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All Saints' Day and Other Sermons by Charles Kingsley

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to save life and property, doing things which are altogether heroic.
What do you fancy keeps them up to their work? High pay? The amusement
and excitement of fires? The vanity of being praised for their courage?
My friends, those would be but paltry weak motives, which would not keep
a man's heart calm and his head clear under such responsibility and
danger as theirs. No. It is the sense of duty,--the knowledge that they
are doing a good and a noble work in saving the lives of human beings and
the wealth of the nation,--the knowledge that they are in God's hands,
and that no real evil can happen to him who is doing right,--that to him
even death at his post is not a loss, but a gain. In short, faith in
God, more or less clear, is what gives those men their strong and quiet
courage. God grant that you and I, if ever we have dangerous work to do,
may get true courage from the same fountain of ghostly strength.

Now, St Peter's history is, I think, a special example of this. He was
naturally, it seems, a daring man,--a man of great brute courage. So far
so good; but he had to be taught, by severe lessons, that his brute
courage was not enough,--that he wanted spiritual courage, the courage
which came by faith, and that if that failed him, the brute courage would
fail too.

He throws himself into the lake, to walk upon the water to Christ; and as
soon as he is afraid he begins to sink. The Lord saves him, and tells
him why he had sank. Because he had doubted, his faith had failed him.
So he found out the weakness of courage without faith. Then, again, he
tells our Lord, "Though all men shall be offended of Thee, yet will I
never be offended. I am ready to go with Thee both into prison, and to
death." And shortly after, his mere animal courage breaks out again, and
does what little it can do, and little enough. He draws sword, single-
handed, on the soldiers in the garden, and cuts down a servant of the
high priest's, and perhaps would have flung his life away, desperately
and uselessly, had not our Lord restrained him. But when the fit of
excitement is past, his animal courage deserts him, and his moral courage
too, and he denies his Lord. So he found out that he was like too many,-
-full of bodily courage, perhaps, but morally weak. He had to undergo a
great change. He had to be converted by the Holy Spirit of God, and
strengthened by that Spirit, to have a boldness which no worldly courage
can give. Then, when he was strong himself, he was able to strengthen
his brethren. Then he was able, ignorant and unlearned man as he was, to
stand up before the high priests and rulers of his nation, and to say,
simply and firmly, without boasting, without defiance, "Whether it be
right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge
ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Yes, my friends, it is the courage which comes by faith which makes truly
brave men,--men like St Peter and St John. He who can say, I am right,
can say likewise, God is on my side, and I will not fear what man can do
to me.

"We will not fear," said the Psalmist, "though the earth be removed, and
though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea." "The just man,
who holds firm to his purpose," says a wise old heathen, "he will not be
shaken from his solid mind by the rage of the mob bidding him do base
things or the frowns of the tyrant who persecutes him. Though the world
were to crumble to pieces round him, its ruins would strike him without
making him tremble." "Whether it be right," said Peter and John to the
great men and judges of the Jews, "to hearken to God more than to you,
judge ye. We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
We cannot but speak what we know to be true.

It was that courage which enabled our forefathers,--and not the great men
among them, not the rich, not even the learned, save a few valiant
bishops and clergy, but for the most part poor, unlearned, labouring men
and women,--to throw off the yoke of Popery, and say, "Reason and
Scripture tell us that it is absurd and wrong to worship images and pray
to saints,--tell us that your doctrines are not true. And we will say so
in spite of the Pope and all his power,--in spite of torture and a fiery
death. We cannot palter; we cannot dissemble; we cannot shelter
ourselves under half-truths, and make a covenant with lies. 'Whether it
be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than to God, judge
ye. We cannot but speak the things which we know to be true.'"

So it has been in all ages, and so it will be for ever. Faith, the
certainty that a man is right, will give him a courage which will enable
him to resist, if need be, the rich ones, the strong ones, the learned
ones of the earth. It has made poor unlearned men heroes and deliverers
of their countrymen from slavery and ignorance. It has made weak women
martyrs and saints. It has enabled men who made great discoveries to
face unbelief, ridicule, neglect, poverty; knowing that their worth would
be acknowledged at last, their names honoured at last as benefactors by
the very men who laughed at them and reviled them. It has made men, shut
up in prison for long weary years for doing what was right and saying
what was true, endure manfully for the sake of some good cause, and say,-
-

"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my thought,
And in my love am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty."

Yes; settle it in your hearts, all of you. There is but one thing which
you have to fear in earth or heaven,--being untrue to your better selves,
and therefore untrue to God. If you will not do the thing you know to be
right, and say the thing you know to be true, then indeed you are weak.
You are a coward, and sin against God, and suffer the penalty of your
cowardice. You desert God, and therefore you cannot expect Him to stand
by you.

But if you will do the thing you know to be right, and say the thing you
know to be true, then what can harm you? Who will harm you, asks St
Peter himself, "if you be followers of that which is good? For the eyes
of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their
prayers. But if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be
not afraid of those who try to terrify you, neither be troubled, but
sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Remember that He is just and holy,
and a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him. Worship Him in your
hearts, and all will be well. For says David again, "Lord, who shall
dwell in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upon Thy holy hill? Even he
that leadeth an uncorrupt life, and doeth the thing which is right, and
speaketh the truth from his heart. Whoso doeth these things shall never
fall."

Yes, my friends; there is a tabernacle of God in which, even in this
life, He will hide us from the strife of tongues. There is a hill of God
on which, even in the midst of labour and anxiety, we may rest both day
and night. Even Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages,--He who is the
Righteousness itself, the Truth itself; and whosoever does righteousness
and speaks truth dwells in Christ in this life, as well as in the life to
come; and Christ will strengthen him by His Holy Spirit to stand in the
evil day, if it shall come, and having done all, to stand. My dear
friends, if any of you are minded to be good men and women, pray for the
Holy Spirit of God. First for the spirit of love to give you good
desires; then the spirit of faith, to make you believe deeply in the
living God, who rewards every man according to his work; and then for the
spirit of strength, to enable you to bring these desires to good effect.

Pray for that spirit, I say; for we all need help. There are too many
people in the world--too many, perhaps, among us here--who are not what
they ought to be, and what they really wish to be, because they are weak.
They see what is right, and admire it; but they have not courage or
determination to do it. Most sad and pitiable it is to see how much
weakness of heart there is in the world--how little true moral courage.
I suppose that the reason is, that there is so little faith; that people
do not believe heartily and deeply enough in the absolute necessity of
doing right and being honest. They do not believe heartily and deeply
enough in God to trust Him to defend and reward them, if they will but be
true to Him, and to themselves. And therefore they have no moral
courage. They are weak. They are kind, perhaps, and easy; easily led
right; but, alas! just as easily led wrong. Their good resolutions are
not carried out; their right doctrines not acted up to; and they live
pitiful, confused, useless, inconsistent lives; talking about religion,
and yet denying the power of religion in their daily lives; playing with
holy and noble thoughts and feelings, without giving themselves up to
them in earnest, to be led by the Spirit of God, to do all the good works
which God has prepared for them to walk in. Pray all of you, then, for
the spirit of faith, to believe really in God; and for the spirit of
ghostly strength, to obey God honestly. No man ever asked earnestly for
that spirit but what he gained it at last. And no man ever gained it but
what he found the truth of St Peter's own words, "Who will harm you if ye
be followers of that which is good?"

SERMON XIX. GOOD DAYS

Eversley, 1867. Westminster, Sept. 27, 1872.

1 Peter iii. 8-12. "Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of
another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil
for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing
that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he
that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from
evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do
good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are
over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the
face of the Lord is against them that do evil."

This is one of the texts which is apt to puzzle people who do not read
their Bibles carefully enough. They cannot see what the latter part of
it has to do with the former.

St. Peter says that we Christians are called that we should inherit a
blessing. That means, of course, they say, the blessing of salvation,
everlasting life in heaven. But then St. Peter quotes from the 34th
Psalm. "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain
his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." Now that
Psalm, they say, speaks of blessing and happiness in this life. Then why
does St. Peter give it as a reason for expecting blessing and happiness
in the life to come? And then, they say, to make it fit in, it must be
understood spiritually; and what they mean by that, I do not clearly
know.

Their notion is, that the promises of the Old Testament are more or less
carnal, because they speak of God's rewarding men in this life; and that
the promises of the New Testament are spiritual, because they speak of
God's rewarding men in the next life; and what they mean by that, again,
I do not clearly know.

For is not the Old Testament spiritual as well as the New? I trust so,
my friends. Is not the Old Testament inspired, and that by the Spirit of
God? and if it be inspired by the Spirit, what can it be but spiritual?
Therefore, if we want to find the spiritual meaning of Old Testament
promises, we need not to alter them to suit any fancies of our own; like
those monks of the fourth and succeeding centuries, who saw no sanctity
in family or national life; no sanctity in the natural world, and,
therefore, were forced to travesty the Hebrew historians, psalmists, and
prophets, with all their simple, healthy objective humanity, and
politics, and poetry, into metaphorical and subjective, or, as they
miscalled them, spiritual meanings, to make the Old Testament mean
anything at all. No; if we have any real reverence for the Holy
Scriptures, we must take them word for word in their plain meaning, and
find the message of God's Spirit in that plain meaning, instead of trying
to put it in for ourselves. Therefore it is that the VII. Article bids
us beware of playing with Scripture in this way. It says the Old
Testament is not contrary to the New, for both in the Old and New
Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ. Wherefore
they are not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for
transitory promises, that is temporary promises, promises which would be
fulfilled only in this life, and end and pass away when they died.

But some one will say, how can that be, when so many of the old Hebrews
seem to have known nothing about the next life? Moses, for instance,
always promises the Children of Israel that if they do right, and obey
God, they shall be rewarded in this life, with peace and prosperity,
fruitfulness and wealth; but of their being rewarded in the next life he
never says one word--which last statement is undeniably true.

Is not then the Old Testament contrary to the New, if the Old Testament
teaches men to look for their reward in this life, and the New Testament
in the next? No, it is not, my friends. And I think we shall see that
it is not, and why it is not, if we will look honestly at this very
important text. If we do that we shall see that what St. Peter meant--
what the VII. Article means is the only meaning which will make sense of
either one or the other; is simply this--that what causes a man to enjoy
this life, is the same that will cause him to enjoy the life to come.
That what will bring a blessing on him in this life, will bring a
blessing on him in the life to come. That what blessed the old Jews,
will bless us Christians. That if we refrain our tongue from evil, and
our lips from speaking deceit; it we avoid evil and do good; if we seek
peace and follow earnestly after it; then shall we enjoy life, and see
good days, and inherit a blessing; whether in this life or in the life to
come.

And why? Because then we shall be living the one and only everlasting
life of goodness, which alone brings blessings; alone gives good days;
and is the only life worth living, whether in earth or heaven.

My dear friends, lay this seriously to heart, in these days especially,
when people and preachers alike have taken to part earth and heaven, in a
fashion which we never find in Holy Scripture. Lay it to heart, I say,
and believe that what is right, and therefore good, for the next life, is
right, and therefore good, for this. That the next life is not contrary
to this life. That the same moral laws hold good in heaven, as on earth.
Mark this well; for it must be so, if morality, that is right and
goodness, is of the eternal and immutable essence of God. And therefore,
mark this well again, there is but one true, real, and right life for
rational beings, one only life worth living, and worth living in this
world or in any other life, past, present, or to come. And that is the
eternal life which was before all worlds, and will be after all are
passed away--and that is neither more nor less than a good life; a life
of good feelings, good thoughts, good words, good deeds, the life of
Christ and of God.

