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Town and Country Sermons by Charles Kingsley

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trade--the stoppage of the cotton crop, for instance, will awaken in
the minds of hundreds of thousands deep questions--for which we, if
we are wise, shall have an explicit answer ready.

For it is a very serious moment, my friends, when large masses have
had enough to eat and drink, and have been saying, 'Let us eat and
drink, for to-morrow we die;' and then, suddenly, by _not_ having
enough to eat and drink, and yet finding themselves still alive, are
awakened to the sense that there is more in them than the mere
capacity for eating and drinking. Then begin once more the world-
old questions, Why are we thus? Who put us here? Who made us?
God? Is there a God? and if there be, what is he like? What is his
will toward us, good or evil? Is it hate or love?

My friends, those are questions which have been asked often enough
in the world's history, by vast masses at once. And they may be
answered in more ways than one.

They may be answered as the weavers of a certain country (thank God,
not England) answered them in the potato famine with their mad song,
'We looked to the earth, and the earth deceived us. We looked to
the kings, and the kings deceived us. We looked to God, and God
deceived us. Let us lie down and die.'

Or they may answer them--they will be more likely to answer them in
England just now, because there are those who will teach them so to
answer--in another, but a scarcely less terrible tone. 'Yes, there
is a God; and he is angry with us. And why? Because there is
something, or some one, in the nation which he abhors--heretics,
papists'--what not--any man, or class of men, on whom cowardly and
terrified ignorance may happen to fix as a scapegoat, and cry,
'These are the guilty! We have allowed these men, indulged them;
the accursed thing is among us, therefore the face of the Lord is
turned from us. We will serve him truly henceforth--and hate those
whom he hates. We will be orthodox henceforth--and prove our
orthodoxy by persecuting the heretic.'

Does this seem to you extravagant, impossible? Remember, my
friends, that within the last century Lord George Gordon's riots
convulsed London. Can you give me any reason why Lord George
Gordon's riots cannot occur again? Believe me, the more you study
history, the more you study human nature, the more possible it will
seem to you. It is not, I believe, infidelity, but fanaticism,
which England has to fear just now. The infidelity of England is
one of mere doubt and denial, a scepticism; which is in itself weak
and self-destructive. The infidelity of France in 1793 was strong
enough, but just because it was no scepticism, but a faith; a
positive creed concerning human reason, and the rights of man, which
men could formulize, and believe in, and fight for, and persecute
for, and, if need was, die for. But no such exists in England now.
And what we have most to fear in England under the pressure of some
sudden distress, is a superstitious panic, and the wickedness which
is certain to accompany that panic; mean and unjust, cruel and
abominable things, done in the name of orthodoxy: though meanwhile,
whether what the masses and their spiritual demagogues will mean by
orthodoxy, will be the same that we and the Church of England mean
thereby, is a question which I leave for your most solemn
consideration. That, however, rather than any proclamation of the
abstract rights of man, or installations of a goddess of Reason, is
the form which spiritual hunger is most likely to take in England
now. Alas! are there not tokens enough around us now, whereby we
may discern the signs of this time?

I say, the spiritual hunger will reawaken; and woe to us who really
understand and love the Church of England; woe to us who are really
true to her principles, honestly subscribe her formulas, if we
cannot appease it in that day.

But wherewith? We may look, my friends, appalled at the danger and
the need. We may cry to our Lord, 'From whence can a man satisfy
these men with bread in the wilderness?' But his answer will be, as
far as I dare to predict it, the same as to his apostles of old on
another and a similar occasion, 'Give ye them to eat. They need not

I am not going to draw any far-fetched analogy between the miracle
recorded in the gospel, and the subject on which I am speaking. I
am not going to put any mystical and mediaeval interpretation on the
seven loaves, or the two small fishes. I only ask you to accept the
plain moral practical lesson which the words convey.--

Use the means which you have already, however few and weak they
seem. If Christ be among you, as he is indeed, he will bless them,
and multiply them you know not how.

Use the means which you have; though they may seem to you
inadequate, though they may seem to the world antiquated, and
decrepit, try them. They need not depart from us, these masses, to
seek spiritual food, they know not where, if we have but faith. Let
us give them what we have; the organization of the Church of
England, and the teaching of the Church of England.

The organization of the Church. Not merely its Parochial system,
but its Diocesan system. In London, more than in any part of
England, the Diocesan system is valuable. A London parish is not
like a country one, a self-dependent, corporate body, made up of
residents of every rank, capable of providing for the physical and
spiritual wants of its own stationary population. In London,
population fluctuates rapidly, sometimes rolling away from one
quarter, always developing itself in fresh quarters; in London all
ranks do not dwell side by side within sight and sound of each
other: but the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed,
dwell apart, work apart, and are but too often out of sight, out of
mind. These, and many other reasons, make it impossible for the
mere parochial system to bring out the zeal and the liberality of
London Churchmen. If they are to realize their unity and their
strength, they must do so not as members of a Parish, but of a
Diocese; their Bishop must be to them the sign that they are one
body; their good works must be organized more and more under him,
and round him. This is no new theory of mine; it is a historic law.
The Priest for the village, the Bishop for the city, has been the
natural and necessary organization of the Church in every age; and
it was in strict accordance with this historic law, that the London
Diocesan Board of Education was founded in 1846, not to override the
parochial system, but to do for it what it cannot, in a great city,
do for itself; to establish elementary schools (and now I am happy
to say, evening schools also) in parishes which were too poor to
furnish them for themselves. I, as the son of a London Rector, can
bear my testimony to the excellent working of that Board; and it is
with grief I hear that, in spite of the vast work which it has done
since 1846, and which it is still doing, on an income which is now
not 300 pounds a year--proving thereby how cheaply and easily your
work may be done when it is done in the right way--it is with grief,
I say, that I hear that it is more and more neglected by the
religious public.

With grief: but not with surprise. For the religious public, even
the Church portion of it, has of late been more and more inclined to
undervalue the organization and the teaching of the Church of
England, and to supply its place with nostrums, borrowed from those
denominations who disagree with the Church, alike in their doctrines
of what man should be, and of what God is. How have their energies,
their zeal, their money (for zealous they are, and generous too)
been frittered away! But I will not particularize, lest I hurt the
feelings of better people than myself, by holding up their good
works to the ridicule of those who do us no good works at all. But
I entreat them to look at their own work; to look at the vastness of
its expense, compared with the smallness of its results; and then to
ask themselves, whether the one cause of their failure--for failures
I must call too many of the religious movements of this day, in
spite of their own loud self-laudations--whether, I say, one cause
of these failures may not be, that the religious world is throwing
itself into anything and everything novel and exciting, rather than
into the simple and unobtrusive work of teaching little children
their Catechism, that they may go home as angels of God and
missionaries of Christ, teaching their parents in turn as they have
been taught themselves, and so awakening that sacred family life,
without which there can be no sound Christianity. I know well that
there has been much work done in the right direction; but when I
look at the ugly fact, that the population of London is increasing
far faster than its schools; that in 25 of the poorest parishes
thereof there are now nearly 60,000 children who go to no school at
all; and that the proportion of scholars to the population is lower
in Middlesex than in almost any county in England, while the
proportion of crime is highest; I cannot but sigh over the thousands
which I see squandered yearly on rash novelties by really pious and
generous souls, and cry, Ah, that one-fourth, one-tenth of it all
had been spent in the plain work of helping elementary schools; I
cannot but call on all London churchmen of the plain old school, to
stand by the organization and the doctrines of the Church to which
they belong; to rally in this matter round their bishop; and work
for him, and with him.

And now, there may be some here who will ask, scornfully enough, And
do you talk of nostrums? and then, after confessing that the masses
are hungering for the bread of life, offer them nothing but your own
nostrum, the Catechism?

Yes, my friends, I do. I know that the Church Catechism is not the
bread of life. Neither, I beg you to remember, is any other
Catechism, or doctrine, or tract, or sermon, or book or anything
else whatsoever. Christ is the Bread of Life. But how shall they
know Christ, unless they be taught what Christ is; and how can they
be taught what Christ is, unless the conception of him which is
offered them be true?

And, I say, that the Catechism does give a true conception of
Christ; and more, a far truer one--I had almost said, an infinitely
truer--than any which I have yet seen in these realms: that from
the Catechism a child may learn who God is, who Christ is, who he
himself is, what are his relation and duty to God, what are his
relation and duty to his neighbours, to his country, and to the
whole human race, far better than from any document of the kind of
which I am aware.

I know well the substitutes for the Catechism which are becoming
more and more fashionable; the limitations, the explainings away,
the non-natural and dishonest interpretations, which are more and
more applied to it when it is used; and I warn you, that those
substitutes for, and those defacements of, the Catechism, will be no
barrier against an outburst of fanaticism, did one arise; nay, that
many of them would directly excite it; and prove, when too late,
that instead of feeding the masses with the bread of life, which
should preserve them, soul and body, some persons had been feeding
them with poison, which had maddened them, soul and body. But I see
no such danger in the Catechism. I see in the Catechism; in its
freedom alike from sentimental horror and sentimental raptures; its
freedom alike from slavish terror, and from Pharisaic assurance; a
guarantee that those who learn it will learn something of that sound
religion, sober, trusty, cheerful, manful, which may be seen still,
thank God, in country Church folk of the good old school; and which
will, in the day of trial, be proof against the phantoms of a
diseased conscience, and the ravings of spiritual demagogues.

And therefore I preach gladly for this institution; therefore I urge
strongly its claims on you, whom I am bound to suppose honest
Churchmen, because the fact of its being a Diocesan Board of
Education is, at least in this diocese, a guarantee that the schools
which it supports will teach their children, honestly and literally,
the Catechism of the Church of England, which may God preserve!

Not that I expect it to teach only that. I take for granted, that
that will be its primary object, the guarantee that all the rest is
well done: but I know that much more than that must be done; that
much more will be done, even unintentionally.

For, shall I--I trust that I shall not--make a too fanciful
application of the last fact recorded of this great miracle, if I
bid you find in it a fresh source of hope in your work?

'And they took up of the fragments which were left seven baskets

The plain historic fact is, that not only do the seven loaves feed
4,000, but that what they leave, and are about to throw away, far
exceeds the original supply.

I believe the fact: I ask you to consider why it was recorded?
Surely, like all facts in the gospels, to teach us more of the
character of Christ, which (a fact too often forgotten in these
days) is the character of God. To teach us that he is an utterly
bountiful God. That as in him there is no weakness, nor difficulty,
so in him is no grudging, no parsimony. That he is not only able,
but willing, to give exceeding abundantly, beyond all that we can
ask or think. That there is a magnificence in God and in God's
workings, which ought to fill us with boundless hope, if we are but
fellow-workers with God.

You see that magnificence in the seeming prodigality of nature; in
the prodigality which creates a thousand beautiful species of
butterfly, where a single plain one would have sufficed; in the
prodigality which creates a thousand acorns, only one of which is
destined to grow into an oak. Everywhere in the kingdom of nature
it shows itself; believe that it exists as richly in the higher
kingdom of grace. Yes. Believe, that whenever you begin to work
according to God's law and God's will, let your means seem as
inadequate as they may, not only will your work multiply, as by
miracle, under your hands; but the very fragments of it, which you
are inclined to neglect and overlook, will form in time a heap of
unexpected treasure. Plans which you have thrown aside, because
they seemed to fail, details which seemed to encumber you, accessory
work which formed no part of your original plan, all will be of use
to some one, somehow, somewhere.

You began, for instance, by wishing to educate the masses of London;
you are educating over and above, indirectly, thousands who never
saw London. You began by wishing to teach them spiritual truth; you
have been drawn on to give them an excellent secular education
besides. You intended to make them live as good Christians here at
home. But since you began, the interpenetration of town and country
by railroads, and the rush of emigrants to our colonies, have
widened infinitely the sphere of your influence; and you are now
teaching them also to live as useful men in the farthest corners of
these isles, and in far lands beyond the seas, to become educated
emigrants, loyal colonists; to raise, by their example, rude
settlers, and ruder savages; and so, the very fragments of your good
work, without your will or intent, will bless thousands of whom you
never heard, and help to sow the seeds of civilization and
Christianity, wherever the English flag commands Justice, and the
English Church preaches Love.


(Preached at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, Ash Wednesday, 1860.)

Deuteronomy xxviii. 15. It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not
hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his
commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that
all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.

Many good people are pained by the Commination Service which we have
just heard read. They dislike to listen to it. They cannot say
'Amen' to its awful words. It seems to them to curse men; and their
conscience forbids them to join in curses. To imprecate evil on any
living being seems to them unchristian, barbarous, a relic of dark
ages and dark superstitions.

But does the Commination Service curse men? Are these good people
(who are certainly right in their horror of cursing) right in the
accusations which they bring against it? Or have they fallen into a
mistake as to the meaning of the service, owing, it may be supposed,
to that carelessness about the exact use of words, that want of
accurate and critical habits of mind, which is but too common among
religious people at the present day?

I cannot but think that they mistake, when they say that the
Commination Service curses men. For to curse a man, is to pray and
wish that God may become angry with him, and may vent his anger on
the man by punishing him. But I find no such prayer and wish in any
word of the Commination Service. Its form is not, 'Cursed _be_ he
that doeth such and such things,' but 'Cursed _is_ he that doeth

Does this seem to you a small difference? A fine-drawn question of
words? Is it, then, a small difference whether I say to my fellow-
man, I hope and pray that you may be stricken with disease, or
whether I say, You are stricken with disease, whether you know it or
not. I warn you of it, and I warn you to go to the physician? For
so great, and no less, is the difference.

And if any one shall say, that it is very probable that the authors
of the Liturgy were not conscious of this distinction; but that they
meant by cursing what priests in most ages have meant by it; I must
answer, that it is dealing them most hard and unfair measure, to
take for granted that they were as careless about words as we are;
that they were (like some of us) so ignorant of grammar as not to
know the difference between the indicative and the imperative mood;
and to assume this, in order to make them say exactly what they do
_not_ say, and to impute to them a ferocity of which no hint is
given in their Commination Service.

But some will say, Granted that the authors of the Commination
Service did not wish evil to sinners--granted that they did not long
to pray, with bell, book, and candle, that they might be tormented
for ever in Gehenna--granted that they did not desire to burn their
bodies on earth; those words are still dark and unchristian. They
could only be written by men who believed that God hates sinners,
that his will is to destroy them on earth, and torture them for ever
after death.

We may impute, alas! what motives and thoughts we choose, in the
face of our Lord's own words, Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.
But we shall not be fair and honest in imputing, unless we first
settle what these men meant, in the words which they have actually
written. What did they mean by 'cursed' is the question. And that
we can only answer by the context of the Commination Service. And
that again we can only answer by seeing what it means in the Bible,
which the Reformers profess to follow in all their writings.

Now, what does the Bible mean by a curse, and cursing?--For we are
bound to believe, in all fairness, that the Reformers meant the
same, and neither more nor less. The text, I think, tells us
plainly enough. We know that its words came true. We know that the
Jews _did_ perish out of their native land, as the Author of this
book foretold, in consequence of doing that against which Moses
warned them. We know also that they did not perish by any
miraculous intervention of Providence: but simply as any other
nation would have perished; by profligacy, internal weakness, civil
war, and, at last, by foreign conquest.

We know that their destruction was the natural consequence of their
own folly. Why are we to suppose that the prophet meant anything
but that? He foretells the result. Why are we to suppose that he
did not foresee the means by which that result would happen? Why
are we, in the name of all justice, to impute to him an expectation
of miraculous interferences, about which he says no word? The curse
which he foretold was the natural consequence of the sins of the
nation. Why are we not to believe that he considered it as such?
Why are we not to believe that the Bible meaning of a curse, is
simply the natural ill-consequence of men's own ill-actions? I
believe that if you will apply the same rule to other places of
Scripture, you will have reason to reverence the letter and the
Spirit of Scripture more and more, and will free your minds from
many a superstitious and magical fancy, which will prevent you alike
from understanding the Bible and the Commination Service.

The Book of Deuteronomy, like the rest of Moses' laws, says nothing
whatever about the life to come. It says, that sin is to be
punished, and virtue rewarded, in this life; and the Commination
Service, when it quotes the Book of Deuteronomy, means so, so I
presume, likewise. Indeed, if we look at the very remarkable, and
most invaluable address which the Commination Service contains, we
shall find its author saying the same thing, in the very passages
which are to some minds most offensive.

For even in this life the door of mercy may be shut, and we may cry
in vain for mercy, when it is the time for justice. This is not
merely a doctrine: it is a fact; a common, patent fact. Men do
wrong, and escape, again and again, the just punishment of their
deeds; but how often there are cases in which a man does not escape;
when he is filled with the fruit of his own devices, and left to the
misery which he has earned; when the covetous and dishonest man
ruins himself past all recovery; when the profligate is left in a
shameful old age, with worn-out body and defiled mind, to rot into
an unhonoured grave; when the hypocrite who has tampered with his
conscience is left without any conscience at all.

They have chosen the curse, and the curse is come upon them to the
uttermost. So it is. Is the Commination service uncharitable, is
the preacher uncharitable, when they tell men so? No more so, than
the physician is uncharitable, when he says,--'If you go on misusing
thus your lungs, or your digestion, you will ruin them past all
cure.' Is God to be blamed because this is a fact? Why then
because the other is a fact likewise?

Now if this be, as I believe, the doctrine of the commination
service; if this be, as I believe, the message of Ash-Wednesday, it
is one which is quite free from superstition or cruelty: but it is
a message more disagreeable, and more terrible too, than any magical
imprecations of harm to the sinner could bring. More disagreeable.
For which is more galling to human pride, to be told,--Sin is
certainly a clever, and politic, and successful trade, as far as
this world is concerned. It is only in the next world, or in the
case of rare and peculiar visitations and judgments in this world,
that it will harm you? Or to be told,--Sin is no more clever,
politic, or successful here, than hereafter. The wrong-doing which
looks to you so prudent is folly. You, man of the world as you may
think yourself, are simply, as often as you do wrong, blind,
ignorant, suicidal. You are your own curse; your acts are their own
curse. The injury to your own character and spirit, the injury to
your fellow-creatures, which will again re-act on you,--these are
the curses of God, which you will feel some day too heavy to be
borne. And which is more terrible? To tell a man, that God will
judge and curse him by unexpected afflictions, or at least by
casting him into Gehenna in the world to come: or to tell him, 'You
are judged already. The curse is on you already?'

The first threat he may get rid of, by denying the fact; by saying
that God does not generally interfere to punish bad men in this
life; that he does not strike them dead, swallow them up; and he may
even quote Scripture on his side, and call on Solomon to bear
witness how as dieth the fool, so dieth wise man; and that there is
one event to the righteous and the wicked.

As for the fear of Gehenna, again, after he dies: that is too dim
and distant; too unlike anything which he has seen in this life (now
that the tortures and Autos da fe of the middle age have
disappeared) to frighten him very severely, except in rare moments,
when his imagination is highly excited. And even then, he can--in
practice he does--look forward to 'making his peace with God' as it
is called, at last, and fulfilling Baalam's wish of dying the death
of the righteous, after living the life of the wicked. He knows
well, too, that when that day comes, he can find--alas! that it
should be so--priests and preachers in plenty, of some communion or
other, who will give him his viaticum, and bid him depart in peace
to that God, who has said that there is no peace to the wicked.

But terrible, truly terrible and heart searching for the wrongdoer
is the message--God does not curse thee: thou hast cursed thyself.
God will not go out of his way to punish thee: thou hast gone out
of his way, and thereby thou art punishing thyself, just as, by
abusing thy body, thou bringest a curse upon it; so by abusing thy
soul. God does not break his laws to punish drunkenness or
gluttony. The laws themselves, the laws of nature, the beneficent
laws of life, nutrition, growth, and health, they punish thee; and
kill by the very same means by which they make alive. And so with
thy soul, thy character, thy humanity. God does not break his laws
to punish its sins. The laws themselves punish; every fresh wrong
deed, and wrong thought, and wrong desire of thine sets thee more
and more out of tune with those immutable and eternal laws of the
Moral Universe, which have their root in the absolute and necessary
character of God himself. All things that he has ordained; the laws
of the human body, the laws of the human soul, the laws of society,
the laws of all heaven and earth are arrayed against thee; for thou
hast arrayed thyself against them. They have not excommunicated
thee: thou hast, single-handed, excommunicated thyself. In thine
own self-will, thou hast set thyself to try thy strength against God
and his whole universe. Dost thou fancy that he needs to interfere
with the working of that universe, to punish such a worm as thee?
No more than the great mill engine need stop, and the overseer of it
interfere with the machinery, if the drunken or careless workman
should entangle himself among the wheels. The wheels move on, doing
their duty, spinning cloth for the use of man: but the workman who
should have worked with them, is entangled among them. He is out of
his place; and slowly, but irresistibly, they are grinding him to
powder, as the whole universe is grinding thee. Heart-searching,
indeed, is such a message; for it will come home, not merely to that
very rare character, the absolutely wicked man, the ideal sinner, at
whom the preacher too often aims ideal arrows, which vanish in the
air: not to him merely will it come home, but to ourselves, to us
average human beings, inconsistent, half-formed, struggling lamely
and confusedly between good and evil. Oh let us take home with us
to-day this belief, the only belief in this matter possible in an
age of science, which is daily revealing more and more that God is a
God, not of disorder, but of order. Let us take home, I say, the
awful belief, that every wrong act of ours does of itself sow the
seeds of its own punishment; and that those seeds will assuredly
bear fruit, now, here in this life. Let us believe that God's
judgments, though they will culminate, no doubt, hereafter in one
great day, and "one divine far-off event, to which the whole
creation moves," are yet about our path and about our bed, now,
here, in this life. Let us believe, that if we are to prepare to
meet our God, we must do it now, here in this life, yea and all day
long; for he is not far off from any one of us, seeing that in him
we live, and move, and have our being; and can never go from his
presence, never flee from his spirit. Let us believe that God's
good laws, and God's good order, are in themselves and of
themselves, the curse and punishment of every sin of ours; and that
Ash-Wednesday, returning year after year, whether we be glad or
sorry, good or evil, bears witness to that most awful and yet most
blessed fact.

My friends, this is the preacher's Ash-Wednesday's message: but,
thanks be to God, it is not all. It is written--'If thou, Lord,
wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss: Oh Lord, who may abide
it? For there is mercy with thee; therefore shalt thou be feared.'

It is written--'On whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind
him to powder:' but it is written too--'Whosoever shall fall on this
stone shall be broken;' and again, 'The broken and the contrite
heart, O God, thou shall not despise.' There is such a thing as
pardon; pardon full and free, for the sake of the precious blood of
Christ. Lent may be a time of awe and of shame: but it is not a
time of despair. Meanwhile remember this; that God has set before
you blessing and cursing, and that you may turn your life and God's
whole universe, as you will, either into that blessing or into that


(Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity.)

Proverbs xiv. 23. In all labour there is profit.

I fear there are more lessons in the Book of Proverbs than most of
us care to learn. There is a lesson in every verse of it, and a
shrewd one. Certain I am, that for a practical, business man, who
has to do his duty and to make his way in this world, there is no
guide so safe as these same Proverbs of Solomon. In _this_ world, I
say; for they say little about the world to come. Their doctrine
is, that what is good for the next world, is good for this; that he
who wishes to go out of this world happily, must first go through
this world wisely; and more, that he who wishes to go through this
world happily, must likewise go through it wisely.

The righteous, says Solomon, shall be recompensed in the earth, and
not merely at the end of judgment hereafter: much more the wicked
and the sinner.

That is the doctrine of the Proverbs; that men do, to a very great
extent, earn for themselves their good or their evil fortunes, and
are filled with the fruit of their own devices; and it is that
doctrine which makes them the best of text-books for the practical

For the Proverbs do not look on religion as a thing to be kept out
of our daily dealings, and thought of only on Sundays: they look on
true religion, which is to obey God, as a thing which mixes itself
up with all the cares and business of this mortal life, this work-
day world; and, therefore, they are written in work-day language; in
homely words taken from the common doings of this mortal life, as
our Lord's parables are. And, like the most simple of those
parables, the most simple of the proverbs have often the very
deepest meaning.

'In all labour there is profit.' Whatsoever is worth doing, is
worth doing well. It is always worth while to take pains. In
another proverb, homely enough--but if it be in the Bible, it is not
too homely for us--'Where no oxen are, the crib is clean,' Solomon
says the same thing as in the text. He says, 'Where no oxen are,
the farmer is saved trouble; the clearing away of dirt and refuse;
and all the labour required to keep his cattle in condition: but
all that trouble,' Solomon says, if a man will but undergo it, will
repay itself; 'for much increase is in the strength of the ox.' For
the ox, in that country, as in most parts of the world now, is the
beast used for ploughing, and for all the work of the farm.

Now, herein, I think, Solomon gives us a lesson which holds good
through all matters of life. That it is a short-sighted mistake to
avoid taking trouble; for God has so well ordered this world, that
industry will always repay itself. No doubt it is much easier and
pleasanter for the savage to scratch the seed into the ground with
some rude wooden tool, and sit idle till the grain ripens: much
easier and pleasanter, than to breed and break in beasts, and to
labour all the year round at the different duties of a well-ordered
farm: but here is the mighty difference; that the savage, growing
only enough for himself, is in continual danger of famine, he and
all his tribe; while the civilized farmer, producing many times more
than he needs for himself, gains food, comfort, and safety, not only
for himself, but for many other human beings. The savage has an
easy life enough, if that be any gain: but it is a life of poverty,
uncertainty, danger of starvation. The civilized man works hard and
heavily, using body and mind more in one month than the savage does
in the whole year: but he gains in return a life of safety,
comfort, and continually increasing prosperity.

This is Solomon's lesson: and be sure it holds good, not only of
tilling the ground, but of all other labours, all other duties, to
which God may call us. 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,' says
Solomon, 'do it with all thy might.' God has set thee thy work;
then fulfil it. Fill it full. Throw thy whole heart and soul into
it. Do it carefully, accurately, completely. It will be better for
thee, and for thy children after thee. All neglect, carelessness,
slurring over work, is a sin; a sin against God, who has called us
to our work; a sin against our country and our neighbours, who ought
to profit by our work; and a sin against ourselves also, for we (as
I shall shew you soon) ought to be made wiser and better men by our

Oh, if there is one rule above another which I should like to bring
home to young men and women setting out in life, it is this--_Take
pains_. Take trouble. Whatever you do, do thoroughly. Whatever
you begin, finish. It may not seem to be worth your while at the
moment, to be so very painstaking, so very exact. In after years,
you will find that it was worth your while; that it has _paid_ you,
by training your character and soul; paid you, by giving you success
in life; paid you, by giving you the respect and trust of your
fellowmen; paid you, by helping you towards a good conscience, and
enabling you in old age to look back, and say, I have been of use
upon the earth; I leave this world, according to my small powers,
somewhat better than I found it: instead of having to look back, as
too many have, upon opportunities thrown away, plans never carried
out, talents wasted, a whole life a failure, for want of taking

Why do I say these things to you? To persuade you to work? Thank
God, there is no need of that, for you are Englishmen; and it has
pleased God to put into the hearts of Englishmen a love of work, and
a power of work, which has helped to make this little island one of
the greatest nations upon earth. No, thanks be to God, I say, there
is no need to bid you work. What I ask you to do, is to look upon
your work as an honourable calling, and as a blessing to yourselves,
not merely as a hard necessity, a burden which must be borne merely
to keep you from starvation. It is not that, my friends, but far
more than that. For what is more honourable than to be of use? And
in all labour, as Solomon says, there is profit; it is all of use.
And all trade, manufacture, tillage, even of the smallest, all
management and ordering, whether of an estate, a parish, or even of
the pettiest office in it, all is honourable, because all is of use;
all helping forward, more or less, the well-being of God's human
creatures, and of the whole world.

And therefore all is worth taking trouble over, worth doing as
diligently and honestly as possible, in sure trust that it will
bring its reward with it. Why not? Almsgiving is blessed in God's
sight, and charity to the poor; and God will repay it: but is not
useful labour blessed in his sight also? and shall he not repay it?
Will he not say of it, as well as of almsgiving, 'Inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these little ones, ye have
done it unto me?' We may trust so, my friends; indeed, I may say
more than, 'We may trust.' We can see; see that industry has its
reward. By increasing the well-being of others, and the safety of
others, you increase your own. So it is, and so it should be; for
God has knit us all together as brethren, members of one family of
God; and the well-being of each makes up the well-being of all, so
that sooner or later, if one member rejoice, all the others rejoice
with it.

But more. And here I speak to young people; for their elders, I
doubt not, have found it out long since for themselves. Work, hard
work, is a blessing to the soul and character of the man who works.
Young men may not think so. They may say, What more pleasant than
to have one's fortune made for one, and have nothing before one than
to enjoy life? What more pleasant than to be idle: or, at least,
to do only what one likes, and no more than one likes? But they
would find themselves mistaken. They would find that idleness makes
a man restless, discontented, greedy, the slave of his own lusts and
passions, and see too late, that no man is more to be pitied than
the man who has nothing to do. Yes; thank God every morning, when
you get up, that you have something to do that day which must be
done, whether you like or not. Being forced to work, and forced to
do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control,
diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content and a
hundred virtues which the idle man will never know. The monks in
old time found it so. When they shut themselves up from the world
to worship God in prayers and hymns, they found that, without
working, without hard work either of head or hands, they could not
even be good men. The devil came and tempted them, they said, as
often as they were idle. An idle monk's soul was lost, they used to
say; and they spoke truly. Though they gave up a large portion of
every day, and of every night also, to prayer and worship, yet they
found they could not pray aright without work. And 'working is
praying,' said one of the holiest of them that ever lived; and he
spoke truth, if a man will but do his work for the sake of duty,
which is for the sake of God. And so they worked, and worked hard,
not only at teaching the children of the poor, but at tilling the
ground, clearing the forests, building noble churches, which stand
unto this day; none among them were idle at first; and as long as
they worked, they were good men, and blessings to all around them,
and to this land of England, which they brought out of heathendom to
the knowledge of Christ and of God; and it was not till they became
rich and idle, and made other people work for them and till their
great estates, that they sank into sin and shame, and became
despised and hated, and at last swept off the face of the land.
Lastly, my friends, if you wish to see how noble a calling Work is,
consider God himself; who, although he is perfect, and does not
need, as we do, the training which comes by work, yet works for ever
with and through his Son, Jesus Christ, who said, 'My Father worketh
hitherto, and I work.' Yes; think of God, who, though he needs
nothing, and therefore need not work to benefit himself, yet does
work, simply because, though he needs nothing, all things need him.
Think of God as a king working for ever for the good of his
subjects, a Father working for ever for the good of his children,
for ever sending forth light and life and happiness to all created
things, and ordering all things in heaven and earth by a providence
so perfect, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his
knowledge, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

And then think of yourselves, called to copy God, each in his
station, and to be fellow-workers with God for the good of each
other and of yourselves. Called to work, because you are made in
God's image, and redeemed to be the children of God. Not like the
brutes, who cannot work, and can therefore never improve themselves,
or the earth around them; but like children of God, whom he has
called to the high honour of subduing and replenishing this earth
which he has given you, and of handing down by your labour blessings
without number to generations yet unborn. And when you go back, one
to his farm, another to his shop, another to his daily labour, say
to yourselves, This, too, as well as my prayers in church, is my
heavenly Father's command; in doing this my daily duty honestly and
well, I can do Christ's will, copy Christ, approve myself to Christ;
single-eyed and single-handed, doing my work as unto God, and not
unto men; and so hear, I may hope at last, Christ's voice saying to
me, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant. I set thee not to
govern kingdoms, to lead senates, to command armies, to preach the
gospel, to build churches, to give large charities, to write learned
books, to do any great work in the eyes of men. I set thee simply
to buy and sell, to plough and reap like a Christian man, and to
bring up thy family thereby, in the fear of God and in the faith of
Christ. And thou hast done thy duty more or less; and, in doing thy
duty, has taught thyself deeper and sounder lessons about thy life,
character, and immortal soul, than all books could teach thee. And
now thou hast thy reward. Thou hast been faithful over a few
things: I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord.'


(Eighth Sunday after Trinity.)

Matthew vii. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

People are apt to overlook, I think, the real meaning of these
words. They do so, because they part them from the words which go
just before them, about false prophets.

They consider that 'fruit' means only a man's conduct,--that a man
is known by his conduct. That professions are worth nothing, and
practice worth everything. That the good man, after all, is the man
who does right; and the bad man, the man who does wrong. Excellent
doctrine; and always needed. God grant that we may never forget it.

But the text surely does not quite mean that. 'Fruit' here does not
mean a man's own conduct, but the conduct of those whom he teaches.
For see,--our Lord is talking of prophets; that is preachers, who
set up to preach the Word of God, in the name of God. 'Beware,' he
says, 'of false prophets. By their fruits ye shall know them. By
what you gather from them,' he says. 'For do men gather grapes off
thorns, or figs off thistles?'

Now what is a preacher's fruit? Surely the fruit of his preaching;
and that is, not what he does himself, but what he makes you do.
His fruit is what you gather from him; and what you gather from him
is, not merely the notions and doctrines which he puts into your
head, but the way of life in which he makes you live. What he makes
you do, is the fruit which you get from him. Does he make you a
better man, or does he not? that is the question. That is the test
whether he is a false prophet, or a true one; whether he is
preaching to you the eternal truth of God, or man's inventions and
devil's lies.

Does he make you a better man? Not--Does he make you feel better?
but--Does he make you behave better? There is too much preaching in
the world which makes men _feel_ better--so much better, indeed,
that they go about like the Pharisee, thanking God that they are not
as other men, before they have any sound reason to believe that they
are _not_ as other men; because they live just such lives as other
men do, as far as respectability, and the fear of hurting their
custom or their character, allow them to do. They have their
prophets, their preachers who teach them; and by their fruits in
these men, the preachers may be known, by those who have eyes to
see, and hearts to understand.

Therefore beware of false prophets. There are too many of them in
the world now, as there were in our Lord's time; men who go about
with the name of God on their lips, and the Bible in their hands, in
sheep's clothing outwardly; but inwardly ravening wolves. In
sheep's clothing, truly, smooth and sanctimonious, meek, and sleek.
But wolves at heart; wolves in cunning and slyness, as you will
find, if you have to deal with them; wolves in fierceness and
cruelty, as you will find if you have to differ from them; wolves in
greediness and covetousness, and care of their own interest and
their own pockets. And wolves, too, in hardness of heart; in the
hard, dark, horrible, unjust doctrines, which they preach with a
smile upon their lips, not merely in sermons, but in books and
tracts innumerable, making out the Heavenly Father, the God whose
name is Love and Justice, to be even such a one as themselves.
Wolves, too, in their habit of hunting in packs, each keeping up his
courage by listening to the howl of his fellows. They may come in
the name of God. They may tell you that they preach the Gospel;
that no one but they preach the Gospel. But by their fruits ye
shall know them.

Will they make you better men? Is it not written, 'The disciple is
not above his master?' What will you learn from them, but to be
like them? And the more you take in their doctrines, the more like
them you will be; for is it not written, 'He that is perfect shall
be as his master.' Can they lead you to eternal life? Is it not
written, 'If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the

But by their fruits ye shall know them. By their fruits in the
world at large, if you have eyes to see it. By their fruits in your
own lives, if you give yourselves up to listen to their false
doctrines, for you will surely find, that, in the first place, they
will not make you honest men. They will not teach you to be just
and true in all your dealings. They will not teach you common
morality. No, my friends, it is most sad to see, how much preaching
and tract-writing there is in England now, which talks loud about
Protestant doctrine, and Gospel truths, while all the fruit of it
seems to be, to teach men to abuse the Pope, and to fancy that every
one is going to hell, who does not agree with their opinions; while
their own lives, their own conduct, their own morality, seems not
improved one whit by all this preaching. And yet men like such
preaching, and run to hear it. Of course they do; for it leaves
them to behave all the week as if there was no Law of God, if only
they will go on Sundays, and listen to what is called, I fear most
untruly, the Gospel of God; leaves them, on condition of belonging
to some particular party, and listening to some favourite preacher,
free to give way to their passions, their spite, their meanness; to
grind their servants, cheat their masters, trick their customers,
adulterate their goods, and behave in money-matters as if all was
fair in business, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ had nothing to do
with common honesty; and all the while,

Compound for sins they are inclined to.
By damning those they have no mind to.

My friends, these things ought not so to be. There is a Gospel of
God, which preaches full forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ,
to all who turn from their sins. But there is a Law of God,
likewise, which executes sure vengeance against all who do _not_
turn from their sins; be their professions as high, or their
doctrines as correct as they may. A law which is in the Gospel
itself, and says, by the mouth of the Apostle St. John, 'Little
children, let no man deceive you: he that _doeth_ righteousness is
righteous, even as God is righteous'--he--and not he who expects to
be saved by listening to some false preacher who teaches his
congregation how to go to heaven without having thought one heavenly
thought, or done one heavenly-deed.

Yes. There is an eternal law of God, which people are forgetting, I
often fear, more and more, in England just now. I sometimes dread,
lest we should be sinking into that hideous state of which the old
Hebrew prophet speaks--'The prophets prophesy falsely, and the
priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so:
and what will ye do in the end thereof?' What, indeed; if people
are to be taught more and more, that religion is a matter merely of
doctrines and fancies and feelings, and has nothing to do with
common morality, and common honesty, and common self-control and
improvement of character and conduct?

My friends, in these dangerous days, for dangerous they truly are--
like those of the Scribes and Pharisees of old; days in which
bigotry and hardness of heart, hypocrisy and lip-profession stalk
triumphant; days, in which men, like the Scribes and Pharisees of
old, boast of the Bible, worship the Bible, think they have eternal
life in the Bible, spend vast sums every year in spreading the
Bible; and yet will neither read the Bible honestly, nor obey its
plain commands--In such days as these, what prophet shall we fall
back upon? What preacher shall we trust?

We can at least trust our Bible. We can read it honestly, if only
there be in us the honest and good heart; we can obey its plain
commands, if only we hunger and thirst after righteousness, and
desire really to become good men. Read your Bibles for yourselves
with a single eye, and with a pure heart which longs to know God's
will because it longs to _do_ God's will; and you will need no false
prophets, under pretence of explaining it to you, to draw you away
from the Holy Catholic faith into which you were baptized.

But if you must have a commentary on the Bible; if you must have
some book to give you a general notion of what the Bible teaches
you, and what it expects of you; go to the prayer-book. Go to the
good old Catechism which you learnt at school. There, though not
from the popular preachers, you will learn that God is just and
true, loving and merciful, and no respecter of persons. There you
will learn, that Christ died not for a few elect, but for the sins
of the whole world. There you will learn that in baptism, by God's
free grace, and not by any experiences or feelings of your own, you
were made children of God, members of Christ, and inheritors of the
kingdom of heaven. There you will learn, that the elect whom the
Holy Spirit sanctifies, are not merely a favoured few, but _you_--
every baptized man, woman, and child. That the Holy Spirit is with
you, every one of you, to sanctify you, if you will open your hearts
to his gracious inspirations. And there you will learn what
sanctification really means. Not a few fancies and feelings about
which any man can deceive himself, and any man, also, deceive his
neighbours. No, that sanctification means being made holy,
righteous, virtuous, good. That sanctification means 'To love your
neighbour as yourself, and to do to all men as they should do unto
you--to love, honour, and succour your father and mother'--Shall I
go on? Or do you all know the plain old duty to your neighbours,
which stands in the Church Catechism. If you do, thank God that you
were taught it in your youth. Read it over and over again. Think
over it. Pray to God to give you grace to act upon it, and to shew
the fruit of it in your lives. And then, 'By its fruits you shall
know it.' By its fruits you shall know the virtue of the Catechism,
and of the great and good men, true prophets of God, who wrote that
Catechism. Yes. Cling to that Catechism, even if it convinces you
of many sins, and makes you sadly ashamed of yourselves again and
again; for, believe me, it will prove your best safeguard in
doctrine, your best teacher in practice, in these dangerous days--
days in which every man who believes that right is right, and wrong
is wrong, has need to pray with all his heart--'From all false
doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt
of thy word and commandments; good Lord, deliver us!'


(Ninth Sunday after Trinity.)

1 Corinthians x. 4. They drank of that Spiritual Rock which
followed them; and that Rock was Christ.

St. Paul has been speaking to the Corinthians about the Holy

In this text, St. Paul is warning the Corinthians about it. He
says, 'You may be Christian men; you may have the means of grace;
you may come to the Communion and use the means of grace; and yet
you may become castaways.' St. Paul himself says, in the very verse
before, 'I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest .
. . . I myself should be a castaway.' Look, he says then, 'at the
old Jews in the wilderness. They all partook of God's grace: but
they were not all saved. They were all baptized to Moses in the
cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual meat, the
manna from heaven. They all drank the same spiritual drink, the
water out of the rock in Horeb. And yet with many of them God was
not well pleased;' for they were overthrown--their corpses were
scattered far and wide--in the wilderness. The spiritual meat and
the spiritual drink could not keep them alive, if they sinned, and
deserved death. 'So,' says St. Paul, 'with you. You are members of
Christ's body. The cup of blessing which we bless, is the communion
of the blood of Christ; the bread which we break, is the communion
of the body of Christ:' but beware, they will not save you, if you
sin. Nothing will save you, if you sin. If you lust after evil
things, as those old Jews did; if you are idolaters, as they were;
if you are profligates, as they were; if you tempt Christ, as they
did; if you murmur against God, as they murmured, you will be
destroyed like them.

Note here two things. First, that St. Paul says that we really
receive Christ in the Holy Communion. He does _not_ say, as some
do, that the Communion is merely a remembrance of Christ's death.
He says that the faithful verily and indeed receive Christ's body
and blood in the Sacrament. He says so, distinctly, plainly,
literally; and if that be not true, his whole argument goes for
nothing, and will not stand. The Jews, he says, drank of the
spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ; and so
he says to you. But that did not save them from the punishment of
their sins, when they went and sinned afresh: neither will it save

But now--What are these strange words which St. Paul uses? These
old Jews drank of the spiritual Rock which followed them, and that
Rock was Christ? Where in the Old Testament do we read of the Rock
following them? We read of Moses striking the rock in Horeb, at the
beginning of their wanderings in the wilderness; but not of its
following them afterwards.

St. Paul is here using a beautiful old tradition of the Rabbis, that
the rock which Moses struck in Horeb followed the Jews through all
their forty years' wanderings, and that on every Sabbath day when
they stopped, it stopped also, and the elders called to it, 'Flow
out, O fountain,' and the water flowed. A beautiful old story,
which St. Paul turns into an allegory, to teach, as by a picture,
the deepest and the highest truth. Whether that rock followed them
or not, he says, there was One who did follow them, from whom flowed
living water; and that Rock is Christ. Christ followed them.
Christ the creator, the preserver, the inspirer, the light, the
life, the guide of men, and of all the universe. It was to Christ
they owed their deliverance from Egypt; to Christ they owed their
knowledge of God, and of the law of God, to Christ they owed
whatever reason, justice, righteousness, good government, there was
among them. And to Christ we owe the same.

The rock was a type of him from whom flows living water. As he
himself said on earth, 'Whosoever drinketh of the water which I
shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give
him shall be in him a well of water, springing up to everlasting
life.' Just as the manna also was a type of him, as he himself
declared, when the Jews talked to him of the manna; 'Our fathers did
eat manna in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread from
heaven to eat.' Then Jesus said to them, 'Verily, verily, I say
unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.' No: but only
a type and picture of it. 'My Father giveth you the true bread from
heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven,
and giveth life unto the world. . . . I am that bread of life.'

My friends, herein is a great mystery. Something of what it means,
however, we may learn from that wise and good Jew, Philo, who was
St. Paul's teacher according to the flesh, before he became a
Christian; and who himself was so near to the kingdom of God, that
St. Paul often in his epistles uses Philo's very words, putting into
them a Christian meaning. And what says he concerning the Rock of
living waters?

The soul, he says, falls in with a scorpion in the wilderness; and
then thirst, which is the thirst of the passions--of the lusts which
war in our members--seizes on it; till God sends forth on it the
stream of his own perfect wisdom, and causes the changed soul to
drink of unchangeable health. For the steep rock is the wisdom of
God (by whom he means the Word of God, whom Philo knew not in the
flesh, but whom we know, as the Lord Jesus Christ), which, being
both sublime and the first of all things; he quarried out of his own
powers; and of it he gives drink to the souls which love God; and
they, when they have drunk, are filled with the most universal

So says Philo, the good Jew, who knew not Christ; and therefore he
says only a part of the truth. If you wish to learn the whole
truth, you must read St. John's Gospel, and St. Paul's Epistles,
especially this very text; and again, the opening of the Epistle to
the Ephesians; and again, that most royal passage in the opening of
the Colossians, where he speaks of the Everlasting Being of Christ,
who is before all things, and by whom all things consist--in whom
dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in whom are hid
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Therefore he is rightly called the Rock, the Rock of Ages, the
Eternal Rock; because on him all things rest, and have rested since
the foundation of the world, being made, and kept together, and
ruled, and inspired by him alone. Therefore he is rightly called
the Rock of living waters; for in him are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, and from him they flow forth freely to all who
cry to him in their thirst after truth and holiness. Yes, my
friends, by Christ all things live; and therefore, most of all, by
Christ our souls live. To be parted from Christ is death. To be
joined to Christ and the body of Christ is life.

But what life? The life of the soul. And what is the life of the
soul? Holiness, righteousness, sanctification, virtue,--call it
what pleases you best. I shall call it goodness. That is the only
life of the soul. And why? Because it is the life of Christ. That
is the only wisdom of the soul. And why? Because it is the mind of
Christ. That is the living water. And why? Because it flows
eternally from Christ.

For who is Christ, but the likeness of God, and the glory of God?
And what is the likeness of God, but goodness; and what is the glory
of God, but goodness? Therefore Christ is goodness itself, as it is
written, 'Now the Lord is that Spirit.' Yes, if you will believe
it, Christ, the only-begotten Son, co-equal and co-eternal, is the
very and essential goodness of the Father, coming out everlastingly
in action and in life, in himself, and in his people, who are his
mystical body, filled with the Spirit of him and his Father; who is
the Holy Spirit, the spirit of goodness. From Christ, and not from
any created being, comes all goodness in man or angel. Comes from
Christ? It were more right, and more according to St. Paul's own
words, to say, that all goodness _is_ Christ; Christ dwelling in a
man, Christ forming himself in a man, little by little, step by
step, as he grows in grace, in purity, in self-control, in
experience, in knowledge, in wisdom, in strength, in patience, in
love, in charity; till he comes to the stature of a perfect man, to
the measure of the fulness of Christ.

Meanwhile, let the good which a man does be much, or be it little,
he must say, 'The good which I do, _I_ do not, but Christ who
dwelleth in me.'

For in every age of man, it is Christ who is awakening in him the
hunger and thirst after righteousness, and then satisfying it with
the only thing which can satisfy them, namely, his most blessed

Yes, believe it. It is Christ in the child which makes it speak the
truth; Christ in the child which makes it shrink from whatever it
has been told is wrong. It is Christ in the young man, which fills
him with lofty aspirations, hopes of bettering the world around him,
hopes of training his soul to be all that it can be, and of putting
forth all his powers in the service of Christ. It is Christ in the
middle-aged man, which makes him strong in good works, labouring
patiently, wisely, and sturdily; so that having drunk of the living
waters himself, they may flow out of him again to others in good
deeds; a fountain springing up in him to an eternal life of
goodness. It is Christ in the old man, which makes him look on with
calm content while his own body and mind decay, knowing that the
kingdom of God cannot decay; for Christ is ruling it in
righteousness; and all will be well with him, and with his children
after him, and with all mankind, and all heaven and earth, if they
themselves only will it, long after he has been gathered to his

Yes, such a man knows in whom he has believed. He knows that the
spiritual Rock has been following him through all his wanderings in
this weary world; and that that Rock is Christ. He can recollect
how, again and again, at his Sabbath haltings in his life's journey,
it was to him in the Holy Communion as to the Israelites of old in
their haltings in the wilderness, when the priests of Jehovah cried
to the mystic rock, 'Flow forth, O fountain,' and the waters flowed.
So can he recollect how, in Holy Communion, there flowed into his
soul streams of living water, the water of life, quenching that
thirst of his soul, which no created thing could slake; the water of
life; of Christ's life, which is the light of men, shewing them what
they ought to be and do; the life which is the light; the life which
is according to the eternal and divine reason; the life of wisdom;
which is the life of love; which is the life of justice; which is
the life of Christ; which is the life of God.

But if these things are so--and so they are, for Christ has said it,
St. Paul has said it, St. John has said it--but if these things are
so, will they not teach us much about Holy Communion, how we may
receive it worthily, and how unworthily?

If what we receive in the Communion be Christ himself, the good
Christ who is to make us good; then how can we receive it worthily,
if we do not hunger and thirst after goodness? If we do not come
thither, longing to be made good, and sanctified, then we come for
the wrong thing, to the wrong place. We are like those Corinthians
who came to the Lord's supper not to be made good men, but to exalt
their own spiritual self-conceit; and so only ate and drank their
own damnation, not discerning the Lord's body, that it was a holy
body, a body of righteousness and goodness.

But if we come hungering and thirsting to be made good men, then we
come for the right thing, to the right place. Then we need not stay
away, because we feel ourselves intolerably burdened with many sins;
that will be our very reason for coming, that we may be cleansed
from our sins--cleansed not only from their guilt, but from their
power; and cry, in spirit and in truth, as we kneel at that holy

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
By the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Yes, from its guilt and from its power also. Let us all pray, each
in his own fashion:--

Oh Lamb eternal, beyond all place and time! Oh Lamb slain
eternally, before the foundation of the world! Oh Lamb, which liest
slain eternally, in the midst of the throne of God! Let the blood
of life, which flows from thee, procure me pardon for the past; let
the water of life, which flows from thee, give me strength for the
future. I come to cast away my own life, my life of self and
selfishness, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, that
I may live it no more; and to receive thy life, which is created
after the likeness of God, in righteousness and true holiness, that
I may live it for ever and ever, and find it a well of life
springing up in me to everlasting life. Eternal Goodness, make me
good like thee. Eternal Wisdom, make me wise like thee. Eternal
Justice, make me just like thee. Eternal Love, make me loving like
thee. Then I shall hunger no more, and thirst no more; for

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in thee I find;
Raise me, fallen; cheer me, faint;
Heal me, sick; and lead me, blind.
Thou of life the fountain art;
Freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.

Oh come to Holy Communion with the words of that glorious hymn not
merely on your lips, but in your hearts; and you will never come


(Tenth Sunday after Trinity.)

1 Cor. xii. 3, 4, 5, 6. Wherefore, I give you to understand, that
no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and
that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there
are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there
are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh
all in all.

We are to come to the Communion this day in love and charity with
all men. But are we in love and charity with all men?

I do not mean, are there any persons whom we hate; against whom we
bear a spite; whom we should be glad to see in trouble or shame?
God forbid, my friends, God forbid. There are, indeed, devil's
tempers. And yet more easy for us to keep in the bottom of our
hearts, and more difficult to root them out, than we fancy.

It is easy enough for us to forgive (in words at least) a man who
has injured us. Easy enough to make up our minds that we will not
revenge ourselves. Easy enough to determine, even, that we will
return good for evil to him, and do him a kindness when we have a
chance. Yes, we would not hurt him for the world: but what if God
hurt him? What if he hurt himself? What if he lost his money?
What if his children turned out ill? What if he made a fool of
himself, and came to shame? What if he were found out and exposed,
as we fancy that he deserves? Should we be so very sorry? We
should not punish him ourselves. No. But do we never catch
ourselves thinking whether God may not punish him; thinking of that
with a base secret satisfaction; almost hoping for it, at last? Oh
if we ever do, God forgive us! If we ever find those devil's
thoughts rising in us, let us flee from them as from an adder; flee
to the foot of Christ's Cross, to the cross of him who prayed for
his murderers, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;
and there cry aloud for the blood of life, which shall cleanse us
from the guilt of those wicked thoughts, and for the water of life,
which shall cleanse us from the power of them: lest they get the
dominion over us, and spring up in us, and spread over our whole
hearts; not a well of life, but a well of poison, springing up in us
to everlasting damnation. Oh let us pray to him to give us truth in
our inward parts; that we may forgive and love, not in word only,
but in deed and in truth.

I could not help saying this in passing. But it is not what the
text is speaking of; not what I want to speak of myself to-day. I
want to speak of a matter which is smaller, and not by any means so
sinful: and which yet in practice is often more tormenting to a
truly tender conscience, because it is more common and more

How often, when one examines oneself, whether one be in love and
charity with all men, one must recollect that there are many people
whom one does not like. I do not mean that one hates them. Not in
the least: but they do not suit one. There is something in them
which we cannot get on with, as the saying is. Something in their
opinions, manners, ways of talking; even--God forgive us--merely in
their voice, or their looks, or their dress, which frets us, and
gives us what is called an antipathy to them. And one dislikes
them; though they never have harmed us, or we them; and we know
them, perhaps, to be better people than ourselves. Now, are we in
love and charity with these people? I am afraid not.

I know one is tempted to answer; but I am afraid the answer is worth
very little--Why not? We cannot help it. You cannot expect us to
like people who do not suit us: any more than you can expect us to
like a beetle or a spider. We know the beetle or the spider will
not harm us. We know that they are good in their places, and do
good, as all God's creatures are and do; and there is room enough in
the world for them and us: but we have a natural dislike to them,
and cannot help it; and so with these people. We mean no harm in
disliking them. It is natural to us; and why blame us for it.

Now what is the mistake here? Saying that it is _natural_ to us.
We are not meant to live according to nature, but according to
grace; and grace must conquer nature, my friends, if we wish to save
our souls alive. It is nature, brute nature, which makes some dogs
fly at every strange dog they meet. It is nature, brute nature,
which makes a savage consider every strange savage as his enemy, and
try to kill him. But unless nature be conquered in that savage, it
will end, where following brute nature always ends, in death; and
the savages will (as all savages are apt to do) destroy each other
off the face of the earth, by continual war and murder. It is brute
nature which makes low and ignorant persons hate foreign people,
because their dress and language seem strange. But unless that
natural feeling had been in most of us conquered by the grace of
God, which is the spirit of justice and of love, then England would
have remained alone in conceit and ignorance, hated by all the
nations; instead of being what, thank God! she is--the Sanctuary of
the world; to which all the oppressed of the earth may flee; and
find a welcome, and safety, and freedom, and justice, and peace.

And so with us, my friends. It is natural, and according to the
brute nature of the old Adam, to dislike this person and that, just
because they do not suit us. But it is according to grace, and the
new Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, to honour all men; to love
the brotherhood; to throw away our own private fancies and personal
antipathies; and, like the Lord Jesus Christ, copy the all-embracing
charity of God. And no one has a right to answer, 'But I must draw
the line somewhere.' Thou must not. I am afraid that thou _wilt_,
and that I shall, too, God forgive us both! because we are sinful
human beings. We may, but we _must_ not, draw a line as to whom we
shall endure in charity. For Christ draws no line. Is it not
written, 'No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy
Ghost.' Is not the Spirit of Christ in a Christian man, unless he
be a reprobate? and who is reprobate, we know not, and dare not try
to know; for it is written, 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:
condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.'

But what has the text to do with all this?

My friends, is not this just what the text is telling us? I said
this moment, that the Spirit of Christ was in a Christian man,
unless he be a reprobate. And the text says further, that there are
diversities of gifts in Christian men: but the same spirit in all
of them.

Yes: people _will_ be different one from another. There are
diversities of gifts. Differences in talents, in powers, in
character, in kinds of virtue and piety; so that you shall find no
two good men, no two useful men, like each other. But there is the
same Spirit. The same Spirit of God is in each, though bearing
different fruit in each. And there are differences of
administrations, of offices, in God's kingdom. God sets one man to
do one work, and another to do another: but it is the same Lord who
puts each man in his place, and shows him his work, and gives him
power to do it. And there are diversities of operations, that is,
of ways of working; so that if you put any two men to do the same
thing, they will most probably do it each in a different way, and
yet both do it well. But it is the same God, who is working in them
both; the God who works all in all, and has his work done by a
thousand different hands, by a thousand different ways.

And it is right and good that people should be so different from
each other. 'For the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every
man to profit withal.' To profit, to be of use. If all men were
alike, no one could learn from his neighbour. If all mankind were
as like each other as a flock of sheep, there would be no more work,
no more progress, no more improvement in mankind, than there is in a
flock of sheep. Now each man can bring his own little share of
knowledge or usefulness into the common stock. Each man has, or
ought to have, something to teach his neighbour. Each man can learn
something from his neighbour: at least he can learn this--to have
patience with his neighbour. To live and let live. To bear with
what in him seems odd and disagreeable, trusting that God may have
put it there; that God has need of it; that God will make use of it.
God makes use of many things which look to us ugly and disagreeable.
He makes use of the spider and of the beetle. How much more of our
brethren, members of Christ, children of God, inheritors of the
kingdom of heaven. Shall they be to us, even if they be odd or
disagreeable in some things--shall they be to us as the beetle or
the spider, or any other merely natural things? They are men and
women, in whom is the Spirit of the living God. And my friends, if
they are good enough for God, they are good enough for us. Think
but one moment. God the Father adopts a man as his child, God the
Son dies for that man, God the Holy Ghost inspires that man; and
shall we be more dainty than God? If, in spite of the man's little
weaknesses and oddities, God shall condescend to come down and dwell
in that man, making him more or less a good man, doing good work;
shall we pretend that we cannot endure what God endures? Shall we
be more dainty, I ask again, than the holy and perfect God? Oh my
friends, let us pray to him to take out of our hearts all
selfishness, fancifulness, fastidiousness, and hasty respect of
persons, of all which there is none in God. Let us ask for his
Spirit, the Spirit of Charity, which sees God in all, and all in
God, and therefore sees good in all, and sees all in love.

Then we shall see how much more there is in our neighbours to like,
than to dislike. Then all these little differences will seem to us
trifles not to be thought of, before the broad fact of a man's
being, after all, a man, an Englishman, a Christian, and a good
Christian, doing good work where God has put him. Then we shall be
ashamed of our old narrowness of heart; ashamed of having looked so
much at the little evil in our neighbours, and not at the great good
in them. Then we shall go about the world cheerfully; and our
neighbour's faces will seem to us full of light: instead of seeming
full of darkness, because our own eyes and minds are dark for want
of charity. Then we shall come to the Communion, not with hearts
narrowed and shut up, perhaps, from the very person who kneels next
to us: but truly open-hearted; with hearts as wide--ah God, that it
were possible!--as the sacred heart of Christ, in which is room for
all mankind. And so receiving his body, which is the blessed
company of all faithful people, we shall receive Christ, who
dwelleth in them, and they in him.


(Eleventh Sunday after Trinity.)

1 Cor. xv. 8. Last of all he was seen of me, also, as of one born
out of due time. For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not
meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of

You heard in this text (part of the epistle for this day) St. Paul's
opinion of himself. You heard, also, in the Second Lesson for this
day, the ninth chapter of Acts, the extraordinary story of his

And what may we learn from that story? We may learn many lessons;
lessons without number.

We may learn, first; not to be astonished, if we have to change our
opinions as we grow older. When we are young, we are very positive
about this thing and that, as St. Paul was; violent in favour of our
own opinions; ready to quarrel with any one who differs from us, as
St. Paul was. But let ten years, twenty years, roll over our heads,
and we may find our opinions utterly changed, as St. Paul did, and
look back with astonishment on ourselves, for having been foolish
enough to believe what we did, as St. Paul looked back; and with
shame, as did St. Paul likewise, at having said so many violent and
unjust things against people, who, we now see, were in the right
after all.

Next; we may learn not to be ashamed of changing our minds: but if
we find ourselves in the wrong, to confess it boldly and honestly,
as St. Paul did. What a fearful wrench to his mind and his heart;
what a humiliation to his self-conceit, to have to change his mind
once for all on all matters in heaven and earth. What must it not
have cost him to throw up at once all his friends and relations; to
part himself from all whom he loved and respected on earth, to feel
that henceforth they must look upon him as a madman, an infidel, an
enemy. To an affectionate man, and St. Paul was an extremely
affectionate man, what a bitter struggle that must have cost him.
But he faced that struggle, and conquered in it, like a brave and
honest man. And the consequence was, that he had, in time, and
after many lonely years, many Christian friends for each Jewish
friend that he had lost; and to him was fulfilled (as it will be to
all men) our Lord's great saying, 'There is no man that hath left
house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or
children, or lands for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall
receive an hundredfold now in this time, . . . and in the world to
come eternal life.'

Next; we may take comfort, in the hope that God will not impute to
us these early follies and mistakes of ours; if only there be in us,
as there was in St. Paul, the honest and good heart; that is, the
heart which longs to know what is true and right, and bravely acts
up to what it knows. St. Paul did so. God, when he set him apart,
as he says, from his very birth, gave him a great grace, even the
honest and good heart; and he was true to it, and used it. He tried
to learn his best, and do his best. He profited in the Jews'
religion, beyond all his fellows. He was, touching the
righteousness which was in the law, blameless. He was so zealous
for what he thought right, that he persecuted the Church of Christ,
as the Pharisees, his teachers, had taught him to do. In all
things, whether right or wrong in each particular case, he was an
honest, earnest seeker after truth and righteousness. And therefore
Christ, instead of punishing him, fulfilled to him his own great
saying,--'To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have
abundance.' He had not yet, as he himself says, again and again,
the grace of Christ, which is love to his fellow-men; and therefore
his works were not pleasing to God, and had, as the article says,
the nature of sin. His empty forms and ceremonies could not please
God. His persecuting the Church had plainly the nature of sin. But
there was something which God had put in him, and which God would
not lose sight of, or suffer to be lost; and that was, the honest
and good heart, of which our Lord speaks in the parable of the
sower. In that Christ sowed the word of God, even himself, and his
grace and Holy Spirit; and, behold, it sprang up and bore fruit a
hundredfold, over all Christian nations to this day.

Keep, therefore, if you have it, the honest and good heart. If you
have it not, pray for it earnestly. Determine to learn what is
true, whatever be the trouble; and to do what is right, whatever be
the cost; and then, though you may make many mistakes, and have more
than once, perhaps, to change your mind in shame and confusion, yet
all will come right at last, for the grace of Christ, sooner or
later, will lead you into all truth which you require for this world
and all worlds to come.

Again, we may learn from St. Paul this lesson. That though God has
forgiven a man, that is no reason that he should forgive himself.
That may seem a startling saying just now. For the common teaching
now is, that if a man finds, or fancies, that God has forgiven him,
he may forgive himself at once; that if he gets assurance that his
sins are washed away in Christ's blood, he may go swaggering and
boasting about the world (I can call it no less), as if he had never
sinned at all; that he may be (as you see in these revivals, from
which God defend us!) one moment in the deepest agonies of
conscience, and dread of hell-fire, and the next moment in raptures
of joy, declaring himself to be in heaven. Alas, alas! such people
forget that sin leaves behind it wounds, which even the grace of
Christ takes a long time in healing, and which then remain as ugly,
but wholesome scars, to remind us of the fools which we have been.
They are like a man who is in great bodily agony, and gets sudden
relief from a dose of laudanum. The pain stops; and he feels
himself, as he says, in heaven for the time: but he is too apt to
forget that the cause of the pain is still in his body, and that if
he commits the least imprudence, he will bring it back again; just
as happens, I hear, in too many of these hasty and noisy conversions

That is one extreme. The opposite extreme is that of many old Roman
Catholic saints and hermits who could not forgive themselves at all,
but passed their whole lives in fasting, poverty, and misery,
bewailing their sins till their dying day. That was a mistake. It
sprang out of mistaken doctrines, of which I shall not speak here:
but it did not spring entirely from them. There was in them a seed
of good, for which I shall always love and honour them, even though
I differ from them; and that was, a noble hatred of sin. They felt
the sinfulness of sin; and they hated themselves for having sinned.
The mercy of God made them only the more ashamed of themselves for
having rebelled against him. Their longing after holiness only made
them loathe the more their past unholiness. They carried that
feeling too far: but they were noble people, men and women of God;
and we may say of them, that, 'Wisdom is justified of all her

But I wish you to run into neither extreme. I only ask you to look
at your past lives, if you have ever been open sinners, as St. Paul
looked at his. There is no sentimental melancholy in him; no
pretending to be miserable; no trying to make himself miserable. He
is saved, and he knows it. He is an apostle, and he stands boldly
on his dignity. He is cheerful, hopeful, joyful: but whenever he
speaks of his past life (and he speaks of it often), it is with
noble shame and sorrow. Then he looks to himself the chief of
sinners, not worthy to be called an apostle, because he persecuted
the Church of Christ. What he is, he will not deny. What he was,
he will not forget, he dare not forget, lest he should forget that
the good which he does, _he_ does not--for in him (that is, in his
flesh, his own natural character), dwelleth no good thing--but
Christ, who dwells in him; lest he should grow puffed up, careless,
self-indulgent; lest he should neglect to subdue his evil passions;
and so, after having preached to others, himself become a castaway.

So let us do, my friends. Let us not be too hasty in forgiving
ourselves. Let us thank God cheerfully for the present. Let us
look on hopefully to the future; let us not look back too much at
the past, or rake up old follies which have been pardoned and done
away. But let us thank God whenever he thinks fit to shew us the
past, and bring our sin to our remembrance. Let us thank him, when
meeting an old acquaintance, passing by an old haunt, looking over
an old letter, reminds us what fools we were ten, twenty, thirty
years ago. Let us thank him for those nightly dreams, in which old
tempers, old meannesses, old sins, rise up again in us into ugly
life, and frighten us by making us in our sleep, what we were once,
God forgive us! when broad awake. I am not superstitious. I know
that those dreams are bred merely of our brain and of our blood.
But I know that they are none the less messages from God. They tell
us unmistakeably that we are the same persons that we were twenty
years ago. They tell us that there is the same infection of nature,
the same capability of sin, in us, that there was of old. That in
our flesh dwells no good thing: that by the grace of God alone we
are what we are: and that did his grace leave us, we might be once
more as utter fools as we were in the wild days of youth. Yes: let
us thank God for everything which reminds us of what we once were.
Let us humble ourselves before him whenever those memories return to
us; and let us learn from them what St. Paul learnt. To be
charitable to all who have not yet learnt the wisdom which God (as
we may trust) has taught to us; to feel for them, feel with them, be
sure that they are our brothers, men of like passions with
ourselves, who will be tried by the same standard as we; whom
therefore we must not judge, lest we be judged in turn: and let us
have, as St. Paul had, hope for them all; hope that God who has
forgiven us, will forgive them; that God who has raised us from the
death of sin, to something of the life of righteousness, will raise
them up likewise, in his own good time.



Isaiah, lvii. 15-21. For thus saith the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and
holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the
contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be
always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls
which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I
wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on
frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will
heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and
to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to
him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I
will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it
cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace,
saith my God, to the wicked.

This is part of Isaiah's prophecy. He is telling the Jews that they
should come back safe at last to their own land. He tells them why
God had driven them out, and why God was going to bring them back.

He had driven them out for their sins. But he was not going to
bring them back for their righteousness. He was going to bring them
back out of his own free grace, his own pure love and mercy, which
was wider, deeper, and higher, than all their sins, or than the sins
of the whole world. He had sworn to Abraham to be the friend of
those foolish rebellious Jews, and he would keep his promise for
ever. Their wickedness could not conquer his goodness, or their
denying him make him deny himself.

But one thing he did require of them. Not that they should turn and
do right all at once. That must come afterwards. But that they
should open their eyes, and see that they had done wrong. He wanted
to produce in them the humble and the contrite heart.

Now, as I told you last Sunday, a contrite heart does not merely
mean a broken heart; it means more. It means literally a heart
crushed; a heart ground to powder. You can have no stronger word.

It was this heart which God wished to breed in these rebellious
Jews. A heart like Isaiah's heart, when he said, after having seen
God's glory, 'Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell
among a people of unclean lips.' A heart like Jeremiah's heart,
when he said, 'Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a
fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of
the daughter of my people.' A heart like Daniel's heart, when he
confessed before God that, to him and all his people belonged shame
and confusion of face.

Why do I mention these three men? They were not bad men, but good
men. What need had they of a contrite heart?

I mention them, because they were good men. And why were they good
men? For any good works of their own? Not in the least. What made
them good men was, just the having the humble and the contrite
heart; just feeling that in themselves they were as bad as the
sinners round them; that the only thing which kept them out of the
idolatry and profligacy of their neighbours was confessing their own
weakness, and clinging fast to God by faith; confessing that their
own righteousness was as filthy rags, and that God must clothe them
with his righteousness.

Do you suppose that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel would have been
good men, if they had said to themselves, 'We are prophets; we are
inspired; we know God's law: and therefore we are righteous; we are
safe: but these people--these idolaters, these drunkards, these
covetous, tyrannous, profligate people round, to whom we preach, and
who know not the law--they are accursed.' If they had, they would
have said just what the Pharisees said afterwards. And what came of
their saying so? Instead of knowing the Lord Christ, when he came
they crucified him, showing that they were really worse at heart
than the ignorant common people, instead of better.

No, my friends, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Daniel, were, better men
than those round them, just because they had the humble and contrite
heart; because they confessed that the root of sin was in them too,
as much as in their fellow-country men; because they took their
share of the public blame, their share of the public burden.

And their work and wish was, to breed in their fellow-countrymen the
same humble and contrite heart which they had; to make them confess
that their only hope lay in turning back to God, and doing right.
But they could not succeed. Sin was too strong for them. So as
Isaiah had warned the Jews, God did the work himself. God took the
matter into his own hands, and arose out of his place to punish
those Jews, and to make short work with them, by famine, and
pestilence, and earthquake, and foreign invasion, till they were all
carried away captive to Babylon: to see if that would teach them to
know that God was the Lord; to see if that would breed in them the
humble and contrite heart.

But God says to these poor Jews, Do not fancy that I have taken a
spite against you. Not so. I will not contend for ever. I will
not be always angry; for then the spirit would fail before me, and
the souls which I have made. I have made you, God says; and I love
you. I wish to save you, and not to destroy you. If God really
hated any man, do you suppose that he would endure that man for a
moment in his universe? Do you suppose that he would not sweep that
man away, as easily and as quickly as we do a buzzing gnat when it
torments us? Do you fancy that God lets you, or me, or any man, or
any creature live one single instant, except in the hope of saving
him, and of making him better than he is; of making him of some use,
somewhere, some day or other? Do you suppose, I say, that God
endures sinners one moment, save because he loves sinners, and
willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted
and live? No. 'God our Saviour,' says St. Paul to Timothy,
'willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of
the truth;' and therefore if they are not saved it must be their own
fault, and not God's; it must be they who will not be saved, though
God wills that they should be, as Isaiah goes on to show. For he
says--God cries to men, Peace! I create the fruit of the lips; that
is, I give men cause to thank me. I create it. I make it without
their help. I do not sell them my mercy. I give it them freely. I
say, Peace, peace, to them all, To him who is near, and him who is
afar off; peace to all mankind; peace on earth, and goodwill to men.
God is everlastingly at peace with himself, and at peace with all
his creatures, and with all his works; and he wills, in his
boundless love, to bring them all into his peace, the peace which
passeth understanding; that they may be at peace with him; and,
therefore at peace with themselves, and at peace with each other.

But how can they be at peace, when there is no peace in them? If
they will do wrong; if they will quarrel; if they will defraud each
other; if they will give way to the lusts and passions which war
within them: how can they be at peace? They are like a troubled
sea, says Isaiah, when it cannot rest, which casts up mire and dirt;
and there is no peace to them. It is not God who casts up the mire
and dirt. It is they who cast it up. God has not made them
restless: but they themselves, with their pride, selfishness,
violent passions, longings after this and that. God has not made
them foul and dirty, but they themselves, with their own foul words
and foul deeds, which keep them from being at peace with themselves,
because they are ashamed of them all the while; which keep them from
being at peace with their neighbours; which make them hate and fear
their neighbours, because they know that their neighbours do not
respect them, or are afraid of their neighbours finding them out.

What says brave, plain-spoken St. James?--'Let no man say when he is
tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil,
neither tempteth he any man.' 'From whence come wars and fightings
among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your
members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and
cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask

But as for God, he says, from him comes nothing but good. Do not
fancy anything else. 'Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good
gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the
Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of
turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that
we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures.'

My friends, all these things were written for our examples. God
grant that we may lay the lesson to heart. A dark night may come to
any one of us, a night of darkness upon darkness, and sorrow upon
sorrow, and bad luck upon bad luck; till we know not what is going
to happen next; and are ready to say with David--'All thy waves and
thy billows are gone over me;' and with Hezekiah--'I reckoned till
morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day
even to night wilt thou make an end of me.'

God grant, that before that day comes, we may have so learnt to know
God, as to know that the billows are God's billows, and the storms
his storms; and, after a while, not to be afraid, though all earthly
hope and help seem swept away. God grant that when trouble comes
after trouble, we may be able to see that our Father in heaven is
only dealing with us as he dealt with those poor Jews; that he is
all the while saying 'Peace!' to us, whether we be near him, or far
off from him; and is ready to heal us, the moment that he has worked
in us the broken and contrite heart. And we may trust him that he
will do it. With him one day is as a thousand years. And in one
day of bitter misery he can teach us lessons, which we could not
teach ourselves in a thousand years of reading and studying, or even
of praying. But our prayers, we shall find, have not been in vain.
He has not forgotten one of them; and there is the answer, in that
very sorrow. In sorrow, he is making short work with our spirits.
In one terrible and searching trial our souls may be, as the Poet

Heated hot with burning fears,
And bathed in baths of hissing tears;
And battered by the strokes of doom.
To shape and use.

Yes. He will make short work at times with men's spirits. He
grinds hearts to powder, that they may be broken and contrite before
him: but only that he may heal them; that out of the broken
fragments of the hard, proud, self-deceiving heart of stone, he may
create a new and harder heart of flesh, human and gentle, humble and
simple. And then he will return and have mercy. He will show that
he will not contend for ever. He will show that he does not wish
our spirits to fail before him, but to grow and flourish before him
to everlasting life. He will create the fruit of the lips, and give
us cause to thank him in spirit and in truth. He will show us that
he was nearest when he seemed furthest off; and that just because he
is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is
Holy, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, for that very reason
he dwells also with the humble and the contrite heart; because that
heart alone can confess his height and its own lowliness, confess
its own sin and his holiness; and so can cling to his majesty by
faith, and partake of his holiness by the inspiration of his Holy

God grant that we may all so humble ourselves under his mighty hand,
whenever that hand lies heavy upon us, that he may raise us up in
due time, changed into his divine likeness, from glory to glory;
till we come to the measure of Christ, and to the stature of perfect
men, renewed into the image of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ our
Lord! Amen.


Matt. xvi. 18. Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my

This is St. Peter's day. It will be well worth our while to think a
little over St. Peter, and what kind of man he was. For St. Peter
was certainly one of the most important and most famous men who ever
lived in the whole world. You just heard what our Lord said to him
in the text. And certainly, from those words, and from many other
things which are told of St. Peter, he was the chief of the
apostles--at least till St. Paul arose.

St. Paul says himself, that he had as much authority as St. Peter,
and that he was not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles:
but St. Peter, for some time after our Lord's death, seems to have
been looked up to, by the rest of the apostles and the disciples, as
their leader, the man of most weight and authority among them. It
was to St. Peter especially that our Lord looked to strengthen the
other apostles, after he had been converted himself. It was to St.
Peter that our Lord first revealed that great gospel, that the
Gentiles were fellow-heirs with the Jews in all God's promises. The
same thing was afterwards revealed to St. Paul too, and far more
fully: but it was St. Peter who had the great honour of baptizing
the first heathen; and of using, as our Lord had bid him do, the
keys of the kingdom of heaven, to open its doors to all the nations
upon earth.

Now, what sort of a man was this on whom the Lord Jesus Christ put
so great an honour? If we say that St. Peter was nothing in
himself; that all the goodness and worth in him was given him by
Jesus Christ, then we must ask, what sort of goodness, what sort of
worth, did the Lord give St. Peter to make him fit for so great an
office? And how did he use Christ's gifts? For, mind, he might
have used them wrongly, as well as rightly; and the greater gifts he
had, the more harm he would have done if he had used them ill. We
shall see, presently, how he did use them ill, more than once; and
how our Lord had to reprove him, and say very stern and terrible
words to him, to bring him to his senses.

But this we may see, that St. Peter was always a frank, brave,
honest, high-spirited man; who, if he thought that a thing ought to
be done, would do it at once.

The first thing we hear of him is, how Jesus, walking by the Lake of
Galilee, saw Peter with his brother, casting a net into the sea, for
they were fishers. And he said unto them, 'Follow me, and I will
make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and
followed him.' This was most likely not the first time that St.
Peter had seen our Lord, or heard him speak. Living in the same
part of the country, he must have known all his miracles: but still
it was a great struggle, no doubt, for him (and doubly so because he
was a married man), to throw up his employment, and go wandering
after one who had not where to lay his head: yet he did it, and did
it at once. And you may see that he did it for a much higher and
nobler reason than if he had only gone to wonder at our Lord's
miracles, as the multitude did, or even to be able to work miracles
himself. Jesus did not say to him, Follow me, and I will give you
the power of working miracles, and being admired, and wondered at;
all he says is, I will make you fishers of men; I will make you able
to get a hold on men's hearts, and teach them, and make them happier
and better. And for that St. Peter followed him. It seems as if
from the first his wish was to do good to his fellow-creatures.

And, gradually, he seems to have become the spokesman for the other
apostles. When they wished to ask our Lord anything, we generally
find St. Peter asking; and when (as in the gospel for to-day), our
Lord asks them a question, St. Peter answers for them all. Whom say
ye that I am? And Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the Living God.'

This is what St. Peter had learnt; because he had kept his eyes and
his ears open, and his heart ready and teachable, that he might see
God's truth when it should please God to show it him; and God did
show it him: and taught him something which his own eyes and ears
could not teach him; which all his thinking could not have taught
him; which no _man_ could have taught him; flesh and blood could not
reveal to him that Jesus was the Son of God; flesh and blood could
not draw aside the veil of flesh and blood, and make him see in that
poor man of Nazareth, who was called the carpenter's son, the only-
begotten of the Father, God made man. No. God the Father only
could teach him that, by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit: but do
you think that God would have taught St. Peter that, or that St.
Peter could have learnt it, if his mind had been merely full of
thoughts about himself, and what honour he was to get for himself,
or what profit he was to get for himself, out of the Lord Jesus

No: St. Peter loved the Lord Jesus; loved him with his whole heart.
When afterwards our Lord asked him, 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest
thou me?' He answered, 'Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.' And
because he loved him, he saw how beautiful and glorious the Lord's
character was; and his eyes were opened to see that the Lord was too
beautiful, too glorious, to be merely a mortal man; and, at last, to
see that he was the brightness of God's glory, and the express image
of his Father's person.

But, as I said just now, St. Peter's great and excellent gifts might
have made him only the more dangerous man, if he used them ill. And
this seems to have been his danger. He was plainly a very bold and
determined man, who knew his own power, and was ready to use it
fearlessly: and what would he be tempted to do! To fancy that his
power belonged to him, and not to Christ; that his wisdom belonged
to himself; that his faith belonged to himself; his authority
belonged to himself; and that, therefore, he could use his excellent
gifts as he liked, and not merely as Christ liked. He was liable,
as we say in homely English, to 'have his head turned' by his honour
and his power.

For instance, immediately after our Lord had put this great honour
on him, 'I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' we
find Peter mistaking his power, and, therefore, misusing it. 'From
that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he
must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and
chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the
third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be
it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he
turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an
offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God,
but those that be of men.' St. Peter's words, in the Greek tongue,
really seem to mean that St. Peter fancied that _he_ could protect
our Lord; that he had the power of delivering him, by binding his
enemies the Jews, and loosing the Lord himself. That seems to have
been the way in which he took our Lord's words: but what does our
Lord answer? As stern words as man could hear. 'Get thee behind
me, Satan; for thou art an offence unto me.' Or, rather, thou art
my stumbling-block. So that St. Peter, while he fancied himself
near to the angels, found out, to his shame, that he was behaving
like a devil, and had to be called Satan to his face; and that while
he thought he could save the Lord Jesus, he found that he was doing
all he could to harm and ruin his master; trying to do the very work
which the Devil tried to do, when he tempted the Lord Jesus in the
wilderness. So near beside each other do heaven and hell lie. So
easy is it to give place to the Devil, and fall into the worst of
sin, just when we are puffed up with spiritual pride.

And more than once afterwards, St. Peter had to learn that same
lesson; when, for instance, he leaped boldly overboard from the
boat, and came walking towards Jesus on the sea. That was noble:
worthy of St. Peter: but he fancied himself a braver man than he
was. He became afraid; and the moment that he became afraid, he
began to sink. Jesus saved him, and then told him why he had become
afraid: because his faith had failed him. He had ceased trusting
in Christ's power to keep him up; and became helpless at once.

That should have been a lesson to St. Peter, that he was not to be
so very sure of his own faith and his own courage; that without his
Lord he might become cowardly and helpless any moment: but he did
not take that gentle lesson; so he had to learn it once and for all
by a very terrible trial. We all know how he fell;--one day
protesting vehemently to his Lord, 'Though I die with thee, I will
not deny thee;' the next, declaring, with oaths and curses, 'I know
not the man.' No wonder that when Jesus turned and looked on him,
Peter went out and wept bitterly, as bitter tears of shame as ever
were shed on earth. For he knew, he was sure, that he loved his
Lord all along: and now he had denied him. He who was so bold and
confident, to fall thus! and into the very sins most contrary to his
nature! the very sins in which he would have expected least of all
to fall! He, so frank and honest and brave--He to turn coward. He
to tell a base lie! I dare say, that for the moment he could hardly
believe himself to be himself.

But so it is, my friends. If we forget that all which is good and
strong in us comes from God, and not from ourselves; if we are
conceited, and confident in ourselves; then we cut ourselves off
from God's grace, and give place to Satan the Devil, that he may
sift us like wheat, as he did St. Peter; and then in some shameful
hour, we may find ourselves saying and doing things which we would
never have believed we could have done. God grant, that if ever we
fall into such unexpected sin, it may happen to us as it did to St.
Peter. For Satan gained little by sifting St. Peter. He sifted out
the chaff: but the wheat was left behind safe for God's garner.
The chaff was St. Peter's rashness and self-conceit, which came from
his own sinful nature; and that went, and St. Peter was rid of it
for ever. The wheat was St. Peter's courage, and faith, and honour,
which came from God; and that remained, and St. Peter kept them for
ever. That, we read, was St. Peter's conversion; that worked the
thorough and complete change in his character, and made him a new
man from that day forth. And then, after that terrible and fiery
trial, St. Peter was ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,
which gave him courage with fervent zeal to preach the gospel of his
Crucified Lord, and at last to be crucified himself for that Lord's
sake; and so fulfil the Lord's words to him. 'When thou wast young,
thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when
thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another
shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.' By that
our Lord seems to have meant, 'You were strong and proud and self-
willed enough in your youth. The day will come when you will be
tamed down, ready and willing to suffer patiently, even agony from
which your flesh and blood may shrink;' and the Lord's words came
true. For, say the old stories, when St. Peter was led to be
crucified, he refused to be crucified upright, as the Lord Jesus had
been, saying, 'That it was too great an honour for him, who had once
denied his Lord, to die the same death as his Lord died.' So he was
crucified, they say, with his head downward; and ended a glorious
life in a humble martyrdom.

And what may we learn from St. Peter's character? I think we may
learn this. Frankness, boldness, a high spirit, a stout will, and
an affectionate heart; these are all God's gifts, and they are
pleasant in his eyes, and ought to be a blessing to the man who has
them. Ought to be a blessing to him, because they are the stuff out
of which a good, and noble, and useful Christian man may be made.
But they need not be a blessing to a man; they are _excellent_
gifts: but they will not of themselves make a man an _excellent_
man, who _excels_; that is, surpasses others in goodness. We may
see that ourselves, from experience. We see too many brave men,
free-spoken men, affectionate men, who come to shame and ruin.

How then can we become excellent men, like St. Peter? By being
baptised, as St. Peter was, with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

Baptized with the Holy Ghost, to put into our hearts good desires;
to make us see what is good, and love what is good, long to do good:
but baptized with fire also. 'He shall baptize you,' John the
Baptist said, 'with the Holy Ghost and with fire.'

Does that seem a hard saying? Do not some at least of you know what
that means? Some know, I believe. All will know one day; for it is
true for all. To all, sooner or later, Christ comes to baptise them
with fire; with the bitter searching affliction which opens the very
secrets of their hearts, and shows them what their souls are really
like, and parts the good from the evil in them, the gold from the
rubbish, the wheat from the chaff. 'And he shall gather the wheat
into his garner, but the chaff he shall burn up with unquenchable
fire.' God grant to each of you, that when that day comes to you,
there may be something in you which will stand the fire; something
worthy to be treasured up in God's garner, unto everlasting life.

But do not think that the baptism of fire comes only once for all to
a man, in some terrible affliction, some one awful conviction of his
own sinfulness and nothingness. No; with many--and those, perhaps,
the best people--it goes on month after month, year after year: by
secret trials, chastenings which none but they and God can
understand, the Lord is cleansing them from their secret faults, and

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