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Town and Country Sermons by Charles Kingsley

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making them to understand wisdom secretly; burning out of them the
chaff of self-will and self-conceit and vanity, and leaving only the
pure gold of his righteousness. How many sweet and holy souls look
cheerful enough before the eyes of man, because they are too humble
and too considerate to intrude their secret sorrows upon the world.
And yet they have their secret sorrows. They carry their cross
unseen all day long, and lie down to sleep on it at night: and they
will carry it for years and years, and to their graves, and to the
Throne of Christ, before they lay it down: and none but they and
Christ will ever know what it was; what was the secret chastisement
which he sent to make that soul better, which seemed to us to be
already too good for earth. So does the Lord watch his people, and
tries them with fire, as the refiner of silver sits by his furnace,
watching the melted metal, till he knows that it is purged from all
its dross, by seeing the image of his own face reflected in it. God
grant that our afflictions may so cleanse our hearts, that at the
last Christ may behold himself in us, and us in himself; that so we
may be fit to be with him where he is, and behold the glory which
his Father gave him before the foundation of the world.


(Tenth Sunday after Trinity.)

1 Kings xxi. 19, 20. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus
saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? and
thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place
where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood,
even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine
enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold
thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.

Of all the grand personages in the Old Testament, there are few or
none, I think, grander than the prophet Elijah. Consider his
strange and wild life, wandering about in forests and mountains,
suddenly appearing, and suddenly disappearing again, so that no man
knew where to find him; and, as Obadiah said when he met him, 'If I
tell my Lord, Behold, Elijah is here; then, as soon as I am gone
from thee, the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know
not.' Consider, again, his strange activity and strength, as when
he goes, forty days and forty nights, far away out of Judea, over
the waste wilderness, to Horeb the mount of God; or, as again, when
he girds up his loins, and runs before Ahab's chariot for many miles
to the entrance of Jezreel. One can fancy him from what the Bible
tells us of him, clearly enough; as a man mysterious and terrible,
not merely in the eyes of women and children, but of soldiers and of

He seems to have been especially a countryman; a mountaineer; born
and bred in Gilead, among the lofty mountains and vast forests, full
of wild beasts, lions and bears, wild bulls and deer, which stretch
for many miles along the further side of the river Jordan, with the
waste desert of rocks and sand beyond them. A wild man, bred up in
a wild country, he had learnt to fear no man, and no thing, but God
alone. We do not know what his youth was like; we do not know
whether he had wife, or children, or any human being who loved him.
Most likely not. He seems to have lived a lonely life, in sad and
bad times. He seems to have had but one thought, that his country
was going to ruin, from idolatry, tyranny, false and covetous ways;
and one determination; to say so; to speak the truth, whatever it
cost him. He had found out that the Lord was God, and not Baal, or
any of the idols; and he would follow the Lord; and tell all Israel
what his own heart had told him, 'The Lord, he is God,' was the one
thing which he had to say; and he said it, till it became his name;
whether given him by his parents, or by the people, his name was
Elijah, 'The Lord is God.' 'How long halt ye between two opinions?'
he cries, upon the greatest day of his life. 'If the Lord be God,
then follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.' How grand he is, on
Carmel, throughout that noble chapter which we read last Sunday.
There is no fear in him, no doubt in him. The poor wild peasant out
of the savage mountains stands up before all Israel, before king,
priests, nobles, and people, and speaks and acts as if he, too, were
a king; because the Spirit of God is in him: and he is right, and
he knows that he is right. And they obey him as if he were a king.
Even before the fire comes down from heaven, and shows that God is
on his side, from the first they obey him. King Ahab himself obeys
him, trembles before him--'And it came to pass, when Ahab saw
Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy
father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the
Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather
to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four
hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred,
which eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of
Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.' The
tyrant's guilty conscience makes a coward of him: and he quails
before the wild man out of the mountains, who has not where to lay
his head, who stands alone against all the people, though Baal's
prophets are four hundred and fifty men, and the prophets of the
groves four hundred, and they eat at the queen's table; and he only
is left and they seek his life:--yet no man dare touch him, not even
the king himself. Such power is there, such strength is there, in
being an honest and a God-fearing man.

Yes, my friends, this was the secret of Elijah's power. This is the
lesson which Elijah has to teach us. Not to halt between two
opinions. If a thing be true, to stand up for it; if a thing be
right, to do it, whatsoever it may cost us. Make up your minds
then, my friends, to be honest men like Elijah the prophet of old.

For your own sake, for your neighbour's sake, and for God's sake, be
honest men.

For your own sake. If you want to be respected; if you want to be
powerful--and it is good to be powerful sometimes--if God has set
you to govern people, whether it be your children and household,
your own farm, your own shop, your own estate, your own country or
neighbourhood--Do you want to know the great secret of success?--Be
honest and brave. Let your word be as good as your thought, and
your deed as good as your word. Who is the man who is respected?
Who is the man who has influence? The complaisant man--the cringing
man--the man who cannot say No, or dare not say No? Not he. The
passionate man who loses his temper when anything goes wrong, who
swears and scolds, and instead of making others do right, himself
does wrong, and lowers himself just when he ought to command
respect? My experience is--not he: but the man who says honestly
and quietly what he thinks, and does fearlessly and quietly what he
knows. People who differ from him will respect him, because he acts
up to his principles. When they are in difficulty or trouble, they
will go and ask his advice, just because they know they will get an
honest answer. They will overlook a little roughness in him; they
will excuse his speaking unpleasant truths: because they can trust
him, even though he is plain-spoken.

For your neighbour's sake, I say; and again, for your children's
sake; for the sake of all with whom you have to do, be honest and
brave. For our children--O my friends, we cannot do a crueller
thing by them than to let them see that we are inconsistent. If
they hear us say one thing and do another--if, while we preach to
them we do not practice ourselves, they will never respect us, and
never obey us from love and principle. If they do obey us, it will
be only before our faces, and from fear. If they see us doing only
what we like, when our backs are turned they will do what they like.

And worse will come than their not respecting us--they will learn
not to respect God. If they see that we do not respect truth and
honesty, they will not respect truth and honesty; and he who does
not respect them, does not respect God. They will learn to look on
religion as a sham. If we are inconsistent, they will be profane.

But some may say--'I have no power; and I want none. I have no
people under me for whom I am responsible.'

Then, if you think that you need not be honest and brave for your
own sake, or for other peoples' sake, be honest and brave for God's

Do you ask what I mean? I mean this. Recollect that truth belongs
to God. That if a thing is true, it is true because God made it so,
and not otherwise; and therefore, if you deny truth, you fight
against God. If you are honest, and stand up for truth, you stand
up for God, and what God has done.

And recollect this, too. If a thing be right for you to do, God has
made it right, and God wills you to do it; and, therefore, if you do
not do your duty, you are fighting against God; and if you do your
duty, you are a fellow-worker with God, fulfilling God's will.
Therefore, I say, Be honest and brave for God's sake. And in this
way, my friends, all may be brave, all may be noble. Speak the
truth, and do your duty, because it is the will of God. Poor, weak
women, people without scholarship, cleverness, power, may live
glorious lives, and die glorious deaths, and God's strength may be
made perfect in their weakness. They may live, did I say? I may
say they have lived, and have died, already, by thousands. When we
read the stories of the old martyrs who, in the heathen persecution,
died like heroes rather than deny Christ, and scorned to save
themselves by telling what they knew to be a lie, but preferred
truth to all that makes life worth having:--how many of them--I may
say the greater part of them--were poor creatures enough in the eyes
of man, though they were rich enough, noble enough, in the eyes of
God who inspired them. 'Few rich and few noble,' as the apostle
says, 'were called.' It was to poor people, old people, weak women,
ill-used and untaught slaves, that God gave grace to defy all the
torments which the heathen could heap on them, and to defy the
scourge and the rack, the wild beasts and the fire, sooner than foul
their lips and their souls by denying Christ, and worshipping the
idols which they knew were nothing, and worth nothing.

And so it may be with any of you here; whosoever you may be, however
poor, however humble. Though your opportunities may be small, your
station lowly, your knowledge little; though you may be stupid in
mind, slow of speech, weakly of body, yet if you but make up your
mind to say the thing which is true, and to do the thing which is
right, you may be strong with the strength of God, and glorious with
the glory of Christ.

It is a grand thing, no doubt, to be like Elijah, a stern and bold
prophet, standing up alone against a tyrant king and a sinful
people; but it is even a greater thing to be like that famous martyr
in old time, St. Blandina, who, though she was but a slave, and so
weakly, and mean, and fearful in body, that her mistress and all her
friends feared that she would deny Christ at the very sight of the
torments prepared for her, and save herself by sacrificing to the
idols, yet endured, day after day, tortures too horrible to speak
of, without cry or groan, or any word, save 'I am a Christian;' and,
having outlived all her fellow-martyrs, died at last victorious over
pain and temptation, so that the very heathen who tortured her broke
out in admiration of her courage, and confessed that no woman had
ever endured so many and so grievous torments. So may God's
strength be made perfect in woman's weakness.

You are not called to endure such things. No: but you, and I, and
every Christian soul are called on to do what we know to be right.
Not to halt between two opinions: but if God be God, to follow Him.
If we make up our minds to do that, we shall be sure to have our
trials: but we shall be safe, because we are on God's side, and God
on ours. And if God be with us, what matter if the whole world be
against us? For which is the stronger of the two, the whole world,
or God who made it, and rules it, and will rule it for ever?


1 Peter v. 5. Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the
proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

This is St. Peter's command. Are we really inclined to obey it?
For, if we are, there is nothing more easy. There is no vice so
easy to get rid of as pride: if one wishes. Nothing so easy as to
be humble: if one wishes.

That may seem a strange saying, considering that self-conceit is the
vice of all others to which man is most given; the first sin, and
the last sin, and that which is said to be the most difficult to
cure. But what I say is true nevertheless.

Whosoever wishes to get rid of pride may do so. Whosoever wishes to
be humble need not go far to humble himself.

But how? Simply by being honest with himself, and looking at
himself as he is.

Let a man recollect honestly and faithfully his past life; let him
recollect his sayings and doings for the past week; even for the
past twenty-four hours: and I will warrant that man that he will
recollect something, or, perhaps, many things which will not raise
him in his own eyes; something which he had sooner not have said or
done; something which, if he is a foolish man, he will try to
forget, because it makes him ashamed of himself; something which, if
he is a wise man, he will not try to forget, just because it makes
him ashamed of himself; and a very good thing for him that he should
be so. I know that it is so for me; and therefore I suppose it is
so for every man and woman in this Church.

I am not going to give any examples. I am not going to say,--
'Suppose you thought this and this about yourself, and were proud of
it; and then suppose that you recollected that you had done that and
that: would you not feel very much taken down in your own conceit?'

I like that personal kind of preaching less and less. Those random
shots are dangerous and cruel; likely to hit the wrong person, and
hurt their feelings unnecessarily. It is very easy to say a hard
thing: but not so easy to say it to the right person and at the
right time.

No. The heart knoweth its own bitterness. Almost every one has
something to be ashamed of, more or less, which no one but himself
and God knows of; and which, perhaps, it is better that no one but
he and God should know.

I do not mean any great sin, or great shame--God forbid; but some
weak point, as we call it. Something which he had better not say or
do; and yet which he is in the habit of saying and doing. I do not
ask what it is. With some it may be a mere pardonable weakness;
with others it may be a very serious and dangerous fault. All I ask
now is, that each and every one of us should try and find it out,
and feel it, and keep it in mind; that we may be of a humble spirit
with the lowly, which is better than dividing the spoil with the

But why better?

The world and human nature look up to the proud successful man. One
is apt to say, 'Happy is the man who has plenty to be proud of.
Happy is the man who can divide the spoil of this world with the
successful of this world. Happy is the man who can look down on his
fellow-men, and stand over them, and manage them, and make use of
them, and get his profit out of them.'

But that is a mistake. That is the high-mindedness which goes
before a fall, which comes not from above, but is always earthly,
often sensual, and sometimes devilish. The true and safe high-
mindedness, which comes from above, is none other than humility.
For, if you will look at it aright, the humble man is really more
high-minded than the proud man. Think. Suppose two men equal in
understanding, in rank, in wealth, in what else you like, one of
them proud, the other humble. The proud man thinks--'How much
better, wiser, richer, more highly born, more religious, more
orthodox, am I than other people round me.' Not, of course, than
all round him, but than those whom he thinks beneath him. Therefore
he is always comparing himself with those below himself; always
watching those things in them in which he thinks them worse, meaner
than himself; he is always looking down on his neighbours.

Now, which is more high-minded; which is nobler; which is more fit
for a man; to look down, or to look up? At all events the humble
man _looks up_. He thinks, 'How much worse, not how much better, am
I than other people.' He looks at their good points, and compares
them with his own bad ones. He admires them for those things in
which they surpass him. He thinks of--perhaps he loves to read of--
men superior to himself in goodness, wisdom, courage. He pleases
himself with the example of brave and righteous deeds, even though
he fears that he cannot copy them; and so he is always looking up.
His mind is filled with high thoughts, though they be about others,
not about himself. If he be a truly Christian man, his thoughts
rise higher still. He thinks of Christ and of God, and compares his
weakness, ignorance, and sinfulness with their perfect power,
wisdom, goodness. Do you not see that this man's mind is full of
higher, nobler thoughts than that of the proud man? Is he not more
high-minded who is looking up, up to God himself, for what is good,
noble, heavenly? Even though it makes him feel small, poor, weak,
and sinful in comparison, still his mind is full of grace, and
wisdom, and glory. The proud man, meanwhile, for the sake of
feeding his own self-conceit at other men's expense, is filling his
mind with low, mean, earthly thoughts about the weaknesses, sins,
and follies, of the world around him. Is not he truly low-minded,
thinking about low things?

Now, I tell you, my friends, that both have their reward. That the
humble man, as years roll on, becomes more and more noble, and the
proud man becomes more and more low-minded; and finds that pride
goes before a fall in more senses than one. Yes. There is nothing
more hurtful to our own minds and hearts than a domineering,
contemptuous frame of mind. It may be pleasant to our own self-
conceit: but it is only a sweet poison. A man lowers his own
character by it. He takes the shape of what he is always looking
at; and, if he looks at base and low things, he becomes base and low
himself; just as slave-owners, all over the world, and in all time,
sooner and later, by living among slaves, learn to copy their own
slaves' vices; and, while they oppress and look down on their
fellow-man, become passionate and brutal, false and greedy, like the
poor wretches whom they oppress.

Better, better to be of a lowly spirit. Better to think of those
who are nobler than ourselves, even though by so doing we are
ashamed of ourselves all day long. What loftier thoughts can man
have? What higher and purer air can a man's soul breathe? Yes, my
friends; believe it, and be sure of it. The truly high-minded man
is not the proud man, who tries to get a little pitiful satisfaction
from finding his brother men, as he chooses to fancy, a little
weaker, a little more ignorant, a little more foolish, a little more
ridiculous, than his own weak, ignorant, foolish, and, perhaps,
ridiculous self. Not he; but the man who is always looking upwards
to goodness, to good men, and to the all-good God: filling his soul
with the sight of an excellence to which he thinks he can never
attain; and saying, with David, 'All my delight is in the saints
that dwell in the earth, and in those who excel in virtue.'

But I do not say that he cannot attain to that excellence. To the
goodness of God, of course, no man can; but to the goodness of man
he may. For what man has done, man may do; and the grace of God
which gave power to one man to rise above sin, and weakness, and
ignorance, will give power to others also. But only to those who
look upward, at better men than themselves: not to those who look
down, like the Pharisee, but to those who look up like the Publican;
for, as the text says, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to
the humble.'

And why does God resist and set himself against the proud? To turn
him out of his evil way, of course, if by any means he may be
converted (that is, turned round) and live. For the proud man has
put himself into a wrong position; where no immortal soul ought to
be. He is looking away from God, and down upon men; and so he has
turned his face and thoughts away from God, the fountain of light
and life; and is trying to do without God, and to stand in his own
strength, and not in God's grace, and to be somebody in himself,
instead of being only in God, in whom we live and move and have our
being. So he has set himself against God; and God will, in mercy to
that foolish man's soul, set himself against him. God will humble
him; God will overthrow him; God will bring his plans to nought; if
by any means he may make that man ashamed of himself, and empty him
of his self-conceit, that he may turn and repent in dust and ashes,
when he finds out what those proud Laodicaean Christians of old had
to find out--that all the while that they were saying, 'I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,' they did not
know that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind,
and naked.

And how does God give grace to the humble? My friends, even the
wise heathen knew that. Listen to a heathen; {328} a good and a
wise man, though; and one who was not far from the kingdom of God,
or he would not have written such words as these,--

'It is our duty,' he says, 'to turn our minds to the best of
everything; so as not merely to enjoy what we read, but to be
improved by it. And we shall do that, by reading the histories of
good and great men, which will, in our minds, produce an emulation
and eagerness, which may stir us up to imitation. We may be pleased
with the work of a man's hands, and yet set little store by the
workman. Perfumes and fine colours we may like well enough: but
that will not make us wish to be perfumers, or painters: but
goodness, which is the work, not of a man's hands, but of his soul,
makes us not only admire what is done, but long to do the like. And
therefore,' he says, he thought it good to write the lives 'of
famous and good men, and to set their examples before his
countrymen. And having begun to do this,' he says in another place,
'for the sake of others, he found himself going on, and liking his
labour, for his own sake: for the virtues of those great men served
him as a looking-glass, in which he might see how, more or less, to
order and adorn his own life. Indeed, it could be compared,' he
says, 'to nothing less than living with the great souls who were
dead and gone, and choosing out of their actions all that was
noblest and worthiest to know. What greater pleasure could there be
than that,' he asks, 'or what better means to improve his soul? By
filling his mind with pictures of the best and worthiest characters,
he was able to free himself from any low, malicious, mean thoughts,
which he might catch from bad company. If he was forced to mix at
times with base men, he could wash out the stains of their bad
thoughts and words, by training himself in a calm and happy temper
to view those noble examples.' So says the wise heathen. Was not
he happier, wiser, better, a thousand times, thus keeping himself
humble by looking upwards, than if he had been feeding his petty
pride by looking down, and saying, 'God, I thank thee that I am not
as other men are?'

If you wish, then, to be truly high-minded, by being truly humble,
read of, and think of, better men, wiser men, braver men, more
useful men than you are. Above all, if you be Christians, think of
Christ himself. That good old heathen took the best patterns which
he could find: but after all, they were but imperfect, sinful men:
but you have an example such as he never dreamed of; a perfect man,
and perfect God in one. Let the thought of Christ keep you always
humble: and yet let it lift you up to the highest, noblest, purest
thoughts which man can have, as it will.

For all that this old heathen says of the use of examples of good
men, all that, and far more, St. Paul says, almost in the same
words. By looking at Christ, he says, we rise and sit with him in
heavenly places, and enjoy the sight of His perfect goodness;
ashamed of ourselves, indeed, and bowed to the very dust by the
feeling of our own unworthiness; and yet filled with the thought of
his worthiness, till, by looking we begin to admire, and, by
admiring, we begin to love; and so are drawn and lifted up to him,
till, by beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and the
perfect beauty of his character, we become changed into the same
image, from glory to glory: and thus, instead of receiving the just
punishment of pride and contempt, which is lowering our characters
to the level of those on whom we look down, we shall receive the
just reward of true humility, which is having our characters raised
to the level of him up to whom we look.

Oh young people, think of this; and remember why God has given you
the advantage of scholarship and education. Not that you may be
proud of the very little you know; not that you may look down on
those who are not as well instructed as you are; not that you may
waste your time over silly books, which teach you only to laugh at
the follies and ignorance of some of your fellow-men, to whom God
has not given as much as to you; but that you may learn what great
and good men have lived, and still live, in the world; what wise,
and good, and useful things have been, and are being, done all
around you; and to copy them: above all, that you may look up to
Christ, and through Christ, to God, and learn to copy him; till you
come, as St. Paul says, to be perfect men; to the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ. To which may he bring you all of
his mercy. Amen.


(Trinity Sunday.)

John v. 19. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily,
I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth
the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth
the Son likewise.

This is Trinity Sunday; and on this day we are especially to think
of the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity, and on the Athanasian
Creed, which was read this morning. Now there is much in this
Athanasian Creed, which simple country people, however good their
natural abilities may be, cannot be expected to understand. The
Creed was written by scholars, and for scholars; and for very deep
scholars, too, far deeper than I pretend to be; and the reasonable
way for most men to think of the Athanasian Creed, will be to take
it very much upon trust, as a child takes on trust what his father
tells him, even though he cannot understand it himself; or, as we
all believe, that the earth moves round the sun, and not the sun
round the earth, though we cannot prove it; but only believe it,
because wiser men than we have proved it. So we must think of the
Athanasian Creed, and say to ourselves--'Wiser men than I can ever
hope to be have settled that this is the true doctrine, and the true
meaning of Holy Scripture, and I will believe them. They must know
best.' Still, one is bound to understand as much as one can; one is
bound to be able to give some reason for the faith which is in us;
and, above all, one is bound not to hold false doctrines, which are
contrary to the Athanasian Creed and to the Bible.

Some people are too apt to say now-a-days, 'But what matter if one
does hold false doctrine? That is a mistake of the head and not of
the heart. Provided a man lives a good life, what matter what his
doctrines are?' No doubt, my friends, if a man lives a good life,
all is well: but _do_ people live good lives? I am not speaking of
infidels. Thank God, there are none here; to God let us leave them,
trusting in the Good Friday collect, and the goodwill of God, which
is, that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

But, as for Christian people, this I will tell you, that unless you
hold true doctrines, you will _not_ lead good lives. My experience
is, that people are often wrong, when they say false doctrine is a
mistake of the head and not of the heart. I believe false doctrine
is very often not bred in the head at all, but in the heart, in the
very bottom of a man's soul; that it rises out of his heart into his
head; and that if his heart was right with God, he would begin at
once to have clearer and truer notions of the true Christian faith.
I do not say that it is always so; God forbid! But I do say that it
is often so, because I see it so; because I see every day false
doctrines about God making men lead bad lives, and commit actual
sins; take God's name in vain, dishonour their fathers and mothers,
lie, cheat, bear false witness against their neighbours, and covet
other men's goods. I say, I see it, and I must believe my own eyes
and ears; and when I do see it, I begin to understand the text which
says, 'This is eternal life, to know thee, the only God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent;' and I begin to understand the
Athanasian Creed, which says, that if a 'man does not believe
rightly the name of God, and the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus
Christ, he will perish everlastingly; his soul will decay more and
more, become more and more weak, unhealthy and corrupt, till he
perishes everlastingly. And whatsoever that may mean, it must mean
something most awful and terrible, worse than all the evil which
ever happened to us since we were born.

There is a very serious example of this, to my mind, in what is
called the Greek Church; the Greeks and Russians. They split off
from the rest of Christ's Catholic Church, many hundred years ago,
because they would not hold with the rest of the Church that the
Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son as well as from the Father. They
said that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father alone. Now that
may seem a slight matter of words: but I cannot help thinking that
it has been a very solemn matter of practice with them. It seems to
me--God forgive me if I am judging them hardly!--that because they
denied that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son, they forgot that
he was the Spirit of the Son, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, by whom he
says for ever, 'Father, not my will but thine be done!' and so they
forgot that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Sonship, the Spirit of
adoption, which must proceed and come from Christ to us, that we may
call God our Father, and say with Christ, 'Father, I come to do thy
will;' and so, in course of time, they seem to have forgotten that
Christian men were in any real practical sense, God's children; and
when people forget that they are God's children, they forget soon
enough to behave like God's children, and to live righteous and
Godlike lives.

I give you this as an example of what I mean; how not believing
rightly the Athanasian Creed may make a man lead a bad life.

Now let me give an example nearer home; one which has to do with you
and me. God grant that we may all lay it to heart. You read, in
the Athanasian Creed, that we are not to confound the persons of the
Trinity, nor divide the substance; but to believe that such as the
Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost, the Glory
equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Now there is little fear of our
confounding the persons, as some people used to do in old times; but
there is great fear of our dividing God's substance, parting God's
substance, that is, fancying that God is made up of different parts,
and not perfectly one God.

For people are very apt to talk as if God's love and God's justice
were two different things, different parts of God; as if his justice
had to be satisfied in one way, and his love in another; as if his
justice wished to destroy sinners, and his love wished to save
sinners; and so they talk as if there was a division in God; as if
different attributes of God were pulling two different ways, and
that God has parts of which one desires to do one thing, and one
part another. It sounds shocking, I am sure you will feel, when I
put it into plain English. I wish it to sound shocking. I wish you
to feel how wrong and heretical it is; that you may keep clear of
such notions, and believe the orthodox faith, that God has neither
parts nor passions, nor division in his substance at all, but is
absolutely and substantially one; and that, therefore, his love and
his justice are the very same things; his justice, however severe it
may seem, is perfect love and kindness; and his love is no
indulgence, but perfect justice.

But you may say--Very likely that is true; but why need we take so
much care to believe it?

It is always worth while to know what is true. You are children of
the Light, and of the Truth, adopted by the God of truth, that you
may know the truth and do it, and no mistake or falsehood can, by
any possibility, do anything for you, but harm you. Always,
therefore, try to find out and believe what is true concerning
everything; and, above all, concerning God, on whom all depend, in
whom you live, and move, and have your being. For all things in
heaven and earth depend on God; and, therefore, if you have wrong
notions about God, you will sooner or later have wrong notions about
everything else.

For see, now, how this false notion of God's justice and love being
different things, leads people into a worse error still. A man goes
on to fancy, that while God the Son is full of love towards sinners,
God the Father is (or at least was once) only full of justice and
wrath against sinners; but if a man thinks that God the Son loves
him better than God the Father does, then, of course, he will love
God the Son better than he loves God the Father. He will think of
Christ the Son with pleasure and gratitude, because he says to
himself, Christ loves me, cares for me; I can have pity and
tenderness from him, if I do wrong. While of God the Father he
thinks only with dread and secret dislike. Thus, from dividing the
substance, he has been led on to confound the persons, imputing to
the Son alone that which is equally true of the Father, till he
comes (as I have known men do) to make for himself, as it were, a
Heavenly Father of Jesus Christ the Son.

Now, my dear friends, it does seem to me, that if anything can
grieve the Spirit of Christ, and the sacred heart of Jesus, this is
the way to grieve him. Oh read your Bibles, and you will see this,
that whatever Jesus came down on earth for, it certainly was not to
make men love him better than they love the Father, and honour him
more than they honour the Father, and rob the Father of his glory,
to give it to Jesus. What did the Lord Jesus say himself? That he
did not come to seek his own honour, or shew forth his own glory, or
do his own will: but his Father's honour, his Father's glory, his
Father's will. Though he was equal with the Father, as touching his
Godhead, yet he disguised himself, if I may so say, and took on him
the form of a servant, and was despised and rejected of men. Why!
That men might honour his Father rather than him. That men might
not be so dazzled by his glory, as to forget his Father's glory.
Therefore he bade his apostles, while he was on earth, tell no man
that he was the Christ. Therefore, when he worked his work of love
and mercy, he took care to tell the Jews that they were not his
works, but the works of his Father who sent him; that he was not
doing his own will, but his Father's. Therefore he was always
preaching of the Father in heaven, and holding him up to men as the
perfection of all love and goodness and glory: and only once or
twice, it seems, when he was compelled, as it were, for very truth's
sake, did he say openly who he was, and claim his co-equal and co-
eternal glory, saying, 'Before Abraham was, I am.'

And, after all this, if anything can grieve him now, must it not
grieve him to see men fancying that he is better than his Father is,
more loving and merciful than his Father is, more worthy of our
trust, and faith, and adoration, and gratitude than his Father is?--
His Father, for whose honour he was jealous with a divine jealousy--
His Father, who, he knows well, loved the world which shrinks from
him so well that he spared not his only begotten Son, but freely
gave him up for it.

Oh, my friends, believe me, if any sin of man can add a fresh thorn
to Christ's crown, it is to see men, under pretence of honouring
him, dishonouring his Father. For just think for once of this--What
nobler feeling on earth than the love of a son to his father? What
greater pain to a good son than to see his father dishonoured, and
put down below him? But what is the love of an earthly son to an
earthly father, compared to the love of The Son to the Father? What
is the jealousy of an earthly son for his father's honour, compared
with the jealousy of God the Son for God the Father's honour?

All men, the Father has appointed, are to honour the Son, even as
they honour the Father. Because, as the Athanasian Creed says,
'such as the Father is, such is the Son.' But, if that be true, we
are to honour the Father even as we honour the Son; because such as
the Son is, such is the Father. Both are true, and we must believe
both; and therefore we must not give to Christ the honour which we
should to a loving friend, and give to the Father the honour which
we should to an awful judge. We must give them both the same
honour. If we have a godly fear of the Father, we ought to have a
godly fear of Christ; and if we trust Christ, we ought to trust the
Father also. We must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son, is the
brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his
person; and therefore we must believe that because Jesus is love,
therefore the Father is love; because Jesus is long-suffering,
therefore the Father is long-suffering; because Jesus came to save
the world, therefore the Father must have sent him to save the
world, or he would never have come; for he does nothing, he says, of
himself. Because we can trust Jesus utterly, therefore we can trust
the Father utterly. Because we believe that the Son has life in
himself, to give to whomsoever he will, we must believe that the
Father has life in himself likewise, and not, as some seem to fancy,
only the power of death and destruction. Because nothing can
separate us from the love of Jesus, nothing can separate us from the
love of his Father and our Father, whose name is Light and Love.

If we believe this, we shall indeed honour the Father, and indeed
honour the Son likewise. But if we do not, we shall dishonour the
Son, while we fancy we are honouring him: we shall rob Christ of
his true glory, to give him a false glory, which he abhors. If we
fancy that he does anything for us without his Father's commands; if
we fancy that he feels anything for us which his Father does not
feel, and has not always felt likewise: then we dishonour him. For
his glory is to be a perfectly good and obedient Son, and we fancy
him--may he forgive us for it!--a self-willed Son. This is Christ's
glory, that though he is equal with his Father, he obeys his Father.
If he were not equal to his Father, there would be less glory in his
obeying him. Take away the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity, and
you rob Christ of his highest glory, and destroy the most beautiful
thing in heaven, except one. The most beautiful and noble thing of
all in heaven--that (if you will receive it) out of which all other
beautiful and noble things in heaven and earth come, is the Father
for ever saying to the Son, 'Thou art my Son; this day have I
begotten thee. And in thee I am well pleased.' The other most
beautiful thing is the co-equal and co-eternal Son for ever saying
to the Father, 'Father, not my will, but thine be done. I come to
do thy will, O God. Thy law is written in my heart.'

Do you not see it? Oh, my dear friends, I see but a very little of
it. Who am I, that I should comprehend God? And who am I, that I
should be able to make you understand the glory of God, by any dull
words of mine? But God can make you understand it. The Spirit of
God can and will shew you the glory of God. Because he proceedeth
from the Father, he will shew you what the glory of the Father is
like. Because he proceedeth from the Son, he will shew you what the
glory of the Son is like. Because he is consubstantial, co-equal,
and co-eternal with the Father and the Son, he will shew you that
the glory of the Father and the Son is not the glory of mere power;
but a moral and spiritual glory, the glory of having a perfectly
glorious, noble, and beautiful character. And unless he shews you
that, you will never be thoroughly good men. For it is a strange
thing that men are always trying, more or less, to be like God. And
yet, not a strange thing; for it is a sign that we all came from
God, and can get no rest till we are come back to God, because God
calls us all to be his children and be like him. A blessed thing it
is, if we try to be like the true God: but a sad and fearful thing,
if we try to be like some false god of our own invention. But so it
is. It was so even among the old heathen. Whatsoever a man fancies
God to be like, that he will try himself to be like. So if you
fancy than God the Father's glory is stern and awful power, that he
is extreme to mark what is done amiss, or stands severely on his own
rights, then you will do the same; you will be extreme to mark what
is done amiss; you will stand severely on your rights; you will grow
stern and harsh, unfeeling to your children and workmen, and fond of
shewing your power, just for the sake of shewing it. But if you
believe that the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is all
one; and that it is a loving glory if you believe that such as Jesus
Christ is, such is his Father, gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and of great kindness, and repenting him of the evil; if you believe
that your Father in heaven is perfect, just because he sendeth his
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the
just and on the unjust, and is good to the unthankful and the evil--
if you believe this, I say, then you will be good to the unthankful
and the evil; you will be long-suffering and tender; good fathers,
good masters, good neighbours; and your characters will become
patient, generous, forgiving, truly noble, truly godlike. And all
because you believe the Athanasian Creed in spirit and in truth.

In like manner, if you believe that Jesus Christ is not a perfect
Son; if you fancy that he has any will but his Father's will; that
he has any work but what his Father gives him to do, who has
committed all things into his hands; that he knows anything but what
his Father sheweth him, who sheweth him all things, because he
loveth him; then you will be tempted to wish for power and honour of
your own; to become ambitious, self-willed, vain, and disobedient to
your parents.

But if you believe that Jesus is a perfect Son, all that you would
wish your son to be to you, and millions of times more; and if you
believe that that very thing is Christ's glory; that his glory
consists in being a perfect Son, perfectly obedient, having no will
or wish but his Father's; then will you, by thus seeing Christ in
spirit and in truth, see how beautiful and noble it is to be good
sons; and you will long to try to be good sons: and what you long
for, and try for, you will surely be, in God's good time; for he has
promised,--'Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled.' And all through
believing the Athanasian Creed? All? Yes, all.

But will not the Holy Spirit teach us, without the Athanasian Creed?

The Holy Spirit will teach us. Must teach us, if we are really to
learn one word of all this in spirit and in truth. But whether the
Holy Spirit does teach us, will depend, I fear, very much upon
whether we pray for him; and whether we pray for him aright will
depend on whether we know who he is, and what he is like; and that,
again, the Athanasian Creed will tell us.

Now, go home with God's blessing. Remember that such as the Son is,
such is the Father, and such is the Holy Ghost. Pray to be made
good fathers, after the likeness of The Father, from whom every
fatherhood in heaven and earth is named; good sons, after the
likeness of God The Son; and good and holy spirits, after the
likeness of The Holy Spirit; and you will be such at last, in God's
good time, as far as man can become like God; for you will be
praying for the Holy Spirit himself, and he will hear you, and come
to you, and abide with you, and all will be well.


(First Sunday after Trinity.)

1 John iv. 16, 18. And we have known and believed the love that God
hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in
God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may
have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we
in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth
out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made
perfect in love.

The text tells us how to get one of the greatest blessings; a
blessing which all long for, but all do not find; and that is a
happy death. All wish to die happily; even bad men. Like Balaam
when he was committing a great sin, they can say, 'Let me die the
death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.' But
meanwhile, like Balaam, they find it too hard to live the life of
the righteous, which is the only way to die the death of the
righteous. But something within them (if false preachers will but
leave them alone) tells them that they will not succeed. Reason and
common sense tell them so: for how can a man expect to get to a
place without travelling the road which leads to it? And the Spirit
of God, the Spirit of truth and right, tells them that they will not
succeed: for how can a man win happiness, save by doing right?
Every one shall 'receive the things done in his body, according to
that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.' So says Scripture;
and so say men's own hearts, by the inspiration of God's Holy
Spirit. And therefore such men's fear of death continues. And why?
The text tells us the secret. As long as we do not love God, we
shall be tormented with fear of death. And as long as we do not
love our neighbour, we shall not love God. We may try, as thousands
have tried, and as thousands try still, to love God without loving
their neighbour; to be very religious, and worship God, and sing His
praises, and think over all His mercy to them, and all that he has
done for them, by the death of His blessed Son Jesus Christ; and so
to persuade themselves and God that they love Him, while they keep
in their hearts selfishness, pride, spite, uncharitableness: but
they do not succeed. If they think they succeed, they are only
deceiving themselves. So says St. John. 'He who loveth not his
brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not
seen?' But they cannot deceive themselves long. You will see, if
you watch such people, and still more if you watch yourselves, that
if you do not love your neighbours in spirit and in truth, then
those tormenting fears soon come back again, worse than ever. Ay,
whenever we indulge ourselves in hard words and cruel judgments, the
thought of God seems darkened to us there and then; the face of God
seems turned from us; and peace of mind and brightness of spirit,
and lightness of soul, do not come back to us, till we have
confessed our sins, and have let the kindly, the charitable, the
merciful thoughts rise up in us once more, as, by the grace of
Christ, they will rise up.

Yes, my friends, as far as I can see, people are filled with the
peace of God just in as far as they are at peace with their fellow-
men. They are bright, calm, and content, looking forward with
cheerfulness to death, and with a humble and holy boldness to
judgment, just in as far as their hearts are filled with love,
gentleness, kindness, to all that God has made. They dwell in God,
and God in them, and perfect love has cast out fear.

But if a man does not live in love, then sooner or later he will
hear a voice within him, which whispers, Thou art going wrong; and,
if thou art going wrong, how canst thou end at the right place?
None but the right road can end there. The wrong road must lead to
the wrong place.

Then the man gets disturbed and terrified in his mind, and tormented
with fears, as the text says. He knows that the day of judgment is
coming, and he has no boldness to meet it. He shrinks from the
thought of death, of judgment, of God. He thinks--How shall I meet
my God? I do not love my neighbour. I do not love God; and God
does not love me. The truth is, that the man cannot love God even
if he will. He looks on God as his enemy, whom he has offended, who
is coming to take vengeance on him. And, as long as we are afraid
of any one, and fancy that they hate us, and are going to hurt us,
we cannot love them. So the man is tormented with fear; fear of
death, fear of judgment, fear of meeting God.

Then he takes to superstition; he runs from preacher to preacher;
and what not?--There is no folly men have not committed, and do not
commit still, to rid themselves of that tormenting fear. But they
do not rid themselves of it. Sermons, church-goings, almsgivings;
leaving the Church and turning Dissenters or Roman Catholics;
joining this sect and that sect; nothing will rid a man of his
superstitious fear: nothing but believing the blessed message of
the text.

And what does the text say? It says this,--'God is love.' God does
not hate thee, He loves thee. He willeth not thy death, O sinner,
but rather that thou shouldest turn from thy wickedness and live.
Thy sins have not made Him hate thee: but only pity thee; pity thy
folly, which will lead on the road to death, when He wishes to put
thee on the road to life, that thou mayest have boldness in the day
of judgment, instead of shrinking from God like a guilty coward.
And what is the way of life? Surely the way of Christ, who _is_ the
life. Live like Him, and thou wilt not need to fear to die. So
says the text. We are to have boldness in the day of judgment,
because as Christ is, so are we in this world. And how was, and is,
and ever will be, Christ in this world? Full of love; of brotherly-
kindness, charity, forgiveness, peace, and good will to men. That,
says St. John, is the life which brings a joyful death; for God is
love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Oh consider this, my good friends. Consider this; lest when you
come to die the ghosts of all your sins should rise up at your
bedside, and torment you with fear--the ghosts of every cruel word
which you ever spoke against your fellow men; of every kind action
which you neglected; as well as of every unjust one which you ever
committed. And, if they do rise up in judgment against you, what
must you do?

Cast yourself upon the love of God, and remember that God is love,
and so loved us that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our
sins. Ask Him to forgive you your sins, for the sake of that
precious blood which was shed on the cross: but not that you may
keep your sins, and may escape the punishment of them. God forbid.
What use in having your past sins forgiven, if the sinful heart
still remains to run up fresh sins for the future? No. Ask Him not
merely to forgive the past, but to mend the future; to create in you
a new heart, which wishes no ill to any human being, and a right
spirit, which desires first and utterly to do right, and is filled
with the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of love, by which God made
and redeemed the world, and all that therein is.

So will all tormenting fears cease. You will feel yourself in the
right way, the way of charity, the way in which Christ walked in
this world, and have boldness in the day of judgment, facing death
without conceit, indeed, but also without superstitious fear.


(Eighth Sunday after Trinity.)

Romans viii. 12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the
flesh, to live after the flesh; for if ye live after the flesh, ye
shall die.

What does walking after the flesh mean? St. Paul tells us himself,
in Gal. v., where he uses exactly the same form of words which he
does here. 'The works of the flesh,' he says, 'are manifest.' When
a man gives way to his passions and appetites--when he cares only
about enjoying his own flesh, and the pleasures which he has in
common with the brutes, then there is no mistake about the sort of
life which he will lead--'Now the works of the flesh are manifest,
which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife,
seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and
such like.' An ugly list, my friends; and God have mercy on the man
who gives way to them. For disgraceful as they are to him, and
tormenting also to him in this life, the worst is, that if he gives
way to them, he will die.

I do not mean that he will bring his mortal body to an untimely end;
that he will ruin his own health; or that he will get himself
hanged, though that is likely enough--common enough. I think St.
Paul means something even worse than that. The man himself will
die. Not his body merely: but his soul, his character, will die.
All in him that God made, all that God intended him to be, will die.
All that his father and mother loved in him, all that they watched
over, and hoped and prayed that it might grow up into life, in order
that he might become the man God meant him to be, all that will die.
His soul and character will become one mass of disease. He will
think wrong, feel wrong, about everything of which he does think and
feel: while, about the higher matters, of which every man ought to
know something, he will not think or feel at all. Love to his
country, love to his own kinsfolk even; above all, love to God, will
die in him, and he will care for nothing but himself, and how to get
a little more foul pleasure before he goes out of this world, he
dare not think whither. All power of being useful will die in him.
Honour and justice will die in him. He will be shut up in himself,
in the ugly prison-house of his own lusts and passions, parted from
his fellow-men, caring nothing for them, knowing that they care
nothing for him. He will have no faith in man or God. He will
believe no good, he will have no hope, either for himself or for the

This, this is death, indeed; the death of sin; the death in which
human beings may go on for years, walking, eating, and drinking;
worse than those who walk in their sleep, and see nothing, though
their eyes are staring wide.

Oh pitiable sight! The most pitiable sight in the whole world, a
human soul dead and rotten in sin! It is a pitiable sight enough,
to see a human body decayed by disease, to see a poor creature
dying, even quietly and without pain. Pitiable, but not half so
pitiable as the death of a human soul by sin. For the death of the
body is not a man's own fault. But that death in life of sin, is a
man's own fault. In a Christian country, at least, it is a man's
own fault, if he goes about the world, as I have seen many a one go,
having a name to live, and yet dead in trespasses and sins, while
his soul only serves to keep his body alive and moving. How shall
we escape this death in life? St. Paul tells us, 'If ye through the
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.'

Through the Spirit. The Spirit of God and of Christ. Keep that in
mind, for that is the only way, the right way, to mortify and kill
in us these vices and passions, which, unless we kill them, will
kill us. The only way. For men have tried other ways in old times,
do try other ways now: but they fail. I could mention many plans
which they have tried. But I will only mention the one which you
and I are likely to try.

A young man runs wild for a few years, as young men are too apt to
do: but at last he finds that ill-living does not _pay_. It hurts
his health, his pocket, his character. He makes himself ill; he
cannot get employed; he has ruin staring him in the face, from his
wild living. He must mend. If he intends to keep out of the
workhouse, the gaol, the grave, he must mortify the deeds of the
body. He must bridle his passions, give up lying about, drinking,
swearing, cheating, running after bad women: and if he has a strong
will, he does it from mere selfish prudence. But is he safe? I
think not, as long as he loves still the bad ways he has given up.
He has given them up, not because he hates them, because he is
ashamed of them, because he knows them to be hateful to God, and
ruinous to his own soul: but because they do not pay. The man
himself is not changed. His heart within is not converted. The
outside of his life is whitewashed; but his heart may be as foul as
ever; as full as ever of selfishness, greediness, meanness. And
what happens to him? Too often, what happened to the man in the
parable, when the unclean spirit went out of him, and came back
again. The unclean spirit found his home swept and garnished: but
empty. All very neat and respectable: but empty. There was no
other spirit dwelling there. No good spirit, who could fight the
unclean spirit and keep him out. So he took to himself seven other
spirits worse than himself--hypocrisy, cant, cunning, covetousness,
and all the smooth-shaven sins which beset middle-aged and elderly
men; and they dwell there, and so does the unclean spirit of youth

Alas! How often have I seen men whom that description would fit but
too well--men who have kept themselves respectable till they have
got back their character in the world's eyes: and when they get
into years, and have risen perhaps in life, and made money, are
looked up to by their fellows: but what are they at heart? As
great scoundrels as they were thirty years before--cunning, false,
covetous, and hypocritical--and indulging, perhaps, the unclean
spirit of youth, as much as they dare without being found out. God
help them! for their last state is worse than their first. But that
is the fruit of trying to mortify and kill their own vices by mere
worldly prudence, and not by the Spirit of God, which alone can
cleanse the heart of any man, or make him strong enough really to
conquer and kill his sins.

And what is this spirit of God? We may know in this way. What says
our Lord in the Gospel? 'The tree is known by its fruits.' Then if
we know the fruits of the Spirit, we shall surely know something at
least of what the Spirit is like. What then says St. Paul, 'The
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.' Therefore the Spirit is a
loving spirit--a peaceable, a gentle, a good, a faithful, a sober
and temperate spirit. And if you follow it, you will live. If you
give yourselves up honestly, frankly, and fully, to be led by that
good spirit, and obey it when it prompts you with right feelings,
you, your very self, will live. You will be what God intended you
to be; you will grow as God intended you to grow; grow as Christ
did, in grace; in all which is graceful, amiable, worthy of respect
and love; and therefore in favour with God and man. Your character
will improve and strengthen day by day; and rise day by day to
fuller, stronger, healthier spiritual life. You will be able more
and more to keep down low passions, evil tempers, and all the works
of the flesh, when they tempt you; you will despise and hate them
more and more; for having seen the beauty of goodness, you will see
the ugliness of sin. So the bad passions and tempers, instead of
being merely put to sleep for a while to wake up all the stronger
for their rest, will be really mortified and killed in you. They
will die out of you; and you, the real _you_ whom God made, will
live and grow continually. And, instead of having your character
dragged down, diseased, and at last ruined, it will rise and
progress, as you grow older, in the sure and safe road of eternal
life. To which God bring us all in his mercy! Amen.


(Ninth Sunday after Trinity.)

Luke xvi. 1-8. And he said also unto his disciples, There was a
certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto
him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto
him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy
stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward
said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from
me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am
resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship,
they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of
his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest
thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he
said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An
hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill and
write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because
he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their
generation wiser than the children of light.

This parable has always been considered a difficult one to
understand. Fathers and Divines, in all ages, have tried to explain
it in different ways; and have never, it seems to me, been satisfied
with their own explanations. They have always felt it strange, that
our Lord should seem to hold up, as an example to us, this steward
who, having been found out in one villainy, escapes, (so it seems,
from the common explanation) by committing a second. They have not
been able to see either, how we are really to copy the steward. Our
Lord says, that we are to copy him by making ourselves friends of
the Mammon of unrighteousness: but how? By giving away a few alms,
or a great many? Does any rational man seriously believe, that if
his Mammon was unrighteous, that is, if his wealth were ill-gotten,
he would save his soul, and be received into eternal life, for
giving away part of it, or even the whole of it?

No doubt, there always have been men who will try. Men who, having
cheated their neighbours all their lives, have tried to cheat the
Devil at last, by some such plan as the unjust steward's, but that
plan has never been looked on as either a very honourable or a very
hopeful one. I think, that if I had been an usurer or a grinder of
the poor all my life, I should not save my soul by founding
almshouses with my money when I died, or even ten years before I
died. It might be all that I was able to do: but would it justify
me in the sight of God? That which saves a soul alive is
repentance; and of repentance there are three parts, contrition,
confession, and satisfaction--in plain English, making the wrong
right, and giving each man back, as far as one can, what one has
taken from him. To each man, I say; for I have no right to rob one
man and then give to another. I ought to give back again to the man
whom I have robbed. I have no right to cheat the rich for the sake
of the poor; and after I have cheated the rich, I do not make
satisfaction, either to god or man, by giving that money to the
poor. Good old Zaccheus, the publican, knew better what true
satisfaction was like. He had been gaining money not altogether in
an unjust way, but in a way which did him no credit; he had been
farming the taxes, and he was dissatisfied with his way of life.
Therefore, Behold, Lord, he says, the half of my goods, of what I
have a right to in the world's eyes--what is my own, and I could
keep if I liked--I give to the poor. But if I have done wrong to
any man, I restore to him fourfold. Then said the Lord, 'This day
is salvation come to this man's house; forsomuch as he also is a son
of Abraham;' a just and faithful man, who knows what true repentance

But now, my friends, suppose that this was just what our Lord tells
us to do in this parable. Suppose that this was just what the
unjust steward did. I only say, suppose; for I know that more
learned men than I explain the difficulty otherwise. Only I ask you
to hear my explanation.

The steward is accused of wasting his lord's goods.

He will be put out of his stewardship.

He goes to his lord's debtors, and bids them write themselves down
in debt to him at far less sums than they had thought that they

Now, suppose that these debtors were the very men whom he had been
cheating. Suppose that he had been overcharging these debtors; and
now, in his need, had found out that honesty was the best policy,
and charged them what they really owed him. They were, probably,
tenants under his lord, paying their rents in kind, as was often the
custom in the East. One rented an olive garden, and paid for it so
many measures of oil; another rented corn-land, and paid so many
measures of meal. Now suppose that the steward, as he easily might,
had been setting these poor men's rents too high, and taking the
surplus himself. That while he had been charging one tenant a
hundred, he had been paying to his lord only fifty, and so forth.

What does he do, then, in his need? He does justice to his lord's
debtors. He tells them what their debts really are. He sets their
accounts right. Instead of charging the first man a hundred, he
charges him fifty; instead of charging the second a hundred, he
charges him eighty; and he does not, as far as we are told, conceal
this conduct from his lord. He rights them as far as he can now.
So he shews that he honestly repents. He has found out that honesty
is the best policy; that the way to make true friends is to deal
justly by them; and, if he cannot restore what he has taken from
them already (for I suppose he had spent it), at least to confess
his sin to them, and to set the matter right for the time to come.

This, I think, is what our Lord bids us do, if we have wronged any
man, and fouled our hands with the unrighteous mammon, that is, with
ill-gotten wealth. And I think so all the more from the verses
which come after. For, when he has said, 'Make yourselves friends
of the mammon of unrighteousness,' he goes on in the very next verse
to say, 'He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful
also in that which is much. If, therefore, ye have not been
faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust
the true riches?' Now, surely, this must have something to do with
what goes before. And, if it has, what can it mean but this--that
the way to make friends out of the mammon of unrighteousness, is to
be faithful in it, just in it, honest in it?

But some one may say, If mammon be unrighteous, how can a man be
righteous and upright in dealing with it? If money be a bad thing
in itself, how can a man meddle with it with clean hands?

So some people will say, and so some will be glad to say. But why?
Because they do not want to be righteous, upright, just, and honest
in their money dealings; and, therefore, they are glad to make out
that they could not be upright if they tried; because money being a
bad thing altogether, a man must needs, if he has to do with money,
do things which he knows are wrong. I say some people are glad to
believe that. I do not mean any one in this congregation. God
forbid! I mean in the world in general. We do see people,
religious people too, do things about money which they know are
mean, covetous, cruel, and then excuse themselves by saying,--'Well,
of course I would not do so to my own brother; but, in the way of
business, one can't help doing these things.' Now, I do not quite
believe them. I have seldom seen the man who cheated his neighbour,
who would not cheat his own brother if he had a chance: but so they
say. And, if they be religious people, they will quote Scripture,
and say,--Ah! it is the fault of the unrighteous mammon; and, in
dealing with the unrighteous mammon, we cannot help these little
failings, and so forth: till they seem to have two quite different
rules of right and wrong; one for the saving of their own souls,
which they keep to when they are hearing sermons, and reading good
books; and the other for money, which they keep to when they have to
pay their debts or transact business.

Now, my dear friends, be not deceived: God is not mocked. God
tempts no man. Man tempts himself by his own lusts and passions.
God does not tempt us when he gives us money, puts us in the way of
earning money, or spending money. Money is not bad in itself;
wealth is not bad in itself. If mammon be unrighteous, we make
money into mammon, when we make an idol of it, and worship it more
than God's law of right and justice. We make it unrighteous, by
being unrighteous, and unjust ourselves.

Money is good; for money stands for capital; for money's worth; for
houses, land, food, clothes, all that man can make; and they stand
for labour, employment, wages; and they stand for human beings, for
the bodily life of man. Without wealth, where should we be now? If
God had not given to man the power of producing wealth, where should
we be now? Not here. Four-fifths of us would not have been alive
at all. Instead of eight hundred people in this parish, all more or
less well off, there would be, perhaps, one hundred--perhaps far
less, living miserably on game and roots. Instead of thirty
millions of civilized people in Great Britain, there would be
perhaps some two or three millions of savages. Money, I say, stands
for the lives of human beings. Therefore money is good; an
ordinance and a gift of God; as it is written, 'It is God that
giveth the power to get wealth.' But, like every other good gift of
God, we may use it as a blessing; or we may misuse it, and make it a
snare and a curse to our own souls. If we let into our hearts
selfishness and falsehood; if we lose faith in God, and fancy that
God's laws are not well-made enough to prosper us, but that we must
break them if we want to prosper; then we turn God's good gift into
an idol and a snare; into the unrighteous Mammon.

It is not the quantity of money we have to deal with which is the
snare, it is our own lusts and covetousness which are the snares.
It is just as easy to sell our souls for five pounds as for five
thousand. It is just as easy to be mean and tricky about paying
little debts of a shilling or two, as it is about whole estates. I
do not see that rich people are at all more unjust about money than
poor ones; and if any say: Yes, but the poor are tempted more than
the rich; I answer, then look at those who are neither poor nor
rich; who have enough to live on decently, and are not tempted as
the poor are, to steal, or tempted as the rich are, to luxury and
extravagance. Are they more honest than either rich or poor? Not a
whit. All depends on the man's heart. If his heart be selfish and
mean, he will be dishonest as a poor man, as a middle-class man, as
a great lord. If his heart be faithful and true, he will be honest,
whether he lives in a cottage or in a palace. Any man can do
justly, and love mercy, if his heart be right with God. I have seen
day-labourers who had a hard struggle to live at all, keep out of
debt, and out of shame, and live in a noble poverty, rich in the
sight of God, because their hearts were rich in goodness. I have
seen tradesmen and farmers, among all the temptations of business,
keep their honour as bright as any gentleman's--brighter than too
many gentlemen's, because they had learnt to fear God and work
righteousness. I have seen great merchants and manufacturers,
because that they were their brothers' keepers, spread not only
employment, but comfort, education, and religion, among the hundreds
of workmen whom God had put into their charge. I have seen great
landowners live truly royal lives, doing with all their might the
good which their hand found to do; and, after the likeness of their
heavenly Father, causing their sun to shine on the evil and on the
good, and their rain to fall on the just and on the unjust. Yes; in
every station of life, thy dealings will be right with men, if thy
heart be right with God.

Yes. Let us bear in mind this--that whatever we cannot be, we can
at least be honest men. Let us go to our graves, if possible, with
the feeling that there is not a man on earth, a penny the worse for
us. And if we have ever fouled our hands with the unrighteous
Mammon, let us cleanse them by the only possible plan, by making
restitution to those whom we have wronged; and so make friends of
the Mammon of unrighteousness, who shall forgive us, and receive us
as friends in heaven, instead of making enemies, and going out of
the world with the fearful thought, that we shall meet at God's
judgment-seat people whom we have made miserable, who will rise up
to accuse us, and demand payment of us when it is too late for ever.

Let us bear in mind, even though we cannot copy, the dying words of
Muhammed the Arab, who, when he found his end draw near, went forth
into the market-place, and asked before all the people, 'Was there
any man whom he had wronged? If so, his own back should bear the
stripes. Was there any man to whom he owed money? and he should be
paid.' 'Yes,' cried some one, 'those coins which you borrowed from
me on such a day.' 'Pay him,' said Muhammed: 'better to be shamed
now on earth, than shamed in the day of judgment.' He was a
heathen. And shall we Christians be worse than he? Then let us
pray for the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, which will
make us faithful and true; so that no man may be the worse for us in
this life; no man may have to say of us, when he hears that we lie
dying, 'He wronged me, he cheated me, he lied to me; God forgive
him:' but that our friends, as they carry us to the grave, may feel
that they have lost one whom they could respect and trust; and say,
as the earth rattles in upon the coffin lid, 'There lies an honest


(Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.)

Mark vii. 34, 35. And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith
unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears
were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake

Why did the Lord Jesus look up to heaven? And why, too, did he

He looked up to heaven, we may believe, because he looked to God the
Father; to God, of whom the glorious collect tells us, that he is
more ready to hear than we to pray, and is wont to give more than
either we desire or deserve. He looked up to the Father, who is the
fountain of life, of order, of health, of usefulness; who hates all
death, disease, infirmity; who wills that none should perish, body
or soul.

My friends, think of these cheering words; and try to look up to God
the Father, as Christ looked up. Look up to him I say, if but once,
as a Father. Not merely as your Father, but as the Father of the
spirits of all flesh; the good God who creates, and delights to
create; who orders all worlds and heavens with perfect wisdom,
perfect power, perfect justice, perfect love; and peoples them with
immortal souls and spirits, that they may be useful, happy, blessed,
in keeping his laws, and doing the work which he has ordained for
them. Oh think, if but once, of God the perfect and all-loving
Father; and then you will know why Jesus looked up to him.

And you will see, too, why Jesus sighed. He sighed because he was
one with the Father. He sighed because he had the mind of God.
Because God, the Lord of health and order, hates disease and
disorder. Because God, the Lord of bliss and happiness, hates
misery and sorrow. Because God made the world at first very good;
and, behold, by man's sin, it has become bad.

Why did he sigh? Surely, also, from pity for the poor man. His
infirmity was no such great one; he had an impediment in his speech,
and with it, as many are apt to have, deafness also: but it was an
infirmity. It was a disease. It was something out of order,
something gone wrong in God's world; and as such, Christ could not
abide it; he grieved over it. He sighed because there was sickness
in a world where there ought to be nothing but health, and sorrow
where there ought to be nothing but happiness. He sighed, because
man had brought this sickness and sorrow on himself by sin; for,
remember, man alone is subject to disease. The wild animal in the
wood, the bird upon the tree, seldom or never know what sickness is;
seldom or never are stunted or deformed. They live according to
their nature, healthy and happy, and die in a good old age. While
man--Why should I talk of what man is, of how far man is fallen from
what God the Father meant him to be, while one hundred thousand
corpses of brave men are now fattening the plains of Italy for next
year's crop; while even in our favoured land, we find at every turn
prisons and reformatories, lunatic asylums, hospitals for numberless
kinds of horrible diseases; sickness, weakness, and death all round
us? Only look up yonder to Windsor Forest, and see the vast
building now in progress there before your eyes, for lunatic
convicts--the most miserable, perhaps, and pitiable of human
beings,--and let that building be a sign to you, how far man is
fallen, and what cause Jesus had to sigh, and has to sigh still,
over the miseries of fallen man.

Yes, my friends, not without reason did the old heathen poet, who
had no sure and certain hope of everlasting life, say, that man was
the most wretched of all the beasts of the field; not without reason
did St. Paul say, that if in this life only we have hope in Christ,
then the Christian man, who dare not indulge his passions and
appetites, dare not say, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die:
but must curb himself, and give up his own pleasure and his own
fancy at every turn, is of all men most miserable.

If Christ's work is done; if his mercy and help ended when he died
upon the cross; if all he did was to heal the sick for three short
years in Judea a long while ago: then what have we to which we can
look forward? What hope have we, not merely for ourselves, who are
here now, but for all the millions who have died and suffered
already? Yes: what reasonable hope for mankind can they have, who
do not believe that Christ is Very God of Very God, the perfect
likeness of the heavenly Father?

But what if that which was true of him then, is true of him now?
What if he be the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever? What if he
be ascended on high, that he might fill all things with his almighty
power, and declare that almighty power most chiefly by shewing mercy
and pity? What if he be for ever looking up to his Father and our
Father, to his God and our God, interceding for ever for mankind;
for ever offering up to the Father that sacrifice of himself which
he perfected upon the Cross, for the sins of the whole world? What
if he be for ever sighing over every sin, every sorrow, every
cruelty, every injustice, over all things, great and small, which go
wrong throughout the whole world; and saying for ever, 'Father, this
is not according to thy will. Let thy will be done on earth, as in
heaven.' And what, if he does not look up in vain, nor sigh in
vain? What if the will of God the Father be, that sin and sorrow,
disease and death, being contrary to his will and law, should be at
last rooted out of this world, and all worlds for ever? What if
Christ have authority and commission from God to fight against all
evil, sin, disease, and death, and all the ills which flesh is heir
to; and to teach men to fight them likewise, till they conquer them
by his might, and by his light? What if he reigns, and will reign,
till he has put all enemies under his feet, and he has delivered up
the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all?
What if the day shall come, when all the nations of the earth shall
thus see Christ's good works, and glorify his Father and their
Father who is in heaven? and by obeying the Law of their being, and
the commandment of God, which is life eternal, shall live for ever
in that glory, of which it is written, that a river of water of life
shall proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb; and the
leaves of the trees which grow thereby shall be for the healing of
the nations; and there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God
and of the Lamb shall be in the city of God, and his servants shall
serve him; and the Lord God shall give them light; and they shall
reign for ever and ever.

What those words mean I know not, and hardly dare to think: but as
long as those words stand in the Bible, we will have hope. For God
the Father, who willeth that none should perish, and Jesus the only-
begotten Son, who sighed over the poor man's infirmity in Judea, are
the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.


(Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 1856.)

2 Kings xviii. 9-12. And it came to pass in the fourth year of King
Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of
Israel, that Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, came up against Samaria,
and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it: even
in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king
of Israel, Samaria was taken. And the king of Assyria did carry
away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the
river of Gozon, and in the cities of the Medes: because they obeyed
not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant,
and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and would not
hear them, nor do them.

These are very simple words: but they are awful words enough.
Awful enough to the poor creatures of whom they speak. You here,
most of you, can hardly guess all that these words mean. You may
thank God that you do not. That you do not know the horrors of war,
and the misery of a conquered country, in old times.

To lose all they had ever earned; all that makes life worth having.
To have their homes burnt over their heads, their crops carried off
their fields. To see their women dishonoured, their old men and
children murdered--to be insulted, beaten, and tortured to make them
tell where their money was hidden; and after they and theirs had
suffered every unspeakable shame and misery from the hands of brutal
enemies, to be stripped, bound, and marched away, for hundreds of
miles across the deserts, into the cold and dreary mountains of the
north of Assyria, there to live and die as slaves, and never again
to see their native land. And such a land as it was, and is still:
or rather might be still, if there were men in it worthy the name of
men. For of all countries in the world, that land of Israel is one
of the most rich and beautiful. The climate and the soil there is
such, that two crops can often be grown in the year, of almost any
kind which man may need; there are rich valleys well watered, where
not only wheat and every grain-crop, but the olive, and the fig, and
the vine, flourish in perfection; rich park-like uplands, where
sheep and cattle without number may find pasture; great forests of
timber, fit for every use; and all kept cool and fruitful, even
beneath that burning eastern sun, by the clear streams which flow
for ever down from Hermon. the great snow-mountain ten thousand feet
high, which overlooks that pleasant land. There is hardly,
travellers say, a lovelier or richer country upon earth, than the
land of Israel, from Hebron on the south to Hermon on the north; nor
a country which might have been stronger, and safer, and more
prosperous, if these Jews had been but wise.

It is, so to speak, one great castle, rising most of it two thousand
feet high, and walled in by God in a way as is seen hardly in any
other land. On the west lies the sea; on the south and on the east
vast wildernesses of sandy desert; and on the north, the mighty
mountains of Hermon and Lebanon, which no invading army could have
crossed, if the Jews had had courage to keep them out. And that,
the noble and divine Law of Moses would have given them. It would
have made them one free, brave, God-fearing people, at unity with
itself; and the promise of Moses would have been fulfilled--that one
of them should chase a thousand, and no man or nation be able to
stand against them. In David's time, and in Solomon's time also,
that promise came true; and that small people of the Jews became a
very powerful nation, respected and feared by all the kingdoms

But when they fell into idolatry, and forsook the true God, and his
law: all was changed. Idolatry brought sin, and sin brought bad
passions, hatred, division, weakness, ruin.

The first beginning was, the breaking up of the nation into two;--
the kingdom of Judah to the south, the kingdom of Israel to the
north. And with that division came envy, spite, quarrels; wars
between Israel and Judah, which were but madness. For what could
come of those two brother-nations fighting against each other, but
that both should grow weaker and weaker, and so fall a prey to some
third nation stronger than them both? The ruin of the kingdom of
Israel, of which the text tells us, arose out of some unnatural
quarrel of this kind. Pekah, the king of Israel, had made friends
with the heathen king of Syria, and got him to join in making war on
Judah: and a fearful war it was; for the Israelites, according to
one account, killed in that war a hundred and twenty thousand of the
Jews, men of their own blood and language, all Abraham's descendants
as well as they. On which, Ahaz, king of Judah, not to be behind-
hand in folly, sent to the heathen king of Assyria to help him, just
as the king of Israel had sent to the king of Damascus. He had
better have been dead than to have done that. For those terrible
Assyrians, who had set their hearts on conquering the whole east,
were standing by, watching all the little kingdoms round tearing
themselves to pieces by foolish wars, till they were utterly weak,
and the time was ripe for the Assyrians to pounce upon them. The
king of Assyria came. He swept away all the heathen people of
Damascus, and killed their king. But he did not stop there. In a
very few years, he came on into the land of Israel, besieged Samaria
for three years, and took it, and carried off the whole of the
inhabitants of the country; and there was an end of that miserable
kingdom of Israel, which had been sinking lower and lower ever since
the days of Jeroboam. This was the natural outcome of all their sin
and folly, of which we have been reading for the last few Sundays.

Elijah's warnings had been in vain, and Elisha's warnings also.
They liked, at heart, Ahab's and Jezebel's idolatries better than
they did the worship of the true God. And why? Because, if they
worshipped God, and kept his laws, they must needs have been more or
less good men, upright, just, merciful, cleanly and chaste livers:
while, on the other hand, they might worship their idols, and
nevertheless be as bad as they chose. Indeed, the very idol-feasts
and sacrifices were mixed up with all sorts of filthy sin,
drunkenness and profligacy; so that it is a shame even to speak of
the things which went on, especially at those sacrifices to
Ashtaroth, the queen of heaven, of which they were so fond. They
choose the worse part, and refused the better; and they were filled
with the fruit of their own devices, as every unrepenting sinner
surely will be.

But did the Jews of Judea and their king escape, who had thus
brought the king of Assyria down to murder their own countrymen, and
lay that fair land waste? Not they. A very few years more, the
Assyrians were back again, and overran Judea itself, laying the
country waste with fire and sword, till nothing was left to them,
but the mere city of Jerusalem. And so they, too, were filled with
the fruit of their own devices. In their madness they had destroyed
their brethren, the people of Israel, who ought to have been a
safeguard for them to the north; now there was nothing and no man to
prevent the Assyrians, or any other invaders, from pouring right
down into their land. Truly says Solomon, 'He that diggeth a pit,
shall fall into it, and he who breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall
bite him.' From that day, Judah became weaker and weaker, standing
all alone. Good king Hezekiah, good king Josiah, could only stave
off her ruin for a few years; a little while longer, and her cup was
full too, and the Babylonians came and swept the Jews away into
captivity, as the Assyrians had swept away Israel, and that fair
land lay desolate for many a year.

The king of Assyria, we read, after he had carried away the people
of Israel, brought heathens from Assyria, and settled them in the
Holy Land, instead of the Israelites. But the Lord sent lions among
them, we read; the land, I suppose, lying waste, the wild beasts
increased, and became very dangerous: so these poor ignorant
settlers sent to the king of Assyria, to beg for a Jewish priest, to
teach them, as they said, the manner of the god of that land, that
they might worship him, and not be terrified by the lions any more.
It was a simple, confused notion of theirs: but it brought a
blessing with it; for the king of Assyria sent them one of the
Jewish priests who had been carried away from Samaria; and he came
and lived at Beth-el, and taught them to fear the Lord. So these
poor people got some confused notion of the one true God: but they
mixed it up sadly with their old heathen idolatry, and made gods of
their own, and some of them even burnt their children in the fire,
to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim, from which
town they had come. And so they went on for several hundred years,
marrying with the remnant of the Israelites who were left behind,
and worshipping idols and the true God at the same time. Now these
people are the Samaritans, of whom you read so often in the New
Testament. The Jews, when they came back, hated and despised the
Samaritans, and would not speak to them, eat with them, trade with
them, because they were only half-blooded Jews, and did not observe
Moses' law rightly; and so they were left to themselves: but as
time went on, they seemed to have got rid of their old idolatry, and
built themselves a temple on Mount Gerizim, by Samaria, in Jacob's
old haunts, by Jacob's well, and there worshipped they knew not
what. But still they did their best. And their reward came at

Many a hundred years had passed away. The proud Pharisees of
Jerusalem were still calling them dogs and infidels; when there came
to that half-heathen city of Samaria such a one as never came there
before or since; and yet had been very near that place, and those
poor Samaritans, for a thousand years.

And being wearied with his journey, he sat down upon the edge of
Jacob's well, by Joseph's tomb. The well is still there, choked
with rubbish to this very day; and Joseph's tomb by it, all in
ruins, among broad fields of corn. And on the edge of that well he
sat. Along the very road which was before him, Jeroboam, and Ahab,
and many a wicked king of Israel, had gone in old times, travelling
between Shechem and Samaria: along that road the terrible Assyrians
had marched back to their own land, leading strings of weeping
prisoners out of their pleasant native land, to slavery and misery
in the far North. He knew it all; and doubt not that he thought
over it all, as never man thought on earth. Doubt not that his
heart yearned over these poor ignorant Samaritans, and over the
sinful woman who came to draw water at the well. After all, half-
heathens as they were, Jacob's blood was in their veins; and if not,
were they not still human beings? They were worshipping they knew
not what: but still they were worshipping the best which they knew.

'Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye
shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the
Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for
salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the
true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and
they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The
woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called
Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith
unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. . . . So when the Samaritans
were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them:
and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his
own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of
thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is
indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.'

Oh, my friends, despise no man; for Christ despises none. He is no
respecter of persons: but in every nation, he that feareth God and
worketh righteousness is accepted with him. Despise no man; for by
so doing you deny the Father, who has made of one blood all nations
of men to dwell on the earth, and has appointed them their times,
and the bounds of their habitation; if haply they may feel after
him, and find him: though he be not far from any of us; for in him
we live and move and have our being, and are the offspring of God.
For hundreds of years those poor ignorant Samaritans had felt after
him; in that foreign land to which the cruel Assyrian conqueror had
banished them: but it was God who had appointed them their
habitation there, and their time also; and, in due time, they found
God: for he came to them, and found them, and spoke with them face
to face.

Better to have been one of those ignorant Samaritans, than to have
been King Ahab, or King Hoshea, in all their glory, with all their
proud Jewish blood. Better to have been one of those ignorant
Samaritans than one of those conceited Pharisees at Jerusalem, who,
while they were priding themselves on being Abraham's children, and
keeping Moses' law, ended by crucifying him who made Abraham, and
Moses, and his law, and them themselves. Better to be the poorest
negro slave, if, in the midst of his ignorance and misery and shame,
he believes in Christ, and works righteousness, than the cleverest
and proudest and freest Englishman, if, in the midst of his great
light, he works the works of darkness, and, while he calls himself a
child of God, lives the sinful life, on which God's curse lies for

So you who have many advantages, take warning by the fate of those
foolish Jews, who knew a great deal, and yet did not do it, and so
came to shame and ruin. And you who have few advantages, take
comfort by those poor Samaritans, who knew a very little, and yet
made the best of it, and so at last saw a great light, after sitting
in darkness for so long. Schools, books, church-going, ordinances
of all kinds, they are good. If you can get them, use them, and
thank God for them: but remember, God does not ask for learning,
but for goodness and holiness: he does not ask for knowledge, but
for a right life. And do not fancy, that because your children have
a good education now, and you had none, that God does not love you
as well as he loves them. His mercy is over all his works; and the
promises are to you as well as to your children. There is many a
poor soul who never read a book in her life, who is nearer God than
many a great scholar, and fine preacher, and learned divine. All
Christ asks of you is, to receive him when he comes to you; and to
love, and thank, and admire him, and try to be like him, because he
will make you like him: while for the rest to whom little is given,
of him shall little be required; and to him who uses what he has, be
it little or much, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance.
For God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that
feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted by him.


(Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Morning.)

2 Kings xix. 15-19. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said,
O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art
the Lord, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou
hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear:
open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib,
which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord,
the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, and
have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the
work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed
them. Now, therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us
out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that
thou art the Lord God, even thou only.

This noble story, which we read in Church every year, seems to have
had a great hold on the minds of the Jews. They plainly thought it
a very important story. For it is told three times over in the
Bible: first in the Book of Kings, then in the Book of Chronicles,
and again in that of the Prophet Isaiah. Indeed, many chapters of
Isaiah's prophecies speak altogether of this invasion of the
Assyrians and their destruction. But what has this story to do with
us, you may ask? There are no miracles in our day. We can expect
no angels to fight for our armies. We must fight for ourselves.

True, my friends: but the lesson of these old stories, the moral of
them stands good for ever. And I am thankful that this very story
is appointed to be read publicly in church once a year, to put us in
mind of many things, which all men are too apt to forget.

For instance: to learn one lesson out of many which this chapter
may teach us. We are too apt to think that peace and prosperity are
the only signs of God's favour. That if a nation be religious, it
is certain to thrive and be happy. But it is not so. We find from
history that the times in which nations have shewn most nobleness,
most courage, most righteousness, most faith in God, have been times
of trouble, and danger, and terror. When nations have been invaded,
persecuted, trampled under foot by tyrants, then all the good which
was in them has again and again shewed itself. Then to the
astonishment of the world they have become greater than themselves,
and done deeds which win them glory for ever. Then they are truly
purged in the fire of affliction, that whatever dross and trash is
in their hearts may be burnt out, and the pure gold left.

So it was with the Jews in Hezekiah's time. So again in the time of
the Maccabees. So with the old Greeks, when the great Kings of
Persia tried to enslave them. So with the old Romans, when the
Carthaginians set upon them. So it was with us English, three
hundred years ago, when for a time the whole world seemed against
us, because we alone were standing up for the Gospel and the Bible
against the Pope of Rome. Then the king of Spain, who was then as
terrible a conqueror and devourer of nations, as the Assyrians of
old, sent against us the Great Armada. Then was England in greater
danger than she had ever been before, or has been since.

And what came of it? That that dreadful danger brought out more
faith, more courage, than perhaps has ever been among us since.
That when we seemed weakest we were strongest. That while all the
nations of Europe were looking on to see us devoured up by those
Spaniards, our laws and liberties taken from us, the Popish
Inquisition set up in England, and England made a Spanish province,
what they did see was, the people of this little island rising as
one man, to fight for themselves on earth, while the tempests of God
fought for them from heaven; and all that mighty fleet of the King
of Spain routed and scattered, till not one man in a hundred ever
saw their native country again.

And in England, after that terrible trial had passed over us, there
rose up the best and noblest time which she had ever yet beheld.

Yes, my friends, three hundred years ago we went through just such a
fiery trial as the Jews went through in Hezekiah's time; and God
grant that we may never forget that lesson.

But what is true of whole nations, is often true also of each single
person; of you and me.

To almost every man, at least once in his life, comes a time of
trial--what we call a crisis. A time when God purges the man, and
tries him in the fire, and burns up the dross in him, that the pure
sterling gold only may be left.

To some people it comes in the shape of some terrible loss, or
affliction. To others it comes in the shape of some great
temptation. Nay, if we will consider, it comes to us all, perhaps
often, in that shape. A man is brought to a point where he must
choose between right and wrong. God puts him where the two roads
part. One way turns off to the broad road, which leads to
destruction: the other way turns off to the narrow road which leads
to life. The man would be glad to go both ways at once, and do
right and wrong too: but it so happens that he cannot. Then he
would be glad to go neither way, and stay where he is: but he
cannot. He must move on. He must do something. Perhaps he is
asked a question which he does not wish to answer: but he must. It
would be well worth his while to tell a lie. It would be very safe
for him, profitable for him; while it would be very dangerous for
him to tell the truth. He might ruin himself once and for all, by
being an honest man. Now which shall he do? He would be glad to do
both, glad to do neither: but choose he must; speak he must. He
must either lie or tell the truth. Then comes the trial, whether he
believes in God and in Christ, or whether he does not. If he only
believes, as too many do without knowing it, in a dead God, a God
far away, he will lie. If he only believes, as too many do without
knowing it, in a dead Christ, a Christ who bore his sins on the
cross eighteen hundred years ago, but since then has had nothing to
do with him to speak of, as far as he knows--then he will lie. And
that is the God and the Christ which most people believe in: and
therefore when the time of trial comes, they fall away, and do and
say things of which they ought to be ashamed, because their trust is
not in God, but in man.

But if that man believes in the living God, and believes that he
lives, and moves, and has his being in God, he cannot lie. As it is
written, 'he that is born of God, sinneth not, for his seed
remaineth in him, and that wicked one toucheth him not.' He will
say, Whatever happens, I must obey God, and not man. The Lord is on
my side, therefore I will not fear what man can do to me.

And what is the seed which remains in that man, and keeps him from
playing the coward? Christ himself, the seed and Son of God. If he
believes in the living Christ; if he believes that Christ is really
his master, his teacher, who is watching over him, training him,
from his cradle to his grave;--if he believes that Christ is
dwelling in him, that whatever wish to do right he has comes from
Christ, whatever sense of honour and honesty he has comes from
Christ; then it will seem to him a dreadful thing to lie, to play
the hypocrite, or the coward; to sin against his own better
feelings. It will be sinning against Christ himself.

Remember the great Martin Luther, when he stood on one side, a poor
monk standing up for the Bible and the Gospel, and against him were
arrayed the Pope and the Emperor, cardinals, bishops, and almost all
the princes in Europe; and his friends wanted him to hold his
tongue, or to say Yes and No at once; in short, to smooth over the
matter in some way.--What conceit, said many, of one poor monk
standing up against all the world; and what folly, too! He would
certainly be burnt alive. But Luther could not hold his tongue. He
was afraid enough, no doubt. He disliked being burnt as much as
other men. But he felt he must speak God's truth then or never. He
must bear witness for Christ's free gospel, against Pope, Emperor,
all the devils in hell, if need be, or else hereafter for ever hold
his peace. He must play the honest man that day, or be a hypocrite
and a rogue for ever. His friends said to him, 'If you go to the
Council, Duke George will have you burnt.' He answered, 'If it
snowed Duke Georges nine days together, I must go.' They said, 'If
you go into that town, you will never leave it alive.' He said, 'If
there were as many devils in the town as there are tiles on the
houses, I must go.' And he went, Bible in hand, and said, 'Here I
stand; I can do no otherwise. God help me!' He went, and he

And so it will be with you, my friends, if you will believe in the
living God, and in the living Christ; then, when temptation comes,
you will be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to
stand. And you will feel yourselves better men from that day
forward. You will feel that you have made one great step upward;
you will look back upon that time of temptation and perplexity as
the beginning of a new life; as a sign to you that Christ is with
you, and in you, training you and shaping your character, till he
makes you, at last, somewhat like himself; somewhat of the stature
of a true man; somewhat like what he has bidden you to be, 'perfect
as your Father in heaven is perfect.'


(Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.)

Luke xvii. 17, 18. Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the
nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save
this stranger.

No men, one would have thought, had more reason to thank God than
those nine lepers. Afflicted with a filthy and tormenting disease,
hopelessly incurable, at least in those days, they were cut off from
family and friends, cut off from all mankind; forced to leave their
homes, and wander away; forbidden to enter the houses of men, or the
churches of God; forbidden, for fear of infection, to go near any
human being; keeping no company but that of wretched lepers like
themselves, and forced to get their living by begging; by standing
(as the Gospel says) afar off, and praying the passers-by to throw
them a coin.

In this wretched state, in which they had been certain of living and
dying miserably, they met the Lord: and suddenly, instantly, beyond
all hope or expectation, they found themselves cured, restored to
their families, their homes, their power of working, their rights as
citizens; restored to all that makes life worth having, and that
freely, and in a moment. If such a blessing had come to us, should
we have thought any thanks too great! Would not our whole lives
have been too short to bless God for his great mercy? Should we
have gone away, like those nine, without a word of thanks to God, or
even to the man who had healed us? What stupidity, hardhearted-
ness, ingratitude of those nine, never to have even thanked the Lord
for their restoration to health and happiness.

Ay, so we think. Yet those nine lepers were men of like passions
with ourselves; and what they did, we perhaps might do in their
place. It is very humbling to think so: but the Bible is a
humbling book: and, therefore, a wholesome book, profitable for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. And I am
very much afraid that when the Bible tells us that nine out of ten
of those lepers were ungrateful to God, it tells us that nine out of
ten of us are ungrateful likewise.

Ungrateful to God? I fear so; and more ungrateful, I fear, than
those ten lepers. For which of the two is better off, the man who
loses a good thing, and then gets it back again; or the man who
never loses it at all, but enjoys it all his life? Surely the man
who never loses it at all. And which of the two has more cause to
thank God? Those lepers had been through a very miserable time;
they had had great affliction; and that, they might feel, was a set-
off against their good fortune in recovering their health. They had
bad years to balance their good ones. But we--how many of us have
had nothing but good years? Oh consider, consider the history of
the average of us. How we grow up tolerably healthy, tolerably
comfortable, in a free country, under just laws, with the power of
earning our livelihood, and the certainty of keeping what we earn.
Famine we know nothing of in this happy land; war, and the horrors
of war, we knew nothing of--God grant we never may. In health,
safety and prosperity most of us grow up; forced, it is true, to
work hard: but that, too, is a blessing; for what better thing for
a man, soul and body, than to be forced to work hard? In health,
safety and prosperity; leaving children behind us, to prosper as we
have done. And how many of us give God the glory, or Christ the

But if these be our bodily blessings, what are our spiritual
blessings? Has not God given us his only-begotten son Jesus Christ?
Has he not baptised us into his Church? Has he not forgiven our
sins? Has he not revealed to us that he is our Father, and we his
children? Has he not given us the absolutely inestimable blessing
of his commandments? Of knowing what the right thing to be done is,
that we may do it and live for ever; that treasure of which not only
Solomon, but the wise men of old held, that to know what was right
was a more precious possession than rubies and fine gold, and all
the wealth of Ind? Has he not given us the hope of a joyful
immortality, of everlasting life after death, not only with those
whom we have loved and lost, but with God himself?

And how many of us give God the glory, and Christ the thanks? Do we
not copy those nine lepers, and just shew ourselves to the priest?--
Come to church on the Sunday, because it is the custom; people
expect it of us; and God, we understand, expects it too: but where
is the gratitude? Where is the giving of glory to God for all his
goodness? Which are we most like? Children of God, looking up to
our Father in heaven, and saying, at every fresh blessing, Father, I
thank thee. Truly thou knowest my necessities before I ask, and my
ignorance in asking?--Or, like the stalled ox, which eats, and eats,
and eats, and never thanks the hand which feeds him?

We are too comfortable, I think, at times. We are so much
accustomed to be blest by God, that we take his blessings as matters
of course, and feel them no more than we do the air we breathe.

The wise man says--

Our torments may by length of time become
Our elements;

and I am sure our blessings may. They say that people who endure
continual pain and misery, get at length hardly to feel it. And so,
on the other hand, people who have continual prosperity get at
length hardly to feel that. God forgive us! My friends, when I say
this to you, I say it to myself. If I blame you, I blame myself.
If I warn you, I warn myself. We most of us need warning in these
comfortable times; for I believe that it is this very
unrighteousness of ours which brings many of our losses and troubles
on us. If we are so dull that we will not know the value of a thing
when we have got it, then God teaches us the value of it by taking
it from us. He teaches us the value of health by making us feel
sickness; he teaches us the value of wealth by making us feel
poverty. I do not say it is always so. God forbid. There are
those who suffer bitter afflictions, not because they have sinned,
but that, like the poor blind man, the glory of God may be made
manifest in them. There are those too who suffer no sorrow at all,
even though they feel, in their thoughtful moments, that they
deserve it. And miserable enough should we all be, if God punished
us every time we were ungrateful to him. If he dealt with us after
our sins, and rewarded us according to our iniquities, where should
we be this day?

But still, I cannot but believe that if we do go on in prosperity,
careless and unthankful, we are running into danger; we are likely
to bring down on ourselves some sorrow or anxiety which will teach
us, which at least is meant to teach us--from whom all good things
come; and to know that the Lord has given, when the Lord has taken

God grant that when that lesson is sent to us we may learn it.
Learn it, perhaps, at once, and in a moment, we cannot. Weak flesh
and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God, and see that he is
ruling us, and all things, in love and justice; and our eyes are, as
it were, dimmed with our tears, so that we cannot see God's
handwriting upon the wall against us. But at length, when the first
burst of sorrow is past, we may learn it; and, like righteous Job,
justify God; saying,--The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,
blessed be the name of the Lord. If we do that, and give God the
glory, it may be with us, after all, as it was with Job, when God
gave him back sevenfold for all that he had taken away, wealth and
prosperity, sons and daughters. For God doth not afflict willingly,

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