It is needful, I say, to bear this in mind just now. People are, as I
told you, too apt to say that the Old Testament saints got their rewards
in this life, while we shall get them in the next. Do they find that in
Scripture? If they will read their Bible they will find that the Old
Testament saints were men whom God was training and educating, as He does
us, by experience and by suffering. That David, so far from having his
reward at once in this life, had his bitter sorrows and trials; that
Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, all, indeed, of the old prophets, had to be
made perfect by suffering, and (as St. Paul says) died in faith NOT
having received the promises. So that if they had their reward in this
life, it must have been a spiritual reward, the reward of a good
conscience, and of the favour of Almighty God. And that is no transitory
or passing reward, but enduring as immortality itself. But people do not
usually care for that spiritual reward. Their notion of reward and
happiness is that they are to have all sorts of pleasures, they know not
what, and know not really why. And because they cannot get pleasant
things enough to satisfy them in this life, they look forward greedily to
getting them in the next life; and meanwhile are discontented with God's
Providence, and talk of God's good world as if some fiend and not the
Lord Jesus Christ was the maker and ruler thereof. Do not misunderstand
me. I am no optimist. I know well that things happen in this world
which must, which ought to make us sad--so sad that at moments we envy
the dead, who are gone home to their rest; real tragedies, real griefs,
divine and Christlike griefs, which only loving hearts know--the
suffering of those we love, the loss of those we love, and, last and
worst, the sin of those we love. Ah! if any of those swords have pierced
the heart of any soul here, shall I blame that man, that woman, if they
cry at times, "Father, take me home, this earth is no place for me."
Shall I bid them do aught but cling to the feet of Christ and cry, "If it
be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but
as Thou wilt." Oh, not of such do I speak; not of such sharers of
Christ's unselfish suffering here, that they may be sharers of His
unselfish joy hereafter. Not of them do I speak; but of those who only
wish to make up for selfish discomforts and disappointments in this life
by selfish comforts and satisfaction in the next; and who therefore take
up (let me use the honest English word) some maundering form of religion,
which, to judge from their own conduct, they usually only half believe;
those who seem, on six days of the week, as fond of finery and frivolity
as any other gay worldlings, and on the seventh join eagerly in hymns in
which (in one case at least) they inform the Almighty God of truth, who
will not be mocked, that they lie awake at night, weeping because they
cannot die and see "Jerusalem the golden," and so forth. Or those,
again, who for six days in the week are absorbed in making money--
honestly if they can, no doubt, but still making money, and living
luxuriously on their profits--and on the seventh listen with satisfaction
to preachers and hymns which tell them that this world is all a howling
wilderness, full of snares and pitfalls; and that in this wretched place
the Christian can expect nothing but tribulation and persecution till he
"crosses Jordan, and is landed safe on Canaan's store," and so forth.

My friends, my friends, as long as a man talks so, blaspheming God's
world--which, when He made it, behold it was all very good--and laying
the blame of their own ignorance and peevishness on God who made them,
they must expect nothing but tribulation and sorrow. But the tribulation
and the sorrow will be their own fault, and not God's. If religious
professors will not take St. Peter's advice and the Psalmist's advice; if
they will go on coveting and scheming about money, and how they may get
money; if they will go on being neither pitiful, courteous, nor
forgiving, and hating and maligning whether it be those who differ from
them in doctrine, or those who they fancy have injured them, or those who
merely are their rivals in the race of life; then they are but too likely
to find this world a thorny place, because they themselves raise the
thorns; and a disorderly place, because their own tempers and desires are
disorderly; and a wilderness, because they themselves have run wild,
barbarians at heart, however civilised in dress and outward manners. St.
James tells them that of old. "From whence," he says, "come wars and
quarrels among you? Come they not hence, even of the lusts which war in
your members? You long, and have not. You fight and war, yet you have
not, because you ask not. You ask, and have not. You pray for this and
that, and God does not give it you. Because you ask amiss, selfishly to
consume it on your lusts." And then you say, This world is an evil
place, full of temptations. What says St. James to that? "Let no man
say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted
with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when
he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."

So it was in the Old Testament times, and so it is in these Christian
times. God is good, and God's world is good; and the evil is not in the
world around us, but in our own foolish hearts. If we follow our own
foolish hearts, we shall find this world a bad place, as the old Jews
found it--whenever they went wrong and sinned against God--because we are
breaking its laws, and they will punish us. If we follow the
commandments of God, we shall find this world a good place, as the old
Jews found it--whenever they went right, and obeyed God--because we shall
be obeying its laws, and they will reward us. This is God's promise
alike to the old Jewish fathers and to us Christian men. And this is no
transitory or passing promise, but is founded on the eternal and
everlasting law of right, by which God has made all worlds, and which He
Himself cannot alter, for it springs out of His own essence and His own
eternal being. Hear, then, the conclusion of the whole matter: God hath
called you that you might inherit a blessing.

He hath made you of a blessed race, created in His own likeness, to whom
He hath put all things in subjection, making man a little lower than the
angels, that He might crown him with glory and worship: a race so
precious in God's eyes--we know not why--that when mankind had fallen,
and seemed ready to perish from their own sin and ignorance, God spared
not His only begotten Son, but freely gave Him for us, that the world by
Him might be saved. And God hath put you in a blessed place, even His
wondrous and fruitful world, which praises God day and night, fulfilling
His word; for it continues this day as in the beginning, and He has given
it a law which cannot be broken. He has made you citizens of a blessed
kingdom, even the kingdom of heaven, into which you were baptised; and
has given you the Holy Bible, that you might learn the laws of the
kingdom, and live for ever, blessing and blest.

And the Head of this blessed race, the Maker of this blessed world, the
King of this blessed kingdom, is the most blessed of all beings, Jesus
Christ, the only-begotten Son, both God and man. He has washed you
freely from your sins in His own blood; He has poured out on you freely
His renewing Spirit. And He asks you to enter into your inheritance;
that you may love your life, and see good days, by living the blessed
life, which is the life of self-sacrifice. But not such self-sacrifices
as too many have fancied who did not believe that mankind was a blessed
race, and this earth a blessed place. He does not ask you to give up
wife, child, property, or any of the good things of this life. He only
asks you to give up that selfishness which will prevent you enjoying
wife, child, or property, or anything else in earth, or in heaven either.
He asks you not to give up anything which is AROUND you, for that which
cometh from without defileth not a man; but to give up something which is
within you, for that which cometh from within, that defileth a man.

He asks you to give up selfishness and all the evil tempers which that
selfishness breeds. To give up the tongue which speaks evil of your
fellow-men; and the lips which utter deceit; and the brain which imagines
cunning; and the heart which quarrels with your neighbour. To give these
up and to seek peace, and pursue it by all means reasonable or
honourable; peace with all around you, which comes by having first peace
with God; next, peace with your own conscience. This is the peace which
passeth understanding; for if you have it, men will not be able to
understand why you have it. They will see you at peace when men admire
you and praise you, and at peace also when they insult you and injure
you; at peace when you are prosperous and thriving, and at peace also
when you are poor and desolate. And that inward peace of yours will pass
their understanding as it will pass your own understanding also. You
will know that God sends you the peace, and sends it you the more the
more you pray for it: but how He sends it you will not understand; for
it springs out of those inner depths of your being which are beyond the
narrow range of consciousness, and is spiritual and a mystery, and comes
by the inspiration of the holy Spirit of God.

But remember that all your prayers will not get that peace if your heart
be tainted with malice and selfishness and covetousness, falsehood and
pride and vanity. You must ask God first to root those foul seeds out of
your heart, or the seed of His Spirit will not spring up and bear fruit
in you to the everlasting life of love and peace and joy in the holy
Spirit. But if your heart be purged and cleansed of self, then indeed
will the holy Spirit enter in and dwell there; and you will abide in
peace, through all the chances and changes of this mortal life, for you
will abide in God, who is for ever at peace. And you will inherit a
blessing; for you will inherit Christ, your light and your life, who is
blessed for ever. And you will love life; for life will be full to you
of hope, of work, of duty, of interest, of lessons without number. And
you will see good days; for all days will seem good to you, even those
which seem to the world bad days of affliction and distress. And so the
peace of God will keep you in Jesus Christ, in this life, and in the life
to come. Amen.

SERMON XX. GRACE

Eversley. 1856.

St. John i. 16, 17. "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for
grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ."

I wish you to mind particularly this word GRACE. You meet it very often
in the Bible. You hear often said, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be
with you all. Now, what does this word grace mean? It is really worth
your while to know; for if a man or a woman has not grace, they will be
very unhappy people, and very disagreeable people also; a torment to
themselves, and a torment to their neighbours also; and if they live
without grace, they will live but a poor life; if they die without grace,
they will come to a very bad end indeed. What, then, does this word
mean? Some of you will answer that grace means God's Holy Spirit, or
that it means what God gives to our souls by His Spirit. But what does
that mean? What does God's Spirit give us? What is the grace of Jesus
Christ like, and how is it the same as the grace of God's Spirit?

Now, to know what grace means, we must know what St John and St Paul
meant by it, and what the word meant in their time, and what the
Ephesians, and Corinthians, and Romans, to whom they wrote, would have
understood by this word grace.

Now these heathens, to whom the apostles preached, before they heard the
gospel, knew that word grace very well indeed, often used it; and saw it
written up in their heathen temples all about them. And they meant by it
just what we mean, when we talk of a graceful person, or a graceful tree
or flower; and what we mean, too, when we say that any one is gracious;
that they do things gracefully, and have a great deal of grace in their
way of speaking and behaving. We mean by that that they are handsome,
agreeable, amiable, pleasant to look at, and talk to, and deal with. And
so these heathens meant, before they were Christians. The Romans used to
talk about some one called a Grace. The Greeks called her CHARIS; which
is exactly the word which St John and St Paul use, and from it come our
words charity and charitable. But more; they used to talk of three
Graces: they fancied that they were goddesses--spirits of some kind in
the shape of beautiful, and amiable, and innocent maidens, who took
delight in going about the world and making people happy and amiable like
themselves; and they used to make images of these graces, and pray to
them to make them lovely, and happy, and agreeable. And painters and
statuaries, too, used to pray to these graces, and ask them to put
beautiful fancies into their minds, that they might be able to paint
beautiful pictures, and carve beautiful statues. So when St Paul or St
John talked to these heathens about grace, or Charis (as the Testament
calls it), they knew quite well what the apostles meant.

Did the apostles, then, believe in these three goddesses? Heaven forbid.
They came to teach these heathens to turn from those very vanities, and
worship the living-God. And so they told them,--You are quite right in
thinking that grace comes from heaven, and is God's gift; that it is God
who makes people amiable, cheerful, lovely, and honourable; that it is
God who gives happiness and all the joys of life: but which god? Not
those three maidens; they are but a dream and fancy. All that is lovely
and pleasant in men and women--and our life here, and our everlasting
life after death, in this world and in all worlds to come--all comes from
Jesus Christ and from Him alone. God has gathered together all things in
Him, whether things in heaven or things on earth; and He bestows
blessings and graces on all who will ask Him, to each as much as is good
for him. He is full of grace--more full of it than all the human beings
in the world put together. All the goodness and sweetness, and all the
graciousness which you ever saw in all the men and women whom you ever
met; all the goodness and sweetness which you ever fancied for
yourselves, all put together is not to be compared to Him. For He is the
perfect brightness of God's glory, and the express image of God's person;
and in Him is gathered together all grace, all goodness, all which makes
men or angels good, and lovely, and loving. All is in Him, and He gives
it freely to all, said the apostles; we know that He speaks truth, we
have seen Him; our eyes saw Him, our hands touched Him, and there was a
glory about Him such as there never could be about any other person. A
glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. A
person whom we could not help loving; could not help admiring; could not
help trusting; could not help giving ourselves up to--to live for Him,
and if need be, die for Him.

