate causes. The Great
Teacher dealt what ought to have been the final blow to this infinite
irrelevancy by a single question, "Do men gather grapes of thorns
or figs of thistles?"
Why, then, did the Great Teacher not educate His followers fully?
Why did He not tell us, for example, how such a thing as Rest might
be obtained? The answer is that HE DID. But plainly, explicitly,
in so many words? Yes, plainly, explicitly, in so many words.
He assigned Rest to its cause, in words with which each of us has
been familiar from his earliest childhood.
He begins, you remember--for you at once know the passage I refer
to--almost as if Rest could be had without any cause; "Come unto
me," He says, "and I will GIVE you Rest."
Rest, apparently, was a favor to be bestowed; men had but to
come to Him; He would give it to every applicant. But the next
sentence takes that all back. The qualification, indeed, is added
instantaneously. For what the first sentence seemed to give was
next thing to an impossibility. For how, in a literal sense, can
Rest be GIVEN? One could no more give away Rest than he could
give away Laughter. We speak of "causing" laughter, which we can
do; but we can not give it away. When we speak of "giving" pain,
we know perfectly well we can not give pain away. And when we aim
at "giving" pleasure, all that we can do is to arrange a set of
circumstances in such a way as that these shall cause pleasure.
Of course there is a sense, and a very wonderful sense, in which a
Great Personality breathes upon all who come within its influence
an abiding peace and trust. Men can be to other men as the shadow
of a great rock in a weary land; much more Christ; much more Christ
as Perfect Man; much more still as Savior of the world. But it
is not this of which I speak. When Christ said He would give men
Rest, He meant simply that he would put them in the way of it. By
no act of conveyance would or could He make over His own Rest to
them. He could give them
for it. That was all. But He would not make it for them. For
one thing it was not in His plan to make it for them; for another
thing, men were not so planned that it could be made for them; and
for yet another thing, it was a thousand times better that they
should make it for themselves.
That this is the meaning becomes obvious from the wording of the
second sentence: "Learn of me, and ye shall FIND Rest." Rest,
(that is to say), is not a thing that can be GIVEN, but a thing to
be ACQUIRED. It comes not by an act, but by a process. It is not
to be found in a happy hour, as one finds a treasure; but slowly, as
one finds knowledge. It could indeed be no more found in a moment
than could knowledge. A soil has to be prepared for it. Like
a fine fruit, it will grow in one climate, and not in another; at
one altitude, and not at another. Like all growth it will have an
orderly development and mature by slow degrees.
The nature of this slow process Christ clearly defines when He says
we are to achieve Rest by LEARNING. "Learn of me," He says, "and
ye shall find rest to your souls."
Now consider the extraordinary
Originality of this utterance.
how novel the connection between these two words "Learn" and "Rest."
How few of us have ever associated them--ever thought that Rest was
a thing to be learned; ever laid ourselves out for it as we would
to learn a language; ever practised it as we would practice the
violin? Does it not show how entirely new Christ's teaching still
is to the world, that so old and threadbare an aphorism should still
be so little known? The last thing most of us would have thought
of would have been to associate REST with WORK.
What must one work at? What is that which if duly learned will
find the soul of man in Rest? Christ answers without the least
hesitation. He specifies two things--Meekness and Lowliness.
"Learn of me," He says, "for I am MEEK and LOWLY in heart."
Now these two things are not chosen at random. To these
accomplishments, in a special way, Rest is attached. Learn these,
in short, and you have already found Rest. These as they stand
direct causes of Rest; will produce it at once; cannot but produce
it at once. And if you think for a single moment, you will see
how this is necessarily so, for causes are never arbitrary, and
the connection between antecedent and consequent her and everywhere
lies deep in the nature of things.
What is the connection, then? I answer by a further question.
What are the chief causes of unrest?
If you know yourself, you will answer--Pride, Selfishness, Ambition.
As you look back upon the past years of your life, is it not
true that its unhappiness has chiefly come from the succession of
personal mortifications and almost trivial disappointments which
the intercourse of life has brought you? Great trials come at
lengthened intervals, and we rise to breast them; but it is the
petty friction of our every-day life with one another, the jar
of business or of work, the discord of the domestic circle, the
collapse of our ambition, the crossing of our will or the taking
down of our conceit, which make inward peace impossible. Wounded
vanity, then, disappointed hopes, unsatisfied selfishness--these
are the old, vulgar, universal
Sources of man's unrest.
Now it is obvious why Christ pointed out as the two chief objects
for attainment the exact opposites of these. To meekness and
lowliness these things simply do not exist. They cure unrest by
making it impossible. These remedies do not trifle with surface
symptoms; they strike at once at removing causes. The ceaseless
chagrin of a self-centered life can be removed at once by learning
meekness and lowliness of heart. He who learns them is forever proof
against it. He lives henceforth a charmed life. Christianity is
a fine inoculation, a transfusion of healthy blood into an anaemic
or poisoned soul. No fever can attack a perfectly sound body; no
fever of unrest can disturb a soul which has breathed the air or
learned the ways of Christ.
Men sigh for the wings of a dove that they may fly away and be at
Rest. But flying away will not help us. "The Kingdom of God is
WITHIN YOU." We aspire to the top to look for Rest; it lies at the
bottom. Water rests only when it gets to the lowest place. So do
men. Hence, BE LOWLY. The man who has no opinion of himself at
all can never be hurt if others do not acknowledge him. Hence, BE
MEEK. He who is without expectation cannot fret if nothing comes
to him. It is self-evident that these things are so. The lowly
man and the meek man are really above all other men, above all other
things. They dominate the world because they do not care for it.
The miser does not possess gold, gold possesses him. But the meek
possess it. "The meek," said Christ, "inherit the earth." They
do not buy it; they do not conquer it; but they inherit it.
There are people who go about the world looking out for slights,
and they are necessarily miserable, for they find them at every
turn--especially the imaginary ones. One has the same pity for
such men as for the very poor. They are the morally illiterate.
They have had no real education, for they have never learned
How to live.
Few men know how to live. We grow up at random carrying into mature
life the merely animal methods and motives which we had as little
children. And it does not occur to us that all this must be changed
that much of it must be reversed; that life is the finest of the
Fine Arts; that it has to be learned with life-long patience, and
that the years of our pilgrimage are all too short to master it
Yet this is what Christianity is for--to teach men
The art of life.
And its whole curriculum lies in one word--"Learn of me." Unlike
most education, this is almost purely personal; it is not to be had
from books, or lectures or creeds or doctrines. It is a study from
the life. Christ never said much in mere words about the Christian
graces. He lived them, He was them. Yet we do not merely copy
Him. We learn His art by living with Him, like the old apprentices
with their masters.
Now we understand it all? Christ's invitation to the weary
and heavy-laden is a call to begin life over again upon a new
principle--upon His own principle. "Watch my way of doing things,"
He says; "Follow me. Take life as I take it. Be meek and lowly,
and you will find Rest."
I do not say, remember, that the Christian life to every man, or
to any man, can be a bed of roses. No educational process can be
this. And perhaps if some men knew how much was involved in the
simple "learn" of Christ, they would not enter His school with so
irresponsible a heart. For there is not only much to learn, but
Much to unlearn.
Many men never go to this school at all till their disposition is
already half ruined and character has taken on its fatal set. To
learn arithmetic is difficult at fifty--much more to learn
Christianity. To learn simply what it is to be meek and lowly, in
the case of one who has had no lessons in that in childhood, may
cost him half of what he values most on earth. Do we realize,
for instance, that the way of teaching humility is generally by
HUMILIATION? There is probably no other school for it. When a man
enters himself as a pupil in such a school it means a very great
thing. There is much Rest there, but there is also much Work.
I should be wrong, even though my theme is the brighter side, to
ignore the cross and minimize the cost. Only it gives to the cross
a more definite meaning, and a rarer value, to connect it thus
directly and casually with the growth of the inner life. Our
platitudes on the "benefits of affliction" are usually about as
vague as our theories of Christian Experience. "Somehow" we believe
affliction does us good. But it is not a question of "Somehow."
The result is definite, calculable, necessary. It is under the
strictest law of cause and effect. The first effect of losing
one's fortune, for instance, is humiliation; and the effect of
humiliation, as we have just seen, is to make one humble; and the
effect of being humble is to produce Rest. It is a roundabout
way, apparently, of producing Rest; but Nature generally works by
circular processes; and it is not certain that there is any other
way of becoming humble, or of finding Rest. IF a man could make
himself humble to order, it might simplify matters; but we do not
find that this happens. Hence we must all go through the mill.
Hence death, death to the lower self, is the nearest gate and the
quickest road to life.
Yet this is only half the truth. Christ's life outwardly was one
of the most troubled lives that was ever lived: tempest and tumult,
tumult and tempest, the waves breaking over it all he time till the
worn body was laid in the grave. But the inner life was a sea of
glass. The great calm was always there. At any moment you might
have gone to Him and found Rest. Even when the blood-hounds were
dogging Him in the streets of Jerusalem, He turned to His disciples
and offered them, as a last legacy, "My peace." Nothing ever for
a moment broke the serenity of Christ's life on earth. Misfortune
could not reach Him; He had no fortune. Food, raiment,
money--fountain-heads of half the world's weariness--He simply did
not care for; they played no part in His life; He "took no thought"
for them. It was impossible to affect Him by lowering His reputation.
He had already made Himself of no reputation. He was dumb before
insult. When he was reviled, He reviled not again. In fact, there
Nothing that the world could do to him
that could ruffle the surface of His spirit.
Such living, as mere living, is altogether unique. It is only
when we see what it was in Him that we can know what the word Rest
means. It lies not in emotions, or in the absence of emotions.
It is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church. It is
not something that the preacher has in his voice. It is not in
nature, or in poetry, or in music--though in all these there is
soothing. It is the mind at leisure from itself. It is the perfect
poise of the soul; the absolute adjustment of the inward man to
the stress of all outward things; the preparedness against every
emergency; the stability of assured convictions; the eternal calm
of an invulnerable faith; the repose of a heart set deep in God.
It is the mood of the man who says, with Browning, "God's in His
Heaven, all's well with the world."
Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception
of rest. The first chose for his scene a still lone lake among
the far-off mountains. The second threw on his canvas a thundering
waterfall, with a fragile birch-tree bending over the foam; at the
fork of a branch, almost wet with the cataract's spray, a robin
sat on its nest. The first was only STAGNATION; the last was REST.
For in Rest there are always two elements--tranquility and energy;
silence and turbulence; creation and destruction; fearlessness and
fearfulness. This it was in Christ.
It is quite plain from all this that whatever else He claimed to
be or to do, He at least
Knew how to live.
All this is the perfection of living, of living in the mere sense
of passing through the world in the best way. Hence His anxiety to
communicate His idea of life to others. He came, He said, to give
men life, true life, a more abundant life than they were living; "the
life," as the fine phrase in the Revised Version has it, "that is
life indeed." This is what He Himself possessed, and it was this
which He offers to mankind. And hence His direct appeal for all
to come to Him who had not made much of life, who were weary and
heavy-laden. These He would teach His secret. They, also, should
know "the life that is life indeed."
II. What yokes are for.
There is still one doubt to clear up. After the statement, "Learn
of Me," Christ throws in the disconcerting qualification:
"TAKE MY YOKE upon you, and learn of Me."
Why, if all this be true, does He call it a YOKE? Why, while
professing to give Rest, does He with the next breath whisper
"BURDEN"? Is the Christian life, after all, what its enemies take
it for--an additional weight to the already great woe of life,
some extra punctiliousness about duty, some painful devotion to
observances, some heavy restriction and trammeling of all that is
joyous and free in the world? Is life not hard and sorrowful enough
without being fettered with yet another yoke?
It is astounding how so glaring a misunderstanding of this plain
sentence should ever have passed into currency. Did you ever stop
to ask what a yoke is really? Is it to be a burden to the animal
which wears it? It is just the opposite. It is to make its burden
light. Attached to the oxen in any other way than by a yoke, the
plough would be intolerable. Worked by means of a yoke, it is
light. A yoke is not an instrument of torture; it is
An instrument of mercy.
It is not a malicious contrivance for making work hard; it is a
gentle device to make hard labor light. It is not meant to give
pain, but to save pain. And yet men speak of the yoke of Christ
as if it were slavery, and look upon those who wear it as objects
of compassion. For generations we have had homilies on "The Yoke
of Christ"--some delighting in portraying its narrow exactions;
some seeking in those exactions the marks of its divinity; others
apologizing for it, and toning it down; still others assuring us
that, although it be very bad, it is not to be compared with the
positive blessings of Christianity. How many, especially among
the young, has this one mistaken phrase driven forever away from
the kingdom of God? Instead of making Christ attractive, it makes
Him out a taskmaster, narrowing life by petty restrictions, calling
for self-denial where none is necessary, making misery a virtue
under the plea that it is the yoke of Christ, and happiness criminal
because it now and then evades it. According to this conception,
Christians are at best the victims of a depressing fate; their
life is a penance; and their hope for the next world purchased by
a slow martyrdom in this.
The mistake has arisen from taking the word "yoke" here in the same
sense as in the expression "under the yoke," or "wear he yoke in
his youth." But in Christ's illustration it is not the "jugum" of
the Roman soldier, but the simple "harness" or "ox-collar" of the
Eastern peasant. It is the literal wooden yoke which He, with His
own hands in the carpenter shop, had probably often made. He knew
the difference between a smooth yoke and a rough one, a bad fit
and a good fit; the difference also it made to the patient animal
which had to wear it. The rough yoke galled, and the burden was
heavy; the smooth yoke caused no pain, and the load was lightly
drawn. The badly fitted harness was a misery; the well-fitted
collar was "easy."
And what was the "burden"? It was not some special burden laid upon
the Christian, some unique infliction that they alone must bear.
It was what all men bear. It was simply life, human life itself,
the general burden of life which all must carry with them from the
cradle to the grave. Christ saw that men took life painfully. To
some it was a weariness, to others a failure, to many a tragedy,
to all a struggle and a pain. How to carry this burden of life
had been the whole world's problem. It is still the whole world's
problem. And here is Christ's solution: "Carry it as I do. Take
life as I take it. Look at it from My point of view. Interpret
it upon My principles. Take My yoke and learn of me, and you will
find it easy. For my yoke is easy, works easily, sits right upon
the shoulders, and THEREFORE My burden is light."
There is no suggestion here that religion will absolve any man from
bearing burdens. That would be to absolve him from living, since
it is life itself that is the burden. What Christianity does
propose is to make it tolerable.
is simply His secret for the alleviation of human life, His prescription
for the best and happiest method of living. Men harness themselves
to the work and stress of the world in clumsy and unnatural ways.
The harness they put on is antiquated. A rough, ill-fitted collar
at best, they make its strain and friction past enduring, by
placing it where the neck is most sensitive; and by mere continuous
irritation this sensitiveness increases until the whole nature is
quick and sore.
This is the origin, among other things, of a disease called
"touchiness"--a disease which, in spite of its innocent name, is one
of the gravest sources of restlessness in the world. Touchiness,
when it becomes chronic, is a morbid condition of the inward
disposition. It is self-love inflamed to the acute point; conceit,
WITH A HAIR-TRIGGER. The cure is to shift the yoke to some other
place; to let men and things touch us through some new and perhaps
as yet unused part of our nature; to become meek and lowly in heart
while the old sensitiveness is becoming numb from want of use.
It is the beautiful work of Christianity everywhere to adjust the
burden of life to those who bear it, and them to it. It has a
perfectly miraculous gift of healing. Without doing any violence
to human nature it sets it right with life, harmonizing it with
all surrounding things, and restoring those who are jaded with the
fatigue and dust of the world to a new grace of living. In the
mere matter of altering the perspective of life and changing the
proportions of things, its function in lightening the care of man
is altogether its own.
The weight of a load depends upon the attraction of the earth.
Suppose the attraction of the earth were removed? A ton on some
other planet, where the attraction of gravity is less, does not
weigh half a ton. Now Christianity removes the attraction of the
earth; and this is one way in which it diminishes man's burden.
It makes them citizens of another world. What was a ton yesterday
is not half a ton today. So without changing one's circumstances,
merely by offering a wider horizon and a different standard, it
alters the whole aspect of the world.
Christianity as Christ taught is the truest philosophy of life ever
spoken. but let us be quite sure when we speak of Christianity
that we mean Christ's Christianity. Other versions are either
caricatures, or exaggerations, or misunderstandings, or shortsighted and
surface readings. For the most part their attainment is hopeless
and the results wretched. But I care not who the person is,
or through what vale of tears he has passed, or is about to pass,
there is a new life for him along this path.
III. How fruits grow.
Were Rest my subject, there are other things I should wish to say
about it, and other kinds of Rest of which I should like to speak.
But that is not my subject. My theme is that the Christian
experiences are not the work of magic, but come under the law of
Cause and Effect. I have chosen Rest only as a single illustration
of the working of that principle. If there were time I might next
run over all the Christian experiences in turn, and show the same
wide law applies to each; but I think it may serve the better
purpose if I leave this further exercise to yourselves. I know no
Bible study that you will find more full of fruit, of which will
take you nearer to the ways of God, or make the Christian life
itself more solid or more sure. I shall add only a single other
illustration of what I mean, before I close.
Where does Joy come from? I knew a Sunday scholar whose conception
of Joy was that it was a thing made in lumps and kept somewhere
in Heaven, and that when people prayed for it, pieces were somehow
let down and fitted into their souls. I am not sure that views
as gross and material are not often held by people who ought to be
wiser. In reality, Joy is as much a matter of Cause and Effect as
pain. No one can get Joy by merely asking for it. It is one of
the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must
be grown. There is a very clever trick in India called the mango
trick. A seed is put in the ground and covered up, and after diverse
incantations a full-blown mango-bush appears within five minutes.
I never met any one who knew how the thing was done, but I never
met any one who believed it to be anything else than a conjuring
trick. The world is pretty unanimous now in its belief in the
orderliness of Nature. Men may not know how fruits grow, but they
do know that they cannot grow in an hour. Some lives have not even
a stalk on which fruits could hang, even if they did grow in an
hour. Some have never planted one seed of Joy in all their lives;
and others who may have planted a germ or two have lived so little
in sunshine that they never could come to maturity.
Whence, then, is joy? Christ put His teaching upon this subject
into one of the most exquisite of His parables. I should in any
instance have appealed to His teaching here, as in the case of Rest,
for I do not wish you to think I am speaking words of my own. But
it so happens that He has dealt with it in words of unusual fullness.
I need not recall the whole illustration. It is the parable of
the Vine. Did you ever think why Christ spoke that parable? He
did not merely throw it into space as a find illustration of general
truths. It was not simply a statement of the mystical union, and
the doctrine of an indwelling Christ. It was that; but it was
more. After He had said it, He did what was not an unusual thing
when He was teaching His greatest lessons--He turned to the disciples
and said He would tell them why He had spoken it. It was to tell
How to get joy.
"These things I have spoken unto you," He said, "that My Joy might
remain in you, and that your Joy might be full." It was a purposed
and deliberate communication of His
Secret of Happiness.
Go back over these verses, then, and you will find the Causes of
this Effect, the spring, and the only spring, out of which true
Happiness comes. I am not going to analyze them in detail. I ask
you to enter into the words for yourselves.
Remember, in the first place, that the Vine was the Eastern symbol
of Joy. It was its fruit that made glad the heart of man. Yet,
however innocent that gladness--for the expressed juice of the
grape was the common drink at every peasant's board--the gladness
was only a gross and passing thing. This was not true happiness,
and the vine of the Palestine vineyards was not the true vine.
"CHRIST was the TRUE Vine." Here, then, is the ultimate source
of Joy. Through whatever media it reaches us, all true Joy and
Gladness find their source in Christ.
By this, of course, is not meant that the actual Joy experienced
is transferred from Christ's nature, or is something passed on from
Him to us. What is passed on is His method of getting it. There
is, indeed, a sense in which we can share another's joy or another's
sorrow. But that is another matter. Christ is the source of Joy
to men in the sense in which He is the source of Rest. His people
share His life, and therefore share its consequences, and one of
these is Joy. His method of living is one that in the nature of
things produces Joy. When He spoke of His Joy remaining with us
He meant in part that the causes which produced it should continue
to act. His followers, (that is to say), by REPEATING His life
would experience its accompaniments. His Joy, His kind of Joy,
would remain with them.
The medium through which this Joy comes is next explained: "He that
abideth in Me, the same bringeth forth much fruit." Fruit first,
Joy next; the one the cause or medium of the other. Fruit-bearing
is the necessary antecedent; Joy both the necessary consequent and
the necessary accompaniment. It lay partly in the bearing fruit,
partly in the fellowship which made that possible. Partly, that
is to say, Joy lay in mere constant living in Christ's presence,
with all that that implied of peace, of shelter, and of love;
partly in the influence of that Life upon mind and character and
will; and partly in the inspiration to live and work for others,
with all that that brought of self-riddance and joy in others'
gain. All these, in different ways and at different times, are
Sources of pure happiness.
Even the simplest of them--to do good to other people--is an instant
and infallible specific. There is no mystery about Happiness
whatever. Put in the right ingredients and it must come out. He
that abideth in Him will bring forth much fruit; and bringing forth
much fruit is Happiness. The infallible receipt for Happiness,
then, is to do good; and the infallible receipt for doing good
is to abide in Christ. The surest proof that all this is a plain
matter of Cause and Effect is that men may try every other conceivable
way of finding happiness, and they will fail. Only the right cause
in each case can produce the right effect.
Then the Christian experiences are our own making? In the same
sense in which grapes are our own making and no more. All fruits
GROW--whether they grow in the soil or in the soul; whether they
are the fruits of the wild grape or of the True Vine. No man can
MAKE things grow. He can GET THEM TO GROW by arranging all the
circumstances and fulfilling all the conditions. But the growing
is done by God. Causes and effects are eternal arrangements, set
in the constitution of the world; fixed beyond man's ordering.
What man can do is to place himself in the midst of a chain of
sequences. Thus he can get things to grow. But the power is the
Spirit of God.
What more need I add but this--test the method by experiment. Do
not imagine that you have got these things because you know how to
get them. As well try to feed upon a cookery book. But I think
I can promise that if you try in this simple and natural way, you
will not fail. Spend the time you have spent in sighing for fruits
in fulfilling the conditions of their growth. The fruits will come,
must come. We have hitherto paid immense attention to EFFECTS, to
the mere experiences themselves; we have described them, extolled
them, advised them, prayed for them--done everything but find out
what CAUSED them. Henceforth
Let us deal with causes.
"To be," says Lotze, "is to be in relations." About every other
method of living the Christian life there is an uncertainty. About
every other method of acquiring the Christian experiences there is
a "perhaps." But in so far as this method is the way of nature,
it cannot fail. Its guarantee is the laws of the universe--and
these are "the Hands of the Living God."
The true vine.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch
in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that
beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide
in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in
me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me,
and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me
ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as
a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into
the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my word abide
in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so ye shall
be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved
you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall
abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments,