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The world's great sermons, Volume 8 by Grenville Kleiser

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lives in Him and knows it. It is not a constant effort. It is the
spontaneous direction of the whole nature. It is the new condition
of the Christian who has been exalted from the human pride into the
divine humility of life, out of self to God.

But I suggested at the outset that the word life was used in various
meanings, and in connection with one or two of them I should like to
develop a little what is meant by this phrase the "pride of
life." Life sometimes familiarly signifies what we otherwise call
circumstances. A man is said to "get on in life," not with reference
to his growing older or growing healthier, but as he grows more rich,
more prosperous. The pride of life in this sense would be the pride
of success, which we see wherever men are struggling in this world of
competition. Look at the young merchant who is making a living. Things
go well with him. He rises from stratum to stratum of that commercial
system whose geology is the ever-eluding study of the toilers of the
street. He grows rich. His store begins to spread with the pressure of
new enterprises. His house begins to blossom into the rich bloom
of luxury. He is greeted with a new respect. He is courted with an
eagerness he never knew before. Friends gather about him. His word has
weight. His name means money. He is successful. What is the result?
Those facts in themselves signify nothing, let us remember, but
material capable of being made into one thing or another wholly its
opposite. These are the gift of the Father, every one of them, all
that profusion of life. But there is a possible effect of them all in
character, a pride, which is not of the Father, but of the world. With
a morbid sympathy the man assimilates all that is poor and mean and
worldly out of his prosperity, and rejects, because he has no affinity
for it, all that is good and sweet and heavenly. He is chilled and
narrowed and embittered. All the old sweetness and humility fade out
of his nature. Need I tell you of it? Our streets are full of the
pride of life. Its types only, its outer types flash in the splendid
carriages and blaze in the fronts of gaudy houses and sweep the floors
of drawing-rooms and the aisles of churches. Those types, the mere
outward trappings of success, are not wherein the badness lies. The
reality is in the hard hearts and selfish tempers and undocile minds
which, in the splendor or the squalidness of wealth, show the sad ruin
of self-sufficient success, the pride of life.

The pride of life kills out the life itself. Is there a sadder picture
than you have in the life of a man, old or young, to whom God has
sent prosperity, who by his own act then turns that prosperity into a
failure by being proud of it? Christ Himself has told us how it is.
The life is more than meat. He has no tolerance for this little
meaning of a word that He made so large. The life is more than meat.
Yes, life is meat and man, and to lose the best manhood to get the
meat, to lose the soul to save the body, to fail of heaven above you
and before you that you may own the ground under your feet, that is
not success but failure. "In all time of our prosperity, Good Lord
deliver us!" May God help you who are prosperous.

I would speak again of what is called intellectual life, the life of
thought. It is "of the Father," indeed. We picture to ourselves
the pure joy of God in thought. Free from so many of our cumbrous
processes, free from the limitations of slow-moving time, free from
all imperfection, with an instantaneous thought as is His being, the
intellect that is the center of all reason revolves in its unfathomed
majesty. And man thinks too. God makes him think. God gives him powers
to think with, and then, as when you pour for your child a stream of
water out of your cisterns upon the wheels of the machinery that you
have first built for him, God gives man thoughts to exercise his power
of thinking upon. Can anything be more humble? The power was from God,
the thoughts by which the power moves were God's thoughts first. "Oh,
God, I think Thy thoughts after Thee," cried John Kepler, when he
caught sight of the great law of planetary motion. But mere thought,
self-satisfied, seeking no unity in God, owning no dependence,
boasting of itself, counting it hardship that it cannot know all where
it knows so much, this is the pride of thought, and this is not of the
Father, but is of the world. How arrogant it is! How it is jealous of
dictation, how it chafes under a hand that presses it down and a voice
that says to it, "Wait! what thou knowest not now thou shall; know
hereafter." How carefully it limits its kind of evidence, shutting out
everything that sounds like personal communication, revelation, in its
impatient independence; how studiously it orphans itself. And then
how, in some moods, orphaned by its arrogance, it suddenly becomes
intensely cognizant of its orphanage, and the child's hunger for a
Father takes possession of its heart and it is dreary and miserable!

I always know, when I speak thus of types of men, that you will think
that I am talking of those types in their extreme specimens. I am
not speaking to-day of the miracles of physical vitality, nor of the
over-successful men with their colossal fortunes, nor of the mighty
thinkers only. We all have our certain share in these various kinds of
life, and each of us may make his little share a seed of pride. We
are strangely ingenious here. We have an easy faculty of persuading
ourselves that ours is best of everything and growing arrogant,
unfilial and worldly over it. I speak to the men confident in their
youth and health, to the merchants strong in their business credit,
to the thoughtful brains at work over their problems of settling the
universe for themselves. I warn them all against the pride of life. I
would try to show them all that the same material which is capable of
being made into pride is capable also of being made into humility. I
would tell them therefore that they have not to be made old or sick or
poor or stupid before they can be made humble, that the best humility,
as well as the hardest, is that which can come to them here, right in
the midst of their strength and wealth and study!

Do you ask how that can be? It is time that I tried to tell you, tried
to tell how one may be full of life and yet be free from the pride of
life. That question must somehow be answered, or else the world will
be condemned to choose forever between an arrogant prosperity and a
salvation by misery, distress and disaster, by death. What do we need
for the salvation of a prosperous life? The answer in one word is
consecration. Consecration, that is what we need. There have been men
in whom life seemed complete who have yet walked very humbly. They had
no pride of life. And why? Because always before them and above them
there stood some great principle, some idea, some duty to which
their life belonged, not to themselves. All work is modest, all idle
self-contemplation is vain. And what the young man needs with his
vague aspirations and conceits is to make himself the servant of some
worthy purpose. And what the merchant needs with his growing business
is to count himself the steward of some worthy Master. And what the
student needs with his active mind is to trace the footsteps of the
God of wisdom in the path he walks and to count the reaching nearer to
Him, the true prize and object of all thinking. Consecration! We are
proud of life because we do so little with it. It is as if the bearer
of dispatches sat down calmly and boasted of the well-made box in
which they had been given to him, and never bore them to their
destination. Life is force, to be transmitted and delivered to a
purpose and an end. It loses its true nature and sweetness, it
corrupts into pride, when it is robbed of its true purpose and
cherished only for itself.

We can find our example of the consecrated man wherever we see true
lives lived in history or about us now, in the Bible or in common
life. Moses, David, Paul! But why look at the poor, imperfect copies
when in our Lord Himself we have the consummate human life clothed in
the wondrous humility of His appointed work. The life of lives! and
yet was ever any life so utterly free from the tawdry pride that makes
our poor achievements so wretched and unsatisfying. You say He cut
Himself off from all that men are proud of. Not so. He gave up house
and home, but he carried about with Him always the devotion of the
people, the mystery of unknown power and the consciousness of great
work and influence, the very things that have always seduced the best
men most and in their highest labors made them proud. You say He was
divine and so could not be humble. Yes, but He was profoundly human
also, and humility is not subserviency or meanness. It is a grace not
unworthy of, nay, necessary to, even the perfect humanity. But one
thing stands out always: His was the consecrated life. It was all
given to its purpose. "He was called Jesus because he should save his
people from their sins." "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's
business?" "Behold we go up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man shall be
betrayed." "To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the
world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." Everywhere the
consecration, a life appointed to an end, the face set to Jerusalem,
the hands and feet waiting for the cross! Meanwhile it was the fullest
life, but lived so high that the "pride of life" lay all below under
His feet and out of sight.

And our life must be consecrated even as His was. What shall the
consecration be? Far be it from me to undervalue the exaltation into
humility that comes to a man when he consecrates himself to any great
and noble cause. I believe that it helps to save any man from pride
when he gives himself to his family or his country or his fellow men,
to truth, to liberty, to purity, to anything outside of and above
himself, but there is a consecration higher and fuller and more saving
than any such can be. We go back to the Cross. Jesus is dying there
for us. He dies and we are saved. What then? When a soul "knows its
full salvation" and sees it all bought by, all wrapt up in, that
Redeemer, then in the outburst of a grateful love, he gives himself
to the Redeemer Christ. There is no hesitation, no keeping back of
anything. He is all offered up to Christ; and then to serve that
Christ, to follow Him, to do His will, to enter into Him, that is
the one great object of the whole consecrated life, and in that
consecration, the straining of the life toward that One Object, the
"pride of life" is swept down and drowned. Not merely the life then,
but the use of the life, comes from the Father. It is not of the
world. The soul is saved!

The salvation of the Cross! Its center is the forgiveness of sins
which the cross alone made possible; but is not its issue here, in the
lifting of the soul above the pride of life and consecrating it in the
profoundest gratitude to "Him who redeemed us and washed us from
sins in His own blood"? What humility! What self-forgetfulness! What
unworldliness! What utter childhood to the Father!

My friends, my people, would you be saved, saved from your sins, saved
from yourselves, saved from the pride of life? You must be His that
you may not be your own! He died for you that you might not henceforth
live to yourself but unto Him. You must be consecrated to your Savior.
If there is one soul in my church to-day who is weary and dissatisfied
with his self-slavery, I offer him Jesus for Savior, for Master! If
any man thirst let him come unto Him and drink. Turn unto Him and be
ye saved! You can, you must! His service is life, life in its fullest
because life in humility. Outside of His gospel and His service there
is the pride of life, and the pride of life is death.

GLADDEN

THE PRINCE OF LIFE

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Washington Gladden, Congregational divine, was born at Pottsgrove,
Pa., in 1836. After graduating at Williams College he was ordained
pastor, and occupied pulpits in Brooklyn, Morrisania, N.Y., and
Springfield, Mass., until 1882, when he assumed charge of the First
Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio. He has also occupied
editorial positions, and has published many books on social and civil
reform and the practical application of Christian truth to popular and
common life. His style, whether he is writing or speaking, combines
vigor with grace.

GLADDEN

BORN IN 1836

THE PRINCE OF LIFE[1]

[Footnote 1: From Mr. Gladden's "The New Idolatry." By permission of
The McClure Co. Copyright, 1906, by McClure, Phillips & Co.]

_And killed the prince of life, whom God hath raised from the
dead._--Acts iii., 15.

This is the phrase with which Peter, in his great speech in the temple
porch, describes the Master whose disciple he had been for three years,
whose death he had witnessed on Calvary, and to whose resurrection from
the dead he is now bearing witness. "The prince of life!" It is one of
the many great titles conferred upon the Lord by those who loved Him.
Reverence and devotion fell from their lips in lyrical cadences whenever
they spoke of Him, and they wreathed for Him garlands of words with
which they loved to deck His memory. He was "the Prophet of the
Highest"; He was "the Great High Priest"; He was "the Shepherd of the
Sheep"; He was "the Captain of Salvation"; He was "the First Born of
Many Brethren"; He was "Redeemer," "Reconciler," "Savior." Gratitude and
affection shaped many a tender phrase in which to describe Him, but
there is none, perhaps, more luminous or more comprehensive than this
with which the impulsive Peter, facing the men who had put Him to death,
gave utterance to his loyalty. Its pertinence is confirmed by the word
of Jesus Himself, in one of the sayings in which He described His
mission: "I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it
abundantly." Author and Giver of life He was, and what He gave He gave
with princely munificence--freely, unstintedly.

The phrase seems to be one on which we may fitly dwell to-day, since
the day of the year which commemorates His birth occurs on the day of
the week which celebrates His resurrection. Both events proclaim Him
the Prince of Life. In the one He is the Bringer of new life, in
the other He is the Victor over death; and thus He becomes, in the
impassioned confessions of the apostle, the Alpha and the Omega, the
Author and the Finisher of Faith, the First and the Last and the
Living One.

Those who are familiar with the New Testament narration do not need to
have their attention called to the constant ministry of this Son of
Man to the vital needs of men. The impartation of life seems to
have been His main business. Somehow it came to be believed by the
multitude, at the very beginning of His public ministry, that He
possest some power of communicating life. The wonderful works ascribed
to Him are nearly all of this character. The healing of the sick, the
cleansing of the lepers, all resulted from the reenforcement of the
vital energies of the sufferers. When He laid His hand upon men, new
life seemed to speed through their veins. We have known some who
seemed to have, in some imperfect way, this quickening touch. It is
a physiological fact that warm blood from the veins of a thoroughly
healthy person, transfused through the veins of one who is emaciated
or exhausted, quickens the wavering pulse and brings life to the
dying. It may be that through the nerve tissues, as well as through
the veins, the same vitalizing force may be communicated, and that
those who are in perfect health, both of body and of mind, may have
the power of imparting life to those who are in need of it. The
miracles of healing ascribed to Jesus must have been miracles in the
literal sense; they were wonders, marvels--for that is what the word
miracle means; that they were interruptions or violations of natural
law is never intimated in the New Testament; they may have been purely
natural occurrences, taking place under the operation of natural
laws with which we are not familiar. We are far from knowing all the
secrets of this wonderful universe; the time may come when these words
of Jesus will have larger meaning than we have ever given them: "If ye
abide in me, the works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works
than these shall ye do, because I go unto my Father."

The fact to be noted is, however, that the people with whom Jesus was
brought into contact were made aware in many ways of the impartation
of His Life to them. "Of His fulness," said John, "we all received,
and grace for grace." There seemed to be in Him a plenitude of
vitality, from which health and vigor flowed into the lives of those
who came near to Him. Nor does this seem to have been any mere
physical magnetism; there is no intimation that His physical
endowments were exceptional; the restoring and invigorating influence
oftener flowed from a deeper source. The physical renewal came as the
result of a spiritual quickening. He reached the body through the
soul. The order was, first, "Thy sins be forgiven thee"; then, "Arise
and walk." If the spirit is thoroughly alive, the body more quickly
recovers its lost vigor. And it was mainly in giving peace to troubled
consciences and rest to weary souls that He conferred upon those who
received Him the great boon of life.

Thus Jesus proved Himself "the Prince of Life." In the early ages of
the Church the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came to be described as
"the Lord and Giver of Life"; but that was because He was believed to
be the Continuator of the work of Jesus--the spiritual Christ.

There seems to be in this conception a great and beautiful revelation
of the essential nature of Christianity. There are many ways of
conceiving of this, but I am not sure that any one of them is more
significant than that which we are now considering. Those words of
Jesus to which I have before referred are wonderful words when we come
to think upon them. They occur in that discourse in which He describes
Himself first as the Good Shepherd, and contrasts Himself with the
thieves and robbers who have been ravaging the flock. "The thief
cometh not," He says, "but that he may steal and kill and destroy; I
came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly," Have we
not here the great fundamental distinction between men--the line that
separates the evil from the good, the just from the unjust, the sheep
from the goats--that distinction which Jesus marks so clearly in His
parable of judgment, and which must never, in our interpretations or
philosophizings, be blotted or blurred? Some are life-givers; some are
life-destroyers. "The thief cometh not but that he may steal and
kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and may have it
abundantly."

I do not suppose that Jesus meant in this to declare that there is a
large class of persons whose entire purpose it is to steal and kill
and destroy; probably there are none so malevolent that they do not
cherish some kindly impulses and perform some generous deeds. It is a
distinction between acts, or perhaps between tendencies of character,
that He is making. He speaks in the concrete, as He always does; but
He expects us to make the proper application of His words. The fact to
which He guides our thought is this--that there are ways of living,
forms of conduct, which are predatory and destructive of life, and
other ways that tend to make life increase and abound. When Jesus
contrasts His own conduct, as one who gives life and gives it
abundantly, with the thieves and robbers who kill and destroy, we must
interpret the conduct of those whom He describes as destructive of
life--as tending to the diminution of life. Indeed, it is a very deep
and awful truth that all our social action tends in one or other of
these directions. Life, in its proper relation, is the one supreme and
central good; the life of the body is the supreme good of the body;
the life of the spirit is the supreme good of the spirit. And you can
rightly estimate any act or habit or tendency of human conduct only by
determining whether it increases and invigorates the life of men, body
and spirit, or whether it reduces or diminishes their life. Good men
are adding to the life of those with whom they have to do; evil men
are debilitating and depleting the life of those with whom they have
to do.

Even in our economic relations the final effect of all our conduct
upon those with whom we deal is to replenish or diminish their life.
The wage question is at bottom a question of more or less life for the
wage-worker. Starvation wages are wages by which the hold upon life
of the wage-earner and his wife and children is weakened. Systems of
industry are good in proportion as they enlarge and invigorate the
life of the whole population; evil in proportion as they lessen and
weaken its life. So all industrial and national policies are to be
judged by the amount of life which they produce and maintain--life of
the body and of the spirit. Those strong words of John Ruskin are the
everlasting truth:

"There is no wealth but life--life including all its powers of love,
of joy and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes
the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is
richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the
utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal and by
means of his possessions, over the lives of others,"

We have here, as you see, the Christian conception--the very word of
the Prince of Life, of Him who came that we might have life, and that
we might have it abundantly. And when His kingdom has come, this will
be the end for which wealth is sought and used in every nation.

It is possible to use wealth so that it shall be productive of life;
so that the entire administration of it shall tend to the enlargement
and enrichment of the life of men; so that the labor which it employs
shall obtain an increasing share of the goods which it produces; so
that all the conditions under which that labor is performed shall be
favorable to health and life and happiness; so that the spiritual
life, also, of all who are employed shall be nourished by inspiring
them with good-will and kindness, with the confidence in man which
helps us to have faith in God. Such an administration of wealth is
perhaps the very best testimony to the reality of the truth of the
Christian religion which it is possible to bear in this day and
generation. One who handles capital with this clear purpose can do
more to establish in the earth the kingdom of heaven than any minister
or missionary can do.

But it is possible to use wealth in the opposite way, so that it shall
be destructive rather than productive of life. A man may manage his
industry in such a way that the last possible penny shall be taken
from wages and added to profit; in such a way that the health of his
employees shall be impaired and their happiness blighted and their
hope taken, away. He may do this while maintaining an outwardly
religious behavior and giving large sums to philanthropy. But such
a handling of wealth does more to make infidels than any heretical
teacher or lecturer ever did or can do.

The fact needs to be noted that all the predatory schemes by which
capital is successfully inflated and nefariously manipulated, and the
community is thus burdened, are deadly attacks upon the life of the
people. They filch away the earnings of the laboring classes. They
increase the cost of rent and transportation and all the necessaries
of life. They extort from the people contributions for which no
equivalent has been given, of commodity or service. Thus the burden of
toil is increased and the reward of industry is lessened for all who
work; the surplus out of which life would be replenished is consumed,
and the amount of life in the nation at large is lessened. Every one
of those schemes of frenzied finance about which we are reading
in these days is a gigantic bloodsucker, with ten million minute
tentacles which it stealthily fastens upon the people who do the
world's work, and each one of the victims must give up a little of his
life for the aggrandizement of our financial Titans. When such schemes
flourish, by which men's gains are suddenly swollen to enormous
proportions, somebody must be paying for it, and life is always the
final payment. It all comes out of the life of the people who are
producing the world's wealth. The plethora of the few is the depletion
of the millions. In every great aggregation of workers, the faces of
the underfed are a little paler and the pulses of the children beat a
little less joyously, and the feet are hastened on that journey to
the tomb--all because of those who come to steal and to kill and to
destroy.

Such is the contrast between beneficent business and maleficent
business. The good business employs men, feeds them, clothes them,
shelters them, generously distributes among them the goods that
nourish life; the bad business contrives to levy tribute on the
resources out of which they are fed and clad and nourished, and thus
enriches itself by impoverishing the life of the multitude.

And I suppose that we should all find, whether we are engaged in what
is called business or not, that the work which we are doing, the way
in which we are spending our time and gaining our income, is tending
either to the enlargement and increase of the life of those with whom
we have to do or to the impoverishment and destruction of their life;
and that this is the final test by which we must be judged--are we
producers of life or destroyers of life? Is there more of life in the
world--more of physical and spiritual life--because of what we are and
what we do, or is the physical and spiritual vitality of men lessened
by what we are and what we do? Are we helping men to be stronger and
sounder in body and mind and soul for the work of life, or are we
making them feebler in muscle and will and moral stamina?

When Jesus Christ came into the world the civilization prevailing--if
such it could be called--was under the dominion of those who came
to steal and to kill and to destroy. Rome was the world, and the
civilization of Rome, with all its splendor, was at bottom a predatory
civilization. It overran all its neighbors that it might subjugate and
despoil them; its whole social system was based on a slavery in which
the enslaved were merely chattels; the life of its ruling class was
fed by the literal devouring of the lives of subject classes. Of
course, this civilization was decadent. That terrible decline and fall
which Gibbon has pictured was in full progress. It was in the midst of
this awful scene that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Can anyone
doubt that His heart was full of divine compassion for those who were
trampled on and preyed upon by the cruel and the strong, for those
whose lives were consumed by the avarice and greed of their fellows?
What did He mean when, at the beginning of His ministry in the synagog
where He had always worshiped, He took in his hand the roll of the
prophet Isaiah and read therefrom: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he
hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight
to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the
acceptable year of the Lord"--adding as He sat down, under the gaze of
the congregation, "To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your
ears"? What could He have meant but this, that it was His mission to
change the entire current and tendency of human life; to put an end to
the plunderers and devourers; to chain the wolfish passion in human
hearts which prompts men to steal and to kill and to destroy; to
inspire them with His own divine compassion; to give life and to give
it abundantly? And is it not true that so far as men do receive of His
fulness, so far as they are brought under the control of His spirit,
they do cease to be destroyers and devourers of the bodies and souls
of their fellows, and become helpers, saviors, life-bringers? And is
not this included in His meaning when He says: "I am come that they
may have life, and that they may have it abundantly"?

To-day, then, we hail Him as Prince of Life, the glorious Giver to men
of the one supreme and crowning good. And the manner of the giving is
not hard to understand. He gives life by kindling in our hearts the
flame of sacred love. Love is life. Love to God and man brings the
soul into unity with itself; it is obeying its own organic law, and
obedience to its law brings to any organism life and health and
peace. If the spirit of Christ has become the ruling principle of our
conduct, then we have entered into life, and it is a life that knows
no term; it is the immortal life. If the spirit of Christ has entered
into our lives, then in all our relations with others life is
increased; we are by nature givers of good; out of our lives are
forever flowing healing, restoring, saving, vitalizing influences; and
when all the members of the society in which we move have received
this spirit and manifest it, there are none to bite and devour, to
hurt and destroy; the predatory creatures have ceased their ravages,
and the world rejoices in the plenitude of life which He came to
bring.

We hail Him, then, to-day, as the Lord and Giver of life. We desire to
share with Him the unspeakable gift, and to share it, as best we may,
with all our fellow men. What we freely receive from Him, we would
freely give. What the whole world needs to-day is life, more life,
fuller life, larger life. We spend all our energies in heaping up the
means of life, and never really begin to live; our strength is wasted,
our health is broken, our intellects are impoverished, our affections
are withered, our peace is destroyed in our mad devotion to that
which is only an adjunct or appendage of life. Oh, if we could only
understand how good a thing it is to live, just to live, truly and
freely and largely and nobly, to live the life that is life indeed!

Shall we not draw to this Prince of Life and take from Him the gift
that He came to bring? Is not this the one thing needful? We are
reading and hearing much in these days of the simple life. What is it
but the life into which they are led who take the yoke of this Master
upon them and learn of Him? It is a most cheering omen that this
little book of Pastor Wagner's is falling into so many hands and
littering its ingenuous and persuasive plea before so many minds
and in so many homes. If we heed it, it must bring us back to the
simplicity of Christ. Pastor Wagner is only preaching over again the
Sermon on the Mount; it is nothing but the teaching of Jesus brought
down to this day and applied to the conditions of our complex
civilization. It is the true teaching; none of us can doubt it. And I
wish that we could all begin the new year with the earnest purpose to
put ourselves under the leadership of the Prince of Life. I know that
we should find His yoke easy and His burden light, and that there
would be rest for our souls in the paths into which He would lead us.
We should know, if we shared His life, that we were really living; and
we should know also that we wore helping others to live; that we were
doing what we could to put an end to the ravages of the destroyers and
the devourers, and to fill the earth with the abundance of peace.

Is not this, fellow men, the right way to live? Does not all that is
deepest and divinest in you consent to this way of life into which
Jesus Christ is calling us, as the right way, the royal way, the
blessed way? Choose it, then, with all the energy of your volition,
and walk in it with a glad heart and a hope that maketh not ashamed.

CLIFFORD

THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Clifford, Baptist divine, was born at Lawley, Derbyshire,
in 1836. He was educated at the Baptist College, Nottingham, and
University College, London. He has had much editorial as well as
ministerial experience and has published a number of works upon
religious, educational and social questions. The Rev. William Durban,
the editor, writing from London of John Clifford in the _Homiletic
Review_, styles him "the renowned Baptist preacher, undoubtedly the
most conspicuous figure in his own denomination." He speaks of "the
profundity of thought," "simplicity and beauty of diction," the
"compactness of argument" and "instructive expository character" of
this preacher's discourses.

CLIFFORD

BORN IN 1836

THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

_I believe in the forgiveness of sins_.--Apostles' Creed.

This is the first note of personal experience in the Apostles' Creed.
We here come into the society of men like John Bunyan and go with
them through the wicket-gate of repentance, through the Slough of
Despond, getting out on the right side of it, reaching at length the
cross, to find the burden fall from our backs as we look upon Him who
died for us; and then we travel on our way until we come to the River
of Death and cross it, discovering that it is not so deep after all,
and that on the other side is the fulness of the life everlasting.

It is a new note, and it is a little surprizing--is it not?--to most
students of this creed that we should have to travel through so many
clauses before we reach it. It scarcely seems to be in keeping with
the spirit and temper of the early Christian Church that we should
have all this analysis of thought, this statement of the facts of
Christian revelation, this testimony as to the power of the Holy
Spirit, before we get any utterance as to that individual faith by
which the Christian Church has been created, and owing to which there
has been the helpful and inspiring fellowship of the saints.

I say it is a new note, but it is fundamental. When the Creed does
touch the inward life, it goes straight to that which is central--to
that which is preeminently evangelical. Without the doctrine of the
forgiveness of sins you could have no good news for a sinful world;
but with the assertion of this faith as the actual faith of the man,
you have possibilities of service, the upspringing of altruism, the
conquest of self, the enthronement of Christ, the advancement of
humanity after the likeness of Jesus Christ.

A note it is which is not only fundamental but most musical,
harmonious and gladdening. In the ancient Psalms we hear it
oft--"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his
holy name, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy
diseases." It recurs in the prophets: "I, the Lord, am he that
blotteth out thy sins; yea, tho they be as a thick cloud, I will blot
them out." It is the highest note reached by the singers of the Old
Testament; but it comes to us with greater resonance and sweetness
from the lips of the men who have stood in the presence of Jesus
Christ, and who are able to say, as they look into the faces of their
fellows: "Be it known unto you that through this man is preached unto
you the forgiveness of sins from which you could not have been freed
by the law of Moses." With emphasis, with, strength, with fulness of
conviction, with gladdening rapture, these men proclaimed their faith
in the forgiveness of sins, and tho the Creed of the churches travels
slowly after the faith of the early Church, its last note sounds out
a note of triumph: "I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the
resurrection of the body, and life everlasting."

It is the crown of the whole Creed. It is the flowering of the truths
that are contained in the Creed. Let a man understand God, and let him
have such a vision of the Eternal as Job had, and he is constrained to
say, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." He desires first
and chiefly to know that the true relation between the human spirit
and God which has been broken by sin has at length been rearranged,
and that sin is no longer an obstacle to the soul's converse with a
holy God, but that the ideal relation of the human spirit with the
divine spirit is reestablished by the proclamation of forgiveness.
For, as you know, pardon is not the extinguishing of a man's past;
that cannot be done. What has been done by us of good or evil abides,
it endures; not God Himself can extinguish the deeds of the past. What
forgiveness does is this: it rearranges the relations between the
spirit of man and our Father, so that the sins of the past are no
longer an obstacle to us in our speech with Him, our trust in Him--our
using the energies of God for the accomplishment of His purposes. It
is the restoration of the human spirit to right relations with God.
Forgiveness of sins conies, therefore, at the very start of a right
life. It is the beginning. All else in the spiritual life succeeds
upon this.

I know there is a theory among us, and I am prepared to endorse it,
that, if we are trained by godly parents in godly homes, we may grow
into the spiritual life, pass into it, as it were, by stages which it
is impossible for us to register. We are largely unconscious of
these spiritual ascents; they are being made by the gracious use
of influences that are in our environment, that reach us through
sanctified folk, and we travel on from strength to strength, and,
then, perchance, in our young manhood or womanhood, there comes a
crisis of revelation, and we discover that we are in such relations
with God our Father, Redeemer, and Renewer as fill us with peace,
create hope and conscious strength. But I assure you that in addition
to this experience there will come, it may be early, it may be late,
some moment in the life when there is discovered to the individual
spirit making that ascent a sense of the awful heinousness of sin; and
tho we may not have such a unique experience of evil as the Apostle
Paul had, and become so conscious of it as to feel, as it were, that
it is a dead body that we have to carry about with us as we go through
life, interfering with the very motions of our spirit; yet we do
approximate to it, and it is through these approximations to
the Apostle Paul that we are lifted to the heights of spiritual
achievement, and are qualified for sympathy with a sin-stricken world,
and inspired by and nourished in a passionate enthusiasm to serve that
world by bringing it into right relations with God.

When, therefore, a man says, "I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth," he is asserting that which, being turned
to its full and true use, carries him to this goal, "I believe in the
forgiveness of sins." For a full and true doctrine of God can only
be heartily welcomed when it is associated with the message of the
forgiveness of sins. Otherwise the visions of the eternal Power may
start in us the cry of Peter: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man,
O Lord," When a man asserts his faith in Jesus Christ, God's only Son,
our Lord, who was crucified, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who
died on the cross; he is himself asserting his faith in the great
purpose for which God sent His Son; even to take away the sin of
the world, to make an end of iniquity, to bring in an everlasting
righteousness; and so out of that faith he prepared for the response
which the soul makes to the workings of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost
within him, and he is able to say from his own knowledge of what God
has been to him, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins."

Friends, you have said this again and again, some of you hundreds of
times. You have asserted it week by week. What did you mean by it?
What exactly was the thought in your heart as the words passed over
your lips, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins"? Was it simply the
recognition of a universal amnesty for a world of rebels? Was it
merely the assertion of your confidence in the goodness of God
irrespective of His holiness? Or when you uttered that faith of yours,
did it mean that you were able to say, "My sins, which were many,
are all forgiven. My sins are forgiven, not may be--that pardon is a
glorious possibility only--but are forgiven, not will be forgiven at
some future time. I am now at peace with God through faith, in our
Lord Jesus Christ"? Could you say that? Was that what it meant; or was
it simply the repetition of a phrase which has been handed down to
you by your predecessors, and which you took up as part of an ordered
service, without putting the slightest fiber of your soul into it?

Depend upon it, the mere recitation of a creed will not bring you
God's peace, it will not open your heart to the access of His infinite
calm. It will not secure you that emancipation from evil which will
mean immediate dedication of yourself to work for the emancipation
of the world. You must know of yourself, of your own heart and
consciousness, that God has forgiven you. And if you do get that
consciousness, that moment of your life will be marked indelibly upon
the tablet of your memory. The dint will go so deeply into your nature
that it will be impossible for you to forget it. Speaking for myself,
I can at this moment see the whole surroundings of the place and time
when to me there came the glad tidings, "God has forgiven you." "God
was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto
men their trespasses."

Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins? Then preach it. Tell it
to other people. Let your neighbors know about it. I do not mean
by preaching at the street corners, but by getting into such close
affectionate touch, with your friends as that you shall be able to
persuade them to disinter the thoughts of their own hearts, and show
the sorrows that are there--sorrows produced by sin. For, believe me,
behind all the bright seeming of human countenances there is a subtle
bitterness gnawing constantly at the heart, consequent upon the
consciousness of failure--the sense of having broken the law of God. I
know that hundreds of people go into the church and tell God that they
are miserable sinners. They do that in a crowd; it is saying nothing.
They no more think of saying it in such a way as to place themselves
apart from their fellows than they would of saying: "I am a thief!"

Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins? What, then, are you going
to do with your faith?

Prove your faith by your works. Every time you ask God for forgiveness
you should feel yourself pledged to a most strenuous and resolute
fight with the sin you ask God to forgive. The acceptance of pardon
pledges you to the pursuit of holiness, and yet we have to keep on
with this doctrine, because it is not only the very beginning of the
Christian life, but also the continuous need of that life.

We have to say night by night, "Forgive the ill that I this day have
done." And if we say it as we ought, as really believing that God
forgives us, so that we may not lose heart, may never encourage
despair of final victory, we shall get up next morning resolved to
make a fiercer fight than ever with the evil that sent us on our knees
last night. Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins? Let the joy of
it come to you, and as your own heart overflows with the fulness of
that joy, declare unto others God's salvation, and teach transgressors
His way. Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins? Then find in that
faith an impact to obedience to the law of Jesus: "Be ye perfect even
as your Father in heaven is perfect"; and do not forget that He who
begins the good work in you with His pardon will carry it on to the
day of Jesus Christ; so that you may add the last words of the
Creed: "I believe in the resurrection from the dead and in the life
everlasting."

It is not altogether a good sign that we have pushed eternity out of
our modern thought. Confronted as man is every moment by a sense of
the fragility and the brevity of human life, it is not surprizing
that we should welcome everybody who comes with a message concerning
eternity.

Is there not, in truth, beauty in the old Anglo-Saxon story of the
bird that shot in at one open window of the large assembly hall and
out at another, where were gathered together a great company of thanes
and vassals; and when the missionary was asked to speak to them
concerning God and His salvation, the thane who was presiding rose
and said, recalling the bird's speedy flight from side to side of
the hall, "Such is our life, and if this man can tell us anything
concerning the place to which we are going, let him stand up and be
heard." Brothers, a few days may carry us into eternity. "Boast not
thyself of to-morrow, thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."
Strong, hopeful, rich in promise of service is to-day; to-morrow
friends may be weeping, kith and kin full of sorrow for our
departure. This life does not end all; we are going to an eternity of
blessedness, to progress without limit, to an assimilation with God
that shall know no sudden break or failure, but shall be perfect, even
as He is perfect.

MOODY

WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Dwight Lyman Moody, the evangelist, was born at Northfield,
Massachusetts, in 1837, and died in 1899. As a business man he brought
to his evangelistic work exceptional tact, initiative, and executive
ability, but the main source of his power lay in his knowledge of the
Bible, his constant companion. In preaching he largely disregarded
form, and thought little of the sermon as such. His one overwhelming
and undeviating purpose was to lead men to Christ. His speaking was in
a kind of monotone, but his straightforward plainness never failed to
be effective. He usually held the Bible in his hand while speaking,
so that there was little of gesture. His great sympathetic nature is
spoken of by Henry Drummond in these words:

"If eloquence is measured by its effect upon an audience, and not by
its balanced sentences and cumulative periods, then this is eloquence
of the highest sort. In sheer persuasiveness Mr. Moody has few equals,
and rugged as his preaching may seem to some, there is in it a pathos
of a quality which few orators have ever reached, and an appealing
tenderness which not only wholly redeems it, but raises it, not
unseldom, almost to sublimity."

MOODY

1837--1899

WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?[1]

[Footnote 1: By permission of the Fleming H. Revell Company, owners of
copyright.]

_What think ye of Christ_?--Matt, xxii., 42.

I suppose there is no one here who has not thought more or less about
Christ. You have heard about Him, and read about Him, and heard men
preach about Him. For eighteen hundred years men have been talking
about Him and thinking about Him; and some have their minds made up
about who He is, and doubtless some have not. And altho all these
years have rolled away, this question comes up, addresst to each of
us, to-day, "What think ye of Christ?"

I do not know why it should not be thought a proper question for one
man to put to another. If I were to ask you what you think of any of
your prominent men, you would already have your mind made up about
him. If I were to ask you what you thought of your noble queen, you
would speak right out and tell me your opinion in a minute.

If I were to ask about your prime minister, you would tell me freely
what you had for or against him. And why should not people make up
their minds about the Lord Jesus Christ, and take their stand for or
against Him? If you think well of Him, why not speak well of Him and
range yourselves on His side? And if you think ill of Him, and believe
Him to be an impostor, and that He did not die to save the world, why
not lift up your voice and say you are against Him? It would be a
happy day for Christianity if men would just take sides--if we could
know positively who is really for Him and who is against Him.

It is of very little importance what the world thinks of any one else.
The queen and the statesman, the peers and the princes, must soon be
gone. Yes; it matters little, comparatively, what we think of them.
Their lives can only interest a few; but every living soul on the face
of the earth is concerned with this Man. The question for the world
is, "What think ye of Christ?"

I do not ask you what you think of the Established Church, or of the
Presbyterians, or the Baptists, or the Roman Catholics; I do not ask
you what you think of this minister or that, of this doctrine or that;
but I want to ask you what you think of the living person of Christ?

I should like to ask, Was He really the Son of God--the great God-Man?
Did He leave heaven and come down to this world for a purpose? Was it
really to seek and to save? I should like to begin with the manger,
and to follow Him up through the thirty-three years He was here upon
earth. I should ask you what you think of His coming into this world
and being born in a manger when it might have been a palace; why He
left the grandeur and the glory of heaven, and the royal retinue of
angels; why He passed by palaces and crowns and dominion and came down
here alone.

I should like to ask you what you think of Him as a teacher. He spake
as never man spake. I should like to take Him up as a preacher. I
should like to bring you to that mountain-side, that we might listen
to the words as they fall from His gentle lips. Talk about the
preachers of the present day! I would rather a thousand times be five
minutes at the feet of Christ than listen a lifetime to all the wise
men in the world. He used just to hang truth upon anything. Yonder is
a sower, a fox, a bird, and He just gathers the truth around them, so
that you cannot see a fox, a sower, or a bird, without thinking what
Jesus said. Yonder is a lily of the valley; you cannot see it without
thinking of His words, "They toil not, neither do they spin."

He makes the little sparrow chirping in the air preach to us. How
fresh those wonderful sermons are, how they live to-day! How we love
to tell them to our children, how the children love to hear! "Tell me
a story about Jesus," how often we hear it; how the little ones love
His sermons! No story-book in the world will ever interest them like
the stories that He told. And yet how profound He was; how He puzzled
the wise men; how the scribes and the Pharisees would never fathom
Him! Oh, do you not think He was a wonderful preacher?

I should like to ask you what you think of Him as a physician. A man
would soon have a reputation as a doctor if he could cure as Christ
did. No case was ever brought to Him but what He was a match for. He
had but to speak the word, and disease fled before Him. Here comes a
man covered with leprosy.

"Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean," he cried.

"I will," says the Great Physician, and in an instant the leprosy is
gone. The world has hospitals for incurable diseases; but there were
no incurable diseases with Him.

Now, see Him in the little home at Bethany, binding up the wounded
hearts of Martha and Mary, and tell me what you think of Him as
a comforter. He is a husband to the widow and a father to the
fatherless. The weary may find a resting-place upon that breast, and
the friendless may reckon Him their friend. He never varies. He never
fails, He never dies. His sympathy is ever fresh, His love is ever
free. Oh, widow and orphans, oh, sorrowing and mourning, will you not
thank God for Christ the comforter?

But these are not the points I wish to take up. Let us go to those who
knew Christ, and ask what they thought of Him. If you want to find out
what a man is nowadays, you inquire about him from those who know him
best. I do not wish to be partial; we will go to His enemies, and to
His friends. We will ask them, What think ye of Christ? We will ask
His friends and His enemies. If we only went to those who liked Him,
you would say:

"Oh, he is so blind; he thinks so much of the man that he can't see
His faults. You can't get anything out of him unless it be in His
favor; it is a one-sided affair altogether."

So we shall go in the first place to His enemies, to those who hated
Him, persecuted Him, curst and slew Him. I shall put you in the
jury-box, and call upon them to tell us what they think of Him.

First, among the witnesses, let us call upon the Pharisees. We
know how they hated Him. Let us put a few questions to them. "Come,
Pharisees, tell us what you have against the Son of God, What do you
think of Christ?" Hear what they say! "This man receiveth sinners."
What an argument to bring against Him! Why, it is the very thing that
makes us love Him. It is the glory of the gospel. He receives sinners.
If He had not, what would have become of us? Have you nothing more
to bring against Him than this? Why, it is one of the greatest
compliments that was ever paid Him. Once more: when He was hanging on
the tree, you had this to say to Him, "He saved others, but He could
not save Himself and save us too." So He laid down His own life for
yours and mine. Yes, Pharisees, you have told the truth for once in
your lives! He saved others. He died for others. He was a ransom for
many; so it is quite true what you think of Him--He saved others,
Himself He cannot save.

Now, let us call upon Caiaphas. Let him stand up here in his flowing
robes; let us ask him for his evidence. "Caiaphas, you were chief
priest when Christ was tried; you were president of the Sanhedrin; you
were in the council-chamber when they found Him guilty; you yourself
condemned Him. Tell us; what did the witnesses say? On what grounds
did you judge Him? What testimony was brought against Him?" "He hath
spoken blasphemy," says Caiaphas. "He said, 'Hereafter you shall see
the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the
clouds of heaven.' When I heard that, I found Him guilty of blasphemy;
I rent my mantle and condemned Him to death." Yes, all that they had
against Him was that He was the Son of God; and they slew Him for the
promise of His coming for His bride!

Now let us summon Pilate. Let him enter the witness-box.

"Pilate, this man was brought before you; you examined Him; you talked
with Him face to face; what think you of Christ?"

"I find no fault in him," says Pilate. "He said he was the King of
the Jews [just as He wrote it over the cross]; but I find no fault in
him." Such is the testimony of the man who examined Him! And, as He
stands there, the center of a Jewish mob, there comes along a man
elbowing his way in haste. He rushes up to Pilate, and, thrusting out
his hand, gives him a message. He tears it open; his face turns pale
as he reads--"Have thou nothing to do with this just man, for I have
suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." It is from
Pilate's wife--her testimony to Christ. You want to know what His
enemies thought of Him? You want to know what a heathen, thought?
Well, here it is, "no fault in him"; and the wife of a heathen, "this
just man."

And now, look--in comes Judas. He ought to make a good witness. Let us
address him. "Come, tell us, Judas, what think ye of Christ? You
knew the Master well; you sold Him for thirty pieces of silver; you
betrayed Him with a kiss; you saw Him perform those miracles; you were
with Him in Jerusalem. In Bethany, when He summoned up Lazarus, you
were there. What think you of Him?" I can see him as he comes into the
presence of the chief priests; I can hear the money ring as he dashes
it upon the table, "I have betrayed innocent blood!" Here is the man
who betrayed Him, and this is what he thinks of Him! Yes, those who
were guilty of His death put their testimony on record that He was an
innocent man.

Let us take the centurion who was present at the execution. He had
charge of the Roman soldiers. He told them to make Him carry His
cross; he had given orders for the nails to be driven into His feet
and hands, for the spear to be thrust in His side. Let the centurion
come forward. "Centurion, you had charge of the executioners; you saw
that the order for His death was carried out; you saw Him die; you
heard Him speak upon the cross. Tell us, what think you of Christ?"
Hark! Look at him; he is smiting his breast as he cries, "Truly, this
was the son of God!"

I might go to the thief upon the cross, and ask what he thought of
Him. At first he railed upon Him and reviled Him. But then he thought
better of it: "This man hath done nothing amiss," he says.

I might go further. I might summon the very devils themselves and ask
them for their testimony. Have they anything to say of Him? Why, the
very devils called Him the Son of God! In Mark we have the unclean
spirit crying, "Jesus, thou Son of the most high God." Men say, "Oh,
I believe Christ to be the Son of God, and because I believe it
intellectually I shall be saved." I tell you the devils did that. And
they did more than that, they trembled.

Let us bring in His friends. We want you to hear their evidence. Let
us call that prince of preachers. Let us hear the forerunner; none
ever preached like this man--this man who drew all Jerusalem and all
Judea into the wilderness to hear him; this man who burst upon the
nations like the flash of a meteor. Let John the Baptist come with his
leathern girdle and his hairy coat, and let him tell us what he thinks
of Christ. His words, tho they were echoed in the wilderness of
Palestine, are written in the Book forever, "Behold the Lamb of God
which taketh away the sin of the world!" This is what John the Baptist
thought of him. "I bear record that He is the Son of God." No wonder
he drew all Jerusalem and Judea to him, because he preached Christ.
And whenever men preach Christ, they are sure to have plenty of
followers.

Let us bring in Peter, who was with Him on the mount of
transfiguration, who was with Him the night He was betrayed. Come,
Peter, tell us what you think of Christ. Stand in this witness-box and
testify of Him. You denied Him once. You said, with a curse, you did
not know Him. Was it true, Peter? Don't you know Him? "Know Him!" I
can imagine Peter saying: "It was a lie I told then. I did know
Him." Afterward I can hear him charging home their guilt upon these
Jerusalem sinners. He calls Him "both Lord and Christ." Such was the
testimony on the day of Pentecost. "God had made that same Jesus
both Lord and Christ." And tradition tells us that when they came to
execute Peter he felt he was not worthy to die in the way his Master
died, and he requested to be crucified with the head downward. So much
did Peter think of Him!

Now let us hear from the beloved disciple John. He knew more about
Christ than any other man. He had laid his head on his Savior's bosom.
He had heard the throbbing of that loving heart. Look into his Gospel
if you wish to know what he thought of Him.

Matthew writes of Him as the royal king come from His throne. Mark
writes of Him as the servant, and Luke of the Son of Man. John takes
up his pen, and, with one stroke, forever settles the question of
Unitarianism. He goes right back before the time of Adam. "In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God." Look into Revelation. He calls him "the bright and the morning
star." So John thought well of Him--because he knew Him well.

We might bring in Thomas, the doubting disciple. You doubted Him,
Thomas? You would not believe He had risen, and you put your fingers
into the wound in His side. What do you think of Him?

"My Lord and my God!" says Thomas.

Then go over to Decapolis and you will find Christ has been there
casting out devils. Let us call the men of that country and ask what
they think of Him. "He hath done all things well," they say.

But we have other witnesses to bring in. Take the persecuting Saul,
once one of the worst of his enemies. Breathing out threatenings he
meets Him. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" says Christ. He
might have added, "What have I done to you? Have I injured you in any
way? Did I not come to bless you? Why do you treat Me thus, Saul?" And
then Saul asks, "Who art thou, Lord?"

"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest." You see, He was not
ashamed of His name, altho He had been in heaven; "I am Jesus of
Nazareth." What a change did that one interview make to Saul! A few
years afterward we hear him say, "I have suffered the loss of all
things, and do count them but dross that I may win Christ." Such a
testimony to the Savior!

But I shall go still further. I shall go away from earth into the
other world. I shall summon the angels and ask what they think of
Christ. They saw Him in the bosom of the Father before the world was.
Before the dawn of creation, before the morning stars sang together,
He was there. They saw Him leave the throne and come down to the
manger. What a scene for them to witness! Ask these heavenly beings
what they thought of Him then. For once they are permitted to speak;
for once the silence of heaven is broken. Listen to their song on the
plains of Bethlehem, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the
city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." He leaves the
throne to save the world. Is it a wonder the angels thought well of
Him?

Then there are the redeemed saints--they that see Him face to
face. Here on earth He was never known, no one seemed really to be
acquainted with Him; but He was known in that world where He had been
from the foundation. What do they think of Him there? If we could hear
from heaven we should hear a shout which would glorify and magnify His
name. We are told that when John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day,
and being caught up, he heard a shout around him, ten thousand times
ten thousand, and thousands and thousands of voices, "Worthy is the
Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!" Yes, He is worthy of
all this. Heaven cannot speak too well of Him. Oh, that earth would
take up the echo and join with heaven in singing, "Worthy to receive
power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and
blessing!"

But there is still another witness, a higher still. Some think that
the God of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New. But when Jesus
came out to Jordan, baptized by John, there came a voice from heaven.
God the Father spoke. It was His testimony to Christ: "This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Ah, yes! God the Father
thinks well of the Son. And if God is well pleased with Him, so ought
we to be. If the sinner and God are well pleased with Christ, then the
sinner and God can meet. The moment you say, as the Father said, "I am
well pleased with Him," and accept Him, you are wedded to God. Will
you not believe the testimony? Will you not believe this witness, this
last of all, the Lord of hosts, the King of kings himself? Once more
he repeats it, so that all may know it. With Peter and James and John,
on the mount of transfiguration, He cries again, "This is my beloved
Son; hear him." And that voice went echoing and reechoing through
Palestine, through all the earth from sea to sea; yes, that voice is
echoing still, Hear Him! Hear Him!

My friend will you hear Him to-day? Hark! what is He saying to you?
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke
is easy, and my burden is light." Will you not think well of such a
Savior? Will you not believe in Him? Will you not trust in Him with
all your heart and mind? Will you not live for Him? If He laid down
His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for
Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be
willing to take it up for Him? Oh, have we not reason to think well of
Him? Do you think it is right and noble to lift up your voice against
such a Savior? Do you think it is just to cry, "Crucify Him! crucify
Him!" Oh, may God help all of us to glorify the Father, by thinking
well of His only-begotten Son.

FOWLER

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Charles H. Fowler, Methodist Episcopal divine, was born 1837 in
Burford, Ontario, Canada, was educated at Syracuse University and the
Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Ill. He was ordained in 1861
and after filling pastorates in many places was made president of
the Northwestern University in 1872, but vacated this post to become
editor of the _Christian Advocate_; four years later he was appointed
missionary secretary and in 1884 was elected bishop. He was well-known
as an able preacher and administrator. He died in 1908.

FOWLER

1837--1908

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

_Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of
his_.--Rom. viii., 9.

I read that with the conviction that it is one of the most searching
passages that can be found in the Book of God. It takes hold of the
question of our salvation as a very substantial and thorough question.
It removes indefinitely, almost infinitely, from this problem of our
destiny, all shadow of uncertainty or of doubt. It brings us squarely
to the facts in our character. On the force of this Scripture we are
borne up on to a platform where we stand with our hearts uncovered and
naked before the eye of God.

This means that the saint must be great in the arduous greatness of
things achieved; that there is no chance for sainthood by any fixt,
imputed plan, but that our real selves shall test and make our real
future.

I never read this Scripture in the presence of a Christian
congregation without feeling that I have in some way chopped down
through every heart with a great broadaxe. There is no whitewashing
this passage: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none
of his." Not, "He will do tolerably well, but not quite as well as he
might do"; not that he will get on after a fashion, and have quite a
respectable entrance into the city of the great King, tho he may not
push quite as far toward the front as he might have done if he had had
the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. Not that at all; but, if any man have
not the Spirit of Christ, there is not the remotest shadow of a chance
for him: "he is none of his."

And so I put this at you, asking you, on account of the great fact
that you are going hence, to so apply this critical test to your
hearts and lives that you may see and feel your need, and that you may
take hold on the great supply, and have that actual transformation of
character that will justify you in believing that you have the Spirit
of Christ.

The success of the missionary cause turns upon exactly the spirit of
this text. I have no faith in the final triumph, of the missionary
cause based upon any other ground than that of the honest, deep-down
conviction of the people of God that the Lord God of Heaven wants this
work done. I am here as a believer in a supernatural gospel--not with
philosophy that may be framed out of the human life of Jesus, but with
a religion that is based upon the supernatural life of the divine
Christ. And I appeal to you on this subject of missions as to a
company of men who believe in the divine authority of the Book of God;
who believe in a blood atonement; who believe in salvation by faith
only; who believe in the pardon of sin and in the regeneration of your
natures; who believe in the power of the Holy Ghost; who believe, in
short, in the sum and substance of an old-fashioned orthodoxy. And I
put this cause upon you as such believers, knowing that, if such
is your position, you have at least the large part of the argument
wrought into the very fiber of your being, by which you cannot stop
short of the conviction that what you have need of for your salvation
other people will need for their salvation. You know that you need a
divine Redeemer; you know that you need the divine pardoning of your
sins; you know that you need the supernatural and divine cleansing of
your hearts; you know that you need the divine, unbreakable promises;
you know that you need this Word, and the way to salvation set forth
in this Book of God, by which you know that there is none other name
given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved. And so I
come to you as to those who have had some experience in supernatural
matters, with the cause based upon this Book of God, asking that your
experience may be made possible for the multitudes beyond, who have
not yet had this opportunity.

Let us take some of the simpler and plainer things in this question,
that we may come up to it without any hesitation. Now, I do not need
to go into the question as to what God will do with the heathen. I
don't know what He will do with them. I know as much about it as you
do, or anybody else, because I know what the Book says about it. God
knows better about this than I do, and will find a way that I cannot
dream of. But, because the words are not uttered by divine authority,
I dare not stand here and utter any word of hope for any man beyond
the gospel committed to me to preach. This I know: That if the heathen
have the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whether they ever saw the Lord
Jesus or not, they are of His. And this I know: That if this
congregation have not the spirit of the Lord Jesus, tho it may have
seen Him, they are not of His. And this I know: That He will save a
Jew and a Gentile on the same terms; that He will do no better for the
Gentile than He will for the Jew, and no better for the Jew than for
the Gentile. And if there was no other name given under heaven among
men by which an ancient Jew or an ancient Gentile might be saved, that
is true to-day. The Lord Jesus thought that these people needed the
gospel, and that they needed it so much that He actually came and
submitted Himself unto death that they might have the gospel. And
God seems so thoroughly to believe that they need the gospel that He
actually gives His only-begotten Son to die, that they may have the
gospel. He treats the case just exactly as if He thought, at least,
that they do really need this divine Redeemer. He has done, in every
step and process of this great work of world-saving, just exactly as
He would have done had He absolutely thought and believed that they
needed a divine Redeemer.

And then I understand another thing out of the Book: That the very
last and supreme utterance of the Master on earth grew out of His
conviction that we should do exactly this thing. And see how He comes
up to it, little by little! He does not rush suddenly upon it--He does
not, upon any truth. It is not in the divine plan to flash upon us
in anything. Truths grow; moral ideas grow. They come into the race
little, and hardly able to stand at all; we can barely find them
beneath us in the lower strata of our being. But they struggle into
power and strength until they fill the field of vision. Nearly every
great truth of Old and New Testament Scripture is to be found in
the Book of Genesis. In Genesis you will find the principle of the
atonement; you will find the division of animals into clean and
unclean, foreshadowing sacrifice; you will find the principle of the
acceptance of offerings that came out of the flock, and the rejection
of the offerings out of the field; you will find the pardon of sin and
the giving of covenants--all the essential parts of the New Testament
growing with their roots away back in Genesis. There is the first
declaration of the coming of this wondrous Redeemer. It was so dim and
uncertain that it was hard to tell what it meant; somehow, somewhere,
some time, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." It
was so dim that our first great mother, when she had gotten her first
son, cried out in her joy, "I have gotten a man from the Lord!" She
thought she had the Redeemer, but she had only a murderer. It was
many a century before the Redeemer would come. The truth was unfolded
little by little; a little brighter it shone on the altars of the
patriarchs; it was unfolded a little more in the visions of the
prophets; was exemplified in the ceremonials of the temple; and in the
fullness of time it came with the Master and His disciples and the
outpouring of the Holy Ghost.

And then see, when the Master comes, how He takes hold of us, knowing
that we are but little, and that we have to be lifted up and enlarged
before we can take in these great truths! He says: "I have more to
tell you: you cannot bear it to-day; I will tell you to-morrow." And
so He gives lesson and instruction, and parable and illustration, all
through. His life, teaching these disciples, chosen on account of
their particular adaptation for the reception of His truth; walking
with them day by day, trying to lift their thought toward the
spiritual and the eternal; teaching them that it is not His plan to
put them on His right hand and His left, and trying to lift them up
toward a spiritual and eternal kingdom. So He keeps on all the time,
lifting them out of their littleness, saying to them later: "You shall
be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and in the
uttermost parts of the earth." They did not know what to make of that.
He was lifting them out of their narrowness. And so He pushes on still
further with them, lifting them up, until, in the supreme hour of His
earthly history--after His agony, after the cross, after He had broken
asunder the bars of the sepulcher, after He had risen, and been
declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead--He
hovers over the Church, coming down to speak to them by the sea-side
and mountain-side; appearing to them suddenly, vanishing as quickly;
offering His hands to their touch, showing His body to their vision,
yet all the time lifting them up, until He brought them to the thought
and gave to the Church the idea of His ubiquity, saying: "Lo! I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world"; and they appreciated
the feeling that He was within hand-reach, and that this was a
spiritual kingdom, and that they could take hold upon the great
spiritual forces. And thus He lifted them up and prepared them for
His great truth, until at last, in the supreme moment of His earthly
history, we see Him yonder on the summit of the mount--the earth
beneath Him, the angels gathered above Him--with His hands spread out
over His followers, with the summit of Olivet receding beneath His
feet. He cries out to them: "All power is given unto me in heaven and
in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo!
I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." And the
unspeakable glory took Him out of their sight.

That is the supreme utterance of the Master after many a century of
preparation, opening our hearts, bringing us to this great truth, and
that this one thing He wants done is His final charge to believers: Go
everywhere; teach, preach, baptize, agonize, give, sacrifice--out to
the very ends of the earth. And lo! I am with you alway, and you shall
lack no good thing. Surely, there can be no doubt that the Master, at
least, thinks that these people have a great need for this gospel.

There are some who have an idea that salvation is to be the sum and
substance of what we are. Well, I think that way myself: that, if you
find heaven on the other side of death, you will take it over with
you; if there is any condition of peace, you will take that condition
of peace with you. Death will be no more than going over a seam in
this carpet. The moment after death will differ from the moment before
death in your essential character no more than any two consecutive
moments in your life. If you are a mean, narrow, selfish, ugly, cross
man the moment before death, you will be a mean, narrow, selfish,
ugly, cross man the moment after death. If you find a good character
over yonder, you will take it over with you. If you have a good
character to take over with you, you will have it in the Lord Jesus
Christ here. If you live on that basis, I think this is pretty safe
that those millions out yonder in the darkness, plunged in ignorance
and superstition, knowing nothing about morality and nothing about
heaven--those millions want a chance, that the same law that governs
our lives will govern theirs. I surround my boy with the best possible
opportunities; I watch every book that comes in his hands; I watch
every playmate that I possibly can that comes in his path; I see to
it, as my highest business on this footstool--higher than my call to
this pulpit--that that boy has a fair chance for heaven. If I push him
out into the alley to herd with criminals, and be dandled in the lap
of vice, and be familiar with all corruption, I have no moral right to
expect to meet him in heaven. But if I multiply advantages about him,
give him the best possible books and surroundings, make him at home
with the Lord Jesus, so that he talks about his salvation and life
eternal as he does about matters in the home, I have a good right to
expect that the King will give me His eternal peace.

Now, I think that the law that holds over my boy holds over all boys
in China and Japan and Hindustan; that, just in proportion as we
multiply the light and the favorable circumstances about them, then in
that proportion we increase their fair chance for heaven. I think it
is sound in philosophy. I believe that, just in proportion as we act
by it, we will be safe.

Now, they are plunged in darkness. They know nothing about our way
of salvation, nothing about the pardon of sin, nothing about purity,
nothing about righteousness, nothing about heaven. We want to multiply
their chances to rid themselves of sin, and to take hold upon life,
and make their way in the path of peace. And the Master seems to so
think it that He says: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations." And
if they will believe it, as I read, they will be saved. "But how can
they believe if they have not heard? And how can they hear without a
preacher? And how can they preach except they be sent?" So the Master
says, Go, send quick, everywhere. That I take to be the teaching of
the Book concerning their needs.

But there is another side of it, and that is the side that swings in
under the passage I have read this morning, and that is our side of
it, our relation to the cause: "If any man have not the Spirit of the
Lord Jesus, he is none of his."

Now, what is the spirit of Christ? I will tell you: He came not to be
ministered unto. Please remember that. Not to see how much He could
gather into His own bosom out of the lives of others. Not to be
ministered unto; not to be petted, and dandled, and lifted along and
fed all the way, with no burden and no care and no work--not that. He
came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister; to pour out of His
life into the lives of others; to see what He could do to make others
blest; and "to give his life a ransom for many." Not merely to give
the little pittance that He could spare and not know it any more than
one would miss the farthing with which he would buy his ride on the
street car, but to give His life a ransom for many. And if any man
have not that spirit, he is none of His.

Now I preach you a doctrine of salvation by faith only, and I put the
emphasis on the word only. That is exactly what I need as a sinner: I
want some sort of release from my past transgressions that will give
me a new start. I have gotten behind; I am borrowing money to
pay interest with, and I see no way out. I must have a spiritual
bankruptcy law. Somebody must come in to my relief, or I am
everlastingly undone. And so I preach this blest doctrine of the
Book of God: "By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of
yourselves: it (the salvation) is the gift of God." I take salvation
as a divine gift, and take it with a glad heart. It gives me a new
chance; it unhinges my present struggle for heaven from the past
transgressions of my life, and gives me an open door to heaven that I
could not reach on any other platform. And so I preach this doctrine
to sinners, knowing that it is exactly what they need.

There is another part of it that covers the question of our pardon;
that takes all my past sins and wipes them out; that gives me a new
chance for righteousness. Now mind: That pardon, that new life, that
new chance works out all the time necessarily from my finger-ends; it
shows itself in my life, absolutely, as certainly as it is there; and
if I cannot find the fruit of it in the fruits of the Spirit, in the
interest in God's cause, in patience and teachableness, in gentleness
and love, I have the absolute demonstration that I have not the thing
itself. Saved by faith, kept alive, kept saved by work, in work, by
grace in work. Let me touch that theology just a little. If you
are pardoned, you are pardoned by the Lord in a second, through
faith--when you believe, that is. Pardon is an operation in God's mind
concerning myself; you cannot pardon yourself. God pardons. If we are
pardoned He can do it in a second, when we believe.

The next step in the case is, that there is not anything in the Book
of God that gives us any ground to believe that in that same faith, or
believing, or pardon, we will be instantly lifted up into the stature
of a man in Christ Jesus. What I mean to say is this: That there is
not one word in this Book that will justify any man in believing that
he may be brought by any process to the stature of a man in Christ
Jesus in a minute. But some good brother will say: "Oh! now I am just
a little afraid that you are striking against that blest old Methodist
doctrine of sanctification." No, I am not. I haven't said anything
about sanctification. But I will. If you are sanctified, or cleansed,
that is God's work, through faith, and He can do it in a second. Now,
understand me definitely, you cannot cleanse yourself. God cleanses
you through faith in the cleansing blood of His Son. It is His work.
You cannot grow into it. You can grow in it, but if you don't grow in
it you may know you are not in it--you are in something else. But you
can grow in it, because it is God's work, and He will do it when you
believe. But what of that? What are you after you are cleansed? I will
tell you. You are a clean baby: that is all. You are not a man in
Christ Jesus; you are only a babe--cleansed, indeed, and greatly
improved by the process, too, but you are not matured. Do not miss,
now, the broad distinction between purity and maturity. You are
purified, through faith, in a second; you are matured through many a
struggle and many a year. God cannot make a twenty-one-year-old saint
in one second less than twenty-one years. There is no platform marked
over with faith upon which a man may step and be lifted up into the
perfect stature of a man in Christ Jesus in a minute. It is not the
teaching of the Book. But all the year, loving, and giving, and
fighting, and praying, and walking in righteousness, you will mature
characters, and by and by you will grow into the manhood in Christ
Jesus that is set before us in the gospel. Now, if you come in here
and tell me that there is a baby over yonder in the next square, that
is three weeks old, and can talk Greek and Latin, and Spanish and
Italian, and solve all the problems in mathematics, I will tell you
that that is a monstrosity, and you don't want that kind of babies in
your house: they will turn you out in a few days. So, if you come
in here and tell me that you have, down in your prayer-meeting, a
spiritual baby three or four weeks old, that can teach all the old
saints, and can tell them all about God, and heaven, and faith, and
theology, and all about everything in the Church, I will tell you
that that is a monstrosity. And you don't want that kind in your
prayer-meeting; they will turn you out before a great while. St. Paul
says: "Ye are born babes, and ye are fed on milk"; and the trouble
with too many of us is that we keep on that diet when we ought to be
eating meat. The Master says: "First the blade, then the ear; after
that, the full corn in the ear." So I am free to say that God's plan
of making saints is to give them the divine germ--if you please, the
supernatural principle; or, as our scientists would say, with proper
environments, "That have the divine initial impulse," but as our
fathers would have said, "They got through at the altar"; born of God,
and then cleansed of God in the true process of education and faith,
they matured at the harvest. God gives us the start and the cleansing,
and we have to do all the rest of it. He will give us opportunity for
growth by loading and goading us, by setting on our track every sort
of force to test us--to "polish us," as the old Hebrew word means.
When Abraham was tested he was "polished." He will put us on such
lines that, if we stand true to our convictions and walk according to
the light we have, He will bring us on to manhood.

See how wonderfully the Word of God fits down upon this? Take that
remarkable passage that, to me, is as beautiful as anything can be,
where He says: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor"--I know what
that means in the struggle under sin--"all ye that labor and are
heavy-laden, and I will give"--I will give: it is mine. You cannot
earn it: you cannot buy it; you cannot find it; you cannot dig it out.
It is mine--"I will give you rest"--the blest pardon that only God can
give. Then, in the very next second and breath, He says: "Take my yoke
upon you"--that means work--"and learn of me"--that is more work--and,
"For I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find"--that is yours;
I do not give that to you; that is not mine to give; that is yours.
"Ye shall find rest to your souls." That is the rest that comes from
the crystallization of the character in righteousness; that comes from
the habit of believing, and the habit of obeying, and the habit of
praying; from the habit of righteousness, until the old saint is ready
for any struggle, and never expects to be turned aside. That, I take
it, is God's plan of building up saints, and for fitting them for the
rest that is in God, that abides.

WHYTE

EXPERIENCE

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Alexander Whyte, senior minister of St. George's Free Church,
Edinburgh, was born at Kirriemuir (Thrums), Scotland, in 1837. He was
educated at Aberdeen University (M.A., 1862), and at New College,
Edinburgh (1862-66), and after being assistant minister of Free
St. John's, Glasgow, from 1866 to 1870, became at first assistant
minister, and later (1873) minister, of Free St. George's, Edinburgh,
a position which be still retains, having had there an uninterrupted
success. He is the author of a number of biographies, his most recent
work being "An Appreciation of Newman."

WHYTE

BORN IN 1837

EXPERIENCE

_And patience; experience; and experience, hope_.--Romans v., 4.

The deeper we search into the Holy Scriptures the more experimental
matter do we discover in that divine Book. Both in the Old Testament
and in the New Testament the spiritual experiences of godly men form a
large part of the sacred record. And it gives a very fresh and a very
impressive interest to many parts of the heavenly Book when we see how
much of its contents are made up of God's ways with His people as well
as of their ways with Him. In other words, when we see how much of
purely experimental matter is gathered up into the Word of God. In a
brilliant treatise published the other year, entitled, "The Gospel in
the Gospels," the author applies this experimental test even to our
Lord's teaching and preaching. Writing of the beatitudes in our Lord's
Sermon on the Mount that fresh and penetrating writer says: "When our
Savior speaks to us concerning what constitutes our true blessedness
He is simply describing His own experience. The beatitudes are not the
immediate revelation of His Godhead, they are much more the impressive
testimony of His manhood. He knew the truth of what He was saying
because He had verified it all in Himself for thirty experimental
years." Now if that is so demonstrably true of so many of our Lord's
contributions to Holy Scripture, in the nature of things, how much
more must it be true of the experimental contributions that David and
Paul have made to the same sacred record. And we ourselves are but
imitating them in their great experimental methods when we give our
very closest attention to personal and spiritual religion, both
in ourselves and in all our predecessors and in all our own
contemporaries in the life of grace in all lands and in all languages.

Now by far the deepest and by far the most personal experience of
every spiritually minded man is his experience of his own inward
sinfulness. The sinfulness of his sin; the malignity of his sin; the
ungodliness and the inhumanity of his sin; the dominion that his sin
still has over him; the simply indescribable evil of his sin in every
way: all that is a matter, not of any man's doctrine and authority;
all that is the personal experience and the scientific certainty, as
we say, of every spiritually minded man; every man, that is, who takes
any true observation of what goes on in his own heart. The simply
unspeakable sinfulness of our own hearts is not the doctrine of David,
and of Christ, and of Paul, and of Luther, and of Calvin, and of
Bunyan, and of Edwards, and of Shepard only. It is their universal
doctrine, indeed, it could not be otherwise; but it is also the
every-day experience and the every-day agony of every man among
ourselves whose eyes are open upon his own heart.

And then, if you are that spiritually enlightened man, from the day
when you begin to have that heart-sore experience of yourself you
will begin to search for and to discover those great passages of Holy
Scripture that contain the recorded experiences of men like yourself.
"I am but dust and ashes," said the first father of all penitent and
believing and praying men. "I am vile," sobs Job. "Behold, I am vile,
and I will lay my hand upon my mouth. I have heard of thee by the
hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor
myself and repent in dust and ashes." And David has scarcely heart or
a pen for anything else. "There is no soundness in my flesh because of
thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.
My loins are filled with a loathsome disease. For, behold, I was
shapen in iniquity." And Daniel, the most blameless of men and a man
greatly beloved in heaven and on earth: "I was left alone and
there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned to
corruption, and I retained no strength." And every truly spiritually
minded man has Paul's great experimental passage by heart; that great
experimental and autobiographic passage which has kept so many of
God's most experienced saints from absolute despair, as so many of
them have testified. Yes! There were experimental minds long before
Bacon and there was a great experimental literature long before the
Essays and the "Advancement" and the "_Instauratio Magna_."

And then among many other alterations of intellectual insight and
spiritual taste that will come to you with your open eyes, there will
be your new taste, not only for your Bible, but also for spiritual
and experimental preaching. The spiritual preachers of our day are
constantly being blamed for not tuning their pulpits to the new themes
of our so progressive day. Scientific themes are prest upon them
and critical themes and social themes and such like. But your new
experience of your own sinfulness and of God's salvation: your new
need and your new taste for spiritual and experimental truth will not
lead you to join in that stupid demand. As intelligent men you will
know where to find all the new themes of your new day and you will be
diligent students of them all, so far as your duty lies that way, and
so far as your ability and your opportunity go; but not on the Lord's
Day and not in His house of prayer and praise. The more inward, and
the more spiritual, and the more experimental, your own religion
becomes, the more will you value inward, and spiritual, and
experimental preaching. And the more will you resent the intrusion
into the evangelical pulpit of those secular matters that so much
absorb unspiritual men. There is another equally impertinent advice
that our preachers are continually having thrust upon them from the
same secular quarter. And that is that they ought entirely to drop
the old language of the Scriptures, and the creeds, and the classical
preachers, and ought to substitute for it the scientific and the
journalistic jargon of the passing day. But with your ever-deepening
knowledge of yourselves and with the disciplined and refined taste
that will accompany such knowledge you will rather demand of your
preachers more and more depth of spiritual preaching and more and more
purity of spiritual style. And then more and more your estimates of
preaching and your appreciations of preachers will have real insight
and real value and real weight with us. "The natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." But
he that is spiritual discerneth spiritual things and spiritual persons
and he has the true authority to speak and to write about them.

And then, for all doubting and skeptically disposed persons among
you, your own experience of your evil heart, if you will receive that
experience and will seriously attend to it, that will prove to you
the true apologetic for the theism of the Holy Scriptures and for the
soul-saving faith of Jesus Christ. What is it about which you are
in such debate and doubt? Is it about the most fundamental of
all facts--the existence, and the nature, and the grace, and the
government of Almighty God? Well, if you are really in earnest to know
the truth, take this way of it: this way that has brought light and
peace of mind to so many men. Turn away at once and forever from all
your unbecoming debates about your Maker and Preserver and turn to
what is beyond all debate, your own experience of yourselves. There is
nothing else of which you can be so sure and certain as of the sin and
the misery of your own evil hearts, your own evil hearts so full
of self-seeking, and envy, and malice, and pride, and hatred, and
revenge, and lust. And on the other hand, there is nothing of which
you can be so convinced as that love, and humility, and meekness,
and purity, and benevolence, and brotherly kindness, are your true
happiness, or would be, if you could only attain to all these
beatitudes. Well, Jesus Christ has attained to them all. And Jesus
Christ came into this world at first, and He still comes into it by
His Word and by His Spirit in order that you may attain to all His
goodness and all His truth and may thus escape forever from all your
own ignorance and evil. As William Law, the prince of apologists,
has it: "Atheism is not the denial of a first omnipotent cause. Real
atheism is not that at all. Real atheism is purely and solely nothing
else but the disowning, and the forsaking, and the renouncing of the
goodness, and the virtue, and the benevolence and the meekness, of
the divine nature: that divine nature which has made itself so
experimental and so self-evident in us all. And as this experimental
and self-evident knowledge is the only sure knowledge you can have of
God; even so, it is such a knowledge that cannot be doubted or
debated away. For it is as sure and as self-evident as is your own
experience." And so is it through all the succeeding doctrines of
grace and truth: The incarnation of the divine Son: His life, His
death, His resurrection, and His intercession: and then your own life
of faith, and prayer, and holy obedience: and then your death, "dear
in God's sight." Beginning with this continually experienced need of
God, all these things will follow, with an intellectual, and a moral,
and a spiritual demonstration, that will soon place them beyond all
debate or doubt to you. Only know thyself and admit the knowledge:
and all else will follow as sure as the morning sun follows the dark
midnight.

And then in all these ways, you will attain to a religious experience
of your own, that will be wholly and exclusively your own. It will not
be David's experience, nor Paul's, nor Luther's, nor Bunyan's; much as
you will study their experiences, comparing them all with your own. As
you go deeper and ever deeper, into your own spiritual experience,
you will gradually gather a select and an invaluable library of such
experiences, and you will less and less read anything else with very
much interest or delight. But your own unwritten experience will, all
the time, be your own, and in your own spiritual experience you will
have no exact fellow. For your tribulations, which work in you your
experience,--as the text has it,--your tribulations are such that in
all your experimental reading in the Bible, in spiritual biography, in
spiritual autobiography, you have never met the like of them. Either
the writers have been afraid to speak out the whole truth about their
tribulations; or, what is far more likely, they had no tribulations
for a moment to match with yours. There has not been another so weak
and so evil heart as yours since weak and evil hearts began to be;
nor an evil life quite like yours; nor surrounding circumstances
so cross-bearing as yours; nor a sinner, beset with all manner of
temptations and trials, behind and before, like you. So much are you
alone that, if your fifty-first Psalm, or your seventh of the Romans,
or your "Confessions," or your "Private Devotions," or your "Grace
Abounding," could ever venture to be all honestly and wholly written
and published, your name would, far and away, eclipse them all. You do
not know what a singular and what an original and what an unheard-of
experience your experience is destined to be; if only you do not break
down under it; as you must not and will not do.

Begin, then, to make some new experiments upon a new life of faith,
and of the obedience of faith. And begin to-day. If in anything you
have been following a false and an unphilosophical and an unscriptural
way of life, leave that wrong and evil way at once. Be true Baconians,
at once, as all the true men of science will tell you to be. "If we
were religious men like you," they will all say to you, "we would do,
and at once, what you are now being told to do. We would not debate,
or doubt, but we would make experiment, and would follow out the
experience": so all the scientifically minded men will say to you.
Come away then, and make some new experiments from this morning. For
one thing, make a new experiment on secret prayer. And then come forth
from your place of secret prayer and make immediate experiment on more
love, and more patience, and more consideration for other men,
and, especially, for the men of your own household. Be more
generous-minded, and more open-handed, as God has been so
generous-minded, and so open-handed toward you: if that has indeed
been so. Make experiment upon the poor and the needy and help them
according to your ability and opportunity and watch the result of the
experiment upon yourself; and so on, as your awakened conscience, and
as the regenerate part of your own heart, will prompt you and will
encourage you to do.

Make such experiments as these and see if a new peace of conscience
and a new happiness of heart does not begin to come to you, according
to that great experimental psalm,--"Oh, that my people had hearkened
unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued
their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. He should
have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of
the rock should I have satisfied thee."

WATKINSON

THE TRANSFIGURED SACKCLOTH

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

William L. Watkinson, Wesleyan minister, was born at Hull, 1838, was
educated privately and rose to eminence as a preacher and writer.
The Rev. William Durban calls him "The classic preacher of British
Methodism." "He ranks," says Dr. Durban, "with Dr. Dallinger and the
Rev. Thomas Gunn Selby as the three most learned and refined of living
preachers in the English Methodist pulpit. Dr. Watkinson is famous for
the glittering illustrations which adorn his style. These are for the
most part gathered from biography, the classics, and science, and
of late years Dr. Watkinson has become more and more addicted to
spiritualizing the aspects of modern scientific discovery. Dr.
Watkinson never reads his utterances from a manuscript. Nor does
he preach memoriter, as far as the language of his addresses is
concerned. They are always carefully thought out and are never
characterized by florid diction. His simple, strong Anglo-Saxon
endears him to the people, for he is never guilty of an obscure
sentence. He is in the habit of saying, 'I have always been aware that
I have no power of voice for declamation, and therefore I can only
hope for success in the pulpit by originality of thought.'" He was
president of the Wesleyan Conference, 1897-1898, and editor of the
_Wesleyan Church_, 1893-1890. He has published several volumes of
sermons.

WATKINSON

BORN IN 1838

THE TRANSFIGURED SACKCLOTH[1]

[Footnote: Printed by permission of B.P. Button & Company from "The
Transfigured Sackcloth and Other Sermons," by W.L. Watkinson.]

_For none might enter into the king's gate clothed with
sackcloth_.--Esther iv., 2.

The sign of affliction was thus excluded from the Persian court in
order that royalty might not be discomposed. The monarch was to see
bright raiment, flowers, pageantry, smiling faces only; to hear
only the voices of singing men and singing women; no smatch of the
abounding wormwood of life was to touch his lip, no glimpse of its we
to disturb his serenity. The master of an empire spreading from India
to Ethiopia was not to be annoyed by a passing shadow of mortality.
Now, this disposition to place an interdict on disagreeable and
painful things still survives. Men of all ranks and conditions
ingeniously hide from themselves the dark facts of life--putting these
aside, ignoring, disguising, forgetting, denying them. Revelation,
however, lends no sanction to this habit of passing by the tragedy
of life with averted face; and in this discourse we wish to show the
entire reasonableness of revelation in its frank recognition of the
dark aspects of existence. Christianity is sometimes scouted as "the
religion of sorrow," and many amongst us are ready to avow that the
Persian forbidding the sackcloth is more to their taste than the
Egyptian or the Christian dragging the corpse through the banquet; but
we confidently contend that the recognition by Christ of the morbid
phases of human life is altogether wise and gracious.

I. We consider, first, the recognition by revelation of sin. Sackcloth
is the outward and visible sign of sin, guilt, and misery. How men
shut their eyes to this most terrible reality--coolly ignoring,
skilfully veiling, emphatically denying it! "The heart from the moment
of its first beat instinctively longs for the beautiful...." We strive
for the right and the true: it is circumstance that thrusts wrong
upon us. What is popularly called sin these philosophers call error,
accident, inexperience, indecision, misdirection, imperfection,
disharmony; but they will not allow the presence in the human heart of
a malign force which asserts itself against God, and against the
order of His universe. That principle which is darkness in the mind,
perverseness in the will, idolatry in the affections, "every passion's
wild excess, anger, lust, and pride,"--the existence of any such
principle they absolutely and scornfully deny. There is no evil in the
universe, all is good, and where everything is good human nature is
still the best. A single substance comprises all that is, and no place
is left for that profoundly decisive and destructive element called
sin; all that we have to do is to descant on the marvelous loveliness
of the world, the serene harmony of the universe, man's love of the
true, the beautiful, and the good. Intellectual masters like Emerson
and Renan. ignore conscience; they refuse to acknowledge the
selfishness, the baseness, the cruelty of society; they are deaf to
the groans of creation; they smile, and expect us to smile, whilst
they clap a purple patch of rhetoric on the running sores of humanity.
No sackcloth must pass their gate, and no craftsman of Ind ever wove
gossamer half so delicate and delightful as the verbal veil with which
these literary artists attempt to conceal the leprosy of our nature.

And men generally are willing to dupe themselves touching the fact
and power of sin; they are strongly disinclined to look directly and
honestly at that inner confusion of which we are all more or less
conscious. We willingly acknowledge our transgression of the higher
law, that we do the things we ought not to do, and leave undone the
things that we ought to do; we have an unpleasant feeling that all is
not right, nay, indeed, that something is seriously wrong; but we do
not unshrinkingly acquaint ourselves with the malady of the spirit as
we should at once acquaint ourselves with any malady hinting itself in
the flesh. The sackcloth must not mar our shallow happiness. Great is
the power of self-deception, but in no other direction do we permit
ourselves to be more profoundly cheated than we do in this. In the
vision of beautiful things we forget the troubles of conscience,
as the first sinners hid themselves amid the leaves and flowers of
Paradise; in fashion and splendor we forget our guilty sorrow, as
medieval mourners sometimes concealed their cerements with raiment of
purple and gold; in the noises of the world we become oblivious of the
interior discords, as soldiers forget their wounds amid the stir and
trumpets of the battle. With a busy life, a gay life, we manage to
forget the skeleton of the heart, rarely permitting ourselves to look
upon the ominous specter which some way or other has entrenched itself
within us, and which is the bane of our existence.

Nevertheless, sin thrusts itself upon our attention. The greatest
thinkers in all ages have been constrained to recognize its presence
and power. The creeds of all nations declare the fact that men
everywhere feel the bitter working and intolerable burden of
conscience. And, however we may strive to forget our personal
sinfulness, the cry is ever being wrung from us in the deepest moments
of life, "O wretched man that I am! who can deliver me from the body
of this death?" The sense of sin has persisted through changing
generations; it is the burden of experience and philosophy, and
the genius of the race has exhausted itself in devising schemes of
salvation.

Aeschylus, Dante, Shakespeare, knew of truth, justice, purity, and
love, of the supreme and eternal law of righteousness; they knew that
man alone of all this lower creation is subject to this transcendental
rule; they knew also that the violation of this highest law lay at the
root of the world's mysterious and complex suffering--in other words,
that sin was the secret of the tragedy of life. The beasts are happy
because they are beasts; they do not lie awake in the dark weeping
over their sins, because they have no sins to weep over; they do not
discuss their duty to God, they do it; whilst, on the contrary, men
are unhappy because being subject to the highest law of all, and
competent to fulfil that law in its utmost requirements, they have
consciously fallen short of it, wilfully contradicted it. We cannot
accept the coat of many colors, whatever the flatterers may say; the
sackcloth is ours, and it eats our spirit like fire.

Most fully does Christ recognize the great catastrophe. Some modern
theologians may dismiss sin as "a mysterious incident" in the
development of humanity, as a grain of sand that has unluckily blown
into the eye, as a thorn that has accidentally pierced our heel,
but the greatest of ethical teachers regarded sin as a profound
contradiction of that eternal will which is altogether wise and good.
More than any other teacher Jesus Christ emphasized the actuality and
awfulness of sin; more than any other has He intensified the world's
consciousness of sin. He never attempted to relieve us of the
sackcloth by asserting our comparative innocence; He never attempted
to work into that melancholy robe one thread of color, to relieve it
with one solitary spangle of rhetoric. Sin was the burden of the life
of Christ because it is the burden of our life. Christ has done more
than insisted on the reality, the odiousness, the ominousness, of
sin--He has laid bare its principle and essence. The New Testament
discovers to us the mystery of iniquity as ungodliness; its inmost
essence being unbelief in God's truth, the denial of His justice,
the rejection of His love, the violation of His law. The South Sea
islanders have a singular tradition to account for the existence of
the dew. The legend relates that in the beginning the earth touched
the sky, that being the golden age when all was beautiful and glad;
then some dreadful tragedy occurred, the primal unity was broken up,
the earth and the sky were torn asunder as we see them now, and the
dewdrops of the morning are the tears that nature sheds over the sad
divorce. This wild fable is a metaphor of the truth; the beginning of
all evil lies in the alienation of the spirit of man from God, in the
divorce of earth from heaven; here is the final reason why the face
of humanity is wet with tears. How vividly Christ taught that all our
fear and we arise out of this false relation of our spirit to the
living God! Above and beyond all, Christ recognizes the sackcloth that
He may take it away. In the anguish of his soul Job cried, "I
have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou Preserver of men?"
Christianity is God's full and final answer to that appeal. In Christ
we have the revelation of God's ceaseless, immeasurable, eternal love.
In Him we have the satisfaction of God's sovereign justice. Our own
awakened conscience feels the difficulty of absolution; it demands
that sin shall not be lightly passed over; it wearies itself to find
an availing sacrifice and atonement. "Behold the Lamb of God, that
taketh away the sin of the world!" In Him, too, we have that grace
which brings us into accord with the mind and government of God.
Christ reveals to us the divine ideal life; He awakens in us a passion
for that life; He leads us into the power and privilege, the liberty
and gladness, of that life. He fills our imagination with the vision
of His own divine loveliness; He refreshes our will from founts of
unfathomable power; He fills us with courage and hope; He crowns us
with victory. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them." Sin is ungodliness; Christ
makes us to see light in God's light, fills us with His love, attunes
our spirit to the infinite music of His perfection. Instead of
shutting out the signs of wo, Christ followed an infinitely deeper
philosophy; He arrayed Himself in the sackcloth, becoming sin for us
who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
We have redemption in His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; he
established us in a true relation to the holy God; He restores in
us the image of God; He fills us with the peace of God that passeth
understanding.

Not in the spirit of a barren cynicism does Christ lay bare the
ghastly wound of our nature, but as a noble physician who can purge
the mortal virus which destroys us. He has done this for thousands; He
is doing it now; in these very moments He can give sweet release to
all who are burdened and beaten by the dire confusion of nature.
Sin is a reality; absolution, sanctification, peace, are not less
realities. Christ's gate is not shut to the penitent, neither does
He send him empty away. We go to Him in sackcloth, but we leave His
presence in purity's robe of snow, in honor's stainless purple, in the
heavenly blue of the holiness of truth. The Spirit of the Lord God is
upon Him, that He may give to the mourners in Zion beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of
heaviness.

II. We consider the recognition by revelation of sorrow. Sackcloth is
the raiment of sorrow, and as such it was interdicted by the Persian
monarch. We still follow the insane course, minimizing, despising,
masking, denying suffering. Society sometimes attempts this. The
affluent entrench themselves within belts of beauty and fashion,
excluding the sights and sounds of a suffering world. "Ye that put far
away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that
lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and
eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the
stall, that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves
instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint
themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the
affliction of Joseph." So do opulent and selfish men still seek "to
hide their heart in a nest of roses." Literature sometimes follows
the same cue. Goethe made it one of the rules of his life to avoid
everything that could suggest painful ideas, and the taint of his
egotism is on a considerable class of current literature which
serenely ignores the morbid aspects of life. Art has yielded to the
same temptation. The artist has felt that he was concerned only with
strength, beauty, and grace; that he had nothing to do with weakness,
agony, wretchedness, and death. Why should sorrow find perpetual
remembrance in art? Pain will tear our bodies, but we will have no
wrinkles on our statues; suffering will rend our heart, but we will
have no shadows on our pictures. None clothed in sackcloth might enter
the gate that is called Beautiful.

Most of us are inclined to the sorry trick of gilding over painful
things. We resolutely put from us sober signs, serious thoughts, and
sometimes are really angry with those who exhibit life as it is,
and who urge us to seek reconciliation with it. When the physician
prescribed blisters to Marie Bashkirtseff to check her consumptive
tendency, the vain, cynical girl wrote, "I will put on as many
blisters as thee like. I shall be able to hide the mark by bodices
brimmed with flowers and lace and tulle, and a thousand other
delightful things that are worn, without being required; it may even
look pretty. Ah! I am comforted." Yes, by a thousand artifices do we
dissemble our ugly scars, sometimes even pressing our deep misfortunes
into the service of our pride. Many of the fashions and the diversions
of the world much sought after have little positive attractiveness,
but the real secret of their power is found in the fact that they
hide disagreeable things, and render men for a while oblivious of the
mystery and weight of an unintelligible world.

Nevertheless suffering is a stern fact that will not long permit us to
sleep. Some have taught the unreality of pain, but the logic of life
has spoiled their plausible philosophizing. A man may carry many
hallucinations with him to the grave, but a belief in the unreality of
pain is hardly likely to be one of them. The laughing philosopher is
quite invincible on his midsummer's day, but ere long fatality makes
him sad. There is no screen to shut off permanently the spectacle of
suffering. When Marie Antoinette passed to her bridal in Paris, the
halt, the lame, and the blind were sedulously kept out of her way,
lest their appearance should mar the joyousness of her reception; but,

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