And, said the apostles, there was a grace of truth in another of your
heathen fancies. You thought that these goddesses, because they were
amiable and innocent themselves, liked to make every one amiable,
innocent, and happy also. Your conscience, your reason were right there.
That is the very nature of grace, not to keep itself to itself, but to
spend itself on every one round it, and try to make every one like
itself. If a man be good, he will long to make others good; if tender,
he will long to make others tender; if gentle, he will long to make
others gentle; if cheerful, he will long to make others cheerful; if
forgiving, he will long to make others forgiving; if happy, he will long
to make others happy. Then said the apostles, only believe that the Lord
Jesus Christ, just because He is full of grace, wishes to fill you with
grace, ten thousand times better grace than you ever fancied those false
goddesses could give you--of His fulness you may all receive, and grace
for grace. All the grace of this world comes from Him--health, and
youth, and happiness, and all the innocent pleasures of life, and He
delights in giving you them. But, over and above that, comes a deeper
and nobler grace--spiritual grace, the grace of the immortal soul, which
will last on, and make you loving and loveable, pure and true, gracious
and generous, honourable and worthy of respect, when the grace of the
body is gone, and the eye is grown dim, and the hair is grey, and the
limbs, feeble; a grace which will make you gracious in old age, gracious
in death, gracious for ever and ever, after the body has crumbled again
to its dust. Whatsoever things are honourable, lovely, and of good
report; whatsoever tempers of mind make you a comfort to yourselves and
all around you; Christ has them all, and He can give you them all, one
after the other, till Christ be formed in you, till you come to be
perfect men and women, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of
Christ. Come, then, boldly to His throne of grace, to find mercy, and
grace to help you in the time of need.

This was what the apostles taught the heathen, and their words were true.
You may see them come true round you every day. For, my friends, just as
far as people pray for Christ's grace, and give themselves up to be led
by God's Spirit, they become full of grace themselves, courteous and
civil, loving and amiable, true and honourable--a pleasure to themselves
and to all round them. While, on the other hand; all rudeness, all ill-
temper, all selfishness, all greediness are just so many sins against the
grace of Christ, which grieve the Spirit of God, at the same time that
they grieve our neighbours for whom Christ died, and cut us off, as long
as we give way to them, from the communion of saints.

Well would it be for married people, if they would but remember this.
Well for them, for their own sake and for their children's. "Heirs
together," St Peter says they are, "of the grace of life." Think of
those words; for in them lies the true secret of happiness. Not in the
mere grace of youth, which pleases the fancy at first; that must soon
fade; and then comes, too often, coldness between man and wife; neglect,
rudeness, ill-temper, because the grace of life is not there--the grace
of the inner life, of the immortal soul, which alone makes life pleasant,
even tolerable, to two people who are bound together for better or for
worse. But yet, unless St Peter be mistaken, the fault in such sad case
is on the man's side. Yes, we must face that truth, we men; and face it
like men. If we are unhappy in our marriage it is our own fault. It is
the woman who is the weaker, says St Peter, and selfish men are apt to
say, "Then it is the woman's fault, if we are not happy." St Peter says
exactly the opposite. He says,--Because she is the weaker you are the
stronger; and therefore it is your fault if she is not what she should
be; for you are able to help her, and lead her; you took her to your
heart for that very purpose, you swore to cherish her. Because she is
the weaker, you can teach her, help her, improve her character, if you
will. You have more knowledge of life and the world than she has. Dwell
with her according to knowledge, says St Peter; use your experience to
set her right if she be wrong; and use your experience and your strength,
too, to keep down your own temper and your own selfishness toward her, to
bear and forbear, to give and forgive, live and let live. Remember that
you are heirs TOGETHER of the grace of life; and if the grace of life is
not in you, you cannot expect it to be in her. And what is the grace of
life? It must be the grace of Christ. St John says that Christ IS the
Life. And what is the grace of Christ? Christ's grace, Christ's
gracefulness, Christ's beautiful and noble and loving character--the
grace of Christ is Christ's likeness. Do you ask what will Christ give
me? He will give you Himself. He will make you like Himself, partaker
of His grace; and what is that? It is this--to be loving, gentle,
temperate, courteous, condescending, self-sacrificing. Giving honour to
those who are weaker than yourself, just because they are weaker; ready
and willing, ay, and counting it an honour to take trouble for other
people, to be of use to other people, to give way to other people; and,
above all, to the woman who has given herself to you, body and soul.
That is the grace of Christ; that is the grace of life; that is what
makes life worth having: ay, makes it a foretaste of heaven upon earth;
when man and wife are heirs together of the grace of life, of all those
tempers which make life graceful and pleasant, giving way to each other
in everything which is not wrong; studying each other's comfort, taking
each other's advice, shutting their eyes to each other's little failings,
and correcting each other's great failings, not by harsh words, but
silently and kindly, by example. And if the man will do that, there is
little fear but that the woman will do it also. And so, their prayers
are not hindered.

Married people cannot pray, they have no heart to pray, while they are
discontented with each other. They feel themselves wrong, and because
they are parted from each other, they feel parted from God too; and their
selfishness or anger rises as a black wall, not merely between them, but
between each of them and God. And so the grace of life is indeed gone
away from them, and the whole world looks dark and ugly to them, because
it is not bright and cheerful in the light of Christ's grace, which makes
all the world full of sunshine and joy. But it need not be so, friends.
It would not be so, if married people would take the advice which the
Prayer Book gives them, and come to Holy communion. Would to God, my
friends, that all married people would understand what that Holy
communion says to them; and come together Sunday after Sunday to that
throne of grace, there to receive of Christ's fulness, and grace upon
grace. For that Table says to you: You are heirs together of the grace
of life; you are not meant merely to feed together for a few short years,
at the same table, on the bread which perishes, but to feed for ever
together on the bread which comes down from heaven, even on Christ
Himself, the life of the world; to receive life from His life, that you
may live together such a life as He lived, and lives still; to receive
grace from the fulness of His grace, that you may be full of grace as He
is. That Table tells you that because you both must live by the same
life of Christ, you must live the same life as each other, and grow more
and more like each other year by year; that as you both receive the same
grace of Christ, you will become more and more gracious to each other
year by year, and both grow together, nearer and dearer to each other,
more worthy of each other's respect, more worthy of each other's trust,
more worthy of each other's love. And then "till death us do part" may
mean what it will. Let death part what of them he can part, the
perishing mortal body; he has no power over the soul, or over the body
which shall rise to life eternal. Let death do his worst. They belong
to Christ who conquered death, and they live by His everlasting life, and
their life is hid with Christ in God, where death cannot reach it or find
it; and therefore their life and their love, and the grace of it, will
last as long as Christ's life and Christ's love, and Christ's grace last-
-and that will be for ever and ever.

SERMON XXI. FATHER AND CHILD

Eversley. 1861.

1 Cor. i. 4, 5, 7. "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace
of God which is given you by Jesus Christ. That in every thing ye are
enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge . . . So that ye
come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the
day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

This text is a very important one. It ought to teach me how I should
treat you. It ought to teach you how you should treat your children. It
ought to teach you how God, your heavenly Father, treats you. You see at
the first glance how cheerful and hopeful St Paul is about these
Corinthians. He is always thanking God, he says, about them, for the
grace of God which was given them by Jesus Christ, that in everything
they were enriched by Him, in all utterance and in all knowledge. And he
has good hope for them. Nay, he seems to be certain about them, that
they will persevere, and conquer, and be saved; for Christ Himself will
confirm them (that is strengthen them) to the end, that they may be
blameless in the way of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we knew no more of these Corinthians than what these words tell us, we
should suppose that they were very great saints, leading holy and
irreproachable lives before God and man. But we know that it was not so.
That they were going on very ill. That this is the beginning of an
epistle in which St Paul is going to rebuke them very severely; and to
tell them, that unless they mend, they will surely become reprobates, and
be lost after all. He is going to rebuke them for having heresies among
them, that is religious parties and religious quarrels--very much as we
have now; for being puffed up with spiritual self-conceit; for despising
and disparaging him; for loose lives, allowing (in one case) such a crime
among them as even the heathen did not allow; for profaning the Lord's
Supper, to such an extent that some seem even to have got drunk at it;
for want of charity to each other; for indulging in fanatical excitement;
for denying, some of them, the resurrection of the dead; on the whole,
for being in so unwholesome a state of mind that he has to warn them
solemnly of the fearful example of the old Israelites, who perished in
the wilderness for their sins--as they will perish, he hints, unless they
mend.

And yet he begins by thanking God for them, by speaking of them, and to
them, in this cheerful and hopeful tone.

Does that seem strange? Why should it seem strange, my friends, to us,
if we are in the habit of training our children, and rebuking our
children, as we ought? If we have to rebuke our children for doing
wrong, do we begin by trying to break their hearts? by raking up old
offences, by reproaching them with all the wrong they ever did in their
lives, and giving them to understand that they are thoroughly bad, and
have altogether lost our love, so that we will have nothing more to do
with them unless they mend? Or do we begin by making them feel that
however grieved we are with them, we love them still; that however wrong
they have been, there is right feeling left in them still; and by giving
them credit for whatever good there is in them--by appealing to that;
calling on them to act up to that; to be true to themselves, and to their
better nature; saying, You can do right in one thing--then do right in
another--and do right in all? If we do not do this we do wrong; we
destroy our children's self-respect, we make them despair of improving,
we make them fancy themselves bad children: that is the very surest plan
we can take to make them bad children, by making them reckless.

But if we be wise parents--such parents to our children as St Paul was to
his spiritual children, the Corinthians--we shall do by them just what St
Paul did by these Corinthians. Before he says one harsh word to them, he
will awaken in them faith and love. He will make them trust him and love
him, all the more because he knows that through false teaching they do
not trust and love him as they used to do. But till they do, he knows
that there is no use in rebuking them. Till they trust him and love him,
they will not listen to him. And how does he try to bring them round to
him? By praising them:--by telling them that he trusts them and loves
them, because in spite of all their faults there is something in them
worthy to be loved and trusted. He begins by giving them credit for
whatever good there is in them. They are rich in all utterance and all
knowledge; that is, they are very brilliant and eloquent talkers about
spiritual things, and also very deep and subtle thinkers about spiritual
things. So far so good. These are great gifts--gifts of Christ, too,--
tokens that God's spirit is with them, and that all they need is to be
true to His gracious inspirations. Then, when he has told them that, or
rather made them understand that he knows that, and is delighted at it,
then he can go on safely and boldly to tell them of their sins also in
the plainest and sternest and yet the most tender and fatherly language.

This is very important, my friends. I cannot tell you fully how
important I think it, in more ways than one. I am sure that if we took
St Paul's method with our children we should succeed with them far better
than we do. And I think, I have thought long, that if we could see that
St Paul's method with those Corinthians was actually the same as God's
method with us, we should have far truer notions of God, and God's
dealings with us; and should reverence and value far more that Holy
Catholic Church into which we have been, by God's infinite mercy,
baptized, and wherein we have been educated.

For, and now I entreat you to listen to me carefully, you who have sound
heads and earnest hearts, ready and willing to know the truth about God
and yourselves, if St Paul looked at the Corinthians in this light, may
not God have looked at them in the same light? If St Paul accepted them
for the sake of the good which was in them, in spite of all their faults,
may not God have accepted them for the sake of the good which was in
them, in spite of all their faults? and may not He accept us likewise? I
think it must be so. For was not St Paul an inspired apostle? and are
not these words of his inspired by the Holy Spirit of God? But if so,
then the Spirit of God must have looked at these Corinthians in the same
light as St Paul, and therefore God must do likewise, because the Holy
Spirit is God. Must it not be so? Can we suppose that God would take
one view of these Corinthians, and then inspire St Paul to take another
view? What does being inspired mean at all, save having the mind of
Christ and of God,--being taught to see men and things as God sees them,
to feel for them and think of them as God does? If inspiration does not
mean that, what does it mean? Therefore, I think, we have a right to
believe that St Paul's words express the mind of God concerning these
Corinthians; that God was pleased with their utterance and their
knowledge, and accepted them for that; and that in the same way God is
pleased with whatsoever He sees good in us, and accepts us for that.
But, remember, not for our own works or deservings any more than these
Corinthians. They were, and we are accepted in Christ, and for the
merits of Christ. And any good points in us, or in these Corinthians, as
St Paul says expressly (here and elsewhere), are not our own, but come
from Christ, by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit.

I know many people do not think thus. They think of God as looking only
at our faults; as extreme to mark what is done amiss; as never content
with us; as always crying to men, Yes, you have done this and that well,
and yet not quite well, for even in what you have done there are blots
and mistakes; but this and that you have not done, and therefore you are
still guilty, still under infinite displeasure. And they think that they
exalt God's holiness by such thoughts, and magnify His hatred of sin
thereby. And they invent arguments to prove themselves right, such as
this: That because God is an infinite being, every sin committed against
Him is infinite; and therefore deserves an infinite punishment; which is
a juggle of words of which any educated man ought to be ashamed.

I do not know where, in the Bible, they find all this. Certainly not in
the writings of St Paul. They seem to me to find it, not in the Bible at
all, but in their own hearts, judging that God must be as hard upon His
children as they are apt to be upon their own. I know that God is never
content with us, or with any man. How can He be? But in what sense is
He not content? In the sense in which a hard task-master is not content
with his slave, when he flogs him cruelly for the slightest fault? Or in
the sense in which a loving father is not content with his child,
grieving over him, counselling him, as long as he sees him, even in the
slightest matter, doing less well than he might do? Think of that, and
when you have thought of it, believe that in this grand text St Paul
speaks really by the Spirit of God, and according to the mind of God, and
teaches not these old Corinthians merely, but you and your children after
you, what is the mind of God concerning you, what is the light in which
God looks upon you. For, if you will but think over your own lives, and
over the Catechism which you learned in your youth, has not God's way of
dealing with you been just the same as St Paul's with those Corinthians,
teaching you to love and trust Him almost before He taught you the
difference between right and wrong? I know that some think otherwise.
Many who do not belong to the Church, and many, alas! who profess to
belong to the Church, will tell you that God's method is, first to
terrify men by the threats of the law and the sight of their sins and the
fear of damnation, and afterwards to reveal to them the gospel and His
mercy and salvation in Christ. Now I can only answer that it is not so.
Not so in fact. These preachers themselves may do it; but that is no
proof that God does it. What God's plan is can only be known from facts,
from experience, from what actually happens; first in God's kingdom of
nature, and next in God's kingdom of grace, which is the Church. And in
the kingdom of nature how does God begin with mankind? What are a
child's first impressions of this life? Does he hear voices from heaven
telling little children that they are lost sinners? Does he see
lightning come from heaven to strike sinners dead, or earthquakes rise
and swallow them up? Nothing of the kind. A child's first impressions
of this life, what are they but pleasure? His mother's breast, warmth,
light, food, play, flowers, and all pleasant things,--by these God
educates the child, even of the heathen and the savage:--and why? If
haply he may feel after God and find Him, and find that He is a God of
love and mercy, a giver of good things, who knows men's necessities
before they ask,--a good and loving God, and not a being such as I will
not, I dare not speak of.

I say with the very heathen God deals thus. We have plain Scripture for
that. For we have, and thanks be to God that we have, in such times as
these, a missionary sermon preached by St Paul to the heathen at Lystra.
And in that is not one word concerning these terrors of the law. He
says, I preach to you God, whom you ought to have known of yourselves,
because He has not left Himself without witness. And what is this
witness of which the apostle speaks? Wrath and terror and destruction?
Not so, says St Paul. This is His witness, that He has sent you rain and
fruitful seasons, filling your heart with food and gladness. His
goodness, His bounty,--it is the witness of God and of the character of
God. There is wrath and terror enough, says St Paul elsewhere, awaiting
those who go on in sin. But then what does he say is their sin?
Despising the goodness of God, by which He has been trying to win mankind
to love and trust Him, before He threatens and before He punishes at all.
So much for the terrors of the law coming before the good news of the
gospel in God's kingdom of nature.

And still less do the terrors of the law come first in God's kingdom of
grace, which is the Church. They did not come first to you or to me, or
to any one in His Church who has been taught, as churchmen should be,
their Catechism. If any have been, unhappily for them, brought up to
learn Catechisms and hymns which do not belong to the Church, and which
terrify little children with horrible notions of God's wrath, and the
torments prepared not merely for wicked men, but for unconverted
children, and then teach them to say,--

"Can such a wretch as I
Escape this dreadful end?"

so much the worse for them. We, who are Church people, are bound to
believe that God speaks to us through the Church books, and that it was
His will that we should have been brought up to believe the Catechism.
And in that Catechism we heard not one word of these terrors of the law
or of God's wrath hanging over us. We were taught that before we even
knew right from wrong, God adopted us freely as His children, freely
forgave us our original sin for the sake of Christ's blood, freely
renewed us by His Holy Spirit, freely placed us in His Church;--that we
might love Him, because He first loved us; trust Him because He has done
all that even God could do to win our trust; and obey Him, because we are
boundlessly in debt to Him for boundless mercies. This is God's method
with us in His Church, and what is it but St Paul's method with these
Corinthians?

Believe this, then, you who wish to be Churchmen in spirit and in truth.
Believe that St Paul's conduct is to you a type and pattern of what God
does, and what you ought to do. That God's method of winning you to do
right is to make you love Him and trust Him; and that your method of
winning your children to do right is to make them love and trust you.
Let us remember that if our children are not perfect, they at least
inherited their imperfections from us; and if our Father in heaven, from
whom we inherit no sin, but only good, have patience with us, shall we
not have patience with our children, who owe to us their fallen nature?

Ah! cast thy bread upon the waters,--the bread which even the poorest can
give to their children abundantly and without stint,--the bread of
charity,--human tenderness, forbearance, hopefulness,--cast that bread
upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days.

SERMON XXII. GOD IS OUR REFUGE

Westminster Abbey, 1873.

Psalm xlvi. 1. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in
trouble."

This is a noble psalm, full of hope and comfort; and it will be more and
more full of hope and comfort, the more faithfully we believe in the
incarnation, the passion, the resurrection, and the ascension of our Lord
Jesus Christ. For if we are to give credit to His express words, and to
those of every book of the New Testament, and to the opinion of that
Church into which we are baptised, then Jesus Christ is none other than
the same Jehovah, Lord, and God who brought the Jews out of Egypt, who
guided them and governed them through all their history--teaching,
judging, rewarding, punishing them and all the nations of the earth.
This psalm, therefore, is concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all
power is given in heaven and earth, and who ascended up on high; that He
might be as He had been from the beginning, King of kings and Lord of
lords, the Master of this world and all the nations in it. This psalm,
therefore, is a hymn concerning the kingdom of Christ and of God. It
tells us something of the government which Christ has been exercising
over the world ever since the beginning of it, and which He is exercising
over this world now. It bids us be still, and know that He is God--that
He will be exalted among the nations, and will be exalted in the earth,
whether men like it or not; but that they ought to like it and rejoice in
it, and find comfort in the thought that Christ Jesus is their refuge and
their strength--a very present help in trouble--as the old Jew who wrote
this psalm found comfort.

When this psalm was written, or what particular events it speaks of, I
cannot tell, for I do not think we have any means of finding out. It may
have been written in the time of David, or of Solomon, or of Hezekiah.
It may possibly have been written much later. It seems to mo probably to
refer--but I speak with extreme diffidence--to that Assyrian invasion,
and that preservation of Jerusalem, of which we heard in the magnificent
first lesson for this morning and this afternoon; when, at the same time
that the Assyrians were crushing, one by one, every nation in the East,
there was, as the elder Isaiah and Micah tell us plainly, a great
volcanic outbreak in the Holy Land. But all this matters very little to
us; because events analogous to those of which it speaks have happened
not once only, but many times, and will happen often again. And this
psalm lays down a rule for judging of such startling and terrible events
whenever they happen, and for saying of them, "God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble." It seems from the beginning
of the psalm that there had been earthquakes or hurricanes in Judea--more
probably earthquakes, which were and are now frequent there. It seems as
if the land had been shaken, and cliffs thrown into the sea, which had
rolled back in a mighty wave, such as only too often accompanies an
earthquake. But the Psalmist knew that that was God's doing; and
therefore he would not fear, though the earth was moved, and though the
hills were earned into the very midst of the sea. It seems, moreover,
that Jerusalem itself had, as in Hezekiah's time, not been shaken, or at
least seriously injured, by the earthquake. But why? "God is in the
midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed." It seems, also, as if
the earthquake or hurricane had been actually a benefit to Jerusalem--
which was often then, and has been often since, in want of water--that
either fresh springs had broken out, or abundant rain had fallen, as
occurs at times in such convulsions of nature. But that, too, was God's
doing on behalf of His chosen city. "The rivers of the flood" had made
"glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most
highest."

Moreover, there seem to have been great disturbances and wars among the
nations round. The heathen had made much ado, and the kingdoms had been
moved. But whatever their plans were, it was God who had brought them to
naught. God had shewed His voice, and the earth melted away; and (we
know not how) discomfiture had fallen upon them, and a general peace had
followed. "O come hither," says the Psalmist, "and behold the works of
the Lord, what desolations He has made in the earth." Not a desolation
of cruelty and tyranny: but a desolation of mercy and justice; putting
down the proud, the aggressive, the ruthless, and helping the meek, the
simple, the industrious, and the innocent. It is He, says the Psalmist,
who has made wars to cease in all the world, who has broken the bow and
snapped the spear in sunder, and burned the chariots in the fire; and so,
by the voice of fact, said to these kings and to their armies, if they
would but understand it, "Be still, and know that I am God"--that I, not
you, will be exalted among the nations--that I, not you, will be exalted
in the earth.

Such is the 46th Psalm, one of the noblest utterances of the whole Old
Testament. And is it not as true for us now, ay, for all nations and all
mankind now, as it was when it was uttered? Is not Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever? Have His words passed away? Did He say
in vain, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth?" Did He say in
vain, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world?" I trust
not. I trust and I hope that you, or at least some here, believe that
Christ is ruling and guiding the world, the church, and every individual
soul who trusts in Him toward--

"One far off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves."

I hope you do have that trust, for your own sakes, for the sake of your
own happiness, your own sound peace of mind; for then, and then only, you
can afford to be hopeful concerning yourselves, your families, your
country, and the whole human race. It must be so. If you believe that
He who hung upon the cross for all mankind is your refuge and strength,
and the refuge and strength of all mankind, then, amid all the changes
and chances of this mortal life, you can afford to be still calm in
sudden calamity, patient in long afflictions; for you know that He is
God, He is the Lord, He is the Redeemer, He is the King. He knows best.
He must be right, whosoever else is wrong. Let Him do what seemeth Him
good.

Now I cannot but feel (what wiser and better men than I am feel more
deeply), that this old-fashioned faith in the living Christ is dying out
among us. That men do not believe as they used to do in the living Lord
and in His government, in that perpetual divine providence which the
Scriptures call "the kingdom of God." They have lost faith in Christ's
immediate and personal government of the world and its nations; and,
therefore, they are tempted more and more, either to try to misgovern the
world themselves, or to fancy that Christ has entrusted His government,
as to a substitute and vicar, to an aged priest at Rome. They have lost
faith, likewise, in Christ's immediate government of themselves; their
own fortunes, their own characters, and inmost souls; and, therefore,
they are tempted either to follow no rule or guidance save their own
instincts, passions, fancies; or else, in despair at their own inward
anarchy, to commit the keeping of their souls to directors and
confessors, instead of to Christ Himself, the Lord of the spirits of all
flesh.

Yes, the faith which keeps a man ever face to face with God and with
Christ, in the least as well as in the greatest events of life; which
says in prosperity and in adversity, in plenty and scarcity, in joy and
sorrow, in peace and war,--It is the Lord's doing, it is the Lord's
sending, and therefore we can trust in the Lord--that faith is growing, I
fear, very rare. That faith was more common, I think, a generation or
two back, in old-fashioned church people than in any other. It could not
help being so; for the good old Prayer-Book upon which they were brought
up is more full of that simple and living faith in the Lord, from
beginning to end, than any other book on earth except the Bible. It was
more common, too, and I suppose always will be, among the poor than among
the rich; for the poor soon find out how little they have to depend upon
except the Lord and His good providence; while the rich are tempted, and
always will be, to depend upon their own wealth and their own power, to
trust in uncertain riches, and say, "Soul, take thine ease, thou hast
much goods laid up for many years." It was more common, too, and I
suppose always will be, among the old than among the young; for the young
are tempted to trust not in the Lord, but in their own health, strength,
wit, courage, and to put their hopes, not on God's Providence, but on the
unknown chapter of accidents in the future, most of which will never come
to pass; while the old have learned by experience and disappointment the
vanity of human riches, the helplessness of human endeavour, the
blindness of human foresight, and are content to go where God leads them,
and say, "I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and will make
mention of Thy righteousness only. Thou, O God, hast taught me from my
youth up until now: therefore will I tell of Thy wondrous works.
Forsake me not, O God, in mine old age, when I am grey-headed; until I
have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to all them
which are yet for to come."

But, for some reason or other, this generation does not seem to care to
see God's strength; and those that are yet for to come seem likely to
believe less and less in God's power--believe less and less that they are
in Christ's kingdom, and that Christ is ruling over them and all the
world. They have not faith in the Living Lord. But they must get back
that faith, if they wish to keep that wealth and prosperity after which
every one scrambles so greedily now-a-days; for those who forget God are
treading, they and their children after them, not, as they fancy, the
road to riches--they are treading the road to ruin. So it always was, so
it always will be. Yet the majority of mankind will not see it, and the
preacher must not expect to be believed when he says it. Nevertheless it
is true. Those who forget that they are in Christ's kingdom, Christ does
not go out of His way to punish them. They simply punish themselves.
They earn their own ruin by the very laws of human nature. They must
find hope in something and strength in something; and if they will not
see that God is their hope, they will hope to get rich as fast as
possible, and make themselves safe so. If they will not see that God is
their strength, they will find strength in cunning, in intrigue, in
flattery of the strong and tyranny over the weak, and in making
themselves strong so. They want a present help in trouble; and if they
will not believe that God is a present help in trouble, they will try to
help themselves out of their trouble by begging, lying, swindling,
forging, and all those meannesses which fill our newspapers with shameful
stories day by day, and which all arise simply out of want of faith in
God.

Moreover, it is written, "Be still, and know that I am God." And if men
will not be still, they will not know that He is God. And if they do not
know that the gracious Christ is God, they will not be still; and
therefore they will grow more and more restless, discontented, envious,
violent, irreverent, full of passions which injure their own souls, and
sap the very foundations of order and society and civilised life. And
what can come out of all these selfish passions, when they are let loose,
but that in which selfishness must always end, but that same mistrust and
anarchy, ending in that same poverty and wretchedness, under which so
many countries of the world now lie, as it were, weltering in the mire.
Alas! say rather weltering in their own life-blood--and all because they
have forgotten the living God?

Oh, my dear friends, take these words solemnly to heart--for yourselves,
and for your children after you. If you wish to prosper on the earth,
let God be in all your thoughts. Remember that the Lord is on your right
hand; and then, and then alone, will you not be moved, either to terror
or to sin, by any of the chances and changes of this mortal life. "Fret
not thyself," says the Psalmist, "else shalt thou be moved to do evil."
And the only way not to fret yourselves is to remember that God is your
refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. "He that
believeth," saith the Prophet, "shall not make haste"--not hurry himself
into folly and disappointment and shame. Why should you hurry, if you
remember that you are in the kingdom of Christ and of God? You cannot
hurry God's Providence, if you would; you ought not, if you could. God
MUST know best; God's Laws MUST work at the right pace, and fulfil His
Will in the right way and at the right time. As for what that Will is,
we can know from the angels' song on Christmas Eve, which told us how
God's Will was a good will towards men.

For who is our Lord? Who is our King? Who is our Governor? Who is our
Lawgiver? Who is our Guide? Christ, who died for us on Calvary; who
rose again for us; who ascended into heaven for us; who sits at God's
right hand for us; who sent down His Holy Spirit at the first
Whitsuntide; and sends Him down for ever to us; that by His gracious
inspiration we may both perceive and know what we ought to do, and also
may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same. With such a King
over us, how can the world but go right? With such a King over us, what
refuge or strength or help in trouble do we need but Him Himself?--His
Providence, which is Love, and His Laws, which are Life.

SERMON XXIII. PRIDE AND HUMILITY

Eversley, 1869. Chester Cathedral, 1870.

1st. Peter v. 5. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the
humble."

Let me, this evening, say a few words to you on theology, that is, on the
being and character of God. You need not be afraid that I shall use long
or difficult words. Sound theology is simple enough, and I hope that my
words about it will be simple enough for the worst scholar here to
understand.

"God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." Now, this
saying is an old one. It had been said, in different words, centuries
before St Peter said it. The old prophets and psalmists say it again and
again. The idea of it runs through the whole of the Old Testament, as
anyone must know who has read his Bible with common care. But why should
it be true? What reason is there for it? What is there in the character
of God which makes it reasonable, probable, likely to be true? That God
would give grace to the humble, and reward men for bowing down before His
Majesty, seems not so difficult to understand. But why should God resist
the proud? How does a man's being proud injure God, who is "I AM THAT I
AM;" perfectly self-sufficient, having neither parts nor passions, who
tempteth no man, neither is tempted of any? "Why should God go out of
His way, as it were, to care for such a paltry folly as the pride of an
ignorant, weak, short-sighted creature like man?

Now, let us take care that we do not give a wrong answer to this
question--an answer which too many have given, in their hearts and minds,
though not perhaps in words, and so have fallen into abject and cruel
superstitions, from which may God keep us, and our children after us.
They have said to themselves, God is proud, and has a right to be proud:
and therefore He chooses no one to be proud but Himself. Pride in man
calls out His pride, and makes Him angry. They have thought of God as
some despotic Sultan of the Indies, who is surrounded, not by free men,
but by slaves; who will have those slaves at his beck and nod. In one
word, they have thought of God as a tyrant. They have thought of God,
and, may God forgive them, have talked of God as if He were like
Nebuchadnezzar of old, who, when the three young men refused to obey him,
was filled with rage and fury, and cast them into a burning fiery
furnace. That is some men's God--a God who must be propitiated by
crouching and flattery, lest he should destroy them--a God who holds all
men as his slaves, and therefore hates pride in them. For what has a
slave to do with pride?

But that is not the God of the Bible, my friends, nor the God of Nature
either, the God who made the world and man. For He is not a tyrant, but
a Father. He wishes men not to be His slaves, but His children. And if
He resists the proud, it is because children have no right to be proud.
If He resists the proud, it is in fatherly love, because it is bad for
them to be proud. Not because the proud are injuring God, but because
they are injuring themselves, does God resist them, and bring them low,
and show them what they are, and where they are, that they may repent,
and be converted, and turned back into the right way.

Remember always that God is your Father. This question, like all
questions between God and man, is a question between a father and a
child; and if you see it in any other light, and judge it by any other
rule, you see it and judge it wrongly, and learn nothing about it, or
worse than nothing. If God were really angry with, really hated, the
proud man, or any other man, would He need only to resist him? would He
have to wait till the next life to punish him? My dear friends, if God
really hated you or me, do you not suppose that He would simply destroy
us--get rid of us--abolish us and annihilate us off the face of the
earth, just as we crush a gnat when it bites us?

That God can do; and more--He does it now and then. He will endure with
much long suffering vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction: but a
moment sometimes comes when He will endure them no longer, and He
destroys them with the destruction for which they have fitted themselves.
In them is fulfilled the parable of the rich man, who said to himself,
"Soul, thou hast much good laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat,
drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy
soul shall be required of thee."

But for the most part, thanks to the mercy of our Heavenly Father, we are
not destroyed by our pride and for our pride. We are only chastened, as
a father chastens his child. And that we are chastised for pride, who
does not know? What proverb more common, what proverb more true, than
that after pride comes a fall? Do we not know (if we do not, we shall
know sooner or later) that the surest way to fail in any undertaking is
to set about it in self-will and self-conceit; that the surest way to do
a foolish thing, is to fancy that we are going to do a very wise one;
that the surest way to make ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of our
fellow-men, is to assume airs, and boast, shew ourselves off, and end by
shewing off only our own folly?

Why is it so? Why has God so ordered the world and human nature, that
pride punishes itself? Because, I presume, pride is begotten and born of
a lie, and God hates a lie, because all lies lead to ruin, and this lie
of pride above all. It is as it were the root lie of all lies. The very
lie by which, as old tales tell, Satan fell from heaven, and when he
tried to become a god in his own right, found himself, to his surprise
and disappointment, only a devil. For pride and self-conceit contradict
the original constitution of man and the universe, which is this--that of
God are all things, and in God are all things, and for God are all
things. Man depends on God. Self tells him that he depends on himself.
Man has nothing but what he receives from God. Self tells him that what
he has is his own, and that he has a right to do with it what he likes.
Man knows nothing but what God teaches him. Self tells him that he has
found out everything for himself, and can say what he thinks fit without
fear of God or man. Therefore the proud, self-willed, self-conceited man
must come to harm, like Malvolio in the famous play, merely because he is
in the blackest night of ignorance. He has mistaken who he is, what he
is, where he is. He is fancying himself, as many mad men do, the centre
of the universe; while God is the centre of the universe. He is just as
certain to come to harm as a man would be on board a ship, who should
fancy that he himself, and not the ship, was keeping him afloat, and step
overboard to walk upon the sea. We all know what would happen to that
man. Let us thank God our Father that He not only knows what would
happen to such men: but desires to save them from the consequences of
their own folly, by letting them feel the consequences of their own
folly.

Oh my friends, let us search our hearts, and pray to our Father in Heaven
to take out of them, by whatever painful means, the poisonous root of
pride, self-conceit, self-will. So only shall we be truly strong--truly
wise. So only shall we see what and where we are.

Do we pride ourselves on being something? Shall we pride ourselves on
health and strength? A tile falling off the roof, a little powder and
lead in the hands of a careless child, can blast us out of this world in
a moment--whither, who can tell? What is our cleverness--our strength of
mind? A tiny blood vessel bursting on the brain, will make us in one
moment paralytic, helpless, babblers, and idiots. What is our knowledge
of the world? That of a man, who is forcing his way alone through a
thick and pathless wood, where he has never been before, to a place which
he has never seen. What is our wisdom--What does a wise man say of his?

"So runs my dream; but what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light;
And with no language but a cry."

Yes. Our true knowledge is to know our own ignorance. Our true strength
is to know our own weakness. Our true dignity is to confess that we have
no dignity, and are nobody, and nothing in ourselves, and to cast
ourselves down before the Dignity of God, under the shadow of whose
wings, and in the smile of whose countenance, alone, is any created being
safe. Let us cling to our Father in Heaven, as a child, walking in the
night, clings to his father's hand. Let us take refuge on the lowest
step of the throne of Christ our Lord, and humble ourselves under His
mighty hand; and, instead of exalting ourselves in undue time, leave Him
to exalt us again in due time, when the chastisement has told on us, and
patience had her perfect work; casting all our care on Him, who surely
cares for us still, if He cared for us once, enough to die for us on the
cross; caring for God's opinion and not for the opinion of the world.
And then we shall be among the truly humble, to whom God gives grace--
first grace in their own hearts, that they may live gracious lives,
modest and contented, dignified and independent, trusting in God and not
in man; and then, grace in the eyes of their fellow-men, for what is more
graceful, what is more gracious, pleasant to see, pleasant to deal with,
than the humble man, the modest man? I do not mean the cringing man, the
flattering man, the man who apes humility for his own ends, because he
wants to climb high, by pretending to be lowly. He is neither graceful
or gracious. He is only contemptible, and he punishes himself. He
spoils his own game. He defeats his own purpose. For men despise him,
and use him, and throw him away when they have done with him, as they
throw away a dirty worn-out tool.

Not him do I mean by the humble man, the modest man. I mean the man who,
like a good soldier, knows his place and keeps it, knows his duty, and
does it; who expects to be treated as a man should be, with fairness,
consideration, respect, kindness--and God will always treat him so,
whether man does or not: but who, beyond that, does not trouble his mind
with whether he be private or sergeant, lieutenant or colonel, but with
whether he can do his duty as private, his duty as sergeant, his duty as
lieutenant, his duty as colonel; who has learnt the golden lesson, which
so few learn in these struggling, envious, covetous, ambitious days,
namely, to abide in the calling to which he is called, and in whatsoever
state he is, therewith to be content. To be sure that in God's world,
the only safe way to become ruler over many things is to be a good ruler
over a few things; that if he is fit for better work than he is doing
now, God will find that out, sooner and more surely than he, or any man
will, and will set him about it; and that, meanwhile, God has set him
about work which he can do, and that the true wisdom is to do that and do
it well, and so approve himself alike to man and God, humbling himself
under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt him in good time, by
giving him grace and strength to do great things, as He has given him
grace and strength to do small things.

Am I speaking almost to deaf ears? I fear that few here will take my
advice. I fear that many here will have excellent excuses and plain
reasons, why they should not take it. Be it so. They cannot alter
eternal fact. In one word, they cannot alter Theology. They cannot
alter the laws of God. They cannot alter the character of God. And
sooner or later, in this world or in the next, they will find out that
Theology is right: and St Peter is right: that God DOES resist the
proud, that God DOES give grace to the humble.

SERMON XXIV. WORSHIP

Eversley, September 4, 1870.

Revelation xi. 16, 17. "And the four and twenty elders, which sat before
God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We
give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to
come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."

My dear friends,--I wish to speak a few plain words to you this morning,
on a matter which has been on my mind ever since I returned from Chester,
namely,--The duty of the congregation to make the responses in Church.

Now I am not going to scold--even to blame. To do so would be not only
unjust, but ungrateful in me, to a congregation which is as attentive and
as reverent as you are. Indeed, I am the only person to blame, for I
ought to have spoken on the subject long ago.

As it is, coming fresh from Chester, and accustomed to hear
congregations, in that city and in the country round, reading the
responses aloud throughout the service with earnestness, and reverence, I
was painfully struck by the silence in this church. I had before grown
so accustomed to it that I did not perceive it, just as one grows
accustomed to a great many things which ought not to be, till one forgets
that, however usual they may be, wrong they are, and ought to be amended.

Now, it is always best to begin at the root of a matter. So to begin at
the root of this. Why do we come to church at all?

Some will say, to hear the sermon. That is often too true. Some folks
do come to church to hear a man get up and preach, just as they go to a
concert to hear a man get up and sing, to amuse and interest them for
half-an-hour. Some go to hear sermons, doubtless, in order that they may
learn from them. But are there not, especially in these days of cheap
printing, books of devotion, tracts, sermons, printed, which contain
better preaching than any which they are likely to hear in church? If
TEACHING is all that they come to church for, they can get that in plenty
at home. Moreover, nine people out of ten who come to church need no
teaching at all. They know already, just as well as the preacher, what
is right and what is wrong; they know their duty; they know how to do it.
And if they do not intend to do it, all the talking in the world (as far
as I have seen) will not make them do it. Moreover, if the teaching in
the sermon be what we come to church for, why have we prayer-books full
of prayers, thanksgivings, psalms, and so forth, which are not sermons at
all? What is the use of the service, as we call it, if the sermon is the
only or even the principal object for which we come? I trust there are
many of you here who agree with me so fully, that you would come
regularly to church, as I should, even if there were no sermon, knowing
that God preaches to every man, in the depths of his own heart and
conscience, far more solemn and startling sermons than any mortal man can
utter.

Others will answer that they come to church to say their prayers. Well:
that is a wiser answer than the last. But if that be all, why can they
not say their prayers at home? God is everywhere. God is all-seeing,
all-hearing, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our
ways. Is He not as ready to hear in the field, and in the workshop and
in the bed-chamber, as in the church? "When thou prayest," says our
Lord, "enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to
thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall
reward thee openly." Those are not my words, they are the words of our
Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and none can gainsay them. None dare take
from them or add to them; and our coming to church, therefore, must be
for more reasons than for the mere saying of our prayers.

Others will answer--very many, indeed, will answer--we come to church
because--because, we hardly know why, but because we ought to come to
church.

Some may call that a silly answer, only fit for children: but I do not
think so. It seems to me a very rational answer: perhaps a very
reverent and godly answer. A man comes to church for reasons which he
cannot explain to himself: just so--and many of the deepest and best
feelings of our hearts, are just those that we cannot explain to
ourselves, though we believe in them, would fight for them, die for them.
The man who frankly confesses that he does not quite know why he comes to
church is most likely to know at last why he does come; most likely to
understand the answer which Scripture gives to the question why we come
to church. And what answer is that? Strange to say, one which people
now-a-days, with their Bibles in their hands, have almost forgotten. We
come to church, according to the Bible, to worship God.

To worship. Think awhile what that ancient and deep and noble word
signifies. So ancient is it, that man learnt to worship even before he
learnt to till the ground. So deep, that even to this day no man
altogether understands what worshipping means. So noble, that the
noblest souls on earth delight most in worshipping; that the angels, and
archangels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, find no nobler
occupation, no higher enjoyment, in the heavenly world than worshipping
for ever Him whose glory fills all earth and heaven. To worship. That
power of worship, that longing to worship, that instinct that it is his
duty to worship something, is--if you will receive it--the true
distinction between men and brutes. Philosophers have tried to define
man as this sort of animal and that sort of animal. The only sound
definition is this: man is THE one animal who worships; and he worships,
just because he is NOT merely an animal, but a man, with an immortal soul
within him. Just in as far as man sinks down again to the level of the
brute--whether in some savage island of the South Seas, or in some
equally savage alley of our own great cities--God forgive us that such
human brutes should exist here in Christian England--just so far he feels
no need to worship. He thinks of no unseen God or powers above him. He
cares for nothing but what his five senses tell him of; he feels no need
to go to church and worship. Just in as far as a man rises to the true
standard of a man; just in as far as his heart and his mind are truly
cultivated, truly developed, just so far does he become more and more
aware of an unseen world about him; more and more aware that in God he
lives and moves and has his being--and so much the more he feels the
longing and the duty to worship that unseen God on whom he and the whole
universe depend.

I know what seeming exceptions there are to this rule, especially in
these days. But I say that they are only seeming exceptions. I never
knew yet (and I have known many of them) a virtuous and high-minded
unbeliever: but what there was in him the instinct of worshipping--the
longing to worship--he knew not what, the spirit of reverence, which
confesses its own ignorance and weakness, and is ready to set up, like
the Athenians of old, an altar--in the heart at least--to the unknown
God.

But how to worship Him? The word itself, if we consider what it means,
will tell us that. Worship, without doubt, is the same word as worth-
ship. It signifies the worth of Him whom we worship, that He is worthy,-
-a worthy God, not merely because of what He has done, but because of
what He is worth in Himself. Good, excellent, and perfect in Himself,
and therefore to be admired, praised, reverenced, adored, worshipped--
even if He had never done a kindness to you or to any human being.
Remember this last truth. For true it is; and we remember it too little.
Of course we know that God is good; first and mainly by His goodness to
us. Because He is good enough to give us life and breath and all things,
we conclude that He is a good being. Because He is good enough to have
not spared His only begotten Son, but freely given Him for us, when we
were still sinners and rebels, we conclude Him to be the best of all
beings, a being of boundless goodness. But it is because God is so
perfectly and gloriously good in Himself, and not merely because He has
done US kindnesses, yea, heaped us with undeserved benefits, that we are
to worship Him. For His kindnesses we owe Him gratitude, and gratitude
without end. But for His excellent and glorious goodness, we owe Him
worship, and worship without end.

There are some hearts, surely, among you here who know what I mean: some
here who have felt reverence and admiration for some great and good human
being, and who have felt, too, that that reverence and admiration is one
of the most elevating and unselfish of all feelings, and quite distinct
from any gratitude, however just, for favours done; who can say, in their
hearts, of some noble human being: "If he never did me a kindness, never
spoke to me, never knew of my existence, I should honour him and love him
just the same, for the noble and good personage that he is, irrespective
of little me, and my paltry wants." Then, even such ought to be our
feeling toward God, our worship of God. Even so should we adore Him who
alone is worthy of glory, and honour, and praise, and thanksgiving,
because He is good, and beautiful, and wise Himself, and the cause and
source of all goodness, and beauty, and wisdom, in all created beings,
and in the whole universe, past, present, and to come. Consider, I
beseech you, those glimpses of the Eternal Worship in heaven which St
John gives us in the Book of Revelation--How he saw the elders fall down
before Him who sat upon the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever,
and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "Thou art worthy, O
Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for Thou hast created all
things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."

Consider that--Those blessed spirits of just men made perfect, confessing
that they are nothing, but that Christ is all; that they have nothing,
but that they owe all to Christ; and declaring Him worthy--not merely for
any special mercies and kindnesses to themselves, not even for that
crowning mercy of His incarnation, His death, His redemption; even that
seems to have vanished from their minds at the sight of Him as He is.
They glorify Him and worship Him simply for what He is in Himself, for
what He would have been even if--which God forbid--He had never stooped
from heaven to live and die on earth--for what He is and was and will be
through eternity, the Creator and the Ruler, who has made all things, and
for whose pleasure they are and were created. Consider that one text.
The more I consider it, the more awful and yet most blessed depths of
teaching do I find therein: and consider this text also, another glimpse
of the worship which is in heaven.

"I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, singing Alleluia;
salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God; for
true and righteous are His judgments." What the special judgment was,
for which these blessed souls worshipped God, I shall not argue here. It
is enough for us that they worshipped God, as we should worship Him,
because His judgments were righteous and true, were like Himself, proved
Him to be what He was, worthy in Himself, because He is righteous and
true. And consider then, again--the text. Before Him, the righteous and
true Being who has created all things for His pleasure, and therefore has
made them wisely and well; before Him who reigns, and will reign till He
has put all His enemies under His foot; before Him, I say, bow down
yourselves, and find true nobleness in confessing your own paltriness,
true strength in confessing your own weakness, true wisdom in confessing
your own ignorance, true holiness in confessing your own sins.

And not alone merely, each in your own chamber, or in your own heart.
That is the place for private confessions of sin, for private prayers for
help; for all the secrets which we dare not, and need not tell to any
human being. They indeed are not out of place here in church. Those who
composed our Prayer Book felt that, and have filled our services, the
Litany especially, with prayers in which each of us can offer up his own
troubles to God, if he but remember that he is offering up to God his
neighbour's troubles also, and the troubles of all mankind. For this is
the reason why we pray together in church; why all men, in all ages,
heathen as well as Christian, have had the instinct of assembling
together for public worship. They may have fancied often that their
deity dwelt in one special spot, and that they must go thither to find
him. They may have fancied that he or she dwelt in some particular
image, and that they must visit, and pray to that particular image, if
they wished their prayers to be heard. All this, however, have men done
in their foolishness; but beneath that foolishness there have been always
more rational ideas, sounder notions. They felt that it was God who had
made them into families, and therefore whole families met together to
worship in common Him of whom every family in heaven and earth is named.
That God had formed them into societies whether into tribes, as of old,
or into parishes, as here now; and therefore whole parishes came together
to worship God, whose laws they were bound to obey in their parochial
society. They felt that it was God who had made them into Nations (as
the psalm says which we repeat every Sunday morning), and not they
themselves; and therefore they conceived the grand idea of National
churches, in which the whole nation should, if possible, worship Sunday
after Sunday, at the same time, and in the same words, that God to whom
they owed their order, their freedom, their strength, their safety, their
National unity and life. And not in silence merely. These blessed souls
in heaven are not silent. They in heaven follow out the human instinct
which they had on earth, which all men (when they recollect themselves,
will have), when they feel a thing deeply, when they believe a thing
strongly, to speak it--to speak it aloud. They do not fancy in heaven,
as the priests of Baal did on earth, that they must cry aloud, or God
could not hear them. They do not fancy, as the heathen do, that they
must make vain repetitions, and say the same words over and over again by
rote, because they will be heard for their much speaking; neither need
you and I. But yet they spoke aloud, because out of the fulness of the
heart the mouth speaketh; and so should you and I.

And this brings me to the special object of my sermon. I have told you
what (as it seems to me) Worship means; why we worship; why we worship
together; and why we ought to worship aloud. Believe me, this last is
your duty just as much as mine. The services of the Church of England
are so constructed that the whole congregation may take part in them,
that they may answer aloud in the responses, that they may say Amen at
the end of each prayer, just as they read or chant aloud the alternate
verses of the Psalms. The minister does not say prayers for them, but
with them. He is only their leader, their guide. And if they are not to
join in with their voices, there is really no reason why he should use
his voice, why he should not say the prayers in silence and to himself,
if the congregation are to say Amen in silence and to themselves. Each
person in the congregation ought to join aloud, first for the sake of his
neighbours, and then for his own sake.

For the sake of his neighbours: for to hear each other's voices stirs up
earnestness, stirs up attention, keeps off laziness, inattention, and by
a wholesome infection, makes all the congregation of one mind, as they
are of one speech, in glorifying God. And for his own sake, too. For,
believe me, when a man utters the responses aloud, he awakens his own
thoughts and his own feelings, too. He speaks to himself, and he hears
himself remind himself of God, and of his duty to God, and acknowledge
himself openly (as in confirmation) bound to believe and do what he, by
his own confession, has assented unto.

Believe me, my dear friends, this is no mere theory. It is to me a
matter of fact and experience. I cannot, I have long found, keep my
attention steady during a service, if I do not make the responses aloud;-
-if I do not join in with my voice, I find my thoughts wandering; and I
am bound to suppose that the case is the same with you. Do not,
therefore, think me impertinent or interfering, if I ask you all to take
your due share in worshipping God in this church with your voices, as
well as with your hearts. Let these services be more lively, more
earnest, more useful to us all than they have been, by making them more a
worship of the whole congregation, and not of the minister alone. I have
read of a great church in the East, in days long, long ago, in which the
responses of the vast congregation were so unanimous, so loud, that they
sounded (says the old writer) like a clap of thunder. That is too much
to expect in our little country church: but at least, I beg you, take
such an open part in the responses, that you shall all feel that you are
really worshipping together the same God and Christ, with the same heart
and mind; and that if a stranger shall come in, he may say in his heart:
Here are people who are in earnest, who know what they are about, and are
not ashamed of trying to do it; people who evidently mean what they say,
and therefore say what they mean.

SERMON XXV. THE PEACE OF GOD

Baltimore, U.S., 1874. Westminster Abbey. November 8, 1874.

Colossians. iii 15. "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts."

The peace of God. That is what the priest will invoke for you all, when
you leave this abbey. Do you know what it is? Whether you do or not,
let me tell you in a few words, what I seem to myself to have learned
concerning that peace. What it is? how we can obtain it? and why so many
do not obtain it, and are, therefore, not at peace?

It is worth while to do so. For these are not peaceful times. The peace
of God is rare among us. Some say that it is rarer than it was. I know
not how that may be; but I see all manner of causes at work around us
which should make it rare. We live faster than our forefathers. We
hurry, we bustle, we travel, we are eager for daily, almost for hourly
news from every quarter, as if the world could not get on without us, or
we without knowing a hundred facts which merely satisfy the curiosity of
the moment; and as if the great God could not take excellent care of us
all meanwhile. We are eager, too, to get money, and get more money
still--piercing ourselves through too often, as the Apostle warned us--
with many sorrows, and falling into foolish and hurtful lusts, which
drown men in destruction and perdition. We are luxurious--more and more
fond of show; more apt to live up to our incomes, and probably a little
beyond; more and more craving for this or that gew-gaw, especially in
dress and ornament, which if our neighbour has, we must have too, or we
shall be mortified, envious. Nay, so strong is this temper of rivalry,
of allowing no superiors, grown in us, that we have made now-a-days a god
of what used to be considered the basest of all vices--the vice of envy--
and dignify it with the names of equality and independence. Men in this
temper of mind cannot be at peace. They are not content; they cannot be
content.

But with what are they not content? That is a question worth asking.
For there is a discontent (as I have told you ere now) which is noble,
manful, heroic, and divine. Just as there is a discontent which is base,
mean, unmanly, earthly--sometimes devilish. There is a discontent which
is certain, sooner or later, to bring with it the peace of God. There is
a discontent which drives the peace of God away, for ever and a day. And
the noble and peace-bringing discontent is to be discontented with
ourselves, as very few are. And the mean peace-destroying discontent is
to be discontented with things around us, as too many are. Now, my
friends, I cannot see into your hearts; and I ought not to see. For if I
saw, I should be tempted to judge; and if I judged, I should most
certainly judge rashly, shallowly, and altogether wrong. Therefore
examine yourselves, and judge yourselves in this matter. Ask yourselves
each, Am I at peace? And if not, then apply to yourselves the rule of
old Epictetus, the heroic slave, who, heathen though he was, sought God,
and the peace of God, and found them, doubt it not, long, long ago. Ask
yourselves with Epictetus, Am I discontented with things which are in my
own power, or with things which are not in my own power?--that is,
discontented with myself, or with things which are not myself? Am I
discontented with myself, or with things about me, and outside of me?
Consider this last question well, if you wish to be true Christians, true
philosophers, and, indeed, true men and women.

But what is it that troubles you? What is it you want altered? On what
have you set your heart and affections? Is it something outside you?--
something which is NOT you yourself? If so, there is no use in
tormenting your soul about it; for it is not in your own power, and you
will never alter it to your liking; and more, you need not alter it, for
you are not responsible for it. God sends it as it is, for better, for
worse, and you must make up your mind to what God sends. Do I mean that
we are to submit slavishly to circumstances, like dumb animals? Heaven
forbid. We are not, like Epictetus, slaves, but free men. And we are
made in God's image, and have each our spark, however dim, of that
creative genius, that power of creating or of altering circumstances, by
which God made all worlds; and to use that, is of our very birthright, or
what would all education, progress, civilisation be, save rebellion
against God? But when we have done our utmost, how little shall we have
done! Canst thou,--asks our Lord, looking with loving sadness on the
hurry and the struggle of the human anthill--canst thou by taking thought
add one cubit to thy stature? Why, is there a wise man or woman in this
abbey, past fifty years of age, who does not know that, in spite of all
their toil and struggle, they have gone not whither they willed, but
whither God willed? Have they not found out that for one circumstance of
their lives which they could alter, there have been twenty which they
could not, some born with them, some forced on them by an overruling
Providence, irresistible indeed--but, as I hold, most loving and most
fatherly, though often severe--even to agony--but irresistible still--
till what they have really gained by fighting circumstance, however
valiantly, has been the MORAL gain, the gain in character?--the power to
live the heroic life, which

"Is not as idle ore,
But heated hot with burning fears,
And bathed in baths of hissing tears,
And batter'd, with the shocks of doom,
To shape and use."

Ah! if a man be learning that lesson, which is the primer of eternal
life, then I hardly pity him, though I see him from youth to age tearing
with weak hands at the gates of brass, and beating his soul's wings to
pieces against the bars of the iron cage. But, alas! the majority of
mankind tear at the gates of brass, and beat against the iron cage, with
no such good purpose, and therefore with no such good result. They fight
with circumstances, not that they may become better themselves, not that
they may right the wrongs or elevate the souls of their fellow-men, not
even that they may fulfil the sacred duty of maintaining, and educating,
and providing for the children whom they have brought into the world, and
for whom they are responsible alike to God and to man; but simply because
circumstances are disagreeable to them; because the things around them do
not satisfy their covetousness, their luxury, their ambition, their
vanity. And therefore the majority of mankind want to be, and to do, and
to have a hundred things which are not in their own power, and of which
they have no proof that God intends to give them; no proof either that if
they had them, they would make right use of them, and certainly no proof
at all that if they had them they would find peace. They war and fight,
and have not, because they ask not. They ask, and have not, because they
ask amiss, to consume it on their lusts; and so they spend their lives
without peace, longing, struggling for things outside them, the greater
part of which they do not get, because the getting them is not in their
own power, and which if they got they could not keep, for they can carry
nothing away with them when they die, neither can their pomp follow them.
And therefore does man walk in a vain shadow, and disquiet himself in
vain, looking for peace where it is not to be found--in everything and
anything save in his own heart, in duty, and in God.

But happy are they who are discontented with the divine discontent,
discontented with themselves. Happy are they who hunger and thirst after
righteousness, that they may become righteous and good men. Happy are
they who have set their hearts on the one thing which is in their own
power--being better than they are, and doing better than they do. Happy
are they who long and labour after the true riches, which neither mobs
nor tyrants, man nor devil, prosperity nor adversity, or any chance or
change of mortal life, can take from them--the true and eternal wealth,
which is the Spirit of God. The man, I say, who has set his heart on
being good, has set his heart on the one thing which is in his own power;
the one thing which depends wholly and solely on his own will; the one
thing which he can have if he chooses, for it is written, "If ye then
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more
shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"
Moreover, he has set his heart on the one thing which cannot be taken
from him. God will not take it from him; and man, and fortune, and
misfortune, cannot take it from him. Poverty, misery, disease, death
itself, cannot make him a worse man, cannot make him less just, less
true, less pure, less charitable, less high-minded, less like Christ, and
less like God.

Therefore he is at peace, for he is, as it were, intrenched in an
impregnable fortress, against all men and all evil influences. And that
castle is his own soul. And the keeper of that castle is none other than
Almighty God, Jesus Christ our Lord, to whose keeping he has committed
his soul, as unto a faithful and merciful Saviour, able to keep to the
uttermost that which is committed to Him in faith and holiness.

Therefore that man is at peace with himself, for his conscience tells him
that he is, if not doing his best, yet trying to do his best, better and
better day by day. He is at peace with all the world; for most men are
longing and quarrelling for pleasant things outside them, for which he
does not greatly care, while he is longing and striving for good things
inside him in his own heart and soul; and so the world goes one way, and
he another, and their desires do not interfere with each other.

But, more, that man is at peace with God. He is at peace with God the
Father; for he is behaving as the Father wishes His children to behave.
He is at peace with God the Son; for he is trying to do that which God
the Son did when He came not to do His own will, but His Father's; not to
grasp at anything for himself, but simply to sacrifice himself for duty,
for the good of man. And he is at peace with God the Holy Spirit; for he
is obeying the gracious inspirations of that Spirit, and growing a better
man day by day. And so the peace of God keeps that man's heart free from
vain desires and angry passions, and his mind from those false and
foolish judgments which make the world think things important which are
quite unimportant; and, again, fancy things unimportant which are more
important to them than the riches of the whole world.

My dear friends, take my words home with you, and if you wish for the
only true and sound peace, which is the peace of God, do your duty. Try
to be as good as you can, each in his station in life. So help you God.

Take an example from the soldier on the march; and if you do that, you
will all understand what I mean. The bad soldier has no peace, just
because he troubles himself about things outside himself, and not in his
own power. "Will the officers lead us right?" That is not in his power.
Let him go where the officers lead him, and do his own duty. "Will he
get food enough, water enough, care enough, if he is wounded?" I hope
and trust in God he will; but that is not in his own power. Let him take
that, too, as it comes, and do his duty. "Will he be praised, rewarded,
mentioned in the newspapers, if he fights well?" That, too, is not in
his own power. Let him take that, too, as it comes, and do his duty; and
so of everything else. If the soldier on the march torments himself with
these matters which are not in his own power, he is the man who will be
troublesome and mutinous in time of peace, and in time of war will be the
first to run away. He will tell you, "A man must have justice done him;
a man must see fair play for himself; a man must think of himself." Poor
fool! He is not thinking of himself all the while, but of a number of
things which are outside him, circumstances which stand round him, and
outside him, and are not himself at all. Because he thinks of them--the
things outside him--he is a coward or a mutineer, while he fancies he is
taking care of himself--as it is written, "Whosoever shall seek to save
his life shall lose it."

But if the man will really think of himself, of that which is inside him,
of his own character, his own honour, his own duty--then he will say,
Well fed or ill fed, well led or ill led, praised and covered with
medals, or neglected and forgotten, and dying in a ditch, I, by myself I,
am the same man, and I have the same work to do. I have to be--myself,
and I have to do--my duty. So help me God. And therefore, so help me
God, I will be discontented with no person or thing, save only with
myself; and I will be discontented with myself, not when I have left
undone something extraordinary, which I know I could not have done, but
only when I have left undone something ordinary, some plain duty which I
know I could have done, had I asked God to help me to do it. Then in
that soldier would be fulfilled--has been fulfilled, thank God, a
thousand times, by men who lie in this abbey, and by men, too, of whom we
never heard, "whose graves are scattered far and wide, by mount, by
stream, by sea,"--in him would be fulfilled, I say, the words, "He that
will lose his life shall save it." Then would he have in his heart, and
in his mind likewise, a peace which victory and safety cannot give, and
which defeat, and wounds, ay, death itself, can never take away.

And are not you, too, soldiers--soldiers of Jesus Christ? Then even as
that good soldier, you may be at peace, through all the battles,
victories, defeats of mortal life, if you will be discontented with
nothing save yourselves, and vow, in spirit and in truth, the one oath
which is no blasphemy, but an act of faith, and an act of prayer, and a
confession of the true theology--So help me God. For then God will help
you. Neither you nor I know how; and I am sure neither you nor I know
why--save that God is utterly good. God, I say, will help you, by His
Holy Spirit the Comforter, to do your duty, and to be at peace. And then
the peace of God will rule in your hearts and make you kings to God. For
He will enable YOU each to rule, serene, though weary, over a kingdom--
or, alas! rather a mob, the most unruly, the most unreasonable, the most
unstable, and often the most fierce, which you are like to meet on earth.
To rule, I say, over a mob, of which you each must needs be king or
slave, according as you choose. And what is that mob? What but your own
faculties, your own emotions, your own passions--in one word, your own
selves? Yes, with the peace of God ruling in your hearts, you will be
able to become what without it you will never be--and that is--masters of
yourselves.

SERMON XXVI. SINS OF PARENTS VISITED

Eversley. 19th Sunday after Trinity, 1868.

Ezekiel xviii. 1-4. "The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,
What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel,
saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are
set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion
any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as
the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul
that sinneth, it shall die."

This is a precious chapter, and a comfortable chapter likewise, for it
helps us to clear up a puzzle which has tormented the minds of men in all
ages whenever they have thought of God, and of whether God meant them
well, or meant them ill.

For all men have been tempted. We are tempted at times to say,--The
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.
That is, we are punished not for what we have done wrong, but for what
our fathers did wrong. One man says,--My forefathers squandered their
money, and I am punished by being poor. Or, my forefathers ruined their
constitutions, and, therefore, I am weakly and sickly. My forefathers
were ignorant and reckless, and, therefore, I was brought up ignorant,
and in all sorts of temptation. And so men complain of their ill-luck
and bad chance, as they call it, till they complain of God, and say, as
the Jews said in Ezekiel's time, God's ways are unequal--partial--unfair.
He is a respecter of persons. He has not the same rule for all men. He
starts men unequally in the race of life--some heavily weighted with
their father's sins and misfortunes, some helped in every way by their
father's virtue and good fortune--and then He expects them all to run
alike. God is not just and equal. And then some go on,--men who think
themselves philosophers, but are none--to say things concerning God of
which I shall say nothing here, lest I put into your minds foolish
thoughts, which had best be kept out of them.

But, some of you may say, Is it not so after all? Is it not true? Is
not God harder on some than on others? Does not God punish men every day
for their father's sins? Does He not say in the Second Commandment that
He will do so, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the
third and fourth generation; and how can you make that agree with what
Ezekiel says,--"The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." My
dear friends, I know that this is a puzzle, and always has been one.
Like the old puzzle of God's foreknowledge and our free will, which seem
to contradict each other. Like the puzzle that we must help ourselves,
and yet that God must help us, which seem to contradict each other. So
with this. I believe of it, as of the two others I just mentioned, that
there is no real contradiction between the two cases; and that some-when,
somehow, somewhere, in the world to come, we shall see them clearly
reconciled; and justify God in all His dealings, and glorify Him in all
His ways. But surely already, here, now, we may see our way somewhat
into the depths of this mystery. For Christ has come to give us light,
and in His light we may see light, even into this dark matter.

For see: God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the
third and fourth generation--but of whom?--of them that hate Him. Now,
by those who hate God is meant, those who break His commandments, and are
bad men. If so, then, I say that God is not only just but merciful, in
visiting the sins of the fathers on the children.

For, consider two cases. Suppose these bad men, from father to son, and
from son to grandson, go on in the same evil ways, and are incorrigible.
Then is not God merciful to the world in punishing them, even in
destroying them out of the world, where they only do harm? The world
does not want fools, it wants wise men. The world does not want bad men,
it wants good men; and we ought to thank God, if, by His eternal laws, He
gets rid of bad men for us; and, as the saying is, civilizes them off the
face of the earth in the third or fourth generation. And God does so.
If a family, or a class, or a whole nation becomes incorrigibly
profligate, foolish, base, in three or four generations they will either
die out or vanish. They will sink to the bottom of society, and become
miserably poor, weak, and of no influence, and so unable to do harm to
any but themselves. Whole families will sink thus, I have seen it; you
may have seen it. Whole nations will sink thus; as the Jews sank in
Ezekiel's time, and again in our Lord's time; and be conquered, trampled
on, counted for nothing, because they were worth nothing.

But now suppose, again, that the children, when their father's sins are
visited on them, are NOT incorrigible. Suppose they are like the wise
son of whom Ezekiel speaks, in the 14th verse, who seeth all his father's
sins, and considereth, and doeth not such like--then has not God been
merciful and kind to him in visiting his father's sins on him? He has.
God is justified therein. His eternal laws of natural retribution,
severe as they are, have worked in love and in mercy, if they have taught
the young man the ruinousness, the deadliness of sin. Have the father's
sins made the son poor? Then he learns not to make his children poor by
his sin. Have his father's sins made him unhealthy? Then he learns not
to injure his children's health. Have his father's sins kept him
ignorant, or in anywise hindered his rise in life? Then he learns the
value of a good education, and, perhaps, stints himself to give his
children advantages which he had not himself--and, as sure as he does so,
the family begins to rise again after its fall. This is no fancy, it is
fact. You may see it. I have seen it, thank God. How some of the
purest and noblest women, some of the ablest and most right-minded men,
will spring from families, will be reared in households, where everything
was against them--where there was everything to make them profligate,
false, reckless, in a word--bad--except the grace of God, which was
trying to make them good, and succeeded in making them good; and how,
though they have felt the punishment of their parents' sins upon them in
many ways during their whole life, yet that has been to them not a mere
punishment, but a chastisement, a purifying medicine, a cross to be
borne, which only stirred them up to greater watchfulness against sin, to
greater earnestness in educating their children, to greater activity and
energy in doing right, and giving their children the advantages which
they had not themselves. And so were fulfilled in them two laws of God.
The one which Ezekiel lays down--that the bad man's son who executes
God's judgments and walks in God's statutes shall not die for the
iniquity of his father, but surely live; and the other law which Moses
lays down--that God shews mercy unto thousands of generations, as I
believe it means--that is, to son after father, and son after father
again, without end--as long as they love Him and keep His commandments.

I do not, therefore, see that there is any real contradiction between
what Moses says in the second commandment and what Ezekiel says in this
chapter. They are but two different sides of the same truth; and Moses
is shewing the Jews one side, because they needed most to be taught that
in his time, and Ezekiel showing them the other, because that was the
teaching which they needed most then. For they were fancying themselves,
in their calamities, the victims of some blind and cruel fate, and had
forgotten that, when God said that He visited the sins of the fathers on
the children, He qualified it by saying, "of them that hate Me."

Therefore, be hopeful about yourselves, and hopeful about your children
after you. If any one here feels--I am fallen very low in the world--
here all has been so much against me--my parents were the ruin of me--Let
him remember this one word of Ezekiel. "Have I any pleasure at all that
the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return
from his ways, and live?" Let him turn from his father's evil ways, and
do that which is lawful and right, and then he can say with the Prophet,
in answer to all the strokes of fortune and the miseries of circumstance,
"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise."
Provided he will remember that God requires of all men something, which
is, to be as good as they can be; then he may remember also that our Lord
Himself says, "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be
required;" implying that to whom little is given, of him will little be
required. God's ways are not unequal. He has one equal, fair, and just
rule for every human being; and that is perfect understanding, perfect
sympathy, perfect good will, and therefore perfect justice and perfect
love.

And if any one of you answers in his heart--these are good words, and all
very well: but they come too late. I am too far gone. I ate the sour
grapes in my youth, and my teeth must be on edge for ever and ever. I
have been a bad man, or I have been a foolish woman too many years to
mend now. I am down, and down I must be. I have made my bed, and I must
lie on it, and die on it too. Oh my dear brother or sister in Christ,
whoever you are who says that, unsay it again for it is not true.
Ezekiel tells you that it is not true, and one greater than Ezekiel,
Jesus Christ, your Saviour, your Lord, your God, tells you it is not
true.

For what happens, by God's eternal and unchangeable laws of retribution,
to a whole nation, or a whole family, may happen to you--to each
individual man. They fall by sin; they rise again by repentance and
amendment. They may rise punished by their sins, and punished for a long
time, heavily weighted by the consequences of their own folly, and
heavily weighted for a long time. But they rise--they enter into their
new life weak and wounded, from their own fault. But they enter in. And
from that day things begin to mend--the weather begins to clear, the soil
begins to yield again--punishment gradually ceases when it has done its
work, the weight lightens, the wounds heal, the weakness strengthens, and
by God's grace within them, and by God's providence outside them, they
are made men of again, and saved. So you will surely find it in the
experience of life.

No doubt in general, in most cases,

The child is father of the man

for good and evil. A pious and virtuous youth helps, by sure laws of
God, towards a pious and virtuous old age. And on the other hand, an
ungodly and profligate youth leads, by the same laws, toward an ungodly
and profligate old age. That is the law. But there is another law which
may stop that law--just as the stone falls to the ground by the natural
law of weight, and yet you may stop that law by using the law of bodily
strength, and holding it up in your hand. And what is the gracious law
which will save you from the terrible law which will make you go on from
worse to worse?

It is this,--"when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that
he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall
save his soul alive." It is not said that his soul shall come in a
moment to perfect health and strength. No. There are old bad habits to
be got rid of, old ties to be broken, old debts (often worse debts than
any money debts) to be paid. But he shall save his soul alive. His soul
shall not die of its disease. It shall be saved. It shall come to life,
and gradually mend and be cured, and grow from strength to strength, as a
sick man mends day by day after a deadly illness, slowly it may be, but
surely:--for how can you fail of being cured if your physician is none
other than Jesus Christ your Lord and your God?

Book of the day: